Vaccine Time

So I have officially gotten vaccinated, both doses.

After the first shot, my arm was just sore for about a day afterward. I couldn’t sleep on my favorite side, but that was the most inconvenienced I was.

After the second dose, I got some chills a few hours later. I went to bed and ended up waking up in the middle of the night with a heavy head and achy limbs. I struggled to go back to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling more or less the same way. I took a dose of children’s Tylenol (I’m a terrible pill-swallower), and my symptoms almost immediately cleared up and did not return.

Getting the vaccine has felt totally unreal. It’s been this talked-of thing for the longest time, and the rollout felt like it would take years. Never have I felt a vaccine was so important.

I mean, I’ve gotten the annual flu shot every once in a while, but this felt serious on an almost Contagion level of seriousness.

Side note: This is the perfect time to watch Contagion. Watching it back in March 2020 was a bit of a mistake for me. I was riddled with anxiety and horror for a few days after.

I feel safer after getting vaccinated, but my relief stems mostly from having my mom’s safety ensured. She got vaccinated, and I got vaccinated. My biggest fear has been passing something on to her, which is why I shut myself in most thoroughly last year.

It’s strange to live in such times, but I’m sure that is something everyone who has ever lived has thought at some point.

I’m Back and Thanks for Being Understanding!

Hello, my Above Average readers!

A few weeks ago, I took a break from posting here because of an upheaval in my life. I’m not going to elaborate on it, but what I do want to do is thank all of you for being so kind and understanding.

I’ve gotten a bunch of messages checking in on me, and I appreciate all of them. I am doing fine, and I’m glad to get back into the blogging groove once again.

Starting after this post, I’ll be back to my regular schedule. I have a bunch of things I want to write about from the past couple of weeks, and I look forward to just focusing on writing.

As always, I remain your Below Average blogger!

A Short Trip to My Sister

If I could only pick one thing that the pandemic has outrageously stolen from me, I’d say it was time with my sister. Normally, during an average year, I spend months with my sister. Our time spent together during this past year can be counted using days as a metric.

A few days ago, my mother and I planned to go visit my sister. For a single weekend. That’s a ten-hour drive there and back again.

And to make matters more difficult, work was a killer the week before we were set to go. It was a veritable hell week. I was working from 8 in the morning to 7 at night; I was glued to my laptop at practically all hours of the day. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the work.

But oofs, I was burning up.

The Friday before we were set to leave, I woke up especially early to get the final bits of my work completed before the weekend. I was running on about 5 hours of sleep.

As soon as I was done, my mother and I packed ourselves into a rental car and drove over to my sister’s.

When we got there, Alya had creamy tomato soup and bread pieces waiting for us. We ate it outside on her back patio, which is easily one of the best back patios I’ve ever had the privilege to relax in.

I also got to see Ushi again!

I have missed her so much! And not being able to see her as much during the pandemic has gutted me. She’s getting a bit up there in doggie years, and it feels like the pandemic stole my time with her too.

Plus, look at that face!

After eating soup, my sister and I sang some Beatles songs together just for the heck of it, and we stayed up past midnight talking and asking each other questions. It was easily one of the best nights of my life.

I had a bit of a troubled sleep later on though, since not only had I been drinking coffee during my convo with Alya, but the pillows in the guest room are squishier than I’m used to.

I woke up to Ushi and more coffee, which made me feel better.

That morning, my mother, my sister, her husband, and I decided to take Ushi to both PetSmart and Petco. We let her pick out toys she wanted, bought her a water bowl that she actually needed, and selected some choice bones for her monching pleasure.

We went back to Alya’s house, and we gorged on Hot Cheetos Puffs while watching Muppet Treasure Island. It’s a movie we used to watch all the time as kids, and it’s only gotten better over the years.

We ordered in Chinese food for dinner and stuffed ourselves some more. Then we went to bed.

I slept terribly once again, and before the sun was even up, my mom was brightly telling me it was time to go. (At this point, I think I’ve only slept 6 hours in total while at Alya’s house.)

And just like that we were gone.

But it was worth it.

It was an incredibly short visit, so much so that it reminded me and Alya of the long ones I used to make. It sharpened our need to hang out with each other, so we’re currently planning a lengthier trip. Alya already has the vaccine since she is a teacher, and I’m in a damn-the-consequences-I-want-to-be-with-my-sister kind of mood.

She’s the one person who knows me inside and out, and you should always want to spend time with people who get you like that.

I think I passed out for the whole day after I came back. But even with practically no sleep under my belt, I’d do it all again to be with Alya.

Can I Just Say I Have the Best Coworkers Ever?

