Trying for Joyful; I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart

Recently I finished reading I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart, a popular YouTuber. This is her second book and in both her first one, You Deserve a Drink and this one, she shares humorous personal stories about her life. In her first book many of her wacky adventures can be written off by her youth, or her drinking, or both. In the second, the stories all take place within the two years since her previous book. So she’s older and more successful than before but her stories don’t feel that different. She’s still telling stories about wacky adventures that don’t sound much like she’s changed.

But really this isn’t a review for her book. (Or it kind of is, and it’s kind of more.)

I mean, if you like her or her humor, read it. She’s an engaging writer and you’ll find her new round of stories fun and on-brand. I just don’t think it’s for everyone, which I’m sure even she understands.

However, reading it did get me thinking. Mostly because I recognize how strange it can be to read the stories of people that have more money or time or influence. When they do crazy things like purchasing tickets to Paris, or going on a cruise all on a whim, it’s hard to imagine yourself in their place.

Mamrie is a person in a uncommon position of privilege. Her status as an influencer and as a YouTuber personality grants her opportunities the rest of us don’t get. So connecting to stories about being fabulous places where she can drink and have fun adventures, is difficult.

Here though, is where I started thinking about what else her stories have in common, and where it’s not necessary to read her book to grasp the concept.

This about finding the joy in things. What she does is say “yes” to new opportunities. She reaches out to friends and loved ones to share in her adventures. Sometimes, when life is hard or we don’t feel good, this is the sort of thing it’s hard to do.

I find it difficult to lean in to new experiences.

And that’s the thing I found most often in her stories. Sometimes there would be a turning point… that moment where it’d be really easy to kick back. Sure, I find a day at home with video games or movies enjoyable. I’m a homebody and an introvert and once I’m in comfy clothes it’s hard to get me out of the house. But this isn’t just about getting out of the house. This is about getting out of a comfort zone.

Sort of like I talked about in my post about going to Omaha recently. I was there for a purpose – to see my favorite poet. But several times I tried to talk myself out of it. I tried to avoid going by myself somewhere fancy for dinner. In the end, I had an extremely enjoyable dinner and saw a great show.

I think reading this book was a little reminder that it’s worth it sometimes to push yourself a little more. And it’s doesn’t have to be big moments either. It could be saying yes to little things, like singing loudly in your car, or inviting someone to have lunch with you at work. I’ve also been considering how easy it is to hide the things we’re passionate about.

There’s a story Mamrie tells about going on the Backstreet Boys cruise. And I couldn’t help but admire the joy in that story. Not only do she and her friend just completely lean in to enjoy the shit out of that cruise as best they can, but there’s a whole cruise ship full of women doing the same thing. Sure, maybe their all there for different reasons but if you’re buying tickets to the Backstreet Boys cruise, you’ve really embraced your love for that band. And I kind of love that.

We talk a lot about this kind of idea in fandom circles; how not to yuck someone else’s yum, and letting people enjoy the things they enjoy whether it be a certain type of story or character or art. I think there’s more to that we can apply to just every day life. Being present for the things we love and opening ourselves up to opportunities to love more stuff.

Really it’s part of why I wanted to do this blog, or any blog again. I’m a huge fan of video games, comics, music… and it’s fun to be able to talk about them more, or share them to people who might not otherwise know about them. So, I’m really trying to embrace that whole concept of being present for the joy I have in the things and people I love, and being open or confident enough to do it even more.

Book: How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

I’m way behind. Bawse came out last year, and I just finished it yesterday. Though truthfully, I’ve been reading it about a chapter or two at a time since I got it on release day.

This book is beautiful: thick demi-gloss pages, giant high quality pictures of Lilly at the start of every chapter, and bright, colorful graphics for pull quotes and end of chapter checklists. It’s not exactly what I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know, by the look and feel of this book, it seems very much like it wants to be a coffee table book. It does make an impact.

Through fifty chapters, Lilly outlines her values and ideas on achieving success in very clear, simple language. Given her YouTube audience, I’m not really in her demographic… but I am a regular viewer of her content because I find her brand of positive and confident hustle inspiring. Which it’s meant to be but not just for her audience but also for herself. And I’d be willing to be that’s exactly what her actual demographic finds so attractive as well.

