It is really tough to stay positive when things keep adding up so much. Sometimes it gets to a point where it feels like so much is working against me that it’s almost comical. The biggest thorn in my side for a while was having cars that I would keep having to fix every couple of months because they are old and used. So I decided to finally invest in making monthly payments on a nicer car with much fewer miles so that I wouldn’t have to deal with that hassle anymore but now only three months later that car is not drivable and is likely going to cost a lot just to get running again. It’s truly frustrating beyond belief, but also ironic that I invested so much in getting this car so I wouldn’t have to keep getting cars fixed every few months and now I’m hit with probably the biggest repair fee yet… only a few months later. It’s just funny that even when you take the proper precautions for a specific situation, that exact problem can still find its way back into your life again and again.
So if I look at my position in life right now, and think about trying to figure out what I’m gonna do considering I don’t have a lot of expendable income to begin with, it really is very heavy and overwhelming. Luckily I have some people in my life who keep my spirits up as much as possible and I am actively working on compartmentalizing things in a way that this really trying situation isn’t the only thing I think about at all times. It’s hard to keep this up and of course I have my moments where I break down and struggle with it, but I’m doing my best to adjust my mentality so that I’m not stressed to death every day. That being said, I’m really not looking forward to being without a car for however long again…
Not exactly the start to the new year that I wanted, but I’m going to try to stay strong and turn this thing around somehow. I don’t even know that I believe I can do that but I’ve got to convince myself that I do. Positive affirmations or some shit. I guess 2022’s just trying to show me that it’s going to be a challenging year for me, but I don’t think I ever doubted it would be. Challenging isn’t necessarily bad, though. 2022 will be a big year for me in terms of life changes, reinstating motivation, getting myself back on track and improving myself in general.
Since blog day just happened to line up on New Year’s Eve, I feel like the topic for this week writes itself. A new year is just over the horizon and it’s crazy to think about the chaos we’ve all been stuck in for the past couple of years and will likely be stuck in for all of next year as well. Even though so much is still up in the air going into 2022, I know for certain that there are things I can/need to work on to better my self and my place in life.
As someone who loves movies, video games, television, music, etc. it’s pretty much always one of my goals at the start of a new year to try to discover and enjoy more of those than in the year previous. I’m thinking I’ll reflect on exactly how much new stuff I enjoyed this year on next week’s blog, but off-hand I know that I started the year off strong but then really tapered off for at least the second half and as a result I haven’t even had time to play a game or watch a show in weeks. So there’s definitely room for me to enjoy a lot more next year.
As an extension of that, a big goal for me going into next year is to really figure out a good schedule so that I can improve my quality of life by being able to balance my work time, my creative time, and my free time in a way that feels more manageable and less overwhelming. My biggest problem currently tends to be that I spend so much time working on videos or working that I don’t have as much time for myself as I’d like. So as a result I’ve got shelves of games and movies going untouched. In 2022 I’m going to make an effort to consume and discover more in general.
In addition I’d like to diversify my activities and hobbies more. Meaning that just because movies, video games, music, and television are some of my favorite things, I don’t want to hesitate to branch outside of those things more often with things like books which I’ve been meaning to get back to for years, writing more and expressing myself in more creative ways, or much more outdoors/physical activities. This will help everything not to feel as rote because while I do want to establish a more comfortable schedule, I also don’t want to confine myself to a monotonous or restrictive routine. There’s a perfect balance somewhere in there that I’d like to find.
With an effort to do more things outdoors and more physical activities comes my desire to be an entirely healthier person in 2022. This comes in every aspect of my self, really, from my physical health to my mental health to my emotional well-being. I need to exercise more, I need to really work on my diet, and I need to focus on putting less stress on myself and work towards a happier me. I would love to come out of 2022 having made significant improvements in my health.
My work life is obviously a big thing I’d like to change in 2022 as well. Not only would I like for my work to be less of a hinderance on my creativity and motivation, but I’d like for it to reinforce those things. Not just be less intrusive on my video-making and free time but rather bridge the gap between those things perhaps. This is an aspect of my life that needs to change and will change in 2022 so that I can truly be happy. I can’t have such a time-consuming part of my life continue to hold me back. Once I fix this part of my life then my living conditions, finances, and overall state of my mind will have much more room to grow and improve as a result. This will be my biggest hurdle to overcome and nip in the bud in 2022.
