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Quinzel

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Simone Biles and Choosing Peace Over People Pleasing

Watching the Olympics without a hint of athletic ability, a bowl of ice cream in hand, has become a pastime of mine recently. I'd never be able to conquer such athletic feats, but my gosh, I am an enthusiastic fan and I just want everyone to win.

Seeing Simone Biles in gymnastics was a game-changer for me. We just didn't see black women in gymnastics. All she had to do was wave and I was already hype.

This year, for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, the diversity of the American Olympics team has me hooting and hollering! We have a whole team of strong women of color, it's amazing.

Watching Simone Biles this year, I cheered for her flips. And like a black woman in church when a child stutters through their Easter speech, I still cheered for her stumbles ("That's alright, baby!" "Go ahead, baby!").

So when I heard the news that Simone decided to withdraw from the competition, citing mental health issues, I felt a confirmation in my heart stiring.

I knew at that moment, that I was not just admiring someone who was the GOAT. I stan an absolute queen.

That queen energy is in all of us though. We are all champions that are deserving of love and care and praise. We are amazing being that touch and inspire the immediate people in our lives just in the ways that Simone had inspired us.

And because of this, we all deserve to choose peace when we need it. We have the right to choose ourselves over everything. Even when everyone is watching. We don't have to light ourselves on fire to keep everyone else warm.

Simone Biles is an inspiration, a person to be admired. And it has nothing to do with her bringing a medal home. Simone prioritizing her mental health over all else, in such a huge spotlight, gives us all permission to do the same. For that, she will always be a champion to me.

COVID Cosplay: Coordinating Your Mask With Your Cosplay

We've been dealing with COVID for well over a year but we aren't quite out of the woods yet. While conventions are resuming in most places, the most recent Delta Variant (which, for those of you who have watched the Loki series on Disney plus, the word 'variant' will always make me chuckle) adds a bit of uncertainty to these events.

For those of you who are new here, I have Multiple Sclerosis, my immune system sucks as it is, I have a little one in my household, and all those things aside, I generally just care about people and would like to avoid spreading COVID.

I talked about this on the podcast, but I had a pretty bad MS-related relapse in November/December. I went to the ER and the entire hospital was FULL. So full, in fact, they had to put my bed in the hallway.

Saying that to say, you won't find conspiracy theories here. Just a human being that's firsthand seen the effects of COVID while already dealing with my own illness. If hospitals had an Annual Season Pass, I'd be an elite member. So please understand that when it comes to mask-wearing, it's absolutely no big deal to me.

At the time I'm writing this post, the CDC recommends that if you're vaccinated, you do not have to wear a mask. But attending a large convention could make one nervous, even if you are vaccinated. COVID aside, I've always hated catching the dreaded Con Crud anyway, so I had an idea.

Even if the convention doesn't require it, what if I got creative and started coordinating masks with my cosplay?

I also thought back to the year 2020 and seeing all of my favorite conventions get canceled one by one. 2020 was a rough year, and that is a major understatement. So many things that brought me joy were out of reach and I was surrounded with news of death and uncertainty.

Conventions are back and I'm grateful enough to not want to pitch a fit if they end up having to require masks. I'd imagine if Con Crud is a thing, then surely COVID and its variants is something to be concerned about.

Take it from someone with Multiple Sclerosis, being sick sucks. It sucks a lot more than wearing a mask.

To avoid getting the plain blue mask at the door or just grabbing a random one, wouldn't it be fun if I just made it match my cosplay instead?

I thought I'd try it out this past weekend. Here's a pic of me in my Loki/Sylvie Variant cosplay. I bought this mask from Hot Topic. I chose this one because the moon phases appear on a floor of a certain building they enter (trying not to spoil the series if you haven't seen it).

I noticed Hot Topic had lots of masks you could coordinate with your cosplay. I found a Stitch mask for my Lilo and Stitch cosplay and a really cool skull mask for a Black Widow cosplay I'm planning.

Knowing I'd be wearing a mask, I emphasized my eye makeup. I used a green shimmer eyeliner. I've also been looking up YouTube tutorials on eyeshadow. Making my eyes pop helps if I don't want to make the mask so prominent on my face.

