lately (06.15.20)

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

Just wanna preface this post by saying that if you haven’t yet contacted your local officials about defunding your local police department (and diverting those funds which would’ve been used for, like, weapons and armored tanks (and other, less visibly egregious expenses), toward social services like, for example, mental health and substance abuse treatment/interventions), this website might be useful for you. (Are you in the Campaign Zero/#8CantWait camp and think police departments should be reformed instead of abolished? That hasn’t worked in the past, so here are some alternative ways to frame the issue.)

(Also, I feel like I don’t plug Ear Hustle enough, so here’s my plug: Do yourself a favor and learn a little about life inside prison (and life post-incarceration) so you can start forming your own opinions about the prison industrial complex. Listen to Ear Hustle.)

Alright, so. Since my last update, I…

…received a bunch of EXO group order stuff:

exo group order go kpop merch - baekhyun slogan - delight albums cinnamon mint honey versions - suho junmyeon self portrait album - chanyeol washi tape memo stickers

Albums! Stickers! Washi tape! A slogan!

exo kpop group order go merchandise - suho self portrait solo album - junmyeon

I CANNOT get over how pretty Suho’s Self-Portrait album packaging is. I opted to receive a random cover so I had a 50% chance of receiving this version, but I’m SO glad I did. It’s SOOO PRETTY. The interior of the album is also really, really nicely done, but since I didn’t photograph the inside, you’ll have to consult an unboxing video. I just love this art heaux so much…

(Also, that Monster-era photocard… I miss you Kim Junmyeon.)

exo go group order - fanmade kpop merch - chanyeol tommy boy stickers

I adooore these Chanyeol stickers. The artist is LoveMeDoh, but I’m pretty sure they’ve been outed as a Jongdae anti, so I won’t link them here. But THAT’S MY TOMMY BOY!!! MY TOMMY MAN!!!

exo chanyeol washi tape - kpop group order go fanmade merch - memo stationery stickers

Chanyeol washi tape! These were made by @yeon_masking, and they came with little memo pads and stickers as gifts with purchase. I didn’t take a pic of the actual washi tape patterns, but they look like this.

exo kpop baekhyun exploration slogan reflective banner fanmade fansite merch

A Baekhyun slogan by @lofhyuny456, because I may already own a Baekhyun slogan, but I don’t own a cute Baekhyun slogan. (I own a sexy one. My K-Pop man contains multitudes.)

exo baekhyun slogan - kpop group order go - photocard keychain - exploration concert - fansite fanmade kpop merch

The slogan came with a tiny acrylic keychain of my tiny K-Pop boy, plus two adorable photocards.

exo baekhyun delight albums - kpop group order go - cinnamon honey mint versions

MY BAEKHYUN DELIGHT ALBUMS. YES, I ordered one copy each of all 3 Cinnamon, Honey, and Mint versions, and YES, I am thinking of getting the just-announced Chemistry version too. Do not look at me.

Again, I didn’t take photos of the interiors of the albums, but this unboxing video gives a good idea of how nice they are. Like, they’re friggin huge, like slightly oversized magazines, with thick glossy pages and matte pages and protective plastic jackets.

exo baekhyun delight cinnamon version album inclusions - photocard stickers folded poster - kpop

This is the Cinnamon version and it probably contains my favorite photos from this era, including bi lighting Baekhyun

Here’s the Mint version, featuring Baekhyun squatting somewhere inexplicably high up with a lollipop in his mouth. This isn’t my favorite front cover, but it sure is my favorite back cover! I should’ve taken a pic of it, but you can also see it in the unboxing video @ 11:37. (Please go take a look. It’s so freakin cute.)

exo baekhyun delight honey version - inclusions - folded poster stickers photocard - kpop album

And the Honey version, aka the cause of my premature death. LOOK AT THAT POSTER. LOOK AT HIS OUTFIT. HIS BEJEWELED FINGERS!! This is also the version where Baekhyun’s wearing smudged lipstick/gloss, which… I got no words for.

…listened to WayV’s first full-length album, Awaken The World, and LOVED it. Honestly, I like every song on this album, but my standouts were “After Midnight” (just a goddamn JAM with an updated 80s kinda vibe), “Domino” (oh my GOD that repeated distorted brass(?) melody line!!! i CAN feel it in my bones!!!), “Bad Alive” (the “thousand dollar shoes” lyric is just SO GOOD; this track definitely has some NCT noise running through it), “Only Human” (I like this track because of its relatively sparse sound (compared to the other tracks), and the fact that Hendery and YangYang worked on the lyrics, which are Very Good™), and “Up From Here” (90s-worthy SEROTONIN!!!). (The interlude is also Very Good™, but NCT interludes are always good.)

