A Live Clue Dinner Party

My birthday was this month, and two weeks ago I held a very special dinner party: a live Clue game.

I had other plans for my birthday, and still plan to do them, but there was something I wanted to do for my friends and family in my own home. I wanted to create something new they may not have ever been a part of before. I wanted to make a murder mystery!

So, I did.

The very first thing to do was create a story. The thing about Clue versus a general murder mystery dinner party is that in the game Clue you do not know if even you are the murderer. So, one of my hurdles was creating a story where no one knows who it is and it’s up to everyone to figure it out. While the movie Clue was a big inspiration, mostly for the dinner party part, I used completely different back stories to seven characters. That’s right, seven. I added Dr. Orchid when I accidentally invited one extra person. Here’s the general story: Miss Body is a consultant with City Hall and the seven guests have a connection to her and City Hall for various reasons. She was hit by a blunt object in a room in her house.

Now for the setup: I gave every one of my guests a character before they came, that way they can dress as they see fit. And I’m stoked to say, everyone dressed in relation to their character name. I had everyone sit and mingle at my dining table, and with the first course came an envelope with their character backstory and their ‘Clue cards’.

It is up to them to talk about it over their first course. Anything on the paper is fact, but they were allowed to embellish if they wanted, and they could share what they will. It is a game after all. The majority of my guests got into their roles and backstories, and had a blast talking. I only had one guest (poor friend) who was out of her depth and didn’t do much.

img_8137Second course brought them another envelope with a deeper and perhaps harsher backstory. The second course is where the claws came out and people started to accuse each other. I sat at the head of the table, watching everything unfold, and it was like the greatest form of entertainment.

With dessert came the answers. I gave everyone a slip of paper to write their accusations: the who, the where, and the with what. But thanks to backstories and a full-context game, I added the question of why. Why was Miss Body killed? Mother (who played Mrs. White) served the cake, and I got to announce that only my friend Brendan (who played Professor Plum) got every question right. His reward was the actual murder weapon (a book).

I had so much fun creating a story and preparing for a dinner party. Of course, there were drawbacks and stresses. No party is without them. But the overall party was a lot of fun and very entertaining. My friends commended my dinner (which I cooked) and fully complimented my story.

It was all worth it.

Some advice for creating a Clue game dinner party: 1. invite your guests ahead of time. I am ashamed to say I actually planned this last minute (a week in advance) and a lot of my friends were unable to come. Plan in advance so you have the friends you want there. 2. Come up with your solutions first. It was very easy to create a story around the solution so I knew what info was needed with what person. 3. Have real utensils. I had plastic party utensils, and several forks broke during the second course (cursed chicken). 4. Have fun. The story doesn’t need to be perfect, though it has to make sense. If you don’t want to cook, don’t. You can turn these characters into anyone you want. Just have fun with it.

Anyway, I do recommend a dinner party birthday, even if it’s not a murder mystery. It makes you feel special just having friends and family talking to each other around you.

Thanks to my friends and fam for making a great Clue game.

img_8120

Back in School

This is kind of an add-on to a video I recently put up on my YouTube channel (which you can watch here if you want).

As I had stated, I am back in school. I’m a full-time graduate student once again. It’s an online course, but with technology being what it is these days (i.e. amazing) I have to ‘attend class’ at very specific times. I’m not going to say the school or major quite yet as I don’t feel 100% comfortable, but I will tell you it will be for a second Masters. I’ll now take questions.

Why are you back in school? It seemed like the best thing for me to do. What I want to do in life as a potential career is kind of unique and uncommon. And in order to do that, or something like that, I would need an education in something specific.

But, Alexandra, why did you bother getting a Masters in the first place if this second one is what you need? Because what I want to do will combine the Masters into one great career. Also, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I received for anything. Both of my graduate degrees will, I believe, help me be the best I can be in the area I want/will strive to work in.

