Old Writing Assignments, Vol. 1

As I was looking for a saved document, I came across a bunch of old assignments from different writing classes during college. While I was reading through them, I thought, why not post some? They aren’t the best, but I look at them as important stepping stones in my writing journey.

So this piece was from my Creative Non-Fiction class, senior year.  I believe the purpose of the assignment was to write the same anecdote from three different perspectives. Enjoy!

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Isle of Dogs

When I was in one of film classes and we learned about how the auteur theory—a singular person who controls every aspect of the creative work, the true author of the film. Some famous examples include: Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese. When you see a film by one of those directors, you know exactly what kind of movie it will be.  The first name that came to mind when I was in the film class was Wes Anderson. He has such a specific way of filming and storytelling that you know he directed a film without first being told. He also casts his films with many of the same people, another aspect in the auteur theory.

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Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Goodreads synopsis:

James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.

Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

As a daughter of an addict, this story hit very close to home.  My tells stories about the crazy things he used to do when he was young and drinking.  I don’t remember much from my childhood when it comes to his drinking. I was eleven when he was forced to get sober.  He was supposed to come home to take my sister and I out to dinner, mom was out at a work dinner.  It started to get later and later and we were starving.  We were calling both our parents and no one picked up.  My mom finally got home a little after ten and she said she would talk to us tomorrow, then sent us up to bed.  We then found out that my dad had crashed his new Lexus and had a DUI.  His license was taken away for a year and he had to serve four days in jail.  Because my mom worked, my dad started taking the bus to AA meetings at night. My friends never understood why my dad kept having “meetings” at night time and wasn’t available for carpool.

It wasn’t that all this was a big shock to me, but I guess I didn’t see it coming.  My dad has always been a very silly and boisterous person. And loud. Oh, he is so very loud.  It wasn’t that he would get smashed every night and was a fall-over drunk. To my sister and I, when he drank we would have dance parties and he would teach us about movies late into the night.  But he was also very angry.  My sister was 13 and not the best student—or the nicest teenager—so my dad would yell, or throw CDS at the wall, or throw open her door so hard it made a hole in the door.  I think the drinking helped him get through the shit time he was having at work and the stress of a long commute. And it wasn’t like he drank all day, every day.  He just didn’t have the voice in his head to tell him to stop.

My dad just celebrated his 15th sober birthday.  He is extremely involved with AA, going at least three times a week. He leads meetings on occasion, done talks at the Salvation Army, and even sponsored a few people. He’s traded in the wine stains for food stains and beer for cookies.

I know how Kira is feeling in this book.  She just wants everything to go back to normal when she returns from her aunt’s house, but it can’t. Though she’s afraid to admit it, things can’t go back to the way things were before. People have made mistakes, herself included, and people have changed.

Overall I did like this book.  I flew through it. I think the reason I flew through it so fast is because it wasn’t that deep.  The emotions that the characters were feeling and express were at times, but the writing itself didn’t provide much depth.  The characters felt very young.  I usually read YA books that have a more mature voice, despite still being set in high school but 12 Steps felt more on the younger side of high school even though they were starting their junior year of high school.  It seemed like ideas and feelings became very repetitive and redundant.  Kira would be feeling a certain way about a character and then the next time they return she has completely flipped her opinion.  This would happen multiple times throughout.

Penn mentions in the author’s note in the back that she really wanted to focus on the recovery aspect to addiction, which I really enjoyed.  It’s rare to see this perspective because the rock bottom angle can offer higher stakes and drama. I thank her for this book.



You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone – Review


Rachel Lynn Solomon’s debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, is a story that dives deep into the relationships within a Jewish family, who’s results of a genetic test try to rip them apart.  Especially the relationship between two twin sisters.  Tovah and Adina watch their once strong Israeli mother slowly succumb to the rare degenerative disease Huntington’s.  They decide to get the genetic test to reveal if either of the girls have the same gene that is gradually killing their mother.  One tests negative, while the other positive.  The results push these sisters further away from each other than ever before.

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April TBR: Festival Addition!

I usually don’t do TBR’s, I pick as I go. Maybe sometimes I’ll have a theme to my reading, like summer books during summertime (groundbreaking, I know), but other than that I mostly go on mood. However at the end of the month, I’m heading to the LA Times Festival of Books.  I used to go to this festival when I was young and it was at UCLA, but I’ve been to this iteration at USC for the past four years.  I’m also going to YALLWEST the first weekend in May. I spend most of my time at these festivals at author signings. I bring my suitcase with all my books of the writers I’ll be meeting that day.  I hate going to a signing having not read the author’s book, so my reading for the next month will be dedicated to finishing off the list of the writers I’ll be seeing.  Some I’ve already read but others were recently released so I’m only getting the chance to read them now. I won’t say much about them, obviously, because I haven’t read them yet, but also no spoilers!

