Through Thick and Thin

Well, a lot has happened in the past year. I’ll try my best to give you the SparkNotes version. Last May, I proposed to my partner on our 4yr anniversary. If you click the previous sentence that is underlined (hyperlink), it will direct you a website showcasing how I proposed.. and his answer.

Nine days later, I had an unfortunate misstep and injured my ankle. Whilst x-raying my ankle, I injured my other ankle, thus I was physically inept. I needed surgery on one ankle, however my temp job did not want to give me time off to do so, therefore they let me go.

I found myself.. having a lot of time on my hands so I could heal, recover, and reevaluate the direction of my life. Literally, one step at a time. I took the advice of my therapist(s): redirect my negative thoughts into productive, positive thoughts/actions and.. start wedding planning. Every girl’s dream! Well, almost every girl, haha.. I’m a simple gal who has been a bridesmaid in a few weddings and I know I’m anything but traditional.. including the groom-to-be.

In preparation of proposing, I had an inkling that Jaimie would ask me if I had a date in mind. I thought a year engagement would be sufficient, so I looked a calendar year ahead, and discovered the day before our 5yr anniversary was.. Friday the 13th! It just so happened to be.. Jaimie’s favorite horror film, his favorite number, he has the number 13 tattooed on his forearm, and his previous cat’s name was named Thirteen. Plus, it was close enough to our anniversary date to where we didn’t have to remember two different dates. Just a day apart. Not bad. Without even realizing it, we had our wedding “theme.” Most people predicted I would have a Disney themed wedding, however I didn’t have any real expectations or preconceived plan or elaborate dream wedding in mind. I knew I wanted our day to be a collaborative event. Representative of both Jaimie and I. Jaimie not only said yes, but he was on board for the Friday the 13th date and theme. I mean, I knew he would be. How could he not be intrigued? I also knew he’s not a fan of weddings, in general, so it was effortlessly easy to entice him with a fun concept!

I knew Jaimie was the one on our first date. Not exactly “love at first sight,” but I had a gut feeling that our chemistry had potential to be off the charts. I later discovered this feeling is called:

This overwhelming feeling drove me to do some pretty presumptuous things.. such as.. buying a wedding ring for Jaimie.. after dating for only a year. I was helping a recently engaged friend of mine pick out a wedding ring for her future husband at a jewelry store near where we just had brunch. This jewelry store was having a sale. A store closing sale. Up to ninety percent off. My friend chose a ring. The ring she didn’t choose, but I had liked, I asked the sales clerk how much it was. She said it was originally five hundred something, but it’s sale price was less than fifty. I couldn’t believe it. Seemed too good to be true. I consulted with my friend and before she could answer, an older gentleman overheard us and interjected: “If you were proposing to me, I’d say Yes. Go for it!”

I let my folks know of my recent purchase and my half baked future plan to propose with no further details. They insisted that I ask for Jaimie’s parents’ blessing. I shrugged off their suggestion as it was an outdated, old fashioned tradition. And yet.. I couldn’t shake the thought that his folks are old fashioned, so it made sense to ask them. They laughed.. and.. laughed. Ultimately, I did not get their blessing. And I didn’t blame them. We had only been together a year, so I understood their hesitancy.

This minor setback did not deter me from purchasing my wedding dress a couple months later. I was on my way to the produce section at Meijer, I had to pass the women’s clothing dept, all their new Easter/spring dresses were out.. there I saw.. the perfect little white dress.. I grabbed it, bought it, put it in the back of my closet, and forgot about it.. Couple weeks later, I was putting laundry away.. in the back of my closet.. and I saw that perfect little white dress.. which reminded me, I needed to try it on. I hung it up on the back of the bathroom door, unbuttoned it, and noticed.. Well, let me preface by saying Jaimie doesn’t usually sign his artwork. He signs: “As you wish.” A quote from the movie The Princess Bride, which means “I love you.” So, I noticed the dress tag said: “As U Wish.” The company name is what Jaimie signs on his artwork! Like I said, “perfect little white dress.” I just didn’t know how “perfect.”

