books and movies and things – june review


I’ve never been the blogger to do a monthly review, but I figured it can’t hurt anything. I’ve had more time over the summer (during my two months as a nanny for my cousins) to read books and watch movies/tv. Plus, I started posted my poetry again.

Books

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: As prequels go, this one wasn’t too bad. I didn’t love it because it’s hard to feel empathetic for the main character, Coriolanus Snow, who (spoiler??) is really terrible to everyone in the first three books. That aside, if you want to know more about Panem before Katniss’ life, I would recommend. It has some interesting explanations for some things in the first books.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: I picked this book up without reading any pages, without reading the synopsis… I just had this feeling it would be good. It was. If you like LGBTQ+ reads or coming-of-age stories, this is one I won’t forget. I hear there’s a sequel coming in October…

Movies

  • Thief: This is a heist film from 1981 with James Caan. I am not a huge James Caan fan, but it had a pretty decent soundtrack. As 80’s films go, this one hit the mark. The opening scene that introduces our main character was interesting to watch at the very least.
  • The Night of the Hunter: I loved this film. It’s a noir-ish crime from 1955 about a murder-crazed religious man who seeks out a family for stolen money the childrens’ late father left behind. There is a strange point where the film no longer follows the original storyline and completely breaks off, but it was still really cool. Definitely watch this one.
  • JoJo Rabbit: I have been waiting to see this one for a while, but I finally got ahold of it — I’m not always a comedy person, but this one had be rolling. It’s a satire about nazis, so it’s definitely a delicate balance of humor and sadness. But between the cast list (Rebel Wilson, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson) and the trailer, I knew I had to see it, and I wasn’t disappointed.

TV Shows

  • Game of Thrones: I am on the last season. I mocked this show for its insane popularity, because it was just another fantasy show in my mind. But I finally sucked it up enough to watch it, and I can see why it got so much fame. It’s absolutely genius. There’s not a moment in all eight seasons where I’ve been bored. That is HARD to do. Of course, they have source material, but even so! The world building and the way they draw the audience into a relationship with the audience is brilliant. I’m sorry I waited so long.
  • The Tatami Galaxy/Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei: If you aren’t an anime person, don’t let this trip you up. This is a subbed not dubbed anime about a college student who’s having trouble being happy. He keeps rewinding time (whether intentionally or not isn’t said) to start his college years over in order to get a different outcome. The synopsis doesn’t really explain it well, so fair warning. I quite enjoyed it.

My Updates

  • A New Book! I’m working on my FOURTH self-published work. If you haven’t read any of them, you can find them all on my Instagram shop, here. (The Instagram shop is only available on the app, but you can also click on the links I mention.) It’s going to be called Gently Used. It will be a collection of poetry, just like Lessons i learned when i was older and mind weaving. The other book, the garden boy, is a poetic essay format. I don’t have a timeline for the new one yet, but I’m working on that…
  • Instagram Poetry: I’ve decided to continue my Instagram author page as just a poetry page. I’ve always enjoyed other poets on Instagram, and I think it’s a good way to grow my readership. Do go and follow it if you’re so inclined.

So that’s about it for June. I hope you have a lovely July.

-ellynn ❤

Songs That Remind Me Of: Hughie Campbell


This is my friend’s blog, please go check it out!

Playlist Link Here

Hello again everyone! Welcome back to another written episode of “Songs That Remind Me Of…” which is a series that nobody asked for but that I started anyways. So here’s another companion article to a playlist I made. This week, we’re putting some noise to everyones (my) favorite awkward supe-exploding, Billy Joel fan, Hughie Campbell.

If you haven’t watched The Boys on Amazon, I highly recommend checking it out. I fell head over heels for all the protagonists in the show instantly and the amount of angsty attitude this show contains makes me a little too giddy at points. Not only is it intense, but super well written and acted by all parts. Seriously…check it out.

As for Hughie, played by one of my favorite actors Jack Quaid, we see a lot of different tropes and ideas. However there are some big character points that create…

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Claiming Personal Success


Exciting news, folks — I’m done with my freshman year of college! And I’ve been indulging in the successes that’s brought, including awards and good grades and just time to rest up. That being said, I wanted to talk about something I’ve felt really odd about in the past few weeks.

