Loss in the Family

I’m currently sitting in a hospice room, waiting for my great grandmother, Grace, to pass. (It is Monday, and I am pre-writing due to the situation.) She has been one of the biggest influences in my life from the start. I’ve lived with her off and on for my entire life, and her house has always been my permanent address (for various reasons). She’s always been a big proponent for reading and writing, and I only wish she’d had the time to write the memoir she always talked about. I ask that my followers be patient with me at this time. I may or may not be able to post on Friday depending on the chain of events. I certainly don’t feel quite up to enjoying a new book at this point. Please bear with me.

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On the Arts

Today I want to take a step away from concept pieces and book reviews, and sort of change up my about me format. I recently discussed some elements of my life that I’m happy about, namely my budding makeup career and my acceptance to GCSU for an MFA. Before I delve into this piece, I’d like to let you all know that you won’t see posts like this from me often. If/when I’m published elsewhere, I’ll include links in posts additional to my T/F posting.

Today, I’ve decided to share a few glimpses into my portfolios with you. I avoided a clickbait title because I don’t have any interest in using this post to grow my audience, I only want to invite my current audience to see a bit of my work thus far. Again, do not expect this to happen often.

Here are a few photos from my mega-shoot on Saturday, the main reason that I didn’t get my Friday posting done in time:

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Image credit: Mike Alberghini – Shadowink Photography

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Image credit: Mike Alberghini – Shadowink Photography

 

Before I get too into this, I’d like to talk about identities; I have several.

  • Blogger
  • Writer/Poet
  • Makeup Artist
  • Reader
  • Feminist

I don’t think any of these identities takes much priority over the others, though I certainly acknowledge that feminism causes me to look at things through a different lens than others might. As far as writing goes, poetry is my favorite. I enjoy blogging, and I want to continue doing such personally and professionally, but poetry is something that is more organic and raw in my opinion. It takes a lot of work to be satisfied with a poem, and despite encouragement from peers and professors, I’ve been very insecure about my poetry to date. After getting into a program based in part on my poetry writing, I feel that my confidence is budding and growing enough for me to comfortably take this leap. I’ve decided to provide a small snippet of my portfolio (which was submitted formally to GCSU’s MFA program). I ask that any criticism be constructive, if not kindly worded.

Two of the ten poems that I submitted are as follows;

 

We Buried You at the End of Summer While the Fruit Trees Withered

Fitting to plant your body
like the seed of a pear
when pears had just left season.

A body like a seed
from the man like a tree
whose branches lifted me
when I couldn’t reach the fruit.

Bodies don’t grow like seeds.

 

——

Name – I have removed the title of this poem for personal reasons, I hope you understand.

Home is a person.
The shutters close
When you need restoration.
The door locks
And you are the curves and bends
Of the only place,

He waits for you.

Lungs bombinate,
Breath in gusts of chimney smoke.
Veins like electrical wires.
Bone marrow insulation
Between feathersoft tissue
And vinyl skin.

Home is cold,
But he warms for you.

—–

Thank you all for taking the time to read my work, and I hope to see you all around here again!

Book 17: They Can’t Take That Away From Me by Gail Mazur

This book was a gift from one of my closest friends. I got the chance to stay with her for a night recently, and she surprised me with one of my favorite things, a book of poetry.

I’ll start by saying that I’m extremely picky about poetry. Typically, I enjoy poets like Rupi Kaur or Yrsa Daley Ward; it’s rare that I pick up a book of poetry by a white woman. Had it been me perusing the aisles, I might never have picked this book up.

As a poet, reading other people’s’ works shows me what I do and don’t like in a poem. I didn’t care much for the first section of poetry (all entitled “Questions,”), mainly because of the repetitive lines that could be found in each poem. Prior to my poetry writing class, I was a big fan of repetition on poems, now I generally only like it in spoken word or on other rare occasions. The concept behind the first section was deep, and i enjoyed several elements of the poems, but the repetition weakened them for me. I wanted more imagery, more passion about her questions on the meaning of life, and less repetition. I will admit, the concept behind the section wasn’t my favorite either; big, complex issues like the meaning of life can read too cliche, and I wanted a more unique collection of poetry from Mazur on the subject.

