Defining success with Project Runway

I have a Project Runway problem. 

I saw a couple of seasons of the show were available on Netflix, and I thought, "Hey, why not?" Turns out, the "why not" is that I watched those two seasons in their entirety in less than a week. I watched them while fixing website stuff, which feels like an endless task, but even so. TWO SEASONS. ONE WEEK. 

One cool thing about watching reality shows from years ago is that you can watch all the drama, and then go immediately to Google to find out what's happened to them since. It certainly made one guy's breakdown less horrible to watch, knowing he designs for Beyonce now. And while Google stalking the contestants, I found this really interesting article from the Guardian discussing whether the show has failed at its "help designers build their career" goal.

The fact is that most former Project Runway winners are not megastar designers. But a lot of the winners and contestants are designers. They design clothes for a living, whether it's costume design for film or owning their own boutique. Not everyone can design dresses for an endless line of celebrities or launch a luxury brand name, but there are many different ways that people can use their talent and pursue their passions. If you define success as superstar level, then almost all of them fell short. But that's just not fair or realistic at all. 

IDK, I think it's a valuable things for us perfectionists to remember. It's the doing that matters, and although Project Runway pitches itself as the epic turning point in a designer's career, really it's just one opportunity, one stepping stone in the grand patchwork of chances and setbacks that they have to navigate. 

Also, I really want Tim Gunn as a mentor. That man is legendary.

Fighting Anxiety, March 2017 Edition

Well, this week has been a bit of a blogging (and writing) bust. My good old friend anxiety has decided to make an appearance, and nothing is getting done. So, instead of any thoughts on feminism and fiction-writing, here are a few of the things I've been using to help soothe my anxiety over the past few days. If you're feeling anxious right now, maybe one of these will help you too. :)

Stardew Valley

I have returned to my lovely farm in Stardew Valley after several months away. This game is the spiritual successor of Harvest Moon, an adorable farming sim with bonus exploring and monster-slaying and artefact collecting, and omg, it is so calming to play. It's fall of year 3 for me, we just had a new baby goat called Gertrude, and I'm running around forcing my neighbors to accept endless gifts of strawberries so that we can be best friends and I can get an achievement.

A Night in the Woods

I am love love loving watching Jacksepticeye's Let's Play of this game. It's a meandering narrative game about a girl called Mae, who just moved home to small town Possum Springs after dropping out of college, and it's all about friendship and figuring out who you are and possibly also ghosts. It's incredibly well-written and beautifully animated, and the voices Jack does while playing it are so good. I'd buy the game to play myself, because I looove it, but I'm so attached to Jack's voices and commentary that it just wouldn't be the same.

Seriously, this is turning out to be of my favorite Let's Play series ever, up there with Undertale, so I really recommend it if you're looking for something long and engaging and soothing to watch.

The La La Land soundtrack

There's just something really motivating about listening to Another Day of Sun, even if it is dull and grey in England right now.

Meraki Candles

I've been using a lot of candles and fairy lights over the past couple of days, and my favorite right now are the book-themed Meraki Candles that a friend gave me for Christmas. The Etsy shop is closed right now, so I can't link to the exact scents I'm loving, but my favorite is Starfall, a jasmine-y candle inspired by A Court of Mist and Fury. I highly recommend!

Logging Off

I really need to write a longer blog post about my experiments in reducing my tech use, in an attempt to reduce my anxiety. But I've been trying very, very hard to stay mostly offline the past few days, beyond the required email checks and work attempts. My laptop lives in my desk drawer when I'm not working, my Smartphone is turned off, and... I think it's helping. It's so much easier to remember how to breathe when you step back from the never-ending onslaught of the digital world for a while. So that, I think, is what I'm going to do right now. All the work and stress can wait until Monday. Or until tomorrow, at the very least.

A DIY Guide to Feminist Cybersecurity

The other day, Tumblr introduced me to this really useful website: A DIY Guide to Feminist Cybersecurity. It's explicitly designed for people who talk about feminism online, who can be easy targets for online harassment and doxxing, but really, it's a useful guide for anybody who wants to use the internet more securely with steps beyond "use good passwords."

I've been thinking a lot recently about all the problems with the Internet as we currently use it, from both a harassment/safety perspective and user psychology/mental health perspective, and this kind of security won't protect from all of those types of problems... but it's good to be informed on things like data mining and tech vulnerability, and to know at least a few basic steps to protect yourself as you conduct your whole life online. At least, it might stop those creepy ads that follow you from device to device for days after you Google something once.

