Thursday, September 25, 2014

I am a leech in a Pokemon cap

I used to get really down on myself when I'd leave a project or experience behind. I considered it a failure to quit something, or else I thought I lacked focus. People often ask me about things I used to do on the Internet, but have since stopped doing. And I've never had a good answer for them. I typically say I got busy and, while I am usually busy, I don't think that's ever really been the main reason I've quit some of those things (although it is part of the reason in some cases, like this past summer when I couldn't make videos because of work).

Something that's always struck me as odd is when people tell you, "Don't ever change!" That phrase litters the pages of my old school yearbooks, and I've seen it several times in YouTube comments, too. It's weird because the person saying the phrase is ultimately wishing for you to cease growing and learning. They seemingly want your personality and thoughts to come to a halt. Tbh, I'm really glad my personality didn't halt in high school when all those kids were writing that in my yearbook. I was a fucking wreck in high school. I'm still a wreck. It would've made me feel tons better if people had written something like, "Wow, you really need to fuckin' change." And then maybe drawn some hearts around it to let me know they still loved me anyway.

But I think that phrase, along with being reminded of some of the things I used to do online, have sort of played with my mind. I've felt like a failure for having moved on from so many things, to the point where I've been scared to try something new. I guess what initially prompted this reflection was an email from a viewer I received a few months ago when I was in San Francisco. In the email, the person basically listed everything I've done for the past 5+ years online--from Barbara Robertson to the old podcast to the gaming channel to those essay videos I briefly did to videos with Brinty (my Furby) to even how I used to style my hair--and then proceeded to ask why I don't do any of them anymore. It was a very sweet email, and I was glad the person had been following me for so long, but it was also a bit overwhelming and I didn't know what to say.

So I decided to take inventory, and I made a list: I've done web comics, music, raps, podcasts, had about a dozen different blogs. Things I've continued doing long-term have changed as well, like videos. I've done sketch videos, serious videos, essays videos, gaming videos, vlogs. I've worn a wig and glasses and made videos as a middle-aged woman from Minnesota. I got to host a radio show, live in Philly, be a fashion intern in NYC, intern at a TV station, play in tennis tournaments, work in a writing center, be a secretary, host a couple different web shows, work on a show in San Francisco. I've gone out and partied, lived quietly, lived in a house with lots of people, lived alone. I've had brown hair, blonde hair, pink hair, red hair, curly hair, straight hair, and no hair. I even change my eye color on a daily basis with contact lenses.

Some of those experiences have clearly gone better than others. I wasn't a very good secretary, and I never did win many tennis matches. A lot of my videos have been painfully awkward in retrospect. I'm also lucky there isn't any video evidence of me with pink hair, or that any pics from my junior high afro days are floating around. But seeing all of it written down in front of me I thought, Damn, I've done a lot of cool shit. And, for the first time, I felt happy for those experiences, recognized the successes and growth, and was able to see that moving on isn't the same thing as failing. I'm just an experiencer. I experience things until I'm satisfied, and then I move on. Like a big ol' ugly leech on life with a Pokemon cap.

So I guess now I have an answer to that question. Why don't I do some of things I used to do? Because I don't want to. That was me then, and this is me right now, and I'm sure I'll wake up tomorrow feeling completely different.

Anyway, for the past month or so I've been thinking about what I'd like my next experience to be, particularly in regards to my videos. If you caught the podcast episode today, you'll have heard me talking with Sam about how I'm planning on doing daily videos, Monday-Friday, starting sometime in early October and lasting until Halloween. And then maybe longer, who knows? I just know it was time to reboot and experience something else. So please keep your eyes open for that (I plan on uploading a video next week explaining the whole thing a bit more) and I really do hope you'll enjoy a new experience with me.

-joe

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bleh, this was difficult to write and now I can't think of a title

People have been sending me tweets and a few emails asking me to explain the 5AwesomeGays reunion ever since the teaser video was uploaded, so I'm writing this now so I can get it out of my system. I already tweeted about how I don't plan on participating, but I deleted that tweet because it felt too abrupt and I need way more than 140 characters.

For those who need to be caught up, 5AwesomeGays was a collab channel that ended over three years ago, and I was a part of the channel for over three years. Since then, various members have brought up the idea of doing a reunion at least twice. It was recently brought up again, I said no again, and so I've been told they've decided to do it with some of the past members instead. (I hope I'm not spilling the beans here. I think it's already been mentioned that it's a fractionated reunion.)