There’s something about WayV’s vocal line that’s airier, softer, and lighter timbre-wise than, e.g. EXO’s, in a way that I always associate with C-Pop for some reason. They consistently sound very smooth and, like, textureless, in a very pop-y way. I’ve always kind of assumed that SM made deliberate vocal stylistic choices for the Chinese market (I’m thinking of Lay’s and Luhan’s voices for comparison), but whether that’s true or not, it makes for a very pleasant listening experience.

Anyway, WayV first performed their title track, “Turn Back Time”, during their Beyond Live concert a while back, so I already knew it’d be a weird, NCT-esque noisy song, and it is, but I canNOT get it out of my head:

1) Ten’s pink-streaked hair partially covering his eyes? DEVASTATING. 2) Crop tops!!! 3) It’s a good thing Lucas is so good-looking because I would not tolerate having to look at the underside of anyone else’s bare foot. 4) Lucas’ ripped-off wings?! 5) YangYang’s and Hendery’s rapping is so damn good. 6) Kun’s angelic bridge! 7) XIAOJUN’S EXTENDED HIGH NOTE @ 3:10. 8) their head-bobbing when they stop. rewind. turn. back time. 😩

…lost my mind watching the NCT 127 dance practice for “Punch” because they’re all wearing baseball uniforms with their socks pulled up to their knees (except for Taeil, who’s got too much booty to bother, I guess). I Am Looking Respectfully.

…listened to and loved N.Flying’s “Oh really.” from their 7th mini album. (The whole album’s very good, btw.)

…continued listening to Baekhyun’s “Ghost” on repeat. I don’t know what it is about this song, but it reminds me so much of being in my early 20s and feeling desperately lonely and self-destructively drinking and simultaneously feeling like I was in the prime of my youth. Like going out and drinking so you can flirt with a stranger for fun, but also knowing that you’re only doing it to fill a void in your heart. AUGH!!!

…listened to and adored ONEUS’ cover of Twice’s “Feel Special”. I’m pretty sure I only listened to the original version by Twice, like, once, but this cover was so good (LEEDO’S SINGING VOICE??? KEONHEE’S LISP!!!) that I finally went and watched the Twice music video and omg… Jihyo’s voice… 🆘

…LOVED this The Boyz x ONEUS cover of Sunmi’s “Heroine” for Road to Kingdom. I haven’t been keeping up with the show at all, but this stage is just SO good. (For anyone else who can’t understand the lyrics, the storyline picks up around the 1:25 mark.)

😭😭😭

…felt EXACTLY like this tweet when JONGDAE (and Chanyeol and Sehun and Jongin, aka every EXO member who’s not enlisted and not in another country) showed up to support Baekhyun on Inkigayo. idols married and parenting AND unbothered we luv 2 see it!!

…lost my mind over Taeyong and Mark doing the #CandyChallenge. Like, did Taeyong (aka sm’s biggest bbhl) ask the makeup artist to give him glitter eyeshadow specifically for this video? Did he pick out the two-thirds of a blazer he’s wearing just so Baekhyun would see it? Did he orchestrate the costume change? The camera transition? Did Mark get his smokey eye makeup done specifically for this video? How many times did they practice smiling with lollipops in their mouths? I HAVE QUESTIONS.

…couldn’t help smiling at this extremely wholesome TikTok.

…hit the end of my free trial and paid for Scrivener! It’s been great! I haven’t been able to focus on my writing all that well lately, but at least it hasn’t been for lack of very good tools.

…had realllly bad headaches for several days in a row. I think it’s been a combination of the weather changing and not sleeping well. I’m still struggling with sleeping a normal amount at normal hours, but really, who isn’t right now?

…felt foolish after realizing that the severe anxiety I have around driving could probably be classified as… a phobia. It’s very obvious in retrospect, considering that I burst into tears and/or hyperventilate half the time I get into the driver’s seat. :/

…reread “Drop Dead Gorgeous” by Maya (and its companion piece, “The Way We Get By”). It’s a classic Drarry fic which was taken offline ages and ages ago (but still circulates online in PDF form). I remember when it was still being published on Livejournal… I was obsessed with it then, and my GOD is it still good now. The premise is that Harry is part Veela (hence his jealous chest monster from Book 6) and his supernatural attractiveness is ruining his life.