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March Classics: F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Stories

For my college graduation present, my family went to London for 12 days. About halfway through our trip, we took the Chunnel to Paris to spend the day.  My goal for my first time in Paris was to visit the famous bookstore, Shakespeare & Company.  This legendary bookstore is down the street from Notre Dame and on the Seine. The first location housed writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald while the writers from the Beat Generation like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg made the current location their home.  After walking through the two-story shopped where writers could come to write amongst all the books, I decided to pick out my own books to buy.  I decided to add to my Fitzgerald collection with some short stories.

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The Mighty: How Fibromyalgia Tried to Take Away My Greatest Love

I got another piece published on The Mighty! If you’ve never heard of The Mighty, they’re a website that focuses on articles and stories about disabilities, disorders, diseases, mental health.  I’ve been helped immensely from the site, comforted in finding people just like me: trying to survive and have a life despite my many obstacles. Definitely check it out! But first, here is the piece I wrote about how my chronic pain took away the great love of my life: dance

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Rant: March For Our Lives

When the Aurora, Colorado shooting happened on July 20th, 2012, I was absolutely devastated.  Obviously, I was saddened for the many people who lost their lives and were injured that night—I even had a friend who was also seeing The Dark Knight around the same time at another theater just a few miles away.  But I was really upset about the fact that it happened in a movie theater.

Movies have always been really big in my family.  Most of our dinner table discussions revolve around trading movie quotes back and forth or what movie we’ll see over the weekend.  I even ended up getting a degree in film because those classes were the most interesting and fun for me.  There’s nothing like seeing a movie in the theater. Nowadays it’s so easy to just stream or download movies but the atmosphere in a movie theater can never be reproduced.  So when the shooting happened, my first thought was how one of my favorite places to go was no longer safe. In just a few minutes, someone ripped away the safety net.  People send their teens to the movies because they know they aren’t running around, getting into trouble.  They no longer have that peace of mind. Families can’t send their children off to school without worrying if they’re school is next.

I have never been more impressed with the teens of today than I have been with the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Florida seriously can’t catch a break, with the Pulse Night Club shooting a few years ago and now this.  The stories you usually hear about teens these days are about a dumb Internet challenge or their social media addictions. The students of Parkland have gone through the worst thing they will ever experience, something no one should have to endure.  One thing that really got me was that this school had just gone through “school shooting” training a few weeks before the Valentine’s Day shooting.  It doesn’t matter how much training you can have, when you’re thrown into such an intense and horrifying situation, all hell breaks loose.

These kids are using this tragedy and their experience as a platform against gun violence. They are using their voice against the big bads of Washington to fight for what they deserve. They are challenging these lawmakers to step up in the name of people’s lives. The protests that happened this past Saturday were absolutely breathtaking.  Seeing the amount of people of all walks of life protesting and standing up for gun control filled my heart up with so much joy. The speeches coming from some people as young as eight-years-old were so inspiring and were definitely heard all around the world.


A lot of people on the other side of the issue seem to think that the protesters want to be rid of suns entirely, but that’s not what they’re saying.  We want gun reform.  Changing the age of purchase—kids can fight in a war and shoot a gun before they can legally buy a drink or rent a car? Other reforms like having stricter background checks—especially when it comes to mental illness—as well as getting rid of semi-automatic guns that’s only true purpose is to kill. Some may say that after the protests, the issue will fade out by another thing Trump has said or done, but those people obviously don’t know persistence of youths.  They are going to push and prod until something is done. They are the future voters who will change the world. These students are our future and they are fighting for justice and peace.  I’m in awe.

I’m not going to lie, I still get scared when I go to the movies.  As the lights go down and the trailers begin, there is a jolt of anxiety that rushes through my body.  I take a look around and then settle down. It doesn’t stop me from going to the movies, or a concert, or any other place where there is a large group of people.  I won’t let these people take away things that I love with fear.

Just want to leave you with one of my favorite moments from the march:

March for Our Lives in Washington Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt perform 'FoundTonight'20180324180938.jpg_11834641_ver1.0

This song gets me EVERY. DAMN. TIME.

Thanks for reading my rant.  Just somethings I needed to get off my chest.

The Writing Chronicles Vol. 2 – Organization

I struggle a lot with organizing my thoughts when it comes to my book. I keep a word document open on my computer at all times.  It’s basically a digital notepad.  There is no rhyme or reason to its madness—I will just type whenever I get an idea whether it be about a character or a major plot point.  When I’m not on my computer (which is rare) I use the notes app on my phone.  I also use the notes app when I think of blog topics.  That’s where you came from, “struggling with organizing book notes.” Helpful? Not so much.  But if I don’t write it down right away I’ll lose it.  Can’t rely on my brain to remember what I had breakfast let alone a random characteristic about some side character.

That’s why I struggle with writing in the first place.  I have so many ideas and I can pin them down in a cohesive way.  I have such a hard time starting a piece of work because halfway through writing down a thought, another one jumps in my brain and I get led on another direction. And then another. And then another.

So what I’m left with are random notes that are slapped on a page with no organization or method to their madness.  I’ve searched online for organization templates but I feel like they are kind of a waste of time.  Do any other fellow writers have this problem? Better yet, does anyone have any tools or tips to help me collect my thoughts in a more productive way?