Sunday, October 18, 2015


So for a while I've been trying to teach myself how to sing properly. In the process, I've found many inconsequential things about myself. This is gonna be a rambly one, folks.

There are things that I just flat-out steal from people when I hear them. I mean, I say hello like Harto on purpose, because I like it. If you've never seen her drunken kitchen videos, start with brunch. Brunch is great. Just watch that one, do it. I'll wait. ANYWAY. I stole her hello.


At some point during my career at Jive, I noticed that I'm just not a person until coffee. In addition to that, I always wait to have my morning coffee at the office like a moron. So naturally, when I get to the office, I'm Grumpy McGrumperson. I can't muster a fake smile or my regular HELLO! without coffee.

I tried to say hello in that Harto way pre-coffee before, it doesn't work. You need to have a goofy smile, or it doesn't sound the same. Rather, it sounds the same, but it doesn't feel the same. So I scrapped it. I needed to find a new way to say morning in a way that didn't read "Move out of my way to the coffee pot, or so help me God."

This is where my new-found obsession with Wicked comes in. I was pinteresting, as you do, and found some list of "32 things Wicked fans do" or something along those lines. Something off Buzzfeed; you know those types of things. They're the plague of Facebook. One of the things on that list was: "You can't say you have good news without bursting into song." For those folks who are normal and don't know the soundtrack by heart, here. That rang very true to me, the phrase "good news" has been enhanced to me (or ruined, depending on who you ask) Yes, I do that; specially now that I'm trying to learn how to properly sing. I've goddamned PERFECTED the wicked "good news" and I even hold it for way longer than the song has it written... digressing.

So back to my morning coffee conundrum. Some months prior to Wicked, I had just started to say "mornin'" very monotonously, while dropping my crap at my desk and heading straight to the coffee pot. I mean, it sounded less rude than a grunt. Then, I had an epiphany. Said epiphany came from two things:

1. I had been trying to learn how to sing, and some singing teacher on the intertubes had said at some point, something like: "You're not tone deaf when you sing something wrong. Your ear is just fine, cause you can hear it go wrong." and I was all "OH! THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE! HOW HAVE I NOT THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BEFORE!" It's all about your voice not knowing how to produce the sound, not you being unable to hear it correctly. So I started thinking about how your ear, voice, and face are actually separate moving parts.

2. What if I good-news'd the word for "morning"? Just the sounds.

I came up with a slightly different melody for it (or maybe I heard it somewhere, who knows) but it's the same basic principle. So I started singing the word "morning" every morning. It became my new singnature (see what I did thur... I was proud of that one) way to say good morning.

The beauty of it lies in that it sounds cheerful, but doesn't need to be accompanied by any kind of smile or goofiness. Saying it with a grumpy poker face produces the same effect, cause it's just a melody. The only reason I know this, is cause this one time I did it around a coworker who didn't use to sit around me, and he went "you're cheerful today!" and I was just in my usual coffee-coffee-coffee-coffee-coffee-mode. So I declare this a success!

What I find interesting about all of this, is that I basically did the same thing with the famous harto hello, except subconsciously. I just copied the way she said it, except at the time, I thought I needed to make the face too, or it wouldn't sound the same, because I didn't know how to make the sounds on their own! MIND BLOWN. But now I refuse to do it without the goofy face, 'cause that's how I roll.

Singing has really helped me sort out a lot of smallish things of that sort, or rather point them out to me. For instance:

  1. My speaking voice is not as loud as my singing voice, and I have NO IDEA WHY. I didn't use to be able to sing loudly either, I'm not entirely sure how that happened.
  2. I seem to only be able to sing loudly when the songs are of a higher range. The closer they are to soprano range, the easier it is for me, which was definitely counter-intuitive to me. The lower they get, the more I struggle. 
  3. Also, posture, apparently posture is very important. I can only sing loudly if I'm standing. Who would've thunk.
In an only mildly related note, the other it was my friend's birthday. He likes to Karaoke. I never actually sing in public, or in front of anyone for that matter. I was, however, drunk enough that night that I agreed to the one song I ever agree to sing, which is Kryptonite (don't judge me! I mean, judge a little, but I don't actually care) and then I kept on drinking, which means I kept on making poorer decisions as the night went on. I ended up singing two Wicked songs that night. I remember being surprised at myself at the time, because I was actually able to hit most of the notes better than I thought possible. However, I don't know if that's because I practiced them ad nauseam, or because I was just so shitfaced... 

