23
Sep 16

Fall Favorites

Yesterday was the first day of fall, and I would be remiss in my bloggerly duties if I didn’t share my fall favorites.

A list of my fall favorites

But let’s be clear, here. Nowhere on my fall favorites will you see the pumpkin spice latte. Why? Because I’m not a huge Starbucks fan since I live in a college town with a ton of independent coffee shops. But also because the PSL isn’t even the best seasonal latte that Starbucks offers. That would be the gingerbread latte. I will not argue this point. It’s a fact, and any who wish to say otherwise are fooling themselves.

The gingerbread latte is the best seasonal drink at Starbucks. DON'T @ ME. Click To Tweet

I think it should also be noted that the gingerbread latte can’t hold a candle to the Sherlock Holmes at Michelangelo’s on Main Street. If you’re ever in Norman, you should have one.

Anyway, inflammatory latte opinions aside, I have a list of fall favorites for you. These are all the things I love about fall, and all the things I will always associate with the season.

Dark Lipsticks
I’m so excited for dark lipsticks. The vampier, the better. Now that we’re all done with the bright and happy summer colors, we can finally get a little more Wednesday Addams with our color selections. So, if you happen to see me during the fall, I’ll be wearing Burt’s Bees Ruby Ripple, Mary Kay Liquid Lip Color in Cherry Coffee, L’Oréal Infallible in Bold Bordeaux, and I’ll probably line them all with Rimmel’s Exaggerate Lip Liner in Obsession.

Scarves
So, even though I own several light summer scarves, I typically don’t wear them until fall. Because Oklahoma weather is so damn hot all summer, I just can’t stand the extra fabric around my neck. But in the fall, when it cools down to like a high of 80-degrees, I can finally swathe myself in whatever plaid pattern happens to strike my fancy that day.

Listening to Music With My Headphones
I have been told that people can actually do this all year long. Not me. Headphones are for fall. And so is introspective music listening. In fact, if you have a playlist/mix cd for me full of all the songs that will make me feel artistic and 10-years younger, you should send it my way. I need that type of vibe for all the writing I like to do in the fall.

Frito Chili Pie
I suppose this could also be eaten all year round, but nothing says fall to me like chili. And now that there isn’t a restaurant in my immediate vicinity that serves Frito chili pie anymore, I’m left waiting until fall when I have a hug crockpot of chili at my disposal. I don’t know why, but Chris and I pretty much subsist on crockpots of chili during the fall. And I’m so excited that I’m about to have Frito chili pie in my lunchbox almost every day.

Halloween-Inspired Reading and Watching Lists
The fall is when I feel the need to read and watch every spooky thing to prepare for Halloween. And even though Chris and I aren’t very big on Halloween, we do like the movies and books that go with it. This year, I’ll be reading the Harrow County graphic novels Countless Haints and Twice Told. I’ve heard so many good things about these, and I’m a pretty big fan of Dark Horse stuff as well as creepy stuff happening in the American South. And even though I’ve tried to read it like 3 times, this may be the year that I actually get through Danielewski’s House of Leaves. But I make no promises. As for watching, Chris and I already agreed to re-watch any and all shows and movies pertaining to Hannibal Lecter, so I’m really excited to have some more impure thoughts about Mads Mikkelsen feeding me my own leg at the dinner table.

My Ravenclaw Cardigan
Last January, Chris and I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. We both had a lot of fun, and if I’m being real, the process of finding out what my patronus was on Pottermore totally made me want to go back so bad. (Side note: My patronus is a marsh harrier.) And while I don’t think another vacation like that is in the cards for a while, I still have my wool Ravenclaw cardigan I purchased while we were there. (It’s hella weird to buy wool sweaters in Florida.) I’m so happy that very soon the weather will cool down for me to wear it, because there is nothing more fun than wearing something to work that you bought at an amusement park.