I knew I wanted to propose in a creative way.. since Jaimie and I are both artists in our own ways. I had numerous ideas: custom photo puzzle of us with a comic bubble coming from my mouth, “Will you marry me?” Or a photo slideshow of us throughout our relationship, maybe even recruit our family members and friends to contribute with their approval of our relationship by spelling out “will you marry me” in each photo. I also knew I wanted to propose on our anniversary. Originally, it was going to be on our 3yr anniversary during our vacation in New York City, however COVID threw a wrench in that plan. We cancelled our trip. Also, I had lost my job of 5.5yrs. I was in between multiple temp, freelance jobs and I did not have the confidence to follow through with my proposal plan(s).

Luckily, with the encouragement of a dear friend, he told me: “Just go for it because love doesn’t wait for the right time.” I decided a week before our 4yr anniversary to make plans to propose. Once everything was ready, I asked Jaimie’s folks again for their blessing and this time.. they did not laugh. His mom happily cried and they gave their blessing. Whew, I couldn’t believe I had sat on that ring for 3yrs! I asked Jaimie the biggest question I had ever asked.. Anyone. Ever. Click here to find out how.

I designed our wedding invitations, I created a Facebook event, for those who weren’t on social media, I texted them or emailed them.

Our friend was kind enough to offer his services as our officiant. He was dressed as a Camp Crystal Lake Counselor: polo shirt, short shorts, tube socks, whistle necklace, ball cap, sunglasses, and clipboard. We collaborated on the wedding ceremony officiant script. If you click the previous sentence that is underlined (hyperlink), it will direct you to it.

We sprinkled the spooky throughout: our attire, accessories, shoes, props, décor, food, even my hair! See if you can spot ’em all!

Our hockey masked flower girl was Jaimie’s 11yr old niece who did a fantastic job of creepily stalking about the park. Speaking of the park, I had researched multiple local parks that would compliment our Friday the 13th theme. A lot of them were connected to the city or county and they wanted thousands of dollars for five minutes, which was crazy! I finally found a park, Lindner Park Nature Preserve, that did not have a website, only a phone number that they never answered; nor was there a way to leave a message, thus I deemed it.. the park. We decided since we couldn’t ask permission for having our wedding ceremony there, we’d have to go Guerrilla Style.

Click here to see more of our wedding photos & videos synced with music.
*killer photography by: Bird & Rose
Click here to see our photo slideshow that played during our reception.
Click here to see our honeymoon in Salem.

Black Leather Jacket

WordPress decided to publish my blank draft last week when I tried to delete it, therefore I apologize for the tease! If you are a subscriber, you gotta sneak peek of the post title and I’m sure you’ve been mulling over the mystery of it: “Black Leather Jacket.” What does it mean?! Well, you’ll soon find out. As you may have noticed, I’ve been M.I.A. for more than a couple weeks now. Life has been kinda hectic: traveling, recovering, surgery, and recovering.. AGAIN! Haha.. Alright, let’s get to it!

This was my first time across the pond to London and Amsterdam! My boyfriend, Jaimie, and I had a grand time! One of our first stops was at Green Park. We popped a squat in one of their lawn chairs under a tree and watched people walk, jog, congregate, read, etc. This gentleman below to the right was reading and smoking, which seemed odd, however I did notice quite a few smokers in Europe. We did find out at dusk, at a different park, that these chairs are “rentals,” however didn’t see any signage. So, you’ve been warned!

Weather was perfect. ‘Twas so peaceful!

Parks, parks, and more parks! Nature everywhere…

We were those stereotypical tourists; we saw Buckingham Palace! Lounging at Victoria Memorial

We discovered an interesting tree along the walk path so we decided to explore it!

Sir James Barrie Peter Pan statue in the Italian Gardens

On our way to our Air BnB in Kensington, I noticed a row of Doctor Strange-esque buildings, better known as the Sanctums. Not really, but I’m sure these could’ve been inspirational architecture pieces for the comics and/or films. A lot of buildings are shotgun style with multiple levels as different residences. I did occasionally peer down into people’s makeshift patios, which were quite cute with AstroTurf, hammocks, potty pads for their pets.