Why are you telling us? I mentioned this in the video as the reason I made the video anyway. It’s a way to tell you what’s going on. As an audience, I respect your time. Also as an audience, you do not need to know everything about me. The thing is, being a full-time graduate student and working gives me a limited amount of time to do other things. And while I pride myself in organization, I am absolute shit in time management. It is my hope that I will force myself to be better throughout the next several semesters. And, sorry to say, hobbies such as YouTube and this website is put on the back burner to make way for a healthy lifestyle. If I have to take a break from writing in order to get sleep or in order to exercise, I will.

Does this mean you’re quitting? Absolutely not! I will hold onto this website and my channel for as long as I can. Trust me, quitting is very much a last option.

It is my hope that you guys make good and healthy choices, and that your time management is done in a healthy way. Do not sacrifice physical or mental health for work, school, or hobbies. You are more important than that.

Hugs

Alexandra

Don’t See a Play with Me

As a theatre person, I love seeing onstage shows. I prefer straight plays over musicals, as I’ve said before, but I don’t think you should see either with me. Now, why would I say that considering I love theatre and I want to encourage others to love it as well?

Because I’m an awful audience member.

And I have some examples: one with my past roommates, one with my mother, and one when I was on my own.

Let’s start with my roommates, and actually this wasn’t a play. It was a movie, the last Hobbit movie to be exact. When I watch movies, there are several factors I keep an eye on: characters (acting and how they’re written), writing, editing, and stunts. The last Hobbit movie, as much shit as it got, was quite beautiful. And when I get excited, I must express! Much to the amusement of my roommates when I was all over the final battle. They never let me live it down, and they never saw a movie with me again.

A while ago, I got to see ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ the musical in Utah with my mother. I love ‘Hunchback’. It’s one of the few musicals I genuinely love. I was very excited to get to see it (and if you want to know deeper thoughts on what I thought of the show I saw, I put a review on my blog that you can find here). Again, my excitement showed and I raved (quietly) to Mother as the show went on. Problem is, I also went off on what was wrong about it. I was full critic-mode when I really was just enjoying the show. Mother didn’t seem to mind, or she was just being polite.

I fully realized how awful I am when I watched the David Tennant/Catherine Tate stage version of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Thank God I watched this alone, because I was having full conversations with the characters, the actors, the designers, and Shakespeare about what I thought. Mother did walk in sometime during the show, and I was excitedly telling her what I thought. She left the room. When I finished the AMAZING show, I sat there exhausted (as I do after a good or thought-provoking play) and realized, I talk a lot.

The blessing is I keep it quiet between me and whoever is with me. I’ve also learned to sit away from other audience members when I can so I don’t disturb anyone. But if you see a show with me, you are under threat of me exuding my excitement onto you.

That’s why you should not see a play with me.

Finances Happen

If you’re a normal person, then you have to work to provide for yourself. And if you’re like me, living paycheck to paycheck, you’ve had some unfortunate moments with money.

It happened to me this past month.

I forgot a bill and when it came out of my account, BOOM, I was hit with a -98 balance in my bank account.

The pain…

Of course, I’m upset about it. Meanwhile, I have Mother telling me ‘it happens’. I KNOW IT HAPPENS, I’M STILL UPSET.

So what do you do in this situation?

Your best.

I just had to hang on until payday when things can even out again, and I’ll be good.

Seriously, guys. Negative balances happen. Sometimes more than you want. Just keep honest, keep working, do your best, and try your hardest not to let it get you too far down. (I would’ve said ‘don’t let it get you down’, but we all know that’s just a dirty fucking lie). Be upset, but don’t let it overtake you. Shed a tear, then do your best.

It’s okay. It’s happens.

Hugs

Alexandra

Having Colored Hair in the Workplace

I recently had a meeting at work where someone who was hired with me asked what the dress code for the place was. Turns out we didn’t have one, as long as it wasn’t outlandish and remember what impression you want to leave with potential advertisers, etc. I asked about hair color. No rule! However, I may get looks because it’s a pretty conservative office. So, now I have thoughts about what I want to do with my hair.

