Why Being Morbid Can Be A Good Thing

If you’re one of my close friends, you probably know that I think about death a lot. I have since I was pretty young as well. I have a tattoo that literally represents death and I think about it on the reg.

This sounds morbid, depressing, and potentially creepy. But I don’t see it that way.

Being aware of my own mortality and my impending death pushes me to live. I know that I am not going to be here forever. So while I am here, why not do everything that I want to do? Why not get the tattoos I’ve been wanting? Why not stay in if I don’t feel like going out? Why work at a job that I hate? Why not live out and proud? Why not take a crazy chance? Why not do a crazy dance? If you lose a moment, you can lose a lot. So why not. Why not!!

If I’m going to die one day, I might as well live the life I have exactly how I want. And being aware of death is ironically what pushes me to live.

I’m not sure what prompted my daily thoughts about death (holy shit that sounds so creepy and weird wtf!!!) but I’m glad for it. Besides pushing me to live how I want while I’m still living, it’s given me a new outlook on regret.

It sounds stereotypical, but I really do think that the “no regrets” thing has some clout.

But I would modify that a little bit. It’s not that people don’t have any regrets. We all have regrets, no matter how small they are. I regret one of my college majors. I regret not coming out sooner. Fuck, I regret saying “you too” to the people who sell tickets at the movie theater when they tell me to enjoy the movie.

But all of these decisions are things I can live with, and have made me who I am today. Who knows where I’d be, better or worse, if I hadn’t done those things. When trying to decide something, there’s nothing helpful about asking yourself “What if I regret it?” because that is always a possibility.

The real questions you should ask yourself are, “If I do it and I regret it, can I live with it?” And, “If I don’t do it and I regret it, can I live with it?”

Let’s look at some examples from my own life. I know that I’m a trans guy who wants to medically transition, but I wrestled with the idea of starting hormones for almost a year. The main thing holding me back was my nagging fear that I would regret my decision to start them, seeing as some changes are irreversible.

But the idea that I could die tomorrow without ever even trying hormones was more terrifying than the idea that I might regret a permanently lower voice. I would live with more regret having never gone on hormones that I would if I do go on them and regret it.

So I’m starting hormones this Tuesday and getting two new tattoos next Saturday. And if I regret either one, I can live with that.

We all have regrets. Which ones can you live with?

 

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Losing a Queer Identity

The title here is misleading because I am queer and will always be queer.

However, once I realized I was trans (transmasculine to be specific) I did experience a loss of part of my identity. While I gained happiness and confidence, I lost my “queer woman” identity, which has caused me to experience a wide range of confusing and upsetting emotions. (Let me know why that intro sounded like a shitty first draft to a persuasive essay you wrote in the 7th grade).

Throughout college, I was extremely unhappy. I had some amazing times, made amazing friends, and met the love of my life. But deep down, I constantly felt unattractive, unhappy, and unmotivated. Looking back now, I know it is because I am supposed to be a boy, but I was living as a girl.

But at the time, I had no clue. I began college as a straight girl, clinging to femininity thinking that it would make me happy to have men attracted to me as a feminine woman. While I know I was objectively good looking, and I know that men were attracted to me, I was still unhappy. I became almost self-destructive and made my whole self-worth based around my looks and whether men wanted me.

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Meet my past “straight girl” self (left) who wore crop tops to class and apparently fake leather shorts and sandals to frat parties.

Obviously that is unhealthy and that thought process was likely because of my upbringing as a woman in a patriarchal world.

So when I figured out I was bisexual as a sophomore, it was as though a whole new world opened up to me. My thought process went something like this: Men never made me feel good or like I was worth anything, so perhaps focusing on my attraction to women will make me feel good about myself.

And while this logic is still flawed as it uses other people to value myself as a person, it was kind of right. Discovering I was attracted to women as a woman made me the happiest I had ever been.

I was suddenly more confident in myself. I loved being gay (I’m using gay as an umbrella term here, I am bi, but I like the word gay for myself as well, let me live). I embraced my queerness to the extreme.

I wore exclusively tumblr lesbian clothes. I watched the L word on repeat. I posted selfies on tumblr on the reg. Snapbacks were a lifestyle. Softball 4 dayz. I even watched all of Carmilla (my fellow queer people, you know when you watch Carmilla that you are DEEP in queer culture). I embraced my already pretty gay walk. Queer lady YouTubers were my people.

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The peak of my gayness: Summer 2015. Peep the vans, the button up, and the sunnies.

I got to be the classic gay feminist constantly having gender and social justice discussions with my friends. Halsey and Fifth Harmony hypnotized me with their hotness. I had a sexy picture of Emma Watson in my room (to be fair, I had this up before I realized I was queer. lol at my past self thinking I was straight).

I walked around like I was hot shit. I wanted people to look at me and think “queer.” I flirted with girls and was with girls in a way that I had never been with or connected with men. I was actually loving myself for the first time. I was so proud to be a queer woman.

So why was I still unhappy, even when embracing my queer identity? I didn’t figure it out until the end of my senior year: I wasn’t a queer woman. I’m a queer guy.

Realizing that was a turning point for me. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now living as a boy. I’m starting hormones soon, I’ve changed my name, and I’m in a much better place.

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I made my mom take this.

But being a man means that I am losing my place in the wlw, queer woman community. Being a queer woman brought me so much confidence and happiness during a time in my life when not much else made me happy or even made me want to get out of bed.

Not only that, but I am afraid of not appearing queer at all anymore, not just not appearing like a queer woman. Im not super masc or anything, but I’m afraid as I start passing that I will be straight/cis passing as well. I am so proud of my queer identity; I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want people in Provincetown to think I’m just some straight tourist. I don’t want to go to pride and have people upset that a straight appearing cis-looking guy is there.

Realizing my trans identity has given and is giving me so much. I’m just afraid about what it might be taking away.

It sounds dramatic, but I feel grief over the loss of this identity. But I’m also confused. I know that I’m a guy, but when I see queer lady stuff like Hayley Kiyoko’s new gay as fuck music (WHICH I AM LIVING FOR BTW) and Lauren and Halsey’s queer duet song and girls holding hands in public and other wlw stuff, I feel a kinship with it. I feel like, hey that’s just like me!

