Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Feelings

image via

It's FRIDAY, friends - and oh, am I glad! So glad I couldn't not share one of my favorite morning/throw-a-dance-party-because-it's-the-weekend song....

1. Yesterday I had my usual lunch - salad with grilled chicken, chickpeas, and hard boiled eggs. Then I had pudding. Chocolate pudding to be specific. Because sometimes you eat things that are good for your body, and then sometimes you eat things that are good for your soul. 

2. I got my eyebrows "did" the other day, and by that, I mean I found a pair of tweezers at the bottom of my makeup bag that weren't as dull as my other ones. I may or may not have screamed in triumph and then spent an hour plucking. It's been looooong overdue. #femaleprobs

3. I inhale Cholula at each meal like it's going out of style....really, though. I drench my SALADS in it. Who does that?? So good, though. Can't stop, won't stop.

4. I went to Austin the other day with friends, and the day before, my guy friend asked me what I wanted to do there.

Friend: "How do you feel about hiking?"
Me: stare
Friend: "Ooookay, How about frisbee?"
Me: stare
Friend: "Canoeing?" 
Me: stare
Friend: "Or...a zoo?"
Me: stare 

Suffice it to say, my idea of road-tripping to a fun city involves good food, coffeeshops, taking pictures, and enjoying being lazy. This outdoors sporty Man Vs. Wild stuff? No, thank you. I'm happy to report Austin lived up to my expectations: a food truck with a giant hummus pita, the first and best lavender iced latte of my life, a leisurely stroll in a park, and dinner on a lake while watching the sunset. My kind of day.

5. I don't what it's been about this week, but my brain has been OFF. O-F-F. As in zero motivation and zilch intelligent, rational thought. It was so bad at one point I tried to say "essay" and pronounced it "ess-ah-eye." Sigh. I'm hoping normalcy returns this weekend.

6. You guys...the most non-dramatic and yet simultaneously crazy thing happened this week.

I decided I WANT to be single.


I know. I was pretty shocked myself. Because I've been riding the "Yeah, I like being single...I'm enjoying it, I'm in a good season of life right now" train for a while. And then...somehow, it hit me. Boom. And I stopped straight in my tracks and realized, holy crud...I don't want to date someone right now. I really, really don't.

It was like all of a sudden the doors were thrown upon and the lights turned on and I realized the glorious freedom that I currently revel in within my life: I can make my own plans without having to factor in a specific someone else's, jam out to whatever music I want, watch aaaaallll the chick flicks in a row, don't have to worry about wearing makeup or looking cute for dates (ain't nobody got time for that this semester), and best of all, can hang out with all and as many of my guy friends that I want for meals or studying.

AND I DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SHAVING MY LEGS ON A REGULAR BASIS. When there's no boyfriend around to make you self-conscious about leg hair, life is good, peeps.

This is all currently still blowing my mind and I don't even know what to do with myself. I just feel a ridiculously good amount of independance and love for my life.

7. On a completely different side note, part of me wants to chop my hair even more in a chin length/above chin this, this, or this. And the other part of me wants to keep it as is, as I love being able to pull it back at least a bit + I can currently put it back in a ponytail. Hmmmm. Decisions, decisions. Thoughts?

8. I have some very mysterious, secret, very exciting news that I'm looking forward to announcing soon.

That is all.

Haaaaaaaaappy weekend, friends! May it be full of sleep, good food, and quality Netflix time. Looking for a good rom-com to watch this weekend? Check out this list of the 10 best ones. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Writing: Beast + Beauty Part II

Due to popular demand, I'm pleased to present part two of the Beauty and Beast retelling - your feedback on the first part was such a delightful surprise! You can read Part I here and see the storyboard that inspire this story here. Enjoy, friends. 