Society raised me (and probably you, too) to be extremely productive. Why? To contribute to the world in a powerful way, or to leave a mark, or to be successful and live in an expensive house and wear expensive clothes. It wasn’t something I ever decided I wanted. I was just told to do more and be more. I never questioned it.

Today, productivity makes me feel good about myself. I knock out a few hefty assignments or freelance articles and feel a rush of pride for the work I did. I’m not saying that’s entirely unhealthy, and that’s not the focus of the blog post today.

I’ve been feeling weird because when I share my triumphs with other people, I usually get one of the following responses…

  • “I’m so proud of you!”
  • “That’s my [insert relation to me here]!”
  • “We did it!”
  • “I knew you could do it!”

These aren’t necessarily bad responses. Yes, I appreciate pride and celebration of my successes! But notice that in each of these statements, the person congratulating me is including themselves in the sentence. “I,” “my,” “we.” There is something wrong with this, and I’ll tell you why.

I was raised to be high-achieving. While I’m grateful that I’ve grown up to be a hard worker, I have always been the kid or friend or cousin or student who accomplished great things for the image of someone else. I am the good daughter who makes the parent look good. I am the smart friend who makes the friend group look smart. I am the well-rounded student who makes the class look well-rounded.

The people who pushed me to do well, although with good intentions, asked me to go above and beyond in a way that boosted their own image. “You’re such a good parent/friend/teacher, you have such a great child/friend/student.” This is unhealthy. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders to carry someone else’s image and very little time to examine what success meant for me. This is largely from a few sources, one of which was being placed in the “gifted” program as an elementary student.

I never felt that my achievements were satisfactory enough because I was surrounded by other “high-achievers.” I was sold the idea of high performance and being a childhood prodigy and competing for good grades. While there is definitely something to surrounding yourself with people above your skill level, there is something horribly wrong with telling a child they are better than other children and expecting them to excel at everything.

Being a “gifted kid” was something for my parents and friends and teachers to boast about. Everything I did, it wasn’t just for me to be proud of, but for society to applaud. This is why writing (although something I love) can feel less like my art and more like a chore of being. I constantly found ways to be “different” as a kid because I was tired of being placed in the “gifted” box.

People comment all the time about how humble I am. I think I come across as humble because I grew tired of expectations set on me as a child, not because I didn’t appreciate my own achievements.

Today, I have a problem with naming and claiming my own value and success because of this conditioning. People in my life have always wanted to claim my success first. I’m working on doing what I love for me, not for others, and choosing to own my success for myself and myself alone. A mantra I’ve chosen is, “Others do not own my accomplishments and never will. I choose my actions, and I claim the results.”

While it is a journey, it feels good to be empowered by my choices rather than to shy away from any praise. My skills and abilities are my own. I am proud of myself. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m awesome.

Much love,

-el ❤

i am a vegetable and college is stew


College soup. I’m in it, my friends are in it, my enemies are in it, and my professors, to some extent, are also in it. We are flavoring some kind of knowledge stew. Marinating.

You’d be lying if you said college didn’t change you. Sure, maybe it made your already-perfect self better. But I don’t think so. College takes you, whatever kind of vegetable you are, and throws you into a pot.

You are a broccoli. In the stew are broccoli like you. In the stew are also carrots, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and I don’t know, maybe some beef or pasta. You’re tossed in the same water and stock. You’re all coated with the same herbs as your neighbor, but you are a broccoli, for chrissakes.

You got up and left your little broccoli family, your broccoli school, your broccoli neighborhood. You left your broccoli friends and broccoli job. Now you’re just a part of the stew.

