Photo Essay: Fall Vibe

It’s October, my favorite month of the year and I’m freaking excited. I love Fall, I love October, and I live for Halloween. So I did a photo essay to get you in the mood for all of this loveliness, especially since most of the U.S. above normal temperature for this time of year.

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Hunger

“At seventeen, I started to starve myself
I thought that love was a kind of emptiness
And at least I understood then the hunger I felt
And I didn’t have to call it loneliness
We all have a hunger…”
~Florence + the Machine

Write With Me: The Joy of Writing

Week 2

Day 8 (9/9/18)

So, it’s the beginning of a new week and I’m trying something different. I decided to write before watching TV. I’ve noticed that on days that I don’t work, I stay glued to my computer, watching television shows, youtube videos, or movies. So when I woke up this morning, I decided to write first and then binge-watch later so that even if I waste my whole day on Netflix, I’ve made sure to get my words done first. It sucked because it took me forever to get into the groove of things, but I got the job done.

Total Word Count: 4,258

Day 9 (9/10/18)

I took today to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, career-wise. Also, my hands need a break because apparently, my carpal tunnel wasn’t feeling the fact that I tried to play word count catch up on top of my workout routine. I had a very productive day, though, just not when it comes to writing.

Total Word Count: 4,258

Day 10 (9/11/18)

Can’t complain about the writing day. I finally made it to chapter 3 and was able to introduce the last central character of the story. This means I now have all three major parts of my world written. I introduced the gritty underground life in the first chapter, the law and order situation in the second chapter, and the higher magic situation in the third chapter. The world building is set-up but I still have about one or two chapters before the story’s catalyst happens and I still have a little more of the plot to set-up before that can happen.

All in all, it was a good writing day and I finished the first season of Daredevil on Netflix and started the first season of Jessica Jones. I’m watching all the shows (the Marvel Netflix Series) in that series in the order in which they were released because I know they all connect and you need to watch them in the order of the release dates in order to understand the overlaps and not spoil yourself.

Total Word Count: 5,387

Day 11 (9/12/18)

Didn’t write today. Good news is I was approved for unemployment and I figured out what my career path will be. Finally! It almost feels like I’m an adult now. I have an event to go to today. Super excited.

Total Word Count: 5,387

Day 12 (9/13/18)

I wrote a little. I couldn’t focus. I thought having such a detailed outline (chapter by chapter) would help me write faster but I’m starting to think my issue was never coming up with ideas, but maybe it was not allowing my emotional state or events that are happening around me to distract me from my writing. 

Total Word Count: 5,557

Day 13 (9/14/18)

Didn’t write at all but I did finish the first season of Jessica Jones. I disliked so many of the characters on that show, which made me sad because I was really looking forward to it. Well, it’s on to season 2 of Daredevil.

Total Word Count: 5,557

Day 14 (9/15/18)

Today was a word catch up day. I woke up and didn’t watch anything until I had at least a thousand words written. After every thousand, I took a break so I could make sure I didn’t burn myself out because I knew I had to catch up. If I didn’t, I’d end up with a daily word count too big for me and I’d eventually miss my deadline. Also, today was a fun day. I remembered why I wanted to write this story. I remembered why the idea for this story stayed in my mind for over a year. I’ve been letting all the stuff around me distract me from the joys of writing but that ends right here and right now. Plus, I really like the second season of Daredevil. 

Total Word Count: 9,276

Photo Essay: Project Face

I’m a self-taught photographer that loves taking portraits of people but hate getting my own photos taken. I know, I’m so original when it comes to that. I’ve struggled with self-image problems for a very long time. At first it was because of my weight and then it was because my parents “gave me the ugly” (brownie points if you get that reference) and then it was because of my teeth. Yes, after 23 years of finding something that I didn’t like about myself and then slowly overcoming it, I finally settled on my teeth. My gap to be precise. Just so you know, I’m not a gap hater. I love them. I think they’re cute and add personality to a person’s face much like a scar or a mole. Just not mine. Overall, I like my teeth. I like how big and white they are. I have a big face with big features, I can’t have those tiny “baby teeth” as my mom calls them. My face is just too big for all that. So I love my teeth, I just hate my gap.