But it isn’t anymore. I feel cut off from that world that brought me happiness and confidence during a time where I almost always felt like shit. And when I feel like I’m a part of that wlw community still, I start to question my trans identity. How can I be a guy and still wish that I was a part of a wlw community? How can I look at my favorite queer lady YouTubers and feel so connected with them as though I am one of them if I’m really a guy?

Being a gay girl gave me things I desperately needed as a depressed 20 year old: community, confidence, and hope for happiness. Losing that is really hard for me to deal with. But as a guy who is sad about not being a gay girl anymore, it is a confusing loss. I know I’m moving forward and being who I really am as a boy. But being a gay girl was fucking fun, and I do miss it.

Hopefully that made some sense and can resonate with someone out there. You can be trans and miss parts of being your old self. You can be a trans guy and miss your experience as a queer girl. Being trans doesn’t have a rulebook or any requirements.

I’ll just keep telling myself these things until I really believe them.

Reading Every Book On My Bookshelf: Wild

Excuse-filled Intro

So I’m kind of bummed that this second installment of this series took forever for me to get to.

I was thinking I would do like 1 post of this series per week, but thinking back that is a little unrealistic for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I do have a job. People think that freelancing means a ton of free time, and sure it might mean some more free time than other types of work, but I still have to work.

Secondly, I am a fast reader, but I’m by no means one of those people who can scan a fucking page and then recite it back. I take my time while reading especially for things like this were I’m taking notes, trying to find meaning, staring at the same sentence for a few minutes for no reason, etc, etc. And not only do I have to read the whole book, I then have to actually write the post about it.

So one post of this series per week? Fuck no lol. I’ll aim for once every couple weeks, but we will see.

After that long ass intro, I still didn’t write what book I read for this post (even though it is in the title of the post). I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read this book a few times, and each time it was an emotional and amazing read.

Why I Bought the Book in the First Place

I’m going to try and follow a similar structure for each of these posts, but obviously it won’t be exactly the same.

So as I said, I have read this book before and I loved it. I’m always a slut for books about people dropping everything to go on a journey, especially ones that involve hiking.

But my journey with this book didn’t start with the book: it started with the movie. Usually I am that annoying person that smugly slips into conversation, “Oh, I read [insert book name here] way before it became a movie.”

However, that was not the case here. I saw the movie when I was a sophomore in college, which was around 3 years ago (fuck I feel old). The movie was great and it does a great job at adapting it to a film (except that Reese Witherspoon is deff not 26 in the movie like Strayed was on the trail). I actually saw it with my mom, which turned out to be good because a lot of the book/movie revolves around Cheryl’s mother, her mortality, and their relationship. Needless to say, I sobbed multiple times at the movie (I’m a soft kinda guy what can I say).

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Me, a sophomore in college, holding this up as a “joke.” Me, queer??? as if!!!

After we walked out of the theater, I immediately made my mom drive me to Barnes and Noble where I bought the book and read it in one sitting, through the night, until 3 am.

What I Would’ve Rated it Then

I would’ve given this book an 11/10 if that were an option. I was enthralled and read it multiple times in a row because of my love for it and its message.

Why was I so enthralled? This book tells the true story of a real person in a transition period of life, dealing with death, family, and her own identity. Sure, she was hiking the PCT and having adventures and misadventures alike. But the underlying message of personal growth and odyssey was so captivating to me.

This message of growth and transition was especially appealing to me at that time when I was going through this type of growth and change as well. I was just realizing my sexuality and queer identity, I was halfway through my college career, I was depressed and anxious, and I had no self-esteem. I was searching for meaning in my own life as I tried to understand myself.

Knowing that, it isn’t very surprising that I latched on so tightly to Cheryl’s story of independence and hardship. I felt so alone without any direction. Like Cheryl, I wanted to escape all of my problems and find a journey that would help me learn about myself. I wanted to walk and hurt and feel pain until I could no longer think about everything I was going through.

So I read. And I read this book. And it helped me more than anything or anyone else during that horrible time of my life. It wasn’t a super happy, uplifting book that made me feel better in that sense. It was raw and sad and painful and made me cry and laugh and feel scared and understand mortality. It is someone’s real life and it describes some of the hardest things we as humans have to go through elegantly with wit and raw emotion. It was a narrative that I could relate to.

Perhaps my own issues at the time didn’t really match up to Cheryl’s in Wild: I still had (and have) my mother in my life, I had many close friends, I wasn’t using drugs, my family was and is a constant support, and I wasn’t in a struggling romantic relationship.

But what was (and still is) so great about this book is that its truth extends past these particular struggles that Cheryl faced. Just because I hadn’t lost my mother like she had doesn’t mean I can’t read her words and feel a little bit of that pain. Just because I hadn’t lost my family doesn’t mean I can’t feel the fear of that loss, and the grief that I will have to endure. Our struggles were different, but the emotions are universal.

So, like I said: I would’ve given it an 11/10.

What I Rate It Now

With the previous description I just gave, it isn’t surprising that I’m still giving this book a high rating, but perhaps not quite an 11/10. I’ll give it a 9/10.

For all of the same reasons I listed earlier, I still love this book. I still felt the emotions, I still cried, and I still connected.

But it was harder for me to get into it on this reading. I feel like I thought too hard about which book I should read next for this series. It makes sense that I would read this book as I am yet again in a transition period: I am literally transitioning from female to male, but I am also just out of college trying to figure out my life. It makes sense to read this book about transitions.

But I think I overthought it. I didn’t re-read this book now because I felt like it or because the message truly spoke to me like it did when I first read it. I read it this time because it made sense for this blog post. I thought it would be a great parallel for my life, just like it was when I first read it.

And while it is a great parallel, I think that I am going through too much hardship in my own life currently to want to also read about someone else’s hardships. When I first read it, Cheryl’s struggles helped me feel less alone and helped to put words to my pain and my inner desires. But when I read it this time, it was as though I was feeling the burden and heartache of her life along with everything else that I’m going through. I still felt the raw emotions that make this book so special. But those raw emotions, instead of making me feel validated in my transition, made me feel worse.

