Tag Archives: storytime

More Writing Tips From Someone Who Doesn’t Know What They’re Doing

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(An unintended continuation of this post.)

The Emmys are tonight, which is super exciting and everything. This is an obvious opportunity to celebrate another year of brilliant television. There have been some amazing productions this year on both network, cable, and streaming services. The game is being changed, and it has been amazing to observe, to the point where reception has been, at times, delightfully overwhelming. This must be praised, as quality programming, like other forms of artistic expression, needs to be recognized, talked about, and experienced — because when it is, even more stories get told (especially those that probably wouldn’t have otherwise).

However, yet another year has gone by where I don’t feel like I even have an idea to flesh out. (Yes, I’m making this about me.)

One day I’d love to write something worthy of recognition on such a level. But to do that, I’m going to have to keep writing.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life, so the star-studded aspect isn’t novel to me. What is novel, however, is seeing people you know do things that you could only dream of doing. In knowing these people, I know first hand that they have the same 24 hours in one day as anyone else. They’ve periods of discouragement and laziness, like everyone else. But they keep moving.

This weekend I was able to go through some old stories and poems from college. Not to toot my own horn, but I wrote pretty damn well. But I was a bit stubborn and, due to writing more for the grade rather than the passion, present-day me could really sense the loss of drive and focus within each piece. It’s no wonder why I refused to read or write during the year following graduation.

The drive has definitely come back, though, almost to the point when I first started writing as a young teenager. I remember writing so much then, even performed at open mics and submitted my work to publications. I wasn’t afraid of saying or doing something. I wanted to contribute, and truly felt my work to hold as much weight as others’.

I’m not sure if that’s exactly the case for me now. If anything, I’m much more conscious about what I put out there, probably due to the saturation of ideas on social media, and how quickly information can be dispensed, digested, and transferred. The pressure to make an impact is very much there, as is the desire.

Like anything else, the view just needs to be scaled back a bit.  I need to go back in my personal history and touch on what’s been pushed out of memory. I need to ask myself difficult questions, especially in relation with others, and experience the breeze every once in a while. I need to write what I know, and be endlessly curious about what I don’t.

And, I need to keep writing.

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I Don’t Feel Like Writing

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I had a really nice time this weekend camping in the mountains with  my boyfriend, our dog, and  our good friends (don’t worry, it’s not deja vu — we went last weekend as well). It actually managed to feel like two weekends in one because we got home early enough this morning to decompress and prepare for the week ahead.

For me, part of that was thinking of something to write about and engage in with others. But between fleeing Los Angeles on Friday night, really enjoying the time out in nature (including waking up to some fresh cougar tracks outside of our tent — twice), I just really didn’t feel like writing. Not at all. It’s natural, I thought to myself; just call it a night and revisit this tomorrow. But something motivated me to put a little something to digital paper that I felt a bit important to share:

I graduated from university in 2012 with a degree in creative writing. The initial goal was to be an elementary school teacher, largely because I absolutely love the school community and the positive effects it can have on young minds. It was my third grade teacher who really stoked the fires of my imagination through reading and writing, and I really wanted to give back in that regard. (Ms. Toni Stitt, if you’re reading this — thank you, thank you, a million times over.) Besides that, just thinking of the summer and winter breaks meant ample time to write or travel.

However, that desire to write had been burned out by exhaustion, the reality of student loans, and the need to get a job as soon as possible. So I went for five or so years with the skill and ability to write, but struggling to find, not just the spark, but the confidence to do so again. Now that it’s warming my fingertips and my heart again, I don’t really want to let go of it. So I’m not going to.

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Instead, I’m going to tell you just how amazing it was to see our galaxy last night, like reflective clouds reaching across the sky. The night itself was brisk and cold, but not so much that it was unbearable, although my friend lent me a pair of gloves to keep warm. We originally had our chairs positioned almost as if we were looking at the sky like a television screen, but I got up in the middle (managing to steer clear from shrubs and rocks in the dark), turned my back to the makeshift screen and arched up just enough to get the view I came for, by sheer accident. There were massive, incomprehensible clusters of stars and I thought, some people don’t get to take in such views. There’s no real way to duplicate this, no dreaming up such formations from a limited scope. You have to actually be there and let your brain receive such wonder through your eyes, I mused, and stood there another ten minutes or so until it was time to go to bed. 