Sitting in My Favorite Place on Campus
Imagine this: You’re sipping a hot, black coffee on a bench that’s dedicated to the memory of Ralph Ellison. Gripped firmly in your hands is your favorite pen and notebook just waiting for you to scritch-scratch your heart out across those blank, unlined pages. The leaves on the trees above you fall intermittently, and the fountain made of rocks from all 77 counties across the state bubbles quietly. On your right, you can hear the sounds of tap shoes and opera singers coming from Carpenter Hall — the windows open as if to send those sounds directly to you. The breeze rustles through the pages of your notebook, but you don’t mind because you’ve got a nice warm Ravenclaw cardigan and a nigh-impossible to manage blanket scarf to keep you warm.


07
Jul 16

10 Fanfiction Stories I Want to Read

Today, let’s talk about fanfiction.

fanfiction

I like stories. I like them a lot. I like them so much that I write my own and a lot of the time, I read the stories of others. Because of my love and fascination with stories, I spend a lot of time thinking about fictional characters and what they do outside of the actual canonical story. (As well as thinking about what fictional career I would like.) For that very reason, I’m bringing you a list of 10 fanfiction stories I want to read. So, if you come across any of these on the internet, know that you are obligated by law to send me a link.

And with that, let’s get to it!

fanfiction draco malfoy

The Malfoys being tried for their war crimes.

Any society that has a list of “unforgivable curses” naturally must also have a list of unforgivable war crimes. And I find it hard to believe that anyone who helped the Dark Lord rise to power and called themselves a Death Eater wouldn’t be tried for those crimes. I would also like to read about the Malfoys when they are locked up at the wizarding version of Guantanamo.

And I wouldn’t be mad if this was made into an attraction in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Bilbo Baggins - fanfiction

Bilbo workshopping There and Back Again in an Elven MFA program.

Sure, the elves are basically the purest and most godlike creatures in Middle Earth, but that doesn’t stop me from assuming that they are pretentious, judgmental assholes when it comes to the creative writing workshop table. I bet Bilbo brings his book into the room and takes his place at the round table, then Celebrimbor and Glorfindel start tearing his work apart by saying all those shitty things that assholes say in workshops.

In this particular story, Celebrimbor is the goody two-shoes who wants the professor to love him, so he says shit like, “You have to learn the rules first, then you can break them. So you have to be aware of the tradition before you transfer the role of the hero to Bard the Bowman.” Then, Glorfindel is the asshat who would want Bilbo to take out any sort of so-called feminine qualities from the book, like when the dwarves help clean up the kitchen after the unexpected party. He’d also want Beorn to be more of a Bukowski sad sack character.

Downton Abbey - fanfiction

Lady Edith enjoying a moment of happiness at Downton Abbey.

So, I haven’t seen the final season of Downton yet, and I don’t know if I can take any more emotional roller coaster rides with Julian Fellowes at the control panel, just laughing maniacally as everything I love turns to absolute shit. But I do know this: Lady Edith deserves to be happy.

Lady Edith deserves to be happy. Click To Tweet

And I don’t care what form that takes. So, if she isn’t an ecstatic ball of joviality in the sixth season, then I’ma need someone to pen a tale where Edith sits on a merry-go-round with her kid and eats cotton candy while the air is a perfect 72 degrees and no one gets a sunburn.

Fanfiction - star trek

Lieutenant Commander Data attempting to install the newest iOS update.

(YES I KNOW HE’S AN ANDROID SO YOU THINK HE PROBABLY USES THE ANDROID PLATFORM BUT THIS IS FANFICTION SO GET UP OFF THIS ALSO YOU’RE CRAZY IF YOU THINK THAT THERE AREN’T APPLE PRODUCTS ALL UP IN THAT STARSHIP ENTERPRISE.)

Anyway, I just imagine he wouldn’t have enough memory to do the update initially, then he’d put it off, just like you do when you don’t want to update your phone in the middle of the day. But then, when he isn’t expecting it, Data would accidentally hit the update button, and then boom! He’d be out, installing that update in the middle of a critical mission, and you can bet that Q would be a real dick about it.

Peaky Blinders - Fanfiction

The Shelby family confronting a business partner/enemy using nothing but the phrase “Are you laughing at my brother?!”