This hatred towards my gap came later in life. I’ve always had a gap, a big gap on top of that, and it never was a sore spot for me. I just saw it as part of me–one of my features such as my skin color of the shape of my nose and I’ve never wanted to change any of those things, so why close my gap. When I was in high school, I developed an abscess and after being hospitalized, I had that tooth removed. Years later, I realized just how much that changed things for me.

In the latter part of my freshman year of college, I noticed my gap was getting bigger. Because I was more socially active in college than I ever was in high school, I was taking a lot of photos and as I flipped through my photos one night, the horror dawned on me. I could see the progression of my teeth spacing out with every image I selected. That’s when I started to dislike my teeth. Leave it to me to go to college, cut off my hair, fall in love with myself and then find something that has always been there, to pick at.

So this photo essay means a lot to me because it’s the first time in a long time that I purposefully took photos so up close and personal, where everyone could see my perceived flaw.

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Write With Me: That Didn’t Go As Planned

Week 1

Day 1 (9/2/18)

Today is the first day of the three month period I gave myself to write this novel and I didn’t write anything. I’m still recovering from a cold and the medication had me sleepy all day but that’s still not a good enough reason for a no-words-written day. I have a well-planned outline but the prologue was the only chapter of the book that had a one-sentence description. I didn’t do a very detailed description because I already knew the most important things: where it took place, who was there, and what happened but I guess I didn’t think I’d get white page fever. Well, we’ll always have tomorrow. 

Total Word Count: 0

Day 2 (9/3/18)

I wrote a little. I finally decided how I wanted to write the prologue. I wanted to introduce the readers to the magical side of the story but I hadn’t decided how the magic would work in the story. I knew the rules and limitations already; I’d created them when I was world building and for the more complex magic, I’d already created a detailed explanation for it. But the simpler magic, the magic a lot of the character would have, I hadn’t done that so I had to do a little research for that. Since the bulk of the magic is based on the elements (earth, air, fire, and water) I had to define what that meant and what that looks like.

Total Word count: 563

Day 3 (9/4/18)

I wrote a little bit today as well. It’s so weird. I’m used to writing about 1,300-2,500 words per writing session but I haven’t been able to do that because of my job. I’m used to working and writing but I’m currently working a physically demanding job, so when I get home I’m exhausted. I normally find myself falling asleep just from sitting and when I’m not napping, I’m trying to relax my body and mind. My writing windows, times in which I’m energized and have time to write, are disappearing. I need to figure out something or else I’m going to fall really behind in my word count and it’s going to be too hard to actually write the book in the amount of time I’ve given myself. I can’t wake up earlier because I’m already waking up around 6 am for work and I’m not a morning person. That’s just going to lead to me losing my job because I wouldn’t even be able to fake cheerfulness. Plus, it’ll make me despise writing and I never want to do that. I did finish the prologue and I like it. I know when I do the second draft, I’ll probably change it a bit but I really like my opening paragraph. The opening lines are always the hardest to write.

Total Word Count: 1,017

Day 4 (9/5/18)

I didn’t write today because something really important happened today. I was fired from a job for the first time. Now, before you jump to conclusions no, I’m not sad and no, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just recently moved to a new state and I took the first job I could get because the job I had in St. Louis ended up not transferring down to Houston. Anyway, I took the first job I could get and it was something I’d never done before. That, plus the bad management at the job, made me really hate it but I couldn’t quit because everyone around me told me I couldn’t. Everyone around me told me I needed that job even if the pay was low, the hours were short, and the management was bad. Everyone believed some money was better than no money and I was still looking for jobs.

But today my manager made my decision pretty easy. He refused to clock me in today (so basically he wanted me to work a seven-hour shift for free because that what would have happened if I’d worked without being on the clock). Why was I even there? I wasn’t supposed to work today, but he asked me to take on a shift and I agreed. He was angry when I walked in because the people who closed didn’t do what they were supposed to do so he took it out on me. This was nothing new. For the past week, I’ve been dealing with bad treatment and verbal abuse because I refused to work the night shift (a shift he told me after my interview I wouldn’t have to work). After I refused, that’s when the bad treatment started. 

