A Writer’s Craft

I’ve been reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s newest book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. I was an instant fan when I read Eileen and she hasn’t disappointed. Her writing is so distinct and I’m noticing some of the things that make it read like Ottessa. The one I’m going to talk about today is her use of similes and metaphors. As a literal person, figurative language has always evaded me, as in I can’t come up with them! So, I’m a big admirer of writers who can pull it off well. Exhibit 1: The narrator talks about feeling “both relieved and irritated.” That could have been the end, but she compares it to how you’d feel if someone shows up in the middle of your suicide (!!!) I find that to be so skillful because:

    It is a highly specific situation
    It describes relief and irritation perfectly
    After this bomb, she continues like nothing is out of the norm

Exhibit 2: The narrator describes how her older sort of-boyfriend pays no attention to her, and she knows it. To him, she is the “mac ‘n’ cheese or marshmallow cereal” at the grocery store. Again, she could’ve stopped there and we would know what she means, but Moshfegh takes the metaphor and runs with it by going on:

    She was kids’ stuff
    She was nonsense
    She wasn’t worth the calories

By this point, we know exactly how little Trevor values the her and how well she is aware of it.

👏👏 As a reader, I’m always in awe of writers’ craft and the ways that they make writing their own. More to come!

Home / nature / bossiness

I’m continuing my notes from Rookie here! The theme I am reading today is Home. Before I find out what home means to other people, I will say what home means to me. (This is actually an exercise I did with my therapist & I found it helpful!)

  • Home feels safe, comfortable, anxious, and intense to me all at the same time.
  • My favorite “home” ever is when I lived in an apartment in Menifee all. by. myself!!! I really love living and especially when you can do anything you want.
  • I totally agree with this tweet that “the millennial version [of the baby boomer home] is 6 houseplants and no roommate.” It’s a pretty ideal living situation. However, I think there are MANY ideal living situations as long as you are safe and comfortable.
  • Ideal homes: Carl and Ellie’s in Up and Rapunzel’s tower. I love homes full of creativity and personality! I love tours of artists’ studios and working spaces too.
  • Last note about home: I’m terrible at cleaning so my home is sloppy. However, I love spending time at home. Memories are made outside and adventures are to be had at home.

Here are some articles and tips that stood out to me.

  • Empire State of Mind
    • This is something I am heavily considering, if I’m serious about pursuing publishing, which I am.
    • BUT I hate bugs in the home!!!!! I strongly prefer NOT dealing with bugs.
    • I’m not sure how I’d feel about living in a city for a long time. On one hand I think I’d love it, but I also like getting away from everything, which doesn’t seem very feasible in a place like NYC.
  • Nothing Really Matters
    • This is soooo true!!!! Nihilism has actually ENCOURAGED me to make the most of everything since it’s the only chance I get. I’ve become less afraid of messing up because with the world being so big and my time on Earth being so short, the consequences of making any one mistake is actually not that great. This has given me the freedom to pursue really anything I set my heart to.
    • I don’t mean that in a nihilistic way, like, “we are all insignificant so we shouldn’t bother doing anything.” I kind of mean the opposite: If your life is just a teeny tiny blip on the radar, the only meaning it has is what you give it, and the only person it needs to mean anything to is you. For me, that means not stressing out too much about any one project or about being “known” in any way, and focusing instead on enjoying my time on the planet as fully as possible each and every day.

    • I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in my life worrying about how I’ll be remembered in the end (of high school, of college, of a certain period of life, or my whole life) instead of focusing on what I’ll remember.

  • Boss Behavior
    • Wow, this really spoke to me. As a teacher, I had a hard time with students who talked back and obviously as a manager of any kind, you don’t want the people you are in charge of to disobey you.
    • On the other hand, I really believe in making things better and justice and honesty are so important to me. It’s really hard to say because obviously, we never want to lose our jobs or get in trouble–no one needs that kind of stress. Yet if nobody spoke up, things would never get better. This is why I could never be a police officer or survive in an environment that’s highly hierarchical. I would 1) Get in trouble right away; 2) Keep the peace but be super miserable.
    • Women, particularly young ones, who command attention and respect and who dare question the status quo are all too often seen not as assets, but as threats to those in power, who, not coincidentally, are seldom young or women.

    • But the effects of such microaggressions accrue over time, and they can shut people up for life. They shut me up for 13 years, but I didn’t wait till I was 35 to find confidence and autonomy, thanks to the examples set by my mom and a bunch of other bossy women.

