No. 6: “It’s been a year since-,”

Even as I am writing this, I do not think it will be good enough for him. I do not think he would believe that this was bad, he helped create my writing style. But I do not think it will be good enough in a sense that this will not be good enough to commemorate him. This is therapeutic, and he would enjoy it so here we are.


It’s been a year without my grandfather.

It’s been a year without hearing his voice. Or smelling the red wine he paired with sunset and dinner. It’s been a year without me sharing my growing pains as a writer. I can’t tell him about my job; where I usher kids to fall in love with literature. I can’t vent to him about how competitive MFA programs were and how I thought it reflected on my skills.


It is hard to write stories without him.


In the past, I would come to him with piles of composition books full of eccentric stories. Now, I struggle to finish a chapter.


There have been family friends and relatives that have passed away in my life. But with Paw, it was my first time experiencing grief. I was shocked when I heard Dad say,” Dad just died,” that phrase had been anticipated as his health declined. But then, it was an actual phrase that was actually said and I did not know what to do about it.  I remember how I couldn’t comprehend how this man, this scholar, this artist, could stop being here.


“I had just talked to him last week,” I would say.

“I had just talked to him last week.” I would repeat, trance-like.


We knew he was going. He had fought for years with numerous monsters. But had fended them off with his oxygen tank, his wife, and hope. The nurse had informed my grandma that it would be at least two weeks. My parents, aunts, and uncles came to see him. Grandma kept in mind the allotted time two weeks can give her as she made him a custard, one of his favorite snacks.


He stayed with us for two more hours.

“Dad just died.”

No, he didn’t.

Not my Paw.

Not the young recruit who served in the Korean War.

Not the scholar of NYU.

Not the author.

Not the stage director.

Or the English professor.

Or the President of a college.


No, he did not go. How could he?


The day after, we went down to my grandma’s house to gather pictures of him. There was a lull. The absence of the constant click from his oxygen tank was deafening.


“Dad just died.”


Paw became a past tense at the wake. There were so many people who came to give their condolences. Hundreds of handshakes, hundreds of hugs. Hundreds of sad eyes blinking at us. He impacted many and was such a prominent spirit. One woman had him for an English class before he became the President of the community college. She had him for one class and came to his wake.


“Dad just died.”

I read at his funeral. I had to. He had done so much, been so much, I had to. I grew up standing at the side of his armchair as he edited my stories. I was at his side while he was defeating those said monsters; Stroke, Failure, Infection. We would talk shop on his battlefield; about literature and authors who got too invested with their creations.


“It’s been a year since Paw died.”

When his anniversary hit it felt weird. A year without you and it’s going to be another and another and another.


But though you are gone, I still thank you.

Thank you for your advice. Thank you for writing in your books, I agree with your analysis on how the American Dream is present in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Thank you for teaching us how to roll crepes properly. Thank you for teaching us how to fish. Thank you for teaching me that grief is natural even though it is hard to be vulnerable. Thank you for the memories, they were good ones as well as funny. Thank you for always telling me to write.

Thank you for being Paw.

Word not World Series P: “Peanuts”

“Claire! Claire!” said a man.

Claire’s thumb filed through the bumpy shells of peanuts without a second glance. The striped bag that was supposed to have twenty-three nuts in it was now engorged. The bulbous bodies were peeking through the shudders of red and white.

Claire just kept on feeding the paper bag.

“Claire?” the man called again. He was coming up behind her and her stand. He was a tall man with a red uniform and top hat on.

The woman did not stir. Her eyes were fixed on what was a few feet ahead of her.

The entrance to the Big Top was peeled back to ventilate the tent. In the ring was Maude. Maude Glass, the trapeze artist. Her brother, Arthur, the lion tamer was sick, so she was the substitute now.

She was pivoting in the center of the ring as she watched a young tiger and a limping lion pace around her. They kicked up the golden dust as they did which made it seem like Maude Glass was standing on a yellowed cloud. She was spinning around on a cumulus instead of her usual thin wire.

Maude would push up a cowlick of black hair off her forehead from time to time. Her face was slick with sweat from the rising heat. Her leather boots and woolen clothes did not help her. Perspiration carved out her streamlined body from the thick material. She had her pant legs and sleeves pushed up as much as possible in the hopes to keep something cool.  She had to adjust her grip on the whip from time to time in her right hand. While the left held a six-inch knife at her side. It would wink at the cats and at Claire with every move she made.

“CLAIRE!” The man blared. He was towering over her now. His top hat made him a foot taller than the peanut vendor.

Claire jolted at a crack from the whip. The young tiger attempted to snap at Maude and was instantly reprimanded by the noise. The swollen peanut bag Claire was filling up exploded. Legumes erupted from the paper and scattered across her stand.