Admittedly, I’m a little sad that the third season of Peaky Blinders isn’t just six straight hours of the Shelby brothers saying this over and over as they fight their enemies and marry each other off to gypsies. (Though, I do understand why the creators of the show chose not to do this.) Anyway, remember that scene in season 1, episode 4 of The Wire where they only use variations of the word “fuck?” For reference, also obviously NSFW:

I want to read a scene where the Shelby brothers confront someone, and only use the phrase “Are you laughing at my brother?!” I don’t care who they are beating up or why they are. I just want this to happen.

Fast and the Furious - fanfiction

The Toretto Family getting kicked off the go-karts at a fun park.

I mean, because obviously they would be. You can get kicked off the go-karts at Celebration Station here in Oklahoma City for the smallest transgression. (Not that I would know or anything, or that I’ve accidentally caught a go-kart on fire.) Naturally the Torettos proclivity for flips and drifting would get them kicked out fast, thus ruining the birthday party of little Jack O’Conner.

Don’t worry, though. Uncle Dom and Aunt Letty would make it up to Jack by giving a Power Wheels car to ride around in. And naturally, they’ve modified it to go faster.

Huckleberry Finn - fanfiction

Huckleberry Finn making out with me.

This is a long-standing literary crush. I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THIS.

This is a long-standing literary crush. I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THIS. Click To Tweet

Also, if you have an inexplicable love for all things Huck Finn, I sincerely recommend that you check out Band of Robbers. It will definitely intensify your infatuation.

Avengers - Fanfiction

The Avengers picking out a game room couch at Ikea.

If you thought tensions were high in Captain America: Civil War, that’s nothing compared to the flaring tempers in an Ikea. And you know what? Even though they’ve all actually experienced the world nearly ending multiple times, I bet that Hawkeye would feel like it really was ending if the gang didn’t get the purple sectional, just as I’m sure Black Widow would prefer the black patent leather chaise. And whatever the crew ended up buying, I’m sure it would at some point be smashed by the Hulk. Only he wouldn’t really be angry. It would just be an excuse for him to get rid of the couch that he didn’t really like.

Waiting for Godot - fanfiction

Vladimir and Estragon finally meeting Godot, and agreeing they never want to see him again.

As an English major, I think I was forced to read Waiting for Godot roughly 63,497 times during my tenure as an undergrad. For this reason, I have often thought about what sort of turn the play would take if Didi and Gogo were to actually meet Godot. I have thus concluded that those two lovable tramps wouldn’t enjoy his company, and stand him up next time, only to be found waiting in a more ridiculous location, like a DMV line or camping out for tickets to a Star Wars movie.

Batman - Fanfiction

A Batman story that doesn’t dwell on the death of Bruce’s parents.

I’m not sure why, but pretty much every Batman movie ever has to have the terrible scene where we see Bruce’s parents get shot. And I’m not saying that this isn’t a formative experience for little Brucie, but I am saying that it’s definitely not what makes him Batman. It’s important, but I’m pretty sure his training with Ra’s al Ghul is a little more important. Also, his time spent with Alfred is also important. (Thanks to Fox’s Gotham for showing how Bruce and Alfred get on after Thomas and Martha die.)

And I get that seeing how Bruce witnessed the murder of his parents is supposed to make us feel sympathy for him. But it kind of does the opposite. He had enough money that he could live in complete comfort for his whole life. Other kids in that situation would’ve been bounced between relatives and foster homes until they turned 18 and were no longer anyone’s problem.

And let’s be real. Batman’s origin story has been done to death.

Batman's origin story has been done to death. Click To Tweet

I would really like to see a story that goes into detail about how he does restorative yoga to heal his body after superhero-ing all day, or about how pissed off Alfred is that Bruce can never remember to use a goddamn coaster.

So what about you? What fanfiction are you dying to see/read?


10
Apr 16

Things That Have Made Me Cry Lately {2}

things that have made me cry lately

When I was a kid, I used to get in trouble for crying. Now, I kind of just do it all the time. Periodically, I share what made me cry lately so we can commiserate together like a great big bawly mess.

 

This blog post from Epbot:

I can choose to write everything down, and remember this feeling isn’t forever.

 

I write these things to remind myself, because I need reminding pretty often.