I saw a poster that read: “H-Town & Friends,” which reminded me of my hometown because the locals have given it the nickname: “H-Town,” so I felt right at home. Come to find out this poster was promoting an upcoming concert for an R&B band called H-Town. They’re from the States. Houston, Texas to be exact, so now we know what the “H” stands for. Haha! Guess my hometown isn’t so original. Just like Cin City. Cincinnati didn’t get the memo about Vegas.

I’ve always found the European red telephone booth the ultimate Kodak moment as a tourist, however in this day of age with mobile phones and telephone booths becoming obsolete aka non-functional, but still around for nostalgic purposes. I found it humorous that the phone booth that we passed regularly to catch the Tube (the subway to you bloody Yanks) was literally inoperable because the receiver was missing and there were exposed wires just dangling about.

Perspective has multiple meanings: literally and figuratively. The European architecture was something to be in awe of with each step we took around the city. I truly believe travel enriches your character, cleanses your soul, and opens your heart for new opportunities and adventures! It feels nice, yet terrifying, to be reminded that we are yet a speck in the universe.

Unfortunately, Big Ben was under construction so.. I was pretty bummed because I specifically wore my red, white, blue and black cut film t-shirt of Big Ben just for this outing! Oh well.. Things happen. Jaimie and I enjoyed strolling across the London bridge (unsure if this is the “official” London Bridge or just a random London Bridge, haha). We decided to have lunch at a burger joint Jaimie had eaten at a couple years ago during his first trip to London. It did not disappoint! It was nicely shaded, ideal for people watching, and with a waterfront view to boot!

The Eye was massive! It rotated/moved like molasses. We did not go up on it because it seemed overpriced to wait in a wicked long line and slowly go around. It was an interesting piece in the London skyline because it could be seen all around at different sights. If you look closely, in the last photo in the Buckingham Palace collage, you can see The Eye, vaguely, in the background behind the trees!

The Natural History Museum was classically grand! The exhibits were spread out, which helped move along traffic because every museum we went to was packed! Jaimie told me later that all the London museums were free, so it made sense. We ducked into a museum whenever it started raining for a couple hours. It worked out. If you have cable and the Travel Channel, I highly recommend checking out the show called Mysteries at the Museum. It’s one of my favorite educational shows! I could watch it for hours, they do have marathons on the weekends, which is amazing!

Oh! I just had to get a photo with the Easter Island head sculpture at the British Museum (or better known as the Moai) because I love the movie Night at the Museum. The scene where the Moai calls Ben Stiller’s character a Dum Dum and requests he bring him some Gum Gum, cracks me up!

Besides museums, another must for Jaimie is to go to as many comic shops as possible. We went to Gosh Comics multiple times, highly recommend! At Forbidden Planet, we noticed a Stranger Things “Visions from the Upside Down” Art Book signing poster as we were descending the stairs to the lower level. This was such a coincidence because Jaimie is one of the 200 artists featured in the book! If we had only known, we could’ve planned our trip better and he could’ve signed some copies while we were there! Feel free to follow Jaimie on Instagram here, purchase some of his bad-ass art here, and listen to his comic book podcast called Comics Rule Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.) here.

This Barber Shop definitely caught my attention with their rad neon light: “You’re so f*cking Soho.” I mean, I would get my ears lowered here! There were multiple signs that sparkled, which I initially thought were digital screens flashing, however.. they were simple circular sequins pinned to a board moving in the breeze! Clever, inexpensive, and effective advertising design. Jaimie and I shared a celebratory kiss on a Double Decker bus because I happily checked riding in one off my Bucket List. We sat up top, in the front row! I was worried that maybe riding in a double decker was going to be overrated like it was when we rode in a San Franciscan trolley last year, but it wasn’t! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights and traveling at the same time. Luckily, the Oyster card can be used for both the tube and the bus. Aw, look at us.. Sweetly snogging at Snog dessert parlor. I don’t scream for ice cream.. I swing for ice cream!

The moment you’ve been waiting for! I’ve kept you in anticipation long enough.. The meaning behind this post’s title: “Black Leather Jacket” is because every other European I saw wore a.. Black leather jacket! It became a game to me, similar to when I see a dog in public, I stop mid-sentence and say: “Dog!” But during this trip, I changed it up and whispered: “Leather jacket” to Jaimie every two seconds. When we saw this Leather Garments shop, I just had to take a photo of it and share it with y’all.