I chalk this up to my worsening anxiety and depression and not because of a dislike for the actual book. My desire to have a romantic and poetic reading because of the ~parallels~ between my life and the book got in the way of me actually reading something that would touch me in that way.

Instead of reaching for something I truly wanted to read, something that called to me, something that had a message that resonated with me right now, I chose something that I thought should’ve done all of those things because it did in the past. And that is a mistake.

Why is that a mistake? I made a decision for my current self based on my past self. This might seem dramatic (It’s just a book Elliot jeeze) but it is the truth, and it’s something that I do a lot. I make decisions for myself based on how I felt in the past or how I think I will feel in the future. This will only lead to angst and struggle. My past self and my future self are not more important than my present self. I need to think about myself now and what I need to do to be happier now, not what I did to be happier 5 years ago or what I think might make me happy 5 years from now. I am important, right here, right now. I need to make decisions with that in mind.

So in the end, the actual re-reading of this book didn’t give me as much insight as the choice I made to re-read it did. Weird how introspection works sometimes.

Am I Keeping This Book?

If anyone remembers back to my first post, the reason I decided to do this “re-reading my bookshelf” series is because I am trying to focus on a minimalist lifestyle and only have things that really add value to my life. I wanted to clear out my huge stash of books because they take up so much space.

So am I keeping this book? Short answer: no.

But that doesn’t mean that this book didn’t add value to my life. It 100% did and has added value to my life. But just because it did add value doesn’t mean that I should keep it. It is a great book that I will always love and will always remember as something that got me through one of the hardest times of my life.

But this book isn’t something that I reach for to re-read regularly like some of my other books. Wild is something that I didn’t even really want to re-read right now, I just did because I thought I should and I thought it would help me. It has added value to my life in ways that I can’t even begin to try and put into words.

But the physical book itself didn’t add that value. It was the situation in which I read it the first time. It was me, crying about coming out and realizing I was queer, reaching for this book in a time where all I did was panic and hate myself, and reading it through the night. It was watching the movie with my mom, realizing how much I love her and how short life is. It was reading about the pain that Cheryl felt and thinking that my own pain was somehow being written down by someone else, and how that meant I wasn’t alone. It was me writing in my journal about how much I loved this book and how much it helped me start my own journey, just like Cheryl did. The value was how the story affected my life in a time when that was the exact story I needed to hear.

It was never the physical book. Until now, I hadn’t read it since I read it three years ago.

With that said, I can’t justify keeping the book. If the message and the story calls for me again in the future, I can buy it again or go to the library. But I need to make a decision for the present day me, not the future me. And I can’t see myself wanting to read this book again for a while.

That doesn’t mean its message and meaning have not given me something so valuable that I really, truly think I owe my current life to it.

Another post will come soon(ish).

I Do Horrible Drawings 5: Trans Ban Tweets

We all heard about the trans military ban Donald Trump tweeted out yesterday.

I have a couple of thoughts. I’d like to posit some serious questions and then move into something that can maybe bring people some happiness (I’m talking about my horrid drawings).

The support I have seen on social media from both queer and cis allies has been immense, and for that I am grateful.

But where is all of this support in day to day life? Trans people face this type of discrimination REGULARLY. Trans people are attacked each and every day. Trans people are killed each and every day for just leaving their house in the morning.

Allies should look themselves in the mirror each day and ask how they can support trans people. Not just on days when there is a mainstream report of discrimination, but on normal days. What can you do if you see discrimination in action? Can you try to identify any internalized hate you have towards queer and trans people? What can you do each and every day to support people instead of only tweeting your support when it’s a hot topic issue?

This goes for all issues of discrimination. Black lives still matter even when you aren’t getting mainstream coverage of discrimination. Trans lives still matter even when you don’t hear about violence against trans people in the news. Women’s lives matter. POC lives matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. What can you do every day to show your support for marginalized groups? Be better, analyze your words and your actions, and stand up for those whose voices are silenced. Recognize your privilege and use it to help others who don’t have the privilege you do.

With that small rant out of the way, let’s get into some drawings.

I found some of my favorite tweets from yesterday’s response to the trans military ban and I thought they could use some illustrations. So enjoy.

First we have this tweet:

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This one just made me smile and think of trans people growing out of a garden, happily just living, surrounded by plants and the sun. So that’s what I tried to draw. But as I’m sure you know, my ideas for drawings and what I actually translate onto the paper are two very different things:

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This drawing was supposed to be cute and make you feel good. Instead, it looks like donuts got stuck in an abnormally large piece of broccoli and a creepy, demonic Arthur the Aardvark has decided to lean against a tree to examine his triangle leg.

For wanting to create something that gives off a “flourishing” vibe, I didn’t really put in many plants. There’s literally only two plants.

At least this was created with a nice sentiment in mind, right?

The next tweet was more of a funny one that I actually lol-ed at (forgive me for using “Lol-ed” unironically):

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It’s tweets like this that make me still fucking love twitter. That is some good shit.

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While this is a pretty literal interpretation of the tweet, I think it’s dope. I’m gonna give myself a pat on that back for drawing 3 people who actually look like people instead of my usually drawings that make people look like evil creatures from The Ring.

I think the bottom-right panel is particularly good. Not only is that unmistakably Donnie (peep the double chin and weird circular mouth with two tiny teeth showing), but also notice the great detail I put into Donnie’s hands and weird mullet hair. Let’s give a round of applause to the cartoon about to chuck him into that volcano. You’re doing amazing sweetie.

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This another tweet that I laughed at (ok laugh is a little bit exaggerated: I smiled at my phone, which counts as a laugh when it comes to twitter).

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There’s a lot to absorb with this piece. I haven’t yet come up with a way to draw Trump the same way in multiple different situations, so enjoy the random changes in his face and structure.

I thought I was pretty clever with this one (ex. Trump in bed with the Earth saying its hot. get it cuz like global warming?!?! it’s a hot globe!?? I guess it was funnier in my head). Enjoy looking at his Cheeto chest hairs and his creepy frog smile.

And finally, we have this tweet:

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I think that sums up my thoughts pretty well. Not much to elaborate on.

