Shoutout Saturday (book and podcast recommendations)

Hey guys! So I’ve been spending a lot of time by myself of late, just because I’m on winter break right now–and sometimes when I feel lonely, listening to podcasts helps. (This is gonna sound really sad–but it’s sorta like a one-sided phone call.) Anyway, here are some of my favourites I’ve recently discovered!

Zero Hours

This is one of those podcasts I’ve been meaning to get to for ages, and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s a short series of pieces exploring the end of the world, from 1722 to the present, to far, far into the future. It’s definitely not easy listening, or the best thing to put on if you’re already feeling anxious about the state of the world. But if you’re up to it, this show has some of the most brilliant, unique writing and sound design I’ve seen in a long time.

Some episodes explore dystopian societies, and horrifying wastelands, your typical “end of the world” fare. But other episodes explore a much more personal kind of apocalypse–a couple weighing the pros and cons of taking a miracle drug that might ruin their relationship, a bartender considering his options the night before Prohibition goes into effect. It’s definitely not rainbows and sunshine, but despite the grim stories this podcast tells, in the end, I think it’s a show about hope, and shared humanity.

Oh! And, it’s by the same people who made Wolf 359, so some of the voice actors from that star in it, which is super cool, just to get to see the same voices in a totally different context? I don’t know, it’s neat!

A Neon Darkness

So, The Bright Sessions has to be one of my favourite podcasts of all time. I binge-listened to it in, like, a week, because the writing is just so addictive–maybe I’ll write about it more at some point, or relisten. But the basic premise is that the show follows Dr. Bright, a therapist for people with superpowers, and her clients, whose stories all gradually come together. It discusses mental health and trauma in a really refreshing, poignant way, it has found family, and it’s just such a good show. Anyway, it’s over now, but the person who wrote it, Lauren Shippen, is still writing stuff in the universe–there are two spinoff shows out right now, and she’s writing three books about some of the supporting characters who didn’t get a chance to tell their full stories in the podcast.

A Neon Darkness explores the life of Damien, a nineteen-year-old with the power to make other people want (and therefore do) what he wants.

This book kept me up super late into the night, I just couldn’t put it down. In the podcast, I always hated Damien’s guts, and I still do–he does some really awful, inexcusable things. But after reading this book, I can empathize a little bit more with some of his experiences. The way he becomes the villain of his own story, and sabotages himself without even realizing it–I’ve definitely been there.

This book also has phenomenal representation, just like the podcast, which made me so happy–and yeah, you should check it out, and also listen to The Bright Sessions!

Station Arcadia

My friend introduced me to this show. I started listening to it a few days ago, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

Station Arcadia is set in a barren, war-torn dystopian empire from the not-so-distant future. Each episode is a broadcast from our narrator, Kass, as she tells stories of those at the living very edges of society. (I’m only on episode five, but I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be a revolution, and I’m very hyped.) It’s got really good representation, and it’s got that super cool radio show format, which I’m always trash for in podcasts–and I love the mix of a new story every episode, but there’s still an overarching storyline, and of course, as the episodes go on you get to know the narrator. The sound design and music is also really well done, like wow.

I’m almost done casting for my podcast, and halfway through editing the first season, which is super exciting–and I guess it’s just comforting to see another small podcast, doing its thing really well, and putting out super high-quality content? It makes me really happy.

The Lower Light

Right now, this podcast is only on its first few episodes, but it deserves so much more attention!

The Lower Light follows Laurie Caston, a curator for the Lighthouse Museum, as he explores the artefacts and tells you the stories behind him. Each episode has a new stand-alone tale of selkies, or vampires, or other funky creatures, and it’s super cool. Laurie’s voice is so soothing to listen to, he’s pretty much the ideal narrator for a fiction podcast (in my humble opinion). Oh, and it’s got really awesome representation too, which is super cool to see!

The sound design is beautiful, and the writing is just so effortlessly elegant–somehow every time I listen to it, I feel like I’m right there with the characters, and I can just imagine the setting so vividly. Listening to this show is just an absolutely magical experience, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.


