Deadlines

I have a total of five half-written blog posts in my writing folder right now. That might explain why I haven’t posted a blog in the past six weeks.

People have different relationships with deadlines. Some get completely freaked out by the pressure, some can’t work without them. As my college career progresses, I’ve become one of those people who can’t work without deadlines. I also somehow have picked up on the habit of using every single hour available to me. I could have two days or two weeks to write a paper and I would still finish it the night before it’s due. I could have a year to write a paper and I would probably still finish it the night that it’s due. *thesis looms ominously in the distance*

The problem is that there is simply too much going on to prioritize anything that doesn’t have a due date staring me in the face. If I had one thing due in two weeks and no other assignments between now and then, I’d like the think that I could get it done early. However, when I have something due every other day over that two weeks… it’s really difficult to get any amount of substantial work done until two days before it’s due.

And now, we’re back to “I haven’t posted a blog in six weeks.” It also circles around to the point of this blog, which is my new schedule. This is my summer schedule, so it will probably be revised as time goes on and when school comes back, but here it is:

Sunday: Video

Every other Wednesday: Podcast

Thursday: Blog post

Saturday: Word Art

 

There it is. See you soon.

In Sickness and In Health

Uncontroversial opinion: mono is terrible.

I shouldn’t complain too much, because some people have horrific mono that lasts for over a month. I had horrific mono that lasted for two weeks, and fatigue that continues to remind me I really need to sleep don't even think about skipping out on an hour of sleep or you will regret it.

What’s really unfortunate about mono, however, is that it forced me into an unplanned hiatus. It’s hard to record podcasts when you have tonsillitis and can barely talk-- it’s hard to do anything when you’re perpetually exhausted and sleep for fifteen hours a day. So there’s a pause on schoolwork, a pause on writing, a pause on podcasting, a pause on exercising, a pause on eating well, a pause on keeping up with friends… You get the idea.

The only thing is, I don’t have exactly the best track record with any of those things when I’m perfectly healthy. College is busy, okay? I can’t be expected to keep up with all of this. I have to go to class, go to work, eat, sleep, do my homework, talk to my friends, and then I’m basically ready to go to sleep and do it all again.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. But honestly? I know that I waste a ton of time every day. I could be listening to audiobooks that enrich my mind as I walk to class, instead of podcasts about nothing in particular. I could be getting my homework done straightaway when I get out of class instead of lazing around on Youtube for an hour after dinner. I could spend my lunch hour catching up on emails and readings instead of on Twitter.

There are a hundred different ways I could be more productive every day, just like everyone else who isn’t Beyoncé (I have a sticky note on my desk that says “Don’t Worry, Be Yoncé. It’s strangely motivational). And if I was perfectly productive every second of the day, my head would explode and I would be miserable. I can’t spend my time beating myself up about not being perfect.

I can, however, acknowledge that I am not the busiest person alive. I could make time to get more work done, to exercise, to connect with friends. Gandhi said it best: actions express priorities. (See, if Gandhi didn’t have time to call his grandparents, I wouldn’t blame him. That was a busy guy. Although, he was probably just the kind of person who would remember to call his grandparents. Dammit.) My choice to spend excess time on my phone expresses that I am prioritizing Twitter over my work. That’s not the decision I want to make. It’s time for me to acknowledge that this is the choice I have been making, and that I have the power to prioritize my life in a way that’ll help me achieve my goals.

Will this (rather lowkey) epiphany turn me into an incredibly productive person? Hahahano. I’ve given up hope of ever being able to epiphany my way to efficiency. Getting stuff done requires just sitting down and doing it. You can try to “four-hour workweek” all you want, but 99% of the time, you just have to do the work. Not when you have mono and can’t lift your laptop. But those times when you would rather just watch The West Wing? Yeah. That’s the time when you have to do the work.

To bring in a musical theater related example (I warned you), Aaron Burr sings that he’s willing to “wait for it,” “it” being all the success and achievement of his dreams. Alexander Hamilton is “non-stop” and writes like he’s “running out of time.” Guess which one ended up on the ten dollar bill? Don’t just wait for your dreams to come true. Work your ass off like Hamilton, and one day you too can become an incredibly flawed human being vital founder of a new nation.