Alina came to gradually; her eyes flickered, refusing to open completely. Everything was still dark. Ow. Her memory rushed back with the screaming pain in her head. The subway. Blood splattered everywhere. The men who attacked her – something that attacked them. She forced her eyes open. A dirty concrete wall stared back, inches away from her face. She was slumped on a dingy floor on her side, somewhere dry. Not the subway.
A pair of voices cut through the haze and shadows - hushed but heated, as if arguing. 
"Zvijer, are you crazy? What is she doing here?" a young male voice hissed behind her.
"It's all right.” Deeper and rougher, almost a low growl. 
"No, it is not all right - you brought a girl here! You're endangering both of us and her -"
"What was I supposed to do, leave her there? They would have killed her! She'll be fine here.” 
"That's what you said about the last one. And look how that turned out."
A short growl followed his words. "That – won’t happen again.”
"Of course. Tell that to this one's parents when she's dead."
There was a taunt pause for a moment; the first voice continued, sounding distracted. 
"Couldn't you at least pick an attractive one?" A snort. "I'd think you of anyone would want a bit of beauty around here...she's not even close to a looker."
Alina inhaled sharply, a slight hiss of hurt piercing the air like the faintest sound of a pebble falling against stone.
She held her breath, willing them to continue.
"Are you finished?"  said the deeper voice, his voice still curt and rough as jagged rock. 
The other didn't bother to reply, but must have made a careless gesture. His footsteps echoed and faded away. 
Alina instantly shut her eyes, trying to still look unconscious or at the worst, asleep. She was alone with the rough voice now. 
"I know you're awake." 
She kept her eyes shut, still pretending. Maybe, maybe if she was perfectly still enough, he would think her asleep and leave - and then all of this would only be a nightmare.
The voice's owner shattered her desperate wish. "You're shaking."
She tensed, but knew there was no use in pretending any more. He might come closer if she did. But...she wasn’t dead. Whoever he and the other voice were
"Who are you?" she whispered without moving, her own voice rough with fear and disuse.
A bark cut through the air. If it had contained humor, she would have thought it was a laugh.
"Someone without a name...I had one. Once." 
There was the slightest pause.
"But if you really want to know -" his voice deepened even more, so rough she had to strain to hear - "...why don't you take a look?"
A tumult of emotions swirled in her stomach and rose up, snatching the strength from her limbs. Squeezing her eyes shut momentarily for courage, Alina pushed herself up slowly and looked over her shoulder.
Her breath lodged in her throat.
Dark hair, tanned skin, and so many scars, intersecting and twisting together over a narrow face, as if beaten badly and put back together with a shaky hand. Dark eyes glittered with something she did not understand, watching her keenly like a hawk.
Alina blinked dazedly at her surroundings, feeling her grip on reality slipping – a dilapidated, empty warehouse; cold air stealing through the threads of her sweater; her long hair stuck to the side of her neck; head smarting...and a tall scarred man in a battered leather jacket and boots staring down at her.
His mouth pulled in what might have once been a grin. “Brave, aren’t you?”
“Wha – what happened? Where am I?” She backed up into the concrete wall behind her, stealing reassurance from the solidness against her shoulders.
He crouched down slowly, as if she was a wild animal he wanted to approach. “You were you remember anything?”
She stared at him. “They killed someone. On – on the tracks. Then...” Alina’s voice failed, her throat tightening.
The man held up a reassuring hand. “It’s all right, you’re safe now. They’re not going to hurt you again. I made sure of that.”
Her eyes widened. The shadow that had sprung at the men – a deep roar.
“That was you?”
Inscrutable dark orbs gleamed in the faint warehouse light. “The next time a gang tries to attack you, they’ll think better of it.” He stiffened, an undercurrent of anger tinging his voice. “You’re bleeding.”
Horrified, Alina clutched her head and hissed. Not smart. Wet stickiness stained her hand.
“Don’t worry about this – it’s just a pressure point,” the man said, leaning forward before she realized what was happening. His hand gripped her shoulder, his thumb pressing deeply above her collarbone.
“Hang on, I’ve got you,” she dimly heard him say; she fell forward, slipping into oblivion.