Stewing. Stewing can be a lot of things. Stewing is:

  1. Floating in the stew, trying to figure out what you’re floating in
  2. Trying to bump next to other broccoli
  3. Getting caught on a carrot or a potato and deciding that maybe you’d like to be a carrot or a potato
  4. Constantly forgetting that you were a vegetable before you got stuck in the stew
  5. Tossing in other flavors — maybe if you just added enough rosemary or sage, it would taste more like the kind of stew you like

You might decide that you don’t like the flavors you’re absorbing. Maybe, you hate them so much that you jump into freezing cold water and try to get uncooked. Maybe, you just completely leave the stew and come back to your broccoli home, pretending it never happened.

Or you decide you like the stew very much. The stew wouldn’t be the same without you and all the other vegetables and other foods that swim with you. The flavors are all unique and perfect just the way they are, and you’re so excited to be marinating in it.

Finally, you break free from the stew for a while. You meet your broccoli family and friends again. They greet you, because you look great! You look cooked! But they hug you, and they realize… ew. You smell like a green bean. And is that… ew! Tomato! And they push you back out because you’re just another one of the stewies now. You don’t belong with the broccoli anymore.

But hey, even though your broccoli family doesn’t support you, there are other broccoli in the stew going through the same thing. And besides, you have cauliflower and carrots and pasta to help you through it! They’re great, too.

You’re not gonna forget that you were a broccoli, but you’re not gonna become a green bean. You’re just part of the stew now, and you will create more and more stew as you grow.

-ellynn ❤

wednesday, october 21st


Sleep refused to let go of me that morning. I was six minutes late to my nine a.m. How I stumbled through grammar review and summarizing techniques was beyond me.

I then descended from my comfortable, dangerous bed — because it had claws on the bad days, and it did not let me go. I did not quite understand how I had gotten to the floor, but I stood there nonetheless, and I let my feet guide me to the window.

A thick fog coated the trees rolling over the hills before me. Some of them had already turned, fiery reds and oranges you can’t capture in crayon scribbles or brushstrokes. And I knew it was going to rain.

So I donned my thick green sweater and walked to the coffee shop, the sound of the espresso machine and the scent of fresh brew holding me up. I don’t remember what I ordered, only that the barista seemed flustered because they were all out of cardboard sleeves.

I let the hot cup burn the palms of my hands; it was warm and I felt cold, I felt nothing. I held the door for a man who had some pep in his step, and he said “I hope you have a great day,” and I nodded once with a bob of my head, and I stepped back out into the fog.

The walk back to my room might have been the longest walk of my life, but it wasn’t so bad, because I had company in the elevator. A quiet girl silently acknowledged me, absorbed in her music, and I wanted to ask her how she’d dyed her hair rainbow colors, but I didn’t think it polite to ask. I told her “I hope you have a great day,” and she nodded once with a bob of her head, and I stepped out of the elevator.

My legs brought me to the door, to the room, to the soft bean bag chair on the floor. It didn’t take much time to decide what music to play — something loud and female and punk, something beautiful. I collapsed into the chair. Thirty minutes. You’re allowed thirty minutes to feel.

That was when the rain started. It rose up over the music, so much so that I put my coffee down to open the window. I scooted everything over so I could sit on the windowsill, staring out at the tiny figurines that were cars and buildings and people, and I took in everything the day had been so far. Everything the day before had been.

The words of the song seemed to taunt me, but I wasn’t upset because they were so familiar to my heart that morning. I wondered what he was thinking. I wondered why he had lied to me, why he hadn’t done it sooner.

And then it was time for my group discussion, so I finished my coffee and crept off the windowsill and sat down at my desk to discuss racism and self-determination and performance activists. I’m sure I said something of value, but I don’t know, because my head was under water.

(Modeled after Toward Amnesia by Sarah Van Arsdale)

-ellynn ❤

what they’ll tell you


They’ll tell you that your music taste is weird.

They’ll tell you that your jokes aren’t funny and you shouldn’t try comedy.

They’ll tell you that you’re studying the wrong thing, it’s not going to make you any money, and you should just quit now.

They’ll tell you that you should drink your coffee with cream and sugar like everybody else. Or, better yet, drink tea instead.

They’ll tell you that you can’t do everything alone (but they won’t offer to help).

They’ll tell you to keep your head up and smile because society should listen better.

They’ll tell you society won’t listen better.