But any, the way the computer system is set up, if you’re not scheduled to work that day or if it’s not your scheduled time to work, the computer won’t let you clock in or out. The manager will need to do a manual override to clock you in. At first, he lied and said I was clocked in and then when I realized I wasn’t, after close to 30 minutes of working, I asked him to clock me in. He refused and told me to get back to work. So I walked out. I don’t work for free and I wasn’t being treated like a human at that job. I value myself too much to let someone degrade me and so when I walked out, I walked with my head held high and a smile on my face to my manager’s dismay. He told me walking out was an automatic termination. And I smiled and waved goodbye.

I recently had a cancer scare. I have a mass in my left breast but the doctors don’t believe it’s cancerous. The doctors want to monitor it for the next two years because of my family’s history with cancer. My father died from it and my mother is currently in remission. During that period of not knowing whether or not I had breast cancer, I vowed to myself that I would cherish my life more and if I didn’t have cancer I would try to live my life as if I could die any day because it’s true. Life is short and it’s not guaranteed. I vowed to never do something I didn’t want to do. And I really didn’t want to work there with him. So I walked out, knowing he’d fire me but I didn’t care.

I spent most of my day at a workforce facility looking for work and I applied for unemployment. When I got home, I ate and finished the Korean drama I’ve been watching (it was the final three episodes) and then I showered and pulled out my computer, ready to write, only to realize 12:00 am had passed. It was a new day and I hadn’t written any words. But since I don’t have anything to do tomorrow except applying for jobs, I guess I’ll write.

Total Word Count: 1,017

Day 5 (9/6/18)

I wrote a little but I spent most of my day applying for jobs. I found out I have a preliminary interview with a staffing agency tomorrow so that’s great. I also found out what the difference between a staffing agency and a temp agency is. Temp agencies usually place you in very temporary jobs and they take a percentage of your paycheck as payment for their services. A staffing agency will place you in a more stable position although they are not permanent. It’s usually up to the company they place you with if you’ll get hired on to a permanent position. And if a staffing agency places you at a company, the company pays them a fee for placing you, so you don’t pay them. These are just a few things I’ve learned while in search of a job.

Total Word Count: 1,310

Day 6 (9/7/18)

Today was such a good writing day. I’m finally getting back to my average word count and I had a good personal day as well. But anyway, back to the writing. I finished the first chapter and I love it. I love the way the characters seemed to spring to life with their distinctive voices and the way that the first chapter brings the reader into this illicit world of blood and magic. I’m so amped right now.

Total Word Count: 2,586

Day 7 (9/8/18)

I didn’t write anything today. I opened my Scrivener document but never typed a thing. I started watching Netflix and nearly finished a whole season of a show in one day. Also, I finally bought a tripod so I started tinkering with that and my camera. I promise next week will be a better writing week than this one. I hoped I would reach 5,000 words this week but that didn’t happen but I did write a killer opening for the story. Let’s focus on the positives. Tomorrow, when I wake up I’m going to write before I do anything else so that I can make sure to get my minimum word count in for the day. I refuse to not meet my deadline. 

Total Word Count: 2,586

First Month In Houston, TX

So I moved to Houston, Texas from St. Louis, Missouri last month and everything went wrong…and right. Let me explain!

I decided to pack my life up into five boxes and move halfway across the country with hopes of getting a better job. St. Louis is small, it’s hard to get jobs, the pay is bad, and I have student loans. So when my cousin approached me for the second time in regards to me moving to Houston, I finally gave in to logic. The original plan was: he would help me move to Houston; my family would drive down to Houston to say their final goodbyes and see where I’ll be living; my cousin would let me crash with him and his family until I moved into my own apartment; my cousin would give me one of his cars; and I would transfer my job down to Houston. That was the plan but things rarely go as planned.

