Interview, Helaine Olen, Pound of Foolish, Interview

My Interview with Financial Writer Helaine Olen

I first heard of the financial writer, Helaine Olen, while watching an old(ish) interview promoting her book, Pound of Foolish. In the interview, Helaine said her purpose for writing the book was to challenge the financial “experts.” Why? Helaine explained that she didn’t like how all of their messages have always been centered around it’s the individual’s fault that they’re in debt. When she said that, something in my mind clicked. She’s right…..

I grew up financially abused by my father (we’re on better terms, now) and had some mooching boyfriends. I never truly learned how to save money or the value of a dollar. It wasn’t until my husband came along and taught me that I truly learned. So, hearing Helaine show compassion to people who have had money issues was a breath of fresh air. I knew right then that I knew I not only had to read her book, but I also had to interview her.

I knew that Helaine started out as a freelance writer. What I didn’t know was that the Los Angeles Times had contacted her about writing an article about finance for them as a one-time thing. On a whim, she accepted the one-time offer, the only thing was, she didn’t know anything about personal finance! So, she went to the nearest bookstore and wrote her first column based on what she had read at that bookstore. To her surprise, the Los Angeles Times really liked her piece! This led to them hiring her to start writing their new column titled “Money MakeOver.” A new Helaine was born.

I asked Helaine if all of the personal financial “experts” are a bunch of phony’s. She first said, “Personal finance rules are personal finance rules.” Then, she went on to tell me that they all make some sense when they say to not spend more than you make, and put money into savings and save for retirement. All sound advice, right? Well, it’s not that simple. She went on to tell me that not one of these very famous financial experts take into account the fact that we have a “constantly shifting landscape.” From there, Helaine went on to say that while mortgages have always existed, when she first started writing, it was completely different than it is now. The “rules” have changed. You now have to show proof of your income, sign so many documents and the most problematic of them all, you are able to borrow the entire value of the property and sometimes more! The interest rates on the mortgages vary, but they are out of this world! But. no one could have predicted the housing crisis or the economic crisis, yet all of the blame got shifted onto the individuals who need help. Then, just like the first time I heard her speak, she said something that struck a chord with me. The personal financial advice that’s given is “at best, deluded; at worst, a scam.”

Helaine did say that some of Dave Ramsey’s advice isn’t wrong. When he says to spend cash, not your credit card, that’s the right way of thinking. She went on to say that she agreed with me that it’s good to have at least one credit card because it’s bad to have no credit. Helaine said that if someone needs to build credit but has a problem with spending too much on their card, then they need to leave it at home when they go out. I agree completely!

She did go on to say that despite some of Dave’s good advice, she doesn’t like how he always shifts blame onto the individual. We talked about how sometimes people lose their jobs, get sick, get into accidents, etc. So, it’s not always the individual’s fault, yet Dave and the other experts in his same field don’t seem to see it that way.

Take Suze Orman as another example. Helanie told me that Suze became “queen of the crisis” and would scream at people on TV. Suze couldn’t believe that people were spending and borrowing so much! Sure, people shouldn’t be taking out six credit cards, but some people are taking out six credit cards for a very specific reason. Helaine showed compassion and said things like the cost of healthcare, education and childcare have gone up, among other necessities. So, of course, people are spending more!

Helaine also talked about how much luxury is marketed to us all the time. Status is very important in this country, so we’re constantly having nights dining out and clothes shoved in our faces in order to fit in. We’re also told (especially millennials like me) to spend money on those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

I asked how we should deal with temptation, such as luxury being marketed to us. Helaine said that we need to pay ourselves first. Pay our bills and then put some into savings and/or retirement. She has all of her paychecks deposit directly into savings and every few weeks will move some of it into checking.

I told her that sometimes before making a big online purchase, I’ll sleep on it. Then some mornings, I’ll wake up changing my mind. She told me that when she’s on Amazon, she always saves the items she likes and never immediately hits buy. Most of the time, Helaine never returns to buy the items. That’s a good tip I learned!

I then asked her how she wrote her second book. She told me that it all started when she was doing an interview with Harold Pollack. He said that everything you need to know about personal finance you can put on an index card. Well, the interview went viral! Everyone wanted to know where to get these cards. So, Harold started writing down what people needed to know on these cards, which lead to Harold and Helanie writing Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated.

Helaine is now an Opinion Blog Columnist for the Washington Post, is married to a fellow writer; the two of them have two boys and a fur baby who is also their daughter! (My fur baby is my son! So, I know what it’s like having a fur baby!) She has been featured in many publications, was named Business Insider’s “50 Women Who Are Changing the World” and “The 30 Most Influential People in Personal Finance and Wealth.” Way to go, Helaine! You deserve it!

I wanted to let everyone know what a blessing it was talking to Helaine. I grew up barely knowing anything about money and her agreeing to talk to me is a dream come true-no exaggeration! I find her to be such a positive role model and so easy to talk to. I’ll never forget this interview and will always be grateful to both God and Helaine for this opportunity.

You can find her on Twitter here!

Dustin Dailey, Drama Channels, Interview, YouTube

My Interview with YouTuber Dustin Dailey

(originally published on December 19, 2017)

I don’t know if any of you know this about me, but I love YouTube more than I do regular television! I watch it 24/7. As much as I watch YouTube, I’m sad to say it took me way too long to discover Dustin’s Channel. In fact, it was through his Twitter account that I found him. I would see him talking to Here for the Tea and he seemed like an amazing person. We talked a couple of times, so I finally decided to check out his Channel. Let me tell you, I had been missing out!

Dustin is not only adorable, but has a charming personality, yet he’s also a strong man and won’t let anyone bring him down. He does have some very sweet soft spots, though. Dustin loves his family, friends, fans, and especially, his long time partner, Eric. The two of them are such a beautiful couple!

So, let’s jump right into my interview with Dustin Dailey:

1. You did a video about how you met Eric. (R.I.P. Myspace!) After being with him for about a decade (hope I’m getting that right!), what would you say are the factors as to why the two of you have remained such a strong, united couple for so long?