“Why weren’t you paying attention? I called your name a number of times and now we lost some profit.” said the man. His shadow was cast over Claire as she plucked some of the rogue peanuts from the hay. All the while she mumbled, “oh, shit. oh, shit” to herself in a feverish whisper.

“Are you deaf, Claire?” the man muttered, shaking his head.

The woman looked up at the ring leader.

“No sir, I’m not deaf. Just wasn’t paying attention.” she muttered.

The ringleader clicked his tongue. His gaze shifted to Maude Glass in the ring. Who was now having the cats jump through hoops. The muscles in his jaw rolled under his skin.

“Anyway, can you do me a favor, doll?”



“My name is Claire. You called me ‘doll’.”

The ringleader shrugged. “I know it is, I’ve been calling it for ten minutes. I was just checking to see if you weren’t really deaf.” he mused.

She placed the ruined peanuts on her stand and brushed off dust from her knees. When she looked up the sharp eyes of the ring leader were still running over her. They brushed her pale hair. They blinked over her dusty knees. They grazed her tone calves. Up her pale blue dress. They studied the structure of her collar bone.


The ringleader focused on her face and cleared his throat.

“Can you just make sure that everyone is hydrated and fed? I don’t want anyone fainting in this heat. It’s not good for the show to watch someone drop when it’s not a stunt,” he said. He looked back at Maude, who wiped her brow again. “Even though it would be highly entertaining for myself.”

Claire pricked at the comment. Her hands rounded into fists. Her elfish features were pinched back.

“Sir. Maude and everyone else will be fine.” she replied firmly.

The ringleader clicked his tongue and smirked at the vendor.

“Sure, she will,” he said. His fine teeth glinted like Maude’s knife. He took a step toward Claire. The woman pulled back.

“Women can take care of themselves so well,” he whispered. His right hand framed Claire’s cheek. She scoffed and looked away from the man. Her body tensed as he breathed down on her. He plucked a peanut shell from her hair and waved it in front of her with that smirk.

“Hope you can recover what you’ve lost, doll,” he said. He took a peanut from the stand and popped the whole thing into his mouth, he cracked it and spat out the severed shell before turning a heel and walked toward the ring.

Claire watched him put an arm around one of Maude’s broad shoulders. A smile gleamed in the shadow if his top hat. Something was said to Maude and the woman nodded extensively. The cats were laying a few feet at her side gnawing on their treats.

Claire shook her head at the man.

“Women can take care of themselves just fine, ” she spat. She snatched a peanut from her stand and pulled it open before throwing the food back into her mouth. The vendor grinned when she saw Maude turn away from the ringleader when he attempted to grab her forearm. The man bristled at the rope walker then stormed out of the tent to continue his rounds.

Claire did hers obediently, taking two bags of peanuts with her on her trip.


Claire had to pry a bag of peanuts from the strong man because he was scarfing them down. The Siamese twins bickered over them, so they had a different meal instead. The two other trapeze artists took a few and kept moving along. The animals were all fed. The stars of the circus were hydrated.

Claire was stuck.

Maude Glass grunted as she struggled to pull off her sweat soaked shirt from her head. Her bra and opaque torso were glazed over with perspiration. A perfect line of freckles was pricked down Maude’s left side. Claire could count Maude’s ribs as they flexed with her rampant breathing. The artist’s frame was so muscular but lean. She was so fragile and strong all at the same time.

Maude paused at the crinkle of a peanut bag.

“Hello?” her voice was muffled by the shirt.

Claire froze.

“Is anyone there?”

Claire gulped.

“I know that someone is here. It’s not that funny.” snapped Maude. She stomped around. Her knees buckled a bit from exhaustion.

“So-sorry sorry!” a small voice came from Claire. Maude turned in the direction of the frail voice.

Claire dropped the tent flap behind her and walked toward the performer.


“Yes,” she replied quietly. She looked over Maude one more time then shied away and caught herself in one of the vanity’s mirrors. She was blushing. Her whole face was ignited.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Maude grumbled and grunted. She bowed down to get a better angle to fight off her shirt. Her spine curved in the mirror. Claire shook her head and turned to face the frustrated performer.

“I… I’m half deaf.” she lied.

“Oh? I didn’t know that.” commented Maude. She had stopped again.

“It’s not something I want to show off. “

“You should, it’s an interesting fact. It makes you more unique, ” Maud said. Claire caught her reflection beaming in the corner of her eye.

“I’m unique?”

“Well, yes. But can you help me take my shirt off? I am beyond stuck. Also, this stench I’m breathing in can knock me out at any given moment. Not to mention the fact that the show is starting soon.” Maude said.

It had taken Claire two hours to check on everyone as directed. She hadn’t finished bagging her peanuts because of this errand but she had ten already made.

Claire let out a little laugh and nodded.

“Are you helping me?” Maude prodded.

Claire jumped. A few seconds had gone by with no response.

“Yes- Yes, of course. Keep your arms up,” Claire directed.