Another thing people worry about is makeup or lipstick smudging on the mask. First, let me say, primer is your friend. I use a pretty cheap one, let it dry, and it won't rub off the mask. For lipstick, the best lipstick that will not rub off at all is hands down, Beauty Bakerie. Once you put that lip whip on, it is going nowhere. Honestly, it can withstand eating, drinking, and other activities without rubbing off. Beauty Bakerie is mask approved. In a pinch? You can spray all-day primer on any lipstick you are currently using and let it dry. Here's a pic of me at the end of the day after taking off my mask. That lipstick stayed ON!

To make it easier to breathe and to make it so the mask doesn't sit directly on your lipstick, I bought a pack of these 3D Mask Brackets to go under my mask from Amazon. It also makes it much easier to talk in your mask too, I find.

Overall, there are so many amazing fabrics out there that will match your cosplay perfectly and keep everyone safe at the same time. Here's to being able to enjoy cons again! I'm hoping we can continue to enjoy them for a long time 😁

‘In The Heights’ Review: Brown Boy Joy and So Much More!

Spoiler Warning: The following review contains spoilers to the theatrical release of In The Heights. You have been warned.

Hi, My name is Quinzel, and I haven't been to the movies in over a year.

I hadn't really missed much on the entertainment scene. Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and even the release of HBO Max has kept me preoccupied during this pandemic. From the release of Mortal Kombat, to rewatching the entire series of Moesha from the '90s, streaming movies vs physically going to a movie theater wasn't so bad. Plus, the chances of catching a highly contagious virus were pretty minimal while watching at home. A lot of positives were wrapped in that choice.

However, there were a lot of things I missed about the movie theater. The smell of buttered popcorn, the laughter and at times, shock, from the audience, and those moments that just appear larger than life. You know, THOSE moments that just don't hit the same when you're watching from home.

Not all movies have those moments. But I've been a huge fan of In The Heights since the beginning. I saw it when it was on tour and played the musical soundtrack on repeat for years to come. I know every breath and every beat from the original Broadway soundtrack. There was a moment where I was about to enter my first job out of college, at a call center for a cable company. I HATED working in a call center. Dreading the moments before I would clock in, I blasted "It Won't Be Long Now" on repeat, imagining that I too, would be hopping on an elevator train taking me away from it all.

In The Heights had a very special place in my heart, so when I heard it was becoming a movie, I already knew I was seeing it. I figured that this movie was actually the perfect movie for me to see after such a long time away from the theater. I was able to completely immerse myself in this world and forget I was sitting in a dark theater from the first note.

Let me be clear about how this review is going to go: I loved this movie. And I think you will too. After the kind of *gestures at everything* we've all been through, we've all NEEDED this movie.

Brown Boy Joy

Something I LOVED about In The Heights is how it display brown men and boys just enjoying life! Happy, smiling, dancing joyful men. Showing emotions and unafraid to. Men in love, men grieving, men in pain, men feeling empathy, men feeling bashful. Showing something other than your typical stoic man is just so important and so amazing to see. I was extremely happy to see brown men in such a positive light. it made me happy to see. I'm only a little disappointed because this should be the norm. But this is why when you have people of color in charge of projects, you get more in-depth stories, more in-depth emotions, more relatable characters, and overall, more brown boy joy :).

We Are Not Invisible

One thing that people used to joke with me when I was younger and they would watch a musical "Black people don't just break into song, that would be weird" Truth is, the hood is music. A song comes on, someone jumps in to sing. A young boy is drumming on his desk. A car is playing music on their speakers down the block. The hood is nothing but song and dance. "We are not invisible" Abuela says to Nina, and it's true. We've been fed a lie that the formula to musical theater is...well, very white. I adore Lin Manuel Miranda for breaking the mold and paving the way so that POC are not invisible not just in the musical theater space, but to the world.