Camden Market is partially underground, it was originally a set of horse stalls; now turned market shops. Oh! The public toilets in London.. Fun fact: you gotta pay approximately 40 pence to use, no change given, so I recommend collecting all the change ya can for such pit stops.

We had lunch at a very busy, happenin’, and delicious joint called: Dirty Vegan. We lucked out and got a high top table in the middle of the open restaurant so we were able to watch people outside walking by. At one of the many shops, I snapped a photo of some Punky Brewster style apparel that reminded me of something I would totally wear when I was a kid.

Jaimie’s favorite photo of me.. thus far, haha.. I felt one with the people.. finally.. I just had to represent my love of Elton John in London with my RocketMan t-shirt (highly recommend the movie, by the way). This was the first time during the entire trip that I felt appropriately dressed (considering other places we went, the locals wore plain or patterned clothing). I’m sure I felt more comfortable there because the people were mostly tourists and they had graphic tees on too. I like to think some Europeans like graphic tees too! Maybe? Who knows.. If any readers are European, please comment and let me know! I just gotta know..

We ate lunch on the second floor of Ichibuns overlooking rainy Chinatown in Soho London. Packaged magazines covered the walls in a detailed, stylized pattern. Anime figurines lined the top shelves around the dining room. My go to Asian menu items are: edamame, sushi, and hot (temperature, not spicy) sake. It was lovely to feel a gentle, misty, cool breeze through the open windows while sipping some steaming sake on a rainy day.

I noticed the lanterns align almost perfectly across the first and second photos after I arranged them in the tiled gallery style. How cool is that?! “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” -Bob Ross. You’re so right, Bob, thank you for your creative wisdom!

Next stop: Amsterdam! We decided to fly instead of taking a train simply because time was of the essence (1hr flight vs a several hour train ride) and the cost was pretty much the same. The Amsterdam Schiphol airport had these cool bicycle booths sprinkled throughout their food court. I did find something odd; right smack dab in the middle of the food court was a.. Yotel. It does make sense to be close to food for immediate room service. Maybe it’s simply take-away. Uber Eats? Door Dash? Haha..

Fun fact: no balloons allowed in the airport or tube. I’m sure there’s an interesting story behind how this rule came about. Maybe a clown ruined IT for the rest of us? “We all float down here” eerily echos from the tube stairwell.

I found the tube in Amsterdam to be slower paced than the busy, bustling city of London (I have multiple theories, haha, as I’m sure you do too). I noticed a lot of interesting and creative details while we waited. The metallic insect cut outs crawling along the wall and ceiling. Oh, how the sunlight shone on and through them! The outdoor semi-domed skylight was a nice touch for admiring clouds, sun, birds flying, planes soaring, etc while being sheltered from the elements. I was surprised it was so clean and not speckled with bird poop. Oh! The fold-able bicycle. This blew my mind! But.. it makes sense because the Dutch do love their bicycles, which leads me to the last photo: the phallic and bulging bicycle seat.

The Albert Cuyp Market is the largest open air market in Europe! Highly recommend! We just had to get an XXL stroopwafel because they’re a Dutch delicacy! Oh, yes, just trust me on this one, place one over your hot coffee cup (tea or chocolate); let the hot beverage warm the stroopwafel, flip it and eat it. You’ll thank me later. Check out these fashionable bum bags! You can’t say f*nny packs here, it’s a naughty word. Yep, click here to find out why. Adorable little botanical jellyfish. Adorably dope, Italian, sweepeh kitteh on a bench. I mean.. c’mon! Too adorable.

We had the best lunch at Sonny’s Falafel and Vlaamse Frites! Highly recommend. Cute little mom and pop joint where the staff gives ya a hard time with a smile. Makes ya feel just like family. I tried my best to read and speak Dutch when I ordered. The lady stifled a laugh, I asked if I pronounced word(s) incorrectly, she quickly said: “Close enough.” We both chuckled. Jaimie was sitting at a table nearby watching our backpacks. When our orders were ready, the lady shouted at Jaimie to come and fix his falafel because he needed to work too. She winked at me. He was apprehensive because he didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended. She shook her head at him and confidently said with a wave: “Your stuff is fine, come fix your food.” Fun fact: the Dutch serve mayonnaise with their chips (fries to you Yanks)! There was a mother and young son having lunch at the table next to us. He was about seven or eight years old. After they finished eating, he decided to sit on his mom’s lap. The lady who served us shouted: “Aww, wittle baby on his mummy’s lap!” So precious. I enjoyed their sense of humor and banter.