That’s why I’m writing right now, and probably why anyone else does: because it really is worth telling about, passing along traces of life, and feeling all the more alive in doing so. 

Just in case you were wondering.

Social Media Makes the World Small. It’s Not That Deep

worldMy good friend belongs to the same dance troupe as the now-wife of my first lover, and has been for a year or so now. I know this thanks to some photos my friend has shared on Instagram. (C’est la vie.)

This past weekend, I went to a bar downtown and friended a guy who runs in the same musical circle as the childhood neighbor I’d play four-handed piano with on Tuesday nights after Bible study. (Just a happy coincidence.)

Just this afternoon at my day job, I came across the portfolio of someone whose name I immediately recognized from work I follow on social and creative media platforms. (Well, all right, then.)

I realize that these interactions pack a little less punch than, say, going to the deli or car wash and bumping into someone who just happens to be a friend of a friend of someone you used to know. However, these instances were just intimate enough that I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t the least bit affected. But due to the modern web of social media, it only makes sense that these worlds would collide directly, and at times violently, into mine.

A few years ago, I might have viewed the above occurrences as chance, or maybe even a sign of the past being manifested as a present branching-off of a celestial event. I wouldn’t be the only one, either — perhaps you would feel similarly. With the wealth of exciting activity occurring in the universe this month that will continue to be observed from our vantage point on Earth, it’s only understandable. 

But let’s really think about it: Anyone can be found on the internet. As of March 2017, statistics suggest that at least half of the world’s population has access to the internet. Interactions such as the ones above are really not that random. It’s just that individually-drawn, personal associations are powerful enough in convincing people otherwise.

As for me, right now, I subscribe to the fact that the world is small as a result of the internet’s far reach — nothing more, or less. 

It’s kind of fun, fascinating, maybe even thrilling. But it’s also really not that deep.

Yes, You’ve Settled 

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“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” — Will Rogers

In 2001, I had a Samsung flip phone, a 5G iPod nano, and a Dell Inspiron laptop running a Windows XP operating system. That was all I could ask for, and as a struggling college student, it made more sense to hold onto what I had until it either snapped in half or melted enough AC adaptors to render it useless.

Soon after graduation, however, smart devices were experiencing a massive boom, so I decided to move onto something new. I totally could have got another flip phone, as they were and are still being manufactured. But for me, it was time for me to join the new and ultra-improved tech stream the whole world had found itself thrust into. And so I did, essentially trading three devices for one.

Now, new tech is one of those things that — while increasing exponentially — is at most everyone’s fingertips in the form of a smartphone. With constant release of new products, updates, and features, it can a challenge to keep up — but either you do, or you don’t. The choice, relatively, is yours.

This can apply to anything you can think of, from a film or music genre to a sex position. It’s great to know what you like — but being so sure runs the all-too real risk of being frozen in time. And not in a classic, timeless sense, either. More like a primitive relic.

I’ve been feeling this lately and have been making an effort to implement simple strategies to be more in tune with the outside world instead of humming along, ignorantly blissful within mine:

1. Listening to new music. This has probably has been the easiest and most accessible way to keep stay in the now, because — while I may question some of the latest trends in popular music — it gives me some insight into what is “hot” or “fresh”, therefore leaving me feeling somewhat hot and fresh. It’s also given me more insight into how my parents and other adults felt about Top 40 music when I was a teen during the late nineties. (Sorry, Mom and Pop.)

Today I stumbled upon Julia Michaels while reading an article from BBC that piqued my interest. A songwriter-turned-pop-artist, she reminded me a bit of Tove Lo, who I can’t get enough of. So I figured, why not give her a chance? Michaels’ debut mini-album “Nervous System” was released just this past Friday, and if you like pop music with a little twist, you’ll probably like this. (Saucy types, stick around for “Pink”.)