Smart Brown Kids Unite

Nina Rosario standing from In The Heights Movie

I don't know if Nina's story of dropping out of college is more impactful onscreen or if I've just gained more perspective on the issue over the last 13 years of my life. Just like Nina, I was the smart kid, the genius, the one everyone knew would go far. I finished college, but not without my fair share of hardships. When Nina recalls the story of being searched because her roommate accuses her of taking her personal belongings, I couldn't help to reflect on a similar story of when I was in college. I'm sure every POC will have that moment where they watch that scene and can reflect on a similar painful moment. Like anyone accepted to college, you're smart, but when you're a POC, it's always assumed that your acceptance is based on affirmative action, so you have to work twice as hard to prove your intelligence. You can't slip up or make a mistake like most kids do in college because as a POC, you are the first person the other students or administration will point fingers at. That doesn't even cover the amount of racism you encounter. From daily microaggressions to blatant racist actions against you (true story, I once had a swastika drawn on my dry erase board) mentally, the strain can be insurmountable on a POC going to college. Nina's feelings are all too relatable, even down to the struggle to tell her father and not want to disappoint her community.

Nina was such an important character and you definitely end up rooting for her the entire time. I loved seeing the way that this character has evolved from stage to film.

GO SEE IT! GO!

Even if you are like me and you've seen the musical and listened to the soundtrack countless times, this movie still brings new emotions as if you're seeing it for the first time ever. I laughed as if I've never heard the line "damn we only joking, stay broke then" before. The subtle twists and turns made this precious musical as if I were seeing it for the first time again.

For those who have never seen In The Heights, I totally recommend you go see it. Yes. even if musicals aren't your thing, this one is guaranteed to make you smile.

And just on the off chance that Lin-Manuel Miranda is reading this right now, I fell in love with In The Heights as a college graduate back in 2008 and have been in a musical relationship with it ever since. This musical has carried me through ups, downs, and further downs. What kept me going through every job rejection, every book rejection, and every broken heel at the bus stop (those Payless shoes break easily) was Vanessa's voice singing "It Won't Be Long Now". Now that In The Heights is a movie, I can look back and see that I made it. I held on, and I'm even closer to my dreams.

Thank you Lin-Manuel for making In The Heights possible. Your dream made it possible to live mine <3

Quinzel’s Quick COVID Prose

"Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all" -Vincent Van Gough (I think?)

Also Infinity on High is the name of a Fall Out Boy album, but I digress.

☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Everything around us is in ruins. Everyone around us is no longer here. It hurts.

And I believe that in the midst of the ruin, the fire, and the smoke, when I look up, I see stars.

And when I see stars, peeking through, shimmering in the darkness, I know things will get better. I know eventually I will be pulled out of the darkness to be fully embraced by a shimmering, loving light

But in this moment, I am still very, very sad.

Zoom Santa: A Wonderful Way To Avoid the Holiday COVID-19 Blues

You haven't seen me write as much. Well, in these times of COVID 19, movie reviews are non-existent and, to be fair, my emotions have been all over the place.

I don't say this to get you to feel sorry for me. I say this because I imagine you're a lot like me. While taking the current pandemic seriously and doing your part to slow the spread, you've watched comic book conventions, movies, and many other things that you love get canceled. And at the time I'm writing this, we really don't have a way to gauge when, or even if, things go back to normal.

I had come to terms that since things didn't slow down by the end of summer, that the holidays wouldn't look the way that they have in the past.

But what has transpired is feeling like I live in two different worlds, one where COVID-19 does exist, and another where people carry on like it never existed in the first place.

While that's another post entirely, I've made some executive decisions regarding how I do the holidays this year and one thing was for certain, Mall Santa was out.

Living in the times of COVID-19 means constantly asking yourself, "is it worth it?" for every interaction and move you make. Pandemic or not, Santa is always busy. Even if you social distance from him, there's not quite a way to social distance when standing in line for hours.

As cautious as I am, I still miss the magic of Christmas. I miss the Christmas Parades, the Breakfast with Santa, all of it. That's why I am so glad that Zoom Santa is a thing.

Zoom was already gaining popularity well before the pandemic, but its popularity has since skyrocketed. We've found a way to communicate with one another while remaining distant. Life goes on, people say, but we do things a little differently so someone's life can continue.

That's the cool thing about Zoom Santa. while you aren't physically able to sit on Santa's lap, it gives kiddos a chance to have one-on-one time with Santa, which I think makes it a more personalized experience.

