At long last, my online portfolio is finally live!
A few months ago, I had some select poems and short-stories to read but ultimately removed them as I planned to revamp that portion of the site. But, true to my procrastinating self, I only returned to that project today.
For now, you can peruse through a library of my poems, prose, and even essays; there’s also a compact photography portfolio available to look through as well. Still to come: homemade books and drawings/paintings of mine. In the meantime, I’m thankful to have some of my creative headpieces on display. Hope you enjoy.
It was 2004 when I “discovered” San Francisco. Fed up by the stagnancy, heat, and politics of my then-Floridian home, I dreamed of something many people dream about: moving to California and making a name of myself. I had all these visions of being an in-demand photographer, snapping away at bands and performers; of living in the city, barely thriving amidst the market but so alive regardless; of reaching my full potential, finally. It was something I did not believe Florida could ever give me. I knew I had to leave.
I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for seven years come August. For the most part, it’s treated me well. College was as fun as college could be for a non-partier (especially difficult at an art school), and I’ve learned a lot in my time here — not just scholarly knowledge, either, but a savvy discipline. I loved living in Oakland especially. Contrary to its reputation, there’s very much a there there. Culture and the arts, food, and the natural beauty of the earth. From the two houses I lived in while there, I could see San Francisco, a city often emerging through thick fog like a majestic apparition in the clouds. It was a constant reminder of where I was, and how far I had come from those sunny days in a small coastal town.
Two years ago, I moved again. Still in the Bay Area, but – although I didn’t realize it at the time – somehow submitting myself to the same stagnancy as before. Don’t get me wrong: Benicia is a lovely place for a family or a little trip, if you’re into antiques. But despite my small stature, it’s simply not big enough for me. I look out the window of my turret and no longer see San Francisco. I see crusty hills, their golden color not reminiscent of a rush a century ago but of death and a temporary dormant state. It’s a mirror image. I know I have to leave.
When I visited New York a week ago, I had no idea that it would become a life-changing trip. It was to be my Charlotte Charles moment: a lonely tourist exploring a new place and herself, minus the plastic bag over my head. But it became so much more than that, unexpectedly. There are certain people in everyone’s lives that serve as an incentive to finally move. They can offer encouragement, incentive, inspiration. They become the vertebrate in our backbones; each one making us a little stronger than before; each ridge in our spine allowing us to stand up a little taller and reach a little higher. I feel like I’ve just had surgery that will save my life.
In my seven years of living in California, I’ve always felt like I was soaring. Observing everyone from my vantage point, keeping my distance… I was afraid of landing. Maybe I was afraid of finally beginning a real adventure, full of hidden passageways and uneven ground and the possibility of danger — but also the possibility for new riches and meeting great people and reaching that potential. I’ve already wondered, “What if I fall into the same comfort I did after moving to California?” Admittedly, it’s a worthy worry to have. But I think it’s different this time, if only because I am ready for my life to begin. At twenty-five, I am so tired of nothing. I’m the antithesis of Peter Pan: let me grow up, please.
So, I’m facing another fork in the road. To my left, California. To my right, New York. They are both enticing, but one is enshrouded with safety and sameness; the other is a dazzling light, perhaps green and unattainable but nonetheless asking me to reach for it. Begging me to, in fact; multiple voices saying that I belong there. I’ve decided to finally land. I need the steady unsteadiness of a bustling, busy life. I don’t know if New York will be another California, or another Florida, but I do know that I have something now that I was lacking in my years here: a rigid back. As I hitchhike back across the country, I at least know there’s a deep drive in my spine that’s going to motivate me to fight hard for the life that I want. A life that I deserve. A life full of met potential, finally.
It did not take thirty days for me to write a novel, not even a little bit and not even at all, but that is of no significance to me. As of March 22nd, I could finally sit back and say, “I wrote a novel.” With a total word count of just over 72,000, I had completed my task. I did what I had never done before: I finished something.
The complicated aspect of my coming home from this journey is that I don’t feel as if I can kick my feet up, enjoy a pina colada, and marathon “Mad Men.” Like a layover, there is no time to relax; just a small amount of space to wait before jumping right into the next voyage. When I finished “The Vineyard” and was able to type out the ever-elusive concluding words, THE END, I found myself struck with an array of emotions I hadn’t quite expected. Pride, of course, because it was an impressive accomplishment… but also a bittersweetness, because my initial exploration of the novel was complete. I had surveyed the lands and jotted down my reactions, and any further additions would merely be the missed details or facts. And, I had this distinct feeling that I wasn’t allowed to celebrate. After all, this is only the beginning, and there is still plenty of work to be done.
Writing the last 20k words of “The Vineyard” was a complete joy, though, after I crawled over a bump of hesitation. I had stopped writing once hitting my allotted word count for the NaNoWriMo-esque challenge back on August 1st and only picked it up again in March. You could say it was a case of writer’s block, or that burdensome creature called procrastination, though it was most likely a case of fear. What I had left to write for the novel was the soaring climax, full of escapist adventure and adrenaline and huge character moments. It should have been everything I had dreamed of writing about (and it was), but I was so terrified to finally tackle it. I realized a great fear of mine was incidentally what I also hoped to accomplish, which was to simply finish. Where do I go from there? Does it mean anything? How on earth do I even begin to edit what I have? What if it’s terrible? Will anyone want to read it? Did I waste my time?