Her ideas aren’t new, not groundbreaking, but they are presented in a way that makes them easily digestible for her audience. And at the end of each chapter she provides a little space to write your own checklist of people, things, places that will help you achieve whatever idea she’s just presented.

I’ve read a few self-help kind of books in my time and this one definitely breaks out from the norm. Mostly due to the way each chapter is presented. But also, Lilly’s brand of positive reinforcement and her very easily accessible brand of humor makes it feel like a conversation. I’ll also say that I think the fact that if you do watch her videos or her vlog, you can see that these aren’t just words she’s written down. This book doesn’t break from the person she shows so openly in her vlogs. You can see that this kind of positive hustle is the same thing she applies to her own success, daily.

I say that, and I think that two decades ago, this book might’ve really changed my mind. However I think that at my current age, having struggled to get to where I am in my own life, a lot of her values are things I’ve already learned or applied. They’re concepts that you learn with experience. If you take them to heart early in life though, maybe you’ll be a step up from the rest. Will you have 13 million YouTube followers? Probably not. But, maybe you could have a good start on where you want to be someday.


Andrea Gibson at the Lied Center

Last night’s show at the Lied Center was a pretty amazing hour of poems. I’m so happy I went. The stories that Andrea puts between the poems are maybe the best reason to go. I’ve heard or read most of these poems before, but the lead-up or the explanations that go after… they give them further context in a way that makes them maybe not more meaningful (although sometimes that too) but more powerful.

When you’re used to seeing artists on YouTube: dancers, musicians, poets — sometimes it’s difficult to understand exactly how they’ll be in person. For example, there’s a bellydance I LOVE to watch perform, but when I show people her videos online it’s almost impossible for anyone to get a sense of exactly why I like her so much. Sure, she has the technical stuff down, but it conveys nothing of the tension she puts into her dance.

I feel like as touching as Andrea’s poems can be when read, or heard on YouTube, being present for a reading of them, transforms them. You cannot explain to someone else how moved they’ll be. They have to experience it for themselves.

Anyhow, I say that to explain that last night was exactly what I’d hoped for. I’ve listened to Andrea’s new album, Hey Galaxy, but none of them quite transfixed me the way hearing them in person did.

After the show, I picked up their new book, “Take Me With You”. It’s a sort of short form compilation of the highlights of Andrea’s work. It’s short quotes from poems that are especially powerful. I think it’ll be a great way to introduce people to their work too. I plan on taking mine into the office with me. I get comments or questions about my tattoo constantly. This will be a good way to explain it to people.

Once I picked up the book, I stood in line for about an hour more to meet Andrea. I was alone this time and filled with a room full of people that were much younger than me (unless they were parents or teachers there with a teen). 

I also realized how very queer I felt in that moment, with my undercut hair, my Hannah Hart sweatshirt, waiting for Andrea Gibson, in my gender pronoun pin and my new Property of No One jacket. Married as I am, to a man, and in a corporate job where I have to dress pretty conservatively (though I’m prone to casual-down my clothing for comfort where I can), my hair is about the only bit of non-hetero-normative life I get to express. I do cherish the little moments I get to feel a little more like people see my full self. 

Just before I went up to Andrea’s table last night, as my stomach was churning and I was having a hard time breathing and felt sort of all over like DON’T SCREW THIS UP AGAIN panic attack was on the horizon. As the women in front of me left Andrea’s table, they stood up and disappeared around the corner. The person helping with their signing (girlfriend, manager, friend? idk) said they were going to get the dogs. 

You don’t know how thankful I am for that moment. Squashy, Andrea’s tiny dog, stood on the table in front of me, between Andrea and I as I handed over my book. I showed them about my tattoo. They signed my book and I scritched Squashy’s adorable little face. There could not have been more perfect timing for that dog to sit on that table. I know it wasn’t for me. But it was exactly what I needed to get through that moment, to say hello like a normal fucking person, get my book signed and walk away without losing my shit. 

Against my obvious evidence to the contrary (eg. these two posts about Andrea) I do not get this wound up about meeting people, getting things signed, going to events. I’m not good in crowds for long periods of time, but I don’t usually get so worked up over things like this. And even when I am excited, I still don’t have trouble introducing myself or talking to someone. 

