The Declassified Convention Survival Guide

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I love going to conventions. I don’t get to go as often as I used to in college, but this year, I got to go to Comicpalooza again!

Since there will be many conventions happening all around the country this summer, here are some tips for making the most out of your con experience.

  1. Plan ahead. If you’re 100% certain that you’re gonna go to this convention, book your tickets ASAP. Take advantage of early bird prices or special offers. You don’t even have to go for all three days. Pick one day. Trust me, it will be more than enough. It also helps to know the schedule, too.
  2. Have a really good costume. You don’t have to know how to sew in order to make an amazing cosplay. My Mantis cosplay is made from stuff I have in my closet. The only things I actually made were the sleeves (which I knitted) and the headband antennae.
  3. Find good parking/transportation. If you can’t book a hotel close to the convention, find a good parking space that’s within walking distance.
  4. Get there early. Lines for getting your pass, autographs, and the big Q&As are long. Get a program as soon as you get there and figure out which events are most important for you.
  5. Keep Captain Cold’s words in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ReF-nlrQAY. The best of plans will inevitably fall apart, so don’t panic if you miss out on the big Q&A or can’t afford a picture with your favorite celebrity. You’re at the con to have fun!
  6. Remember to eat and drink! With all the events going on, it’s important to make time for a little snack and water break. If you have food allergies like me, bring a snack or figure out what places nearby will have something you can eat.
  7. Splurge wisely. It is REALLY tempting to blow all your money on everything you see, but if you’re on a budget like me, it’s better to splurge on one big thing than spending your money on tshirts. Photo ops are my best recommendation. A picture is worth a lot, at least to me. It may not sell on eBay, but that’s not really the point.

Overall, I had a fun time at Comicpalooza. Check out my photos on my Instagram:

Why I Refuse to Call Myself "Trash"

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I have a love-hate relationship with modern day slang. I had to deal with “swagger” being a thing during my college days, but nowadays, the latest millenial slang is pretty good. I love how “goals” is a thing along with “#squadgoals” and #relationshipgoals.” We all should have goals and aspire to have an awesome life. I also love “slay,” cuz, you know, vampire slayer lover here!

There is one word I refuse to use in reference to myself, though: Trash.

Whenever someone refers to themselves as “trash,” it means that they devote themselves so much to a fandom such as the DC shows, or to a celebrity.

It’s kind of ironic that the generation that gets called “narcissistic” refers to itself as “trash.” As if millenials don’t have enough self-esteem issues!  I get that the people of Tumblr and Twitter don’t actually mean to compare themselves to garbage, but the problem is that they forgotten that the words that we choose to call ourselves have a powerful impact on ourselves.

You know what else gets called trash? Homeless people, prostitutes, and aborted babies. No, you’re not special snowflakes, fellow millenials. You’re not entitled to whatever you want just because you want it. But at the same time, stop calling yourselves trash when you talk about how much you love something. Every single human life, no matter who they are or where they live, has a God-given intrinsic value. It’s like what Peggy Carter said in the Agent Carter season 1 finale: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”

Millenials of all ages, know what you are worth by being humble.

“Wait, what?” you ask. “How does being humble help us understand what we are worth?”

Once again, we come to a seemingly impossible paradox. Humility is not thinking the worst of yourself. It’s knowing that you can always do better. It means not seeking out attention for the sake of stroking your own vanity, but at the same time learning to give credit when credit is due. Be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t rub them into everyone’s face. And most of all, don’t go for a minimalist spirituality by thinking “Oh as long as I don’t do bad things, I won’t go to Hell.” That’s not how it works, honey.

There’s a wonderful prayer called the “Litany of Humility” that spells out what it means to be humble. It’s a prayer I highly recommend you contemplate this Lent. I often pray this during retreats. My favorite part of the prayer is “That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.” It reminds me that we are all called to holiness and that God wants us to love ourselves as much as He loves us. That does not mean referring to ourselves as trash or by becoming narcissists. It simply means knowing our own value. We are worth dying for and as such, we need to live for Him.

