There’s a rabid opossum inside of me and i’m on zoom

Y’all. I’m tired.

Earlier today, I asked my friends if anyone else feels like the world is imploding. If anyone else can’t concentrate because it feels like the world is breathing down their neck.

Surprise, surprise – everyone said yes.

But here’s the thing. What I really should’ve asked them is…does anyone else feel like there’s a rabid opossum inside of them?

That’s the best way I can describe it. On the outside I’m perfectly socially appropriate, perfectly calm and collected. But on the inside there’s an opossum that’s foaming at the mouth and shrieking and panicking about the state of the world. We’ve been in this pandemic for about three years now. Summer 2021 was supposed to be the end! The big celebration. Vaxxed, waxxed and ready to party. And yet.

January 2022. Everyone is getting COVID, it’s an exercise in futility to try and get a COVID test, no one really seems to know when this is going to end, and I went to the grocery store two days ago and they were completely out of chicken. Zero chicken left. Maybe that’s when the rabid opossum took up residence inside my soul. Because when I saw that empty grocery shelf, a little voice in the back of my mind reminded me of all of the zombie apocalypse movies I’ve watched. Like how one day there’s no chicken at the grocery store, and the next day a zombie horde has taken over New York City. Or something.

And I was like, dang, mind, calm down! But I can’t blame my subconscious. Because, honestly, the world doesn’t feel too stellar right now.

I’ve noticed something recently. Whenever I sit down to do some mundane task, the rabid opossum starts whispering to me. You’re ordering sushi delivery while we’re creeping towards 1 million COVID deaths? You’re writing a story while the world heats up like a faulty stove? THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS GOING ON, ELLEN!

Yeah, Rabid Opossum, I know.

It is very hard to be a normal human being right now, with a job and a life and an affinity for delivery sushi. It’s honestly a relief to know I’m not the only one feeling this, because I was worried for awhile. Whenever I hopped on a Zoom meeting and everyone acted as if our society isn’t totally bonkers right now, I felt like I was the weirdest person ever. Because while everyone else was going about business as usual, I was dealing with a rabid opossum reminding me that there’s no dang chicken left at my local grocery store because of supply chain issues. I felt like I was taking crazy pills, as Mugatu would say.

But after I realized I wasn’t alone, I realized something else. We’re all really, really good at suppressing our rabid opossums.

After all of my friends said “yes” to feeling vaguely rabid opossum-y, that became clear – because on the outside, they all seem perfectly fine. Going about their days, hammering down their opossums like it’s freaking Whack-A-Mole.

And I don’t know what I do with this new information. One of my friends asked me for advice – what’re you supposed to do when the world is bonkers and you’re supposed to function as if everything is fine?

LOL. Girl. I wish I knew.

I think that’s part of what makes the rabid opossum feeling so heightened. There’s a lot of advice going around right now about how to take care of yourself during this panini, but honestly reading it makes me feel worse. There’s something disconcerting about reading cutesy mental health articles tailored towards living in a time of global pandemic, global warming and intense social discontent.

I wish I could offer advice, but this is all I have. I’m an optimistic person at heart, and that part of me is still here. I believe that things can get better. But in the meantime, I’m just hanging out with my rabid opossum, hoping for the best.

Ellen’s Favorites: July 2021

I’m a day late in posting this, but time is an illusion, so I’m not too worried. Here are some of my favorite things from July 2021, from rainbow hair to the best lip balm ever!

Colorful Hair

Sooooo for most of June and July I had rainbow hair and it was amazing and I would recommend that every single person who has ever thought about doing it…JUST DO IT.

I went to Seattle salon Coupe Rokei for the ‘do in honor of Evening’s Pride month coverage. Keep in mind, this was my very first time getting a “fun” dye job. So while I was excited, I was also low-key terrified I would hate it and have to walk around with eye-catching hair for six weeks.

LOL, that definitely did not happen.

I’ve since returned to Coupe Rokei for a refresh – check out my new look here – but it was such a fun experience that I definitely want to do again at some point in my life.


Graphic Novels

As I’ve mentioned before, I love reading like the Barefoot Contessa loves Jeffrey. However, I’ve always stuck to standard novels rather than graphic novels. Sure, I read Maus and Persepolis in high school, but besides those I’ve strictly stuck to the written word.

UNTIL NOW.

I don’t know what’s going on with me. First rainbow hair, and now a sudden interest in comicbooks? What am I, sixteen and rebelling against my parents?