Maude obeyed.

Claire rested her last bag of peanuts she had with her on the vanity. She then walked over to Maude and twisted her hands into the moist fabric at the woman’s elbows.


Maude eagerly nodded.

“One, two, three!”

They both huffed as they wrenched the shirt off.

Thick black hair spilled out of the shirt and rained over Maude’s shoulders, neck, and face.

The cannon to signal the show went off. The cheers of the audience rang through the air. Claire did not stir when the ringleader’s voice boomed over the microphone, “EVENING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND WELCOME TO THE SHOW!”

Maude did not move either. She looked over Claire with a crooked grin. Her brown eyes studied the vendor. Her cheekbones, her thick eyebrows, how Claire’s mouth was twitching at the corners.

Maude nodded. “Like I said, I do find you unique. Did you hear me say that?”

Claire nodded. Her cheeks flushed brighter. Maude’s eyes squinted as she smiled.

“I did. I’m only half deaf.”

“I was worried that you wouldn’t hear it over the crowd and Thomas and all.” Maude replied. She smiled in the mirror as she took a white linen shirt that was hanging on the chair in front of it. She smiled as she buttoned it up. She smiled as she looked up at the vendor. She smiled as she stole two peanuts from the bag and ate them.

Claire let out a shaky laugh.

“Yeah, I was worried that I wouldn’t hear it too.” she said. Maude nodded. She grabbed the yellow vest and buttoned it and then the red coat with its tails and gold buttons.

“Um, speaking of Thomas, he wanted me to see if you were hydrated and fed. He doesn’t want anyone fainting.” Claire said. Maude’s face grew rigid at this. She brushed down her vest and fixed her collar.

“He doesn’t want me to faint. He has a lot riding on me tonight.” she huffed. She pulled a pony tail holder from underneath one of her sleeves like a magician. Claire winced as Maude snatched her hair and cranked it into a bun before hiding it under her brother’s top hat.

“That’s what he said at least after my rehearsal.” Maude turned a heel to face Claire. Her nostrils were flared and eyes burning.

“Well you can tell him I am absolutely fine.” she barked before she stormed out of the tent and off towards the Big Top.

Claire watched her walk away. Then looked over at the abandoned peanut bag and sighed, “I find you unique, too.” Before walking to her stand.


“And now, you’ve seen her dazzle us on the tightrope and tonight she will rattle us in the ring! Here is Maude Glass as the lion tamer!” Thomas cried over the speakers. The crowds roared and cried out in perfect harmony. Popcorn and peanuts rained from the sky. This was the last act, everyone was full of snacks and awe to see a woman be near these animals.

Claire pushed past children and adults. She squeezed past people who were skinny and fat, tall and short to get up to the first row. As she did, Maude appeared from behind the curtain and strutted out to the ring. She raised her arms in the air and the crowd hollered once again. The spotlight in the ring haloed her Maude. Claire could only see the outline of her smile. The cats prowled out from behind her. The lion with his limp and the young tiger with his shady eyes.

Maude turned away from the audience to the cats. She cracked her whip at her co-stars and they started to circle her as before the show. They did these three times and after two whip cracks, Maud caught a hoop and had the felines jump through it.

Ten minutes passed and as the seconds ticked, Claire was becoming cemented to the people she was sitting with. The tent was closed, and all Claire could breathe in was the smell of hay, sweat and heat which in her throat.

Then they lit the flammable hoop.

A help had run into the ring quickly to bring it out. Then he lit it and the whole tent began ignited. Claire started to huff and puff as the air grew heavier. People swayed in their seats to hopefully make themselves more comfortable.

The lion jumped through gracefully. He roared to the crowd as he paced back to the start of the trick. Maude wiped sweat away with a gloved hand. She cracked her whip and the young tiger pounced through the inferno too. Then the lion went. He sat before the crackling ring and looked up at his trainer. Maude her head and cracked the whip twice to signal him.

Maude’s knees buckled.

Claire rose in her seat. She looked over at Thomas, who was in the shadow of the left wing. He was glaring at Maude.

Maude stumbled but still cracked her whip. The tiger was watching her. His green eyes were on her wobbly legs, they had the same instability as a newborn calf. Maude snapped at the cat. She cracked the whip again, nicking its back paw. The tiger bucked and bumped the ring of fire. It yowled in pain. The crowd flinched. The lion who had been waiting for his turned bolted out of the tent. The tiger hissed and skidded on the earth. It’s left shoulder smoking from the ring.

Maude dropped to her knees. She was panting in all her wool and linen. She was glistening under the spotlight. The tiger lowered his body and crawled toward her. It’s eyes angry and wild.

“MAUDE!” Claire heard herself cry. The crowd was yelling to. Some yelled to get her out of there. Some yelled for the tiger to kill her.

Thomas watched, grinning.