Preach, Jen. Preach.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard all about Severus Snap and the Marauders:

If you have 30 minutes, you need to watch it. This is the prequel we deserve, not that Fantastic Beasts nonsense. (Though I will totally go to the theater to see Fantastic Beasts.) The more I re-watch and re-read Harry Potter, the less I like Gryffindors in general, and the more I wish we got a book all about Snape. And this short film (though not precisely canon, but is canon enough for me — some day I should do a post about my immeasurable ambivalence toward fan fiction) made me cry so hard because GRYFFINDORS ARE THE LITERAL WORST AND JAMES POTTER WAS BASICALLY A WIZARD BIFF TANNEN.

(Side note: I have divided the presidential candidates into their respective Hogwarts houses. Bernie is a Hufflepuff (duh), Hillary is a Slytherin (cunning and ambitious!), Trump is a Gryffindor (YOU KNOW I’M RIGHT ABOUT THIS — anyone who thinks they can defy rules for their own self-righteous reasons is a Gryffindor in my book), and Ted Cruz is a squib.)

This tweet:

_

When I did my taxes. I mean, I knew I owed money, but damn. Also, I did the taxes. I put all the information where it goes. So why does Turbo Tax get to charge me for it? Yeah, I know I used their software, but that would be like paying Facebook to allow you to post random political garbage. IT’S THE ONLY PLACE FOR IT.

This blog post from Tsh at Art of Simple:

Those special things we have? It’s special alone to even have them. We’re doing right by them to use them well. Let’s acknowledge the privilege of saving for special—because it really is.

 

Let’s better enjoy the little things in life. And let’s make them even more special by using up the good stuff. Don’t wait for that perfect moment—it’s already right here.

This was a good reminder when I needed it. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but I should be enjoying where I am.

31mag-yamaguchi-1-master675-v2

This New York Times Magazine piece about Kristi Yamaguchi by Nicole Chung:

It had never occurred to me that a girl could be nationally adored without being white. It had never occurred to me that Asian-American heroes might exist.

While I wasn’t a huge ice skating fan (I somehow had a Nancy Kerrigan autograph — not sure where from though), I definitely grew up as the lone brown girl in a sea of white faces. I get what it’s like to not fit in, and to not have any heroes that look like you. And I totally never expect to get the Persian Mexican heroine of my dreams, but it’s interesting to note that all people of color seem to have this universal experience of the subconscious understanding that we cannot be heroes.

Nicole talks about writing stories as a kid and how all her characters were blonde with blue eyes until she realized she could make a character that looked like her. I kind of did the same thing too…UNTIL AFTER GRAD SCHOOL.

So,that’s what has made me cry. What have you been crying about lately?


25
Jan 16

5 things to know before you go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The-Wizarding-World-of-Harry-Potter

Earlier this month, Chris and I went on a vacation. It’s actually the first vacation we have had since we went to the Great American Beer Fest in 2011. So, it was incredibly overdue. But the thing about me and Chris is that we prefer to save money instead of spend (hence why like 85% of date nights take place at home) and we had gotten into a pretty good groove of not spending any money for a long while. But I think we had also slowly turned into husks of our former selves. You can only sit at home, rewatching all of The Fast and the Furious movies so many times before you need to go somewhere.

That’s when Chris decided we would be going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. We had talked about it a little, kind of in the way you talk when you mention to someone that it would be cool to do a thing, but you have no intention of putting in the work to actually make a plan. (I’ve mentioned my tendency to do this before.) But after he checked his airline mile balance, it was kind of like we couldn’t afford not to go.

So, the plan was set in motion. Airline tickets were procured. Hotel reservations were made. Theme park tickets were purchased. My parents agreed to watch the dog. And with that, we made our way to Orlando, Florida, during the first week of 2016. One of the (many) perks of my job is that I get a month-long Christmas break. So, Chris just had to schedule a week of vacation, and we were good to go.

Our vacation was scheduled for 4 total days. We left early Tuesday morning, and returned on Friday night. Our hotel had a couple bars and restaurants, and we had passes to the Universal Studios City Walk (a strip of nightclubs and restaurants–that we didn’t actually use.) Our hotel and theme park tickets were a packaged deal, which meant we didn’t need to rent a car either. The hotel was super close to the park, and there was a shuttle that took us from the hotel to the park both days we went. And there was a shuttle that took us to and from the airport. Basically, it was like the vacation version of daycare because we didn’t have to think about anything.