Anyway, on a whim I picked up the high fantasy graphic novel Monstress. It was such a rich and beautiful story, and the gorgeous illustrations made it even better. It was such a refreshing change, it made me wonder what other options were out there. So, once again on a whim, I dropped some cash on Paper Girls and Something is Killing the Children. Can’t wait to read them.


Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Peach

Like many, I am a lip balm aficionado. I am constantly searching for the Holy Grail of lip balms to banish chapped lips, my search never-ending and fruitless…

UNTIL NOW.

On a whim (are you sensing a theme here?), I bought the Lanolips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Peach from Target because I like peaches and I was hashtag-influenced by the adorable packaging. I had never really heard of Lanolips, let alone knew what the heck lanolin is.

Surprise! Lanolin is, according to the Lanolips website, “a deeply moisturizing oil naturally occurring in sheep’s wool”. And lemme tell you, those sheepies are doing the Lord’s work by producing that oil in their wool, because this is one of the best balms I’ve ever used. I slap this on my lips at night and wake up with a perfectly moisturized smile.

The peachiness is a scent rather than a flavor, but that doesn’t matter because I am definitely not licking my lips when I use this. I’m cool with lanolin and all, but I’m not trying to ingest oil from sheep’s wool. I mean, no disrespect if you are. This is a judgement free zone.


My favorite reads of 2021 (so far)

Summer is here, I’ve got no air conditioning in my apartment, and I’m reading up a storm! I set a goal for 25 books this year for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I’m about to roll past that. I’m especially proud of this, considering I could barely crack open a book in 2020. It feels good to get lost in another world again. Here are my three favorite reads of 2021 so far:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I got really into Gothic tales this year. I don’t know why it took me so long, because your girl loves eerie mansions, ghosts, mist, and panicked women in long nightgowns searching dark hallways for the spirit of her lost lover. In fact, I have a Gothic horror short story coming out this October in Nocturne Magazine!

Anyway, this book takes the classic Gothic story and sets it in Mexico, as you might’ve guessed from the title. Oh, and this book. IS. JUICY. A fantastic combo of scandalous, sexy and downright creepy. Pretty much every Gothic trope is in this book, which I consider a compliment. And I love the protagonist. Noemí Taboada is a wonderfully refreshing bright spot in a gloomy world. You’ll be cheering her on the entire read.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

YA Fantasy is my jam. I mean, I even wrote my own YA fantasy book which I’m currently pitching to agents! But books in this genre tend to follow similar scenarios and tropes – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always refreshing to find a unique book that blows you away.

And BOOM, this is that book. It took me a few chapters to get into it – it has a bit of a slow start – but once I was in…I was in. Girl, Serpent, Thorn has a great premise, is chockfull of detailed world-building based off of Indian mythology, and has a dreamy romance. Bonus points for how much the main character grows through this book. A solid growth arc is always satisfying.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

This novella grabs you by the collar, yanks you along and doesn’t let go until you’ve finished the book. Without giving too much away, this is about three Black women fighting the Ku Klux Klan. Except the KKK aren’t just the KKK. They’re monsters who feed on hate, and our hero, Maryse Boudreaux, is intent on bringing them down with her magical sword. Oh, and she also smuggles magical whiskey with her two friends, two amazing women I wish were real people. Because they’re awesome.

If you want action, a wildly imaginative story, meaningful commentary on bigotry and racism, and characters so lovable you literally grip your Kindle out of fear for their lives, then Ring Shout is your book. It blew me away!

Ellen’s Four Favorites for October

Greetings, minions! Long time no read, right? Apologies- I’ve been a bit busy running around with Evening and penning an ode to my pet hamster.

But like a two-week-old burrito you thought was okay to eat but isn’t, I’ve come back to haunt you with some truly terrifying stuff. Here are my four favorites- a podcast, a TV show, a book and a movie- for October!


Knifepoint Horror

I had a feeling Knifepoint Horror was going to be good when I saw this freaky picture as its icon.

Maybe it’s her, maybe it’s Hieronymus Bosch!

You know that feeling you get when you sense someone is behind you, but when you turn around, no one is there? Imagine that in podcast form. The show is, in layman’s terms, atmospheric and creepy AF.

Produced and written by Soren Narnia, this podcast employs a single narrator and very little use of music or sound to create a pure, untapped source of horror. Whether a strange neighbor or an ominous tract of land, Narnia explores a variety of stories that all have one thing in common- giving Ellen the heebie-jeebies.

