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Quinzel

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‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Review: Sick People Are Worthy Too

This is the story of Quinzel watching Thor: Love and Thunder. Once you read past this point, there are spoilers. You have been warned.

I've been excited to see Thor: Love and Thunder for months. While I had hoped for even a glimpse of a Loki cameo, I did get some Loki references to placate me until the second season of Loki, so I was happy about that.

As I do with the Marvel movies before this one, I immediately set my notifications to OFF. I avoid looking up any information as much as possible beforehand as I love to be surprised.

By the time the trailers were released, I was well aware that Jane Foster would be wielding the hammer and be known as the Mighty Thor.

Jane being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer would hit me harder than most.

I've had relapse/remitting Multiple Sclerosis since 2016. While this disease is not fatal, it's absolutely life altering. You deal with pain, you live in hospitals, and you crave purpose. You crave having a meaningful life.

There was something about the "person has illness then gets superpowers" dynamic that hit differently for me this time. Often times, a person has an illness or near death experience. After that they somehow end up with superpowers and embrace an amazing new lifestyle and all of their previous physical struggles are solved in an instant. On top of that, they are immediately admired. Sometimes this power goes to their head. Remember Matt Smith's character in Morbius? Milo was permanently disabled as a child and teased relentlessly. But as soon as he has the chance to be abled, he wrecked havoc. He became the bully because to him, being a bully was being in the position of power. He fully embraced his new abilities but used it to harm others.

And then there was Jane Foster. As much as she wanted to have her life back, as soon as she had the ability of Thor, it wasn't being physically abled that made her feel complete. It was being able to bring those kids home. It was being able to care for others. And that's what made her worthy.

I think there are so many times as a disabled person I put my worthiness to the things I can physically do. But what if its the other things about me that leave the most monumental mark? What if its my heart, my compassion, my love for others, that makes me worthy?

Jane was worthy and it didn't erase her illness. She still struggled. She was still sick. And she was still worthy.

If you don't believe me, then check out that final end credit scene. It had me in tears honestly.

Watching Jane evolve throughout the movie was a lesson that I didn't know I needed to revisit. I had learned this in Avengers: Endgame but I definetly needed reminding. No matter what you go through, no matter what happens, and no matter how low your illness makes you feel, you are still worthy.

Did you like Thor: Love and Thunder? Do you feel like they portrayed sick people as being worthy well? Sound off in the comments.

‘Lightyear’ Review: A Love Letter To Black Girls Everywhere

I know I'm late to the game. Lightyear has been out for a few weeks and it seems all anyone can talk about is *sarcastically clutches pearls* "the gay", but I didn't see any part of the conversation that focused on why I loved it so much. And why many girls, who look just like me, may have left the theater in tears.

Way back in 1995, a young Quinzel (me) was able to see Toy Story in theaters for the first time. I wasn't interested in Woody as much. Sure, he was a funny cowboy. But my eyes lit up when I saw Buzz Lightyear on screen.

I told my mother as the credits rolled that I realllly wanted a Buzz Lightyear toy for Christmas.

"No," she told me in a cold voice "that's for boys."

I was disappointed to hear the same sentiment when I went to school to tell all of my friends about my new favorite character. The girls clutched their Barbies. The boys laughed and snickered. The message was loud and clear.

Sure, there were female characters in Toy Story and it's sequels. But I didn't want to be Jessie and I sure as heck didn't want to be Bo Peep. I wanted to have a laser, dammit!

When I had my first kiddo, I adorned him with all of the Buzz Lightyear merch I could afford. If I had a girl, it would have been the same outcome because Buzz was cool.

So you can imagine my excitement when I realized that there was a movie coming out about Buzz Lightyear. I was excited to share this moment with my adorable little one.

What I didn't realize is that this would be a full circle moment for me too.

Enter Izzy. She's heroic. She's clumsy. And she looks just like me.

Izzy is a perfectly imperfect space ranger. Which makes you feel even more like "man, I can't run a mile to save my soul. Maybe *I* could be a space ranger?"