Seven Quick Takes on The March For Life

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In case you haven’t heard, a serious winter storm advisory has been put out throughout the DC Metropolitan area. In spite of that, the March For Life is still going to happen. I know that I haven’t lived in the Mid-Atlantic for over a decade, but I hope that everyone who’s in the Washington DC area stays safe! So for my Seven Quick Takes, I want to look into the March For Life and the Pro-Life movement in general.

 

— 1 —

Many people are cautioning people to think before travelling to the DC area. Deacon Greg Kandra and Joe Grabowski give their two cents on why it’s better to be safe than frozen and sorry. Granted, I only marched at a Pro-Life rally once. And it was during a time when it was seriously hot in Houston. While I applaud those who are going, I don’t want anyone getting hurt or injured in the name of the unborn.

That being said, for those who are already in the DC area, my prayers are going out to you. 

I expect to see a lot of this going around:

Or this:

brace yourselves

— 2 —

So for those who aren’t going to DC or a March for Life in general, what the heck can we at home do? Marge Fenelon and other Catholics are promoting #FastFriday. Taking on an old Catholic tradition, be willing to fast in some way in solidarity with the unborn and those marching for life this weekend. If you have dietary issues like me, figure out a way to fast if you seriously feel like you can’t go one day without meat. You can fast from snacking or from sweets. Other things you can fast from today include, but aren’t limited to: texting, social media, Pinterest, television, gossiping, pornography, smoking, talking about politics, etc. For more ideas on what to fast on, check out this post! (It’s also a great thing to read if you want to get a head start on figuring out your Lenten resolution. Remember, y’all, Lent’s coming early this year!)

— 3 —

If you want to know what kind of prayers you can pray for today in particular, Divine Office has a list of prayer intentions for all the mysteries of the Rosary. Have a bit of reluctance when it comes to praying the Rosary? Read up on 10 Ways You Can Pray The Rosary from my archives! Other prayers you can offer is the Angelus, usually prayed at noon, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, usually prayed at 3PM. I highly suggest praying throughout the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing.” This website lists off a lot of good short prayers, but remember, don’t rush through them. Pray with your heart as well as with your mind and lips.

— 4 —

Being pro-life isn’t just a thing for old, Republican white men. LifeTeen has a funny guide on How to Be Bro-Life on Youtube targeted towards young men:

Fellow brothers in Christ, be more involved in the Pro-Life movement!

Same goes for teenagers and young adults: Check out the Prolife Youth website.

— 5 —

Never overlook opportunities to evangelize. Check out this article from Aleteia which shows someone having a pro-life conversation with someone who is decisively pro-choice. The ending might surprise you.

Speaking of surprises, check out these videos from a pro-life feminist YouTube channel called Consistently Quirky. These ladies are not your typical pro-lifers–their crazy hair being the first indicator! There’s also an interview on Aleteia with the president of Feminists for Life.

So yes, there is such a thing as a pro-life feminist. We seriously need to redefine what feminism means. I hope being pro-life can be one step in changing that definition.

— 6 —

Don’t forget to reach out to those who have suffered from the trauma of abortion. I’m not just talking about the abortion survivors like Claire Culwell. I’m talking about the women who had abortions and the families who suffered the aftermath of it. Lysa Terkurst recently opened up about her own abortion on her website. I also have a friend who has a blog dedicated to the siblings of aborted children called Surviving Sibling which I highly recommend you check out. Finally, if you or someone you know used to work in the abortion industry or is seriously considering leaving said industry, check out And Then There Were None. It’s a nonprofit founded by former abortion leader Abby Johnson.

— 7 —

While I was gathering stories for this post, I saw that while #MarchForLife is trending, some pro-choice hashtags are also trending such as #Roe43 and #reclaimroe. If you’re not going to fast from social media today, make #whywemarch a trending hashtag. Post on Instagram and Facebook about why you’re pro-life. However, I would caution against using graphic abortion images. Read this article from Simca Fischer to find out why.