The tiger was inching closer. Maude kept on waving her right arm to crack the whip. But the whip only wagged on the ground. No crack came. The tiger pounced onto it and tore it out of her grasp.

Maude fell backwards. Her eyes rolled back into her skull.

The tiger started to bolt towards the artist.


Fangs flashed. Eyes glowed. The tiger threw itself at Maude Glass.

The strong man pinned the tiger down between its shoulders and held it there. The other trapeze artists came out of the shadows and grabbed Maude. Her limp body hung over the man’s back while the woman fanned her. The tiger spat and squirmed under the mass of the strongman, but it didn’t budge.

Thomas came out of the left wing, his head hung low in fake sadness. He looked up at the crowd. Claire’s jaw clenched at the sight of him. Her hands clawed her knees.

“Folks, I am so sorry about this. I think the heat must have gotten the better of her. That concludes our show. If you wish to be compensated, come tomorrow. For I must take care of our Maude Glass now,” he said. His sharp eyes stabbed onto Claire. She glared right back at him. He shook his head and walked off. Just as the audience began to peel from the benches, leaving Claire behind in the Big Top. With just the lit circle and the ring of fire that hissed into silence.


Maude Glass was laid out on her bed in the women’s tent. A wet towel was on her forehead and a glass of water was on her bedside. Which was half gone. Her black mass of hair had been pulled away from her neck and bare shoulders. It cascaded down her pillow like a frozen waterfall. She no longer wore the traditional lion tamer outfit. She was in a tan tank top and silk shorts. Which were possibly given to her by the female trapeze artist.

No one was with Maude anymore. She had come to twenty minutes after she fainted, she chugged the water and after Thomas declared that she was fine, people dispersed. Someone had left a paper lantern to help her see. Which made everything inside the tent warm and golden.

Claire stood in the open flap of the tent.

“Maude?” she whispered.

Claire exhaled. Maude peeked at her from underneath the wet cloth.

“Oh… hello, Claire. Did you like the show?” she dropped the cloth back onto her face. A weak laugh creaked out of her.

“I did.” muttered Claire after a moment. She walked over to her bed side.

“Ha, don’t lie, “scoffed Maude “I messed up.”

“You overheated.” corrected Claire.

“I failed.”

“Would you stop that?” Claire snapped. She dropped down to sit on the edge of the bed. The abrupt movement shifted Maude so quickly she ripped off her cloth in alarm. She looked over Claire and relaxed, smirking at her.

“Would you take it easy?” she snorted.

Claire grinned at her and shook her head stubbornly. Maude softened and looked up at her with those brown eyes.

“I think …. I think it was impressive.”



“How was it impressive?” Maude curled around Claire’s back. It was as if she were a child listening to a story. She perched her face onto a pale hand and blinked up at the vendor.

Claire cleared her throat and straightened her posture.

“You picked up lion taming in a day, you did so well during rehearsal and even in the show. And — I also think that you are unique.” she exhaled. Her body relaxed. Maude’s other hand soothed her even more as she rubbed her back. Claire looked down on Maude Glass.

She was smiling. In her eyes. In her mouth. In her freckles. She was beaming.

“Peanuts?” Claire revealed the last bag from her stand. Maude looked at the pinstriped bag and chuckled. She took one and peeled it open. She ate one nut and offered the other to Claire.

“Always.” she said, mid chew.






No. 5: “As I Get Older”

Some people complain about getting older. Joints creak and pop. Arthritis pinches your knees when rain is in the air. A gray hair is an alarm clock that must be slapped quiet with dye. Some people like recycling years, “I’m 20 for the 30th time this year, a new record!”,  for example. The idea of aging has always been feared. There are so many pieces of literature or films where the villain wants to stay young forever. People want to steal a sip from the fountain of youth if it means that they don’t have to go to a 20th high school reunion.

shark teeth ooh haha

I am 23 years old now. That is 23 times the Earth has revolved around the Sun for 365 days. It has helped shed some light on my ideology on age.

As the years have passed I have aged like a fine wine. Not like a pinot noir, even though I could go for that right now… I mean, I have aged mentally. I have aged into myself.

When I was younger, I was shy. I was extremely shy. I did not like speaking to people I did not know. When I was called on to read to class I mumbled into the text book. The class would laugh at my whisper sputtering about Rasputin. I would pull myself closer into the text in the hopes to become a segment of the book’s spine. I was bullied from the age of 10 to 16 because I was quiet. It’s easy to pin something on someone when they refuse to speak. It’s hard to whisper over laughter and jeers. So, I stayed quiet and wrote stories during my classes.

When I was younger I could not tame my anxiety. I was also about 10 years old when I was diagnosed with it. Anxiety was a creature I could not face. It was this invisible force that crept up on me and made my heart race. I was pinned down by it constantly. If I was bitten by something, I asked if I would die. I accidentally swallowed a piece of confetti at a party once and was picked up earlier than planned because I could not stop worrying about that one piece of plastic. So, I stayed at home or only went out with a family member because there was safety in numbers and how could I die when I was with them?