A month before I left St. Louis I found out that the car my cousin was going to give me was damaged and the repairs would cost more than the car was worth (in his opinion). I honestly just believe he wanted me to get a new car because he’s not the type of person to promise you something without looking into it first. Meaning, he would have looked at the car to make sure it wasn’t too damaged before telling me he’d give it to me. It was a 2005 GM Envoy and he thought it was too big and too old of a model for me. So, by the time I made it to Houston, I no longer had a car and I would need to start readjusting my budget for housing because now I would probably also have a car note.

My cousin did allow me to move into the bottom half of his 5-year-old townhouse. It really does feel like my own little apartment down there most days. I have a big bedroom, big windows, a walk-in closet, and a big full bathroom down there. If I’m being honest, my favorite part of my living quarters is that bathroom. It’s gorgeous.

img_2979Although I moved to Houston, TX only half of my things did. My mother, brother, sister, and my sister’s husband and children were supposed to drive down to Houston a few days after I flew but after a series of unfortunate events, they couldn’t come. I was already sad about this because I really wanted to see my family one last time, after all, we’d planned for them to drive down here two days after I flew, so we didn’t say all the mushy goodbyes and stuff and when I finally realized I wasn’t going to see or hug them again until probably December, I got very sad. But then I realized that they were also supposed to bring the rest of my things down with them because I could only fly with my big suitcase, my carry on, and my camera bag. My heart sunk even lower. I’d already thrown away so much stuff to get it down to five boxes, but to then lose those too…it hurt. 

It also took me a week to realize I didn’t have a job. Yeah, the company I was within St. Louis wasn’t the best place to work, largely because of the pay, but I was still trying to transfer my job to Houston so that I could still have a job. I went through most of the interviewing process while I was still in St. Louis. By the time I made it to Houston, all I had to do was meet up with the director of my department and the facility director. After that, I never heard back from them. It’s been a month and I haven’t even received the little auto-sent message of “the interviewing process will not continue”. If it wasn’t for the fact that I didn’t have a job, I wouldn’t have felt too crappy about the situation as a whole. Like I said, the pay was really low although the same position I had in St. Louis was a salary position down here in Houston, so I won’t talk bad about Houston’s pay, just their communication skills. I spent most of the month walking and cycling in the Houston heat, applying to different jobs near me and luck finally caught up with me last week when I finally got a call-back and within a few days, I was working again. I also have another interview with a full-time job that I really hope I get because working part-time isn’t going to get me a car anytime soon.

There have been other things that have happened but they are more health-related and will get their own posts.

Have you ever planned a trip or made a big life decision that didn’t go as planned? Let me know in the comments below.

And until next time, thanks for reading.

Write With Me: Intro

Last year I tried to write a book…and I failed. I had the idea for the book while I was in college but I waited until after I graduated because I spent most of college writing films and I just couldn’t fit another story into all of that. So, at the end of May 2017, I started developing that story idea. Everything was going great: I loved my characters, I was having fun developing the world, and I’d completed an outline for the story. I started wiring and even started doing blog posts about the writing process but around the 30,000-word mark, I hit a wall. I realized that my story was too big for one book and even if I were to write multiple books (such as a trilogy) the story would still be too big and have too much backstory. So I took a break from writing and during that break, I tried to come up with ways to fix this problem. During this break, a good friend of mine died and I became very depressed. During my time of mourning, I couldn’t bring myself to write or even brainstorm. This period lasted for about 5 months.

By the time 2018 came around, I was feeling a bit better…maybe even a bit inspired because I’d been reminded yet again that life is very short and I want to do everything I desire before it’s my time to go. So, I started thinking of ways to fix the problems I had last time I tried to write. The story was too big. How do you fix that? Most people start their stories too early, so they end up with first acts that tend to drag because the story doesn’t start to halfway through the second act. My problem was that the story started too late. Like, I kind of started the story during the final act of the story and that’s why it had too much backstory. I needed to explain too much in order for everyone (readers) to catch up with what has been playing out in my head for the past four years. The easiest way I could fix this problem was to start the story earlier. 

I took a look at my characters and asked myself, where would my characters have been two years before this happened? What would they have been up to and what would their world look like? So, that’s how I fixed that. The other issue I had, although at the time, I hadn’t considered it to be an issue, was my world building. The world I had created was really cool but my story was conflicting with it. There would be times where something could have been made easier had I not set the story in the world it was set in and I was always worried about world building holes that would distract readers. So I decided to create a simpler world, closer to real life and that also helped me figure out what genre I was writing in. Plus, I simplified my magic system. So basically, if you’re having trouble with your writing, take a step back and then simplify everything.