All of the members of this team make you want to embrace your imperfections. I walked away from the theater learning a valuable lesson. You don't have to be perfect to be great.

I loved that Izzy's hair was natural. I could definitely pull off a cosplay as her.

Speaking of cosplay, there was something breathtaking about seeing Izzy in the full space ranger suit. Something that imprinted on my soul that no one can take away from me. I could see myself walking around conventions and little girls staring in awe saying "that's Izzy!"

But what they are really saying is "That's me!"

There are many different ways to say that Black Lives Matter. But watching Izzy looking up at the statue of her grandmother as she realizes she accomplished something great...

and all the black girls in the theater watching Izzy...

It was a frozen moment in time. A sigh of relief where we could collectively all say, "We Matter."

What did you think of Lightyear? Did you enjoy the character Izzy? Sound off in the comments section below.

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Review: Nobody Said There’d Be Bugs

WARNING: Spoilers Ahoy! Proceed with caution...or don't, the folks who opened Jurassic Park didn't.

Jurassic Park, and its many movies that follow, have a special place in my heart. I wouldn't say I'm a die-hard Jurassic Park fan, but much like Blockbuster, Snick, and those god-awful jelly shoes, Jurassic Park sparks a big level of nostalgia with me. So when I heard that Jurassic World Dominion was hitting theaters, I knew I would go.

I can remember seeing the very first Jurassic Park movie like it was yesterday. At the drive-in movie theater, I watched the screen with terrified eyes as the large T-Rex roared at those poor children covered in mud. As a child, I remember being so afraid that I, too, could suffer such a fate.

Fast forward to now, the idea of genetically modified dinosaurs seems entirely feasible as Jurassic World Dominion opens up with a CSPAN-like segment. The news story shows various dinosaur attacks around the world and poses the question if we can co-exist with dinosaurs. Yeah, we're currently in the middle of a pandemic and this does not seem like a stretch at all at this point.

We then switch to the impossible, Chris Pratt looking like a heroic cowboy in a snowy background of the Wild Wild West. He lassoes him up a dino and hits him with The Calm instantly. I refuse to believe the dino gave up that easily. Even though I just gave into the belief that dinosaurs co-exist with humans. Strange, I know.

Nobody Said There'd Be Bugs!!

I gotta give yall a huge warning because I wasn't expecting this. If you have a phobia of bugs, you either A) want this to be spoiled or B) wanna skip out on this movie entirely. I'm personally more in the A camp, but YMMV.

I got two problems with the bugs in this movie 1) they're bugs 2) they're freaking huge. For a bonus point, they travel in droves. Large, terrifying, massive droves. The oversized "locusts" also reign terror on the environment, devouring the animals and the crops and destroying the farmland. Which will soon wipe out human life.

These locusts are so massive and so terrifying, that even after introducing Jurassic Park alums Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill), I'm still too shook by these bugs to be excited by it. Ick!

Bad CEO is Bad

If Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and the former CEO of Abercombie & Fitch had a baby, it would be Lewis Dodgson, the head of Biosyn. Think of Biosyn as your new experimental scientific lab with the earning potential of Amazon with dinosaurs in the mix. Dodgson, like most CEOs, is blind to the past lessons taught by all of the previous movies in this franchise and can only see dollar bills. He wears glasses, he throws tantrums, and overall, his attitude is "screw the ethics, let's make more money! More more!"

The actor, Campbell Scott, played this role really well. He was very convincing and it was very validating to watch him get betrayed by his 2nd in command. I'd say his fate is not only satisfying to watch but a great throwback to the OG Jurassic Park of 1993.

Dino Kombat: Fight! Fight! Fight!

It would not be a Jurassic Park movie without a good old-fashioned Dinosaur battle. While those dinos love hunting us humans as prey, it is ultimately more important that they can stand their ground as the ultimate Dino champion.

We have no idea what these dinos are communicating to each other during these battles but I would love some subtitles on these so we could follow along with some dino-sh!t talking. I'm dying to know who's sleeping with who, who ate the wrong fox, who swung their tail at who's husband. All of that.