The lack of sound effects and the presence of a singular voice feels like a confession, a friend or a colleague revealing a terrifying story to you, and you alone. My favorite episode so far is staircase.

You can listen to Knifepoint Horror pretty much wherever you find your podcasts- I listen on Spotify.

Over the Garden Wall

Over the Garden Wall is like a warm hug, a strange dream and a walk through the autumn woods, all at once. This limited animated series on Cartoon Network tells the story of two brothers lost in a strange forest. Along the way, they meet a suspicious woodsman, a very flippant bird, and vaguely threatening creatures with pumpkins for heads.

Yes. Vaguely threatening creatures with pumpkins for heads. Sign. Me. UP.

But, besides those good old creepy feelings- inject them directly into my veins, please- this is a beautiful work of animation. There are so many gorgeous scenes, and with an equally gorgeous story, it’s a true favorite of mine. It gets a re-watch every year and fills me with autumnal joy. You can watch Over the Garden Wall on Hulu.

Dread Nation

The zombie apocalypse + historical fiction + an amazing protagonist = Dread Nation

The sudden appearance of zombies has interrupted the Civil War, changing the nation forever. We follow Jane McKeene as she studies to become an Attendant, who are young Black women trained in combat and etiquette to protect wealthy white women. Of course, Jane wants more than this. When people start disappearing in the supposedly safe area of Baltimore County, Jane is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy.

Man oh man, is this a fantastic book by Justina Ireland. I blazed through it, and am ready to drop some cash on the second half of the duology, Deathless Divide. It effortlessly mixes action and terror with compelling characters, and digs deep into the racism and white supremacy of the United States.

You can buy Dread Nation wherever you buy your books, although might I recommend your favorite local bookstore or Bookshop.org?

The Witch

Y’all, you know me. I’m all about living deliciously. Experiencing the good life. Sampling Seattle’s fine cuisines. Buying pumpkin spice scented candles. And on every single one of my social media profiles, I ask the question- wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

Well, that question comes from one of my favorite horror films, the atmospheric and eerie The Witch. In short, a Puritan family is banished from their town and forced to live at the edge of a very creepy forest. Which may or may not have a witch living in it. Also, there’s a cute lil’ goat named Black Phillip. Chaos ensues.

And this movie has, dare I say, a happy ending? I mean, at least I believe it does. And it’s fine if you think otherwise. You’re entitled to your wrong opinions.

You can watch The Witch on YouTube.


Now, go forth and enjoy this strange, spooky season! Stuff your face with candy! Carve a pumpkin! Call forth an eldritch god! And after you have said god under your control, tell him to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

Happy haunting!

This Too Shall Pass

This too shall pass.

That’s probably my favorite phrase. I usually use it when I’m trying to get through a tough situation, or when I give advice to people with tinnitus. It’s very effective for people who’ve recently developed it. This too shall pass, meaning: you won’t always feel this gut-wrenching, churning fear. It will move on, and be replaced by something else.

Of course, this phrase is one of duality, and I don’t usually talk about the other side of it. This too shall pass means two things- as bad things go, so do the good. It is, effectively, a reflection on the temporary nature of life. Bad and good, in a cyclical dance.

Whenever I open up my calendar and look at this month- March- I see so many events and appointments I had planned. Vacations I booked in January, promises to grab coffee or go out for a drink. A jaunt to Pike Place Market- bustling, bright, colorful. I planned for normalcy, expecting time to move swiftly and regularly. There was no thought to it, no consideration for the phrase I’ve used so many times in my life.

This too shall pass.

Because it did.

I live in Seattle, in the midst of a global pandemic. We are considered one of the outbreak zones in the United States. Schools are closed, major events have been cancelled, and everyone is holed up in their respective homes and apartments and micro studios. Social distancing is the life we live now. It is an eerie, disturbing version of Seattle’s inclination for social isolation. This time, meeting with friends could mean the death of someone else.

At the time I’m writing this, there are at least 769 cases of the coronavirus in Washington. 42 people have died from it. Numbers pale, though, when you consider the anguish of families; the tireless work of EMTs and doctors and nurses and scientists and researchers; the uncertainty of so many lives. A number is easy to glaze over and hard to conceptualize, until you have an entire day, stuck in your home, to consider it. 42 lives, lost.