They’ll make up all sorts of excuses for why they couldn’t come to your birthday party, to your wedding, to your baby shower.

They’ll tell your grave they liked you well enough.

They’ll tell you that every decision you made up until they stepped in was awful — the pits— and then take credit for your uprising.

They’ll beat books over your head.

They’ll undermine your intelligence but take your ideas.

They’ll dismiss the beautiful as strange and never understand the sense of awe that life brings.

They’ll take your sweatshirt and complain about being hot while you freeze over.

They’ll burn bridges and beg for you to rebuild it, because, well, you lit the match. They saw you do it.

They’ll…

Enough about them. What will you do?

college so far


College is…

-sitting at your laptop, surfing pinterest and listening to Hozier, with the diffuser on, and the sun shines in just the right place that it hits your face and makes you feel loved

-waking up before your roommates and making coffee, trying not to wake them up

-laying on the floor and talking about the psychological effects of brilliant movies

-eavesdropping and randomly interjecting when you hear someone say something you relate to

-naruto running/moonwalking/crawling down the hallway

-every seven seconds, searching your bag to make sure you have your key, your id, et. cetera

-your hallmates asking you to do things because you’re tall

-having way to much fun with a spin broom

-there’s a crack on the bottom of the shower and the people underneath you are probably gonna report a leak

-wondering where on earth to find a fork in the dining halls

-reading poetry while the lull of the dryers helps you focus

-casually meeting the eyes of strangers and holding the gaze for just a bit longer than usual, then acting like you were just out of focus for a minute

-making friends from the slightest congruence, like, appreciating their fleetwood mac shirt

-knowing who your people on based on the music they play

-being annoyed at people who don’t obey the social distancing requirements

-everyone watches the office?

-naps. college kids take so many naps.

-asking someone their name, saying “okay cool!” and immediately forgetting it when they walk away (but it’s okay, because they probably forgot it too)

-everyone asking you to join their club???

That’s it for now. I’m thinking I’ll mostly blog about college, now that I’m here. See you soon.

—ellynn ❤

cultural diversity from someone whose culture makes no sense


Recently, I watched a Ted Talk called How Culture Drives Behaviours with Julien S. Bourrelle. Julien discusses how in different countries, people behave differently. They display different types of affection, facial expressions, activities, etcetera.

It got me thinking, you know, what is the midwestern culture? I’ve lived in the Kansas City area all my life. Surely I should know what my own culture is, right?

A simple Google search told me that aspects of culture are as follows: symbols, language, norms, values, and artifacts. I’m going to break down each aspect and describe to you what exactly my culture is, and what I can take from it.

Symbols:

-Nonverbal symbols: are gestures. Midwestern Americans greet each other by a high five with friends, a hug with loved ones, and a handshake for business-like encounters. I typically flash a peace sign, or give a little fist bump. I’m not really one for physical contact, which is usually off-putting for my fellow friends and family.

-A prominent American symbol: is the American flag. Duh. And often, in American schools, you’ll stand every morning, put your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Every morning. For me, this action has always been too militaristic and strange to wrap my head around, so I sit down. (Not to disrespect the Armed Forces, but because it’s weird.)

-Certain religious symbols: are common to the U.S., mainly the cross, or the crescent moon, or the star of David. You might also see a pentacle or five-pointed star with a circle around it, or any other number of religious markings. I can only imagine how alarming it would be to arrive here from, say, Morocco, where the primary religion is Islam.

Language

-The American attitude: is this: “If you don’t speak English, I’m offended.” Now, I hate that, but it’s true. I swore to learn at least two other languages before I graduated college. So far, I’m 1 down, 1 in progress. But many Americans never learn anything but English. The only place I’ve encountered such diversity is Disneyworld, where you could hear anything from Mandarin Chinese to Portuguese to Arabic. I’ve never understood why America is so set on speaking English, which came from… England. And why did we omit the English accent? America, you’re dumb.