As I have gotten older, I have thought about these moments. I once thought that they took up my whole life. I was once worried that I had just worried everything away. I was clay at one point. Lifeless, cold, and gray because of silence and anxiety. But over time, the block of expressionist mud began to shift and morph.

I started attending theater camp and joined my high school’s theater troupe at 14 years old. A slab of my muteness got sanded down over the four years. My voice got louder and rose over laughter during improvisational exercises. I moved onto college. I took my talking and banter with me in my suitcases. My anxiety started to recede as my independence bloomed. I got into stand-up. Yes, the anxious mute shares stories in the hopes for people to laugh at her awkwardness. Instead of trying to disappear I savor the laughs. I celebrate them. I love them because it is because of something that I have said or done.

Over time, I began to see the signs of when my anxiety would begin to stalk me. I learned to inhale and exhale the thoughts away, like blowing out candles, snuffing out each light gradually. Because of my practices with anxiety, I hold a friends hand, I am a comforter that blankets them until they can relax.

As I have gotten older, this fine wine has not only fermented but has shared the bittersweet twang of my history with others who want a glass.

I am a voice. I am a laugh. I am a piece of advice. I am a presence. I am an assurance. I am your friend.

As I get older I know the elements listed above will only shine brighter and be louder, louder because I will not be able to hear so well in the future from all of the laughter.


Word Not World Series E: Expectations

E for Expectations.

You would think that when you would get out of college, you would stop learning. Wrong. No, you are not writing essays and exercising critical thinking but after college, life becomes the professor. That sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s true.

After I graduated from college, I expected to be working within my profession and have a good amount of money saved up. I expected to endure an hour commute and complain about it to coworkers during water breaks. But life does not have easy transitions and that is okay.  There are other people in this world who are fighting for the same chances that I am and soon it will be my turn.

I am working part time in two food buisnesses instead of a cubicle and that is fine, I am saving money in a different forum. I am serving people food instead of serving my editor the next article and that is fine. I am not on any bestseller list and that is fine as well. I am not married or have children and that is fine. There are things that I cannot control and that is fine. That is what life after college has taught me and luckily, there is no upcoming exam for it.

The reason that I am saying that everything is “fine” and “okay” is because it is. Yes, I want to be successful but success is not easy to come by. I need to prepare for it. I am working on the foundation on which I will stand and say “I have climbed so high.” You do not want you foundation to crumble, so that is why you make sure everything is sealed, packed, and uniform. Look at a brick wall. Look at historical buildings like the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China. They did not just appear overnight and neither will I. Hundreds of people worked on these structures for decades until they succeeded in their goal.

No, I am not one-hundred people. But I have the will of one-hundred.

Expect the Unexpected.

No. 3 “Humanity Palette”

upclose with morpheSociety studies people as if we are all ants under a magnifying glass. Is she skinny enough? Is her hair straight? Is he…?? She doesn’t have much of a butt, does she? He’s so short.  Her skin is so dark. She looks masculine. Why don’t you smile? What is she wearing?? She looks tired. He is getting old. 

We have all heard it before.

We live in a world where beauty is on a pedestal and it is a pain to reach it.

But, in the hopes to gain admiration and confidence we wear makeup. Humans as a race has been using makeup since Ancient Times. Grecian women used waxes and clay as skin care products. (Just did a Yes to!  mud mask tonight, myself). Throughout history, how a person looked showed his or her wealth. Which makes me think of the makeup artists on YouTube and Instagram, who have the tools to look flawless, and have acquired the wealth of followers as well.

I conducted an experiment to see how makeup and society affects both men and women. I asked them all a series of questions and the answers shared below are the highlight (not highlighter) reel of responses.

Allison or “Allie” is a Mass Communications student who started to wear makeup when she began middle school, around the age of 12.  Just like how a musician collects records or a botanist has samples of flattened roses, Allie has her palettes. They are stacked neatly in a box; Macs, Morphe’s and Jaclyn’s, a filing system of pigments.

I asked Allie how it felt when she wore makeup. “It’s hard to explain. I feel free. I have the power to create any look and I can wear it whenever I want and know that I have the power to choose between something dramatic or natural. It’s definitely a confidence booster, but it is also a fun way to be creative,” she said.

Today there are Instagram pages, Tumblr posts, and YouTube channels that are dedicated to showing viewers how to do an evening to a “no makeup” look.  It truly is an art form. Every artist has their own style of how they express themselves, like how Allie explained earlier. That red eyeshadow can yes, make your eyes pop, but also; create a new lipstick shade, be used as blush and so on. There is no actual conventional use for makeup because how people use it, there are no limits.