My years on 5awesomegays were some of the best of my life. Your early twenties are generally a weird and confusing time, but I had seven great friends to help me through it (counting all the 5AG members I was on the channel with at one point or another, and also Greg, who I got to party with once and who bought me drinks so he's pretty great in my book).

Some rough things happened in those years, too. I was in a relationship with one of the members. Those things happen. It's not surprising. YouTube is more incestuous than the South is (and I'm allowed to make that joke because I live in in the South).

But the relationship ended, it was public, and I have a lot of regrets and lingering feelings. And it sucks because even though that whole situation came to a close over four years ago, it still, even now, gets brought up to me in tweets, comments, and emails, and I think that's prevented me from ever fully getting over it. People often compare the rehashing of painful situations to old wounds being reopened, but this wound feels like it never really healed in the first place. It feels like the knife is still in there, and when I heard this reunion was happening it was like someone gave that knife a twist. And it sucks to admit that, because people will see this, and he might see this, and I don't want to seem weak. If you've ever been in a really intense relationship that ended, you know the feeling. You know why the characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind chose what they chose.

But it wasn't just that relationship. Some other things happened--things I now realize were petty and foolish, and I'm sorry they happened, too. But that's just part of growing up. I hesitate to write any of this, because I know I (and many of the other members) still get messages from people expressing how important 5AG was to them, and I don't want those viewers to think it wasn't a good time for us, too. A lot of really, really great things came from that channel.

People will probably wonder why I'm even writing about it now. They'll say it's just gonna bring it back up when most people have forgotten. That doesn't matter. Those things are still out there. They're viewable. And they never really faded from my mind anyway. I might as well see if this helps me get them out of my system.

When 5AG ended, I tried to leave a lot of my feelings behind with it. I think we'd all outgrown the channel anyway. As much as we did the channel for the benefit of others, I think we also (like I said) did it for ourselves, to help us get through different points in our lives. And I like to think we ended on a high and hopeful note.

A lot has happened in the past three years, for all of us. Some of us have moved. Some of us have graduated or gotten new jobs. Some of us have kept in touch more than others. I've had some amazing highs, and I've also struggled with depression and some other things. And I'm sure the other guys have gone through many, many things that I don't know anything about, too. But we've all clearly grown.

After hearing more details about the reunion, I called Michael. I'm sure I sounded manic and ridiculous and like an asshole when I was telling him my reasons for not wanting to participate and how I thought it was a bad idea. Even writing it all out, I can see how my reasons may seem petty and selfish to a lot of people, and maybe it's my own fault for not being able to fully get over some things that have happened. But Michael is literally like an angel and I love him so much, and he helped me see another point of view.

The other guys have their own reasons for participating in the reunion, the same way I have my reasons for not wanting to do it. And they're good and valid reasons. The guys aren't doing this reunion because they're trying to screw me over or because they want me to re-experience some of the painful things that happened. And the channel doesn't belong to me, and it never did. It's not my sole decision what happens there, or what content everyone else decides to put on it.

But for me (right now at least), 5AG is not something I can revisit. If I did the reunion, it would hurt. And by not doing it, it's probably still gonna hurt, and people are gonna get pissed at me and think I'm a turd (which, unfortunately, is already clear to me from a couple of the emails). I can't win either way, so I'm just doing the thing I think is best for my sanity. I can't keep reopening this book and finding more empty pages to be inked. Right now, I need to keep this volume closed and tucked away on the sad little broken shelf that is my life so that maybe I can dust it off someday and reread it and be able to laugh and feel nothing but happiness. Sometimes it's necessary to leave things in the past in order to preserve the hope that you can look back on them in the future and be happy and understand. (I feel like how I imagine Britney must've felt when she wrote "Someday I Will Understand." Except I'm not pregnant or religious or nearly as pretty as she is. That's a great song, btw. Probs like my fourth favorite Brit song. How do I always end up making a celebrity reference in my blogs posts?)

That's about as deep as I want to get with the whole thing. It's not a story that completely belongs to me. It belongs to the eight of us. I can only detail the parts I helped write, and this is as much as I want to detail. I hope the guys know I'll always love them, I hope they find the things they're looking for in this reunion, and I hope it goes well. And I hope the viewers enjoy it, too, and that maybe it will awaken some sort of nostalgia in them, if only for a little while.

As for me, I've been busy planning a return to my personal channel in October after a three-month video hiatus, so I'll be focusing on that, as well as some music me and Sam are working on. And right now I think I'm gonna go work on writing a jokey review blog post about some underwear, because this mushy stuff is too unlike me and it's making me feel nauseous.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Couple Weeks of Solitude

(The title of this entry is meant to be a reference to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. But after typing the title I realized it just sounded like a regular statement so I needed to write this intro so you knew it was actually a reference to that book so you'd think I was smart or clever or something when I'm really not. It's a good book, though, by the way.)