 

Eric an I are very much alike, to the point it’s almost scary. After the first two years of our relationship is when Eric began to get very sick and seeing him deal with everything he goes through while being there helping him through it really solidified our relationship, there’s nothing that neither of us wouldn’t do for one another. I think finding someone that you can literally trust your life with is key, knowing that you can depend on your partner/spouse no matter the situation be it good or bad knowing that they will always have your back is major.

2. You’ve mentioned both your mental health and Eric’s before. That meant a lot because I am a mental health advocate and I can relate to a lot of things you talked about, i.e. anger issues, OCD, and (especially) anxiety. I know having a supportive partner is very important (I have my husband). How do you two support each other? Also, you mentioned that he had other health issues you two were trying to figure out. I respect Eric’s privacy, I just wanted to ask if the both of you have been able to get any answers?

Eric an i both have open door communication with one another, he knows everything about me as i do him, secrets don’t make for good relationships and that’s always been our policy from day one. Aside from Eric’s severe OCD he has a whole host of other medical issues which as of recently have been turning around as he’s been making big strides in diet as well as his emotional well being. For now since the doctors cannot pinpoint what exactly causes Eric to have so much fatigue and lack of energy he’s been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, he has his good days but he also has his bad, slowly but surely i have faith his doctors will figure this all out eventually.

3. I remember you saying that you had acne growing up and now your skin has cleared. I had acne prone skin until I was 30, so I don’t blame you for taking pride when it comes to how good your skin looks! I know you’ve talked about using Glam Glow, but can you talk about some other skin care products you swear by?

GIRL! I’m absolutely addicted to skin care, it’s my thing! Anyone knows if you have a good skincare regimen it starts with making sure your skin is moisturized, my holy grail for that is Dr, Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Repair Cream. It’s a bit pricey but it’s worth every cent because the tube lasts forever. I suffer from a lot of redness and this just zaps it away! Another great product is the Drunk Elephant C Firma Serum, it doesn’t smell that great but it will make your skin glow so radiantly. My favorite thing is a good mask and my favorite at the moment is the loreal purify and mattify green clay mask, since sometimes my skin can be a bit shiny LOL it really reduces that and makes my skin feel so soft!

4. I saw in your video A Message to My Younger Self how much you love music. Some artists I recall you talking about in videos have been Avril Lavigne, Aerosmith, and Kendrick Lamar. Do you have any other favorite artists, and what what song do you feel like represents your life and who you are the most?

This is an extremely difficult question to answer because i’m such a music lover but if i had to pick one song that describes who i am the most that would represent who i am as a person it would have to be Frank Sinatra My way. “regrets I’ve had a few, but yet again too few to mention” is so me, i try to live my life to the fullest with no regrets or what if’s and this song definitely embodies that and my philosophy.

5. Just like you, I watch YouTube more than TV as well. What are your favorite Youtube channels?

 

Well you already know that I am the ultimate Trisha Paytas fan, she lives her life her way and she’s not afraid to cry about it after. I also live for The Gabbie Show, I’ve followed her from Vine over to youtube and i haven’t been disappointed because she can always make me laugh, or cry with her. I’ve been really into KiKi Chanel for the past six months or so, she’s really underrated and doesn’t have the subscribers i think she deserves because this girl seriously cracks me up and she’s damn good at makeup as well. hmmm i’d also have to say Shane Dawson, i’ve watched him since he practically started youtube much like i have Trisha, he’s evolved and grown up so much since he started this venture and i really identify with how he’s grown.

6. Do you think you’ll ever lend your take part in any additional apps in the future (such as Stardust, Vine 2, etc.), or do you think you’ll stick with YouTube?

TOTALLY! I can’t wait for Vine 2 to come out, i used to watch Vine just as much as youtube ( i totally miss laughing my face off to all the crazy stuff i would see). Maybe Vine would be a good way for me to grow my youtube channel lol….

7. Do you have any other career prospects you wish to achieve in the future besides YouTube?

Not really at the moment, i’m just going with the flow. I’ve literally done everything it seems like but i’m ready for something new, maybe i’ll open my own business….. but what i’m not sure of HAHA!

8. What can we expect from both you and your Channel in 2018? 

I can’t really say what you can expect from me as a person because i’m so all over the place lol, but from my youtube channel you can expect a lot more fun content more than just drama because i want people to watch me for who i am and not just who i’m talking about ya know? I doubt it’d ever happen but i’d love to be able to connect with a large audience from all around the world and try to make a difference for them for the better, I was blessed with a big mouth and an even bigger opinion so hopefully i can be the voice for people that don’t have one in the years to come!

 Thank you so much, Dustin! I’m so glad you agreed to do this interview! (Also, I’m excited you gave KiKi Chanel a shout out!) I have no doubt that your YouTube Channel is going to continue to grow and that you’re going to do well on Vine 2 as well. (I smell a collab! 😏) You clearly have the drive, likability, looks, and talent. Everyone can follow him on Twitter here, Instagram here, and on Snapchat-ThreeDailey.

Brooke Arnold, Interview, Standup Comedy, Quiverfull

My Interview with Ex-Quiverfull Member Brooke Arnold

(originally published on December 11, 2017)

Not too long ago, a video appeared on my YouTube recommendations from Buzzfeed called I Was in a Cult. I know Buzzfeed doesn’t have a good reputation, but this video was really good. However, I was very frustrated that they didn’t say any of their names! The good thing was that one of the cult survivors, Brooke Arnold, left a comment on the video and left the link to her Twitter. Hooray! I quickly followed the link and she and I started following each other almost instantly. From there, I got to talk to her about her escape from a cult.

This cult is known as the Quiverfull Movement (Yes, like the Duggars!). Brooke told me that the cult was started by a man named Bill Gothard in the 60’s. When he was first starting out, he would go to college campuses and preach things like rock music being evil. (You can read a little more about his origins here.) She went on to tell me that in the 80’s, he switched his teachings to focus on parents and their children. Bill would tour churches in the all over the south, stay in each church for a week and hold these workshops for parents, in which he would preach fear and how evil public schools are. There was so much fear put into these parents, that they would be scrambling to take notes because they were so convinced by what he was telling them.