Part of my relationship with my hair was heavily influenced by what color I was allowed to have. My undergrad university was a conservative school with dress codes, including not being allowed to have non-traditional colored hair. Right before I left for Glasgow, to a liberal arts foreign university, I dyed my hair blue. img_7862I wanted to do something new and something I was never able to do before, and that is have a ‘shocking’, non-traditional color. And I LOVED my blue hair. Did not regret it for a moment.

After I graduated, I entered a workplace where I could not have colored hair. Back to a natural color, and I went with my own natural strawberry blonde. There were moments I was bummed and just wanted to change my hair color, but alas.

Why is it such a big deal having colored hair in the workplace?

I don’t get it.

It’s self-expression and it doesn’t hinder from performances. It’s like tattoos (which some workplaces also banned). But how is it unprofessional?

So, I Googled it.

Some people say it’s a distraction. That’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the person who feels the need to judge silently. It doesn’t distract me from my job, and I’m still the same person I was when I had natural hair.

Some people say it’s a sign of rebellion. The only thing I’m rebelling against is my own self-doubt that I can’t look cute. I’m not fighting the patriarchy through my hair color. I’m rebelling against nothing except self-loathing.

Some people say it’s a form of immaturity. To this I say: whatever. I have met far more immature natural people than immature ‘unnatural’ people. The most immature adult I have met was a natural person (and she gave people shit about having colored hair). One of the most mature people I’ve ever met had tattoos (she loves colored hair on others but not herself). Immaturity has no correlation with colored hair.

Now, there was an argument I saw that stood out because it gave some good arguments. It’s considered unprofessional in a job with high human interaction and “they might be unappeasing to the customer/client you’re dealing with, and you wanna retain your customers/clients.” (Link) Okay, fair. Not enough to ban it, in my opinion, but thanks for actually coming up with an argument.

Anyway, I don’t get it.

If you have to abide to natural hair in the workplace, do it. I’m sorry you have to, but you shouldn’t threaten your position for it. Self-express in other ways. I’m fortunate that I was given a go-ahead, so hopefully I’ll have some colored hair to show you guys soon.

Hugs

Alexandra

Changing Wardrobe

Told you I’d be back with a post about the change in wardrobe.

Part of my yearly goals was to completely update my wardrobe. 2019 was the year I finally want my closet to have pieces I will truly wear in a style that fully reflects me. So what is that style?

Black.

Straight up, all black.

I could hear you now: “Alexandra, are you going through an emo phase in your late 20s?” No, I still have color. Let me explain:

img_7846I wanted my actual clothing pieces to be black. No design, no words, nothing. Literally just black. But I want my shoes and accessories to be colorful. Bright blue shoes, pink hat, jewelry with stones of all colors. So, why did I want this as my style, and how does it reflect me?

Plain black makes me feel sensible. professional, clean, and confident. Black makes me feel slimmer, even if I’m wearing something hella baggy. It’s easy to put outfits together. I can dress it up or down, and be appropriate for any occasion. Now, I’m not trying to convert you to a black wardrobe, I’m just describing why.

img_7847But, I’m still very much a nerdy, colorful, fun person. And I want to showcase that  through accessories. It’s what people tend to notice first, and it pops a bit more on a black canvas.

One of the biggest things, guys: don’t go out and immediately buy a bunch of new clothing pieces. Add to the wardrobe a little at a time so you appreciate your style and wardrobe. And usually what I’ll do is, if I get a new piece, I’ll donate something else until I have a wardrobe I’m happy with.

I am so happy changing my wardrobe and I genuinely think I’ll be able to show my true self a lot more than I previously did.

If you want to change yours, remember these steps: know what your style is/what you want it to look like, ask yourself how you see yourself in this style, go through your full wardrobe and donate things that don’t make you happy and/or don’t go with your style, keep comfort clothes and everyday clothes separate, and buy one thing at a time. This is only if you want a specifically styled wardrobe. If you don’t care, then don’t care. If you prefer your hodge podge, then prefer it with pride. I wanted to stylize, and I wanted to give advice.