So, until next time: be better ever day.

 

 

Reading Every Book On My Bookshelf: Twilight

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Art

For those who are unaware, this post is a part of a new series that I am going to be doing on this blog that I explained here. It’s basically a “Julie and Julia” type exercise except instead of remaking recipes, I am re-reading and reviewing books from my bookshelf instead.

This is this official first post of this new series! Sure, the introductory post is one thing. But when you’re depressed, motivating yourself to fulfill goals and actually do the things you say you’re going to do is fucking hard. So honestly, I’m proud of myself for following through, even if this is the only one I do (but I don’t think it will be).

I hinted at the first book in my last post, but for those who were still confused: I started with Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

I’m still not 100% sure how I am going to structure these posts, so hopefully this goes well.

Let’s get right into the post!

Why I started with Twilight

I’m not really sure why I wanted to start with this one, but ever since I came home from my last year of college, I have had a craving for Twilight like Edward has a craving for Bella (I just died at that simile. That’s the only time I’ll do that lol).

The explanation I have come up with relates to my nostalgia I mentioned in the first post of this series. I started reading these books right around the Twilight heyday of 2007-2008. I would read the entire series over and over and over without getting tired of it.

So reading it now brings back memories of middle school and high school. While those were far from my favorite years, I do have great memories from that time of my life.

I made my very best, lifelong friends. I was actually considered to be above-average intelligence wise. I was playing softball competitively. I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight or feel like shit after.

My idea of a great Friday night was sitting in my friend’s house eating Gyoza and listening to TGIF.

My concerns were small and unimportant, like whether a boy liked me (he didn’t lol), if my outfit was cool (uggs and basketball shorts ftw), and whether I would dance with anyone at the all-school dance (does swaying awkwardly with my friends as we all tried to look like we were quirky and fun for dancing with each other count?).

When you think about it, coming back from college for the final time and craving my childhood memories or the innocence of simpler times is not all that out of the ordinary.

Perhaps other people would flip through a photo album or talk about old times with high school friends, but I opted for reading Twilight.

Why I Bought the Book In the First Place

Let’s get into the background of this book. We all are aware of the Twilight obsession that swept the nation. Being around 12-13 when this occurred, I was no exception in the craze.

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13 year old me. Yikes. Obviously feeling myself here. peep that lip gloss and the dinosaur figurines in the background.

To put my own obsession into perspective, I went to the midnight premiere of Twilight and I also got the DVD the day it came out to have a Twilight viewing party/sleepover at my house. I tried to find a picture from that night but I couldn’t, although I’m sure it was a rager.

Just to give you an idea of who we are talking about here, I’ve included a couple of pictures of me and my middle school friends (sorry to all of them for rehashing these lost images).

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Check out this SICCCC edit from Picnik
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Another sicc edit featuring my horrendous tank top, a middle school yearbook, and all around great style

I basically followed the trend of the time and really enjoyed it. It was an easy read, I was ‘boy crazy’ (meaning I would constantly pick out random boys in my grade that I “like liked” and my friends and I would create nicknames like “Milky Way” and “Eggwhites” so we could talk about them in public), and it was a generally fine book.

What I Would’ve Rated It Then

Solid 8/10. Would, and did, re-read. As I said, at the time it was a generally OK book with romance and teen angst, both of which I craved. I was not informed on gender and feminist issues, and I had not really read any “good” books besides ones I had read in school.

I was mostly reading dystopian young adult novels where there’s some mysterious illness people named Kai get when they’re born before they go through “The Trials”.

This means that I was blissfully reading through an abusive relationship with a completely unrealistic storyline/love-timeline and taking it as fantastic literature that was normal and acceptable. More on this later.

What I Rate It Now

A reluctant 5/10. The reluctance is that I wish I could rate it lower knowing that it is a shitty message given to young people, but I can’t because of the memories and nostalgia attached to it.

Explaining My Rating

 

Abuse and Sexism

Let’s get into the reasons for the low rating.

Twilight takes us through an abused teen girl’s relationship with her abuser. Now, obviously it is not said that this is what it’s about on the inside cover, but Edward’s manipulation and verbally abusive statements make it hard to see their relationship in any other way besides an abusive one.

The constant descriptions of Edward as perfect seems to gloss over the fact that he controls Bella’s life in almost every way (“Don’t be difficult, Bella”, Edward says in response to Bella not wanting to do something he never even asked her if she wanted to do), that he is insecure, and that he is manipulative.

Emphasizing his perfection places the importance of a person on their looks, telling young people it’s ok if they’re being abused by their partner, as long as they are attractive.

There are many more well-written articles on this topic, so I won’t go into too much detail. But part of the rating reduction is because this book teaches teenagers to not only accept abuse, but to see it as romantic and how real relationships work. That is fucked up, Stephenie Meyer.

I also came across a GEM of a sexist comment right near the end of the book:

“A man and a woman have to be somewhat equal [in a relationship] […] they have to save each other equally” (473-474).

OK WHAT THE FUCK STEPHENIE. First of all, relationships aren’t about SAVING EACH OTHER THAT IS FUCKED UP AND PROMOTES ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS.

Secondly, what the fuck is this “somewhat equal” business? Like, they should just be equal??? Not somewhat equal???

Also, Bella at one point asks Jacob if he, “see[s] anything [he] likes” in reference to women. Women are not objects, Bella.

Completely Unrealistic

I understand that realism might not be what you get with a book about vampires. I understand science fiction and fantasy, and that is not what I’m referring to when I say this book is unrealistic.

Their relationship timeline is just complete bullshit. I’m totally unconvinced about their being in love. They basically talk twice before they declare their love and all they talk about is how he is a vampire and how she is a clumsy idiot. Their ‘love’ and relationship just escalate so quickly.

How did I ever think this timeline was normal? Perhaps it was because I was an impressionable teenager who was being taught that this manipulation and rapid infatuation was not only normal, but also desirable! Who knows!

God awful Writing

I’m obviously no George Eliot, but as a writer and a reader, I can spot bad writing when I see it. As I’ve gotten older, written more, and generally become more well-read, I have also come to realize that the writing in Twilight is just awful.

