Glasgow “Regrets”…or lack thereof

img_3320As you may know, I spent a year in Glasgow, Scotland receiving my Masters from the University of Scotland. I was chatting with someone who heard that I had some interesting adventure while I was out there, and since it’s college in a foreign land I probably had something I regretted. But, to be honest, there’s nothing I did during that year that I regret. Let me go through some stuff.

Starting with some trips I took, I went to London several times for various things, including spending the day in the Tower of London, a book tour (or two), and an expo. Did not regret a single thing about those trips. I didn’t even regret staying in a sketchy hostel while I was down there because, man, that was an experience. I went up to Edinburgh even more, mostly to see cats. I went to Manchester to see a drag show and spent some time by the Alan Turing memorial, where it’s a mini tent city sadly. Don’t regret spending time with them. And my biggest trip was to Paris, France, where I stayed at Disneyland Paris, spent a few days there, and went on a Paris excursion to the Louvre. Hella expensive, but I don’t regret a single expense.

When I was actually staying in Glasgow, I still had the time of my life, with no regret. I spent time in city centre whenever I had the aching to be there, and I found a ramen shop which I ate at more times than I can remember. Of course, there were plenty of events I took part in, mostly shows and concerts. I saw Amadeus live, Christmas Queens, Bianca Del Rio, an opera, plenty of plays (hello, major in school), a Halloween costume contest (which I won), an outdoor festival with Radiohead, and concerts by Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Blink-182, Starset, Breaking Benjamin, and more that I’m probably forgetting right now. What’s more, I was VIP to some of the concerts (because it’s cheaper in the UK than in the US…for some reason). Did not regret a single moment of those.

What about school? How was I able to do all these great things and be a Masters student. Honestly, I don’t remember. But I did it. I worked hard, got my degree with honors and lots of experience. Not only was I able to work as a dramaturg and write a play, but I was able to be a reviewer at the Fringe in Edinburgh and I was able to write and perform a small one-woman piece.

Long story short, I don’t regret my time. Even now as I’m back in school for a degree that seemingly doesn’t have much of anything to do with the Masters I got, I don’t regret the experience at all. I’m sure I had some regrets back in the day, but looking back I have nothing but love for my year out there. I can’t afford to spend brain power regretting anything. I’d rather remember it as the awesome place and time it was.

Hugs (and haggis, which wasn’t disgusting)

Alexandra

Meet Sophie

During my unintentional hiatus, I got a new little puppy!

Some of you may know about a little angel of a dog named Carmel that I had. Carmel was a chihuahua that died a year and a half ago on my birthday celebration. She was with me through a lot of trials and hardships since I was 13 years old.

While I am very much a cat person, I understood how having a small dog with me was beneficial to my overall state of being.

After searching around, figuring out my best options, and trying new things I found Sophie.

She’s a long-haired chihuahua (probably a mix of something else but her parents were both your generic short-haired chihuahuas so). She was born on 5 January, the same birthday as one of my heroes Hayao Miyazaki, which is why I gave her a Ghibli name. Sophie is named after the heroine from Howl’s Moving Castle.

She’s officially part of the crew with Assistant Edgar, Caretaker Willow, Official Toothless, and more. I’m sure she’ll have a chance to speak to you once she figures out her place in the TG home.

Welcome, Sophie!

Hugs

Alexandra

Time to Shop! (Also, Happy Friday the 13th)

It’s time for Christmas shopping!

Here are some tips I use when I go shopping:

  1. Coupons! Yes, I sound like a total suburban mom, but coupons are literal wallet lifesavers. If you are members of any catalogs, keep an eye on coupons usually glued on the outside of them. Otherwise, a simple Google search could help you out. And make sure they’re in date.
  2. Reusable bags! Not only are they eco-friendly, but they are opaque so your friends and family can’t see what you bought them.
  3. Honey! This is if you’re buying anything online. There’s an extension for your Google called Honey, and all it does is provide promo and coupon codes for your online purchases. Costs nothing and saves you money, and I use it all the time. (This is not an ad, I just love Honey).
  4. Have! A! Budget! This is the biggest BIGGEST thing about shopping. Know how much you have and how much you can spend. Be frugal; don’t go overboard if you don’t have the case. Sit down with yourself before you do any shopping and know what you got.
  5. Go to multiple places! Various places have various prices, so it’s best to go to those various places to get the best prices you can. If that makes sense.
  6. Please, for the love of God, wear deodorant and have mints/gum! Shopping for Christmas is so crowded, and the only thing worse than bumping elbows with strangers is being around smelly ones. Don’t be that one.

I know I’m missing some, but these seem most important at the moment. As you go about your shopping, make sure you’re kind to yourself and those around you, especially the over-worked customer service workers.

Good luck.

AND happy Friday the 13th! Just wanted to say that, so double good luck with your shopping.

Hugs

Alexandra

Finishing a Semester

78741619_10215728516380993_3577122662763200512_oThis past Friday I’ve finished the first semester in my graduate program.

Now, I’ve actually done a graduate program before. I have my Masters. So, yes, I’m going through it all over again. As opposed to my dramaturgy and playwriting degree I’ve gotten before, on campus, I’m pursuing Information Science online. It’s a whole new monster.

I went from an art to a science, essentially. From left brain to right brain. But it’s something I want to do.

The challenge this semester came from three things: time management, IT, and environment.

I love being organized. It’s something I do very well. But I absolutely suck at time management. I didn’t know how to properly do it this semester, and it really kicked my ass. And now I’m hoping I learned something to take into the next semester.

I can work my way around a computer, handling a blog, making videos, etc. But I never expected how much IT I would actually encounter. I knew I would be learning some new IT, but I didn’t expect to learn Greek AND Chinese. (Basically, I didn’t expect how much I would be learning and it really killed my brain for a hot minute).