Whiskey and Karaoke shouldn't be mixed, and on that note! I go.

Monday, September 07, 2015


This has been in my mind lately. A long while ago, I took one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests. I didn't think too much of it, frankly. I kinda laughed at it like I laugh at Zodiac Signs' generalizations. My initial reaction was that it was likely wrong, and that depending on the website, my mileage would vary.

It stuck with me though, I got the INTJ personality trait, which is apparently the rarer of the bunch, and particularly rare in women. Or so claim the interwebs. I mean, sure, why not. In my endless quest to be a magical unicorn, this was music to my ears. I think most websites cite Dr. House as being the epitome of this personality type. House always reminded me of my abuelo (my dad's dad), even though I've seen less than 4 episodes of that show. It was just not someone who I would've identified myself with, but rather someone I recognized.

It comes as borderline ironic, if not just plain funny, that one of my catch phrases is: "I'm a fixer, not a builder" and somehow this website thinks I have an architect-like personality.

I left it alone for a while. I came back to it recently, after I had finished reading Wicked (which, by the way, has suddenly become one of my top 5 favorite books. I can't remember the last time I read a book that quickly.) because the main character resonated with me in a weird way. In watching the musical (before I read the book) I had pegged the main character as Daria-esque, who is an INTJ by some definitions. See where I'm going with this? I flat out googled "INTJ fictional characters" and lo-and-behold: Elphaba, right there, on the top 4. This was quickly followed by mental outrage along the lines of "But I'm nothing like them!" At this point I think it is safe to say that I admire people and characters with this personality type, but don't see the resemblance to myself necessarily.

As I mentioned on the first paragraph, upon getting my results I immediately assumed that they were wrong. I've always been an introvert, that much has been clear to me for quite some time, but I guess the other parts of the puzzle are well, puzzling me. I went down that spiral of personality types all over again. I decided to re-take the test, twice, you know... for science. The two top hits in google gave me the same results I had gotten that one time. I'd say as far as that test goes, I'm INTJ. Maybe it runs in the family?

In my manic reading of all of this (blogging at 2am on a now-monday, that's how you know when you're down some rabbit hole) I bumped into a reddit thread, where in one of the comments, the redditor goes: "Someone told me I reminded them of [INTJ-character-whose-name-I-forgot]" I thought to myself "hmmm... when have I ever been compared to a character?" Whenever I think of fictional characters in relation to myself, it always seems to be self-diagnosed. Helloooo, I'm totally a Lizzie Bennet, and I don't care what anyone says! She's an INFJ apparently, according to the webs anyway. Close enough, I'll take it! I think the F instead of the T means she's more into emotions and shit, instead of thinking about ideas, which I don't think it's necessarily true of this character, she thinks aplenty! but I'm digressing... again.

I had to think really hard about this question though, and regrettably, the only example of this I could remember was the day one of my guild mates said I reminded her of Alice Cullen, the pixie-looking vampire in the Twilight series. Don't judge me, I'm just going to run with it.

Here's a snippet of her character description from a wiki:

       Alice is portrayed as being optimistic, and she loves and cares for Bella like a sister. She often ignores other people's advice and does things her own way, which usually results in the outcome being better than predicted. She is kind and cares for those she loves. She loves to sing with music three octaves higher than the song really is with her silvery bell-like voice. She has vicarious fun dressing up Bella "like a three-dimensional paper doll" and decorating for and throwing parties.