So, if you’re planning to make a similar vacation a reality, here are 5 things to know before you go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

weasley-wizard-wheezes

You are going to spend so much money.

I’m not naïve, and I knew that everything would be super expensive once we got there, but damn. I don’t think I was ready for how expensive. When you plan your trip, remember that you will be eating out for 3 meals a day. And that if you’re walking around a theme park all day, you’re probably going to be more hungry than you would be otherwise. I thought momentarily about bringing some food to keep in the hotel room, but I didn’t want to have to deal with more luggage. Which was okay, because it was a vacation, and a big part of a vacation, at least in my mind, is getting to eat out for every meal. We had a great meal at The Cowfish after our first day in the park. And now I want to exclusively have burger-sushi fusion meals.

We stayed at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which was really nice and cute in a very retro sort of way. The hotel had a “diner” which was basically a huge food court. The food was decent, and marked up way higher than it should’ve been. But the thing that really got me was the fountain drinks. The cups you purchase at the food court have RFID tags on the bottom of them, and there is a platform underneath the fountains that reads the tag to activate the actual fountain. After two hours, your cup is no longer valid, so you can’t get any more refills. Sure, I probably wouldn’t have kept getting refills after two hours, but best believe I would’ve kept the same cup for the whole trip to get my midday Diet Coke fix. (When I was an undergrad, I kept the same fountain drink cup from the OU student union in my backpack for a whole semester, just so I could get refills whenever I wanted. I’m cagey and thief-like when it comes to soda, I guess.) I realize these RFID tags are there because of people like me, but that’s also probably why I’m so irritated by it.

But we also spent a whole lot of money in the parks. We really wanted some souvenirs to remember our trip by, so we got a Hogwarts Express Christmas tree ornament, a cauldron-shaped mug we now use as a salt well, some enamel pins (I’ve got a Knockturn Alley pin on my jacket as we speak), and then Chris bought a wand and I got a real wool Ravenclaw cardigan. All of those items were totally worth it.

kings-cross-station

And remember, Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios, and Hogsmeade is in Islands of Adventure, so if you want to go full Potter, you need to make sure you purchase tickets to both parks. But if you do purchase tickets to both parks, you can ride the Hogwarts Express between the two, and it’s really a fun ride.

And just try not to think about how much more food and drink is inside the Harry Potter portions of the park. I’m pretty sure The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is what’s keeping Universal Studios relevant, so they gotta make their money where they can.

Jurassic-park

The rest of Universal Studios is kind of a ghost town by comparison, so take advantage of that.

Sorry for being a downer, but to me, the best ride of our whole trip was The Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. I’m a sucker for an indoor roller coaster, and this one was everything I could’ve wanted and more. The “story” behind the ride (all Universal Studio rides have these elaborate story setups that you hear while in the line) is that it’s a behind the scenes look of The Mummy–the movie with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. So you walk through the line (there was no line while we were there, so it was a quick 5-minute jaunt through the winding maze of ropes and halls) and you see set pieces and faux relics from the film. When you sit down on the roller coaster, the Mummy has risen because he has cursed the film crew or whatever, and he chases you through the coaster. Then, when it looks like it ends, you see an animatronic mummy at a fake control center for the ride, and you continue on for a few more minutes. It was really an awesome roller coaster.

That having been said, Chris really liked the Dragon Challenge coaster. But he was pretty excited to get some sweet Jurassic Park pictures.

When your man ain’t even paying attention to the dinosaur that wants to eat him… #MarisagoestoOrlando

A photo posted by Marisa (@marisamohi) on

And when you just want to chill in a more adult area of the park where there aren’t tons of kids crying because their parents won’t spend $4 million on something that will probably break on the plane ride home, it’s really nice to go to The Simpsons area, and have your self a Krusty burger and a Duff beer.

diagon-alley

You don’t own shoes that are comfortable enough to go to Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I have a weird obsession with sensible shoes that is definitely an affliction given to me by my mother. Growing up, we were not allowed to leave the house unless we had on good shoes for walking. It didn’t matter if we were just going to the grocery store or to the park. Oh, and God forbid teenage Marisa try to look cute when she went to the mall. Mom would shut that right down. Because the mall means walking, and if you’re going to walk, according to my mother, you need to be wearing shoes that were designed for athletic activity.