What you wear should make you happy, whether or not it fits with today’s fashions.

Hugs

Alexandra

How I Stay Awake at Work

I have a desk job. Sometimes staring at a computer screen in one spot doing something monotonous can make you drowsy, especially since I can’t listen to music or podcasts or anything. But I’ve come up with a few things that keep me awake on the days I get too weary.

img_7809First things first, something to drink. I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks or anything like that, and honestly I don’t recommend them. What I keep at my desk isa bottle of ice and water. Freezing cold water is both hydrating and it wakes me up a little. I also opt for a reusable bottle so there’s no waste and a bottle that lets me know how many ounces I’m drinking throughout the day.

I also always have gum and mints on the standby. Giving my mouth something to do (giggity) makes me a little more alive. Moving something keeps me from dozing. As well, it helps stop my appetite from mindless snacking via boredom. And who doesn’t like nice, minty fresh breathe.

img_7810To go along with moving something/getting the mind occupied, I have a stress ball on my desk to play with. It doesn’t make noise, so it doesn’t bother my coworkers. And it gives my hands something to do when I’m reading stuff on the screen or if I’m on the phone (especially if I’m on the phone, as you may know my fear of them). If I had the ability, I’d rather draw or write as I work, but I can’t.

On another healthy side of moving, I recommend getting up and stretching every hour or two. Every two hours I take a little walk around the office. It also clears my mind on long days.

img_7807And lastly, something I definitely recommend is peppermint essential oil. What I do is make a little inhaler from it. When I feel like I’m about to pass out from exhaustion, I take a nice whiff of peppermint and it shocks me awake. If you don’t have little inhalers, just put a drop in your palm, rub your palms together, put your hands in front of your nose gas mask-style, and take a hard sniff. A good wake up call if ever I had one.

Anyway, these definitely help me out when I’m tired at work. But remember, the real medicine to exhaustion is sleep. Take naps before or after work, and make sure you get plenty of sleep.

Good luck.

Hugs

Alexandra

Why Phone Calls Terrify Me (and Some Research About It)

It seems to be a stereotype amongst the Millennials and Gen Z to be afraid of phone calls and making calls. And it seems to be true, in terms of my own self.

I hate making phone calls/answering phone calls. It gives me real anxiety and it truly scares me. So I wondered, where did the stereotype come from? Or why are people my age so scared of answering/making phone calls? I decided to look at a couple of articles, and here’s what I found:

According to a survey done by BankMyCell, who talked to more than 1,200 Millennials, the main reasons we avoid calls are as follows: time consumption, work responsibilities, being heard on the phone in personal surroundings, and the ‘person’ factor. The ‘person’ factor, as I call it, are the neediness, annoying, whiny, confrontation-y part of the phone calls. Someone else made a good point, saying, “It’s simple: if you text or email someone, they can respond on their time. But if you call someone, they need to respond right now on your time. It’s just inconsiderate.” (Andy Meek).

Another article had an example panic monologue that went something like this:

“Wait, what if she asks me a question I don’t have the answer to? What if I try to explain things using my hands and nothing makes any sense without my excellent hand gestures? What if the connection dies mid-sentence and my incomplete thought makes me sound like I hate HR? Oh no, what if I have to leave a voicemail?” (Peter Du)

The fear of embarrassment seems to be heightened amongst the Millennials as well, which may contribute. (And when I tried to look up some articles about that, all I got were articles written by people that said they were embarrassed to be a Millennial, so that didn’t help). This I understand. Phone calls are in the moment, and the last thing you want to do is say something wrong.

I did look into other articles, but the problem became the hostility toward Millennials being glued to their phones yet are cowards enough not to answer it. They’re precious little babies that whine about everything. (Obviously, I don’t agree, but that’s what the articles summarized). Rude.