There are other people doing Zoom Santa, but Billie Taylor, a school teacher, really stood out to me. He cares about his community and wanted to give back. I was able to get him to sit down and interview with me about what gave him the idea to become Zoom Santa. Keep reading as I get to know a little bit more about this awesome Zoom Santa.

Quinzel Lee: What gave you the idea to do Zoom Santa?

Billie: "Well, 2020 has been kind of a strange year to say the least. With Covid-19 having a huge impact on the way we carry out our daily lives these days, and the need for social distancing, it hit me that there might be a lot of people that would normally take their kids to go see Santa that will choose not to do that in order to stay away from large crowds. Times have also been tough for many of us financially, so this idea seemed like a way to both make a little money for my family and bring Santa to people who want to avoid large crowds."

Quinzel: What is one of your favorite childhood memories of Santa?

Billie: "One of my favorite childhood memories about Santa is about how my Grandpa would dress up as Santa every Christmas and come to our house with gifts and candy. It was so exciting to have the “actual” big man himself in my own house! This only worked for a few years though, because at a certain point I realized that Santa was actually my Grandpa. Knowing that he was my Grandpa didn’t make it any less special to me though. I was still excited when he would come over as Santa on Christmas eve, even when I knew it was my Grandpa playing Santa."

Quinzel: What Christmas movie do you think portrays Santa in the best way?

Billie: "I love so many Christmas movies, but my favorite portrayal of Santa is in The Santa Clause movies. In this movie, you see a regular guy, hard-pressed by life, through a series of events transform from this selfish guy, into Santa Claus, full of Christmas love and magic. I know it is kind of cheesy, but it shows us that anyone can be Santa, and in fact, we are all Santa. If we allow love, compassion, kindness, and the spirit of giving to come into our own hearts, in a way we all transform into Santa."

Quinzel: What does your family think about you playing Santa?

Billie: "They love it! My younger kids still believe in Santa, so they are excited that Daddy is being one of Santa’s helpers. One thing about me is that I am a huge nerd who loves to go to comic conventions, and cosplay as some of my favorite characters. For the past eight months, there have been no comic conventions due to Covid-19, and I have been extremely missing that part of my life. My wife made the comment to me that being Santa is my opportunity to cosplay during these strange unprecedented times, and she is happy for me to get that out of this as well."

Quinzel: Last question. If Santa could bring you anything you wanted, what would you want and why?

Billie: "I could easily go for the “all the feels” answer and say that I would wish for all of the political tension to end in our country, or for there to be an end to Covid-19, but how about I go nerdy with this question. If Santa could bring me anything I wanted for Christmas, I would love to have a PS5 with the Spider-Man Miles Morales game! In the past 15 years, I have only purchased one video game console. My kids are no longer babies, and I just wrapped up my Master's Degree, so it would be fun to have this game to fill some time! And I absolutely love Miles Morales Spider-Man, so the thought of web-slinging through New York as him sounds like a good time!"

If you are as inspired by this story as I am, you should definitely book a session with Zoom Santa. The awesome thing is that it's not only super personal, a memory your kids will never forget, but very affordable too. For some good old-fashioned Christmas fun, check out Zoom Santa's Facebook page where there are daily posts of all things Christmas.

Schedule a time slot today and make Christmas special this year!

Christmas 2020 may be one of the most, for lack of a better word, unique holidays we have seen in this lifetime, but people like Billie are determined to make the best of it.

Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa in Black Panther, Dies From Colon Cancer

I woke up this morning, hoping in my sleepy haze that this was all a dream.

Reality hit me like a falling brick. Chadwick Boseman, the actor who portrayed T'Challa in Black Panther, has died due to colon cancer.

There isn't much that can knock me off my feet during these pandemic times. I've battled the news of COVID-19, murder hornets, and even the death of Glee star Naya Rivera. I haven't written a post since last year, because at best, I have been coping with all of this. Not always in the best of ways either. If I wasn't working, I was sleeping, engrossed in Animal Crossing, or gorging myself with fast food

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I said to myself that this has got to stop. I started eating healthier, going on walks, and embracing what is now the new normal. I was dealing with the pandemic and coping beautifully.

