NYC Summer Goals!

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Summer in the city means sundresses, rooftops, sidewalk cafes, turning hydrants into sprinklers and, of course The Great Flip Flop Debate (as an island girl, I refuse to give up my flip flops). I’m not a huge fan of the heat, but I’m determined to put down the controller and brave the sun more. So I’ve put together a list of fun summer outings I want to accomplish before September.

Sister Tattoos – Scheduled!

Ride the Thunderbolt

Find the most wild ice cream concoction

Sip fancy cocktails on a rooftop

Pack a picnic and head to a park

Rent kayaks

Explore a new neighborhood on a Citi Bike

Go to an outdoor concert

What’s on your adventure list?

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MoviePass is a Massive Scam

I’m not a generally a complainer, but over the last couple of months I’ve had such a horrible experience with MoviePass I feel morally obligated to warn my fellow humans.

I signed up for the service in early February. And I honestly loved it. MoviePass gave me the freedom to see even the shitty movies guilt-free. Making fun of crappy movies at the theater with my friends was actually one of my favorite things to do for the first half of 2018. When I reserved a movie too early one day and had an issue getting my ticket at the theater, MoviePass customer service responded immediately through their in-app chat system and sorted out my problem in time for me to catch the film.

I enjoyed my experience so much that I gifted Ryan a MoviePass for Valentine’s Day so we could have an easy date night whenever. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, MoviePass doesn’t have an easy way to gift a membership, so I just signed up for a second account with a different email address, my same payment method and surprised Ryan.

In April, I needed to cancel the account I made for him. He had never activated the card, downloaded the app or used the service. I thought this would be easy. I contacted customer service through my app, sure they would be as fast and helpful as they were when I had a ticket problem.

I was wrong.

My question went unanswered for DAYS. I checked in on my app every couple hours for two days and then had more important things to do. I had notifications turned on, so I just waited for the notification. Or an email. Or ANY form of communication. After 5 days, I checked on the app again. I never got a push notification alerting me to a response, but MoviePass had finally responded… and 5 hours later, closed my case because I hadn’t seen it and responded so they “assumed everything was good.”

I should note that their response before closing my case directed me to their website to cancel the account. There is nowhere on their website to access your account, so the website directs you back to the app where they don’t answer either.

After repeating this cycle – messaging them, opening a new case, getting the same response, no notification, case closed before I could provide more information – THREE TIMES, I finally got a new answer on the 4th attempt. They told me I needed the card in my possession and they needed the number to close the account. It took me 2 months and a lot of pain and suffering to finally get the unused card from him. At which point, I contacted customer support yet AGAIN with the card number. This time, they told me that it didn’t matter if I had the card. Because the account was under his name, HE would need to contact them to close the account.

OH! And they also made sure to respond after midnight and close the case before 7am for non-response. It’s not like I need to sleep.

It’s the end of June at this point so let’s recap: I have been paying for this subscription for three months while getting the run around about canceling the account. The account is linked to MY email address, MY bank account and I have the card IN MY POSSESSION. But now they need HIM to contact them to cancel? Bullshit. I am the owner of his account and my account. It’s clear at this point that MoviePass is going to do everything in their power to prevent me from closing the account.

So fuck them. Now I want MY account canceled.

They never responded to this request. They also stopped responding to my Twitter DMs for help. Thankfully, I was able to cancel my account and delete the app. THEN re-download the app, log into the gift account with my OTHER email and finally cancel that one too. I filed a complaint with the BBB (where their reviews are shockingly negative) and wanted to tell my story here as well so no one else gets dragged and charged for months.

I understand that MoviePass is struggling – especially with the recent launch of AMC’s A-list service – but is milking me for $10 a month so worth it to them that they’re willing to damage their reputation and customer perception? Clearly, MoviePass is just another greedy company willing to dick over the users they depend on just to make a buck.

Honestly, AMC’s program sounds MUCH better. And I’m sure Regal will introduce their own suite of options as well.

Have you ever used MoviePass?