So for the new year I have a lot to work on but ultimately it all comes down to working towards finding a happier and fuller version of myself. 2021 has genuinely had everything from my lowest lows to my highest highs from beginning to end. My mission now is to make those highs more consistent by keeping what makes me happy and removing/changing what doesn’t. It’s time to fix my whole shit in 2022.
Look, I’m gonna give myself a break and not stress too much about what to write this week. It is Christmas Eve, after all, and I did mention last time that I would give a follow-up to the position I was in last week so that’s exactly what I’m doing.
So last week I talked about how I had pretty much all of my shopping left to do with only a week left until Christmas. Well, I’m relieved to say that everything has come together pretty nicely, though it still wasn’t quite up to snuff with the amount of effort I usually like to put into gifts. Minus some finishing touches and last-minute additions, everything is good to go and I’ve already given most of my friends their gifts so it’s been great to see them all happy with those. It’s funny because when I was young I loved and anticipated Christmas so much for all of the gifts I would receive and get to enjoy in the morning. But in adulthood there has been such a dramatic shift in that I get so much more out of giving gifts. While I still really appreciate everyone who takes the time out to give me gifts in any capacity, and thoughtful gifts are really touching to me, I just love the payoff from a good gift coming together (and, more-so when I give myself a comfortable amount of time, I love the process of putting it all together).
I am definitely super excited to get together with family and have a good, stress-free time tomorrow, but right now I also can’t help but be stressed about how behind I am on videos especially when I think about how many I specifically want to get out by the end of the year. But maybe after Christmastime I can kick it into overdrive and really tear through them. I think the most overwhelming part of it is the sheer amount of videos that I have built-up combined with how time-consuming they are to work on, so once I can whittle down those numbers then everything will be a lot more manageable to me. I’d really like to go into the new year with some clear time management goals in mind so that I can have a less stressful existence in general. More concrete goals in general would be a good step for me, but hey, for now how about I just let myself enjoy the holiday season?
You know, I went into this year thinking I would give myself more time for things, more time to get things done in advance, and yet here I am. I managed to not only not give myself more time to get my Christmas shopping done, but I actually gave myself significantly less time to do so. There’s only about a week left til Christmas and I still have the large majority of my shopping to do. As if the holiday season wasn’t stressful and busy enough already, I had to go and add that to the mix as well.
As I mentioned before, I really do love putting together gifts for people that I care about, few things give me greater joy than having a nice gift come together and then seeing their reaction when they open it. So in that way it annoys me that I won’t be able to get some of the more elaborate things that would require more than a week’s time to put together, and I have no one to blame but myself for that, really. I’m still gonna do my best to put together some kick-ass and thoughtful stuff, in spite of a tough time limit and very limited budget. There’s been a lot going on over the past few weeks so it’s not always easy to stay in high spirits but ultimately I love the holiday season and the good vibes that it can bring so I’m hoping everything turns out swell. It’s really interesting that the holiday season, which is supposed to be a wholesome and happy time for all, so often is a source of stress for people. For me, the payoff tends to outweigh any stress involved, but I know for some people it can just be a completely stressful experience from top to bottom (which is unfortunate).
For now my mental health seems surprisingly better than it had been for a while, but that might just be the allure of the season distracting from the very real stresses which I know are looming in the background. So the state of my mental health will probably be more accurately identifiable after the start of the new year once I’m more alone with my thoughts again. Stay tuned for that I guess, here’s hoping for the best!
Next week’s blog will be on Christmas Eve so you might be able to get a sense of how my last-minute Christmas shopping push went and exactly how optimistic I am going into the holiday itself. The blogs are probably going to take a bit of a backseat and be less in-depth (like this one) until the craziness of working, gift-making, video-making, and spending time with the people I love dies down a bit, but I’m still going to be checking in every week in whatever capacity I can. And like I said, I should hopefully have more to talk about next week since it will literally be the day before Christmas, which is always something for me to look forward to.
Videos I Posted This Week:
Things I Enjoyed This Week:
West Side Story (2021) Tick, Tick… BOOM! Smash Summit 12 Survivor 41
Just a couple of days ago, I got to see Pentatonix perform in person for the first time in two years and they did not disappoint! But rather than talk about that here, I’m going to save that for a video I’ll be recording about it since I have talked about every other Pentatonix concert experience in video form and I don’t see any reason to stop now. Since PTX is at the top of my mind at the moment, though, I wanted to at least share my thoughts on the Evergreen album. Just like I did with The Lucky Ones, I’m going to go track by track, giving my opinions on each song along the way.