2. Reading articles from start to finish. Like, actually reading them and not merely reacting to a headline.

Cool story: I came across a Vanity Fair article on tonight’s Game of Thrones episode (look out for spoilers) and I had geared up to tell them off via Twitter based on my strong reaction to the headline via Google search. (I actually did, but deleted the tweet once I actually read the article. Oops.)

Say what??

Just saying, we’re all guilty of falling into sticky af clickbait and we should know better by now but, you know, we don’t.

3. Hanging out with people. Whether online or in-person (ideally the latter), social engagement is where the magic happens. Having turned 32 this year, I feel very “old” sometimes, and yeah, while not a teenager, my mind feels like me, which is as only old as I feel. And now the cliche phrase makes sense, whereas it used to be just words.

Sharing ideas, interests, coming to a common ground, etc. keeps the blood flowing to the appendages, as it were. Keeps the neurons alight and all that jazz. Going where people are may take a little effort, but more often than not, it’s worth it.

Don’t get me wrong: having that comfort feeling that makes you feel how you felt the first time doing anything is one of the best things out there. Like that cozy sleeping-in feeling on a rainy day, being comfortable is absolutely needed. Just remember that being too comfortable can run the risk of mental and emotional atrophy from staying in the same place for too long. 

Besides, new experiences are always out there, waiting for that first time feeling to be uncovered. Rarely will they be where you’ve been a million times before.

So get moving.

Happy Father’s Day to My Pop

My dad’s awesome.

I think I feel that way because I’ve become him — and by that, I mean I’m an adult, by his example.

Pop is funny, and has a good heart. He’s also a little discombobulated, but that doesn’t stop him from being able to laugh at himself. He has a great smile, perfect teeth, curly hair, golden skin. And he loves my mom as much as he did when they got married 39 years ago.

But he also doesn’t take anyone’s crap, either. He gives everyone leeway for the most part, but he questions most everything, intelligently. He knows the importance of thinking and re-thinking your position so as to not be stagnant at a call to action.

Pop is so smart and full of life, but he gets tired sometimes. I never realized the level of exhaustion that comes merely from living, and he worked through it while raising five kids. Also, I think he doesn’t want to let anyone down, at the expense of his comfort.

He is also an individual, and more than my dad. He loves jazz, beer, talk radio, baby back ribs. He converses with light in his eyes and joy in his voice. He gets frustrated, and angry. Sometimes he doesn’t want to be bothered. But he’s always there.

I don’t have children, but at 32, I’m the age that Mom and Pop had three children and me on the way… I just can’t wrap my head around it. Mom worked days, and Pop worked nights, so more often than not it was just me and him, joined at the hip while my siblings were at school. We’d run errands together, have picnics in our backyard, ham and cheese sandwiches with yellow mustard on bread rolls. It was fun, for me. I think he had fun, too, even though being an adult can be far from it.

I distinctly remember going to classes with him at Cal State Northridge, where he was studying be a teacher. Sometimes we’d stop by the vending machine beforehand — Fig Newtons for him, a Snickers bar for me. I didn’t like fig, and remember him once getting strawberry to see if I’d eat that instead. I applaud him for trying, though, because Snickers always won.

Even while writing this, I didn’t really think about what it takes, not only to go back to school as an adult, but to bring your child with you. And I’ve seen it, as a graduate myself — fellow students bringing their children to class at all hours of the day (or night). Pop did that all the time. I even remember his graduation day, which at the time didn’t seem extraordinary because — well, that’s what he was supposed to do, right?

Little did I know then that not everyone’s father does that. Not everyone’s father is around, by choice or otherwise.

Over the years I’ve found that there seems to be an unspoken bond that keeps things together — the universe, our bodies, our sanity, family, whatever. The relative understanding of that — what it takes, what you’ll do — just clicked somehow. And it’s because of that, that it’s home, every single time. That’s my Pop.

It’s pretty awesome.