    • Having worked as a teacher, I’ve experienced microaggression not only from men but from other women, including young and minority women like myself, and it adds another layer to workplace politics. It seems like no matter what I do, someone might get offended. But like the last point I made, IF someone is going to be offended no matter what, then you might as well speak your mind (so long as there is a need to.)
    • In order to speak up, you need to have confidence in yourself. That EVEN IF you speak up and get fired, you will be okay. Or have leverage. My Airbnb host actually told me that she makes a lot of requests to her boss because she has leverage, since both her and her husband work. That is a kind of privilege and I recognize that I am super lucky to have savings and confidence that I will find work, but not everyone has that. (Thanks, Frannie!)

In conclusion, if you plan on telling the truth or being “bossy,” I recommend the following:

Tell the truth with a soft touch and focus on the situation rather than the person. 

Basically, give the other person an out and try to stick to #facts. No one, even the most aggressive or secure person, like looking bad in front of other people. If you give everyone some dignity, things have the chance of going  a lot smoother.

Frankly Frannie

Have you ever been obsessed with jobs?

I have, and so has Frannie. Frannie, professionally known as Mrs. Frankly B. Miller, is my alter ego. She has done so many jobs and I believe she is in third grade. Some of the things that Frannie has done include:

(Guest) principal, concert planner, conference staff, fortune teller, dogsitter, radio show host, waiter, and restaurant critic. I have not read the two books where she is a flower girl and fashion designer/model. My resume reads like Frannie’s because I have done a ton of unrelated jobs. Sometimes, I wonder if I am the only one who is more into the idea of working and having a job than the job itself. The things I am passionate about, such as reading and hobbies, have never been things that most people get paid to do. I’m also not supremely talented like the people who do get paid to do those things. Yet I still really love jobs, like Frannie.

There are so many things that Frannie likes that spoke to me, including:

  • She wants an office, office supplies and assistant
  • She has a resumé, business card, and briefcase
  • She loves words like certainly, however, nonetheless, and actually
  • She gets into trouble at work because she has busy hands and a big imagination
  • She has friends and sort-of friends who help her with her jobs
  • She’s a very jobbish and workerish sort of person

The thing is this series was written for young kids, like second graders!!! I didn’t think that there would be little kids who are jobbish, like me. I wish I had read this when I was a kid because I would have felt so seen. I’m a real life Frannie and I love jobs so much that I cannot have just one. Some of the jobs I am trying to qualify for include:

    Writer/editor – I would love to write for an online magazine like Rookie or Mochi.
    Publishing firm employee – I’m going to a publishing camp this summer!
    Crafter/illustrator – I’m currently working on my crafts.
    Shopkeeper/shop owner – I’m working on my Etsy shop.

Besides the jobs I have given myself (lol), I have done the following jobs too:

  • Retail associate @ Minamoto Kitchoan – This was a unique job that I really enjoyed, selling Japanese confectionery! I learned a lot about being detailed and meticulous.
  • Receptionist – I love transferring calls and being a general help (or pain) to people.
  • Elementary teacher – I did not love this job for many reasons. 😞🤢
  • Admin assistant – I love being a general pain/help to people!
  • Intern – I love assisting to be honest.

Oh!!! I forgot to add that I love writing emails! I hope in whatever job I have, I will get to write and answer a lot of emails and phone calls. I love old school communication. I think I would love working in a publishing firm because it’s a very office and communication type of job. In addition, I love work where you having a definite project and are producing something, such as a book, events, or house. I love all the details involved in bringing something to life and making it really polished. I also love taking care of people.

However, just like Frannie, I realized that the MOST most important part of any job is actually not the work itself but your sense of responsibility and making sure that you do right by your customers/people. This includes both the people who are paying you AND the people you are working with/for. The toughest part is making a judgment call based on not only facts but people’s feelings, urgency, and making sure that relationships are intact throughout the process. This is honestly NOT easy! It’s something that I am always working on. Nonetheless, I love jobs and hope to find one that I really love (with an office, assistant, and business card.)

What is the favorite job you’ve ever had?

Small presses rule!

It’s been so much fun doing research for my Etsy shop. I love small presses/studios because their cards are unique, and I love whimsy! I found many inspiring shops today. Hopefully, I can join their ranks one day.

Here are a few small presses I have come across and loved:

  • Trendspotting @ Oh so beautiful paper – This is exactly what I was looking for! It might be fun to go back to some of the trends that have already passed, such as winking eyes. I still love them!
  • The Good Twin – I absolutely love her designs!
  • Pencil JoyThis card speaks to my life. I love their illustrations!
  • ban.do – I love their focus on mental health and joy.
  • Red Cap Cards – I love how they’re an artist collective.
  • Ramona & Ruth – Unique and minimalist cards based in Omaha, NE!
  • Odd Daughter Paper Co – I love this company! It really is perfect and unique.
  • Worthwhile Paper – I really love this too. I love simple and clean designs.
  • Our Heiday – I love that this was started by Asian-American sisters!