Too Much To Read

Do you guys ever get, like, media anxiety? I was sitting and musing about how I was going to spend my evening, and suddenly, it was like an avalanche of wtf. I've been rewatching Gilmore Girls, and I'm almost done with S6, but I've seen Gilmore Girls before, and I'm also halfway through a long Chinese drama, but I also only watched three episodes of Series of Unfortunate Events so far, oh, and that documentary on North Korea is only half-watched, and I'm only 40 minutes into the OJ Simpson documentary, and I've got a long list of review copies of books to read, but this other book is due back at the library soon, and I've been meaning to read THIS for a while, and have you seen how many unplayed games I have in my Steam library, but I kinda want to replay Skyrim, oh and start a new farm on Stardew Valley, except how can I have time when I haven't finished Pokemon Sun, and and and and...

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Isn't entertainment supposed to be, you know, fun? I feel like I need an organisational chart to meet all my story-consumption goals. And that's not very relaxing. Even my Youtube To Watch playlist feels like it's gotten out of hand. There's just too much!

Meanwhile, right now kitty!Hermione is under my chair, mauling her toy mouse. I bet she never gets anxiety over which toy to murder next.

I'm always like, "Well, maybe if you didn't waste so much time, you'd get through all this!", but I reeeally don't think entertainment is supposed to be this stressful. And the one thing that was good for destressing with this stuff was donating all of the books in my to-read pile (accumulated over years and years) and not letting myself buy any more books or games unless I planned to read or play them immediately. It's a hard rule to stick to sometimes, but it's sooo much less stressful.

So. Destressing steps! First, making Netflix not a place of horror. You can't remove shows from your "continue watching" list, but you can go into your user settings and delete the series from your viewing history, which takes them off that list too. I'm watching Gilmore Girls and my Chinese drama, depending on my mood. Done. A quick sweep-up of library books into a tote bag to return tomorrow, minus the one I'm actually currently reading (there were 7 extra ones, all on three week loan). I can reborrow them later. A purge of my Youtube To Watch list, accepting that things I added more than a couple of days ago will now never be seen. And a couple of deep breaths while accepting that none of this is required. This is not a race to watch and read and play everything so I have nothing left to do except stare into space, knowing I've finally achieved 100% desired media consumption.

And now that I've spent my evening overthinking things instead of actually reading, watching or playing any of these things, I think I'm just going to go to sleep. So, all in all, a productive night. :P

World Book Day

Today is World Book Day! And by World Book Day, I mean British Book Day. I don't know why we call it World Book Day, when there's already a World Book Day, and it takes place in April. I guess "school children dress up as book characters and they all get a free book token" day was a bit too clunky for a name.

But in honor of the day, I'm gonna chat about a few of the books on my shelves right now.

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Maid at the King's Court by Lucy Worsley

I actually just finished this one, and I have loads of thoughts. It's the fictional story Catherine Howard's cousin, who comes to Henry VIII's court to be a maid to Anne of Cleves and gets caught up in all the chaos that follows.

Lucy Worsley is actually a curator at Hampton Court, which was one of Henry VIII's favorite palaces, and where most of the key events in Catherine Howard's downfall happened. So although the novel has a lot of invention, in terms of characters and plotpoints, the historical details are A+++.

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Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

I just started this! At first glance, it's a pretty familiar set-up. Magic users are society's elite. Non-magic users have less powers and rights. A revolution is brewing, and a teenage girl might just end up at the center of it. BUT one really cool element, which I didn't realize until I started reading, is that it quickly moves away from London to 19th century Hungary. How many books have you read set in 19th century Hungary??? I don't think I've ever read any. So I'm super intrigued. I'm only 25% into it, but I'm enjoying it so far!

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Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

My new non-fiction book, to read first thing in the morning instead of obsessing over the news. After reading Frankenstein for the first time last Halloween (I know, I'm a bad English major), I looked up a bit about Mary Shelley, and I never knew how insane her life was. I'd heard the story of the ghost story competition with Shelley and Byron, but I didn't know that was just one tiny bit of the epicness. And then her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a major feminist writer and a total rebel as well.

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Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

A new Sara Zarr novel! I loooove Sara Zarr's stuff, but it's been a few years since I picked up anything by her. I actually don't even know what this book is about. I just know that it's by Sara Zarr, so I needed it. And I'm pretty sure it's going to break my heart. It can be my Literary Contemporary Fiction YA of the year, before I jump back into courts and magic and spaceships.

Sidenote:  I miss Sara Zarr's writing podcast so much. If you've never listened to it, you should definitely check it out.

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Spindle by EK Johnston

The sequel to A Thousand Nights, which is an absolutely gorgeous feminist fantasy novel. I've been sitting on this for a couple of months, and I can't wait to read it, but I'm kind of waiting until I'm in the right mood to properly appreciate it. I've learned not to read anything too similar to my own books around a book release, and since A Wicked Thing and Kingdom of Ashes are my take on Sleeping Beauty, I think I need to let my book release anxieties from Long May She Reign settle a bit before I delve into this. But I'm so excited to have this lined up and ready to read.