(I’m not saying she’s wrong. We would all probably be a lot happier if we only wore sneakers. But I would just like to state for the record that I have a shoe anxiety now, and it’s probably her fault.)

For Christmas, I received a pair of Onitsuka Tigers, which are the perfect type of sneakers to wear if you want some non-Chuck Taylor sneakers to wear with skinny jeans. Before we left, I put some insoles in them, as is my way because I have some hella gnarly, jacked up hooves. And the day started out just fine. But, by the end of the first day, I kind of wanted to cut off my feet. This was no fault of the shoe. I had no blisters or any pain caused by the shoes. I did, however, have immense foot fatigue. After the second day at the park, Chris looked at the pedometer feature on his phone, and in the course of two days, we walked over 22 miles. So, just be ready for that.

the-leaky-cauldron

It’s worth it to go for the full Harry Potter experience.

On our first day, we ate breakfast at The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley and had lunch at The Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade. While the food was not spectacular (it’s traditional British fare but made on a large scale like all chain restaurants or cafeteria food) it was really fun to sit in restaurants that look just like the places from the books and movies. And you know, if there were an on-site Harry Potter-themed hotel, we probably would’ve stayed there too.

We made sure to sample as many things as possible while we were there. We tried ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. I had both regular and frozen butter beer–I didn’t try the hot butter beer because it’s so sweet and it just sounded really disgusting to me. We tried all three of the wizard beers, the Wizard’s Brew, the Dragon Scale, and the Hog’s Head Brew. And, because our hotel was affiliated with the park, one night Chris ran down to the gift shop and bought a Chocolate Frog and some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans that we ate up in the room while watching Pacific Rim.

knight-bus-stan-shunpike

Schedule your trip during the offseason if you can.

I’ve heard a few horror stories of going to Universal Studios during the busy season. Not only is Florida intolerable in the summer, but the lines in the park are ridiculous. One friend stated that when they went in August, they had to purchase Express Passes for everyone in their party (the passes that let you skip the line at all the rides that aren’t associated with the WWoHP) because the line wait was at least 3 hours for every ride. I could probably write a 10-page paper on why passes like that are un-American, so I knew there was no way I would ever purchase those. (We’ll see if I feel that way after I have kids.) I am the type of person who will wait in line and like it, dammit, because that’s part of the experience and good things come to those who wait and all that crap.

That having been said, we only waited about an hour for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, and about 45 minutes for The Dragon Challenge. Every other ride either did not have a line, or had a line short enough that I don’t even remember having to wait. And all this is due to us going in the offseason.

Not only that, but the weather was nearly perfect. Sure, it sprinkled a bit, but nothing too serious. And the temperature stayed between 55 and 70 degrees each day, so we were able to comfortably wear jeans and long sleeves the whole time. Oh, and we definitely got a kick out of listening to native Floridians who worked at the park complain about how cold it was, especially since it was in the twenties in Oklahoma while we were gone.

leaky-cauldron-sign

So, if you’re of the TL;DR mindset, here’s some quick stats for you about our trip:

Best ride: The Revenge of the Mummy, The Dragon Challenge
Worst ride: E.T. Adventure (this probably hasn’t been updated since 1992 and is definitely for kids and their parents)
Best drink: Frozen Butterbeer, Hog’s Head Brew
Worst drink: The Hog’s Tea (Like an LIT, but I don’t normally drink those anyway, so I didn’t like it.)
Best meal: The Cowfish
Worst meal: Cletus’s Chicken Shack (The Buzz Cola was good though)
Favorite purchase: Ravenclaw cardigan, enamel pins
Worst purchase: Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans (We ate all the good ones, and threw away the gross vomit and earthworm flavors which were about half the bag.)
Best part of Cabana Bay: The Swizzle Lounge (lobby bar)
Worst part of Cabana Bay: RFID tags on fountain drink cups