Norms

Noise: Are you in public? Then you really should be quiet. Unless you see someone you know personally, in which case, it’s totally acceptable to go, “Ohmygosh, hiii!!!!!!” But if your child is too loud, you should do something about that. But not too loudly. However, it’s fine to mow your lawn at 6 a.m. Yes, a.m. and p.m. Because we like being confused. Anyway, you can be loud at a concert and at bars, but only certain concerts and bars. And if you’re at a restaurant where they aren’t playing music so loud you can’t hear yourself, you may only speak in mime. Got it?

Laws: There is only one: move to the right side of the street, the stairs, the road, politics—imeanwhat?

Table Manners: Elbows on the table are usually considered poor behavior, but everyone does it anyway. Don’t talk with your mouth full, but everyone does it anyway. Eat too much food, feel terrible afterward, but everyone does it anyway. Oh yeah, and when you’re done with your meal, crumple up your used paper napkin and toss it into your plate. (But always pass dishes to the RIGHT.)

Sexuality: All forms of sex are wildly appreciated and accepted, but NEVER TALK ABOUT IT. NEVER. Don’t mention sex in the classroom (except to explain what parts do what), don’t mention it with your family, don’t talk about it with your friends, don’t read about it, don’t even THINK about it. Unless you’re watching television. But you better not be a virgin in your 20s??? Because then you’re a prude???

Values

Body Image: Be skinny. No, not that skinny, because you don’t want to look like you have anorexia. It’s okay if you have anorexia, but just don’t look like you do. Look a twinge above it. Your ideal weight is hungry. Oh, but that’s only if you’re a girl. Because no one wants a man to look like a stick! Men must have MUSCLES. They must be INTIMIDATING and STRONG. Being weak makes you less masculine. But also, you should be sensitive. However, on social media, we’ll use #thickthighssavelives and market our clothing brands as plus-sized (though sizes only go up to 10).

-Productivity: Basically, always be doing shit. 25/8, do stuff, all the time, and post that you’re doing stuff, and tell your neighbor you’re doing stuff, and train your kids to be involved in 8 sports and be president of the student council and write three books by the time they’re twelve and meal prep like a bawse (even though meal prepping can take more time when you spend hours making pretty boxes to post on pinterest). BUT make time for those leisure photos at the beach! Have cookouts so you can show off all the money you spent on the perfectly manicured lawn that your dog will destroy.

-Money: Be so rich that you can afford a Tesla, which will make you feel better because it’s environmentally friendly, even though the electricity that charges your gas-free car probably uses natural gases anyway! Own at least three gaming consoles, never play any of them. Use #blessed when you post about the new Coach purse you bought with a credit card today. Be in GALLONS of debt but pretend you’re thriving. Buy “gluten free apples.”

-Education: You must get a college degree, and your entire middle and high school careers must be focused on getting a perfect ACT score. Take all advanced classes, be in the NHS and the SAC and the NRA — wait, is that the right acronym? — because if you don’t, you’ll never be on the dean’s list at Oxford and you’ll fail and you won’t make enough money to buy that expensive car and that house in Hollywood Hills and you’ll fail your parents and your children and you won’t hate your job enough to stay just financially stable enough to be trusted to have an insurmountable pile of debt that you’ll pawn off onto your children when you die from a heart attack that nobody knew you would have because you claimed to only eat things that came from God’s green earth #savetheturtles. Or something.

Artifacts

-Phone: The only acceptable device is the iPhone that came out this week. It it came out a month ago, it’s trash. It’s disgusting. But we’ll continue to make fun of you for buying the new iPhone because it looks dumb. You can’t win.

-Car: Like I said, Tesla. Or really anything that makes you look like you probably have a private jet to go with that, too.

-Food: Avocado toast! $7 Creme brulee latte with almond milk, but wait, don’t use almond milk, it’s bad for the environment! Coconut milk? No, there’s too much fat. Fat is bad. Use cashew milk. But make it yourself, because you don’t know if those are sustainably sourced cashews. Are you sure those coffee beans didn’t come from slavery? Fast food is the devil! Eat it really fast in your car, alone. Tell no one. Say you’re gluten free to make yourself more interesting at parties.