This was the time he had introduced his own home school curriculum, which is still practiced in the Quiverfull cult to this day. The kids learn from his “Wisdom Booklet.” Brooke told me that the booklet is very anti-Christian. Kids were, and still are, denied a real world experience according to what they’re taught to do in his curriculum. She told me that he believed that the laws of the U.S. needed to go back to the ways of the Old Testament.

Everything they learned was/is based on a different Bible verse. They’ll try to somewhat sneak in something a little educational by picking a Bible verse with a word like “meek” in it. The particular chapter would then say something to the tune of, “What does it mean to be ‘meek’?” Then they would be pointed to the fact that it came from a Greek word and define that. So, that’s how the curriculum would try to act like it was at least somewhat educational.

To give you all some of Brooke’s back story, growing up in Texas, Brooke had a normal childhood and her family didn’t attend church at all until she was seven. She described them as “Very secular. A typical lower middle class family.” All of a sudden, her parents came home one day and announced to Brooke and her brother that they were going to be home schooled and everyone would start attending church. This came out of no where and Brooke was pretty surprised.

The two children felt out of place at their church and she said they “just sat there.” They had their home schooling for two hours a day and would just keep to themselves after that. Families in the Quiverfull cult aren’t allowed to have a TV, internet, or read “regular” books. Kids growing up can’t talk to other kids except at church. So, while Brooke had friends (of her own gender, of course), growing up was lonely for her and her brother. The highest education they got was that of a second grader. Even as she got older, she got the same curriculum taught to her and that everyone got until they were married. (By the way,  in the cult, most families have at minimum five kids and you were considered to be one of the “cool kids” if your family had the at least five kids.)

Her family allowed some things that aren’t normal for kids growing up as Quiverfull. As a teen, Brooke was allowed to get a driver’s license, and a car from her grandmother. This usually isn’t what girls are allowed to do in the cult until they are married and expecting. Another way her family was a little “less normal” was that Brooke could read fiction such as Jane Austen books. Brooke said her books were the only friends she could spend time with growing up outside of church, and they were also her only guides to the outside world. The beautiful thing is that her books inspired her creative side and she credits them for saving her life, because they gave her a hope that there was more to life than what she was living.

When it comes to what it’s like to be female in the cult, all of them are submissive towards whoever is “in charge” in their personal lives. It starts with their father. Then they get married and their husbands are the heads of the family. Every wife must obey her husband no matter what. Brooke told me if the wife has been on her feet, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of five kids all day and the husband comes home and wants sex, you better give it to him or else you would be sinning. This is everywhere with the Quiverfull cult. Just ask Michelle Duggar.

Bill Gotherd taught that God created a Chain of Authority, and if you ever disobey you are sinning. The elders of the cult are at the heads of the chain, then the husband in each household, then the wife, children, then your pet if you have one. So, going back to giving you husband sex whenever he wants it, this is part of obeying Bill’s referring to. Women and children (especially daughters) must always obey their fathers or else they’ve sinned.

While on the subject of women’s “roles” in the cult, Brooke told me that once a female turns eighteen, the parents of said female can volunteer at one of the Institutes for Basic Life Principals, but her parents have to pay for her to volunteer! The main point of her going there is hoping that she’ll find a husband.

I asked Broke if courting, as the Duggars have shown on TV, is normal for them. She said yes, but the Duggars choose to present it in a nicer way. Normally, couples are set up by their parents, and usually don’t even know each other. It’s true when the Duggars said that they don’t allow kissing until the wedding day. And what they don’t show is, the couples set up by their parents are engaged right away.

The normal age for people to get married is eighteen. If a woman doesn’t get married until much later, then she will still have to be home schooled until then while helping take care of the house and sibling/nieces/nephews. Other than volunteering, women aren’t supposed to work or go to college, despite what you’ve seen the Duggars do on TV. A woman’s profession is to be a wife, mom, and housewife. (To be clear, Brooke is not insulting a woman choosing to be a housewife, it’s the fact that they have no choice in the cult.)

I asked Brooke about an issue that has been circulating for a few years now. I wanted to know if Josh Duggar’s actions in regards to molestation, cheating, and porn addiction, are all common in the cult. Brooke said that they are, but domestic and child abuse are, too. Wives normally develop anorexia because they are so concerned about their looks in order to keep their husbands happy. They will go through dangerous measures in order to be obedient. Also, the anorexia is kind of a way of “coping” because they can’t control anything about their lives except for food.

As far as sexual abuse, while Brooke noted that it’s all too common, the cult itself plays the biggest role as to why this has and always will be a problem. By no means is Brooke defending Josh, but she said that by not allowing children to speak to other members of the opposite sex until they’re engaged, have access to any form of entertainment (TV, internet), masturbate, or even talk about sex at all, it’s allowing a monster to be created. Once again, Brooke IS NOT defending Josh, but she knows that if kids growing up are expecting to suppress all sexual feelings, then nothing good will come out of it, and this vicious cycle will continue.

So many women in the cult are miserable. Brooke told me a heartbreaking story about a former friend of her’s mother who refused treatment for her breast cancer. She was so unhappy that she would have rather died than to continue living a life she didn’t feel like was worthwhile. (She did die later.) I cannot begin to tell you how sad that makes me, but considering the way women are often treated in various cults, it’s regrettably not surprising.

I, personally, am a mental health advocate. So I asked her, when it comes to issues such as mental illnesses, what are they taught? I wasn’t surprised to learn that it’s something such as a mental illness (or any illness, including an eating disorder) is considered either to be the fault of the person with the illness (because they sinned) or of their mother for raising them incorrectly; or something she must have done while pregnant. The cult teaches that if you can pinpoint exactly what you must have done to cause you whatever illness you have, then you’ll be “cured.”

Now we’re at the point where Brooke made the decision to leave. For a long time, Brooke knew that she could not possibly be married to a man she didn’t know, continue to have no life, and be completely submissive. Although she knew nothing about the outside world, she knew she’d rather risk it all in order to break free from the life she was living. So at the age of eighteen, when Brooke’s parents were out of town one day, she got in her car and drove away, never looking back.

As you can imagine, life was hard for several years. Brooke spent several years homeless and couldn’t get a job due to the fact she never graduated from high school. Also, she couldn’t go to community college for a few years because the loan applications required her to have a social security card. Since her parents had refused to sign off for her to get one, she struggled to survive until she was old enough to apply for one on her own. She finally got into community college and graduated with a four year degree in English.