So, to conclude the first half, Millennials tend to be fearful of phone calls because it’s time consuming (which is inconsiderate), they can get confrontational, and embarrassment may happen.

Now, what about me? When I say I’m scared to make phone calls, I mean I could get a panic attack from it (great, considering making phone calls is 65% of my current job). It gives me so much anxiety! Why? Well…

It hearkens back to my undergrad college when I had a job at a call center. I was already an anxious bean, but phone calls weren’t the worst thing ever so I thought I could handle it. Until I actually worked there. Two reasons: the callees and the coworkers. The callees were a special kind of rude because, while we were not selling anything, we were doing political surveys about candidates and hot-button issues like gun laws. I’ll allow you to use your imagination, but I was in a constant state of fear or sorrow.

My coworkers were something else. You had no choice in your hours, bathroom breaks were ordained (and you only got one a shift), you couldn’t take a break from calling because your computer would automatically call for you and you couldn’t stop it, and the supervisors were ruthless. They always listened in on your calls and would tell you everything you did wrong during your call. If you didn’t reach a quota (because that’s totally your fault), your pay was docked. You couldn’t socialize with anyone around you, as proven by getting bad marks for saying hi to a castmates son who worked there too. And here’s where it became very obvious that they didn’t care: I got very sick and lost my voice, which means I couldn’t talk on the phone. When I let them know, they just rolled their eyes and said I can take a day but that’s my only day off I’m allowed (because one of the rules was that we were only allowed one day off in nine months).

TLDR; I’m terrified of phones because I was traumatized. I’m scared people will yell at me, I’m scared people will treat me like garbage, I’m scared I’ll do something wrong, I’m scared that I’m not allowed to do anything else while on the phone because it’ll royally mess me up.

Anyway, I’m screwed over when it comes to calls.

And yet I have to do it every day because income is more important than anything else.

Dammit.

(DISCLAIMER: I have a good job, and being on the phone at work is getting easier because I just use a character, ‘White Collar Alexandra’. I was very aware when I was offered my job that I would be very involved with phone calls)

Commissions-Ish

I’m in a precarious position of needing some money. However, I HATE asking for it. So I tried something I never planned on doing, but I am not opposed to:

Commissions.

img_7554

If you didn’t know, I draw. Not terribly often, but more lately than usual. I have those little comics every Friday, sure, but my colored pencil work is what I advertised. I put it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, everything that I was doing commissions. I had quite a few people on all platforms enjoy my art, so I thought I’d do well.

I got two commissions.

I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit disappointed. But I am also understanding. Not everyone has cash to spare and/or not everyone has a need for colored pencil art. I get it.

Still a bummer, though.

Sometimes things don’t work out like you hope. I was hoping to be able to put a little cash into going to grad school orientation, but it didn’t quite work out. I was still happy to draw for two people who were able to help me out.

I’m still gonna draw. If you’d like to, you can commission me at drawing.by.notcon@gmail.com but only if you’d like to.

And if I can give one more little inspirational message: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Art-wise, I have much more talented friends and I feel like commissions aren’t something I’d be good at. But I still did it. You never know, guys.

Hugs

Alexandra

Pride

June is Pride Month. And 2019 seemed to be the most open year for pride I’ve ever personally seen. Daniel Howell and Eugene Lee Yang, two prominent YouTubers I watch a lot and follow, came out. Taylor Swift made a fun song (again, in my opinion) supporting the LGBT+ community. I went to my very first Pride.

Oh, and I fully came out.

I’m Abrosexual, also known as sexually fluid.

I was very worried, considering it’s a sexuality not often heard of/often very misunderstood. No one at the Pride festival had heard of it. When I came out to my mom (who thought I was bi), she was fully accepting, but admitted she didn’t fully understand. But it’s okay. It gave me a chance to educate and enlighten and celebrate.

And that’s what Pride is about.

Happy Pride. To everyone, no matter who you are.

img_7614

Hugs

Alexandra