Several local restaurants and businesses have closed, quickly and violently. Their customers disappear and their revenue drops 50%, and suddenly they have no way to pay rent. Restaurant and bar workers are let go. Pike Place Market vendors temporarily close up shop. An artist friend told me they may not be able to afford living in Seattle anymore, because their business has dried up so rapidly.

It’s like watching a beautiful plant decay in front of me. A city I have grown to love and fiercely protect is rotting from the inside out, and I feel powerless to do anything about it.

There are things we can do, though, to slow the spread of the virus while also supporting people, places and businesses that we love. We can stay inside, call friends, buy gift cards, order delivery, donate to Venmos and GoFundMes. But the dread is still there inside all of us, I think. The knowledge that this is not normal, when will this end, and what will happen to people and places that I love?

And despite doing all I can, I still feel powerless. This is the result of that, a reflection of all the feelings whipping around inside of me. A byproduct of living through history.

We are living through history, although I never knew doing so would make me feel this way. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but this is different. This is a deep, shocked, rattling anxiety that allows everyone to still function, but remains wedged deep in our hearts like a parasite. It is the anxiety of the unknown, the realization of the phrase I used so much, I forgot its meaning.

This too shall pass.

But, of course, as I mentioned before, there’s a flip side to that. Because eventually, this too shall pass.

I do believe it. Normalcy will return, to an extent- but lives will be lost, people will be gone, institutions shuttered, families struggling and grieving. And while what is gone will be smoothed over by time and replaced with something else, what is missing will remain a permanent crack that cannot be fully closed, a tattoo that will never fully heal.

Recently, though, I’ve noticed things. Beautiful things.

In this strange moment in time, my vision has begun to shift. I’ve noticed how people in my city are rallying to help those who’ve lost jobs or otherwise been affected by the pandemic.

I’ve noticed the incredible music of the Seattle Symphony, played for everyone to hear through a free livestream. The show I work for, compiling a list of restaurants and businesses you can help during this time. The social media posts of people staying inside, flattening the curve, spending time with their families. How the sun flits across the blooms of a tree. The sound of a tea kettle. The smell of a candle. Small, gentle things.

This too shall pass. But while we’re in this liminal space, between what was and what will happen, we are lending kindness to one another. That is the soft spot in this murky time- kindness shows itself quickly and brightly amid the gray. While I’m worried, I’m awed and inspired to see what people can do for one another in times of struggle. I see it in so many ways. Donating to a charity. Staying inside as much as possible. Washing your hands like a fiend. Calling an anxious friend or family member.

You can borrow my phrase if it helps said friend or family member. There’s depth to it, and perhaps more anxiety when you get down to the core meaning. But no matter what happens, how bad this situation becomes or how quickly it heals itself, that phrase will always be true.

This too shall pass.

My TV pride and joy: Edible Education

Hi, everyone! Happy 2020. I mean, it’s February, but I can still wish you a happy 2020, right? Time is a construct, go wild!

Yes, I know. I’ve been slacking on this blog quite a lot. But I’ve been busy, I swear! Cavorting around Western Washington, being a bon vivant, eating bonbons while lounging on a chaise lounge…you know the deal. It’s a tough life.

Anyway, I did want to share one of my favorite projects I’m working on for King 5 Evening. It combines my two favorite things- food and storytelling- to create something that I’m pretty darn proud of: Edible Education!

Edible Education, because alliteration is awesome. Even better when it’s Edible Education with the Ever Effervescent Ellen, but that’s way too long so we went with the first one.

Each episode, I interview a culinary expert to educate viewers about various foods and cuisines. It can literally be any food or cuisine that deserves further investigation, which- surprise, surprise- is every food and cuisine!

I got to whip up some cocktails with bartending extraordinaire, Abigail Gullo!

I’ve discussed the ethics of eating oysters. I’ve explored the roots of Southern and Soul food with James Beard award-winning Chef Edouardo Jordan. I’ve gotten deep about deep dish pizza.

I have three goals for every episode- teach the viewer something new, entertain the viewer, and encourage the viewer to try something they might’ve never tried before. My goal is to demystify, welcome, encourage and delight. To me, food is a unifier. It can tell stories and bridge gaps in wonderful, unspoken ways. Not that I’m discovering world peace or anything. But, still, you know.

HOT POT. Give me all of it. Inject it into my veins. Actually, don’t do that.

Which food/cuisine do you think I should tackle next? I’m always looking for new ideas.

And there you have it. That’s one of the things I’ve been up to recently. I’ll be back soon with other tidbits. I am writing a book right now, so…

Wait, wait, wait, ELLEN IS WRITING A BOOK?