Sickness.

My plan for spring break at home:

Write a lot! Read a lot! Edit podcasts! Record videos! Catch up on homework!

What I have done over spring break:

Had mono. Slept a lot. Watched The West Wing.

Things don't always go according to plan... I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things soon, but this illness is hitting me hard, and it's not going away any time soon. I'll get it eventually, though.

Quinn RoseComment
International Women's Day

I want to write a more comprehensive post about Women's History Month, but today I have exams to study for, so instead for International Women's Day I decided to make a list of my favorite female podcasters and YouTube creators. All of these ladies are making fantastic content, and I'm looking every day to increase the breadth of voices I'm hearing. (Read: I want to start following more creators who aren't white... Luckily a lot of creators put up their own recommendation lists today, so I have some new people to check out!)

In no particular order:

YouTube!

Akilah Hughes // youtube.com/user/smoothiefreak

Candice // youtube.com/user/candysomething

Sanne // youtube.com/user/booksandquills

Dodie Clark // youtube.com/user/doddleoddle and youtube.com/user/doddlevloggle

Hannah Witton // youtube.com/user/hannahgirasol

Linda Barsi // youtube.com/user/openellbey

Jona // youtube.com/user/JonasAlmostFamous

Sabrina // youtube.com/user/NerdyAndQuirky

Savannah Brown // youtube.com/user/savanamazing

Carrie Hope Fletcher // youtube.com/user/ItsWayPastMyBedTime

 

Podcasts!

Aleen Simms, Less Than or Equal // relay.fm/ltoe

Brianna Wu, Christina Warren, and Simone de Rochefort, Rocket // relay.fm/rocket

Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, Call Your Girlfriend // callyourgirlfriend.com

The Incomparable // theincomparable.com  (The Incomparable is usually hosted by Jason Snell, but there are some great regular female guests, including Serenity Caldwell, Erika Ensign, and Lisa Schmeiser)

Quinn Rose, Solidly Mediocre // https://soundcloud.com/aspiringrobot (cough cough shamelessselfpromotion cough cough)

Theater Motivation Playlist

I love musical theater.

I really really really love musical theater.

This is the first of what will probably be an infinite number of blog posts relating somehow to musicals. I was raised by a musical-loving mother and spent family road trips singing along to “Broadway’s Best Hits.” I’ve seen nearly a dozen Broadway productions, either on Broadway or on tour. I joined a singing group on campus that exclusively sings musical theater (despite the fact that I can barely sing). Don’t even mention Hamilton to me, or I will sing every single song at you.

Recently I’ve been pumping myself up with a great “Theater Motivation” playlist that I thought I would share here. It includes songs from several of my favorite musicals, and I’ve been playing it while exercising/walking to class/doing laundry/anything else I need to make a little more epic. I hope you can find a little inspiration in it as well.

Prologue: Into the Woods // Into the Woods

Wait For It // Hamilton

The Room Where It Happens // Hamilton

One Short Day //  Wicked

I’ve Decided to Marry You // A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

My Shot (NSFW) // Hamilton

It Won’t Be Long Now //  In The Heights

Rent // Rent

Run and Tell That // Hairspray

Right Hand Man (NSFW) // Hamilton

Dancing Queen // Mamma Mia

96,000 (NSFW) // In The Heights

The Bitch of Living (NSFW) // Spring Awakening

Mamma Mia // Mamma Mia

La Vie Boheme (NSFW) // Rent

You Can’t Stop the Beat // Hairspray

Guns and Ships // Hamilton

I Believe (NSFW) // Book of Mormon

Totally F*cked (NSFW, duh) // Spring Awakening

One Day More // Les Miserables

Defying Gravity // Wicked

Weird People are My Favorite

In honor of World Book Day, a discussion of weird people in context of the two books I’ve read so far in 2016.

 

Weird people are my favorite.