But I also don’t get just anything in a tattoo. The time in my life when I felt good enough to get a reminder that sometimes you have to go through some shit to come out the other side a different person? It was really hard. So talking to the person that wrote down what I use as pretty much a daily reminder that things get better? Yeah, I feel like it’s not without reason that I’d get worked up over it. But I did it. 

And next Friday night, I plan to do it again. 

Book: The Raptor & the Wren by Chuck Wendig

Miriam Black is a foul-mouthed young woman with a peculiar ability. She can see can see how you’re going to die. The Miriam Black series is a series of novels about Miriam’s many exploits. In the beginning, Miriam uses her ability to follow people she knows are about to die so she can steal their stuff. Pretty good racket it if you can get it.

Problem is, something in the universe has it out for Miriam.

And of course you can only steal from the dead for so long. Eventually someone’s going to see you, someone’s going to figure it out. Or… if you’ve got even a hint of a conscious, eventually, you’re going to see someone die and try to actually do something about it.

Yesterday, the fifth book in the series, The Raptor & the Wren, was released. And I aim to finish it pretty quickly.

The Miriam Black series is quite possibly my favorite series on planet Earth. There’s something about this extreme anti-hero doing her best to refuse both her abilities and the chance to do anything redeemable with them. And yet somehow she still manages not to completely fuck everything up. Also, I’ll admit that her ability to be completely irreverent and angry and foul-mouthed at every opportunity really appeals to me.

What can I say? I like bad girls.

Really, I like that she holds on to who she is against all odds. Her attitude is part of what makes her effective. And honestly, we don’t get many heroes who actually use language like a real person. It’s too clean, too distilled. Everything about Miriam is a fucking mess.

And I love her.

I highly recommend, if you’ve never heard of the Miriam Black series, to check it out. The books move fast, you’ll finish them before you know it and I envy you, getting to start fresh from the beginning. Get to it and then join me at book five, The Raptor & the Wren. Then you can wait impatiently with me for book six, Vultures, when it comes out next year.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it.

(Oh and if you’re feeling really lucky, check out this giveaway from Tor Books.)

Educating Emma by Kira Devlin

educating emma book coverI recently spent a few hours with the new novel by a friend of mine, Kira Devlin. She’s written a short novella length erotic romance novel titled Educating Emma. It’s got a “Happily for Now” kind of ending, and the majority of the novel gives us a glimpse into the BDSM lifestyle of a university professor named Grant Morgan and his recently graduated assistant, Emma. After a year of working together in close quarters, attracted to each other but hiding it as well as they can manage, Grant and Emma both find themselves at a party looking to hook up with partners to distract them and let out a little pent up tension. What they don’t expect is to run into each other.

What follows is a look at the sort of lifestyle Professor Morgan leads behind closed doors, one that Emma is very intrigued by. There’s a good bit of character development with these two characters as we meet them on Emma’s last day in the Professor’s office and we see the thoughts of both of them leading up to the party, including their desires for each other, leading them to need the kind of night that’s at the crux of the story. The Dominant/Submissive relationship is handled patiently and intimately between the characters, and the reader is along for each moment Emma has to check in with herself to make sure she knows what she’s getting into.

The book is up on Amazon for $0.99 and if erom novels are your thing, it’s a small price to pay for admission. I gave it 5 stars over on Goodreads.

She may be graduating, but her education is just beginning …

For Emma, working for Professor Morgan has been pure torture. His commanding presence gives her the kind of ideas that no grad student should entertain about her boss. So when a friend offers her a chance to live out her forbidden fantasies, she jumps at the chance. Maybe if she can find a man to give her the dominance she needs, she’ll forget all about the thrill she gets in her professor’s presence …

Grant Morgan needs an outlet for his desire, one with lush curves and a taste for submission – one that isn’t relying on him to write a professional recommendation. He’s kept a tight leash on his instincts around Emma, but now that she’s leaving, he’s in desperate need of release. A private party should be exactly what he’s looking for.

But when that party brings him face to face with Emma, Grant finds that he has a lot more to teach her than he ever dared to dream …