My parents have been out of the country for the past couple weeks. I haven't wanted to announce that because there are some weirdos out there who have tracked me down before and they didn't need to know I was home alone. But my parents will be back around the time I post this. Even if they aren't, you should know I always have a pair of Colt Mark IV Series 80 pistols strapped to my thighs (like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider Anniversary). That last statement may or may not be true. I do live in Arkansas, after all, so it wouldn't be that out of character. Either way, do you really want to test it?

Anyway, these two weeks alone just happened to come at a time when I've had no other life obligations. As previously stated, I'm taking a break from my YouTube channel. A few weeks ago, I got word that the Answerly channel would be ending. Sam has been on vacation so we've taken the week off from recording a podcast. And I usually work with my dad a little during the week but, like I said, he's not even in the country, so that obviously hasn't been happening. So, yeah, no real obligations. Between school and work, I think this is the first time in my life this has happened since I've been, like, four years old. There have been other times in my life when I've had few obligations, but never none. So I decided to go against my workaholic nature and take this time decompress.

As an introvert, a big part of decompressing is keeping in-person social interactions to a minimum. Aside from checking out at the grocery store, I managed to have only two run-ins with other humans. One was on Labor Day when I volunteered at Heifer International, so I had to interact with guests for a few hours (which I'm counting as only one social interaction because it all sort of blurred together). Some of you may know what Heifer is because I believe a lot of people recently donated to it in honor of John Green's birthday or something. Anyway, it's headquartered in Little Rock and I volunteer there once a week. It's a great place, but I suck at explaining things, so here's the Wikipedia page for it.

The second social interaction I had was with a man who came to the house to drop off the lawnmower, which was awkward for everyone because I had no idea the lawnmower was even away being repaired. I was also in the middle of one of my famous day-long skincare treatments and was wearing one of my facial masks that makes me look like I'm doing blackface, and the guy was black so he probably thought I was a racist redneck who couldn't keep track of his lawnmower. (The pistols strapped to my thighs probably didn't help the redneck image. Which, like I said before, I may or may not actually have.)

Other than those two instances, I've spent the past couple weeks casually working on music, watching dozens of South Korean horror movies, reading Chelsea Handler's newest book, taking walks at night across the lit-up bridges downtown (see Instagram video), applying for a few jobs, making deviled eggs at midnight, and pacing the house while wondering what to do with my life.

To elaborate slightly on all those things, in order:
  • I forgot how much I hate my voice when I record music. But I do enjoy writing the songs, and I did get some vocals recorded to send to Sam, so hopefully we'll have new music out someday.
  • There's not much to say about watching South Korean horror movies because I watch them all the time even when I'm not home alone. I guess some would say it's dumb to continue watching horror movies while being home alone, but I think I'm missing whatever section of the brain deals with fear. Or common sense. Or both.
  • Chelsea Handler's newest book (Uganda Be Kidding Me) is better than I thought it would be. I loved her first two books, but didn't care for the third, so I think I assumed she'd lost her touch. I'm pleasantly surprised. It's also kind of nice to read a book outside of the Answerly channel and not have to worry whether or not the offensive parts are making other readers mad or making me look bad for choosing the book.
  • I'm used to walking across the bridges in downtown Little Rock during the day, but I hadn't walked across them at night since they put the lights on them. It was pretty hypnotizing and trippy, like how it looks going through wormholes in movies. Like Jodie Foster in Contact. Sadly for you, though, I did not get transported to another part of the galaxy.
  • Most of the jobs I applied for are in Austin, Texas. I think it'd be nice to live there.
  • The electricity briefly went out while I was making the deviled eggs at midnight. I'm an awful cook so I thought perhaps I had pissed off some evil spirit with my bad cooking. This mindset may be a direct result of me regularly watching ridiculous horror movies. The eggs actually weren't that bad, even though I had to substitute the mayonnaise in the recipe for Caesar dressing, which sounds weird but I found a recipe for it online after realizing we didn't have any mayonnaise.
  • I still don't know what to do with my life. But I've also come to the conclusion that nobody else really knows what they're doing, either, so it's really just a matter of deciding what's next.
Also, the transparent-y pink cover for my Chromebook came in the mail. It looks pretty fab now with the Hello Kitty stickers underneath. I guess everyone will now know who's the homo at the coffee shop (although my multiple phone charms and Girls' Generation ringtone probably already give me away).


-joe