Swift, Synod, and Second Hand News

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You might notice that I haven’t really been commenting on the Synod of the Family. I have a perfectly legitimate reason for doing so.

The Synod on the Family is basically like a giant Town Hall meeting. Keeping track of it would be like me watching C-SPAN. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m praying novenas and offering up decades of my Rosary for Pope Francis and the bishops, but that is it.

I don’t wanna hear about who people say is liberal or conservative. I thought Catholicism was above politics like that. Or at least it should be. I know for a fact that there won’t be any major, catastrophic changes nor will the Church “get with the times” the way that the world wants it to. If it changes, it will change in small ways. Just like how Pope Benedict changed the way that we say the Nicene Creed. It’s a change, but not a catastrophic one. In all honesty, I just wanna know when Pope Francis is gonna canonize the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux. The rest of what I hear about the Synod just feels like gossip.

Speaking of which…

You already know that I’m a Swiftie and that I am a strong supporter of Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris’s relationship. Rumors have spread of a breakup between the two of them. I refuse to believe them. Is the media just having a slow day for Taylor? She’s on the covers of GQ and Vogue and that’s not enough? I may not like how she’s dressed for these magazine covers or the unfortunate implications of “Wildest Dreams,” but I still want the best for her. She hasn’t exactly posed for a Victoria Secret photoshoot yet nor has she acted in an outright racy matter. She’s doing really well compared to other musicians I’ve grown up with. So for crying out loud, LEAVE TAYLOR ALONE!

I’ll leave you with a song I like listening to when I have to deal with news I don’t wanna hear:

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet : A Spoiler-Free Book Review

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A long time ago…well, actually, three or so years ago back in my crazy college days, I was getting over a broken heart. Nothing new there, really. As with anyone in a moping state of mind, I needed something to distract me. So I was browsing Youtube when one video blog I followed linked to this video:

For those who don’t know, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern vlog adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice created by Hank Green and Bernie Su. I fell in love with the series as soon as I saw the t-shirt with Austen’s most famous opening line. It became my obsession, my catharsis over my sucky dating life, and was there for me when I had my post-college crisis. If you want to watch the whole series, check out the playlist here.

Something you’ll notice, if you watch the playlist all the way through, is that there is more than one YouTube channel involved in this story. One channel involves Lydia Bennet, the youngest Bennet sister.

Coming to love Lydia Bennet and being emotionally invested in her story arc was the last thing I expected when I got into the series. Lydia Bennet’s character growth is treated very differently in the series than the book, which is a major improvement considering the original had Lydia marrying a man twice her age who didn’t love her and living in the north of England, which in British terms is the equivalent of moving to Alaska or Canada. The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet follows up on Lydia’s life after the havoc that George Wickham wreaked on her and her family. Since the book itself doesn’t come out until September 29th, I am going to keep this review spoiler-free.

I will have to say, though, that this post will have spoilers for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and all the videos in relation to them (Lydia Bennet’s channel, the Pemberley Digital videos, and Maria Lu’s videos), so like I said, if you haven’t seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries yet, watch the playlist first.

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet looks into Lydia Bennet’s life after her sister decides to finish her video blog. Lydia is undergoing counseling in between finishing community college and has no idea where life will take her next. For the longest time, Lydia saw herself as the wild, carefree party girl but that lifestyle led her to making a huge mistake that almost cost everything. So this story centers on Lydia figuring out who she is outside of the lifestyle she used to have.

Changing one’s life doesn’t overnight, however. Even as Lydia makes progress in improving herself, she  comes close to backsliding into her party girl persona when she hits some obstacles that keep her from pursuing her dream of studying psychology. Even though Lydia has her family, she takes this journey of self-discovery on her own. And all the while, the people she’s closest too start adjusting to their new lives as well. The story is realistic in showing Lydia’s desire to change and her fears that she will never be seen as something other than a semi-famous YouTube sensation or the wild party girl. And even though the incident involving George Wickham’s attempt of distributing a sex tape to the internet is over, everyone in Lydia’s life is still walking on eggshells around her.