After graduating, Brooke moved to New York to pursue her PHD, but she realized that wasn’t for her. During this time, she had made some friends who saw the essays she would write. Everyone who saw them told her how funny she was and suggested she try being a stand up comic. As nervous as she was she went for it, and couldn’t be happier pursuing a career in comedy!

Looking back on everything, Brooke doesn’t want to blast her parents in any way. No, they aren’t in touch, but they’re still her Mom and Dad; and she never wants to disrespect them. That’s a mature way of handling all this and that’s a very impressive attitude to have!

In addition to pursuing comedy as a career, Brooke is trying to raise money to help with a book proposal because she’s planning to write about her experience. (Originally, she was going to do a documentary, but has since switched her focus.  I look forward to reading it!) Here is the link to her Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/brookeandsara Please consider donating because I believe this book can save a lot of lives. (Right now, info about the documentary is still up, but any money that has/will be donated will be spent on funding her book.)

You can find her on Twitter here.

Brooke, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me. I admire you greatly and I have no doubt you will be successful in your career. I think you’re an excellent role model for many people of all ages who have either gone through something horrible or are currently struggling. Your story is one of hope, and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings.

 

 

YouTube, Interview, Alex Meyers

My Interview with YouTuber Alex Meyers.

(originally published on December 4, 2017)

I’ve been a fan of Alex’s for quite some time now. I feel like he has some of the most intellectual videos on the platform. At the same time, Alex has done plenty of comedic videos like going through Yahoo Answers.

Alex’s Channel clearly stands out from the other videos on YouTube. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been tuning in for as long as I have. While they are clearly a lot of popular YouTubers that I feel as though they’ve earned their success, we can agree that others……Eh!

I hope that more people will continue to come across Alex’s videos and will end up sticking around because we need more originality and not everyone trying to cash in on the latest trend. So, now is the time to present my interview with Alex Meyers. Let’s go!



You did a very informative video in which you described growing up in a strict, religious household and later moving to Japan once you turned 18. I want to first ask you about your life growing up in such a strict environment. Do you look back on any of the rules your parents set and find yourself thinking that at times they were right while other times they may been a little too strict? 

Haha well I see you’ve… watched a lot of videos.  Yeah, my parents were pretty strict.  I’m the middle child in my family, so I was pretty independent from an early age.  You know, the oldest is always special and the youngest is always special but for middle children it’s like, “Oh yeah, you’re here too…”.

The rules in my house growing up were like what you could expect from any strict religious house, I guess.  Can’t watch any movies with sex or violence, pray before every meal, we had to read the bible every night as a family, that kind of thing. 

But, it extended even outside the house.  I could never go over to my friend’s houses, or “go out” really at all.  Only church friends were allowed, everyone else was “untrustworthy and a bad influence”.  I guess my parents assumed I would come home with needle pricks in my arms and cocaine all over my face if I hung out at the mall or something.

This experience actually left a pretty bad taste in my mouth about “family”.  I mean, sure I appreciate my parents giving me food and all that.  And the whole “giving me life” thing is great, though not without its flaws.

But, since I moved out to Japan, I don’t keep in contact with any of my family.  Moving out at 18 and living on my own was probably the greatest feeling of freedom I’ve ever had.  I’ve never felt homesick or anything because I finally felt I was somewhere I could be myself, without having to constantly look over my shoulder or having my parents lecture me about how I’m “making Jesus cry”.

I now want to ask you about moving to Japan. You seem to be very happy with your decision and feel like you’ve truly grown as a person. How do you feel being a minority in Japan has changed you for the better?

Hmm… that’s a very complicated question.  I like Japan because its very safe and, for the most part, very calm.  Tokyo is a huge city where you can find anything at any time, but I’ve never felt unsafe walking around at night and/or by myself.

 A lot of people think I like Japan because people treat me special.  It’s actually the opposite.  I hate being singled out or people assuming I act a certain way because I’m American or white or whatever.

Being a visual minority has really opened my eyes to a lot of things I would never be able to learn any other way.  I mean, no one is burning a cross in my front yard or anything, but there are always people who dislike you or don’t trust you just because you don’t look like them.

Like if I sit down on the train and the person next to me stands up, there’s always that moment of, “did they stand up because they are getting off soon, or is it because they don’t want to sit next to me.”

Like I said, I’ve never had anything major happen to me.  But, there are little daily things that I think help me, in a small way, understand what minorities in America, for example, probably go through every day.

Do you think you’ll ever move to a different country in the future?

I don’t think so.  I’ve been back to the US a few times over the years and it just never feels right.  I haven’t been to many countries, so obviously I can’t say I would NEVER do it, but it would be highly unlikely.  Unless I retired somewhere super cheap like Thailand or Malaysia. 

You did two excellent videos about working for a company that was a complete scam, and about being homeless for 3 weeks and how you not only got out of it, but also how you were able to get a job working in IT. What advice/warning signs would you tell to young adults on their own for the first time looking for a job?

Oh man the stories I could tell you. 

I mean, the simplest advice, and maybe the most cliché, would be “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. 

Now, all this happened to be before this whole “internet fame” thing was considered normal. 

Nowadays on Youtube someone can get a viral video and make thousands of dollars overnight, so the concept of what is “normal” in terms of money/career has definitely changed over the last several years.

But, I will say this: 99% of the time, taking shortcuts isn’t worth it.  There really is no replacement for hard work.  Even people online who seem to be an “overnight success” have been grinding and working for years and years to finally get that break. 

I mean, I made crappy videos for 18 months before I got any kind of break, and that helped a little but I’m back on the grind again. 

You and your girlfriend are an adorable couple and I enjoy the videos of the two of you! How did she respond when you first told her that you do YouTube? Does she enjoy appearing on your channel? 

Haha when she first came over to my apartment and saw lights and a camera she was probably like “what have I gotten myself into…”

She is really camera shy, so it was a struggle to get her on camera.  As I recall, she liked it, but then she started reading comments and it turned her off to it pretty quick.

