Fresh Paint

There’s an area of Miami called Wynwood that’s become something of a hipster watering ground in recent years. Today, I found myself wandering the area with my sister and was shocked at how much it had changed. Hold tight, folks, because this is a long one. 

That’s kind of what my visits home boil down to: shock and awe at how much things have changed. I never could’ve imagined I’d be waiting half an hour in line for fancy donuts in south Florida, but there you have it. The Salty Donut’s menu is a thing of beauty. 

I had a chocolate glazed donut and the Cocoa Puff Milk latte. The latte definitely wowed me – it really tasted like leftover milk from a bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal, with added oomph from two shots of Intelligentsia espresso. The donut was too rich to finish in one sitting. Chocolatey and buttery, it was perfection in ringed form. I also ordered a guava donut for later, while my sister grabbed the vegan chocolate cookie dough option. Well worth the wait!

We meandered through the neighborhood for a bit before heading to the tourist-packed spectacle of the Wynwood Walls. To be fair, the whole area is covered in street art, a jumble of illegal and commissioned work. Bright colors and glaring tags are integral features of Wynwood. 

But the walls have become a proper spectacle. Out-of-towners guzzling overpriced fruit smoothies choke the sidewalks and click away with their cameras. It’s hard to blame them, though. 

Between the walls and the galleries that have sprouted up in the old industrial district, I encountered some of the most fantastic artwork I’ve ever seen. 

The lifespan of wall art in Wynwood can be unpredictable – some pieces have lingered for years while others have lasted all of 24 hours before being painted over 

My sister and I had a great time. We had some good food, took in the sights, caught up with each other. 

And I fell head-over-heels for one particular wall, which I’m hoping to incorporate elements of into my in-progress sleeves. 

Seeing what’s become of Wynwood, it’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago it was no-man’s land. The police cruisers prowling the crowds serve as a reminder of that. Like its walls, Wynwood has undergone a strange sort of transition: gentrification. Once upon a time, it was Little Haiti. But the city’s desperate, tumultuous expansion has left no neighborhood untouched. The crumbling barracks-style apartments that my Abuela lived in her whole US life are gone now, torn down to make way for high rises. With an influx of young high-rollers, the city’s aging Caribbean immigrants are pushed further into the outskirts of neighborhoods they once dominated. Warehouse districts now boast trendy eateries and dance clubs. And it just feels…weird. 

I fucking love donuts. Who doesn’t? Fascists, that’s who. But I feel like I no longer recognize my hometown. Every time I come back to Miami, I find it harder to readjust. For better or for worse, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live here anymore. It’s become glaringly apparent to my that the Miami I knew doesn’t exist anymore. I blinked, and it disappeared. Its been a long time since I pretended I’d ever move back, but I don’t think I could even if I wanted to – I doubt I could afford it. 

It’s a strange sense of displacement. Like the walls of Wynwood, I can’t predict what’ll come next. All I can really do is face it head on. So bring on the fresh paint, 2017. I’m ready for it. 

Bright Sides

The weather has cooled down in South Texas, at least for the time being. Taking advantage of another WordPress prompt to try to be productive. 2016 has been something of a horror show. As excited as I am that the podcast has come to fruition, it’s hard to find things to get excited about. Enthusiasm is in rare supply these days. I’m not entering 2017 with a lot of optimism thus far. But there are a few things I’m looking forward to, little nuggets of gold on the B side that is my life.

In a few months I’ll be heading to a certain Wizarding World of wonder with some good friends, which I’m pretty pleased about. I’ve begun assembling a suitably Ravenclaw (because what other house would I belong to?) wardrobe, hoping that the Great Floridian Gods see fit to grace us with some decent weather.

Also pending friendly climes is my first camping trip in April. I’ve never done anything but pitch a tent in the backyard and head inside when the mosquitoes got bitey, so this is going to be an entirely new experience with a crowd I’m still sort of getting to know. It’s either going to be great, or a disaster. Crossing my fingers for the former.

My younger sister is graduating from high school, and she’s already been accepted to some good universities. We’re planning to take a Sister Trip to celebrate the event. While it’s looking like we’ll have to downgrade from International Shenanigans to something stateside, I’m still excited for us to spend time together.