Sunday Stats

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*Since my family first got an NES, I’ve had a controller in my hands. Exploring new worlds, meeting new characters and experiencing stories… in some ways, I’ve just connected better with the world through games. However, it’s also very important to me to be present in my life, to improve myself, to go out and MEET the people I’ve connected with online and to expand my knowledge. I spend hours in games; how do I level myself up?

In this weekly series, I’ll chronicle how I’ve improved my “stats” with completely arbitrary scoring.*

+5 Intelligence – How did I make myself a little smarter? What did I learn?
Mashable had an incredible sale on coding classes that would help me learn how to make games! I can’t think of a better format to tell the stories and create the worlds I want. There’s a game I’ve been dreaming up for a long time now… this feels like a step toward one day making it a reality.

-3 Charisma – How was I less awkward or more beautiful?
I was in an allergy fog all week. Red, itchy eyes. Runny nose. Clogged ears. Basically just a gross mess.

+1 Strength – New workouts, breakthroughs, challenges.
I don’t really do freelance work anymore. It’s stressful. It’s hard to get paid fairly. And it’s created tense moments between me and people I once respected. But this week I got a request. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s not about the money. This request comes from my first job. Freelancing for them was the start of my career.  I owe everything to that gig. “No” wasn’t even an option when they asked. It’s all about respecting your roots and being grateful for where you came from. And I am. And that feels like a strong move forward.

+2 Defense – Where did I consciously avoid or deflect negative energy?
I’ve been feeling really run down since coming back from E3. Allergies are a nightmare. I’m tired all the time. I’m dangerously unmotivated. So I perked myself up with a little treat from Strand Books. I went in for a pencil case to hold my bujo markers and got myself a new set of neon and glitter pens, a set of motivating purpose pens, sleek new NYC moleskine (I hope this means all the citybooks are coming back in this modern design!) and a big fat root beer float lollipop. Carrying the bag back to my office felt like a surprising little reward, even though I already knew everything that was inside.

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+3 Luck – Something good that happened this week.
We got the greenlight to work from home next week so I’m pretty thrilled about that.

-2 Wealth – How did I save towards my goals?
I’ve been on a bit of a spender this week… (that’s spend + bender, btw) Treating myself is a double edged sword. Next week I’ll make some cuts and get back on track.

How did YOU level up this week?

 

Why You Should Back The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls Multiplayer Card Game

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Have I ever mentioned I’m a fan of The Binding of Isaac video game series? I’ve put in over 2,000 hours across 4 different platforms and the replay value still keeps me coming back regularly. Edmund McMillen has been teasing a new game on twitter for some time now. On Wednesday, we finally got the big reveal in the form of a Kickstarter for a brand new, Binding of Isaac themed multiplayer card game!

By the time I got the press release in my inbox, the game was funded 3x over. It has far surpassed that now, which should tell you a lot about the enthusiasm surrounding this series. The community is busting through stretch goals at breakneck speed!

 

I backed the game immediately at the Trap Door level for the playmat and expansion cards. What makes this so exciting for me is the opportunity to share the quirky aspects of a game I love with my friends. When I have friends over or go to one of my Nintendo Meet-Ups, I can bring up to 4 people into the dark world of Isaac with characters, themes and items I adore.

I also love the duality of the gameplay. We’ll work together to bring down bosses and find loot, but I’ll have to make decisions whether to stick to my alliances or betray my friends (I’m a backstabbing queen. Trust me at your own risk).

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I’ve always loved the simple, grotesque aesthetic Isaac employs so I’m eager to explore the more than 300 cards representing items, characters, monster and loot. No video game is more creative with power ups (or downs!) than this one. Let’s see how these items are used in new ways! The tarot theme has also appealed to me and is inspiring me to create a game of my own (someday).

The resurrection of card and tabletop games over the last few years (as well as physical game copies and collectible bonus items) has caught me in its grip. Just like my newfound interest in DnD, I think there are a lot of reasons card/tabletop games are so popular.

Binding of Isaac Four Souls Multiplayer Card Game Layout

Protype of what the game layout will look like.

I co-manage a Nintendo Meet-Up group and we’re often frustrated with the lack of local multiplayer video games. Online play is fantastic, of course, but sometimes you want to play with people IN THE SAME ROOM. Also, screen fatigue is real.

