I recently wrote about how I had a just plain awful winter, and I won't rehash that here. BUT! I would like to share how I coped with all the crap that was thrown at me for four months. My mom, who is also my official cheerleader/illness counselor, calls these distractions. As in, "Moooom, I'm sick and feel awful and I'm depressed and death is probably at my door!"
"Do you have enough distractions? Have you found a new TV show? How about a game? I'm emailing you a Kindle gift card!"
(Not to make you feel bad about your life, but my mom is the greatest. She's the Tim Gunn AND Oprah of moms.)
I'd like to mention a few of my favorite distractions. These are the things that keep me, well, distracted when I'm sick, having a fibro flare up, feeling anxious, depressed, and basically don't want to or cannot face the world. These are the things that make me feel less isolated and alone, and I've found that it's VITAL to find the things that help you when you're feeling down. And when I say "down" I mean whatever "down" is for you. Maybe you have a disease or crippling anxiety or sometimes you just need to be alone doing your own thing. Perhaps these things I've mentioned will work for you, and if so, awesome!! Maybe they'll sound stupid, but if so, I hope they inspire you to do a little digging and find your own distractions. Proper distractions are critical to survival. It's a rough world out there, and that's why we have the internet.
Distraction #1: Theme Park Videos
Ok. I've tried explaining this to multiple people and the only reaction I've gotten so far is "you're a weirdo." I don't refute that, but the presence of MILLIONS of on and off ride theme park videos means that while I may be a weirdo, I'm not alone in my weirdness. I'm like those people with ASMR! Except I don't get all shivery at the sound of someone screaming on a roller coaster. Gross. ANYWAY.
A little background: I love (LOVE) theme parks. Adore them. I actually research theme parks for fun, because I also love gathering information. My research librarian mother must be so proud. I know SO MUCH about Tokyo DisneySea, despite never having been to Asia, let alone Japan, let alone Tokyo, LET ALONE Tokyo DisneySea. It is number one of my List of Theme Parks I Must Go To. I watch a metric butt-ton of videos from TDS, and if YouTube videos count, I've been on every ride in the park many, many times.
Having a chronic illness can really impair my ability to travel the world theme park by theme park (which is my dream life, btw). This is why YouTube, and the wonderful people who post theme park videos, are so precious to me. I get to explore theme parks and attractions from all over the globe, while still lying in bed with my heating pad, poppin' Vicodin. Here are a few of my favorite videos, in case this is up your alley.
From the aforementioned TokyoDisneySea
I like this Revenge of the Mummy vid not only because it uses night-vision well [which is a rarity in theme park vids], but also because it shows you multiple angles and how the tracks change in the middle of the ride. I TOLD YOU I was a roller coaster geek.
The Haunted Mansion is my all-time favorite Disney attraction, and has been since I was two. (Two year old Sarah was enchanted by the Haunted Mansion but terrified by Pirates of the Caribbean. This is still fairly true of 27 year old Sarah. The cannons, guys. THE CANNONS.)
So there are awesome on-ride videos, and then there are some that are so weird and bad that they are their own kind of awesome. This is one of my favorite videos from the latter category. I won't even explain it further than this: There is a Ferrari theme park in Abu Dhabi, and it looks like a very expensive hot mess.
I had to seriously edit this section, because I had so much I wanted to share, but I'd be remiss if I didn't link to two of the most innovative rides out there to date. For theme park nerds, Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland are the definition of Next Level Shit.
Distraction #2: Big Fish Games
Big Fish Games is a casual game site that has millions of games to buy, or play for an hour via free demos. For the uninitiated, a casual game is different from say, a video game, in the sense that it's pretty low-stakes, and it's shorter and more simple (usually). A lot of game apps like Candy Crush or Bejeweled or FarmWhatever would fall under the category of "casual games."
Big Fish is great because they offer a membership service where, for a monthly fee, you get a credit for a free game and a discount on any subsequent game purchases. I discovered casual games (and Big Fish) when I was first diagnosed with endometriosis and had to spend a lot of time lying in bed. These games are a great distraction, especially when your brain is mush and you can't concentrate on much more than a simple task. Plus, there are so many different types of games that will appeal to all kinds of players. I'm partial to time management and adventure games, but I'll partake in an hidden object every once in awhile. Casual games are much more prevalent for PCs, but as a Mac user I love Big Fish for their excellent selection of available Mac Games.
Distraction #3: The Sims
I've been a Sims fan since it's initial release way back in 2000 (aka Olden Times, aka Yesteryear). I bought the first version as well as multiple expansion packs, then advanced to The Sims 2, and now I'm playing The Sims 3. My favorite thing is to build/decorate houses, and design outfits for my sims. I don't even play with the sims themselves that much - I'd rather spend a ludicrous amount of time decorating their house. I have the Ambitions expansion pack, and one of my favorite things about it is the addition of the Stylist career path, wherein you get to work as a stylist (duh) for your neighboring sims. Basically, I don't have to look at the tragic outfits that are assigned by default. I get to have a whole neighborhood of well dressed sims, AND my sim gets paid to do it. What bliss. Conversely, I do NOT like the architectural designer career path because the limits are too great. I can't go all-out because the budgets set are too small, and I can't stand having one halfway decent room in a house that's plain and boring. I CAN'T STAND IT, I TELL YOU. Anyway, here are some screenshots from my own gameplay. (Note: I exclusively take screenshots of things that I find funny, weird, and/or stupid.)