And you know, she says things like "Try not to trip, we don't have time for a concussion." which I'd say is not completely out of character for me. Let the snark rage ooon! (Brownie points if you read that to the tune of "Let it Go")

Moreover, I can see the resemblance to that, just by how I think other people perceive me. Or rather, how I act around other people. This is very deliberate though, in other words, my trickery worked! I sometimes manage to trick people into thinking I'm not actually an introverted weirdo. I looked at what type of personality that is. Turns out this vampire is an ESPF. Now THAT is a foreign personality type to me. As I sat there reading the profile of the ESPF I thought "Yep, totally not me."

Is it possible to have two of these thingies? My guess is no, but if it were possible, I'd say that I choose to act as an ESPF when I'm around people, and then go curl up in a dark corner by myself afterwards so I can recover from that. That all said, I'm still not quite convinced that I'm an INTJ, but maybe I'm just missing something in my own behaviors? Maybe I'm just smack middle between INTJ and INFJ. I don't know, but it's fun to think about.

... And with that, I go to bed since I'm on-call tomorrow. RESPONSIBILITIES!

Monday, August 31, 2015

On being basic

On this episode of Val rants, we're going to be talking about being basic.

I'd like to point out, right at the beginning, that I don't consider "being basic" to be an insult. In fact, I think it is more telling of the person saying it, within context, than the target of this insult. I've ranted about similar things before (see: On being a hipster) but today the rant is a bit different.

So let's start with some background. I like makeup. I love coffee. I love cute animals. I giggle at just about anything. I enjoy putting clothes together and calling them outfits. You can take my phone off my cold dead hands. My instagram is updated regularly; there are plenty of pictures of food. I love Zooey Deschannel and her bangs. BRUNCH. I am very fond of the rain. I love Fall and Winter. I say things like "Sweater weather makes me happy!" and "Yes! It is the season of pumpkin flavored everything!" and I mean them. I generally enjoy and hold esteem for the Halloween season, like folks esteem Christmas, et al. I have my reasons for all of that, and this blogpost is not about that. I'm digressing...

Earlier today I said just one of those catch phrases I've been saying a lot lately with the change of the weather: "Pumpkin flavored everything!" and someone jokingly said to me: "val u so basic"

I know he was joking. I replied something along the lines of "Oh I know, I just don't care" which is true. That much has always been true about me. The talk was amicable, and then we went back to work as we do.

Later that day, I was talking to one of my few girl friends about this, right after I said something like "This weather makes me so happy!" and shortly after, told her the above interaction. She said something like "he's... not wrong" quickly followed by "but you pull it off in an endearing way"

I hadn't really taken it the wrong way until she clarified. I decided to prod this further, because, why not? I have opinions! We started talking about a different gal, who says things like "I don't like to admit I like x or y because I don't want to sound basic." I always eye-roll at that sort of statement, by the by. If you like something, you like something. The end.

So my friend, goes on to say that you can be basic without being a basic bitch, and that it's all about context. All is good and dandy at that point, we're in agreement. However, she follows that with: "I would be incredibly insulted [if someone called me basic]"

Ding, ding, ding, ding what I was waiting for. I basically (lol) went "But what is the part that is insulting exactly?" I clarified shortly after I posed the question, but that is the point I want to make in this post, so I won't write it down yet.

She basically (no pun intended, I swear) said that if someone called her basic she'd assume they meant it as an insult, due to the negative connotation of the term. She clarified that it would mean they are associating her with someone who is not her, someone far removed. She knows who she is and how she wants to be perceived as. But here comes what I wanted to hear... err read in this case, she said: "if someone's going to think that [about me] they're probably not worth my time."

I then came clean, and told her I was just instigating the conversation to make a point. Why is being basic bad? What exactly is bad about it? There's seldom a good answer for that. I don't believe a good answer to that exists. That's why whenever someone calls me or anyone "basic" in a more serious manner, I instigate this type of conversation.