I started my reread well before JKR’s most recent display of transphobia, and I hope that everyone takes to heart Daniel Radcliffe’s words about how “if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life – then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred” and ALSO that fans can’t just decide Harry Potter is authorless – not when JKR’s prejudices were built into the fictional world she created – but we can interpret [an author’s] work any way you want and they can have no say in it. So yeah. FUCK CANON.

…read The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. It is both self-conscious and self-aware (painfully so), and it is the source of this quote (which uses Obama’s words, which were a quote of MLK’s words, which were a paraphrase of minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker’s words): “But when we woke up on the morning of November 3, 2008, and listened to the radio’s day-before-the-election polling as we made our hot drinks, it suddenly seemed as though Prop 8 was going to pass. We were surprised at our shock, as it revealed a passive, naive trust that the arc of the moral universe, however long, tends toward justice.”

…read Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. This is the 2nd book in the Villians series, and gOD did I love it. I didn’t love it quite as much as I loved the 1st book, Vicious, but it would’ve been hard to top Vicious, tbh. Here’s my review for Vicious which I wrote but never got around to posting:

I was completely sucked into this book as soon as I read the opening scene. I definitely don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll just say it’s a dark and thrilling rollercoaster of college-roommates-turned-archenemies vying for each other’s attention in low-key homoerotic ways that include increasingly large quantities of blood. It’s technically horrifying and violent (in the names of Science™ and Justice™), but it’s also SO MUCH FUN. One of my favorite things about this book (which I’ve rarely seen used effectively) is that everyone tries to guess everyone else’s motivations and acts accordingly, but they often (very realistically) guess incorrectly. I’m 100% putting off reading the next book in this series because I want to savor it.

My review for the 2nd book is basically the same, but with less homoeroticism and more characters who are women. (I mean the homoeroticism is definitely still there, but it’s not as uhhh desperate? Also, [SPOILER] Eli walking around deadass naked while the world crumbles around him? Iconic.)

…read Severance by Ling Ma. It was very good. It was also incredibly painful and temporarily sent me into a mental death spiral, so if you’re prone to feeling overwhelming, obliterating existential despair when you think too hard about the futility of struggling against the gaping maw of capitalism (and abuse of power, and cultural assimilation), or if, at this particular moment in time, you don’t want to read a story wherein a fatal airborne illness takes out most of the world’s population… don’t. It’s a very good book, but like… Don’t.

…tried out the LuckyScent samples I ordered!

luckyscent - perfume samples

I did a review/impressions thread on Twitter, but I have a little more room to expand on my thoughts here, so here they are, from least to most personally appealing (lol):

Hyouge by Parfum Satori: Honestly, I don’t really like this, but it’s very interesting. It starts out super, SUPER fresh and green, with what smells to me like the faintest edge of citrus. It’s like taking a deep breath over a cup of very fragrant, freshly brewing tea leaves. Then it becomes more distinctly matcha, but with the lightness of, like, a jasmine tea – like purely refreshing matcha with no bitterness. The bitterness comes a little later, and the whole thing becomes darker and borderline unpleasant for a while, but over time, that too fades and retreats into pure matcha again. Definitely not something I’d wear, so I might pass this sample vial off to my matcha-loving cousin when we can finally have family gatherings again.

The Musc by Essential Parfums: So, first of all, I really dislike this straight out of the bottle – it’s too floral, too feminine, and too strong. After applying, it gets a little more interesting and less magazine-insert-perfume-sample generic, but it’s very much not my thing. It’s sweet and warm and juuust too floral, but it does bring to mind soft, cozy textures like velvet or animal fur. It dries down gingery and honey-y and overly sweet. Overall, I find this to be a pretty boring fragrance, but maybe it’s just my nose. In terms of imagery, all this really evokes in me is the feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket, but at somebody else’s house, so you’re cozy, but everything’s a little off. [EDIT: I tried this again, in a slightly larger quantity, vigorously rubbed between my wrists, and I got more of the animalic, musky, sexy-sweaty smell its name seems to advertise. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t enjoy how quickly it blended into the other sweet-floral notes.]

Relique d’Amour by Oriza L. Legrand: Uh, so… I put this on and it immediately triggered a visceral scent memory of my grandmother’s house. My partner took one whiff of my wrist and said I smelled like his grandmother’s house, so… It’s got this sort of mothball and menthol smell, like stuff that’s been sitting in storage for too long. Like clutter and forgotten things, like dust motes dancing in a shaft of sunlight and hard candies slightly melted in their wrappers and Danish cookie tins repurposed for holding sewing supplies. I actually really enjoyed this for the nostalgia alone, but I can’t imagine actually wearing this. I feel like this fragrance is something to be experienced, not to actually be worn.