I do want to do more with her, so I’m thinking of started a second channel where it’s just us doing typical “Youtube” things like eating weird candy or stuff like that.  Now that my channel is video essay-type videos, it’s probably a good idea not to mix content too much.

I love it whenever you do film reviews and when you talk in depth about certain celebrities. (Your video on Amy Schumer continues to be a favorite of my husband I’s to this day!) Have you always been a fan of pop culture? Do you have any plans to do these types of videos on a more frequent basis?

That Amy Schumer video was my first real break, but I’m still not sure why haha.  That video was kind of my first try making a video essay entirely with motion graphics, and compared to my recent stuff I think it sucks haha.

I still don’t know if people want me to do “celebrity videos” or if it was criticizing Amy Schumer herself that people liked.  I’ve done some other celebrity videos, but obviously they weren’t as successful as the Amy Schumer one.

I have a series on my channel called “the biggest problem with…” where I talk about problems with a certain movie or series, but that only works if there’s a reason for it. 

13 Reasons Why was about suicide, and I felt it didn’t do a very good job.  Spider-man was rebooted, again, and was now part of the Marvel Universe, so everyone was wondering what it would be like.  Netflix made a Death Note movie, and everyone was curious how it would turn out.

But, I feel like if I just made videos where I criticized movies over and over again, it would get stale after a while.  Or maybe not, who knows.  Maybe I should try that more often haha.

What direction would you like to take your YouTube Channel in the future? Do you have any other career/life plans you would like to achieve?

I actually do have some big plans.  I really like those recent animation channels, like TheOdd1sOut or Jaiden Animations, and really want to try to make those kinds of videos.  You asked about doing more film reviews or whatever, and maybe that would be a perfect fit.

A comedy cartoon style review of a movie or TV show.  Then I could keep it on my main channel, since it still kind of fits.

I mean, a simple goal I have is to someday make enough money to survive only from my Youtube channel, merch, patreon, whatever.  Chances are it will never happen, but that is the ultimate goal.

I’ve had to accept the fact that I’ll never hit 100,000 subscribers, but 50,000 would be nice.

But honestly, and I know this sounds suuuuper cliché, but I make videos really just because I love doing it.  I currently get no money at all from my videos, so if I didn’t do it for the love of the craft, I would have quit a long time ago. 

 Thank you Alex! If any of you are interested, you can check out his Channel here.  You can also follow him on Twitter here. Alex, I appreciate it very much that you took the time to answer my questions and best of luck with your Channel. I wish you nothing but success and happiness, you deserve it!

YouTube, Masked Babe, Interview

My Interview with YouTuber Masked Babe

(originally published on November 27, 2017)

There’s a young lady that’s been making some waves on YouTube lately. With her intellect, research, and alluring voice, it won’t be long before she gets a pretty large following!

While our political views may be different, I admire her talent. I recently asked her if I could send her some questions and she was very gracious about it. Below is my interview with Masked Babe.


1. When did you decide to start your YouTube Channel? Did you have a particular direction in which you wanted to take it?


I made Masked Babe in around late 2015, I had a totally different direction for the channel then! I was making videos of the “political nature.” I was just fresh out of high school with a lot of time on my hands. I didn’t have a lot of background in politics, so needless to say… That didn’t work out too well. I took some time off, maybe a year? I decided that I didn’t want to give up on Masked Babe, but I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I was watching a lot of videos at the time that were drama involved? That’s when I decided that was the direction I wanted to go in! I was tired of seeing the same things being talked about over and over and I wanted to be the change that the commentary / drama community needed. I decided not monetize my videos and not make a single penny, YouTube needs that right now.

2. You have done some excellent videos “exposing” certain YouTubers! Do you plan to continue doing these types of videos? If so, do you have any others you would like to “expose” in mind?


I love the content I make! I will continue to make it after seeing such positive feedback. It’s been really great making these videos and I feel really good about them so far.

3. Your Channel Name-“Masked Babe” is quite intriguing! How did you come up with it?


I came up with the name “Masked Babe” because I didn’t exactly want to include my face in my videos. I want people to watch me for what I have to say, not because of my face, chest, or pretty background. I want people to have to listen to me to get to know me, and really it lets the viewer create whatever image they’d like of me. I can be literally anyone I want with my character, so long as she’s masked…. It’s a freedom, because even if I were to ever have a large following.. I’ll have my private life just that, private.


4. I saw your video recently in which you said you got a strike because of your Joy Sparkles BS Video? Can you give us any info as to why you believe you were given that strike and do you have an update on your appeal? I think I can speak for all of your fans and say we hope you can get it appealed!


Recently, I’ve been given a strike and to be honest I wear it as a badge of honor! I think when you make content that you knew would rub people the wrong way when that was your intention… Is probably the most rewarding. I know that I have a voice now and a place to share my thoughts to the people that I want to hear them which is the haters! Personally, I don’t know who flagged my “JoySparkle BS” video but something tells me it’s the fans. They have left comments in the past in defense of Joy. I don’t care who it was, I’m just glad I made someone mad enough to false flag me. You have to giggle knowing someone is mad enough to create lies about you! Bless them. I have since appealed the video but it just ended up in YouTube keeping the strike against me. I have other platforms to communicate with my subscribers, so I feel fine with having a badge!


5. Are there any particular YouTubers that you like to watch and would you like to collab with any one of them?


I consider myself to be a bit of a hermit. I recently just started interacting more since my subscribers are the most important thing when it comes to my channel. I’ve never really thought of doing a collab for that reason, I’m just very closed off from people that aren’t in my bubble. It’s a flaw, I can admit that. I try a little bit more and more to come out of my bubble and that’s why I enjoy my live streams so much! I feel like I get closer to not being so shut off from everyone else.


6. Can you let us know of any future plans for your YouTube Channel and anything professional you would like to achieve outside of YouTube?


Expect more videos from me, I don’t post that often because I believe in quality more than quantity. Taking my time, and really sitting down thinking about what I want to do is something that takes time for me. Fun is also the most important factor in my videos, I want the energy to come through my videos, and I think that’s why these have been better. In the future, in dreams, I’ve always wanted to be a radio personality or something of the sort. Entertainment has always been a part of my dreams, and vision for myself and YouTube is how I channel that energy and hopefully something great could from it but if not.. That’s fine too! I love things the way they are too.