I mean, is it a crime for someone to enjoy popular things? Read that again, people get hate for enjoying things everyone enjoys. Oh the irony.

However! That's not even the worst of it. I said it in plain text to my friend, and I'll repeat it now since we're finally arriving at the point. Calling a girl/woman "basic" is in essence, hating her for no other reason than "she likes things." Hating women because they like shit they like.


Who died and made you the king/queen of enjoyment? Who are you to call someone basic? I can guarantee you're probably far more basic than the so called basic bitch you're talking about, particularly because you use words like "basic" to describe people seriously.

Whatever, I'm basic. Please, go bore someone else with your... stereotypes.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Thursday, January 01, 2015

12 months, 12 books, and 3 other things

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one.

This post is going to be all about 2014's New Year Resolutions. I think I did really well on all of them, really. I guess this is a small survey of what my 2014 looked like in some form or another.

There's some study floating around somewhere that says that you're less likely to complete your goals if you shout them to the world. Something about feeling like you've done the work just because you've told someone that you were going to do the work, so you end up not actually doing the work cause you're pleased with yourself. Humans are funny that way.

So I decided not to shout it to the world; instead I just wrote them down on a blog post that I would publish a year later. This is said blog post, edited heavily throughout the year of course, and my list was actually very short and in my opinion, very manageable:
  1. Read 12 books, one book a month should be manageable.
  2. Embrace the girly side. 
  3. Keto-on to be below 155 lbs.
  4. No video games. 
I obviously didn't achieve all these, no one ever succeeds in all their new year resolutions, but I did fairly well all in all. In August, I did a brief check-in with myself and wrote what I actually had accomplished in the year in terms of my resolutions, here's that tally as I wrote it verbatim on Aug 24th:
  1. 8 completed books before the end of August, about 5% into the 9th. Right on schedule.
  2. It's become a problem. I have developed a really bad makeup addiction.
  3. Have failed miserably so far, and have actually put on weight. I had started the year at ~160 and as of today I'm ~175. Not to worry though, there's still time. The summer has been a terrible influence. I was hovering around 165 most of the year. All hope is not lost.
  4. I call this a success (so far) even though I've logged into Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2 a handful of times, and none of those have been longer than than 20 minutes.   
The final tally for all of the above in December doesn't look terribly different:
  1. Read 11.5 books. Sadly, the Harry Potter books get longer as time goes on, and I got busier with life. Alas. I still call this a success though, it might as well be 12 books.
  2. Success! I've embraced the girly side so much that I really do need to do something about it. Let's just say that this involves a 2015 resolution now.
  3. Super failed. I ended the year at 175 lbs. I'm not stressing though. Sometimes I go: "I should keto and be skinny again" and then I go "but, now I want cupcakes..."
  4. Success! I can't believe that I actually managed this one. I actually am not even sure if I'm going to binge play anything now, or anything. I have half-a-mind to keep this going. I really don't want to let it get out of hand again. I rather eat, and explore restaurants/bars/things with friends. We shall see.
For anyone interested, here are the books that I've read and re-read. Why I chose to read them and my thoughts on them:
  1. Quiet, the Power of Introvers by Susan Cain (January)
    • This book I picked up for a couple of reasons. It hadn't been long since I had figured out that I was introverted, or at least put that label on myself. I picked up the book to see if I would find more about myself from it. I didn't really, but it mostly reinforced things that I had thought about in the past that were kind of never plainly stated before. I had also picked this book up to see if there was any value in giving it to my father, in an effort to help him understand me better. I thought better of it though, and didn't do that in the end. I might eventually, who knows.
  2. The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (January/February)
    • This book was a second read through for me. I had read it the first time in college and loved it, and I loved it all over again the second time around. It makes me really sad that this is the only novel that Oscar Wilde wrote. His voice is so great, and the way he writes so clever. Also to consider the fact that Oscar Wilde was openly gay in a time when it was not okay to be gay, gives the novel a completely different air and perspective. Much love for this, will probably re-read it several times in my lifetime.
  3. Longbourn by Jo Baker (February)
    • This was a recommendation from a coworker that knew I was really into period pieces and specially love Jane Austen's work. This is based off Price & Prejudice, one of my favorite novels ever. It made no attempt at the Jane Austen voice, which was very refreshing, but did try to keep the dialogue on-par with the time it was set in. It is a novel that happens to the servants of the house in which the Pride & Prejudice ladies live in, their daily lives, and basically compares and contrasts how life is so different for people in the servants' hall vs. the ladies of the house. It was like a book version of Downton Abbey, but better. 
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone by J.K. Rowling (March/April)
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (May)
  6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (June)
    • At this point in the year, I had decided that I needed something more elegant than the simple voice of the first Harry Potter books. I guess one could say that I was looking for something with more wit. I toyed with the idea of reading a new period piece, but I ended up picking up this old friend for a 4th time. It simply does not get old. The Jane Austen voice is too good, so witty, so complex. I love reading a paragraph and thinking "wait, what did she say?" and have to re-read it several times over to grasp the intricacies of it. I'm sure it will not be the last time I read this book either.
  7. Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde (July)
    • I actually really loved this, it was very well done, and the story-line kept you on your toes. I picked this one at random from the index on my Kindle. I had recently purchased all of Oscar Wilde's works. I was not disappointed. 
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (August)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (August/September)
  10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (September/October/November/December)
    • Don't judge me! This one is long, and I was moving in Sept/Oct. 
  11. Harry Potter and The Hald-blood Prince by J.K, Rowling (December)
  12. Harry Potter and The Deadly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (December)
I feel like I don't need to explain why I re-read the Harry Potter series this year. I just love it so much. I always catch new things every time I read it. This marks the 4th time I've read them all. It's plainly written, and it grows up as it goes. By the end of the series, it is just so dark in comparison to the first book.