Alina opened her eyes. Gold and brown filled her vision.
She had to be dreaming. Either that or she had finally died, because the gorgeous sight that greeted her could only be heaven. Gleaming mahogany shelves towered above her, endless rows holding books with spines of faded sage, burgundy, and saffron; an enormous fireplace with a mirrored wall above it reflected the fading light from arching windows on the opposite side of the room.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.
An elegant grandfather clock murmured sympathetically in the soft, blanketed silence that wrapped around her securely. She lay stretched out on a brocade chaise lounge chair. Grunting with effort, she sat up, her head swimming.
“Feeling any better?”
Alina tensed, turning towards the rough voice’s inquiry from the doorway. The man stood there expectantly, as though he’d heard her wake up.
She reached up to feel her head and blinked with surprise, feeling raised sutures on her left temple.
“You needed a few stitches. I thought it’d be less painful if you weren’t conscious for that part.”
She found her voice. “Thank you,” she stammered. “ I?”
His eyebrows raised – was that amusement beneath the scars? “My house.”
Alina stared at him.
He shrugged his shoulders. “I realize it’s a little early to be bringing you home when we haven’t even been on a date, but why drag things out? That was a joke,” he said hurriedly at what must have been a look of terror on her face. “I brought you here since I could hardly take you to a hospital -”
Why not?
“Besides, the farther away you are from that subway, the better.” He stared at her intently – again, as if she was some wild specimen he’d stumbled upon.
She shifted, heat rising in her cheeks like always when she felt someone looking at her. At it.
“It’s not from them,” she said abruptly, unable to bear it any longer, her fingers jerking up to cover the left side of her mouth.
He frowned, suddenly growing taller; his dark eyes flashed. “What isn’t?”
“My scar. I’ve – had it for a while.” She pressed her fingers against the jagged, raised line that started by her nose and crossed her lips, curving down her chin.
He stared at her, something in his expression sharpening. In the next instance, it was gone.
“I’m hardly one to judge.”
Without meaning to, her gaze flew to his face, scanning the thin, faded pale lines overlapping his skin.
“Gang initiations are anything but pretty,” he said abruptly. “Then when you’re chosen as the new leader...” The man shrugged his shoulders again, stepping further into the room and sitting down in a chair by the chaise.
In the back of her mind, Alina knew she should feel stunned - frightened for her life, even, but adrenaline must have rewired her reactions. Nothing seemed shocking now.
“What type of gang exactly?” Alina looked around at the luxurious room.The words came out of her mouth before she could stop them. “It must pay well.”
His mouth twisted crookedly. “Not quite. I had the good fortune, you might say, to be born into a family with old money.” His tone was bitter. “Now they’re all gone, so it’s just Lee and I. You heard his voice earlier. He’s one of the few original members who’ve stayed loyal.” He looked around at the hushed room also. “It makes for a good hiding place. When we’re not on the streets.”
“The person who killed that man...”
“Iain,” he finished quietly. “He was initiated a few years ago, not long after I took over. He’s always had...anger issues. Doesn’t like taking orders. So he decided to start giving his own – and go after my men.” His face hardened. “It wasn’t just any hate crime you saw. You walked straight into a city-wide war.”
That alarming fact should have made her head swim, but instead all she felt was curious.
“What side are you on?”
He paused, surprise flickering beneath the twisting scars. It vanished and he stood up, offering her his hand. “Mine. Let’s get you home – before you stumble anywhere else you shouldn’t.”
With one last regretful look at the unreal library, Alina followed him out of a door by the mirrored fireplace. She pointedly avoided looking at the reflective surface – as did he.
She followed him into a sprawling hallway, past gorgeous dark wood stairs and out through a small side door. A labyrinth of ivy greeted them, brushing down against their heads and winding up the sides of the door. Thickly entwined in the deep mossy green mass were flecks of crimson – rosebuds.
He plunged forward on the barely visible brick path, striding quickly through what she realized was the back garden. Alina turned and her mouth dropped. The outside of the house was enormous, even grander than she suspected from the library – an old brownstone, no doubt once a treasured historical building, but now overgrown with explosions of ivy and grey, twisted vines and dead twigs. As if the house was slowly being encircled and overcome by an ancient, sinister enchantment. She shivered.
“Here, you need this.”
She turned back to him, a million questions on her lips and promptly forgot all of them at the black motorcycle parked behind him. He held out a scuffed helmet.
“I’d rather not redo those stitches.”
Feeling slightly weak and wanting nothing more than to sleep in her own safe bed, Alina shut her mouth and took it. She gave him the bookshop’s address and climbed on behind him.
They roared off, speeding down the street, away from the desolate, enchanted house. She shut her eyes, gripping his leather jacket tightly as the streets and sounds blurred around her, cool air whipping against her hands. The rain had stopped...the sun was setting, pulling down streaks of obsidian shadows.  
Breathe. In. Out.