Anyway, that’s all I have for you this week! I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, I know the holidays can be a really rough time, especially this year. I’m sending lots of hugs your way. I hope you’re all safe and healthy, and I’ll see you again in the New Year. 🙂

Lots of love,

Lorna

Little victories! (Shoutout Saturday)

Hey guys! So, for this week’s Shoutout Saturday, I thought we’d do something a bit different. I’ve been having a pretty rocky time with my mental health of late, but recently I’ve been starting to (sort of) get back on my feet again. Sometimes, when you struggle with anxiety or depression, you have to celebrate the little victories–and so here are mine for this week. I’d love to hear any of yours; so feel free to let me know what you’re proud of, this year or month or week or whatever, in the comments or on social media.

Making meals ahead of time

So, this is a new development, but I’m very proud of myself for it! So, my family has always been huge on making things from scratch, because my parents are cheap and so am I, which means that I don’t really have many premade breakfast foods that’ll keep me going while I’m at school, which means I’m always late, because I always try to make something nice, and then get really hungry and tired and can’t start my day until 10am by the time I’m done with dishes. It’s just it’s not the best note to start the day off on.

So lately, I’ve been trying to make meals ahead. Last night, I made some muffins, and the night before that I did breakfast burritos, and so far it’s been really nice.

When I come home from school, I’m also always super hungry, because I have this weird anxiety about eating food at school and also can’t be bothered to pack a lunch. So, instead, I’ve been putting aside dinner leftovers, so I don’t have to come home from school and frantically scroll through food blogs, and cry over a package of dry pasta. (Something I genuinely did a few weeks ago.)

I don’t know, I feel very responsible and adult, and I’m proud of myself for finally coming up with a very obvious solution to this problem.

Skincare

Okay, so this is the most cliche thing to write about–and honestly it drives me crazy when people talk about bath bombs and skincare products like they’re going to fix all your problems instantaneously, or act like everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on these fancy products. But anyway–a few days ago, I ordered this eight dollar facial cleanser thing, and a ten dollar moisturizer off Amazon, and I’ve been doing a very basic skincare routine every morning and evening. It hasn’t cured my depression yet, but it is very nice.

Oh! On a somewhat related note, I’ve also been forcing myself to remember to take my vitamins and medication by writing it down on my to-do lists, which is so obvious, but also took me three months of having this problem to think of.

Reading books

So, because I just love to make myself miserable, I have a habit of just fusing myself to a screen for, like, ten hours straight in some form or other. (Wake up, check my phone, do schoolwork on my computer, watch TV on my computer, call my friends on my phone, etc.) And although that’s not always a bad thing, it’s just not good for my mental health to be on a screen 24/7, and honestly it can become pretty self-destructive. So I’ve been trying to take some time to just, like, read on the couch for a few hours, like I used to when I was younger, before I had so much going on. I miss reading being a bigger part of my life, and it’s been really nice to get back into it.

Getting back into audio editing

So, I have this fun habit where whenever something challenges me in any way, I shut it down and avoid it all costs, because I’m deathly afraid of failure. So to be totally honest, I tend to shy away from doing things like making podcast episodes, or mixing spoken word tracks, just because it’s something I’m still learning how to do, and am far more likely to mess up than I am writing a blog post, or a story chapter. I’ve been writing or reading in some form for so long, it’s honestly just like a second instinct to me, but I’ve only been working with audio for a year now, so it’s a lot more intimidating for me. Anyway, recently I’ve been working on a spoken word track, and I’m really proud of it.

Putting myself out there (a little bit)

So, not to shamelessly self-promote, but I’ve been working on an audio drama called We Are Here–which I may or may not have been working on since March, but I didn’t want to talk about it too much in case I decided to back out of the project, and also because nothing that exciting was happening back then. Anyway! I recently put out a casting call for it, and I’m about halfway through editing season one, and I’m hoping to start producing episodes at the end of March, and yeah, it’s absolutely terrifying but also, so cool, and I’m so excited to see where I’ll go with it. If you’re interested (nudge nudge, wink wink) you can check it out here.

Okay! I think that’s about it. I have no idea what I’m gonna write about next week, at this point of the year I’m just so tired I can’t plan more than a day ahead.

I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, and doing all right. I’m sending all the hugs your way.

Lots of love,

Lorna

Some cool things you should check out (Shoutout Saturday!)

Hey guys! So, I know I did one of these “miscellaneous things that are cool” type posts not too long ago, and under normal circumstances I’d save this post for a few more weeks afterwards, because I don’t want to be repetitive, but I’ve been having a really weird week, so I’m letting it slide. Anyway, here are some things I’ve been loving of late.