The National Flower of the Netherlands is the Tulip. The National Footwear of the Netherlands is the Clog. Not really, haha..

We stayed in a little, quiet, quaint city called Weesp (pronounced Veesp). Cute little shops along the water, bicyclists everywhere, and the friendliest vibes. The best I can describe Weesp is like a European Mayberry. Our Air BnB was unbelievably breathtaking! I would live there in a heartbeat. It was above a flower shop with a gorgeous floor to ceiling window, but I don’t know if I’d call it a “window” per se. Just admire the view. Oh, how I miss it!

Museumplein Park near Van Gogh Museum, paint brush chandelier, the Smartest car, interesting angles, skylights, staircases, and a fancy tunnel

We visited the Red Light District! I didn’t know much about the Red Light District before we went, which is usually how I prefer to go into things, haha.. How Jaimie and I mutually described it in one word: B-A-N-A-N-A-S! I highly suggest clicking on the hyperlink to learn more about the RLD, simply because you’ll understand why I’m being incredibly vague and why there aren’t a lot of photos.. even though this was my favorite part of the trip!

In the fourth photo, top middle open window, you can see a pair of barefeet dangling out. I’m sure that person is higher than the third story! What do you think? I’ll bet ol’ Mary Jane had too many brownies.

We did manage to squeeze in some museum time.. at a naughty yet natural themed: Sex Museum. I only took one photo because I thought it’d be funny if I had dish platters like these; I would serve them at a party, as my guests devoured the food and revealed the illustrations, I’d find their reactions priceless and giggle like a school girl!

Jaimie and I discovered a tour group.. in the Red Light District.. (yeah, I know), which we found extremely odd, so of course it peaked our interest and we just had to stop and listen for a minute. The tour guide was speaking in front of a barber shop. A plump cat sat in the open doorway. The tour guide stated that feral cats are treated very well in Amsterdam because they help exterminate river rats, which is why they’re so fat and well fed. Store owners welcome them into their businesses. Kind of a quid pro quo deal. As she was speaking, she leaned down to pet the cat and it angrily smacked her hand several times. She quickly withdrew her hand and laughed it off in front of her tour group. I asked: “Did it scratch ya?!” She replied: “Oh, no!” But I noticed she quickly put her hand in her pocket, so I’m sure it did get her. That smug cat confidently stalked out of that barber shop, into the street, and down an alley like it owned the Red Light District. Man, that alley cat had style! I knew I had to get an alley photo in here somewhere! An alley cat in an alley, oh, yes! Score.

I hope the next time you’re planning a trip, especially international, that you’ll take some extra time and effort to learn, appreciate and adapt to their customs! Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up how to speak Dutch easily and be fluent in no time! Please follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see more photos and videos of our trip! I’d love to hear about any/all of your international travels! I’m sure the other readers would too!

Weekends are for Road Trips

Three-day weekends are made for road trips. This past holiday weekend was just a practice run for my boyfriend and I’s international trip coming up. Our first stop was to North Market for lunch. I ordered the Pho with chicken (or Phở gà) at Lan Viet. Pho is their specialty. Some people pronounce the “o” as long, however the origin of Pho’s true pronunciation is “fuh.” This fun fact always makes me laugh because there’s a local restaurant called “Pho Kimmy,” which sounds like an explicit phrase when pronounced correctly.

Normally, I’m not a fan of putting together pieces of my food into a completed dish, however I rather enjoy adding the bean sprouts and mixing in Sriracha to a comfortable spice level! I specifically avoid ordering fajitas because I don’t like having to work for my food. That’s the whole reason why I go to a restaurant.. for someone else to prepare my food for me! Haha..