As anybody who has worked as a freelancer can tell you, it’s not easy to make friends with people you work with.

Time spent freelancing for people feels fairly transient, so you don’t always have the opportunity to form bonds with your coworkers. It is definitely not like a traditional workspace.

For the longest time, I felt a little left out of conversations between my mother and my sister. The two of them could talk for ages about the comings and goings of their fellow teachers. Since they have similar career paths, the two of them could chat about every aspect of their work under the sun and not miss a beat.

But if I tried to reminisce about a particularly tough day at work when the internet refused to cooperate or a program was acting wonky, they’d give me oh-that-sucks murmurings, and then return to a conversation topic they were more familiar with.

However, at this point, I have been writing and editing for TheGamer and GameRant for years, and I’m so happy to say I’ve established bonds and shared experiences with the people who work alongside me there.

Honestly, this is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.

When I first started out, I was so hesitant about talking to anyone in our Slack channel (think Discord but more work-oriented), but these days, I’m joking with everybody (or trying to) on a near daily basis.

It has been an absolutely friendly work environment, and I’ve gotten to know fellow editors and writers in this workspace I would never have met otherwise.

Side note: I even have a dedicated gaming night between me and one of my coworkers. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before.

It’s been a lot of fun, and even though I worry about my job security (something every freelancer has worried about at some point in time), I know that the friendships I’ve made will extend beyond my time there.

Anywaysies, I’m feeling lucky and grateful to have had this job for so long, and I just wanted to gush about it today.

Life Update #9: The Arrival of Harvey

It’s been a long time (a really long time) since I wrote a Life Update post. If I’m being honest with you, I actually kind of forgot about them.


Well, a pandemic happened, and it’s like my life just stopped updating.

However, I’m here to let you know about the next chapter in a perhaps forgotten saga.

Long-time followers of the blog will recall that I made friends with a daddy long-legs that lived in my bookcase. I named him Hardcore Henry, and he ended up dying a sad death. However, he had successors, so my bookcase was never unoccupied.

This particular update is to let you know about a new acquaintance I made about a week ago.

Get yourselves ready, folks. You’re about to meet Harvey.

The boyfriend and I were sleeping in bed. It was around 6 or 7 in the morning. We were nestled in a bunch of blankets, the majority of which I was admittedly hogging. The weight of the blankets and the proximity of the boyfriend was making me almost uncomfortably warm. He did not seem to notice or care, but my raised body temperature woke me up.

I shifted around, in a state between wakefulness and sleep, possessing moderate awareness that maybe I should remove a blanket or two. As I thought this, the heater turned on, and I slid into a sharper state of being awake based purely on my growing irritation at what would be an inevitable increase in warmth thanks to the ill-timed heater.

That’s when I heard a metallic skittering far above my head, right where the air conditioning vent was on my bedroom wall. Before I could even consider that this noise might mean something was wrong with the heater, something smacked into the side of my head. I jolted awake, the innate panic of an unknown being near my face dispelling any sleepiness I had.

At first, I thought the heater had just blown out some strange gunk from the vent, and that was what had shot onto my hair. But as my fingers probed through the tangle of my bedhead, and I touched something hard and brittle, I realized that was not the case.

Especially after whatever it was moved.

In disgusted alarm, I started to swat at my hair in quick flicking motions. And that’s when the cockroach that had fallen on my head got swiped off, plopping right onto the blanket covering my boyfriend’s chest.

Side note: The boyfriend sometimes sleeps on his back. He’s really talented this way, and I’ve been a bit jealous of this ability he possesses. However, after these events, I’m not so envious. I mean, if I had been sleeping on my back during this moment, that cockroach could have landed right between my eyes. Or worse…in my mouth.

“Danny, cockroach.”

That’s all I uttered in a short, raised tone of voice. He was instantly awake, but by that time, I had already grabbed the blanket and swept it off our bodies. Our huge pile of blankets rested on the floor, and we spent a few shocked moments staring at them.

Inaction was never an option, so I retrieved a shoe for my boyfriend, he positioned himself by the blankets, and I readied my nerves for shaking out each one individually.

Of course, the cockroach was equally ready for us, and as soon as it fell from the sheets, it scuttled under my dresser more quickly than lightning strikes a rod.

During the days after this event, as I planned to write about it for my next blog post, I imagined describing to all of you what it was like living with a cockroach somewhere in your bedroom, a mysterious and rude guest you never wanted. I told myself I would name him Harvey, and I delighted myself with coming up with ambiguous endings for his story.

I even had a Hardcore Henry versus Harvey comparison post in the works.