Welcome to Night Vale

This was the podcast that introduced me to fiction podcasts, about a year ago–which is absolutely insane actually, because this was the show that taught me that a) fiction podcasts are a thing and b) they’re totally awesome. And now I’m writing one? Which is crazy!

How I stumbled across it was really weird–through this really good book called Radio Silence I read for English, which centred around a fiction podcast one of the main characters made, which was based on Night Vale. After a lot of scrolling through Goodreads because I didn’t know what to write for my book report, and hearing people freaking out about this Night Vale thing, I decided to check it out, fell in love, forced all my friends to listen to it, and the rest is history, I guess.

Night Vale centres around this small, wonderfully strange desert town, through the eyes of our very endearing radio host, Cecil, as he reports on the daily happenings. From the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, to the eldritch entity that is City Council, or the flesh eating librarians, or just updaters on his relationship with Carlos–it’s always hilarious and heartwarming and generally a good time. Night Vale is objectively terrifying, but it feels like home to me, and I’m just so grateful for this show and all it’s done for me.

My Pride

So, my friend introduced me to this series a while ago. It’s an animated TV show, up for free on YouTube. I recently I decided to rewatch it–and holy crap, it’s so good. The art is so beautiful, the voice acting is absolutely incredible, the art is just *chef’s kiss*, and it has some of the most interesting fantasy lore/general worldbuilding I’ve seen in ages.

It’s hard to do justice to this show without rambling for hours–but basically, think The Lion King but a lot darker, with a major wlw relationship, commentary on social issues, and also the whole thing is about changing a deeply flawed and prejudiced society with the odds stacked against you, healing from trauma and figuring out who you are outside of a toxic system you’ve spent your whole life serving.

Like I said before, I’m working on a fiction podcast right now–I’m currently in the process of casting, and like 35% through script editing–and anyway, I always love to see other small, independent projects succeed. It’s just really comforting to remember I’m not the only person who’s done this before.

Superstore

So, I grew up with workplace sitcoms, and they’ll always have a soft spot in my heart. They were the thing that taught me about how most people hate their jobs, and that’s very valid and okay, and also the government doesn’t care about me… but like, in a funny, lighthearted way.

Anyway, I started watching Superstore a while ago, and it’s been, like, my favourite thing in the world ever since. As the title suggests, it follows a bunch of employees working at a big box store–but it’s so much more than that. It has a really diverse cast, and a really good slowburn romance, and it made me tear up on multiple occasions, and it talks about a lot of serious social issues in a really cool, interesting way, all while still being absolutely hilarious, and painfully realistic. It’s really addictive though, so be warned; I binged an entire 22-episode season in a day once, and it was not good for my mental health.

But that aside, its just so well done, and refreshing, and I really love it.

The Junkyard 2

I really love Penelope Scott’s music, and I know I already wrote about her other album, but I will just never miss an opportunity to hype her up, apparently. The Junkyard 2 just reflects complete and utter Gen-Z rage, which is always right up my alley, and overall I just feel like it’s such a beautiful portrait of what it feels like to grow up in the 21st century–and that it would resonate with pretty much anyone in that age range. (Which is something I love so much about her music.) Anyway, you should listen to it.

And while I’m hyping up Penelope Scott, may I just say: she just released a new single, which I occasionally just put on a two hour loop while I study, it’s called “Born2Run” and it’s one of my favourite songs of hers, please go check it out.


Okay! That’s just about everything, I think. I’ll see you next week; I’m pretty sure I’ll talk about musicals. Anyway: take care of yourselves, and stay safe.

Lots of love,

Lorna

November: the Month in Photography

NOVEMBER 1ST

I’m definitely feeling pretty on edge, of late. Yesterday morning, my mom read an article about voter turnout in the US election, and I just started crying. It was strange, and confusing, and it kinda hurt. I’m not normally the kind of person who starts crying out of nowhere.

It’s a special kind of helpless. I’ve seen Canadians joke that we all watch the US election like a sports game–and yeah, last time ’round, when I was too young to really understand any of this, that’s sort of how it felt. But this time… this time feels different.

NOVEMBER 7TH

The results for the election just came in–after a very long wait. It’s a relief just to get the whole thing over with.

The past few days have not been good. It’s not just the election–honestly, I’ve been weirdly numb to it. I just don’t have the energy left right now to let my emotions get wrapped up in things I can’t control. I have to be logical, and detached, because… because that’s kind of just the excuse I give myself when I spend three months feeling sad, and angry, and stuffing it all into a little box until eventually I explode.