For example, Stephenie cannot seem to find other descriptive words besides “perfect” and “godlike” when it comes to Edward and his vampire squad. Yes, we get it, he’s hot. Move the fuck on Stephenie.

The dialogue is also unrealistic trash that can be summed up in the following interaction:

“”I love you,” [Bella] whispered.

“You are my life now,” [Edward] answered simply,” (314).

WHAT THE FUCK LOL. But seriously who would ever talk like that besides characters on Shonda Rhimes shows after they’ve made a large, unnecessary, metaphorical speech?

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I drew this in high school during the phase when it was cool to make fun of Twilight. Clearly I was a child prodigy.

Why My Rating Isn’t Lower

Even though this book is awful for many reasons, I still love it. Besides the memories it holds, the ridiculous plot, horrible writing, and atrocious dialogue makes it fun to read. I’ve certainly read worse books and there’s still something great about reading a bad book.

To sum up my reading experience, here are most of the notes I took during this re-reading:

  • This is so cringe it’s awful
  • I’m still enjoying it???
  • Bella is an idiot with no personality besides ‘clumsy’
  • Bella thinks she is hot shit for knowing the fucking cell cycle and having already read “Hamlet” and “Wuthering Heights” she is the definition of a “I’m not like other girls” girl
  • Stephenie Meyer is fucked up
  • But I’m still enjoying it?? what the fuck??
  • Describe Alice as a “graceful gazelle” or Edward as a “lion” one more time Stephenie I dare you
  • Bella’s life revolves around Edward which is so appallingly unhealthy
  • Now I want to watch the movie lol #kstew
  • Bella’s decision-making skills are those of a five-year old
  • This book includes the trope of the villain discussing their whole evil plan ultimately resulting in their downfall because they took too long lol
  • I feel bad for laughing at the torture scene but all I can picture is the scene from the movie that was just not well done and involved weird dog noises coming from kstew
  • Why would they make Edward suck out the venom?? Like Carlisle could’ve done it??
  • FullSizeRender-2
    Pretty accurate portrayal, imo.
  • Describe Edward as perfect one more time I swear to god

Am I Keeping This Book?

In the end, I still like this book. It is definitely a problematic fave of mine. Kind of like how I know the show Friends is homophobic, transphobic, and fatphobic, yet I still like it. I think we all have those books and shows that we both love to hate and hate to love.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. Despite the awful writing, the plot holes, and the sexism, I found myself happier when I was done reading. Perhaps I didn’t learn any life lessons or discover a new philosophy, but while I was reading it I laughed and smiled, which is a triumph considering I’m depressed and anxious almost all of the time.

This re-reading taught me that you’re allowed to have favorite things that aren’t what people consider “smart” or “intellectual.” You can have things you like that you don’t have to call your “guilty pleasure.” It’s just something that makes you happy instead of something that makes you happy and ashamed simultaneously. I actually think it is good to have those things in your life.

As someone who studied gender, sociology, and sexuality in college, it is easy to analyze everything to a point where most things are not enjoyable because of the rampant sexism and homophobia.

And obviously it’s important to call out things that are sexist/racist/awful and create new entertainment that doesn’t rely on these things for humor or plot lines.

But sometimes it’s ok to have a problematic fave. Whether it’s Twilight, or Family Guy, or The L Word, let yourself have a pleasure that isn’t a guilty pleasure. Something that you can laugh at and that brings back memories from a different time of your life.

So crucify me if you want for liking this stupid book. Sue me. But I’m sure you can all relate on some level to liking something that is just so bad it’s good (looking at everyone who still thinks Grey’s Anatomy is good after 13 fucking seasons).

All of this being said, I am going to keep this book (I probably won’t keep the rest of the series, but having Twilight lying around is something I’m not ready to give up quite yet). Even though it is problematic and ridiculous, it added (and adds) value to my life.

I know I can return to this book when I need a laugh or to escape from depression, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.

This book was important to me for a long time, and it brings back so many good memories when I read it. It’s a book I’ll likely re-read many times just like I did as a ~tween~.

Conclusions

All in all, I feel like this exercise is actually helping me the way I wanted it to. The reason why I started doing this series in the first place was because of my drive to live as a minimalist.

But living as a minimalist doesn’t mean having 2 shirts and no furniture. It means living with less and having items that add value to your life.

So even though I am keeping this book instead of giving it away, I’m keeping it for the legitimate reason that it adds value to my life (I just remembered that I’m talking about Twilight and died a little bit. Oh well.).

With that, I’m onto the next book. Stay tuned.

 

Letting Go: Reading Every Book on my Bookshelf

I’ve always loved to read.

Since I was a kid, reading has been something I could always turn to for entertainment and solace. As an only child, books became a way for me to join many different families and learn about life through many different experiences.

Because of this love of reading, I have a full library that has filled my bookshelf, spilled over onto my floor, taken up my bedside table, and it has even made its way into the bathroom (book poops are the best poops). I’ve read almost every book that I own, but definitely not every single one.

But I have a confession.

I am an addict. A book buying addict with an obsession for purchasing new and used books even though I am currently reading 3 at one time and have 15 more on my shelf that I bought and have not read yet.

Nothing gets me as high as finding a new and exciting book with pages that have that used-book smell and dog-eared pages (I tried to make that sound the least pretentious as I possibly could).

I’m a book hoarder if you will.

As many book lovers know, having a bookshelf filled with books both loved and unread does not mean that you stop buying books.

I know that I have so many that I haven’t read yet, but whenever I pass a bookstore, especially a used bookstore, I know I’m going in and buying something.

As much as I love buying books, this habit is getting kind of annoying. I not only buy books all the time, but I also refuse to give away or donate any of the books I have that I have already read or will never read again.

So back to my overflowing library I mentioned: I have to do something about it. My room is small, and I’m getting overwhelmed by a number of books I have. I want more space. Not just space to live and put my other stuff, but more space to fill with newer books.

But I am a very nostalgic person. I keep memory boxes filled with movie tickets and birthday cards and photos from middle school. So how am I supposed to get rid of my beloved stories?