Last night, when a family member sent me a message asking me if I knew Chadwick Boseman died, I felt all that work I did in embracing this new normal come crashing down. I searched for any sources that might prove this to be a wild hoax. I cried myself to sleep. And woke up to this horrible nightmare.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Katie Jones/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (9982486ao) Chadwick Boseman Variety Actors on Actors, Day 2, Los Angeles, USA - 18 Nov 2018

One of my first posts on this blog was about how Black Panther helped me with my Post Partum Depression. Seeing the movie gave me hope that maybe things weren't all bad. And that was a milestone that helped get me through my first year as a mom.

What's even more devastating to me is that Chadwick and I had more in common than I thought. We both dealt with chronic illnesses. While Multiple Sclerosis is not fatal, there is a lot of treatment, a lot of hospital stays, and a lot of sitting and waiting on test results.

I've very open about having MS, but I haven't always been. I've had the luxury of having control over who knows and who doesn't. And I don't have people who I've never met knowing about my health status.

Keeping your chronic illness secret can be a form of self care. Your energy goes towards your own treatement and test results without having the added stress of explaining your illness to healthy people. There's no faked sympathy, there's no prying or asking for what should be private information, and there's no need to comfort others with the posibility of your own death.

In a weird way, as much as the news of his death hurts me to my core, there is an old tired saying about how now he isn't suffering. If you've ever been sick before, imagine a life with out the beeping of hospital monitors, clumsy nurses who can't find your vein, and dealing with the narly side effects of yet another new perscription. There is peace in that he gets a break from all of this.

But that silver lining is as thin as a needle. I sit at my desk wrapped in my Black Panther fleece blanket hoping for some form of comfort. I'm hoping for a way that 2020 can suck less.

And hoping I did all I could to celebrate Black Panther while Chadwick was still with us.

Do you have any memories of Black Panther of Chadwick Boseman that you want to share? Drop a comment below and let's heal together.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ review as told by Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ characters

***This is a spoiler-free post. Well, for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker anyway. If you haven't seen Pixar's Inside Out, you may want to brush up on that movie here.

So here we are! The highly anticipated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is here and I...well, I have a lot of feelings.

I always get nervous about posting some of the highly anticipated movie reviews. In fact, I haven't been this nervous since Avengers: Endgame. Seeing Endgame a week and a half early had me sweating bullets. What if I say something that *might* be a spoiler? Luckily, I just told you guys when the best time to go to the bathroom is, so no spoilers there.

Let's get this out of the way. There are a lot of negative reviews of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker out there but I enjoyed it! Along with that enjoyment, it made me feel a lot of feelings. With that being said, I've found the perfect way to discuss Star Wars without spoiling a thing for you.

Remember the movie Inside Out? It followed the emotional journey of 11 year old Riley. Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness banded together to teach us the inner journey of one pre-teens emotions.

Much like Inside Out, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was an emotional roller coaster. So let me use the Inside Out characters to vaguely tell you how this movie made me feel.

Joy

Like I said earlier, I really loved this movie and there were many moments that had me grinning from ear to ear. I am a huge fan of Rey doing...literally anything. Many people were up in arms about having a female protagonist in Star Wars and I strongly disagree with them. Rey is an amazing character to watch on screen and I root for her until the end.

I've had a pretty big crush on Fin since Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but man, in this movie, he looks fine as hell. Its nice to watch him on screen *swoon*

Fear

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does a pretty amazing job of keeping you on your toes. There was a moment where I thought a very bad thing happened to a character I loved and I was distraught! Everything ended up being ok, but my heart dropped when I watched that scene.

Anger

I can't go into detail on what I'm pissed at in case I spoil anything. Let's just say Fin doesn't finish what he is going to tell Rey and I am FURIOUS that it was never revealed what he was going to tell her.

Disgust

There's a quick scene where I was very much like "They's better not, They better NOT!...ew, they did" That was not a ship I wanted to sail.

Some of you may have loved this. But I still say "ew!"