Now THAT's a Jurassic Park I'd like to see!

Girl...Is The Movie Good Or Not?

There are a lot of throwbacks to the past movies, some new stuff, there are some dino fights, BD Wong is in it (DUN! DUN!), DeAndra Wise as Kayla Watts is my new favorite human being, and Blu gets her baby back.

It's a good time. At this point, this pandemic has been going on for two years. Go watch dinosaurs fight each other over someone's man. It'll be fun.

Do you plan on seeing Jurassic World Dominion? Tell me your thoughts below in the comments section. I won't bite (maybe).

Encanto: To The Girls Who Never Got to Hear ‘I’m Sorry’ From Their Grandmothers

**Warning** Major Spoilers if You Haven't Seen Disney's Encanto. Encanto is Now Available to Stream on Disney Plus

I know I'm late to hop on the Encanto craze. Forgive me, I tend to avoid movies where people who have watched it say "I loved it! I cried so much!" Not that I can't handle a good cry, but I definitely need to be in a space to mentally prepare myself for Disney breaking my soul and taking my money at the same time.

I decided it was time to give Encanto a try when I felt a bit stronger. But it hit me in a way that didn't touch most people.

First off, I heavily relate to Mirabel. The quirky one, the odd duck, the black sheep of the family who could awkwardly joke her way out of any situation,

Much like Mirabel, there was a moment in my young life where my grandmother adored me as her other grandchildren, I enjoyed this moment in my life as many people, old and young, looked up to my grandmother as some sort of royalty.

When Mirabel sings "Abuela runs this show" it's a familiar sentiment in my family, What grandma says goes. Also like Abuela, my grandmother was statuesque, her stance was graceful, and her knowledge was bountiful.

Like Abuela, my grandmother never yelled or even raised her voice. But the feeling of her disappointment or disapproval was loud enough to shatter glass.

Just like the moment that Mirabel was unable to open her door, a shift happened between me and my grandmother. Suddenly, I went from Golden Child to Black Sheep. I went from being a precious child to someone who would not fit into the family mold.

My grandmother was delicate and skilled in her need for control. The foundation of the family was a chessboard, and we were all my grandmother's pieces. We were to move in ways that dictated the family image in a good light. And if we didn't, it was never a subtle sign that you weren't a playable piece. Back in the game box we went.

Was there trauma in my grandmother's life like Abuela? Absolutely. There was pain, there was hurt, and there was loss.

But unlike Mirabel, I never would hear the words "I'm sorry" from my grandmother.

Abuela recognized what she had done when Mirabel brought it to her attention. She took the time to wrestle with what she had done, versus what she had meant to do. She didn't resist rebuilding the family foundation after being faced with what it had done to the family.

But some of us are not as lucky.

I cried because I never got "I'm sorry." I cried because when I stood up to my grandmother, I was seen as the enemy; as a defiant, spoiled little girl. I cried because I will never get her to understand that her house is crumbling. She will stubbornly stand tall, as everything crumbles around her, and think "This is all because of Quinzel. If she would have just been normal like everyone else..."

I couldn't save the foundation that I was born into. There was no way to seal the cracks once they got big enough to let floodwaters in.

So I left, and I built my own foundation. And started my own family.

Some of us are tasked with breaking generational curses. Some of us are here to expose that the family foundation is sinking.

To the girls who heard her disapproval loud and clear.

To the girls who wanted a hug and got a look of disappointment.

To the girls who never got to hear "I'm sorry" from their grandmothers.

You are more than your grandmother's approval

Mirabel was only able to help her family after they accepted her help. Don't burn yourself out trying to keep others warm. If the first home doesn't welcome you, build your own. Build it with sweat and tears and coping techniques and calming exercises. Build it with an excellent therapist who helps you along the way.

But most of all, build it with a village full of people who see you, just you. Not a reflection of their own trauma.

Did you see Encanto? What did you think of Mirabel and Abuela's relationship? What's your relationship with your own grandmother like? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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.

β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†

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 β€œactual” 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 β€œall 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.

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