And that, my friends, is what we call a tease! See you next time!

What’s New: Emmy win and book news!

Hello, everyone! It’s summer in Seattle and life is good. The nights are long, the days are warm(-ish) and everyone has emerged from their dark apartments to frolic in the rare sunlight. It’s been an exciting summer so far- here’s what’s going on!

I won an Emmy!

Okay, so technically it’s a Northwest Regional Emmy. But it’s still an Emmy.

Anyway, I won my first Emmy! I won along with three other KING coworkers for our work on Evening’s “New Year’s at the Needle” special. It was such an amazing night, and I felt so honored to receive the award along with two very hard working producers! There were a ton of people who made the show happen, so it was truly a team effort.

The event itself was also really fun. At some point during the night, regrettably, I used the pointy end of one of the Emmy’s wings to pick up a french fry. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Other people were doing it at the table. Peer pressure, you know?

If you’re wondering, the dress is from Rent the Runway. I really wanted to emulate a disco ball for my look that night. Did I succeed?

Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove is here!

The short story anthology Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove is officially HERE! You can buy it on Amazon. My flash fiction piece “You Can’t Go Back” is featured in the anthology.

There’s a lot of great stories in the book, so I’d highly recommend picking up a copy! The eBook version is only $5, so if you’re looking for a cheaper version, the eBook is a perfect choice.

That’s all of the updates for now, but check back in soon for more! And of course, you can follow along on all the social media sites.

Cheers!

What’s New: Book News & More!

Hi everyone! Hope you’re having a lovely beginning of spring! I thought posting the occasional “What’s New” would be a good way to update y’all on what projects I’m working on, and when they’re coming out! So, drum roll please…

Pre-Order Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove!

  • MY SHORT STORY IS GETTING PUBLISHED! You can find my story, “You Can’t Go Back”, in the upcoming short story anthology Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove. It comes out on May 7th, but you can pre-order it RIGHT HERE! It would mean a lot to me if people read the book- I got a sneak peek, and it’s filled with amazing stories!
Each story takes place over the course of 5 minutes in the fictional Hotel Stormcove.

“Upgrade Your Man” with my new flash fiction piece!

  • My first piece of flash fiction, “Upgrade Your Man“, was published in Aether/Ichor a few weeks ago! Fun fact- “flash fiction” is a piece of writing under 1,000 words. It’s a fun challenge, and I love writing it!

And…goats are awesome.

Note the sheer, unbridled joy on my face as I’m surrounded by baby goats

Thanks for checking in, everyone! And, as always, you can follow me on all of the delicious social media sites for more updates and shenanigans.

Getting Published + Where to Find the Book

Greetings, friends! Exciting news!

One of my short stories will be published in an upcoming anthology, called Five Minutes at Hotel Stormcove. You can pre-order it right here. The book comes out in May.

And a beautiful cover to boot!

It’s such a cool concept for a short story collection- all the stories happen at the fictional Hotel Stormcove, and must take place within the span of 5 minutes. There’s a lot of great writers featured in the collection. I’m incredibly grateful to the publisher, Atthis Arts, for publishing my first short story.

Writing fiction is such a passion of mine, and I hope to publish more pieces in the future. I’ll keep y’all updated on where you can find my writing!

 

A Trip to Victoria, BC

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

I’m coming up for air after a whirlwind three months in Seattle, working for KING 5’s Evening show! How do I like my new job? As an international fast food corporation once said: I’m lovin’ it. No, McDonalds did not sponsor this post. But if they’d like to give me some fries for my free press, I’ll gladly accept them.

More on Seattle soon. First, I want to share a little video I made when I recently visited the city of Victoria in British Columbia.

Music by Incompetech.

This was my first time in Victoria. When I traveled to Vancouver, my mom and I asked one of the locals about Victoria- was it a good place to visit? His response was lukewarm.

Boy, I sure am glad we didn’t listen to the advice of a total stranger. Victoria is a lovely little city with a European flair. Seriously, I felt like I’d teleported to England when I stepped off the boat…which makes sense, because the city is named after England’s Queen Victoria. It’s a decidedly British city. Boats bob on the rocky coastline, high tea is served at The Fairmount Empress hotel. Queen Victoria herself, immortalized in stone, judges you from the front lawn of the Parliament building.

There she is! Always watching you.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and want to visit our Northern neighbor, I’d definitely recommend a little jaunt to Victoria.

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