The good news is that life takes Lydia in a whole new direction. Her relationships with her cousin, Mary, her sisters, and her parents start to improve once she makes an effort to turn her life around and not let the setbacks she faced get to her. When one door closes in Lydia’s life, another one opens and she takes the courage to walk that new path, even though it’s not as safe or as certain as the life she thought she would have. But at the same time, the new life of Lydia Bennet is a promising one.

So for anyone in the LBD fandom who wanted more of our favorite double-jointed redhead, pre-order this book on Amazon and see where Lydia Bennet goes next. You might find it more surprising than you think. Major kudos to Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley for keeping the spirit of Lydia Bennet alive. The only thing that would top this is if there was just one more video from Lydia Bennet to promote the book and give the YouTube viewers some much-needed closure. But what are the chances of that happening?

The 30 Day Closet Challenge

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I almost never back down from a challenge. I love doing photo-a-day challenges on Instagram and I do poem-a-day challenges every April. So when Leah Darrow posted about the 30 Day Closet Challenge on her website, I felt called to take it on and write about it.

The 30 Day Closet Challenge was prompted by Leah’s friend Sarah Kroger who talks about why she started the challenge on her blog. I can identify with that #firstworldproblem she tweeted of staring at an entire closet filled with clothes and still feeling like having nothing to wear. I work from home, so more often than not, I write while I’m still dressed in my pajamas. Whenever I know that I’m going out, though, I have a hard time choosing what to wear just like every other girl.

As the weather transitions from summer to fall where I live, people have to be ready for the weather to be constantly changing. As I’m typing this, it’s raining outside. It could rain like this for the rest of the day or it could get worse or it could be sunny. You never know what to expect when it’s hurricane season. So this challenge isn’t just a fashion thing for me, but an exercise in thinking ahead and making sure I’m prepared instead of constantly forgetting things like I’m prone to do.

When people think of “fasting,” it’s usually associated with food. However, this fashion challenge is another form of fasting and one that even a girl with food allergies can participate in. Other forms of fasting include fasting from social media for a certain amount of time, fasting from saying bad things, or avoiding images that are pornographic in nature. All of these different fasts are ways of redirecting our thoughts and desires towards something bigger than our urgent needs.

If you feel like you’re up for the challenge, follow Leah Darrow and Sarah Kroger on their Twitter and Instagram profiles, and use the hashtag #TheClosetChallenge in your #outfitoftheday posts. I’ll be doing the same on my Instagram. Let’s see how it goes!

Leah Darrow: Twitter, Instagram

Sarah Kroger: TwitterInstagram

A Different Kind of Tinder: The Differences Between The Hookup Culture, Friendship, Casual Dating, and True Love

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I practically live on the internet. I wrote a post about how awesome it is to have friends on the internet. I love that I can be open about my faith online to friends and acquaintances who see themselves as atheist, agnostic or “spiritual but not religious” without having any kind of yelling or belittling of myself or my beliefs. But I still have friends in real life as well and while I have a lot of social networks, I haven’t signed up for any online dating sites or installed any kind of dating apps on my tablet. Hypothetically, if I were to ever go out on a date, I’d want to meet the guy in real life, have him ask for my number, and take me out to dinner. It sounds old-fashioned, I know.

One reason I don’t go on dating sites is for one thing, all the good ones are too expensive. I do know people who’ve met and even married people they met online, but as I said before, I’m an old-fashioned romantic. I want to get to know the guy I’m with as an actual person, not just chat with him on Facebook or talk via text messaging. It takes me completely out of my comfort zone, but hey, nothing safe is worth the drive.