My boyfriend and I tentatively plan to dress up as Beaker and Bunsen for Halloween! I scored us a couple lab coats from when I volunteered at a Greenlight for Girls event at the University of Cincinnati this past spring. I’ve written a list of pop culture duos we could dress up as where one character has a mohawk and one is bald. Bunsen and Beaker are next on the list! Well.. Beaker doesn’t really have a mohawk. More like a little fluff. I could mess up my mohawk to match. Oh! By the way, I scored that jean overalls + floral dress at Wally World.. in the kids section.. for a whole seven dollars!

These two are adorable! Epic comical duo. Bunsen is the intellectual brain and Beaker is the fluent Gibberish speaking, accident prone assistant. Seems to be fitting for my boyfriend and I! Jaimie is well spoken and bright. I tend to fall walking upstairs, trip over my own feet, and have numerous mysterious bruises all over my body.

This piece reminded me of my last week’s post of inanimate objects with faces. Initially, I thought this may have inspired the creation and/or design of Gonzo! He’s a silly Muppet character, whose sidekick is Rizzo the Rat. These two are a complimentary, hilarious pair in Muppet Treasure Island and Muppet Christmas Carol, which I own on.. VHS!

There was a plaque below it that read:
Pitchman Pump puppets, 1963: These unusual puppets were built for a Marathon Gasoline commercial in 1963 and were voiced by professional jingle singers rather than puppeteers.
I was kind of disappointed the plaque didn’t state what I was hoping about the hoses leading to a Muppet character.

When Jaimie and I exited the Cosi Museum and descended the steps, I noticed burn marks on the concrete. They reminded me of shooting stars or meteors, which seemed to be fitting considering astronomy played a part of the educational exhibits inside.. a few light-years away!

While strolling through town, we were waiting at a red light and saw a man and his hound going through a crosswalk in front of us. I wasn’t sure what type of breed this dog was. I did manage to snap a photo. I simply Googled: “large gray dog breed” and immediately discovered it was an Irish wolfhound! The American Kennel Club (AKC) specifies the minimum height as 32 inches (81 cm) for mature males, 30 inches (76 cm) for females; the minimum weight: 120 pounds (54 kg) for males, 105 pounds (48 kg) for females. It was surprising to find out that this dog could have easily weighed as much as.. me! Which isn’t saying much.. haha!

Jaimie always finds a comic bookstore wherever we travel to. We found a hole in the wall comic bookstore called Heroes and Games at Columbus’ convention center. It did have a lot of good finds, on sale at that! Jaimie and his buddy, Iann, do a podcast about comics called Comics Rule Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.). I highly recommend y’all check it out.. click here! When we were exiting the convention center, I noticed this whimsical, colorful mural that was abstractly detailed. What do you see? What kind of world is this? What story is it telling?

As we turned a corner, this tall building caught my eye! I had never seen an exterior elevator before! I’m sure the view was amazing. I’m claustrophobic therefore not a fan of elevators, but with this one being mostly glass with a view to boot.. I’m sure I’d enjoy the ride! Have you ridden on an exterior elevator before? If you have, where? I’d love to hear about it!

We ended our trip as we began it and went back to North Market for dinner! Yep, you guessed it.. I’m a fan of this place! I decided to try an Italian joint this time. They have a pasta sauce testing station. I highly recommend the spicy ones! They have a variety of pasta styles such as: penne, striped ravioli, multi-colored tortellini; including whole wheat and/or gluten free options! Choice of protein or vegetables. They have a smorgasbord of sides. I’ve tried their stuffed banana peppers and cucumber/tomato/mozzarella salad. Both are delish!

I hope the next time you’re out and about, especially when exploring new territory, that you’ll be inspired to take more weekend road trips! Who knows? Maybe you’ll start your own weekend road trips photo collection. If you do, please follow me on Instagram or send me a Facebook friend request and share them on my page! I’d love to see them! I’m sure the other readers would too! And as always, I’m more than happy to give you my travel spot recommendations.

Once Upon a Blog

I received a random message early in the morning from my college professor that prompted the creation of this blog:

Allison, I remember you as being a creative witty person with a wry sense of humor. Have you ever thought that you might be a good writer? Even part-time. With the right amount of perseverance and patience I believe you could be very successful. You have a unique view of things and you are able to express it well. Just saw a recent post from you and it “triggered” fond memories, especially your graduation speech which was brilliant! Do you keep a journal? Maybe you could write a blog? One of my sons has a friend who writes a sports blog and he is making considerable cash. Take a look back through your journals and you may find a theme that reflects your spirit, your wit, your attitude toward life. You’ve been through a lot and here you are, wiser, stronger and still you! Don’t know what got me on this this morning, but it’s good to touch base! Talk to you later!