Some of these books I’ve owned since I was a kid. Some of these books I bought and never read. I don’t want to just give away my precious memories or waste my money that I spent on these books!

So I’ve devised a plan.

The Plan

I am currently working as a freelance writer, which means I work from home and determine my own schedule. This also means that if I focus and do my work when I’m supposed to, I have a lot of free time.

During this free time, I am going to read books from my bookshelf. In fact, I have decided that I am going to read every single book on my bookshelf.

And until I have read all the books on my shelf, I am not going to buy another book.

I’ve devised this plan for a couple of reasons.

I’m tryna be a ~minimalist~ but I’m also always a slut for nostalgia.

How does this relate to my books? Well, I need to get rid of some shit. I’m a borderline hoarder because of my painful almost brooding nostalgia, which means I have accumulated a ton of crap. I need space for all that crap.

By reading all of my books again (or for the first time) I will get to enjoy my sweet, sweet memories, and, hopefully, finally be able to let go of these books. I won’t lose the memories by losing the books, but having one last go with these old friends will be a great way to say goodbye.

This might sound super dramatic and stupid to people who don’t like to read, or perhaps to everyone. But I really do mean that these books feel like my old friends.

The characters and the stories truly got me through the hardest parts of my life.

I’ve laughed and I’ve cried because of these books. I’ve learned so much from these books and these authors.

I have a tattoo based on my favorite book.

The stories and the characters truly shaped who I am today. I can’t just get rid of these things without one last hurrah.

Then I had a great idea! Why not review or write a short post about each book that I read? I could do a section on when I first read the book (if I did at all), why I bought it, if I liked it when I first read it, what the book meant to me then, what it means to me now, my rating of it, all that good stuff!

Even if no one reads this series, I feel like this will be a great way to keep my memories of my books even if I do donate them or give them away after I’m done reading them again. This book series will be like a journal recording my thoughts and feelings on the stories that brought me to this point.

Of course, there are a fair few that I will definitely be keeping for various reasons, which I will mention in the individual book posts.

Keep your eye out for this new series, non-existent readers!

The first book I’ve chosen to re-read is rather controversial, but it still holds a place in my heart.

Hint: “The lion fell in love with the lamb.” I just threw up a little bit at the severity of the cliché, but it’s still good. I hate myself lol

I do horrible drawings 4: Pride Edition

Hello to my non-existant readers!! How have you been? Probably anxiously awaiting the next installment to this series.

I’ve been alright, thanks for asking. Besides my almost constant anxiety and depression and my intense gender confusion, I’ve been alright. I graduated college, I’m living with my mom, I’ve started working as a real professional ~writer~, and I’m in therapy. Fun stuff.

This month has been especially fun because it is PRIDE MONTH! Rainbows and queers galore. I went to Boston Pride with one of my best friends, and it was great. Being around so many of my people made me feel so validated and happy.

I thought I would bring back this series of my heinous drawings with a BANG: why not draw some of my favorite ~celeb~ LGBTQ+ humans?? And that’s exactly what I did.

As usual, I tried my darndest to draw the pictures to be EXACT COPIES of the photographs. Also, as usual, everything went terribly awry.

DISCLAIMER: If any of the people I drew for this post sees these drawings (however unlikely that is) I apologize for making you unrecognizable aliens.

Without further ado, let’s get into this.

Me and Jackie

This is me and my friend Jackie at Boston Pride! So I guess we aren’t ~celebs~ as you would normally think of the word, but when I told Jackie I was drawing her for this post she said that we are, “celebs of our social circle.” I’ll take it, I guess.

Onto the critique. This is a doozy. First of all, I fucked up our legs. Mine look like tree trunks, and Jackie looks like she is flexing the shit out of her calf.

It took me a while to place what Jackie’s face looks like in my drawing, but then it dawned on me: she looks like Smitty Webenjagermanjensen from SpongeBob. Jackie: I’m sorry I made you look like a deceased fish. Smitty: RIP.

 

Smitty.jpg
They’re both #1 in my eyes.

I also managed to make my glasses extra girthy because I kept messing up the shape and trying to fix it, which resulted in some thicc ass frames. I also tried to get fancy with ~color blending~ because I didn’t have an olive colored pen to color in my binder. My solution was to first use a green marker and then blend in some brown marker to make olive. The flaw with this plan is MARKERS DONT FUCKING BLEND. The result I got is green with obvious brown streaks on top. LIT!!!!!

Besides these small flaws, I managed to bring my artistic eye to the picture, meaning that the people in my drawing are still somewhat recognizable. Also, this post is not sponsored by T.J. Maxx or Marshalls, unfortunately. I am a maxxinista, and I could use the sponsorship or at least some free boys size 14 polos (yes I wear boys size clothes I’m smol and dysphoric about it so let’s drop it).

Miley Collage.jpg

Next, I drew my girl Miley on her Wrecking Ball. I’ve got a soft spot for Miley. We named our softball team “The Wrecking Balls” after her timeless classic (we created the team when this reference was still super relevant, but I feel like it still works). Party in the USA got me through some tough times in High School. While she can be problematic, her support of veganism and the LGBTQ+ community is great. Thanks, Miley!

I guess creating a really unflattering drawing of her isn’t the best way to say thanks, but I did my best. I actually think out of all the drawings I did for this post, this one is probably the least bad. Sure the proportions are downright horrid, her head is much flatter and larger than it should be, and her body looks like it’s a Bionicle, but her general essence was captured. Her sad, longing eyes are juxtaposed with her sexual swinging on a giant ball. So ~symbolic~. Also, I think I did her hair pretty good (well, at least good when you’re drawing with a ballpoint pen).

lauren and halsey Collage.jpg

If you haven’t listened to Lauren and Halsey’s new song “Strangers” off of Halsey’s new album: YOU MUST! Not only is it a boppin song, it is SO IMPORTANT! Two bisexual women of color coming together to put out an awesome song about women loving women?!?! SIGN ME THE FUCK UP THAT’s sOME gOOD ShITTT RIGHT THere! If you want to know why this song is super important and amazing, read this article.

So Halsey and Lauren: thank you. Creating a pretty horrible drawing that makes Lauren look like an evil doll from a horror film and Halsey into a Neandertal with a goatee might not be the classic way to give thanks, but it’s all I got.