Adding card games to the meet up- and reviving them in entertainment culture overall- creates a connection we’ve been missing in the digital age. Also I get to look at people in the face! Imagine that.

If you have a dark sense of humor, appreciate loose biblical and demonic lore, want to fuck over your friends or have ever been a goth/emo, you’ll probably enjoy this card game. Like the Binding of Isaac Tarot decks, this game is bound to sell out of McMillen’s online shop (if it even stocks there). You have until July 27th to back the game and effectively reserve your copy along with the rewards. Or you can always come over and challenge me, if you’re sure you want to die.

What video games would you want to see as card/tabletop games?

Lessons New York Will Teach You

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An ongoing list of lessons this great city will eventually teach you…

If you wear a dress, expect your ass to go on display at least 3 times a day. Plan underthings accordingly.

If you accidentally sext your Super, your apartment problems will be solved much faster.

You cannot walk your dog after 10pm in the East Village. Drunk girls WILL mob your dog for pets and gush over how adorable he is. You can’t have a puppy in NYC at all. Same reasons.

Cohabitation seems like a good idea to save on rent and bills. It is not a good idea.

Electric blankets for winter. Ice packs in your pillow case for summer.

It’s expensive to live here, but not to live it up here. Rent includes your membership to the greatest city in the world and endless free/cheap food and entertainment.

Sunday Stats

Sunday Stats.jpg

*Since my family first got an NES, I’ve had a controller in my hands. Exploring new worlds, meeting new characters and experiencing stories… in some ways, I’ve just connected better with the world through games. However, it’s also very important to me to be present in my life, to improve myself, to go out and MEET the people I’ve connected with online and to expand my knowledge. I spend hours in games; how do I level myself up?

In this weekly series, I’ll chronicle how I’ve improved my “stats” with completely arbitrary scoring.*

+1 Intelligence – How did I make myself a little smarter? What did I learn?
My feedly was junked up with old, outdated resources, so I made time to cull through it and add in new publications relevant to my industry as well as my career trajectory.

-3 Charisma – How was I less awkward or more beautiful?
This week, I was super awkward. I just felt really antisocial and didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. Throwing myself into work and writing helped.

+1 Strength – New workouts, breakthroughs, challenges.
I hit my fitness goals all week. It was good to get back into a routine post E3.

+2 Defense – Where did I consciously avoid or deflect negative energy?
My coven’s Facebook group has sort of dropped off the map, but my craving for connection has only grown. So I created the Coven of Curiosity on Slack in the hopes of gathering a bunch of awesome witches to inspire and learn from each other.

Join the Coven of Curiosity Witch Slack Group

+3 Luck – Something good that happened this week.
Small things happened every day that were nice. Mini cupcakes for pride, free breakfast, Ryan’s parents came up and brought me Wawa coffee. The week was filled with little treats.

+2 Wealth – How did I save towards my goals?
Two new Rover clients booked, putting my account over $5,000! Ryan mentioned that maybe instead of moving next year, we should stay and keep saving so that we can BUY an apartment! My savings goals outside of Rover are right on track and I made major progress in paying down my debts!

How did YOU level up this week?

San Jose Sidequest: The Winchester Mystery House

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“This house will poison you.” The tour guide warned. Between the toxic red wood and the original lead paint, he meant it literally. The Winchester Mystery House was built by Winchester Rifle Company heiress Sarah Winchester who, as legend puts it, was directed to never stop building by the spirits of people killed by the guns that made her family so wealthy.

It’s a solid ghost story made more interesting by the fact that the layout of the home is so strange and unusual. Cabinets open to reveal solid walls. Stairways end abruptly into ceilings. Doors open into 10 foot drops (or more!). And those are only a few of the oddities within the walls of the sprawling Victorian mansion.

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I believed the legend. I believed it because I lived it for years. In high school and into my Freshman year of college, I was plagued by a reoccurring nightmare where I was running from something chasing me through a bizarre mansion. As I ran through decadent rooms, I’d encounter stairways to nowhere, doors that opened into thin air, windows in the floors, walls that sparkled like embers and floors that shifted. I remember several of the rooms, but the dream always ended in the same place – a blood-soaked room full of candles with a pentacle drawn on the floor and a single light fixture in the center of the ceiling with a dim red light.

At least twice a week I’d wake up crying and sweating, but I had no idea this house in my nightmare was real! Then one night Freshman year of college, I had the TV on as background noise while writing a paper and I heard a creepy voice describing the house from my nightmare. The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. That moment triggered two things: 1) I never had the nightmare again and 2) I knew I had to visit the house someday.

So with my trip to E3 taking me to California, I booked a little side trip to San Jose to finally explore the mansion.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked my Mansion and Explore More tours. Was I Sarah Winchester in a past life? Would I feel weird? Would I get sick? Would I end up possessed? I tempered my expectations by reading Captive of the Labyrinth on the plane so I could better understand the facts of Sarah Winchester’s life.

The night before my visit, I pulled a card in my hotel room while thinking of Sarah Winchester’s life. It was the Six of Wands.

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This card is all about harnessing your talents and embracing success to make yourself known, which is exactly what Sarah Winchester did in building this house. Really, in building her life after the tragic deaths of her baby and husband.

 

On Sunday, I arrived at the site super early. The grounds are free to explore and they have a little cafe and gift shop. I didn’t get any ominous feelings walking through the gardens. Then again, I’d never seen the house from the outside before…

All around the sun-soaked grounds, fruit trees stretched their limbs, heavy with pears and apricots. There were even almond trees shading a quiet patio on the north side of the house. The aroma of flowers was overwhelming, but seemed to delight the hummingbirds darting above my head. I didn’t feel anything ominous or dark (despite the massive headache I ended up with all day). In fact, the energy was buzzing with creativity and curiosity.

I sat down in one of the stone rotundas by the front door and pulled more cards. Again I got the Six of Wands. Clearly, the card is Sarah herself.

Next I pulled a card to ask the spirits what I should expect once I entered the house. They gave me the Moon. It was an invitation to the truth. They wanted to set the rumors straight and remind me that I shouldn’t believe everything I hear. Things aren’t always what they seem.

Finally, the guide called my tour number and my group was ushered into the carriage port to begin. Inside the house, I felt comfortable, confused, but safe and curious. We wandered up steps and through narrow hallways. The guide pointed out a set of stairs that led into the ceiling, just like I dreamed. There was a window built into a floor in one room, which I also recognized. And, of course, the well-known door to nowhere (which is visible from outside as well).

We were several rooms in (there are 160 total) before my surroundings got SUPER familiar. The guide took us into a tight cube of a room with doors on every wall (one of which led to a steep drop if opened). In the center of the room was the light fixture from the end room of my nightmare – the one I’d seen covered in blood and filled with candles. The fixture and covering were almost exactly as I knew them to be, but in my version, the light was red and here it was blue. The guide described this as the seance room where Sarah communed with the spirits on what to build next.

A few rooms later, we were in the room with shifting floors. In my dream, the floor was covered in somewhat spongy, moveable panels. As it turns out, in the actual Winchester Mansion there’s a conservatory where Sarah Winchester kept her plants inside a sunny room. The floor panels ARE movable so staff could take them up to water the plants. AND they’re slightly soft, unlike a normal floor. Excess water from the plants would be absorbed and redirected to plants outside in an ingenious irrigation system.

On my second tour, a guide took a smaller group of us through closed off, damaged or unfinished rooms of the house. It was here I saw the “burning ember walls” from my dream. In one of Sarah Winchester’s bedrooms – dubbed the Crystal Bedroom – the walls glittered as the light hit them. As I moved around, the walls sparkled spectacularly. Crushed mica, our guide said, embedded in the wallpaper. It was absolutely stunning.

Sarah Winchester House Crystal Bedroom Crushed Mica Wallpaper

This photo doesn’t do it justice, but the pattern does look a bit like sparkling flames.

There were other rooms I knew – the ballroom, Sarah’s main bedroom – but those three were the most prominent. It was so bizarre to see the house in real life after seeing it so vividly in my dreams for so long. I still don’t know why I dreamed of this place or if there’s any real connection there, but I’m glad I go to see it and end this crazy story.

Have you ever had a wild case of deja vu?