Yesterday was an explosion kind of day. I got home from a shitty day at school, picked up a bag of pasta out from the drawer we keep pasta in, dropped it back in the drawer, closed the drawer, opened the drawer, picked up the pasta, and started crying on the floor.

But today, I woke up, at 8:40 in the morning, to the wind blowing like crazy outside. I crawled out of bed, and I checked my phone, wiping the sleep from my eyes, and saw that Trump wasn’t president. And I smiled, a little, and texted my friend. I made breakfast, and went to work. It’s not much–but it’s a start.

NOVEMBER 8TH


It’s been a long few weeks. (Actually, it’s barely been one since the month started, but it feels like it’s been 500 years.)

Sometimes, I just get really lonely, you know? I don’t have many people to talk to right now. I feel cold, and sad, and distant, and defeated, and like maybe the story is over. And all that’s left to do is just sort of wander around aimlessly, through this weird mental fog for the rest of eternity.

I haven’t let myself feel hopeful in so long.

This is gonna sound really cheesy–and I can’t believe I’m writing this in a public setting, but… I guess I just have to believe that this isn’t over. Because I’m not going to let everything happening in the world, and in my life, and in my own fucking mind take me down this easily.

Because I have my mother’s strength, and my father’s persistence. Because I am made from endless droughts and thunderstorms I thought might be the last of me. This feeling won’t last forever.

I know those things are true. Even when everything else seems unreal.

NOVEMBER 21ST

Winter is beginning to properly set in, now. I don’t entirely mind; even if it is very dark all the time, and means my sneakers always get muddy and soaking wet on the walk home from school.

I talked to someone yesterday, actually. It’s probably the first time I’ve reached out for help to anyone outside my immediate social circle in, like, eight months or so. And god, it was so nice. I feel like a thousand pounds have been lifted off my chest, like the smoke has finally cleared and I can actually breathe again.

But god–also, I’m just terrified. Restrictions are starting to get more strict in my area. It feels… like it did, last time. I don’t want to relive that experience again–but there’s not much I can do about it.

NOVEMBER 24TH

Last night, I found out that someone at my school got COVID. I haven’t directly been in contact with them, and obviously everyone was still wearing masks and social distancing–but it’s still scary.

When I found out, I just kinda went numb. You know what it felt like, when you fell off the monkey bars as a kid–that tingling, breathless, paralyzed feeling as you struggled to breathe? Yeah. It was like that.

I started crying and then I stopped crying and then I watched TV for three hours and then I started crying again. Technically I’m not supposed to do anything–go to school as per normal and just keep monitoring for symptoms. But I’ll probably be at home for the next little while.

NOVEMBER 30TH 2020

I don’t know how to end this post.

I”m really tired. I sorta want to collapse into the ground, and just cry until there’s nothing left. Or chug five cups of coffee. Or sleep for the rest of the year.

I want to tell you it’s gonna be all right. I want to give you a hug, or your favourite snack, or a day off work, or whatever you need right now. I want to fix your problems with a snap of my fingers—but I’m not a fairy godmother, or even someone who knows how to do those things for herself yet. Just a fifteen year old girl, who takes pictures on her phone and cries a lot.

I want to say this month has been wonderful, talk about the good. And there have been cool things I’ve done over the last little while. But also… it’s been hard. And I don’t have the answers. I can’t fix you–no matter how hard I try to.

I hope the next month treats us both well, though.

Take care of yourself. Be safe. I’ll see you all in thirty days.

Lots of love,

Lorna

Shoutout Saturday (Things I’m super excited for!)

Hey guys! So, to be totally honest, I have been having an interesting few days to say the least. I’m currently in some kind of quarantine for at least the next little while. There was a COVID exposure at my school, and so even though technically we don’t have to quarantine, I’m not feeling too comfy about going out right now (both for my sake and the sake of others). Anyway, I could spend a lot of time talking about this whole mess of a situation, but honestly, don’t particularly want to think about it right now.

The TLDR is that 2020 is trash, but in an effort to find some sort of silver lining amid this less-than ideal situation, here are some things I’m looking forward to as the year draws to a close!