The last four sections of poetry don’t have as central a theme as the first, and each poem is titled differently. I feel that individual titles strengthen a poem’s ability to stand alone and read organically.

In the second section, I began to see a bit more of Mazur’s culture seeping into her poetry; her mention of Jewish tradition especially sparked my attention (leaving stones on a headstone to represent a visit). I do dislike her choice to write about poetry in her poetry. Evening Was undoubtedly my favorite poem in this section, mainly because it hinted at dementia so heavily.

In the third section I felt like Mazur was overdoing it with extensive vocabulary words. Twenty Lines Before Breakfast has a vast array or big, smart people words. That’s all well and good, but it’s not organic; it’s forced.

The fourth section is just two poems, the first of which is yet another poem about poetry and writing. Definitely not my favorite, though I have mentioned my pickiness before.

In the fifth section Leah’s Dream was the star of the show. I LOVED the flow of the poem, the organic feel, and the sensual content. I didn’t love the whole section, but I did thoroughly enjoy this poem.

My favorite elements of Mazur’s writing were her honesty (in Maybe It’s Only the Monotony, Mazur speaks about interactions with her daughter in which she became violent), her tendency to write about aging and dementia, and her strong stylistic choices.

I give this book a 6/10.

They Can’t Take That Away from Me by Gail Mazur on Amazon

On Freelancing and Life After Undergrad

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the job market is ROUGH. Freelancing is a hustle, whether it be writing, makeup, or whatever. I’m having (exponentially) more luck with my freelance MUA work than I am with my writing (though I have two prospective jobs in the works that sound very promising and offer good stability. Those jobs would be continuous blogging, something that I (clearly) enjoy; both companies that I’ve spoken with are companies that I support and would love to work with.

Potential FAQ: Why freelance? My answer is this; I freelance write and do freelance makeup work because I love both of those respective trades, and freelancing gives me the opportunity to accept or turn down gigs as I go. I can continue freelancing with a day job, I can continue freelancing when a day job isn’t an option (in grad school), etc.

That being said, I’d like to discuss some things I’ve learned from freelancing so far.