I let this marinate for a couple weeks. I tried not to force any ideas because I wanted my blog theme to be organic and somewhat.. original.

There I was.. driving into my hometown and peacefully enjoying the view of a beautiful green field (I decided to take the rural scenic route). No sign of civilization for as far as the eye could see. Just nature thriving.

Where Millville Ave and Walnut Street meet

I thought to myself: “Wow! Now, that is a picture worth a thousand..ish words. I could put a frame around this and have quite a bit to say about it. Wonder if anybody would read it?

Out of nowhere.. BOOM!!! Inspiration struck! I had found my theme.. or rather my theme found me! I think this theme will reflect the attributes my college professor recommended that I highlight very well. This theme will incorporate my love of photography, graphic design, and creative writing!

I first fell in love with writing in elementary school. My English teacher wrote a journal entry prompt on the board every morning for us to start our day off right; by exercising our most important muscle.. Our brain! Such journal entry prompts were a simple or philsophical question, random scenario, or abrupt storyline that needed to be finished, etc. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to create with the written word, reading it back, watching my teacher and classmates hearing me read it aloud (whenever I felt confident enough, haha). I quickly learned that reading and writing go hand in hand, therefore this fueled my interest in reading and dedication to improve my vocabulary.

My English teacher took notice of my obsession with learning and the sudden anxiety that struck my core when the school year was about to come to an end. In the years previous, I would “play school” all summer! I was fully equipped with a retired student desk, outdated/donated textbooks from my mom’s teacher friend. I would role-play as the teacher, take attendance, assign seats, create syllabuses, hand out assignments, grade them, and give out homework. My English teacher kindly communicated her concern with my parents and the school decided to award me a free “scholarship” to summer school so I could keep my structured scholastic schedule all year round throughout my entire elementary career.

I saw Nickelodeon’s Harriet the Spy summer blockbuster movie with my dad, which electrified my interest in writing! I bought a Composition notebook, just like Harriet’s, to record all my “secrets.” I turned out to be a horrible spy though (haha..) so I just kept with the writing part. Oh! I even bought similar shoes as Harriet’s. Tried to find her orange pants to no avail. The setting of the movie is not exactly clear, however with a little research I discovered the book of the same title was originally published in 1964 by Louise Fitzhugh, therefore it explains the vintage fashion style, absence of technology, and classic vehicles throughout the film. In hindsight, Nickelodeon and Paramount were smart to stay true to the era in which Harriet grew up in in the book. I found it to be charming because they kept it simple with no outside distractions. Just good old-fashioned spy-work and back to basics writing.

In high school, I took a Creative Writing elective class with another one of my influential English teachers. His freestyle teaching motto was: let it flow and see what happens. We were assigned to write various styles such as: poetry, short stories, songs, etc. I leaned towards more of the shorter writings because I had to be honest with my-high-school-teenage-self: I didn’t have the time, attention span, or motivation to write an elaborate beginning, middle, and climatic end. I accepted it and stuck with what I felt comfortable with. With the urging of my English teacher, I entered a couple poetry contests. I placed and was published in a book called Impressions of Youth, along with all the other placed and winning entries (I have a copy but couldn’t find it anywhere online to share with y’all). The teacher realized there were a fair share of us that were shy about reading our pieces out loud with the class, so he allowed us to select a brave classmate to read our pieces on our behalf. In hindsight, that was very cool and kind of him. Oh! We could bring in snacks, some kids brought in coffee, and it felt very much like an open mic night at a local cafe. We even snapped our fingers instead of clapping after each piece was read.