I’ve found a couple local writing groups that I’m going to enjoy meeting with throughout the year. While attendance has apparently waxed and waned as folks move or find themselves too busy with life, I feel like we’ve got a great crowd together. And I’m going to be taking a Creative Writing course, which will hopefully inspire me to be further productive and provide me with some valued feedback.

And with luck, I’ll be visiting friends in Atlanta again later in the year – if not for DragonCon and cosplay fun, at least for the eating of pie and good food. And that’s never a bad thing.

For now, I content myself with my everyday work of librarian’ing and acting as designated cat-warmer. It’s been a hell of a year, but I’m hoping everyone can find something to look forward to with a new beginning. And if you haven’t – make it happen. Change starts with you, right?

Lucky Ducks

There’s a joke my mother likes to tell. Two women who went to school together as girls are reunited, and the first woman talks about how wonderful her life has been. She went to college, met a great guy, made lots of money, and traveled the world. The second woman responds to each milestone with a “Well, isn’t that nice!” When asked what she’s been up to, the second woman answers that she went to charm school. When the first woman asks her what she learned there, she responds “I learned to say ‘Well, isn’t that nice!’ instead of ‘Fuck you!'”

What I mean to say is, fortune seems to smile on some people. I’m one of those brain-dead consumer-types who eagerly devours lifestyle blogs and Youtube vlogs featuring the everyday doings of people I’ll never meet in person. I tell myself that my fascination comes from my identity as a storyteller. I like watching others’ stories unfold. And they really can be fascinating. Yes, watching Jenna Marbles roll around with her dogs and go to Target is fascinating. Fight me.

Point is, we all have a sort of idealized life. We all envy those who have apparently achieved it. I was the kind of kid who couldn’t bring herself to say “yes” when someone asked her if she wanted a soda for fear of seeming rude. Now that I’ve gotten my various neuroses mostly under control, I find myself facing a new set of hurdles.

In May, I’ll be 30 years old. And I’m only just acknowledging my idealized life. I’d like to be a content creator. Or rather, I’d like to support myself as a content creator. Anyone can make stuff. I make stuff. I’m making this blog post right now. I play a role in making the Alexandria Archives podcast. I make fiction, I make pictures, I make stupid tweets that only my closest friends understand well enough to laugh at. But with bills and a career I’m only just finding myself entrenched in, it’s a little late to play the starving artist card.

So that’s where I stand. I feel envious of those people who doggedly pursued their dreams for years and are finally making headway, because I feel so far behind. I don’t know where to start. Except I have started, sort of, haven’t I? And that’s something.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to make a living doing what I love. Maybe it’ll forever remain a hobby. But I certainly don’t intend to stop, not now. It’s definitely too late for that. So I plan to plod along, saying “Isn’t that nice?” and (mostly) meaning it. I’m going to envy the lucky ducks, then I’m going to bust my ass to catch up. Because I make shit. It’s what I do. And that makes me lucky enough.


What We’re Listening To #2

The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast/H.P. Podcraft is one of those things I wish I’d learned about sooner. Seriously, why didn’t anybody tell me this was a thing? Have I been a bad Lovecraft fan? Each Podcraft episode features a sample of weird fiction from various authors, ranging from Lovecraft’s contemporary and protege Robert Bloch to Edogawa Ranpo, perhaps the Japanese equivalent of Arthur Conan Doyle. Beginning with narration of the work’s opening, the episode alternates between well-recorded excerpts and discussion between hosts Chad Fifer and Christopher Lackey. Their conversations are as fun as they are insightful, and I often found myself laughing out loud as I listened. I’m currently blowing through their feed as I write this. If you love comedy, literature, and weird fiction in particular, you’ll love this podcast!

Do you like to hang out with your friends and talk shit about movies you’ve seen? Then the Man I Love Films Podcast/MILFCast is for you. Never mind polite conversation, or scripting – Hosts Kai Parker and Heather Baxendale don’t hold back. While each episode is broken into segments (the Serious Seven, The Game) they flow at an organic pace, following a trail of conversation between the hosts and the guests. I laugh, I cringe, I get annoyed with myself for being shitty at movie trivia. While the somewhat chaotic way in which episodes unfold might make it hard to follow for some, I feel that the format makes for easy listening – I often play episodes while in my car, or working at my desk. Interspersed with anecdotes from the hosts’ lives, it feels like catching up with old friends.