Sadness

We all knew that Carrie Fisher passed away before the 3rd movie. And we knew well before that the studio had plans to use her image in the 3rd movie. Knowing that Carrie Fisher is no longer with us, it's a little bit of a tear-jerk to see her appear onscreen.

Bonus: Nostalgia (not an Inside Out character, but a very relevant emotion)

You want throwbacks to past Star Wars episodes? You got it! I think longtime fans will be pleased.

Overall, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gave me all the feels in a good way. I highly recommend that you go see it!

How did Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker make you feel? Sound off in the comments section below.

Disney’s ‘Frozen 2’: A Non-Spoiler Review

*I know you just read this in the title, but the following will NOT contain spoilers for Disney's Frozen 2. None. And I won't be discussing that part where Elsa [redacted] so you are free to proceed 

If you are stumbling upon this article, you might fall in one or more of the following categories: 

  • You are a big fan of Frozen 
  • Your children have sung "Let It Go" so much over the past six years that your ears have bled 
  • You HATE Frozen and need everyone to know!! 

There's something about Disney's Frozen that brings adults, singing children, and haters together. Because for the haters, when you can't stand something, you just HAVE to let everyone know.

Some of the hate was understandable. I will admit, the success and repetition of "Let It Go" delayed my interest in Frozen. I didn't even watch it until it came out on DVD. and even then, I waited a while after that.

My biggest takeaway from watching Frozen for the first time: Han was a jerk. I actually gasped out loud at this reveal! How dare you, Han!! 

Over the past six years, the Frozen fandom has only grown. Cute little girls have been running around dressed as Elsa, YouTube is filled with thousands of covers of "Let It Go", and don't even get me started on how much Frozen merchandise is in the toy isle currently. 

The stage has been set for Frozen 2. So was it worth the wait? Let's dive in! 

Make It Make Sense, Elsa 

Elsa in Frozen 2 Credit: Disney

Without giving away anything, I am going to to say this one thing. If you think that you are going to watch Frozen 2 and get all of your questions answered from the first Frozen, you're not only going to leave out of this theater disappointed, you're also going to leave with even more questions. 

Frozen has never been a movie where things make sense. Why the trolls? Where are Kristoff's parents? Also, why the trolls?

We can't be good at everything right? That can include a complete and linear backstory. But that doesn't mean we can't have a good time, right? 

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah 

So there's a pro and con to this section about the music of Frozen 2 

Pro: It's pretty good! 

Con: Your children will think it's pretty good too! 

Oh yes! You prayed for the day that "Let It Go" would die. You pleaded "children sing something else, ANYTHING else. I'll give you 20 bucks, please!" While you may see a decline in how many times you hear "Let It Go" while walking around the mall this season, there's a new song in town. And it's got "Let It Go" potential.

 Idina Mendzel jokingly apologized for the popularity of "Let It Go" a while back. However she is right back at it again with a new hit song in Frozen 2 called "Into the Unknown".

That's right everyone. There's a new "Let It Go."

It's a pretty great song actually. You might not feel that way after the 215th time hearing it, so listen to it now while the getting is good. 

On a positive note, Panic! At The Disco covers “Into The Unknown”. If you know Brendon Urie's vocals like I do, you know he is one of very few people who could match Idina Mendzel's range. Now this is a song I could play on repeat! Listen for this song to play in the end credits and see if you agree. 

All The Snow, All The Fire 

This I will say about Frozen 2: the animators get an A+ for the awesome amount of skill and work that they put into this movie. Much like how I felt with the landscaping animation in Abominable, watching the snow on the big screen was awe-inspiring. In fact, I am a little surprised there isn't a 3D version of this. Normally I am pretty skeptical of the cash grab of 3D, but it would have been cool to have snowflakes shooting at you. 

I Cried 

But I literally cry at everything. Still *sniffs* I don't wanna talk about it. 

“When You're Older, Everything Make's Sense” 

*que Kristoff* I'm gonna tell him 

Wanna know if your kids will love Frozen 2? Let’s just say a small child shouted “Elsa!!” with glee when she appeared on screen. Cutest thing ever. Your kids will love it. 