Matt is an actor who has been using makeup since the age of eight years old. He has also dabbled in a little bit of drag in the past. In theater, makeup is used not only to differentiate between characters’ ages but to emphasize features, so they can be seen by the audience. This has been a practice done for hundreds of years. The thespians who performed Shakespeare’s plays in the Globe had to wear makeup as well. Especially if the said actor was playing a woman.

I asked Matt the same question, what was it like when you first wore makeup?

“The first time I wore makeup I was humiliated. I was a child, so I perceived makeup as being only for women; something that boys just do not do. Now I really appreciate opportunities where I must wear makeup. I think it makes me look better and it gives me confidence,” he said.

In 2016, James Charles was the first to be a “Cover Boy.” Before this, it was just ladies who were the represented CoverGirl. That is to paint the picture that makeup and skin care is marketed towards women. Even though there are men who perform in drag shows or shows and use some products, makeup is something we immediately associate with women. For a boy at the age of eight years old to recognize that trait, that only women wear makeup says a lot about how quickly we are introduced to stigma and association of genders.

I introduced my next question to the next victims — people, I mean people; how do you feel without makeup?

Sidney, a college student responded with, “I feel pretty confident without makeup! I think choosing not to depend on makeup for an everyday look has really shaped how I view myself. My mother was also very helpful and would always tell me that ‘makeup was never meant to cover up just to enhance’ and if you were having a bad day, sometimes a little mascara would fix it and sometimes you just have to learn to love yourself.” I think that is exceptional advice. For both men and women. To not only embrace yourself but also there is no shame in boosting your confidence a bit. Sidney has been aware of the world of cosmetics since she was twelve years old.

Habtamu, is a theater student who is used to wearing some war paint. He started wearing cosmetics when he was a sophomore in college (around nineteen years old). Habtamu recently portrayed a vivacious drag queen in a production and had to go through for about two hours to get into character. He had to sit while getting his makeup done. Which included waiting for the glue on his eyebrows to dry and avoid any sort of movement while the artist was doing his eyes. “It was basically four hours of discomfort from start to finish … but I enjoyed the opportunity to do something so different and new,” he says. When asked, how do you feel without makeup?  Habtamu’s response was, “I like the way I look without all the makeup. Yes, it’s nice to have the flawless skin and all the but that’s not human. I have razor bumps, cuts and “imperfections.” They are mine and I want them there. I’m comfortable in my own skin. Plus, I could barely drink water without worrying that it would ruin my makeup.”

I know that we have all been there before, amirite?

*clicks pen to proceed*

Do you agree with the societal norms of beauty that we have today?

Alyshia, an actress and thinker responded with, “No, I feel like there is too much pressure to fall into one type of look.” Cameras are everywhere, and we are each other’s paparazzi. (Example, say if you do a dumb dare, or yell something, that clip will be on a ten second loop on someone’s Snapchat). Because cameras are such a present element in the year 2018, people want to look good for their buzzing and bubbling public they will never meet. There are so many posts going around on the internet comparing how 90’s kids looked as thirteen-year old’s and how present 13-year old’s look now. The latter all look like models who just left a runway rehearsal. The reason they look so flawless is most likely because there is so much pressure to look good. Which, at their fragile stage, adds more pressure and fuel to their hormones. They have become hyper focused on their looks because they are well aware that society is waiting for a slip up.

Kenny, a drag queen, and actor has grown up with makeup. He started to use cosmetics since he was nineteen years old. When asked the question, he responded with, “In the immortal words of Motormouth Maybelle, ‘Big is back and as for black it’s beautiful!’ Growing up, I was inundated with what beauty should be. I’ve grown to accept the majesty that is me. Not that I’m egotistical, I’ve just been on a new path of self-love and self-care.” He and Motor Mouth said it right here and now, folks!

If you do not know who Motor Mouth Maybelle is, we need a serious talk. Then we need to watch Hairspray.

And now, the grand finale to this experiment.

Drumroll please.

We are all at computers or phones, the only drumroll I am going to get are drum emojis, who am I kidding?

In a world that is so focused on beauty, why is makeup so expensive?

Even if you get cheap products like E.L.F., for example, the money racks up. If you even get one palette, it breaks the bank. (It still hurts).

Kathy, a teacher cut to the chase, “Company’s want the green,” she said. It is the perfect set up. People want to become “flawless”, the company has your “bronzed golden ticket” palette, and you, eating out the palm of their hands. Kathy knows this all to well. She has been used to the business of makeup since she was twelve years old. It’s not a secret and it is Maybelline. Not maybe.

Brian, who is also a teacher, said, “I think makeup is ridiculously overpriced. However, as someone who was an art major in school I understand that most art supplies are ridiculously overpriced.” Brian also sees makeup as an art form, a source to express ourselves. Brian has recently used makeup. He started using eyeliner with a year or a year and a half ago and has enjoyed it since.