The picture isn’t all bad. I mean sure, I managed to give Lauren 5 separate chins and an eyebrow the size and shape of Long Island. Sure, I gave Halsey the neck of a linebacker. But you could totally tell it’s them if you saw the picture, right? And look at all the small details I managed to include: Halsey and Lauren’s tattoos, the fashion details (i.e the many holes in both of their outfits. Do you think they planned that?), Halsey’s small beauty mark and jewelry. While these details might not look GREAT per se, they are at least THERE. So, there’s that.

Chase Collage.jpg

Lastly, we have Chase Ross, a trans YouTuber who has helped me in so any ways. His transition and his videos have helped me through such a tough time, helped me understand myself, and also helped me become informed on a variety of issues I was ignorant to.

This drawing is simply unrecognizable. Besides the hair, the drawing just is horrible. Chase: I’m sorry if your eyes are seeing this drawing. This drawing is NOT what you look like.

Also, peep the black earrings I gave him in the picture. Can’t tell in the original photo if those are actually earrings or just the pictures of cats in the background (I’m an idiot).

My dad tried to give me some advice a couple of months ago about drawing noses. He said that most drawings of noses have more to do with shading than with the lines, which is true. However, I apparently decided to take this as “don’t draw any lines”. So the ~minimalist~ nose I gave Chase here looks like he doesn’t have a nose at all, or that his nose was flattened like that guy from Austin Powers who wouldn’t move out of the way in the room of steamrollers.

 

p7pMr6
What a cinematic masterpiece.

 

 

 

I think I overestimated the size of his head while simultaneously making his face too small for the proportions to work out. Will I ever learn how to draw proportions correctly? Leaning towards no. Also, the way I’ve drawn his teeth makes him seem like he only has exactly 5 teeth. It reminds me of those fake hillbilly teeth I would wear as a kid.

 

teeth Collage
Imagine getting a call from your agent saying they got you a job modeling for hillbilly teeth.

 

 

But let’s end on a positive note. What am I PROUD of? This is the ~~~pride~~~ themed post after all. I thrive on making lists, so let’s do just that.

I’m proud of…

  • The hair on all of these drawings. Hair is pretty fucking hard to draw. Go me.
  • The pops of color on these drawings. I bought those markers months ago for the specific purpose of making these drawing blog posts, and I thought I wasted my money because I haven’t posted in so long. 5 dollars well spent.
  • My writing. Personally, I think I’m fucking funny. Hopefully, these posts make people laugh. I hope my other posts on queer issues have helped people as other people’s posts and videos helped me.
  • The fact that I made this post at all. Depression makes things super hard, but I did this anyway. Go me.
  • Myself. Things are kind of shitty, but I’m still working and I’m still constantly trying to understand myself. I’ve also been motivated to get up and do things recently, which is a huge step forward for me. #depressedlife
  • My queer identity. I love being queer. I love being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m so proud of my identity; I wouldn’t change a thing about myself. Love wins.

Hopefully these posts will become a regular thing again because I really enjoy writing them and drawing for them. Stay tuned! Also, please let me know if you want me to draw you because I’m running out of willing participants.

Be proud, stay strong, love wins, and happy pride!

 

I do horrible drawings 3

Yes, I haven’t posted in months. Do I regret it? Yes. Do I have excuses? Yes. Do I have good excuses? No. Am I asking questions to stall? Perhaps. How can you stall when you are writing? Not sure.

 

I would make some bad excuse like, “UGh I’ve been soOO busy!” But honestly, I really haven’t been that busy. I’m taking easy, senior-spring-semester classes, I only have 1 extra curricular activity, and the majority of my time is taken up re-watching documentaries I’ve already seen and binge-watching Grace and Frankie.

 

So what gives? Why haven’t I posted anything? Well, it seems that I’ve been unhappy for a long time. And for me, being unhappy and being unmotivated to do anything except getting out of bed in the morning go hand in hand.

 

I started to think about what makes me happy and motivated (besides my girlfriend, elbow pasta, and Grace and Frankie). I realized that in the past couple months, what I have wanted to do the most, what I have been motivated to do, is make art and write random shit. But I didn’t do either. Why? I started to feel like I had no talent at either; that I wasn’t good at writing, I wasn’t good at drawing, so what’s the point?

 

And then I remembered something the amazing Bob Ross once said (and by “remembered”, I mean I googled “Bob Ross quotes”): “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” So fuck my toxic inner voice. Fuck being depressed. I’m going to draw, and I’m going to write, even if it sucks ass.

 

So let’s get to sucking that ass.

 

nicole

Believe it or not, I actually made this as a gift for my friend Nicole’s birthday (she’s on the left, her friend Patricia is on the right). Like, I created this with the intent of it being viewed as a gift. Well, it could’ve been better, but it also could’ve been worse, so that’s something! I apparently have taken my “I cant comprehend proportions/depth perception” mindset a step further by completely ignoring their rather large height difference while also miscalculating the distance between them, causing me to make Nicole’s bodice twice it’s actual size.

On this topic of proportions, I messed up the distance between the sides of their heads and their glasses, which forced me to make their eyes literal slits; Nicole’s teeth in this are larger than her eyes. But, like my man Bob Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” I guess the arm I gave Patricia that is an elephant-trunk-flaccid-peen arm is a “happy accident”!

comparison
Can you spot the difference?

 

On a positive note, peep those hair details (including the pop of color with my new colored pens I bought specifically for these drawings), Nicole’s freckles, the shadow under her nose, and the huge effort I put into filling in their sweatshirts.

eugi

This one of my friend Eugi is probably the worst out of this batch of pictures. Sorry, Eugi. I put so much effort into the teeth that they just look like they belong on a model-skull for a high school anatomy class. I also tried so hard to get the nose right and it ended up just looking like a small woodland mushroom. I gave her a double chin as well, which she doesn’t have in the picture (or in general) so I don’t know what that’s about.