Hilda season two

So, as everyone probably knows, I am absolute trash for cute cartoons. I always sort of got mad at myself as a kid for liking things directed at children, and as a result never really let myself just watch fun shows without there being a guilt factor, and I stopped watching anything animated at around five. I really regret that, and I wish I had gotten to just watch fun things growing up rather than only important documentaries about tax fraud or climate change. So anyway, I’m trying to make up for that now. Hilda is this super-cute show on Netflix about this girl who’s spent her whole life living in a cabin with her mom moving to the city. She goes on all sorts of adventures, and makes friends with all these magical creatures, and it’s really sweet and wholesome–and season two is coming out on December 14th.

Turning 15

So, for obvious reason I’m not gonna say when my birthday is, but at some point in the next two-three months, I will be a full-fledged teenager, I guess? I’m probably just going to see a singular friend, two if I’m lucky, and we’ll make a cake together from scratch or something like that, go walking, and then watch some TV like we did last year, but it’ll still be a cool milestone to mark. When I was younger, I honestly couldn’t fathom being alive this long, so I feel weirdly proud to have done it. (And yes, I know, if you’re older than me you’re probably laughing right now.)

I’m really excited though, because as it stands I’m planning on actually getting myself some really cool things for my birthday. It costs a bit of money to change my blog URL (just twenty bucks, but that’s a lot of money to me right now), and so I’m planning on doing that some point soon, to lornawritesthings.com. Also, I’m finally getting a tripod to take better pictures, which is also only twenty bucks, but again, that’s a pretty big purchase for me.

Getting ahead on schoolwork

So, I do all my schoolwork via a computer–but under normal circumstances, go into a school to work on it in a computer lab there, where I can see my teachers in person and ask for help when I need it. (Also, I genuinely really like talking with my teachers, and it’s kinda nice to just chat from time to time.) Anyway, with that context aside–I’ve been making super good progress on my courses! As it stands I’m done almost all the work I was planning to do this year, which means in about a month, I can start to load up on grade 11 and 12 courses and spend the next six months getting myself to a place where I can hopefully graduate next year! There’s this a thing, I think, where if you graduate early you can take college classes through the school for the remainder of the time you were supposed to be working on grade twelve, all expenses paid, but don’t quote me on that, it’s been ages since I thought about it. (But if that’s still an option, that would be super cool and I’d seriously consider it!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about my future, and where I want to be in three years; looking at apartments in cities I’d like to live in someday, and planning out my finances and stuff like that. It’s so cool I’m close to entering that phase of my life! I don’t know, as a kid I always really wanted to graduate early, and I feel like my younger self would be really happy, and proud, if she knew it was looking like that might actually be a possibility for me.

Snow!

Where I live there have been a few snow warnings so far, but we haven’t actually gotten any. It’s been super cold of late though, and normally we get a few snow days in December and January, so I’m super excited for that. It only ever lasts for a week max, but my whole town always kinda freaks out and drops everything to go sledding and have fun. It’s my favourite part of winter, and it always makes me happy. (Also, I can’t wait to take a thousand really cool pictures and use them for Month in Photography, I’ve literally been waiting to do that since September. I don’t even know why that excites me so much, but it does!)

Finishing up a writing major project

So, this whole post is kinda just indirectly exposing what a giant nerd I am. But, that being said, I’ve been working on this fanfiction series which I’ve poured, like, my entire heart and soul into, for three years now, and I’m four weeks away from finishing up book two out of three. I don’t know, it’s silly and self-indulgent but it means a lot to me, and it makes me happy. It’s kinda grown up with me in a way, and taught me a lot in general. I don’t know, I work really hard at it, so it’s nice to see it finally pay off. It’s definitely got me feeling things.

Some cool upcoming meteor showers, apparently?

So, admittedly, while trying to find things to add to this list, I kinda had to google “things to look forward to in 2020” and discover this idea is really not original at all. (But most people stopped writing these posts after April, so I guess I’m, like, ahead of the curve? Or really behind it? I don’t know.) Aaanyhow, there are apparently some cool meteor showers coming up on December 13-14th and December 21st-22nd. I am absolutely in love with astronomy, which has sort of been an on-and-off obsession throughout my life. During quarantine my parents got really into stargazing, and it’s definitely rubbed off on me. I haven’t ever seen a meteor shower before though, so hopefully I’ll be able to watch one during the next month, I think that would be super cool!

Anyway, those are some neat things I’m very hyped up for! What about you? I’d love to know, hearing from you guys always makes my day. So feel free to drop it down in the comments, or let me know on social media. (I don’t bite!)

Lots of love,

Lorna