The world has beautiful sites. That includes human beings. We come in different pigments. Ebony, ivory, bronze, fair, caramel, and so on. We have stained glass windows to the soul; blue, green, hazel, gold, gray, brown. We are geniuses in our own fields. We are dreamers with different sets of tools; from a sledgehammer, to a mascara wand. We are the Palette of Humanity.

As a closing remark, I asked the interviewees how they would describe beauty in one word.

Attainable, Boundless, Confidence, Glowing, Effortless, Natural, Relative, Subjective.

What is your word?



No. 2: “Former Tomboy takes on Ulta”

Kathryn Marian Sine.

When you hear that name, what do you imagine?

A lady, perhaps?

I was not a lady growing up. I was a shy “tomboy” instead.

I rode up and down my cousin’s driveway with a skateboard every weekend. I did not flinch whenever I scraped a knee. I never played with a Barbie or Bratz doll in my life. I collected Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon cards and filed them away in a ginormous white binder. (I had a blue eyes white dragon AND a red eyes black dragon… ready to duel?). I ran around as the Blue Ranger from Power Rangers.

I also despised wearing makeup.

My sisters on the other hand did not. They made daisy chains and experimented with what blue shadow would complement their eyes or stroll into Claire’s for a lip gloss kit.

Sometimes, they would do make up studies on me to see how I would look without the dirt and scrapes. I felt like a beetle, pinned under a microscope. But instead of a microscope, brushes hung over my face.

As I got older, I did get into makeup. I learned from my older sister how to conceal circles under my eyes and the best technique to apply mascara without poking an eye out. (It still happens from time to time). I now know what kind of skin I have as well! But I can still never do what women and men on YouTube do with makeup. They can use lipstick as eye shadow and even blush. They can create these extravagant looks with one brush in their arsenal. I am just lucky that I finally have contouring down… barely.

So, when I went into Ulta for the first time at twenty-two years old I knew that I would be lost. Luckily, I had my younger sister there to accompany me and be my tour guide.

Ulta is a wonderland of colors and applicators. Once I stepped in I was hit by so many possibilities. So many looks I could attempt.

I was so confused to as where everything else besides “testers” were and if I could buy a tester…? I wandered around the store, past blushes and eyeliners until I came across my favorite makeup line, E.L.F. I have loved this brand since I started wearing makeup not only because of how cheap it is (3$), but because of how well it works. I have honestly never had a breakout or reaction to their items.

I picked out mascara and a concealer/highlighter combination from E.L.F. and continued to walk down the line. Then I saw it.

A row of eye shadow palettes.

The nice ones.

I felt like I knew what I was doing when I “swatched” the eye shadows. Swatches are not only used in Home Depo to find out which shade of red should be used for your sunroom. There is another way to swatch, to paint your hand with the arrayed shades in the palette to see how pigmented it is as well as how it will compliment you. (My hand was striped like a glamorous tigress at the end of my swatching). Morphe is a brand that I have never seen before, but it is great. I have dark brown eyes, so it was great finding a whole series where I knew each color would make them stand out. Instead of having a choice of three colors and a few questionable shades on the side.

With my streaked hands I went up to the counter and purchased my two E.L.F. products and Morphe’s “Bronzed Mocha” (18$, you’ve got to treat yourself to some nice a** makeup sometimes). The cashier asked me if I was interested in signing up with Ulta to redeem points and I answered with a wholehearted yes. Because this would not be the last time I would do my cosmetic grocery shopping at the store. I would collect all the palettes they had, just like in the Pokémon games of my past.

So, a former tomboy took on the beast that is Ulta and won without denting my sword, or at least this time, my bank account. Ulta has so many great brands that you can purchase. I was so surprised that they carried E.L.F. The customer service was great, and I was not at all intimidated when I went there. Confused, yes, but only for a hot second.

Until we meet again Ulta.

Hope you enjoy!



No. 1: “The Big Apple”

After I graduated in December 2017 with my Bachelor’s, I wanted to travel. It was like an itch I needed to scratch. Before, I went on family vacations to North Carolina. Where we were reminded to put on sunscreen, mini golfed, and consumed Brit’s Donuts like maniacs who had never eaten anything in their lives. Or, I went on day trips with friends and family to DC to get out of the small town for a bit.

But two weeks ago, one of my best friends, Maecy, invited me on a day trip.


To the Big Apple.

I had never been to New York. I had only been exposed to the dazzling lights and dizzying culture of the city by SNL, songs, and movies.  I was so excited. My wanderlust would be quenched.

I proudly dressed as a tourist that was stuck in the 90’s. I wore my denim overalls from Old Navy (40$), H&M crop top (13$) and red Vans I borrowed from my sister (priceless). The only thing that I was missing was a Canon camera hanging from my neck. I am in love with my overalls and my fraternal grandmother swears that red is one of my colors. Thus, this outfit was born.  I am sure Rachel from Friends would have pulled off this look.