Cryptid Creatures is similar in format to Lore in that a sole narrator, Jesse Haynes, recounts a story backed by sound effects and ambient music. In this podcast’s case, Haynes discusses the historical context behind the legend of a cryptid, beginning with the Ozark Howler, a creature native to his neck of the woods. Linking this local legend to similar myths throughout history, he paints a bigger picture of human superstition. I love cryptid legends, and I love every interpretation of them I can get my hands on – Discovery specials, Lost Tapes, cheesy local news footage – all of it. I remember eagerly devouring wild tales of the chupacabra in my childhood. So Haynes’s podcast is right up my alley.

Lonely Proofreader Seeking Manuscripts

As you might have gathered, I write. I like to write. I especially enjoy being paid to write.

Perhaps even more than writing, I enjoy editing. I’m my harshest critic, which is perhaps why I like editing the works of others – I’m motivated to provide constrictive criticism.

Currently, my rates are as follows:

Proofreading – $3/page

Copy/content editing – $4/page

Practically a steal! Know someone in need of these services? Point them my way. I have a BA in English Literature, an MLIS specializing in special libraries and information centers, and can provide references and proof of qualifications if necessary.

Stitch Fix Box #2

Confession: I hate dressing myself. I’m happiest in jeans, a tee, and chucks. But when you enter the professional world, even if you CAN get away with that kind of wardrobe, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Working academia in South Texas means dealing with professors who wander into the office in flip flops and Hawaiian shirts. No one would like twice at me for being similarly attired. But they say you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have, and unfortunately I don’t have enough clout to get away with a pointy hat and witch’s robes on the regular. So I have to settle for the next best thing: gothy Rory Gilmore.

I actually own a lot of clothes. Probably too much clothes. In my quest to declutter my life I’ve given a lot of it away, but I’m still working towards that ideal capsule wardrobe. I figure with the exception of a few seasonal pieces, I should be able to get an idea of how to reliably blend comfort and something resembling style. Enter Stitch Fix.

This is actually my second fix, and the second one I’ve received only moments before bolting out the door for travels. I told myself I’d try to appreciate the unboxing a little more this time around, though. That means documentation and a review!

Next confession: I totally peeked. I don’t handle suspense well. After days of pinning pics of elbow-patch shirts and begging for one on my fix note, I was not disappointed! I was definitely most excited about the Pixley Greenich Striped Knit Top ($48). The fit was good, and I liked that the hem extended long enough for me to wear this shirt with leggings and some tall boots. Definitely a keeper!

My stylist, Kristy, was pretty great about meeting my requests this month. My plea for booties was answered with a pair of Steve Madden Tobii Booties ($90).  I’ve always wanted a pair of Steve Maddens. But these were olive green, a color that just didn’t suit me. So sad as I was about it, these had to go back.

The Loveappella Zolita Knit Dress ($64) was the item I was least impressed with. For one thing, black and white stripes aren’t super flattering. The dress also just didn’t fit. It was way too tight across my stomach and frankly made me look like I’m in my first trimester. This item went back.

I specifically asked for an infinity scarf. That said, the Look By M Amos Stripe Knit Infinity Scarf ($34) wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. While the style and fit were good, and I could tell it would be comfy warm when the weather turns, I just don’t wear these colors often enough to justify the cost. So back it went.

I pinned a picture of the Pistola Audry Moto Detail Skinny Pants ($88) ages ago, long before I’d even heard of Stitch Fix. So I was thrilled when I saw that Kristy had included a pair in my Fix this month. While I wasn’t crazy about the color, these pants fit great and were a really cool style. So I decided to keep them!

Last month there was only one item I didn’t much care for in my Fix, so I chose to take the whole lot. This month, to do so would be. However, Stitch Fix offers a 25% discount for all 5 items – and they also deduct your $20 styling fee from the total. I could’ve purchased the whole box for @223.00. But the dress and scarf just didn’t do it for me. While two of the remaining items are more pricey than what I’d typically pay for from a store, I can’t deny that they’re wearable and would fit nicely into a capsule wardrobe. So I purchased them for a total of $127.22.

My thoughts on Stitch Fix overall? While the items tend to be more pricey than what you might find in stores, I’ve found that their quality is quite good. Everything I’ve received has been well made and comfortable. That said, it’s hard to justify a monthly Fix. I’ll probably move to bimonthly, or every 3 months. Interested in trying Stitch Fix  yourself? Use my referral link here:

I think you’ll find the experiment worth your while!