Thank you so much, Masked Babe! I wish you nothing but the best with your Channel and know you will go far! You can find her here. Be sure to check her out!



Interview, Ted Bundy, Rhonda Stapley

My Interview with the Woman that Survived Ted Bundy: Rhonda Stapley

(originally published on November 20, 2017)

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were faced in a life or death situation? Do you ever watch movies based on true stories about murderers and find yourself thinking, “How could he/she be so stupid to be in that situation in the first place?” I’m about to share with you an interview I did with a very brave and courageous woman who, after being repeatedly raped, was able to escape the horrifying situation before it turned deadly. This survivor’s name is Rhonda Stapley, and she was able to escape the hands of the serial killer Ted Bundy before it was too late.

I ask you to read Rhonda’s words with an open heart and mind. It’s so easy for us to judge others when it comes to various situations and think what we would have done differently, but the truth is, not one of us will ever know for sure what we would actually do in a situation like that unless it were to actually happen.

The heartbreaking thing is, not only was Rhonda caught in that ordeal herself, but she had to quietly suffer in secret for years. In this interview, you’ll learn about that horrifying night in which she almost lost her life, her years suffering from PTSD in silence, and her courage to write her book; plus many more facts that are important to know about Rhonda and her story.

One of the many things I hope you take away from this interview is to never just assume that the victim is lying. Victim shaming has been part of our culture for far too long. In order for them to heal properly, never, ever, assume they’re trying to get attention. I cannot tell you how damaging that is.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for Rhonda, but to look at this interview as both a cautionary tale and how this wonderful woman is a true survivor. I believe that by her speaking out and by writing her book about her experience, she will no doubt save many lives. In fact, she most likely already has.

So, enough from me. Here is my interview with Rhonda Stapley:

1. First of all, I want to thank you for doing this interview. I would like to start by asking you about the moment he pulled up in his bug and offered you a ride by to campus. You said that the bus you were waiting for was late and you accepted a ride from Bundy because he seemed nice-and I understand why your point entirely. After your horrific experience with Bundy, was it hard to accept rides from anyone unless you 100% knew them due to your PTSD?

      I had never experienced any type of criminal behavior up to that point. I had complete trust in everyone and never had reason fo have suspicion, much less fear. My world changed forever on that day.  After my encounter with the devil, I initially withdrew from everyone. I stopped going to social events, church, even many classes. I became very self-reliant. I learned to drive my own car in city traffic. I learned ways to get where I needed to be without anyone’s help or I just simply didn’t go.  Years later, when the flashback part of PTSD was happening, I nearly stopped riding in cars all together, unless I had to. It didn’t matter who was driving. I think the reason for my fear of cars so long after the event has to do with the car being the FIRST place I actually felt fear and panic. My mind decided “all cars are darn scary and they will all crash and burn” instead of “the monster that drove that one car years ago was dangerous.”

Of course, I over educated my children about accepting rides with strangers. Today I am cautious, but truth is that I have arranged my life so there is hardly ever a situation where I would need to have a ride from other people.

2. After you were sadly raped by Bundy, was it hard to trust another man afterwards-your husband included?

 

    Absolutely! I still have trust issues. There were times after the assault where I would not go out with any guy because, well… you just never know! Then there were times when I would go out with really low life guys because my self-image had been shattered and it seemed like nothing mattered anyway. Those two extremes pretty much summed up my life for a few years and I am sure many of my dates were confused by my sudden changes of heart. My husband was, somehow, different. He seemed honest and sincere and kind right from the get go. He had a huge dog that didn’t like me that I was more afraid of than I was of Barry.

3. When you got back to your dorm room, were you able to sleep that night? Were you able to process any of what had happened?

      On the long walk back my room I made up my mind that I would never tell anyone what had happened and just put it out of my mind and never think of it again. First I bathed over and over. Then I slept….. really deeply asleep…. possibly because I was exhausted and possibly because sleep was a way to avoid thinking about what had happened. Then I started doing exactly what I had promised myself to do. I pretended all was fine and dandy. I never attempted to process any of those emotions and just forced my mind not to go there.

4. After that horrible night, you said that you wanted to move on with your life because you felt ashamed and were worried about how people would treat you. How hard was it over the years to see countless documentaries on him? Did any of the media attention help you come to terms with the experience, or were you just hoping to leave it behind? 

    On the outside I tried leaving it all behind. Not many knew that I purchased every book and read every article about Ted Bundy. Inside, I had a need to learn all I could about him. The more I learned, the worse my opinion of him became. There was no way to get my head around the fact that someone who seemed so “normal” could do such horrible things. Making sense of what happened felt important to me but, of course, there was no way to explain his murderous mind.

   As far as shame and worrying about what others might think of me, in the beginning I felt certain that the assault on me was an isolated incident. I was dealing only with my personal loss of confidence and self-worth. Weeks later, when more women were missing and bodies were being found in canyons, the shame grew because I feared everyone would blame me for not telling sooner. Then after Bundy was arrested and safely in jail, I still could not tell because then I feared people would not believe me. “I was attacked by that guy who killed those women.”  Sure you were! Lying attention seeker!

5. Tough subject, do you have any thoughts on Bundy’s final interview? Did his execution provide you any relief?

 

     I was hugely disappointed in his last interview. I really wanted him to fess up and let the families of the missing victims find the remains. I felt angry that he accepted no blame and said pornography caused his behavior. While I feel that porn in not healthy for anyone, if it directly created serial killers there would be tons and tons of them. Not everyone who watches evil things becomes evil. There had to be something else wrong in his upbringing or his brain to allow him to be so cold and uncaring.

 

    I looked forward to his execution. I don’t know what I expected to feel when he was finally gone, but what I felt was just a very heavy sadness. The fact that one human being could intentionally cause so much pain for so many people and not show remorse or try in any way at all to make things even the tiniest bit better was unbelievable. So much pain and so much suffering made me wonder why God would allow one young man to continue as long as Bundy did. At least he was gone! I no longer needed to worry that he would escape again.