Lastly to end this, here are a few pictures of me at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year, and at the end of the year. Funny how people change, or don't change, huh?


Saturday, August 09, 2014

On Change

So lately, and by lately, I mean since January or so, I've been making changes. There are many things that I've been meaning to work on, in general. I find that new habits are formed slowly, and not through drastic change. For me anyway. Many of my keto habits remain to this day, even when I'm not actively on keto (namely the water drinking and eating times/portions) I really do want to get back into keto later this year though, mostly because I've noticed that I'm starting to get thick again. I'm hovering between the 165 and 170 mark. The problem is that I've been also enjoying trying out new foods and drinks, lately. I have, since the new year, discovered a head-over-heels-love for hard cider, which is not keto friendly obviously, but really nice to drink in the summer!

Among other habits that I've slowly picked up as I've gotten more and more into makeup, have been of the skincare type. I now wash my face 2 times a day minimum, regardless of anything, and try to select things that will make my acne clear out. It's been an on-going effort, but I've noticed the difference.

I also read more now, and spend far less time in front of my computer (aside from work obviously) and generally spend more time playing my guitar, and/or hanging out with people I know.

However, not too long ago, I decided that I had spent enough time being a shut-in and refusing to go outside. My excuse of being pale and easily sun-burned has a very simple solution. Specially now that I'm more into caring for my skin, I wind up with sunscreen on everyday anyway. So I've been venturing outside more often. I actually do things like go sit in the park with a book for instance, or simply sitting outside on the Jive balcony. Baby steps.

I've also been trying to be less messy with my apartment, but that's a never-ending quest I tend to fail. It has gotten a lot better! I still live like a college student for the most part though... For now I mostly try to put effort into keeping the bathroom and kitchen areas always clean. If I make something, I clean the kitchen that same day. If I get my bathroom mirror or counter dirty with toothpaste or lotion, I don't just let it sit there anymore. I'll be damned if I ever make my bed though; I like a messy bed. My carpet is still a sad excuse of a carpet... I swear I'm going bald.

Hair. Balls. Everywhere.