  • People will flake on you.
    • Free photoshoot, free makeup, over a month of notice and planning; I still had more flakes than follow-throughs.
    • Free work is necessary to make a name for yourself, but it can be a real hassle trying to get feature articles published, getting models (or friends) to show up, etc.
  • You HAVE to network (your ass off).
    • Working for a company you’ve already got resources for days. Freelancing? You have no audience, no resources, etc. without busting ass to network.
    • Networking platforms like LinkedIn are the shit; accept all of the connection requests, reconnect with EVERYONE, and include everything you’ve ever done in your life (aside from those misdemeanors and speeding tickets).
  • Success almost never comes immediately.
    • Networking takes time.
    • You’re talented, but you’re new.
    • There’s a lot of other talent out there.
  • You’ll likely need another job while you’re starting out.
    • On one hand, you need to dedicate oodles of time to your freelance networking and pitching, on the other hand, you can’t network without having the cash to pay your internet bill.
  • You won’t be able to depend on every job inquiry to follow through.
    • Even if you’re pricing is really low, even if you’ve spoken to the potential client several times, there’s always the chance that they won’t hire you.
    • This sucks. This will always suck. It will also always be a possibility.
  • You will lose your patience. People might lose their patience with you.
    • A. You’ll lose your patience with people who don’t follow through, etc.
    • B. Your friends/family might lose their patience with your self-promotion, inability to afford extravagances, etc.
    • C. You will lose your patience with yourself. That’s the hardest part.
  • You are selling your service, you need to try to brand yourself.
    • My current potential gigs where writing is concerned both deal with blogging. I have more content available for my audience on this blog, therefor that is how people view me; as a blogger. My makeup portfolio is mostly full of glam looks, some avant garde sneaking its way in as I progress; mainly I market myself as a special event MUA; ie. prom, wedding, or photoshoot looks.
    • Selling yourself is fine. Incorporating your personality into your work is necessary. Writing and makeup both allow me to do that; my personal blog gives me plenty of room to incorporate my life, my experiences, and my opinions. My makeup career taking place (in part) on social media means that my personality is, again, unavoidable. This doesn’t mean that you have to have the highest level of self confidence on earth, it simply means that you have to try and sell yourself well.
    • The more unique you are, the better.
  • You need to work out a schedule / be VERY reliable.
    • This past Friday I missed my first scheduled content date without updating my audience ahead of time. Don’t be like me. My Tuesday and Friday scheduling is that way for a reason; when a job comes up, one of the first things your potential client is going to ask you about is your scheduling. Being able to provide evidence of your timeliness and reliability is key to landing jobs.
    • DO NOT OVERBOOK. If you’re rushing, you’re probably not producing quality content. Your career is not English 1101, you cannot bullshit your way through this career.
  • Expect rough patches, dry spells, and otherwise sucky times.
    • Consider retail’s sale fluctuations in December and January; you’ve got MASSIVE jumps in sales right before the holidays, enough to necessitate the hiring of seasonal workers in most cases. Come January, the stores are virtually a ghost-town, seasonal employees are either taking inventory or already being let go, and some regular employees are receiving far fewer hours than before. Companies avoid closing their doors during this period by planning ahead. You may have an excellent April, but if you don’t have a gig for the first two weeks in May, it’s going to sting. When your income juts up, hold the reins and make sure that you’re stable enough afterwards for a good long while before you blow your stack on a new Macbook and ten liquid lipsticks from Sephora.
  • Post-Everywhere platforms are your friend in the blogging sphere.
    • WordPress is my friend; when I publish a new blog post, it automatically shares my post to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter, and more.
    • Social media is your best friend in branding and networking.
  • Be patient.
    • With yourself.
    • With your career.
    • With your creativity.
    • With your whole freaking life.

Freelancing sounds a lot like being unemployed, doesn’t it? It feels that way during the lulls. I’m writing this during a lull, waiting to hear back from two excellent prospects, and i can honestly say that though I’m struggling, it will be rewarding in the future. Writing and makeup are two things that I absolutely love, and I’m sticking with them until I get to where I’m going.

Book 16: All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou

First off, I owe all of you an apology. I missed my Friday post, accidentally auto-posted a tiny portion of this post, and otherwise let you down. I’ve been very busy with family issues since Sunday the 3rd, a family member is declining with dementia quite rapidly and I’ve been juggling that and some makeup work. I’ll be sharing a post Friday about freelancing and the struggle that trying to become established entails, so you can look forward to that (it’s already written and scheduled, no worries).

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

On to the book!

Maya Angelou is my favorite author. It took me until now to figure that out definitively. When I hear her name, something inside of me screams “Mama” about a woman who I have only met on the pages of her books. Perhaps that has everything to do with Letter to My Daughter and the fact that I read it when I was craving motherly advice and needed it more than I knew, perhaps it is because I absolutely love everything that I’ve read from her to date.

I picked this book up around Christmas, another gift from my Mother, as it was the only Angelou work at our BAM that I didn’t already own. Later, when I read the summary on the back, I knew that it was going to be a stunning work. One of my best friends had the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana last Summer, and I immediately added it to my long list of travel goals. The land is beautiful, the food is wonderful, and the culture is richer than anything I’ve experienced. Hearing those stories made getting excited for this book that much easier.

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These are a few of my favorite things.

In the beginning of the story, Angelou has plans to travel to Liberia, which are soon dashed when her son is in a serious accident during his first week of University in Ghana. Angelou is very downtrodden for the beginning of the memoir, but quickly finds a group of friends, the “Revolutionist Returnees,” and shares great experiences with them. Thankfully, her son heals and continues his time at University. Though her stay in Ghana was unplanned, Angelou makes the best of it.