I also figured out how to outline my book in a way that works for me. That’s the stage I’m in right now. I’m outlining. I’ve been writing for a long time but it wasn’t until I went to college that I was forced to outline. Since then, I’ve developed a fondness for outlining but I had never outlined a book until that first try last year. This year my outlining process has changed so much and I think that has also helped with “fixing” my story. I’ll probably do a tutorial for how I outline now because it’s so effective for me.

Regular writing posts will start as soon as I get further into the book.

Until next time, peace…

I’m 23

I’m a pretty chill person so… feel free to click away if you’re expecting a story full of glow sticks in the desert, alcohol poisoning, and regrettable tattoos. That will probably happen on my 25th though because I plan to celebrate the year 2020 the same way people celebrated 1999. I’m dead serious.

So yeah, I turned 23 at the end of June (Thursday, June 28th to be exact) and decided to take 3 days off from life to celebrate myself and reflect on life while getting ready for my big move to Houston, TX.

This article is about what I did on my birthday. It’s just as anticlimactic as the rest of my life. Enjoy.

I woke up later than I planned, I guess I forgot to set an alarm because I knew I didn’t have to go to work. I took off for my birthday because last year I worked on my birthday and declared to myself, “Never again!” in an overly dramatic fashion probably with my fist raised and my chest puffed up. It’s not like I had anything planned but I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted on that day.

So, I woke up around 11:00 am and saw that my sister had texted me “happy birthday”. Her text message was one of the first things I saw and it put an instant smile on my face. I logged into Facebook and responded to the wave of “Happy Birthdays” posted on my wall. I then texted my cousin, Jimmy, happy birthday. This is something I’ve done for the past 8 years. When I didn’t have a cell phone, I would call him on the house phone and wish him a happy birthday. Our shared day has always and will always link us and although he is literally twice my age (something I just realized this year) I know this is something that I will continue to do.

After that, I got out of bed and talked with my mom and little brother for a bit before I decided to go out to eat for my birthday. I washed my hair put on some clothes and ordered an Uber and we headed out to the mall to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. 

***Fun fact: if you tell a server at the Cheesecake Factory it’s your birthday, they’ll give you one free scoop of vanilla ice-cream with hot fudge drizzled across it and a burning candle on top. It’s kind of sad but sweet at the same time. Plus, it’s your birthday so you’re happy with anything.

After that, we walked the mall for about an hour and I picked up some new Vans because I needed some new shoes. On the way out of the mall, we got some cheesecakes for later since we hadn’t had any desserts.

We made it back home at a very decent time and I thought I would do more but then the weather turned sour. I thought it was just another bad thunderstorm because we’ve been having them for the past week or so but then I heard the sirens. I went outside and saw the sky had darkened and the wind had cooled. It rushed past me with such furiousness that some of the smaller trees seemed to kneel in fear. Thick clusters of clouds moved across the sky threatening rain that would not come until much later. Apparently, the sirens were a tornado warning. I went back inside with the rest of the tenants in my building and switched the TV from Hulu to the local news and watched the flood cams and footage of the damage to houses and trees in my neighboring counties. Luckily for us, the tornado didn’t touch down in the city but a lot of the counties around St. Louis City experienced a ton of damage from the wind and the thunderstorms.

That lasted for most of the evening and killed the energy for adventure I was feeling but I did buy the new Florence + the Machine album and I spent the rest of the night swaying to it while listening to the rain.

I’m Moving To Houston, TX

Hey everyone, I know my blog has been kind of quiet lately, it’s because I’ve been having some technical difficulties and I’ve also been very busy. Let me explain what happened really quickly and then after that, I’ll get to the moving story.