I’ve always loved being in classes, having an instructor in front of me, taking space as it were. I liked having offices to go to, a library to study in, and peers ready to meet for a drink and a study session. Now that I’m doing everything online, it’s not the same. I get to wait for emails, studying exists almost solely in my own personal library, and the nearest classmate is literal hundreds of miles away. It’s tougher, but, again, I hope I’ve learned something I can take with me into the next semester.

So, my fellow college students, enjoy your winter break. And let’s hope together that we don’t kill ourselves next semester.

Hugs

Alexandra

When I Didn’t Take My Medication

I take medication.

I have several pills I take a day for physical and mental reasons. And for those who take meds like I do, you can imagine how bad it is when you do not take it. For the lucky ones who do not need to take meds, I’ll let you know how it is.

At first, I was too stressed and simply forgot. Days passed and, finally, I was just ignorant of my own need to take the medication. I think it was a combination of being overwhelmed and the unnecessary need to self-destruct.

I went several weeks without them.

But a recent kick in the booty reminded me that I NEED the medication for health reasons.

Starting small, my body and mental state deteriorated. I was constantly tired (thanks to anemia/an iron deficiency) and needed sleep all the time. I gained weight, becoming much more of a tub than I usually am. But I passed all this off. I was tired because I’m a full time grad student and I work, etc. I’m naturally fat, so whatever, maybe I didn’t gain weight.

It only gets worse, though, guys. The amount of exhaustion I had worsened. I gained more weight and craved a ton of sugar. My skin went to total pot, breaking out and becoming irritated. I was getting sadder and more anxious, having panic attacks over simple problems. Again, I passed it all off as stress from school.

It got worse. Tired, extra weight, bad skin, sadness, and anxiety. Very painful cramping. Bad sleep despite my exhaustion. A spiral of depression that stopped me from taking care of myself, hygiene-wise. Really bad headaches. Some fun organ problems I’d rather not get into. Hooray for withdrawal.

Then came the wake up call.

For reasons, I’m not going to dive into what happened that caused that jolt in me. Some of it is a bit personal. But the point is, I knew I needed to start my medication again.

So I did.

I’m still in the process of getting myself back to a good place, but I am getting better. My skin still sucks, I got that extra tub, and I’m sad. But my limbs aren’t heavy, my organs seem to be functioning correctly, and I don’t have a panic attack when my pen runs out of ink.

The point is, beautiful people, take your medication. If you feel it isn’t working, talk to your doctor. Do NOT quit cold turkey; it does the body harm. And honestly, you should never be so overwhelmed you forget to take your medication. If you are, take a breather (note to my future self).

Stay healthy.

Hugs

Alexandra

P.S. Drink water too ^_^

When You’re Overwhelmed (and a story)

This past weekend, my family and I had a yard sale.

I had just pulled a very late night/very early morning, on top of getting woken up early to do the yard sale. To put it bluntly, I was exhausted. On top of my exhaustion was my stress from being a full time grad student with a lot of assignments due or will be due soon. I had four assignments and a test this week alone. Plus, I work and other regular human stuff.

I’m helping, bringing stuff out, getting a little frustrated that one of the family members wasn’t getting out of bed. They were tired, I get it, but so am I. And we needed help.

The kicker came when I was in the backyard trying to take care of a table. The table would best be handled by two, but I was alone. While trying to get the table, Leroy got out and disappeared out the front yard. I freaked and while I was trying to handle the table and get Leroy to come back, the table knocked into my teeth. Luckily, nothing broke but it still hurt.

Now, I’m overwhelmed. I was trying not to yell at people, I was taking a breather inside the house, and (shamefully) I started to cry.

Another family member came in and asked what I did to myself. I don’t like that question; it suggests I intentionally hurt myself which can be triggering. I was telling them (just to clarify, it was a parent) that I was overwhelmed and angry. Even without the intention of raising my voice, I probably did.

They told me to go to my room.

That’s a child’s punishment. I lost my position as ‘adult’ in their eyes and was sent to my room. In their defence, they might have seen a temper tantrum and thought I needed a break. They came into the room later and said they wanted me to get away and collect my thoughts.

But they could’ve worded it better in the moment. Couldn’t we all, though.

But what makes it worse is that they, in a scolding manner, said ‘go to your room’ and then went about the yard sale business by going back to the front yard.

Of course, I went. Despite being an adult, I listen to my parents. I ended up further crying, ranting to the cat about just wanting to help and getting scolded because I got hurt and am upset. Then I pulled a full emo and just listened to the same song on a loop about how I suck as a person.

Here’s what I did right and here’s what I did wrong:

Right: I took a breather. It would’ve been far more of a blow up if I didn’t even take those 10 seconds before the parent came to see me. When you are overwhelmed, step back, take some time to collect your thoughts, and calm down.

Wrong: I didn’t ask for help. I could’ve avoided a hurt mouth and some tears if I simply asked someone to help me with the table. There are people who care, even if they’re online. Seek help when you’re overwhelmed, whether from your boss or your teacher or a friend online.

Right: Crying. That’s right. It’s not shameful, even if it feels like it at the moment. Your body needs to release those emotions sometimes, so when you need to cry, go ahead and cry.

Wrong: I listened to the worst song possible in those emotional states. When you’re overwhelmed, you don’t feel the best about yourself. Don’t make you feel worse by listening to a song about how much you suck. You don’t suck. I promise. Listen to uplifting songs to put yourself in a better state of mind.

Of course, there was more right and wrong, but this post is quite long. After that debacle, I was able to pull myself together long enough to do the yard sale with my family. After we ended it, I went back to bed and relaxed.

Try not to get overwhelmed with stuff in your life, but when/if those moments come remember that it does not make you or others around you worst people. Remember to breathe.

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