I'm probably gonna be more diligent about that once I move to my new apartment, which has hardwood floors. At first I wasn't specially excited about those, because I like to be barefoot most often. Now, I'm more inclined to like it, as it'll be easier to keep clean with a broom, sweeper, and minimal effort. We'll see if my high-entropy desk situation ever changes though. I do love my chaos. That all said, the packing madness has begun, and as such, there's crap all over my apartment right meow.

Another thing I've been working on, since the new year or so, is that I'm trying really hard to not freak out when people touch me anymore. I'm making a very conscious effort there, and it is getting a lot better. So, yay! I will note, however, that I still reserve the right to ask people not to if I feel they're getting to handsy with me or something.

... and with that, I go! /whoosh

Saturday, June 07, 2014

"Please, don't touch me."

I've been considering writing about this for a while now. I finally decided last night that I would just go ahead and do it though. It probably won't seem like a huge deal to anyone but me, and it's hard to explain why or where all of this comes from, or how it even started. I don't normally talk about this, even though people often ask me. It's not some major traumatic thing, by the way. Just throwing that out there, I'll get to that later on...

Anyone who's known me longer than a week probably knows that I do not like to be touched. I do not hug people unless it's a special occasion or you're someone very special like, my family or my significant-other. So first, I'd like to go into what touching means to me:

In the wonderland that is my brain, if I let you touch me, or I decide to touch you, it means that I trust you implicitly. I feel safe around you, boy or girl. I'm known to flinch to people's touch regardless of anything; they startle me, even if it's something simple like putting their hand on my back while they talk to me. This is my problem, not yours. If I haven't asked you not to touch me at this point, how would you know? That's all good and dandy. When it's not good and dandy: when I ask you not to and you do it anyway.

Often times people assume that it is okay to touch me because they are comfortable with touch. I always put the breaks on that early on, and never rudely. I always say something like "Please, don't touch/hug me, I don't like being touched." When I said that to (who would later on become my best friend in college) Trevor, he dropped it. No questions asked, which is the reaction I wish more folks would have to that. I don't think that's too much to ask, frankly. At this point the problem is still my problem, not yours. A somewhat funny side-effect of that is that when I gave Trevor a hug for Graduation and for his wedding, he freaked the fuck out. It was super cute.

However, what happens more often is that when I ask people not to touch me, their reaction is to touch me incessantly. I mean, things like "Oh, it's just a hug!" and hug me anyway, or hover-hug me, because tongue-in-cheek "I'm not touching you", or poke me non-stop because they immediately assume that I'm joking because "lol who doesn't like to be touched?" Lots of people actually, and I'm guessing rape victims who have similar issues find it even less amusing than me.

I'll tell you what happens on my end of that equation, whatever trust I had in you at that point, vanishes into thin air, and is severed permanently. For those who don't believe that, they could ask my very good friend Paul, who I've known for about 7 years, whether I let him touch me. Let's just say it's a shortcut for being in the so-called "friend zone" permanently. I can still be friends with people who I don't fully trust, but that's as far as it would ever go. I also am not even sure I'd rely on him in a time of deep trouble either. It's a trust issue at that point, but you know I'm a-ok hanging out and laughing about random things with him, but I'll always back away if he comes too close.

Why is this such a big deal to me? Because I like people to respect what I say and more specifically, what I say about my boundaries. I shouldn't need some traumatic event in my life to justify that I do not like being touched. It's none of your goddamn business. You're welcome to ask me why, which I may or may not answer.

Touching me when I explicitly ask you not to, instead of simply asking why, is like the difference between asking someone why they don't eat sushi, and forcing sushi down their throats. If I tell you to not touch me, and you do it anyway, what are you going to do if you make any type of sexual advance to me and I say no? I understand that I'm extrapolating here, but that is what I think of. If I refuse someone's offer to buy me a drink at a bar, I shouldn't need to invent a boyfriend to get them to back off. My word on the matter should be enough.

... And at the end of this road, it all circles back to my feelings on feminism. lol.