There’s not much to it, but they nailed it with It’s Been A Long, Long Time. The contrast between Scott and Mitch’s voices is really what made this one work, but it’s also nice that both Kirstin and Matt had moments to chime in as well. The song had a pretty unique tone in comparison to what we usually hear from their voices. This acted as the perfect short intro song for the album, and was the perfect choice to tie in with their tour announcement, too. I really liked the nice touch of hearing them light a candle, which they then blow out at the end of the album.
There is nothing noticeably remarkable about Wonderful Christmastime, but it has grown on me a bit since my first time hearing it. I mean, that’s basically the case with the original version, too. It’s more or less just a catchy song with not too much going on with it. While I don’t think Pentatonix’s version is quite as catchy, I still enjoy it and it has enough charm to be worth listening to when going through the album. Scott’s voice in particular complements the song well.
I Saw Three Ships surprised me with how much I ended up liking it. I had never heard the original before, but even from the name of the song, I feared I was in for a bit of a bore. I really did not expect it to have as much energy as it did, so I’m glad that I was wrong about that. They really do a great job of not only coming in with a good amount of energy but also building on that energy as the song progresses, which naturally makes for an exciting arrangement. Scott is again the heart of this song and I really love hearing him go all out as he sings about these damn three ships, but Mitch, Kirstin, and Matt all had great moments to shine as well. That tends to be the impetus for my favorite Pentatonix arrangements, any time we get each member shining in different ways is exactly what I want to hear.
I’ve gotta be honest. And I’ve always said this because no one is brave enough to say it. Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is the greatest Christmas song ever made. So Pentatonix’s version, featuring Christina Perri, was very disappointing in that I was expecting high-energy holiday goodness but got a really slowed-down version instead. Upon further listening, I have a lot more respect for the bold departure, but I can’t help but wonder what it would have sounded like with a similar approach to the original. So while I appreciate what they did with this, and it’s swell enough by itself, I can’t help but be honest when I say that they essentially took out the heart of the song and why I love it, so this didn’t quite work for me as much as it could have.
I don’t know why I love the very beginning of Home For The Holidays so much, but I really do. Just the right amount of reverb as Scott calls on each member by name to join in the song and add another layer to the arrangement. That twenty seconds is just enough to add some charm and set it apart from what is otherwise a pretty rote classic Christmas song. Overall it’s nothing to write home about but that intro gives it some personality.
Another song I hadn’t heard of, River was really pretty though it’s not one of my favorites. It’s very folksy in style which is so interesting because it really doesn’t feel like a Christmas song as a result. That’s probably the biggest issue for me, not only is it not my preferred style of music in general but it’s definitely not the kind of music I want to listen to during Christmastime either. So this one didn’t really do much for me but that’s okay.
Over the River is the much much better river-based song on this album. I really fuckin’ love this shit. Lindsey Stirling killed this and added such a badass, much-needed layer to this arrangement. It’s mostly the same violin sequence being replayed throughout but I love it so much and they use it so creatively to switch up the pace of the song in fun and exciting ways, so it doesn’t really matter. This easily could have been just another beat-for-beat classic holiday cover, but I’m glad they decided to do something much more special with it.
Okay, so The Prayer is the best song on the album and it’s not close. This takes up the show-stopping mantle of songs like Hallelujah and Amazing Grace in past albums and it did not disappoint in the slightest. These tend to be my favorites in every album that they do because they not only are heaven to the ears but are brilliant at showcasing their talents both as individuals and as a group. Words cannot express how much I love and appreciate this cover from Pentatonix. It’s truly one of the best they’ve ever done, period. From Kevin’s excellent percussion to Mitch’s killer range, they all deliver brilliant all-time performances. It’s truly a pleasure to listen through as Scott, Mitch, and Kirstin each give us chills at least once. This will probably go in my top five favorite songs from Pentatonix ever!
Quite a contrast from The Prayer, Evergreen delivers in a much different way. Though it’s not my favorite in the world and not one that I’m really eager to listen to on repeat, it is definitely a really sweet and heartfelt song. And I loved hearing just a little bit of Kevin’s singing voice in this one, it really suited the song nicely!