Not “I have someone in my basement” weird. Just “geeky, quirky, is currently writing a book about zombie warlords from space” weird. I guess “writing a book in which a character has someone in their basement” weird is also fine. As long as the book isn’t endorsing that behavior.

But I digress.

Weird people are my favorite because they have some of the most interesting ideas. Not only that, they get very invested in those ideas. They embrace what the mainstream isn’t looking at yet. They make content because they want to make it, not because it’s necessarily the most profitable field at that time. And occasionally that content is not only brilliant, it’s terrifying.

Welcome to Night Vale is a strange and wonderful podcast told from the perspective of Cecil, the energetic host of Night Vale Community Radio. Cecil may or may not be human. He does have a human boyfriend, Carlos, the scientist. But last year he got into some trouble with Hiram McDaniels, literal five-headed dragon, so species is kind of irrelevant at this point. Cecil is also convinced that mountains are a myth, so there’s that.

I love WTNV because it’s smart, entertaining, and creepy as hell. The town of Night Vale is constantly being harangued by sentient glow clouds that rain animal carcasses (and then run for the PTA), hooded figures that frequent the dog park (which is absolutely forbidden to dogs), and any other weird science fiction/fantasy/horror movie concept that you can imagine.

However, what’s really groundbreaking about WTNV isn’t its creative world, but its explicitly diverse cast of characters. Most of the characters on the show are never physically described and are rarely voiced by their own actors (the show is almost entirely voiced by Cecil Baldwin), which lets listeners form their own mental image of who they are and what they look like. That’s a concept that is often cited by writers as a way for anyone to project their own reality onto a creative work, but it doesn’t always work. For too many people, the default is always white, heterosexual, and cisgendered, meaning that implicit diversity doesn’t function well in the Western world. Luckily for us, WTNV takes it further than that.

The main characters are an explicitly interracial gay couple (possibly interspecies, but let’s just stick with interracial for now). There are characters that are explicitly people of color, disabled, or non-conforming to the gender binary. There once was-- and I am not making this up-- a plotline in which an elementary school girl was born as an adult male hand, and the residents of Night Vale accepted this completely and accommodated her needs. There is not only a balance of male and female characters, the female characters are shown in varying positions of power, such as manager and mayor.

And the best part? None of this is a big deal. For god’s sake, the librarians are terrifying creatures that kill any book lovers who dare venture into the library, they have bigger things to worry about than if the radio host is gay. Everyone is just-- wait for it, Hollywood-- a character who is not defined by any trope born from one aspect of their humanity.

Boom. Mic drop.

Wait, no, sorry. The best part is that not only are all of these characters representative of a wide range of human experiences, it’s that when they are voiced by actors, WTNV gets actors that reflect their characters. Black characters are played by black actors. Queer characters are played by queer actors. This was a conscious decision, but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one-- why should this be such a revolutionary idea? (I’m looking at you, Emma Stone, Jake Gyllenhaal, and all the other actors and film companies who have screwed this up. I don’t forget.)

The only way they could have made this podcast better was if they wrote a book set in Night Vale focusing on two women who, through different motivations, end up venturing together to solve a mystery and potentially save Night Vale.

OH WAIT.

Welcome to Night Vale, a novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, was the first book I read in 2016. It’s… Well, it’s basically just like the podcast, only a lot longer and focused almost exclusively on Jackie Fierro and Diane Crayton, two residents of Night Vale. I’m not sure I would recommend it to people who haven’t listened to the podcast-- although it’s a stand-alone story, the lore of Night Vale is present everywhere-- but for those who are even casual fans of the podcast, it’s a wonderful expansion of that world. (Although it could be a good way to get non-podcast listeners more open to the full Night Vale experience-- maybe I’ll experiment with that.) I, for one, would enjoy a follow-up book all about Dana, the current mayor of Night Vale.

Speaking of weird books (that transition though… #worldbookday), the second book I read in 2016 was You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), by actual real-life weird person Felicia Day. Felicia Day has been one of my favorites for a long time, due to her talent on Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Eureka, and just general geeky awesomeness. More significantly in her work as a creator, she is the genius behind the web show The Guild and the YouTube channel/website/curator of geeky awesomeness (sensing a theme yet?) Geek and Sundry. (The theme is geekdom. That is the theme.)