DISCLAIMER: This is SATIRE! I know I get a little joke-y on this blog, but rarely this much. So please take this with the teensy-tiniest grain of salt possible. I could rant about U.S. capitalism and glorification principles all day long. I hope you enjoyed. Please share this with that one angry uncle who always complains about the far left — it would quite honestly make my day.

— ellynn ❤

what they don’t tell you about life after high school


High school is over. My life in this suburban town is over. Everything I’ve ever known is now completely flipped on its head. Am I excited or worried? Yes. The answer is yes.

While in high school, the one question I had floating around my mind was, “what do they not tell you about graduating and entering the adult world?” Well, I wanted to outline that.

First of all, if you think college is “the adult world,” then you’re gonna have a rude awakening when you leave college. To be honest, a residence where someone stands by to answer all your questions and help you through life, where you’re surrounded by people your age with your interests? That’s not adulting. That’s a sheltered, extended camp. However, there are some things you have to take care of.

We’ll start with something that I don’t personally have an issue with: if you don’t already, you have to get used to doing your own laundry. And it’s probably not in the convenience of your own living space – if it is, good for you. Welcome to the real world.

Next, you get to take care of all your own nutrition. Yay? Maybe. If you have a hard time remembering to eat (like me) or if you don’t make super balanced food choices, this can be tough. Try to write out a meal plan for the week. Usually colleges have some sort of menu, if you’re on a dining plan. If you’re buying your own groceries, plan your grocery list based on the meals you’re going to cook that week. Trust me, it’ll make your meal habits healthier.

Here’s a tough thing about leaving high school. You can’t necessarily keep all of your friends. 😦 I know that sounds tough. But listen, it’s going to get really difficult to communicate with and check on each and every acquaintance you had in high school. People you swear you’ll stay in touch with will probably fade out of your life. Know that it’s okay, and that is something that happens with time. Prioritize the people you value and really want in your life.

Also, there’s a lot more to do than you think. In general. In fact, getting older just adds more and more responsibilities to your plate than you ever thought possible. However, just because someone added a responsibility doesn’t mean you have to claim it. You usually can and should say no to things that don’t align with your purpose.

But that doesn’t translate to skipping out on anything and everything that sounds hard or unfamiliar. Trying new things that are out of your comfort zone is another huge part of adulting. I honestly think that might be the most important part. If you don’t try scary new things, then are you even doing life right?

You might do things a little differently than you thought you would when you were younger. I used to think I’d stay up all night when I was a “big kid.” Nope. I want to go to bed at ten o’clock and wake up at five sometimes. I also thought bacon was a food group as a kid. Now I don’t eat meat. It’s a funny world we live in.

Reinventing yourself might be necessary. Maybe you like how you are, and you don’t want to change a thing. That’s great! Keep on going, love. But if you think you’d like to switch up your style or hair, or even change a personality trait for the better, then get workin! Right before you enter a new world, so to speak, is a perfect time to change some things up. We’re all going through changes, but big ones are hard to make when we don’t feel like it’s the “right time.” Spoiler alert: it’s never the right time. Just go for it.

Realizing that you’re actually cool and you can be your own best friend is the best feeling in the world. No, I mean it. Not in a cheesy way or in a way that’s pathetic and lonely. When you can turn on your favorite song, dance around your room in your favorite outfit, read books you like, take yourself out, go on walks alone, build yourself a fort, take care of yourself mentally, physically, spiritually… You can become your own best friend. And it’s amazing.

You can build a beautiful life by simply deciding to have one. You have jurisdiction over your whole life, so take advantage. What time do you want to get up and go to bed? What habits do you want ingrained? Fill in the blank: I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who ___________. Now, how can you get to that kind of person? Pretend you’re that person right now. What does that person do, believe, say? Be them. Keep going.

Something else they don’t tell you – you don’t know exactly what to expect. If you’re a high school student, just know that. You might be hunting for all the answers, but there may not be any until you get to where you’re going. Life was meant to be a series of questions you answer after you ask them, not before. Just know that you never have to do anything alone.

Have a wonderful week.

-ellynn ❤