6. You said that you dealt with a bully of a boss in 2011 who reminded you of Bundy, and that’s what convinced you to seek therapy. How hard was it to revisit those memories? What was your overall experience with therapy? How did your family react when you told them what happened?  

     When my boss raged at me with the same level of anger and the same tone and vocal inflections and even many of the exact words that Bundy had used against me all those years ago as I lie on the ground in the canyon crying and begging for my life, all of those emotions that I had never faced came vividly alive for me. I had nightmares and flashbacks and panic attacks. I had insomnia, chills, physical pain. I knew that whatever was happening had to be due to that long ago experience. I thought I was going crazy. I knew about PTSD and was pretty sure that was what I was dealing with. I studied up on it as much as I could and everything I read said that you need to talk about the experience in order to heal the emotional injuries. My family still had no clue about my history and I didn’t know how to tell them, that was why I decided to find a therapist who is legally and ethically bound to keep my secrets.

  Revisiting those memories was horrible. I could not have done it without a therapist guiding me.  The story came out in short gushes over many sessions. I wanted to tell it quickly and get my life fixed as I believed from my research that was the best way to do it.  I would start out telling it quickly and try to rush through it, but then I would skip over much of it. The result was I had to tell it and retell it and retell it many times before I finally got all the pieces out. I found that each time I told it is was an itsy bitsy bit easier.

    The therapist encouraged me to share at least part of my story with my family. My husband surprised me by not really “getting” what was going on. He said, “That was a long long time ago. Just get over it!”  My daughters were more supportive. I kept it secret from my mother and siblings until the book deal was complete and I had airline tickets to the Dr. Phil Show. I thought it best to tell them before I went on television. They have been supportive. Most of my fears  of what would happen if and when I told my family were totally unfounded and I am glad they know. Although, I still believe I made the right choice not to tell them years ago.

7. In addition to therapy, you had a secret online pen pal that you were able to talk to who had also had a brief encounter with Bundy. Did she go through similar feelings such as yours? (PTSD, shame, guilt?) Do you still talk to her?

   My Secret Pal probably saved my life. I started talking with her months before I started therapy, when I was positive that I could deal with PTSD by myself because I had dealt with all the Bundy crap by myself all these years. She pointed out that I hadn’t actually dealt with any of it and that I really neaded to start healing with someone who understands PTSD. Her experience with Ted Bundy was not nearly as intense as mine, but she told me she still shudders whenever she thinks about it. I have never met her in real life, just as an email and Facebook friend. We exchange Christmas gifts. I would love to meet her someday.

8. You had been quietly suffering from PTSD for many years before you saw a therapist. I’m deeply sorry to hear that you went through that. How have you been able to handle your PTSD since entering therapy and what advice do you have to others that have it as well? Does it still affect you today?

     I am sure that I had PTSD most of the time since my Bundy encounter, but other than a few bumpy years immediately following the attack, I managed to ignore all those symptoms. I never forgot what happened, I just refused to let my mind go to the place where those memories were stored. In therapy, I gained the courage to take a look and revisit those memories and re-experience the fear and the pain. I also learned coping skills and tricks to pull my brain back into the present during those times when flashbacks or panic attacks tried to force me into the past. I learned to trust myself again (still working on that) and have eliminated the self-loathing feelings I carried for years. Today I am healthy and happy. My life is going well. My family is close and I have received an enormous amount of support and positive strokes from people who have read my book or seen my interviews. I am so happy that I finally let go of this long kept secret and I want others with PTSD to feel empowered to find a way to share their personal stories. Everyone doesn’t need to write a book, but I really think everyone needs to find someone they can open up and release their bottled up emotional pain.

9. Ann Rule’s publisher put your book out. How did it feel when Ann Rule herself do the forward to it?

    Having Ann Rule write the forward for my book has been an amazing blessing for me. She has always been my secret hero and her true crime books led the way in telling the stories of the victims and not just the criminals. She wrote The Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy. She knew him personally and having her authenticate my story is truly a gift.

10. I am so glad that you wrote your book. I am confident that it will save lives for years to come. (I also don’t doubt for a minute that it has already.) What advice would you give to anyone who has survived being attacked?

      First I would want to tell them that a sexual assault is NEVER the victims fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, how late at night you were out, if you had been partying, drinking, walking alone. It is not your fault.

      Next I would encourage them to report it. Telling could help prevent it from happening to someone else. (Trust me… the guilt from not telling is horrendous if something does happen to someone else!). In addition, telling is the single best way to make sure you don’t set yourself up for PTSD at some future point in your life. It is well known and documented now that holding emotional pain inside and never dealing with those injuries is one of the main risk factors for developing PTSD. This is why police and fire fighters are required to receive professional counselling after they help with a traumatic call. This is why team of psychologists are sent to sites of school shootings and natural disasters. They hope to be able to talk to as many survivors and witnesses as possible in order to prevent future PTSD cases from happening.

     I am so pleased to see the recent news accounts of women finally coming forward and reporting abuse that happened to them. Women have been silent for far too long. We will never be able to eliminate it all together, but one way to make abuse and assault start to become less frequent is by victims making a lot of noise and letting would be perpetrators know we are not going to silently let this continue.  

Thank you so much Rhonda for allowing me to interview you. This has been one of the biggest highlights of my career as a writer and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity to speak with you.

You can buy Rhonda’s book I Survived Ted Bundy: The Attack, Escape & PTSD That Changed My Life here. You can also find Rhonda’s official Facebook page for her book here.

I also want to encourage you all to read the interview she did with Cracked.com. It’s a well done interview and I honestly believe that you will find it to be a great article as well.

Thank you again, Rhonda. You are not only an inspiration to many, many people, but to me as well.

Ready to Glare, YouTube, Interview

My Interview with YouTuber Ready to Glare.

(originally published on October 31, 2017)

Meet Giulia-Christina Philipp. This 23-year-old grad student has her own YouTube Channel named Ready to Glare. The channel has 12K subscribers so far and has been getting a lot of positive attention. Giulia-Christina has a channel that she can truly call her own and that’s why we love her. She does videos responding to the cringe posts she finds on Tumblr, her honest yet tactful response to other YouTube videos, her adorable videos she sometimes does with her husband and more serious ones such as addiction and suicide.