There’s an article from Vanity Fair going around called “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse.'” It’s a pretty long article that comments on how fast and easy the hookup culture has become with the popularity of apps like Tinder which focus more on getting someone to spend the night with than getting to know a person. But honestly, I don’t see how that’s different from two strangers going to sleep with each other after meeting at a party or a bar. The hookup culture has been around for decades. It’s just that it’s happening faster now.

I don’t blame this so-called “dating apocalypse” on apps like Tinder. I blame the hookup culture. I get the desire of wanting to be with a person, but too many people are accepting of this idea that hookups are okay without thinking of the consequences, physical and emotional. There’s this dizzying, contradicting logic that  people can have sex without consequences and yet somehow still find true love if the person is also someone you want to be with outside of the bedroom.

So why do I cultivate the majority of my friendships online but prefer to find my dates in the real world? To be honest, it’s because online, it’s easier to find people who share the same interests. I can talk about Buffy as much as I want to with my fellow online friends because we all understand our love for the show and the characters. But at the same time, I hope I can meet these friends at a convention. Eventually, even with online friendships, there’s a desire to know the person in the real world. The reason I want to find my dates in the real world is because I’m not just looking for someone I talk about Buffy or Doctor Who with. I’m looking for a future husband.

Casual dating about knowing what kind of person you like to be with and hopefully learning some emotional maturity in the process. Casual dating is not for everyone. For me, casual dating helps me to not get my expectations too high. Love doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. While I’m okay with just getting to know guys and casually dating them without any expectations of a relationship or marriage right now, eventually, there will be a guy who will go the extra mile for me and I’ll want to get too know him more than any other guy. In other words, when it comes to dating, I’m cultivating love with a different kind of tinder.

The tinder that comes with authentic love is loving the other person as a person, not just as a means to an end. I’m not saying to go out on a date and talk about wedding bells and a white picket fence right away. I’m saying that you need to know the person you’re going out with as a legitimate and actual human being, created by God for a purpose. Eventually, the right person will come. But until then, there is no need for the instant gratification of a swipe and the ego boost that comes with a person thinking you look hot enough to spend the night with. I struggle with lonely nights just as much as anyone else, but I also know, that there are ways to deal with my loneliness that doesn’t require an app or an internet connection. I hope that others will come to realize that as well.

Anxiety, Avoidance Issues, and the Beauty of Reconciliation

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It all started with this Twitter conversation:

Jasmin Marsters is the wife of James Marsters AKA Spike on Buffy. She’s an actress/model/musician who also does some writing and production for independent films. I like what she shares on her Twitter and Instagram, even though we may not always agree.

My avoidance issue had to do with the fact that when I was having a mini-meltdown, I did everything but turn to God. It wasn’t until I put pen to paper and wrote a letter to God that the anxiety finally left me. I often try to avoid my negative feelings and said avoidance only makes things worse. What happened to me reminded me that in good times and in bad, I have to turn to Him for help.

I also feel like what Jasmin said relates to the nature of how we react to our problems as well. Granted, there are some things that need to be avoided. There are things we aren’t ready to face yet. However, there’s also a time where we need to act like the bigger person and act kind towards someone we may not feel deserve it. It also applies to when we put off little things like doing the laundry or paying the bills. The problem won’t go away if you keep avoiding it. When it comes to being a person of faith, avoiding the things we struggle with isn’t going to help us.

One thing I love about being Catholic is the Sacrament of Reconciliation also known as Confession or Penance. Despite what some people may think about what Confession is, the truth is that Confession is there to help us face the problems we face.  Confession isn’t a “Catholic guilt” thing. It’s more of a reality check. We often have problems in our lives that feel out of our hands, so we ask people for help. Confession deals with the interior issues that we have to work on in order to become better people.  Matthew Kelly compares it to cleaning your car while Rachel and Kateri compared it to cleaning your room.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

When we go to Confession, we clean out the temples of our souls. We learn humility and receive grace and healing. Even if we struggle with the same problem, like an addiction, Confession will be there to help us get back up again.