But shortly before the boyfriend left to go back home, Harvey made one final appearance near Danny’s suitcase. Subsequently, Harvey was murdered, courtesy of my Converse and Danny’s quick reflexes.

So that’s the end of Harvey, but before I go, I just want to assure you Above Average readers that I live in a very clean house. I have no idea what Harvey thought he was doing coming into it the way he did. I also want you all to know that I will forever keep you updated on any more visitors that make their way into my life. I don’t know if that’s what my Life Updates will be from now on or not.

But given the way life is currently going, Harvey actually felt like a weird highlight.

D&Ding Online

The pandemic is still affecting our lives in dramatic ways, and it sucks to think that many of us are approaching the one-year mark of social distancing and quarantining and mask-wearing.

If you do anything long enough, you kind of get used to it, but not being able to see my friends in person is something I don’t want to get used to. Smart social distancing means that I haven’t hung out with any of my friends, including my Dungeons & Dragons group, since March of last year.

My D&D buddies and I used to meet up once a week, every Sunday, to play about six-hour long sessions of adventuring. We’d all gather around a table with carefully drawn diagrams on graph paper, miniature figurines denoting our characters placed on the paper, and role-play and roll dice to our hearts’ content.

2020 changed that set-up. We use online spaces to keep the game going, and it’s functioned fairly well for us.

We use Discord for all our audio needs. We have a private server run by our DM extraordinaire, and we still log on every Sunday to chat and play. We even use Discord to watch movies together-apart. We’ll pick something to watch on Netflix (a streaming service we all have), then press play at the same time.

Side note: And, of course, we’ve also played Among Us together using Discord. I’m a terrible liar, but it turns out I’m also a terrible truther. I have yet to play as Impostor, but no one ever believes me when I say I’m innocent. I have the voice of a guilty person. It majorly sucks, and I’m thinking the next time I play, I’ll speak in a monotone the entire time.

To make up for not having an actual tabletop, we use Roll20, a site that specifically caters to those playing D&D games online. We can recreate graph spaces for our characters to move around in, and Roll20 even comes complete with online dice to use. Most of us still prefer to use our real dice anyways, though.

Playing Dungeons & Dragons online serves its purpose, but it does not feel as great as playing in person. Internet connection issues can wreck a session. RPing through a computer is not nearly as entertaining as doing it face-to-face. (Plus, if you’re speaking as a brutish half-orc into your computer and people in your household happen to be around, crippling embarrassment can detract from your performance. Yes, I’m saying this from experience.)

Personally, I also dislike playing D&D online because it ties me to my laptop for another six hours. Since I work from home, I spend a lot of time on my computer. A lot. And even though D&D can be an enjoyable pastime, when it keeps me glued to this computer, it starts to share that work vibe.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather play D&D online than not play D&D at all. Playing online during the pandemic is like using a crutch to walk when you have a limp. The crutch helps you get from point A to point B; you need the crutch. But that wouldn’t stop you from wishing the limp would go away so you could just walk like you normally do.

It’s just not the same.

It’s Officially 2021

Hey, my Above Average readers! We’ve done it! We’ve made it past 2020 and into 2021. I don’t expect this new year to be a sudden cure-all for the nightmare that was 2020, but there is a sense of relief to not see 2020 as the year on the calendar anymore.

To say that I have big things planned for the new year is an overstatement. I’m going to be maintaining business as usual in 2021. You’ll still be getting all that delicious, Below Average content from me.


I do have a few new things in the works.

For one thing, as you can see, I have some new ME art courtesy of my sister. She drew a bunch of cartoons of me and gave me the best, so now you won’t be stuck with the same old black-and-white image you’ve been seeing for so long.

That is, this one.

I also watched both Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul this past week, so you can expect some movie reviews in the near future.

In addition to that, I’m planning a collaborative post with one of my friends, ranking our favorite songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I actually would have posted this sooner, but she can’t make up her mind to pick just one, so it’s taking a while.

I have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, so you can bet your buttons I’m going to play more games and talk about them here in the new year.

I have a stack of books waiting for me to read, with every one being reviewed as well.

All in all, knock on wood, I think 2021 is shaping up to be a good year.

I know 2020 hasn’t given us a lot of proof that a year can be good or lucky when it starts, but I’m feeling hopeful. The sky is a delightful grey color, the cold bites me when I go outside, and my coffee has never tasted sweeter.

Let’s see how it goes!

Happy Healthy Holidays

Froley is the star of our Christmas tree

It looks like I won’t be having the Christmas or New Year’s Eve that I normally have.