I first fell in love with photography in high school when I took a couple Darkroom Photography elective classes. I found it fascinating that in order to capture an ideal shot, you need light; whether it be natural or artificial; however, the initial preparation process and development end process needs complete darkness! Yin and Yang process. Every step has to be precise, delicate, and balanced:

  • Cut the film and roll it into the canister in complete darkness
    • Take photos
  • Extract the full canister without exposing it to any light
  • Whilst in the darkroom: cut the film again to place it onto the mechanism to shine light through it onto the photo paper below
    • Duration could vary, depending upon the exposure type of photograph you’re trying to achieve
    • Double exposure photographs are fun and trippy!
    • Could add a stencil to frame images such as stars, hearts, etc
  • Soak the photo paper in chemicals
    • First bin was a specific time
    • Second bin was a different, specific time
    • Third bin was a different, specific time
  • Hang to dry

Before high school graduation, I distinctly remember a speaker (of some kind) came to explain the three avenues, one of which we were destined to take: College, Workforce, or Military. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t even know if my folks could afford college because all my siblings went straight into the workforce after high school; therefore, I presumed I’d do the same. A Brown Mackie College Admissions Recruiter came to speak to my English class. Their pitch went the same as all the rest of other college admission recruiters, however their class structure was different because instead of taking multiple classes at once over a period of multiple semesters during a school year; this school offered one class course at a time for an entire month. She explained it as: “Easing yourself into the college life.” My-high-school-teenage-self thought: “Hey! Now, that’s a good way to decide if college’s right for me. One class for one month at a time? Sure. Didn’t sound like too much of a commitment!” So, I decided to check the box on the comment card that I was interested in learning more about the college, but I couldn’t bring myself to check any of the listed majors because I wasn’t interested in Accounting, Economics, or Paralegal.

Soon after, I had a meeting with a different Admissions Recruiter, they gave my mom and I the grand tour of the campus, explained each and every major they offered, but I was hesitant because I still wasn’t interested in any major yet. My mom suggested I bring my darkroom photography and creative writings to show the Admissions Recruiter and see if that could help determine which major could incorporate both of my interests. They immediately spit out: “Oh! You’re an artist! Let me introduce you to our new neighbor, The Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati, and their Admissions. I think their Graphic Design major would be a great fit for you!” The more I learned about graphic design, the more I felt like this was something I could see myself doing every day. Being creative. I learned as a graphic designer, you have to wear many hats: writer, photographer, typographer, etc. I’m a variety type of person so this fits me perfectly because I don’t like doing the same thing every day.

The rest is history! I graduated top of my class, was on the Dean’s List with a 3.5 Grade Point Average, I was voted Graduation Class Student Speaker, was Awarded Best in Show at the Graduation Portfolio Show, and was a Regional Finalist for the Art Institutes’ National Portfolio. I felt on top of the world! The famous reporter question to any winning athlete is: “You have just won the [insert tournament name here], what are going to do next?!” Yep, you guessed it.. I went to Disney World! I went for a paid college internship, whilst there I took a Creativity and Innovation Class at their College of Knowledge. I even received my Ducktorate! Haha.. I proudly showcase my Ducktorate at every interview. It always gets a good laugh! Interviews can be awkward because they’re forced interactions so it helps ease the tension.

My first out-of-college-adult-job was at a small commercial photography studio as a Production Assistant, which was a creative, multi-tasking position where I directed the photographer, took photos in their absence, pre-edited the photos, edited the photos in post, took inventory of photography equipment in the studio and warehouse, etc. I worked there for a couple years until I was recruited for another job, which paid more. Hey! Money talks.

For the past five years, I’ve been desperately craving a creative outlet because my day job, while it has great benefits and flexibility, is at an IT company that I find monotonous; however provides me the luxury of ample spare time to express myself outside of the cookie cutter IT world.

I had privately protested photography for the past decade-ish because everyone became instantly equipped with a camera in their cell phone, which mass produced an unforeseen amount of self-proclaimed “photographers.” I quickly became uninterested and unmotivated in photography because it seemed to dull the originality and creativity for me. Took me awhile to realize that I shouldn’t worry about what other people are doing and that I should do what makes me happy; regardless of what is #trendy. With my mentor’s and my significant other’s encouragement, I have decided to reignite my love for photography, design, and writing! A thousand-ish words and countless scrolls later.. my blog is born.. TA-DA!

Thank you Duff and thank you Jaimie, for I dedicate this post to you both.