 I know that she is going to keep gaining subscribers on YouTube and I know that she’ll keep getting better while still staying true to who she is. Giulia-Christina honestly looks like the type of woman any of us could gab with and binge watch Netflix.

 So, I’m very thankful she’s agreed to do this interview with me. I can’t wait to see her channel grow more!


1. You and your husband said in a video that you proposed to him. I love that! Can you tell us how long you two had been dating before you proposed and how you proposed?

We had been dating about a year and a half or so. I proposed in a rather low-key way. While huge romantic proposals are cool and everything, I don’t think I could see it as entirely organic if I tried to do it. I’m not that type of person and I attach the idea of romance to the real rather than the theatrical. That might be cynical of me, but it’s the way I see it. Anyhow, when I proposed, I bought two inflatable crowns from Urban Outfitters and inflated them. It was a night like any other. I had school that day, Jacob had work. We were sitting in my first ever apartment, a tiny one at that. While we didn’t love living there, we had made a life for ourselves. Jacob had moved in. We had started adulthood in a new way. And because of all this, I wanted to propose where we had lived, slow danced, shared laughs and cries. So, I turned to him and told him about how much he changed my life and how I wanted this to be a forever thing – it sounded better than how I describe it, I hope. But I cried and he said yes and we spent the night with crowns on and drinking Prosecco.

2. You said you move to the U.S. for college and now you’re in grad school. What made you decide to move here for college and would you say that you and your husband are going to end up staying?

My mom always sent me to American schools through out my life (with the exception of one). It was kind of understood that I would probably go to the US to study. I wasn’t forced into it or anything, I had the freedom to choose where to go, but I really wanted to live somewhere I hadn’t before that also had top institutions to study at. Since my mom and I lived in China previous to my moving here, she joked that she’d only pay for college in California since it’d be closer to her than the East Coast. I did want to move to California though because I felt it would suit who I am, educationally as well. We’ve discussed leaving. We probably will at some point but I’d like to do it when we both have finished with school, and I’m going for a PhD so it might be a while. We want to be “established” in our career path before we jump on a big adventure.

3. You said in a video that you wanted to be a professor in college and write fiction. What type of fiction do you want to write and are there any books in that genre that you would consider to be your favorite(s)?

I’d like to write what I call “realistic” fiction, similar to Bukowski, Fante, Murakami and some including magic or the otherworldly like Nabokov, Gogol, and Chekov. Those are some of my absolute favorite writers! I consider “Ham on Rye” by Bukowski one of my absolute favorite books, along with “After Dark” by Murakami and “Laughter in the Dark” by Nabokov. I also like Bukowski’s poetry, especially in “Love Is a Dog from Hell.”

4. It was heartbreaking to hear about your struggles with bulimia and your experience with being very close to committing suicide. I thank you for sharing your stories. I know you’ve talked about it in your videos, but do you mind telling us what lead up to your struggle with bulimia? Also, how has your husband helped you since then and what is your advice for anyone dealing with an eating disorder and/or suicidal thoughts?

So, I took a gap year after attending one of the most toxic high schools in my life. I have even been reached out to by people who went to school with me saying they felt the same way. Anyways, I took this gap year in order to re-energize myself for college and in that time I had a bit of a wild phase. I was partying significantly and abusing some drugs too. Between that and the depression, my feelings of self worth just came to an all time high and the bulimia was a method of control as well as lost control. My husband definitely helped by supporting me, listening to me, and comforting me when it seemed like the worst had yet to come. My advice is to be real with yourself. Don’t romanticize your depression or eating disorder, tell yourself how it is. And always find someone to talk to, of course a medical professional is best, but that’s not always available. So at least be sure you have a friend to talk to, whether it’s family or even someone online.

5. You’ve talked about mental health as well. That’s great because I’m a big mental health advocate myself and the more people talk about it, the more the stigma against it will disappear. How is your mental health today and how do you go about treating it?  

My mental health today is quite stable. I do get quite overwhelmed because I put extreme pressure on myself in terms of school. Ironically I recently got my first grade in graduate school and I called my mom saying I was disappointed. I got an A-. I’m trying to be more lenient though. When I find my mental health being tested by overwhelm, anxiety, and depression, then I address it. It’s hard to acknowledge that you’re struggling, you feel weak and stupid. But you’re not. And once I address it I actively take steps to “fix” it. I make a video talking about it, I watch my favorite creators, I watch my comfort show, Friends. Sometimes reading my favorite quotes too. Or even looking at my tattoos. I always tell my husband and my friends and every time I am reminded I’m not alone.

6. I’ve seen you talk about makeup more than once on your channel. I’m a huge makeup geek myself so I love seeing you talk about that! What are your favorite brands and do you have any holy grail products? (Mine is the YSL The Shock Mascara!) 

I am a sucker for Anastasia Beverly Hills highlighters. I have never been disappointed. Jeffree Star as well, those highlights are blinding! Those two as well as the Modern Renaissance palette by ABH are my holy grails. I use them on the daily and the quality is impeccable. Funnily, at first I didn’t like my Jeffree Star highlight, but I had only started using makeup and let me just say, brushes make all the difference. I was so ignorant to that.

7. Speaking of beauty, I love your taste in clothes. My favorite shirt I’ve seen you wear was the shirt that said “Goth Spice”! What are your favorite stores to buy clothes? 

Ah thank you! I love graphic tees. I shop from quite few stores to be frank. Burger and Friends is a favorite! Other stores include Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Pink Uzi, Witch Worldwide, Wicked Clothes, and Missguided.

8. Finally, where do you want to take your channel in the future and are there any YouTubers that you would like to collab with?

I am still very much figuring out where I am going. I do love the commentary videos as well as beauty so I think I’ll continue combining the two. I see myself continuing to do that. There are so many YouTubers I think I’d have fun collaborating with, my favorites such as Blaire White, Jaclyn Glenn, Andy Warski,  and No Bullshit to name a few.

 Thank you so much for talking to me! I had a blast corresponding with you and I’m very grateful I got to know an awesome person.

 Please check out her YouTube Channel here and don’t forget to subscribe! You’ll find yourself binge watching her videos in no time!