About two months back, my MacBook Pro of 5 years died and I had to get it replaced. I thought everything was fine because I backed up my computer twice a month, but when I got my new computer, I found out my new computer was not recognizing the external hard drive I’d used to store my backups. This means I lost a lot of content. I lost all the photos from my study abroad trip/travel trips and I lost a lot of documents. I was able to go into the hard drive and retrieve some photos, mostly the photos of my deceased father, but after that, the files became corrupted. So, if it wasn’t stored in the iCloud, on a flash drive, or in Google Drive, I don’t have it anymore. So that’s what happened, that’s why the content stopped because I became very focused on trying to retrieve my lost content, plus I have two and a half jobs and I’m planning an interstate move.

But anyway, moving on…

I’m moving to Houston, Texas. It literally took me a year to decide to do this. Last year when I graduated from college, my mom and my cousin tried to convince me to move to Houston. They both wanted me to change states because of the lack of opportunities in St. Louis but I didn’t want to move or, more accurately, I wasn’t ready to move. Leaving home never bothered me, as long as I can talk to my family, homesickness never sets in, but I just wasn’t ready to leave. So, I created reasons to stay. At first, it was graduate school. I told myself I wanted to go to graduate school but the way my bank account is set up, I needed to get a well-paying job first before embarking on that path because student loans are not fun. But then a few months went by and I still couldn’t find work, and the dream of going to graduate school started to fade. I’m not saying it’s never going to happen, I’m just saying it’s not happening in the next two years.

At that point, I returned to my old job, working part-time but I was still looking for full-time work. I tried a few side hustles and pick up a few extra skills, such as website design, photography, editing video and photos but I never stopped looking for full-time work. Back in January, I got really close to getting a full-time job making $37,000 a year (in St. Louis without any children, that would have made me middle class) but I didn’t get it. I was one of the final candidates but someone with more experience most likely got the job. The experience didn’t make me bitter, it did the opposite, it gave me hope. For a while, I thought I was just un-hirable. I thought I didn’t have enough skills to get a decent job but after that, I knew it was just because St. Louis is small and our economy sucks. Just to give you an example to back up my statement, during my year of looking for full-time work, I tried to get a job with the City of St. Louis. When I went to the website, there were only 27 job openings for official St. Louis City workers. St. Louis City has a population of 311, 404 (2016). I rest my case.

This is when I called my cousin who lives in Houston and asked him if his offer still stood and he asked me when I wanted to move.

For those that are wondering, why Houston? Houston is the fourth biggest city in the U.S. and it has a booming economy.

 

What Offer?

Our families are close yet distant. He’s my cousin on my mother’s side of the family. My mom took care of his mom when his mom had breast cancer. And his mom was my mom’s oldest sister and she literally helped my grandma raise my mom. So, we’ve always been connected. After he moved out of St. Louis, we became distant but I knew he still cared about us. He would check in on us, send us presents or money for Christmas, etc. He even gave me a vacation when I graduated from high school.

When I graduated from college he offered to help me transition into adulthood. He offered to help me move, give me a place to live until I could afford my own place and he gave me a car to get around in. He wants to help me foster an environment where I can focus on growing my photography business and writing my screenplays and novels without the fear of failing and not having enough money to live off of. In our family, we believe in paying it forward. If you’re at a point in your life where you can afford to help others, you help them. I am so thankful for this opportunity and I can’t wait until I can help someone else in this manner. I’m excited for this next chapter in my life.

I move to Houston on July 18, 2018.

Gone Away

Today marks the fourth year that I’ve been on this earth without my father. I wasn’t going to make any social media posts about this subject because I didn’t want to bring anyone down, but then “Gone Away” by The Offspring came on today and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. So I’ll leave you with the lyrics that both inspire and haunt me.
Maybe in another life,
I could find you there.
Pulled away before your time.
I can’t deal. It’s so unfair!
And it feels…
And it feels like,
Heaven’s so far away
And it feels…
Yeah, it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you’ve gone away.
Leaving flowers on your grave
To show that I still care.
But black roses and Hail Mary’s,
Can’t bring back what’s taken from me.
I reach to the sky
And call out your name.
And if I could trade
I would…
And it feels…
And it feels like,
Heaven’s so far away
And it stings…
Yeah, it stings now
The world is so cold
Now that you’ve gone away.