Her book, which came to me highly recommended by my mom, gave me a whole new respect of her journey. Day wrote candidly about her unconventional childhood, harmful experiences with online gaming addiction, mental health, and her overwhelming drive to make content she’s passionate about. This drive doesn’t always serve her well (as the chapter detailing her stressful obsession with work and eventual breakdown will attest), but she also has been able to achieve success in a world that barely existed when she started working in it-- the geeky Internet.

I would consider Felicia Day one of my role models, even though that would probably make her very nervous. Don’t worry, I’m not demanding that you be perfect for me-- I’m incredibly pleased that you’re not. Felicia Day matters to me because she’s smart, hard-working, and dares to be a nerdy woman on the Internet, even when the world is constantly telling her that she is unwelcome. I see it happen all the time: a woman gets a blog post written about how terrible she is. A woman gets inappropriate and unsolicited advances. A woman gets harassed, death threats, rape threats, her address gets posted publicly, her world is viciously attacked from all sides.

Why is it so dangerous for us? I don’t know. But I do know that women like Felicia Day both stubbornly continue to produce incredible content and call out the harassers for their disgusting behavior. As long as there are these people on my side of this fight, I know that I can be a part of this beautiful world-- not without fear, because that sadly always exists for women on the Internet-- but with the confidence that I’m not alone.

Weird people are my favorite. Weird people make the stuff that I love to read, watch, and listen to. Weird people make the stuff that feels like a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, mainstream media, I like parts of you too-- but nothing feels as good as experiencing something just a little bit different

Resolutions

Resolution

1. the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.

2. a resolve; a decision or determination

 

New Year’s Resolution

1. a declaration of a complete life turn-around on January 1st filled with healthy and efficient activities that are all abandoned on January 6th

 

New Year’s Resolutions are a fairly divisive subject: every January everyone is either making them or talking about how useless they are. Who do you know who completed their New Year’s Resolution, anyway?

I tend to fall into the camp of pro-resolution: I really enjoy making goals for myself, no matter what the time frame (and what better clean slate than a New Year?). However, there are some issues with New Year’s Resolutions: in my opinion, the biggest problem is the obsession with a “clean slate.” That can be a great motivator, but way too many people take that as an artificial requirement for meeting a goal. If someone messes up their goal right away-- which everyone does, repeatedly-- a lot of people have the tendency to just throw up their hands and say “oh well, maybe next year!” Change doesn’t work like that. Just because you ate a cheeseburger doesn’t mean you’ll never develop healthy eating habits-- it just means you ate a cheeseburger. Have a more balanced meal tomorrow, it’s fine.

That’s my main mission of 2016: to eat the more balanced meal tomorrow. You know, metaphorically. And occasionally literally, when I eat pizza for two meals of the day. (Hello, college.)

You may be a little confused by this entire discussion, since it is not the New Year and is, in fact, March. I mean, I made New Year’s Resolutions in January, but I didn’t have a blog back then. Today I’ll be listing my resolutions and checking in on how well I’ve done over the past two months.

1. Aspiring Robot

2. Write a book for a musical

3. Keep all grades at B+ or above

4. Continue practicing Mandarin Chinese

5. Exercise 3 times a week

6. Eat “cleaner”

7. Stick to a budget

8. Set up a formal checkpoint system

9. Read 12 books

10. Go somewhere I’ve never been/do something I’ve never done every month

1. My first goal is the entire Aspiring Robot project. Since I’m still experimenting with exactly what schedule I want to have for this, my resolution is just to be actively producing content for AR at the end of the year. In the past two months I’ve created the website, written two blog posts, launched my first podcast, and released a dozen or so word art pieces. I think we can count that as a good start.

2. My other creative goal is to write a book for a musical.  The book is the story and script, but not the music and lyrics.  I adore musicals but I have no background in any kind of music theory or composition, so my goal for this year is just to write the book.  This I’ve barely worked on at all, but I’m intending to most of the work on this over the summer-- there’s not a lot of time during school, especially with all of my Aspiring Robot work now.