Frosty The Snowman is one of those classic Christmas songs that was inevitably going to be covered by Pentatonix at some point, it was just a matter of when. What I didn’t expect was for Alessia Cara to be involved. Look, I’m a big Alessia Cara fan and I will be the first person to sing the praises of her voice. She’s great. But my grievance with this cover is pretty much the same as my grievances with most Pentatonix songs that “feature” artists like this. The fact is that this is much more an Alessia Cara song featuring Pentatonix than it is a Pentatonix song featuring Alessia Cara. So while I think that Alessia is brilliant and her voice actually really suits this song, it’s simply not what I’m looking for when I listen to a Pentatonix album. I really wish that they would have more of a back-and-forth with their featured artists rather than just taking the back seat every time. That would make songs like this a lot more fun and engaging for me to listen to.
I Just Called To Say I Love You is really beautiful. One of my favorites on this album for sure. The blending of their voices in this song in particular is so tastefully done, and all of their voices individually shine in soft and pretty ways. I’ve become a lot more of a sap in recent times, so I have much more of an appreciation for the messages of songs like these too, so combine that with heavenly vocals and you’ve got a recipe for melting me as I listen to this album. Love it. Wonderful arrangement.
Not much to really dissect here but Little Saint Nick is a lot of fun. All it really took is a nice effect on Scott’s voice and this cover really captured the essence of the song well. So while it’s a brief and simple holiday trip, it’s a pleasant one for sure. Good stuff!
Similarly to I Saw Three Ships, they do a great job at building up the song as it progress with It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. But there is a break from the build when Matt comes in for his solo (which is really nice and pretty, by the way) and then it just kicks into tenth gear and goes all out with an insane finish. Mitch and Scott kill it with bringing this one home and they all bring the energy to a whole other level that is so fun to hear. This one is great!
I’ve never heard a song as raw and as barebones from Pentatonix as My Heart With You. The immediate impression I got from hearing this song is that it would be the one they sing at the end of their concerts when they put down their mics as they always have in concerts past (and I was right). The thing that really sets this one apart from those other songs they’ve done that for is that this one basically already sounds like it’s being performed in that way. There is essentially no instrumentation being replicated here so it’s not only all vocals but it’s all singing so it feels even more pulled back than usual. So that right there sets this song apart from anything they’ve really done before, and it’s definitely really pretty.
They end it with a really soft and more predictable one to go out with and that’s We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Nothing too remarkable for me, not a standout from the album by any means, but I don’t hate it as a way to ease out of the album. And of course hearing them blow out the candle they lit with the very first song shows just how purposeful the whole ordering of the album was so I’m willing to give them kudos for that. Matt’s moment is a highlight for me in this cover, but overall it’s more by-the-books and less exciting than some of their other covers on this album.
And that’s it! Overall I enjoyed the album, though it doesn’t reach the greatness of most of their other Christmas albums for me. To be fair, their last few Christmas albums were all excellent so it’s probably just a high bar, but this album just didn’t reach that tier for me in the pantheon of Pentatonix greatness. The Prayer is by far the greatest that this album has to offer and I’ll always be grateful for that at the very least. The few other standouts make this album worth it for me and of course it is always great to hear new Christmas music from Pentatonix again. Even when it’s not their best Pentatonix are excellent, it’s just the fact that their best is so good that it makes anything less than that particularly noticeable.
Videos I Posted This Week:
Things I Enjoyed This Week:
Pentatonix: The Evergreen Christmas Tour Survivor 41 Smash Summit 12 CEO 2021
When you’re in the thick of depression it becomes really easy to dwell on the negativity because, well, you’re not exactly feeling the most positivity in the world. There’s a reason you don’t ever really see “optimistic” and “depressed” both used to describe the same person. This often extends into how you see yourself. This is definitely the case for me at least, meaning that in the thick of my depression it would be a lot easier for me to come up with a list of things I don’t like about myself than to come up with a list of things that I do. So that’s why I decided to take on this personal challenge and try to infuse some more positivity with how I view myself. Even if it might be how I genuinely feel most of the time, verbalizing or writing too much negativity isn’t good for the soul, so it’s good to take a healthy amount of departures from all of that.
One thing I really like about myself is my creative mind. I’m always taking on creative projects and I’m almost always the “idea guy” for everything I’m a part of and more often than not I am the one organizing things. So I like the fact that I tend to think outside of the box and then actively work to make those concepts a reality. I also like that I can be pretty community-oriented, so even if I’m not the most outspoken person in group settings I am usually at the core of bringing like-minded people together in different communities and organizing different things.