There are many business lessons to learn. For example:

  • Naming products – Simple is best.
  • Pricing products – It must be valuable to customers.
  • Writing product descriptions – Again, simple may be best.
  • Making it easy for shoppers – Menus, bundles, etc.
  • Categorizing products – It’s all about occasions and seasons!
  • Offering choices and variety – The more the better. I believe in custom designs.
  • Offering compelling design – There were times I saw a card, such as the book case one, and I immediately wanted it! I want people to have the same experience when shopping at my store.

This is such a great project and learning experience for me!

Design trends #1

For my Etsy shop, I’ve been spotting trends and thinking of how to incorporate them into my greeting cards. I’m learning how to create each of these designs and these are the online source I’ve referred to:

  1. Galaxies
  2. Marble pattern
  3. Monstera leaf
  4. Watercolor
  5. Emojis
  6. Avocado
  7. Letterboard

There are so many great resources and tutorials online! Some other design trends/themes I’m interested in recreating are:

  • Gems and geostones
  • Fast food: burgers, tacos, pizza
  • Animals – ocean animals, woodland critters, pets!
  • Movies, such as Moonrise KingdomUp, with a lot theming
  • Activism & empowerment
  • People/diversity: action shots, tribal prints, body types
  • Daily life: electronics, social media, slang
  • Wildflowers and plants!
  • Cutie kablooies: combinations of all of those things!

It’s really exciting to create things! I love it.

Slow motion

slow motion

Slothilda explores an inner conflict we can all relate to―the desire to succeed and grow, while paradoxically dealing with the ever present temptation to sloth.

I’ve always been a slowpoke and I see it as one of my bad qualities. Except it isn’t the kind of “bad quality” you can share in an interview, like perfectionism. Being slow is frowned upon in this society where you need to be on top of it and preferably, ahead!

But like anything, being slow can hurt or help you. It’s hurt me at work, when I can’t keep up with the endless tasks a teacher has to do. It’s also hurt other people’s impression of me because I don’t appear as capable or smart, when I take longer to do things. When you’re slow, sometimes you miss the breakfast orders or a piece of the cake. In big and small ways, the combination of being slow and not attentive can really hinder you at work!

Since I quit my teaching job, my life has gotten a lot slower and less urgent. Suddenly, there are so many things that I want to do, hobbies that have been ignored and people I have not seen. But am I any less lazy just because my to-do list is now fun??

Absolutely not. I’m as slow as I’ve always been even though I love the things I’m doing. This is where Slothilda hit the nail on the head and represents all of us. Aspiration/inspiration is overwhelming on social media. There are so many workshops, places, skills, products, to acquire and attend. We can always be better and travel on the path to success. At the same time, the temptation to watch videos, go on social media, play games, or NOT improve ourselves is still there.

So, might there be value in not fighting ourselves and simply take time to do things?

When I was a teacher, I always had a few students who would rush to finish and turn in everything. They hated being second and they always always wanted to be first. First in line, first to finish, first place in everything. They wanted to be done. (Sometimes even issued “speeding tickets” to get these kids to slow down. Taking your time to do something is very difficult! As adults, we are no different. There’s a sense of satisfaction in checking things off our to-do list. Anything that makes us “get behind” on work is annoying. All of this is reasonable because we live in a deadline-driven and very fast-paced society. There are real consequences for not getting things done on time.

As someone trying to get more control over my life, I found this article really helpful: How I’m Becoming More of a Slow Person. She talks about  slowing down our daily routines, relationships, and creativity. All of those are hugely important to me! Sometimes I get bursts of creativity and times when I want to socialize. Other days, sometimes during those very bursts, I feel like I just want to get into bed and become a burrito. I’m still finding the balance as I grow my creative business and learn to manage everything else in life, including relationships.

These are a few ways I’m slowing down my life in a way that’ll help me:

  • Slower creativity: Taking time to make art that makes sense and has meaning, instead of creating the first thing I see.
  • Slower relationships: Trusting my intuition and noticing when people are sketchy or not right for me. Don’t get drawn into energy-depleting relationships. Refrain from oversharing and let trust build on its own time.
  • Slower daily routines: Checking in with myself and see if my needs are met, such as getting enough sleep, drinking water, screen-free meal times, and noticing physical signs that I need to re-center.

Truth or dare

truth or dare
PC: http://www.pexels.com/@steve

But if you listen closely to the tiny voice in your head, the calm one, that is you talking. And if you turn up the volume on it and try to listen, it blocks all the other voices out. – Rowan Blanchard

*I’m starting a weekly series and “truth or dare” is the first one! It’s about things that are super important to me.*

Truth or dare is game we play and this is how I’d define the terms:

  • Truth – your honest opinion that comes from yourself; could be an embarrassing secret or unpopular opinion
  • Dare – a scary thing that someone else tells you to do; could be an undesirable act or doing something you hate

I’m definitely a truth person because it’s easier for me to use words than to physically do something I don’t want to do. This might be seen as wimpy. It’s usually seen as braver to take on a big, scary action. But what I realized as I get older is that

Truth and dare is often the same thing in a world where speaking up could get you in trouble. 