In “finishing” my first novel (and I use “finishing” loosely, as this is merely a first draft), I learned that the building blocks of my procrastination were all grounded in one simple emotion: fear. Knock those away and the whole structure comes tumbling down, allowing me to easily step over the obstacles and reach my destination. There is just so much to be afraid of. Before, during, and after, the writer is faced with so many questions and self-criticism. The thicket of fear covers our eyes, blinding us to the potential we hope to seek — and can find, if only we look. I did not find the magic spell to cast aside the self-doubt, because there is none. I didn’t do anything special, in fact. I just wrote. That is the secret to accomplishing anything, in the end. If you want it bad enough, you’re not going to let anything stop you. I got to the point where I didn’t let fear inhabit and inhibit me. I kicked it away, determined to reach my goal.
So, to answer my questions stemmed from fear: Keep traveling upwards, moving forward, and it will continue meaning the world to you. Edit slowly and carefully, only when it feels comfortable. This particular journey might feel like riding on a wagon, and it’s better to be cautious so you don’t end up with dysentery. Even if your finished result is an absolute mess, know that at least you did something. At the end of the day, you still wrote a novel, and it’s a story that means a great deal to you. It always will, this being your first attempt. If others read it and enjoy it as well, then that is just a plump cherry on top. But regardless, spending roughly fifty days to write more than you’ve ever written, to stretch your literary fingers, to expand your knowledge, to cradle your characters, to learn about yourself is never a waste of time. “The Vineyard” could be great or it could be a laughable catastrophe, but never forget how much it meant to you in this moment. When you come back to this blog entry (because I know you very well and you tend to do that), remember how special it was completing this book. Remember how you leaned back against the window, breathed out a sigh, and smiled. Remember how your mom pretended to throw confetti in the air. Remember thinking how fulfilled you felt in that exact moment. Was that worth it? To feel like you could suddenly achieve anything? Then, no. You did not waste your time, not even a little bit and not even at all.
Jan. 14, 2013: Are you a leader or a follower?
I don’t like following at all (never have!), but I’m at times too introverted to be a literal-leader. Still, I consider myself just that; my opinionated, stubborn Taurus side often wins out.
Jan. 15, 2013: One a scale of one to ten, how was your lunch today?
Zero, as I didn’t have any.
Jan. 16, 2013: Do you owe someone money? Does someone owe you money?
I don’t owe any, no. (Hoorah for no student debts!) I’m sure I’m owed at least $100 from lunch money given to friends in grade school, though…
Jan. 17, 2013: What’s the oldest thing you’re wearing today?
My shirt, which is this soft, warm, blue-grey thing I’m pretty sure I got at Goodwill seven years ago or so. It’s nondescript, belonging to no trend, so who knows how old it really is.
Jan. 18, 2013: What was peaceful about today?
The first few minutes of Amour, and then it all went downhill from there. It was nice hearing the ice cream truck in the middle of winter, too.
Jan. 19, 2013: List three foods you ate today.
I had breakfast for dinner, so: scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and cinnamon pancakes.
Jan. 20, 2013: Are you holding a grudge? About?
No, I think I don’t care enough to hold grudges. [ETA: That's a lie. I still want my lunch money back.]
Jan. 7th, 2013: You are lucky: how so or not so?
I am lucky. Actually, I feel blessed. My parents are loving, kind, understanding, thoughtful, and supportive. I’ve also had many extraordinary circumstances happen in my life. I’m not religious, but I feel watched over by someone.
Jan. 8th, 2013: What song is stuck in your head?
I’ve had several Alanis Morissette songs from Jagged Little Pill stuck in my head for a couple of days now, as I recently revisited the album. (“You Learn” and especially “Head Over Feet” more than the other tracks.)
Jan. 9th, 2013: Was today typical? Why or why not?
Typical in that I stayed in all day, updated my sites extensively, and accomplished little else, then yes. Although I did go on a wee crusade against an internet imposter, which is definitely not part of my average day.
Jan. 10, 2013: Write down something that inspired you today.
I’m just gonna say it: Ben Affleck’s “Anything Is Possible!” win at the Critic’s Choice Awards was pretty fun. Never, ever, ever give up.
Jan. 11, 2013: Today you lost __________.
Any sense of defeat I might have formed after months and months of job applications.
Jan. 12, 2013: What’s your favorite accessory?
I like to wear my cat around my shoulders. Other than him: pearl earrings, my custom emerald ring, my RAF/skeleton key necklace, a yellow vintage clutch Ashley got me for Christmas, and my multi-colored scarf that literally matches anything and resembles a scarf Rose Tyler had on “Doctor Who.”
Jan. 13, 2013: Where do you want to travel next?
Realistically? Eastern California to see some snow this season would be nice. In my dreams, I’d like to go to Italy or Turkey or Peru. (Maybe someday…) I’ve also recently been wanting to go back to Puerto Rico.