3. However, my main path in life is still being a full-time student.  My goal for this year is to keep all of my final grades as B+ or above, which the majority of my grades for the past three semesters have been. So far it seems like I’m doing well on this-- we’ll see what happens in the next two months of the semester!

4. Going along with the academics, this semester is my fourth semester of Mandarin Chinese, which I am not good at (but I could survive in China, which is a cool ability).  I really love the language but I’ve decided to not continue taking it after this semester so I have time to fulfill my graduation requirements. After I finish my formal Chinese education, I want to continue studying it so I don’t lose what I’ve learned. I’m currently still in the course and have been studying it as class moves along, so I think I get automatic points for this.

5. My main health goal is to start exercising at least three times a week.  I am very out of shape and at the end of last semester, my roommate convinced me agree to running a 5K with her in the spring. (I guess the other half of this resolution is to run a 5K.) This hasn’t been going as well-- I hardly exercised at all for the first six weeks, but now I’ve found a time that works better for me and have had a considerable uptick in exercise frequency. We’ll see if this keeps up when I check in next.

6. Going along with health resolutions, this is very vague, but I am trying to eat cleaner.  I am a vegetarian and a lot of my diet ends up being variations of cheese and bread, which is not the healthiest choice out there, so I am going to try to eat real food!  With more iron content!  Although I’m still not a super healthy eater (hello, college), I have been eating better than I did last semester.

7. This year I would like to make a budget.  I’ve always been pretty good about saving and having enough money to buy stuff I really want, but the world in which I have to pay for my own housing and groceries is getting closer, and I think this is the year I should start formally budgeting so I’m somewhat prepared for post-college sadness. So far, I’ve been following my budget pretty well.

8. I am also trying to set up a formal checkpoint system.  I find that I tend to completely lose track of myself in the day-to-day grind and all of a sudden it’s three months after I said I’d do something and I have not started.  I’m thinking it’s going to a short weekly and a longer monthly checkpoint just to look at what I’ve been doing and if I’m doing what I want to be doing. I have been using the checkpoint system almost every week so far in 2016, and it has encouraged me to keep up with consistent journaling as well.

9. Read 12 books: I have read two books this year so far, which I intend to write blog posts about in the next few weeks: Welcome to Night Vale and You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). However, I read both of those over winter break-- I’ve only finished one chapter of the book I’ve been reading this semester.

10. Go somewhere I’ve never been/do something I’ve never done once a month.  I have the advantage of living in a city so there are lots of options: museums I want to visit, buses that go to cities not far away that I have never visited— so once a month, whether it’s something down the street I’ve never been to or an entirely different country, I want to be exploring new places. In January I experienced a lot of new things, since I was in New York City for two weeks. I visited the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Natural History, and The Strand Bookstore, and ate at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. In February, I joined a singing group on campus. (Even though I can’t sing. Haha oops...)

I’m going to check in at the halfway point of the year to look at my New Year’s Resolutions again and report on how I’m doing. Until then, wish me luck!

 

Welcome to Aspiring Robot.

This is a project that I started thinking about a year ago, started really planning almost four months ago, and am finally officially launching today.

I like to create things. Writing, art, videos, podcasts. Food, collages, songs, stories. No matter what it is, I just feel better about myself when I'm making something.

From now on I'll be regularly producing podcasts, videos, writing pieces (both fiction and non-fiction), and word art. While they will almost all be available on major distributors (podcast hosts, YouTube, and Tumblr), everything will also be centrally located on this website.

It's hard to say what I'm most excited about. I'm a regular consumer of podcasts and YouTube videos, so it's great to experience this world through the other side of the looking glass. I've also been a writer since I was six years old but never seriously pursued it, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops as I actually attempt to make my writing publicly available. And the word art... Well, that's just a lot of fun.

I hope you'll join me on this adventure, and get some enjoyment out of all my content experiments.

My name is Quinn Rose, and I aspire to be a robot.

Quinn Rosepersonal, metaComment