Usually, I get together with my sister for the holidays. I spend oodles and caboodles of time at her house, lazing around and goofing off with holiday cheer. If 2020 wasn’t being, well 2020, my sister and I would be watching The Muppet Christmas Carol right about now.

But because COVID-19 numbers are rising, and it’s far safer to remain in our respective bubbles, I’m staying at home, watching my old VHS copy of The Muppet Christmas Carol at night by myself.

That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to Christmas. I like the feeling of it just as much as the trappings, if you know what I mean.

Funnily enough, I’m appreciating the ability to give gifts to people (even if I’m mailing them or dropping them off like a sneaky reverse-thief in the night) more than ever. I’ve always enjoyed picking something out that I know a friend will like and watching them open it in front of me. This simple interaction is made even more precious by current events.

Anywaysies, I thought I’d pop in here real quick to offer happy holiday greetings to anyone who reads this! You guys have all been superb.

Merry Christmas!

(And if you do not celebrate Christmas, have a happy December! It’s a generally awesome month, and I hope it has been a phenomenal time for you.)

(And if you do not recognize December as a viable month on the calendar, just know that I’m still wishing the best for you. I just don’t know how to verbalize it.)

I’ve Never Put on Makeup

Okay, so that title is a bit of a lie. It makes it sound like I’ve never had makeup on my face, and to some extent, I have.

I use lip balm fairly regularly, and if I’m going someplace fancy, I’m not averse to using lip gloss or even lipstick to make myself feel like I’m sprucing up.

In addition to that, for my high school prom, my sister insisted she do my makeup. So I stood stock still, i.e. cringing away from her every time I got uncomfortable, for a whole half hour, as she generously applied various products to my face.

However, that’s it for my makeup experience.

To this day, I’ve never sat in front of a mirror and “made up my face.”

It’s not that I have anything against people who put on makeup. As a matter of fact, it’s not always apparent to me when people are wearing it, especially if it’s a stranger. When I’m scrolling through pictures on Instagram, I can’t point out people who wear makeup (though I’m fairly certain it’s a large majority). I can spot a filter a mile away, but makeup is shrouded in mystery.

However, I do know that one of the positive aspects of makeup is that it highlights and accentuates good features on your face. (Errr, subjectively good features, I guess.) It can cover blemishes, even out your skin tone, make your lips appear fuller, your eyes brighter. It can sharpen the angles of your cheekbones and soften the lines on your face.

So don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate makeup. If anything, I’d like the opportunity to look better than I do, highlighting what I consider my best features and obscuring my worst.

Plus, the ritual of it appeals to me. I’m rather fond of daily habits.

But there are things about makeup that hold me back from just biting the bullet and trying it out.

For one thing, I’m incredibly sensitive about things around my eyes. To illustrate my point, that is why I wear glasses. For those of you who don’t know, I wear glasses. Here’s a picture:

I have terrible vision, and my prescription has only increased over time. When I first got glasses, contacts weren’t really a thing, and when it was mentioned that I should try them out during high school, I said “Hell no.”

Contacts are little slices of plastic that you shove onto your eyeball. Does that sound pleasant?

No, it does not.

I have a very reasonable fear of sticking things near my eye, so right off the bat, mascara, eye shadow and eye liner are no-gos for me.

Another reason why I don’t wear makeup is because it makes my face feel heavy and caked. The one time I did wear full-on makeup during my prom, I felt like a clown. I could feel the various layers of powders, creams, and gels weighing my face down. It was not pleasant.

Which also leads to another issue I have with makeup: cleaning up afterwards takes time. Good makeup is the kind that stays on your face for a long while. But a consequence of that is that it takes time to remove it. If I’m hanging out with friends late at night, I don’t want to have to stay up even later to take up painted grime from my skin afterwards. I want to be able to hit the sack immediately after an outing without worrying about leaving a skin-colored smear on my pillow case.

My last big issue with makeup is the cost. Makeup costs money. Maybe not too much if you’re buying cheap brands, but if you keep using it, makeup becomes something akin to groceries. You have to consistently purchase it in order to maintain your favorite appearance. I already have a hard time buying my favorite soap bar (these fantastic-smelling blue ones from Lush) on a regular basis. Do I want to add mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, eyebrow pencils, concealer, foundation, bronzer, primer, powder, blush, setting spray, etc. to the list of things I need to buy every week?

In the future, I may decide to give makeup a try, though definitely not during a pandemic that a) keeps me indoors most of the time, b) has limited my social interactions, and c) reduced my income. My first efforts by myself will be laughable, so if I do give this the old college try, expect a few posts absolutely steeped in self-deprecation.

For now, I’m good to just leave my face the way it is, by which I mean positively Below Average.