As you all know, hands are my biggest weakness when it comes to drawing, and with this picture it is no different. I really wanted the hands to look good this time, so I spent a long time on one of them (can you guess which one?). I was focused so hard on getting the fingers and the watch right that I forgot about depth perception and proportions (again). Can you guess at what point I got frustrated and just gave up? (Hint: the hand on the left). But honestly, the shirt and elephant designs are really not that bad. Eat your heart out Lilly Pulitzer.

Janet

This is one of those ones that the drawing really looks like the person it is supposed to look like while also really not looking like them at all. You can tell that this drawing is supposed to be Janet while simultaneously thinking, “that is not what Janet looks like.” But it somehow captures her (and Scrappy’s) spirit. Sure, I drew her eyes super far apart so her face is reminiscent of a fish. Sure, her teeth look like dentures. Sure, the proportions are wrong (there is so much empty space on her face??). BUT SOMEHOW IT LOOKS LIKE HER??? Also, Scrappy looks great if I do say so myself.

woman and me

Finally, we have this amazing piece of my mother and I. I kinda feel bad about this one: I literally made my mom look like Jabba the Hutt. The hair is wrong, the wrinkles are much too over-pronounced, and the nose looks like a recorder.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 5.16.48 PM
Weirdly similar, am I right?

The hand is just atrocious. You would think that the aspect I put the most focus and effort into would come out looking the best, right? Instead, it looks like one of those wax hands you can get a fairs that melted a little bit (for future reference, don’t Google image search “melted wax hand” because all you get is a fucking terrifying stock photo).

Halloween theme: on the hand wearing a candle and dripping melted wax on black isolated background
Literally what the fuck.

The drawing I did of myself is not that much better. I somehow made my chin five sizes too big, gave myself hair that looks like uncooked spaghetti, and a nose that looks like the end of a stalk of celery. I was struggling to find positives about this drawing, until I noticed the little details that seem to save every piece: the mole on my neck, the bags under my eyes, and my mom’s scarf tassels.

 

Thanks to this post and these drawings, I’ve been happier and laughing more in the past couple of days than I have in a long time. Like my man Bob Ross said, “I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being able to express yourself to others through painting [editor’s note: let’s pretend he said “drawing”]. Exercising the imagination, experimenting with talents, being creative; these things, to me, are truly the windows to your soul.” Thank you, Bob, for the encouragement from beyond the grave. My window is open for business. So please, if you would like me to draw you (or sculpt! or paint! or make out of macaroni and glue!) please let me know, because this is what keeps me going and happy in an unhappy time of my life. You guys, like Bob, can make me happy.

 

With that, I’m off to watch Storage Wars and eat Oreos (#happyhealthyvegan).

I Do Horrible Drawings 2

Ok guys, I know it has been a minute since I posted last. But you know what? I needed a break! And by ‘break’ I mean a time I dedicate to applying to jobs because I am graduating in 5 months and need a job ya feel? But now, I am back doing things that make me happy, which means I am back at it again with the bad drawings (is the “back at it again” meme still relevant?).

Now before we get to the ~art~, there is something that I have noticed. It almost seems like I am getting better?? At drawing?? Not a lot better or anything, but I am seeing definite improvement. The drawings are still godawful, but there is a slight hint of resemblance between the people I am drawing and the art that I produce. I feel like I capture their vibe kinda? I’m hesitant to say it looks like the person I’m drawing because I don’t want to offend any of these people who I like and know.

I have bittersweet feelings about this slight improvement. On the one hand, it is nice to practice doing something and see results! I am getting better at drawing! Who knew that putting in time and effort would yield positive progression of a skill? But it kinda sucks to see improvement because I feel like the worse the drawings are, the funnier they are. The good news is, I’m not that much better so the drawings are still funny.

bae

Let’s start off by saying this is a picture of me and my love, Rachel. I love her very, very much. So, Rachel: I’m sorry your body proportions look like those of a manatee and your hair looks like you got plugs. But to be honest, the right side of Rachel’s face looks pretty accurate. Sure, the teeth are the same size as her eyes, but the drawing as a whole does capture her essence. I, on the other hand, look like a statue of early man from the Museum of Natural History. In my defense, the jawline used to look normal, but I had made it a bit too chiseled so I tried to round it out. But now it just looks like I have a beard, a banana for lips, and toothbrush bristles for hair.

“Why didn’t you draw in the sides of your glasses?” Rachel asked me.

“Because you can’t see them in the real picture,” I responded. Obviously that was the logical way to go: free-floating circles on my face. ~~~~art~~~~

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I Do Horrible Drawings 1

Hello friends! Today, I am going to be starting a new series on my blog about an activity I really enjoy.

That activity is drawing! I love to draw. It feels like I get to be creative after long hours of academic research and studying. What I can draw is limitless; I feel like a little kid again. Crayons, colored pencils, pen: they all get me going. I go cray for cray pas.

And I can draw anywhere, any time: Airplane? Just give me a napkin and pen, and I’ll create a masterpiece drawing of the man sitting next to me. Relaxing at home? Printer paper and colored pencils I kept from high school can create an awesome forest scene complete with the sun wearing sunglasses (I cant be the only one). Pooping? Drawing pad app gets the job done as I get the job done. Driving? Maybe not.

img_2048-1
No, a five year old didn’t draw this. I did five minutes ago.

There is a catch: I’m not the best drawer. Actually, I’m pretty awful. I would describe my style as “Napoleon Dynamite’s promposal picture”.  I love to draw, but the drawings never come out how I picture them in my mind. It’s like I tell my hand to do one thing, but it goes rogue and does something completely different. The shapes and color combinations I see in my head never quite translate how my brain visualizes. Circles become ovals, hands become clubs or demon claws, and people I love become scary malformed witches.

8456172_orig
I take a lot of inspiration from Napoleon, as you’ll see.

It becomes especially apparent when I draw people, which happens to be my favorite thing to draw. My friends, and myself, think they’re actually pretty funny. So why not put myself out there on the internet for other people to laugh at? The important thing is that my art brings joy and laughter, even if it is because of how unfortunate and awry my drawings go.

So here they are in all their glory. (Keep this in mind: I really am trying to replicate the photos when I draw. I don’t mean to make them bad/weird looking/make my friends look like creatures from the Lord of the Rings).

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