Distraction #4: Netflix and Its Ilk
I assume you're familiar with Netflix Instant Streaming? And it's compatriots, such as Amazon Prime Instant Video and HBOGo? I won't go into explaining the idea to you. If you're able to read this blog, you're able to do a Google search if you have unanswered questions. Instead, I will list a few shows that I find incredible and amazing and will force you to watch if I ever get the chance. Movies are OK, but if you're in dire need of a distraction, binge-watching a TV show is the way to go.
Damn, I feel superior about watching this show from the get-go. No bandwagon jumping for me. I'm driving the bandwagon, baby. #cloneclub
Call the Midwife
I recently spent a long weekend visting my mom, and I introduced her to Call the Midwife. After a few episodes I asked her what she thought and she said, "It's the Best Show Ever!" And I was all, "It IS the BEST. SHOW. EVER."
The Bletchley Circle
The second season just started here in the US and I (sadly) realize why it wasn't renewed for a third. The second season just doesn't match the suspense of the first. BUT, it's still a GREAT show that will make you want to go back in time and SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!! Real Talk: Lady geniuses be SUFFERIN'.
My Mad Fat Diary
Do I watch anything that's not connected to Britain in some way? Apparently not! This show will hit you right in the feels. Plus it's set in the 90s so the soundtrack is amazing. Read what a Jezebel writer has to say about it - it's better than what I can say in the limited space I'm allotting myself. If you're in the US, you're going to have to access this show through some shifty channels. Just Google around till you find a good streaming site.
Veep is back! Veep is back! Thank God almighty, VEEP IS BAAAACK.
Comedy Central on Amazon Prime Instant
I did not think there would come a time when I said Comedy Central was doing amazing things with their programming. Besides, of course, when I was home sick from school and would watch Kids in the Hall marathons all afternoon. Just about all previous seasons of Comedy Central's fantastic lineup is on Amazon Prime Instant. I can't wait for Amazon to add Broad City, because I want to re-watch it FOREVER. Not a day goes by that I don't miss Broad City, guys. NOT A DAY. Season 2 GET IN MY LIFE. Anyway, in the meantime you (and I) can watch past seasons of Key & Peele, Workaholics, Inside Amy Schumer, the critically under-appreciated Nathan For You, and many others.
Distraction #5: Books
Books. Have you heard of them? They're great. I do a lot of reading, and lately I have been reading some damn fine books. Seriously, it's been one fantastic read after another. I'll list a few here. I'm not going to give synopses of the books, but I will link to their Amazon pages so you can explore at your leisure. This is mainly because I may expand on this later in some dedicated book review posts, because when it comes to books (and all topics, really) I can talk about them forever and ever.
The next book you should read is Red Rising. Actually, stop whatever you're reading and read Red Rising NOW. Stop reading this! GO!
— Sarah C. (@sarchrz) April 11, 2014
It's strange to say that while reading this book I was reminded of my own feminist awakening, because 1) I never went to boarding school, let alone infiltrated a secret society at said boarding school, and 2) I was raised to be a feminist, by a feminist. However, I did have my own watershed moment where I realized that I didn't need anyone's approval, and that I was perfectly happy doing what made me happy, no matter what anyone else had to say about it. Watching Frankie go through this same journey, albeit down a much more badass path than my own, had me like:
This book. THIS. BOOK. The trilogy concludes in August, and I'm counting down the days even though I haven't finished the second book yet (I just started it today, actually). It's that good. It's one of those books where you want to savor reading it, but you also want to whip through it at breakneck speed because you can't wait to see what will happen next. I was at a party this weekend and I had this exchange:
Me: I'm reading a book about teenage magicians.
Guy: Is it Harry Potter? *snicker*
Me: NO. It's WAY BETTER.
Guy: Wait. Is it The Magicians? By Lev Grossman?
Me: YES. I AM OBSESSED WITH IT.
Guy: ME TOO. IT'S THE GREATEST.
Patrick Ness is the author of the ChaosWalkingTrilogy, and on that information alone I decided to read More Than This. I had no idea what it was about, but my love of the author blinded me to any desire to read a synopsis. What unfolded in the novel was fascinating, exciting, and surprising. At the beginning I couldn't fathom what would come at the end - which is a rare quality that makes a really, really great book. And on that note I'm not gonna tell you any more, so go read it yourself.
I am a huge fan of Lauren Oliver. I read Before I Fall years ago and loved it, and I immediately read her Deliriumseries when it was released. Naturally, I snatched up Panic as soon as I could. I didn't love it, not like I loved Before I Fall, but I did really, really like it. The one thing that bugged me was that there was a plot point that was completely obvious, and the characters don't get it until WAY later than the reader, which is SO ANNOYING. But other than that, it was (as I've come to expect from Lauren Oliver) fantastic.
There are so many other books that I wanted to mention, but we're at 2,000 words and it's time to call it a day. But look for more book posts to come! Because, as my mom likes to say: