Second Shot Down

And right on schedule, too. It’s been a few hours now and so far no side effects, not even soreness around the shot site (yet). My first one was likewise relatively symptom-free; I felt tired the day of, and went to sleep early, but otherwise no problems. Having now had my second shot, I’m now two weeks out from the full protection the shot will offer; I have not made any plans to celebrate by going to a crowd of people or anything, but, well, I still have time to plan.

I have words and thoughts for people who still see the vaccines as a political or conspiratorial issue, mostly revolving around variations of “For fuck’s sake, pull your head out of your asshole and get a goddamned shot, you mountainous pile of shit,” but I realize that is not me wearing my persuasion pants, as it were. At this point either you understand that getting vaccinated benefits you (good) and others (better) and can get us back to a more normal state of events (best), or you’ve decided that you want to make an effort not to understand that, in which case, neither I nor anyone else will be able to persuade you anyway. You’re just actively making it worse for the rest of us and dragging this thing out, and apparently some people these days don’t mind being the person actively making it worse for everyone else and dragging things out.

But, to the extent it may persuade: pretty please and with a cherry on top go get vaccinated, it would be lovely if you did. And in any event, now I have had my shots, and I feel pretty good about having it done and over with. I have a list of people I want to see. It’s long. I plan to spend a chunky portion of the rest of 2021 going through it.

— JS

Athena Scalzi

A Look At the FabFitFun Spring 2021 Box

Welcome to another post of me gushing about my love of subscription boxes! Today, I will be telling you about one that I have been getting for quite a while now, just over a year, in fact. It’s called FabFitFun, and it’s a subscription box that contains a variety of items pertaining to beauty, fashion, home goods, accessories, fitness, skincare, the usual wellness lifestyle box items. Specifically I’ll be talking about the Spring 2021 box, which is pictured below. 

(Image courtesy of FabFitFun)

The boxes are seasonal, so you get four a year, and each one contains between 8 and 10 items. FabFitFun is definitely more tailored towards a specific demographic, but I think the boxes contain a lot of items that could be enjoyed by all sorts of people, not just who their target audience is. 

Personally, I’ve really enjoyed getting FabFitFun, I think they offer a lot of bang for your buck, being priced at $50 a box (or $45 a box if you pay for a year of boxes up front). Eight items is definitely a good amount for that price, especially considering how pricey the individual items that can come in a box can be! Generally, the goods inside the box are worth about $200 total, so getting all that at a quarter of the price seems like a pretty solid deal. 

Not to mention, each box comes with tons of customization options, so you can actually pick some of the items that you’ll be receiving (pick from several options they offer, that is). Even though you get more customization options as an annual member, you still get three customizations as a seasonal member, which I feel like is a pretty decent amount. 

So, yeah, I really like FabFitFun. So much so that this past box I decided to upgrade to being an annual member. I figured since I’d already been getting their boxes for a year and was paying the seasonal price and wasn’t getting the annual member benefits, I might as well just upgrade and get the boxes for another year since I like them so much. 

After becoming an annual member, I tried to make the additional customizations that annual members are promised, but the window of time in which you’re allowed to make the customizations had closed a couple days earlier. Obviously, I was bummed out. Part of why I had decided to upgrade right then and there was because there was a specific customization I wanted to make for the Spring Box, but now I wasn’t going to be able to. 

I decided to email them and try to see if I could maybe possibly still make the customizations. I ended up getting some very friendly customer service, in which the person assisting me said they would manually put my choices in the system for me, if I just told them what items I wanted. So, I told them my preferred options, said thank you (of course) and was very happy with how everything turned out! 

Skip forward a couple weeks, I get my box, and literally none of the items inside are the ones I chose. I picked five out of the eight items in customizations, yet none of them were right. Obviously, I figured the choices inputted in the system didn’t go through, or some technical error like that, so I emailed them again and told them my customizations were wrong. It wasn’t something I was super upset over. After all, they’re just accessories and skincare products, y’know? But I still wanted to see if I could send back the items they gave me in exchange for the ones I wanted. 

When I explained what happened, they replied that their records showed that I never made any customization options, and that’s why every item in the box was randomly selected. They offered to send me three of the customized items I wanted. As I mentioned earlier, there were supposed to be five, but three was a damn good compromise in my opinion, since I got to keep all the items in the box and was getting the three items for free. So, basically, I got eleven items in one box. This meant I was only missing two of the things I wanted, which honestly I can live with. 

I wanted to share this customer service experience with you, because I can sit here and talk about how great a subscription box is and how cool the items are (which I’m totally going to do still), but rarely does anyone talk about how the company treats their clients. Sure, they might send awesome stuff, but if they make a mistake, or you have a question, don’t you want to be assured that you’ll be taken care of by friendly, helpful people? How a company treats their patrons is always very telling, and is something that isn’t addressed enough in reviews, I think. 

All in all, I’m super satisfied with FabFitFun’s customer service! Even if things didn’t go exactly right or as perfectly as possible, what really mattered to me was their friendliness! 

So, now that we’ve got all that straightened out, I wanted to show you what I ended up getting in the box. If you go here, you can see all the different items that could come in a box. I’m going to be going through in order of each customization on the list and telling you what I got from each one!

In the first one, I was sent the Perricone MD Essential Fx Acyl-Glutathione Rejuvenating Moisturizer. I’m actually pretty happy with this item, because I really love luxury skincare items, and this one seems pretty bougie if I do say so myself. I have not tried it yet, though, because I’m currently finishing off my current facial moisturizer, but I’m excited to try it out very soon! 

What I had actually wanted, and ended up getting after I emailed a second time, was the Monré Solerosé Watch. This watch is probably my favorite item in the box. It is just so classy looking, and I really just like the timeless, simple look of it. 

For the second one, I got the Steel Mill & Co. To-Do Planning Bundle which is pretty great because I actually needed a planner and was going to buy one right before this came! I love the floral design, plus it came with STICKERS! Which I am just so stoked about. It wasn’t what I originally chose, though.

My original choice for this option was the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil. I did end up getting this one, as well, just like the watch, it was one of the ones they sent me after figuring everything out. I’m so happy I ended up receiving this oil because it can help with split ends, which I have a ton of! 

Thirdly, I got this Joy Dravecky Chloe Ring. It is so cute! It fits me perfectly, and I love the color of it (though it is kind of color changing depending on the lighting/what way you angle it in the light). This is probably my favorite item that I received that I wasn’t supposed to get. 

What I was supposed to get, and eventually did get, however, was the Verso Super Eye Serum. This item is perfect for me because I have the worst dark circles under my eyes. I haven’t started using it quite yet because I’m using a different eye cream from another box I got, but I’m not having any luck with that one so I’m going to switch over to this new one. I’m very hopeful for good results!

For the fourth item, I received the Lark & Ives Hair Scarf Bundle. This is definitely my least favorite item in the box, mostly because I just don’t have any use for them! I literally only wear my hair down, and I don’t put accessories in my hair. Even if I wanted to put my hair up, I have no idea how to use a scarf to do that! I mean, they’re cute and whatnot, but totally not for me, so I’ll probably end up gifting them or something. 

The fifth item was the Summer & Rose Rose Tweezers with Pouch. Again, not something that’s super practical for me, since I get my eyebrows waxed instead of plucking, but it’s still pretty cute and is like, a perfectly acceptable item. 

Sixthly, these EACH Jewels Flower Hair Clips 2 Pack came in the box. Yet another impractical but totally cute item! I don’t wear hair clips! But these ones are so cute I might honestly have to start. Could I rock a flower hair clip? I guess we’ll find out. 

I actually am pretty happy with the seventh item, which is this Cali Cosmetics Islands of Italy Bath Gel (In Capri). It smells so flippin’ good, and it lathers perfectly well, so all in all a good item! 

Finally, I got these Saie Reusable Beauty Rounds. These are generally used in place of makeup wipes, but I don’t wear makeup, so while I love the whole sustainability thing and whatnot, I don’t have much use for these. But I’m sure I can find something they’re good for, like applying toner instead of using a cotton ball. 

So, there you have it, all the things I got in my Spring 2021 FabFitFun box! In terms of items, this box was not my favorite I’ve ever gotten, but this was definitely the most memorable box thanks to my experience with the customer service reps! 

FabFitFun also has an add-on shop where you can buy items at discounted prices that’ll ship alongside your box (they aren’t really unique in this feature, as I’ve seen a couple subscription box services that do this). I have never used this feature before but I did for this past Add-on Sale and I snagged this awesome Indie Lee Coconut Citrus Body Scrub for half the price, as well as a pair of Nectar Blue Light Blockers for only $12! (I also bought a ton more from the Edit Sale, but that’s probably enough links for you for now.) 

Anyways, like I said, I really like FabFitFun, it’s one of my all-time favorite subscription boxes! If it seems like something you’d like to try out, you can use this link to get ten dollars off your first box. If you want to sign up without the link, that’s okay, too! I won’t be offended. 

Do you also get FabFitFun? Do you like it? Are there any boxes you get that you think I’d like? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day! 


Big Idea

The Big Idea: Nancy Werlin

Missing conventions in these unprecedented times? So is New York Times best-selling author Nancy Werlin. Follow along as Werlin takes you on a tour through her train of thought in creating her newest novel, Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good, which began with a convention.


The Big Idea: I just want to hang out at the con with my friends!

Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good was born from love; from the memory of a con I went to a long time ago. I was planning to room with some other women I’d met online, on something called a listserv. (We later discovered our listserv was run by a fifteen year old boy on a file server in his bedroom, which is another story.)

My very first con! We called it a convention then. I’d kept my travel a secret from my parents. Sure, I was post-college, living on my own, but usually I told them where I was going—God forbid they should worry! This time I was cagey, though, because: You’re going to share a hotel room with people you met on the Internet?! (We capitalized “internet” then.) 

After that weekend, my therapist commented: “Nancy, I have to say, you sound like you’ve fallen in love.” 

“Not exactly,” I said, excitedly. “But I’ve met my people! We write books for kids! We read books for kids! We talk about books for kids! It’s—see—they’re my people! They exist!” 

It felt like a miracle then, and by now I know it really was, because those friendships are still going strong and deep. (Thanks, internet! Thanks, listserv! Thanks, Ryan, you super-competent teenage liar, you.)

I wanted to write about the feeling of that weekend and that first year with my new friends, my soulmates, my best beloveds. The shared obsession. The neurotic moments. The crazy random happenstances. The in-jokes. The sheer joy of getting to know each other and of belonging. 

“So this new book, it’s about a group of older teenagers. They’re fans of this TV show, Bleeders,” I told my editor. “They go to cons together. They stay up and talk all night. They geek out about their show, and they cosplay. They eat Twizzlers. They play Cards Against Humanity. They go to a panel about Princess Leia. They fret about college plans—some of them are already in college, but my main girl, Zoe, she’s a senior in high school. It’s going to be episodic—they meet at a different con every month. Zoe lies about it, though.” 

“She’s a liar?”

“And a sneak, but very relatable! She’s kind of neurotic. She’s ashamed of being a fan, for reasons having to do with her Lawful Good boyfriend. But she just can’t resist her show. Bleeders! The fans call themselves Bloodygits. It’s all spaceships and robots and very gory special effects. Female doctors on a ship called the Mae Jemison. Kind of a cross between MAS*H and Firefly.” 

“Go back to her being a liar.”

“Well, yeah. It’s very innocent to start with, I promise, or sort of—well, maybe not quite—she’s a control freak—but basically one tiny lie leads to another. You know how that goes? Anyway. Oh, also! There’s a cat.”

“Uh . . why?”

“I just really want to put a cat in this book.”

“I . . . see. You said ‘episodic.’ Is there a plot? At all?”

“Well, Zoe’s life gets messy because of her sneaking off to the cons—but the complications of that are offstage. I don’t really want a plot per se. They group is going to hang out and be themselves. It’s about that—hanging out, getting to know each other, talking about the meaning of life and being scared of the future, and your hopes and dreams and longing for love. Or not. And . . . just everything. They get together at con after con after con. They’re also trying to save their show from cancelation. That’s the plot, such as it is.” 

“It sounds pretty nerdy.”

“Exactly! Oh, did I mention the cat? She’s mad at the cat. Zoe is.” 

“You did . . . mention the cat.” 

Possibly I didn’t do such a great job of matching Zoe with that particular editor, but an entirely different editor, the right editor, totally got it. She laughed with me about my favorite line—a wail from Zoe’s chaotic heart: “Everything came down to this one truth: I had traded in my boyfriend for a TV show.” We started in on edits. 

Then the universe threw the Covid-19 curve ball. 

Of course, the pandemic affected my personal world, as it has affected everyone’s. As a writer, however, I was fascinated to see how it changed the way in which Zoe-the-book reads, and how it feels. The contents were the same but they had shifted in terms of emotional impact. For one thing, the thought of cramming into a hotel room with a bunch of strangers became nostalgic, wistful, a vision of the world as it used to be, and as it might still have been—on a timeline other than ours.  

Also, there’s something I didn’t mention before. The show within the book, Bleeders, concerns a deadly virus to which humanoids are uniquely vulnerable. The renegade doctors (also vicious fighters wielding stethoscope-garrotes) are trying to devise a vaccine. 

So there you have it. I wrote Zoe in one world of laughter and joy and innocence, in which such a virus was a plot point and togetherness was something I took for granted. But we edited the book for publication in an opposite world. 

Today, as Zoe publishes, the past world shimmers into possibility once more, thanks to our own medical and scientific heroes. Our new reality won’t be the same as the old; nor should it be, I suppose. And we can’t know exactly what it will be like. But I have lots of hope that it will be again be full of real-life togetherness. 

See you at the con, my friends. We’ll catch up and and laugh and cry and talk about everything. 

Fingers crossed. 

Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|BookShop|IndieBound|Powell’s| iBooks|Google Play 

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