For adults: Don’t ask too many questions of the plot, just enjoy the pretty things on screen. Don’t cry as much as I did, either. Your popcorn will get soggy. I still think you'll have a good time.

Frozen 2 will be out in theaters on November 22nd. After you see it, leave us a comment and let us know what you thought. Some comments are worth melting for 🙂

I Cried During ‘Abominable’ And You Will Too

Seriously, this movie is stunning.

And no, it wasn't because it was sad, not because anyone suffers a horrible, onscreen death or anything.

But this movie was both so visually and audibly beautiful that it brought me to tears.

Don't like animated movies? TOO BAD. You still need to go see this one.

Let's back it up a second, Abominable is about a young teenage girl named Yi, who lives with her mother and her grandmother. Though it's not discussed how or what happened, we learn that Yi's father passed away. After playing her violin on the apartment rooftop, she runs into a creature who is in hiding that she's never seen before. She realizes that he is a Yeti that escaped from a science lab and he's just trying to get back home to his family. Yi, along with her cousins Jin and Peng, embark on a journey to bring the yeti back to his home in Mt. Everest.

Oh, and they name the yeti Everest. I know, so cute!

So back to the beauty of this movie, the music is everything. You learn that her dad taught her to play the violin but with his passing, she will no longer play for her family. Luckily, we get a front-row seat to some of her private rooftop sessions. Gosh, I love classical music.

Fun fact about me: I became obsessed with classical music one day after music class at 8 years old and it stuck with me my whole life. Imagin baby Quinzel walking around with a bright yellow walkman blasting Mozart.

So each time Yi plays her violin, I just sit in my seat and melt.

The music paired with the beautiful landscapes is indescribable. I don't even know how to tell you that this is simply a gorgeous movie! Yi, Peng, and Jin travel across China to get Everest back to his home.

You will be in tears with how beautiful some of the scenes are. Dreamworks knocked it out of the park with this one. It's absolutely stunning.

Abominable is out in theaters now. Do you think you will check it out? Give us a shout in the comments section below.

Cosplayer Convos: Cosplaying Over 30

One of the most infuriating things I hear (mostly at my day job) is "Quinzel you STILL go to comic book conventions? You STILL play video games? You STILL dress up?

Yes. Yes. and, in case this is your first time to the blog, yes?

There was a time when I was much, much younger (I'm talking high school-ish age here) where I worked hard to cover my nerd flag as much as possible, lest I'd be called out and embarrassed for it.

Fast forward to today, I let that go a LONG time ago. Once I accepted who I was, the comments bothered me a lot less. I am taking the time to do something that makes me happy. And that isn't making fun of other people's interests, Carol.

The comments still come through. On top of that, we put a HUGE emphasis on turning 30 years old and what it means. We cry and cry in our last moments of 29 like 30 really changes things.

I am a firm believer that 30 is not the mile marker for all of your life's accomplishments. 30 is only the beginning.

That is one big reason why I really connected with Erica (Suga Bear Co) because it was so refreshing to meet someone so unbothered by age. Not only is she unbothered but, as I stated earlier, this is only the beginning of many new adventures for her.

"The biggest piece of advice I can give a cosplayer over 30 is don't be afraid to be you." Erica says "If cosplaying is something you have always wanted to do, make it a bucket list item and get it out of the way. Age only means something if you decide it means something. It doesn't have to cost a ton of money or be exactly perfect. Get out of your head and just do it."

Erica is a cosplayer and talented seamstress. Known by Suga Bear Co, she's got a lot of life under her belt. That isn't to say age. I think one thing people get intimidated about starting to cosplay later in life is because they feel as though it strays away from the current life path that you've built.

Erica is living proof that at any point in life, you can press restart. She isn't just carelessly starting and stopping things, she's an inspiration that, at any point, you can redefine yourself and your goals. And this has earned her a fulfilled life.

She received her associate's degree at 30, her bachelor's at 32 and her master's at 36. If this isn't proof that your life isn't over at 30, I don't know what is.

Erica had always loved fashion and initially wanted to be a fashion designer when she was younger. But unlike the notion that says you must decide what you want to do by the time you turn 18, Erica took the time to explore different career and degree options. Along with that, she worked full time, went to school full time, and also was raising a child.