Something I’ve realized more about myself over this past year than any time before it is that I do have a big heart. I am kind and really like to take care of the people I love. When I find and latch on to people who I connect with and appreciate, I have a lot of love to give and I want them to know how much I love them. I’m an excellent friend because I’m always there when you need me, but I also love making deeper connections with people and expressing my love whenever I can. Especially for those who I am absolutely closest to and love deeply, I will never let them forget how much I love them and will never let them feel unappreciated. I like that I have such a high capacity for love, and that’s something I only learned about myself recently after meeting and connecting with certain people. I often seem closed off but can be super vulnerable with the right person.
I love to make people laugh and my sense of humor is probably one of my better qualities, so I like that about myself. It really is one of the best feelings, so I take pride in whenever I’m able to do that. Humor is how I like to engage in most interactions, so if you want to get close to me that’s something you will realize pretty quickly.
My efforts towards communication and conflict resolution with those I care about is something I like about myself as well. If I have a heated argument, or even a mild disagreement, with someone I care about, I want it to be resolved as soon as possible. Part of that is for my own sanity because leave things unresolved can really have a negative effect on me, but I also just don’t like to dwell on the negativity if I can avoid it. I never want to end an interaction on a completely negative note. I want to walk away with both parties feeling heard and not annoyed with each other. If you truly care about someone, you can put your pride aside and fix it right then and there. I like that I always make an effort to do that, and even if I don’t feel like I am in the wrong sometimes I will still do what I can to fix it or understand the other person’s perspective.
In terms of the way that I think, I like that I try to think about most things logically and rationally. I can be very opinionated at times, but am relatively grounded in how I approach different debates/discussions. I like to get wacky with things but when it comes to more serious topics and conversations I think I have a good head on my shoulders. I love having meaningful conversations and getting into philosophical debates.
The last thing I’ll say about myself is that I love how I am self-aware enough to be aware of my flaws but also am unapologetically myself. I love what I love and I let it be known. This wasn’t always the case for me because growing up I used to feel the need to hide that I loved video games and other nerdy things but I am proud that I’ve changed that about myself. Not only do I not hide the things that I love but am very vocal about them and often post my love for the world to see. My “brand” has been built on embracing my flaws, channeling my awkward energy and letting my opinions be known as I showcase many of the things that I love.
That’s all for now! I’d say this was a pretty successful little experiment, I was able to come up with more things than I expected so hey, maybe I’m not so bad after all.
As someone who is not a professional writer by any means, I’ve come to realize that a combination of writer’s block and procrastination can prove especially deadly in crunch time situations. Back when I was in school this was obviously something I battled with time and time again, but I’ve also noticed it in adult life when it comes to settling deadlines or schedules for creative endeavors in general. In school it got to the point where I wasn’t trying to stop procrastinating, but rather I was making the best of it assuming I would be procrastinating. I had become so convinced that procrastination was just a part of my DNA that I figured I would accept it and try to adapt to it the best that I could. But I, being the logical and rational person that I am, realize that I could have done so much better work if I had simply not procrastinated. I just couldn’t shake that habit, so often times essays or studying would get crammed into an unhealthily short amount of time, and of course the end result would suffer, no matter how much I might try to convince myself otherwise.
And I’m seeing a similar energy being channeled into this blog, which is the most regimented thing in terms of a deadline I set for myself on a weekly basis right now. I usually put it off until the day of, if not an hour before I have to finish it like right now. And when you combine that with a bit of a writer’s block and no established idea or topic ahead of a time, it can lead to some more uninspired blog posts. So in the coming weeks I’m going to be making a more conscious effort to give myself more time to actually develop the posts into what I want them to be, and to have ideas in place well ahead of time. There’s something I really appreciate about the posts that I just write in the spur of the moment, whatever comes to mind, but having too many of those can be detrimental to the overall quality, especially when I have so many conversations and ideas I have yet to explore which could be of more substance.
It’s absurd because I knew procrastination was an unnecessary burden/stress to put on myself all those years ago, and yet here I am still going strong with it even in my own creative projects. But now I’ve put it out there, so I can be held accountable if I continue to give in to its sweet temptation.
Videos I Posted This Week:
Things I Enjoyed This Week:
Survivor 41 (tv show) Accused: Guilty or Innocent? (tv show) GG Melee (YouTube) Toph (YouTube) Pentatonix – A Pentatonix Christmas (album) Pentatonix – Christmas is Here! (album)