Dzongkha by L’Artisan Parfumeur: This is warm and spicy, like incense, with a heavy dose of cinnamon. It’s sweet and slightly herbal, almost to the point of being savory, and the cardamom comes through quite clearly. It’s a very nicely done fragrance and I’m not doing it justice with my description, but it’s also probably not one I’d actually wear. I’d be interested to try other fragrances from this brand, though! (Actually, I’d be interested to try other fragrances from pretty much every brand I’ve sampled here.)

Kyoto by Comme des Garçons: This starts off with an intense pine needle/forest floor/dark greenery smell, then bursts into a rich cedar smell that carries throughout the dry down. There’s a bit of spice and sweetness to it that makes it smell like root beer or sarsaparilla, and there are a few minutes of very distinct “wet wooden planks at a spa” in there, too. It’s quite relaxing and meditative, but too masculine for me to enjoy wearing. I don’t really know how to explain this, but I understand what reviewers mean when they say this is a “linear” fragrance. I guess it’s because the scent journey is quite straightforward (whereas, say, Anubis (see below) feels like it’s full of twists and surprises). This is a very nice fragrance, although I think I’d enjoy it better as a room spray or candle than a skin scent.

What We Do In Paris Is Secret by A Lab On Fire: This is very powdery and very sweet and very soft. It’s basically baby powder and vanilla, though I’ve taken to describing it as “like a sexy marshmallow” in my head. It’s sleepy and cuddly and feminine and inviting. I definitely see the appeal here, but it’s not quite my thing.

1270 by Frapin: This starts out super boozy, like taking a big whiff of whiskey, and then quickly becomes almost sickly sweet, like honey wine/mead. Then it transforms into an earthy, woodsy smell, like casks or barrels of wine stored in a cool, dark cellar. (What it really reminds me of is touring the Natural Bridge Caverns several years ago. Like being underground when it’s hot outside, tucked away from the sun but enveloped in humidity and the smell of wet dirt.) It stays rich and sweet like nectar for a while, then dries down to something I’d describe as wine- or mead-soaked wood. I don’t know if I’d ever purchase a full bottle (unless money were no object!), but this is very, very nice.

Fig Tea by Parfums de Nicolai/Nicolai Parfumeur Createur: This one’s an eau de toilette (I think the rest of these are eau de parfums as are Kyoto and Dzongkha), so it doesn’t have as much lasting power as the other fragrances I tried. However! I really like this. It opens with a soft sweet burst of citrus that’s so yummy. It reminds me of the opening chews of a stick of Fruit Stripe (y’know, the stripey rainbow zebra gum). It’s like a vaguely tropical sweet tea. Just a nice, sweet, fruity tea with no pretenses. DELICIOUS.

Anubis by Papillon Artisan Perfumes: I was expecting this to be intimidating and overpowering based on the description, so I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this smells incredible. It definitely has a sort of otherworldly ritual aspect to it, which seems appropriate given the name and inspiration behind it. It opens with incense: a curl of smoke, some peppery sharpness, a heady, soporific sweetness. Toward the middle, you get a sort of medicinal funeral home and/or cemetery smell, which I can imagine some people might find off-putting, but I find it vaguely spiritual and very memento mori, in a comforting nihilism way. As it dries down, you get a sense of how complex/textured this fragrance is – it has layers and layers of scent that morph and fade, only to reappear again later. I really don’t know how to describe perfumes, but this one is gorgeous, and I would love to own a full bottle of this at some point.

Erawan by Dusita: I really, really, really love this and intend to get a full bottle of it at some point. It smells incredible and I find the whole experience of it, from opening notes to dry down, to be so, so comforting. It opens with the scent of greenery and dry tea and dry grass. It just smells very distinctly of hay, or a dry field in the summer, and then it cools down into this powdery, milky, creamy finish that reminds me of uncooked rice. It makes me think of the end of a very hot summer day, and a familiar embrace, and the comfort of being with someone you love.

This has been yet another post with, like, no photos, but this blog is for me, so… deal with it?

My current state of affairs: I’ve got a bunch of tabs open with plot-related writing exercises, because I’ve always struggled with plot and really need practice. I’m eagerly (desperately) awaiting my Le Labo fragrance samples. I’m compiling a wishlist of more LuckyScent samples to order someday for my olfactory pleasure. I came across a big list of EXO (and potentially NCT) fic recs I can work through. We have chocolate cake in the kitchen.

I’m not in the best place, mentally, but I know how to survive this. I just need to get through it.

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