I’ve gotten myself in trouble several times at work when I spoke up about something that wasn’t fair or right. People, especially authority figures, simply don’t like those who don’t follow directions. They especially don’t like it when they assume I’d do what they say, and it turns out I won’t. The voice inside my head is literally saying:

Image result for girl you're in danger

In my adult life, I’d say telling the truth has been far scarier than eating worms/skydiving/needles or any “dare” could be. There are so many consequences you need to live with when you tell the truth that people don’t want to hear. For example, you could be:

  • fired from a job / ruin your career
  • lose your friends and acquaintances
  • gas-lighted – people make you doubt yourself
  • criticized & harassed in person or online
  • made out to be bad guy??!!!?
  • lose sleep and go under a ton of stress

Even knowing all of these might happen as a result of telling the truth, I still feel that it is so important that the truth be told. I’ve always been into journalism and looked up for people who report facts and find out stories that we might–we WOULDN’T– have known about otherwise. If it makes certain people soooo uncomfortable that the truth is told, isn’t it even more necessary that we state the facts? If you haven’t done anything shady or inappropriate, there is no need to silence people.

I think truth is one of those things that is as free as air and as valuable as gold at the same time. Truth already exists and it can’t be taken away; however, if it’s something that people want to keep secret, all of a sudden it becomes super valuable. People would pay/do/say anything to keep you quiet because they don’t want the truth to come out.

When I’ve made the difficult decision to tell the truth, the results I’ve gotten are that people get very offended, angry, or they label themselves as the victims. This is me when they do that:

Image result for what?! minions gif

I can’t really believe that they have the nerve to do what they did and NOT WANT ANYONE ELSE TO TALK ABOUT IT. These are often the very people who will preach about “consequences” and “integrity” and I. JUST. CAN’T. at the hypocrisy. It makes me feel like we are living in The Scarlet Letter times.

So what is there to do? I think my girl Rowan Blanchard said it best in the article “Sorry, Not Sorry;” the truth already exists, it’s just a matter of covering or uncovering it.

You don’t have to apologize for who you are, and you certainly don’t have to apologize for who you are not.

In conclusion, telling the truth makes any dare seem like a piece of cake (but I still will take truth over dare cuz EVEN THE BRAVEST PERSON IS WIMPY IN SOME REGARDS.)

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

This was my first ever Angie Thomas book and I totally get the hype now. Reading this book felt like tagging along with Brianna on her journey. I’m a fan of first-person narrators because I like experiencing the world with the character. Brianna’s comments and thoughts about her surroundings felt like her breaking the fourth wall to show us her world. By the end of the book, I really felt that I had been with Brianna through her journey.

There are a couple things I especially loved about the book:

  • I loved the world building–Garden Heights is so developed and believable. We usually talk about world building in fantasy, but a fictional world that’s realistic with all the details is just *chef’s kiss.* Garden Disciples vs. Crowns, Midtown School of the Arts, Garden High, Sal’s Pizza, Mr. Watson the school bus driver–all of these details situated us right in Bri’s world.
  • My favorite part of the book has to be what’s usually called the “fringe characters.” I had so much fun reading about them.
    • Granddaddy’s one-liners and Grandma’s pettiness had me wanting to hear from them more!
    • Milez/Miles/Rapid_one – the manager’s son with his own story was cool. There’s a different side
    • Sonny and Malik! The Unholy Trinity is awesome and I loved their changing and complex friendship.
    • Dr. Cook, the superintendent who wasn’t totally a villain. This made me trust the author– the people who I expected to let us down, were redeemed.
    • TREY and KAYLA!!!! I relate to them because they’re my generation and I felt it so hard when Bri said that Trey did everything right but still has to work in a pizza shop. I also love that Trey was a psychology grad.
  • I loved when Brianna called Malik out. Malik might be an attractive boy and Bri’s best friend, but what he did was not right. I’m so here for more boys being called out for playing with feelings and being uncertain. However, Malik is also not a villain and they were able to patch up their friendship even after that kiss.
  • I was always nervous that Supreme would turn out to do something shady and things would blow up, so I’m so glad that Brianna didn’t get her come up through him.
  • Other things I loved: The memes, Blackout (aka Bossip), Dat Cloud (aka Sound Cloud.) As a pop culture lover I loved this.

Thanks Brianna! Your passion for rap will stand out.