Cosplay didn't come easy for this hardworking gal. She couldn't attend conventions at first because she couldn't get the time off work. She had worked in operations in hotels where weekend shifts were required. Instead of giving up on cosplay altogether, she fit it in by dressing up for birthday parties and special occasions.

"My first con experience was at C2E2 2018." Erica says "Sounds weird since I've been a cosplayer for 13 years, but between job schedules and cost, it was not a priority. I made it a priority last years and I'm glad I did. I got to see what he hype was about and how extravagant the cosplays really could be. I was able to attend the panels for plus size cosplay and Costumers with a Cause. I think I did about 20,000 steps per day and of course, was extremely tired. I even did a costume change one of the days. That experience also let me know that I didn't need to go to any con for an entire weekend unless there are things I'm participating in each day."

Since then, she has also attended (and judged cosplay at) Toys and Cosplaycon as well as both years of Wakandacon. Wakandacon is where we initially met and I wanted to know if she loved it as much as I had.

"I have loved my experiences at Wakandacon because we weren't the afterthought. People are looking to photograph you and talk with you, interview you, respect you, because the con is about you and your tribe and how we interact. I have met some wonderful people and I hear people every time tell me how I've inspired them by something I said at a panel. You don't really get that at bigger cons where there is no real focus and you're in a crowd of people who may not be so welcoming."

As amazing and strong as Erica is, that doesn't mean that she doesn't recognize that there can be negativity in the cosplay world. Not just toward age, but size and race as well

"Some of the negative comments I've seen towards other cosplayers is that they are too dark to play a character or said character isn't Black, so you have to do someone else. I've seen people tell some of my cosplay kids that they ruined a character for them because they didn't feel they were perfect or that they were too fat to be certain characters. I've seen people be called the n-word version or ghetto version of a character."

Erica recognizes that it can be hard for new cosplayers to deal with that level of negativity “If I had gotten into cosplay when I was younger, I would have gotten out of it” She says, but then smiles and tells me “I’m secure in myself that I’m gonna check em and keep it moving...I don’t give them what they’re looking for…”

The positive side of growing with age is that you also grow out of f*cks to give. However, there is one negative aspect that we haven't covered, and it isn't what people think of you.

Spoiler alert: its money

I can attest that the biggest thing that prevents me from going to more cons and donning myself in more cosplays is money. More than what people say, cause what even are words, money, it seems, will snatch your dreams a lot faster than hurtful words can.

"Money is a challenge in cosplay because even the cheapest cosplay will still probably cost you at least $20 if you can get it all through the thrift. Let's also add in any make-up needs, wig or hair needs, shoes or boot covers, accessories, etc. Then add in the cost of actually attending cons. Because I am now on panels, my costs have started to be covered a bit (for some cons), but before that started, I had to pay for my tickets, hotels if necessary, parking, gas, etc. I also cosplay with my kid, so there's the added cost of all of that stuff for him as well. "

To deal with these burdens we learn, with age, that self-care is key. I get being busy, but it's inspiring to know that with how busy Erica is, she still prioritizes the importance of self-care. Also, have I mentioned that she is a trained therapist who is starting Group Cosplay Therapy?:

" Self-care is a must for me. Being a therapist, I teach self-care to my clients so that they know that this is a need and not a want. I also teach them what self-care all includes because many people think it's massages, bubble baths, and shopping sprees. Self-care is also spending time doing things you love and with people you love. Cosplay is definitely a self-care, both making it and wearing it at the con or other events. Sewing, dancing, drawing, painting, and listening to music are also part of my self-care routine. Spending quality time with my kids watching our favorite anime or movies is also huge. Hanging out with my friends and family is always a fun time."

Erica proves that with everything you have to balance, school, kids, full-time job, that cosplay is possible if you want it to be possible. Just take the strength you have used in all of your other life situations and apply it to something you would have fun doing

Push yourself out of your comfort zone (and other peoples comfort zones) and shine

Are you a cosplayer over 30? What challenges have you experienced? What are some of the most fun or amazing experiences that you have had with cosplay? Tell us all about it in the comments section below

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