I’d like to take a moment to address Angelou’s brief interactions with fury; I won’t ever live her experiences, but I experience fury in the same way. Unfortunately, my fury often takes place on the internet. If a younger me had read her works, maybe I’d have a little less of an inclination to the quick tongued fury that seeps out all too often.

Sisterhood is well defined in Angelou’s relationship with Efua. She got Angelou her job, looked out for her, read with her to help her pick up Fanti, and otherwise worked towards helping her to become comfortable and happy in Ghana.

Angelou’s stories from Ghana show how extensive her journey was, and the complexity of her search for home in the continent. Her frequent mention of President Nkrumah has me deeply interested in Ghanaian politics, something that I never would have considered otherwise. I especially enjoyed the insight on his tendency to rebel from the single narrative that many people tell of the African continent, something that writers like Chimamanda Adichie have also spoken on, and something that I definitely think needs to be discussed more often. Her pride in the country, her joy at sharing in Ghanaian culture, and her interactions with people from other African countries were intimate and stunning. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of Angelou’s writing, anyone interested in Ghana, and other non-fiction buffs.

I give this book a 9.5/10.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

I have a book of Angelou’s poetry sitting on my shelf for later. I’ll be reading it sometime this year, I’m sure.

Five Feminist Stories to Revisit

Today I decided to reflect on some stories that have impacted my feminist views. They cross genres, include nonfiction and short fiction, and are otherwise badass.

  1. The Cider House Rules by John Irving

Starting off with one of my favorites, and a book lovingly shared with my by a friend. It’s definitely a pro-choice narrative, taking place prior to Roe v. Wade and safe/legal abortion access. The entire novel is great, I appreciate all of the characters for their imperfections and passions. I particularly admire Homer Wells.

  1. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This was the first book I read off of this list, and at that point in time my favorite. I haven’t read it since high school, I enjoy dystopias, and the feminist nature of this tale was a part of my early feminist awakening. I hope to revisit it soon, but I’ve got a long long list. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

  1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I fell in love with a passage from this book and I keep it in mind any time that there’s a change coming up in my life. Adulting/growing up with anxiety just gets worse with age, every decision is labored over, and it always seems like there’s a million options that all sound fantastic. I keep the crotch of the fig tree in mind, and I remember that Plath felt the same way.

  1. Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou will undoubtedly show up in every post this week. She’s my favorite. I’m not sorry. On to the story; I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. It was my second Angelou memoir, and I enjoyed her candor about some of her choices through the years. I loved getting to know her better, and being able to learn more about such an icon that had made decisions that others might not approve of. Her interaction with the sex work industry, her other dealings that some public figures might have left out, etc. were discussed. Honesty is an absolute necessity.

  1. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I did a really interesting project on this book as a sophomore in high school. We read it in Advanced Literature (one of my favorite classes) and were asked to draw our own representation of the wallpaper. I dug into this story, swimming in the stripes of that wallpaper and in Gilman’s storytelling. I’d had little experience with writings about mental health, postpartum depression, and other intensely feminist issues. Link to full text here.

I’ll revisit these as I find time, most likely not in the immediate future. I do hope to revisit the Atwood text sometime this year, and Gilman’s story for a concept piece sometime soon.

Side note: I’m having a busy, busy week and dealing with some family things as of right now. I’ve got an awesome weekend lined up, so I’m pleased about that. I’ll be back Friday with my review of All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes.

A Birthday Remembrance for Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is my favorite author, hands down. I adore her candor, and I find her stories inspirational in that they are organic and honest. 

  

Image credit: Mayaangelou.com 



For Friday I’ll be reviewing All Gods Children Need Traveling Shoes which I’m enjoying so far. I wanted to go ahead and mention her today, as it is her birthday. 

Follow this link for some inspirational quotes from Angelou.