We took the Mega Bus from Washington DC’s Union Station to 34th Street in New York, New York. It was a four-hour bus ride full of laughs and naps.

The first stop on our day trip was to eat. We arrived at New York at 2:30 pm and because of our excitement (we also had to run to catch the bus), we did not have breakfast. Bravo’s Pizza was by the bus stop, so we wandered there to eat. Everything smelled so good. I ordered a slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza – because I’m a carnivore. Maecy had spaghetti and garlic knots.

DiGiornios may challenge Dominos but it cannot touch New York pizza. The crust is just so crisp, the cheese has Guinness Book of World Records-elasticity, the toppings were delicious, and the marina sauce was fresh and tasted like tomatoes. That sounds weird. “Of course, it would taste like tomatoes,” you would say. Just try a slice of New York pizza and you will get what I mean. I was enamored with the first bite and mourned the loss of my new love after I swallowed it whole.

After lunch, we started our trek to Times Square. On the way there I saw Macy’s. You know, the Macy’s in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “It has seven stories to it,” my human Maecy informed me as I stared at the building. It was an amazing feeling to see it up close, instead of behind a tv screen while eating ice cream floats and judging the performances, (a family tradition).

I yelled “I’m walkin’ here!” every time we crossed a street. We had to push against the crowd which consisted of: businesspeople, parents with their leashed or free-roaming children, and other young adults visiting the city. We also had to dodge cars because apparently, cars have the right of way, not pedestrians.

Have you ever been overwhelmed with beauty? That happened to me when we arrived at Times Square. Maecy ordered me to close my eyes as she guided me through the crowd.

“Open them,” she said.

The ginormous screens covered me with radiant light. I was like a moth attracted to manufactured flames. I could not look away. At every angle were silver towers that suspended me in wonder.

I fell in love with New York City at once.

For the rest of the day, Maecy and I ventured around Times Square.

We walked around the H&M store which was just … huge. Three floors of clothes and shoes and people and lights. They even had a television screen that showed people in the photo booth on one of the floors.

When we were done with H&M, we came across the Bridezilla Museum of Natural Hysteria. It was as amazing as it sounds. An animatronic T-Rex dressed as a bride waved at us to come in. We obliged.  It was a whole museum dedicated to drama queens and “bridezillas” from the WE TV show and history. In the first room were photographs of models dressed as Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and Marilyn Monroe with bios of their marital careers.  Next, we bathed in some ice. By “ice”, I mean diamonds. By diamonds, I mean plastic ones. They had a bathtub full of these crystals that you could take pictures with. We did. Next was a wall that said “CRAY” spelled in flower arrangements; because we were going nuts about this museum, we took a picture with the wall.

The Bridezilla Museum of Natural Hysteria was one of my favorite places. The staff was great, and the displays were hilarious. Sadly, this pop-up museum is transitioning onto the next thing. Even though I can’t take another “ice” bath, I am excited to see what happens next.

The M&M Factory was the following stop.

If you love chocolate this is the place for you. The store has three stories. Each floor is as colorful as the next. There were flavors and colors of the candy that I had no idea existed. They even gave you a chance to make your own assortment of the chocolates.

We walked around Times Square more afterwards. As we did we met interesting characters such as a musician who was named “Marqus” (that’s Marcus with a Q) and came across a street artist. He was a Bob Ross of spray paint, truly. Within two minutes he created a scene of skyscrapers with mysterious planets in the background. Maecy and I bought his finished work.

Maecy suddenly told me to cover my eyes. I did without any questions or objections. I peeked only to be able to watch my feet to avoid tripping. Maecy grabbed my hand and guided me through the crowd. She would periodically ask if my eyes were covered and I would reply that they were.


I screamed.

HAMILTON glowed at me with its yellow lights. The logo of the musical waved at me with it’s one finger. I could not believe it. I still cannot believe it. The cast of the acclaimed musical were singing “Wait for It” or “Satisfied” in the building. I was so close to Lin Manuel Miranda. (Even though he is not playing Hamilton anymore).

This was not the only surprise my tour guide, Maecy, had in store for me.

There was one more stop, and we had a little time left before we had to meet our bus.

At 8 pm, we took an Uber to the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought that would be it. That we would pass by the luminous bridge because we were running out of time.

Wrong again, Kate.

Maecy had us dropped off at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Which has an ice cream shop, tree lights and… a perfect view of the skyline.

The New York skyline.

Even though it was foggy the day we visited, it was still beautiful. The skyscrapers glinted across the river at us. The Empire State Building stood tall and crowned by the fog. It was breathtaking.

So, a small-town girl took on the Big Apple, and I enjoyed every bite of it. From the food, to the sites to the people. I even learned that Madison Square Garden was not a garden at all.

New York City is wrapped in history and technology. With so much to see and do there is no wonder that the city never sleeps.