Hours (or was it minutes?) later, the motorcycle’s growl faded and they screeched to a stop. Alina swayed, looking up at the familiar, tiny shop. Her father’s red and brown-painted sign Barra’s Books and Binding swung above the door, an old-fashioned carved piece that beckoned instantly to ardent literature adorers. The street was closed down for the evening, the shops and businesses all locked up.
She dug in her jean pockets for the key and slid off of the motorcycle, almost falling as the street tilted beneath her feet. Strong hands clutched her arm and he was suddenly beside her.
A touch of amusement softened his rough voice. “Easy – you might think you’re a hardened street person now, but you’ve had a long day.”
Two quick strides and he had her on the doorstep of the shop, his other hand secure around her shoulders.
Alina grasped the door knob for support, pressing her hand against the window pane in the door.  She looked up at the glass and stilled suddenly.
“Who are you?” she breathed, fingers frozen on the glass – smooth, cold, and hard as ice against her skin.
His eyes flickered to his reflection and he froze, any warmth in them vanishing at her question. He stepped back, moonlight spilling upon his face. The scarred lines seemed to deepen with a bitter acceptance. He stared at her in the glass, the silence pressing in around them, heavy and smothering.
She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. Just stared at the dark eyes boring into hers with a sharp blackness she’d never seen before.
“You don’t want to know.”
Then he was gone, leaving her staring at the reflected empty street dipped in rain and shadows.

Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

From the Film Shelf: 10 Modern Romantic Comedies

Very excited to announce a new series for the blog! I've always adored movies (Singing in the Rain and Star Wars were the first films I remember seeing as a kid) and have enjoyed honing my taste in movies.

Since I love a good recommendation from friends and fellow bloggers, I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite films. I am by no means a true connoisseur, but I do have good taste (yes, I said it). I'm always looking for new-to-me films or reminders of old favorites. So think of this as popping into the "spare room" to sit on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate or tea as we watch a great flick.

And now, the first category...modern romantic comedies from the '90s - 2000s!

It is no secret among those who know me well that I absolutely love rom-coms. It's a philosophy of mine that when life ain't going right/aka sucks, watch a romantic comedy and the world suddenly seems brighter.

So in no particular order, here are some of my favorite feel-good, modern rom-coms from the past two decades. Because sometimes we all need 90-100 minutes of a cute plot, adorable antics, and silly awkwardness between the two sexes.

1. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Oh, yes. I'm starting with the in quite probably the top romantic comedy of all time. I loved this film as a child and adore it even more now that I'm older...Meg Ryan is just so sweet and Tom Hanks is...Tom Hanks, which means you love him from his first onscreen line when asked if he knows how to make juice: (in a daze because his wife's funeral just ended) "Three minutes in the microwave." It's timeless, pulls on your heartstrings + proves that long distant relationships don't just work, but they can start with both people in different cities. This is quite possibly my FAVORITE film of all time. Forever and always.

2. Hitch (2005)
This is one of those movies that everyone saw once in the theaters, loved it, and came back two more times with friends and family members. I saw it in a packed theater and the room was constantly exploding with laughter. Will Smith is smooth as ever as the "dating doctor" who helps men (usually with awkward social skills) land the girl of their dreams. Kevin James is Alfred, the hopeless, geeky, clumsy, and utterly adorable accountant who is in love with his beautiful famous client. This is worth seeing alone for Smith's and James's report, which makes for hilarious bromance scenes.

3. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Can we talk about how this movie was simply perfect in every way? As a glorified child of the 90's, I grew up on Sandra Bullock movies and this is (in my opinion) her best. As a shy ticket collector who's dorky but dreams about romance like every girl, Bullock is sweetly relatable. So when Peter, the man she's admired through the ticket window, is mugged and pushed on the train tracks. She rushes him to the hospital and is mistaken as his fiance. Then his family shows up and she's forced to go along with the story since Peter's in a coma. Only problem? She starts falling for his brother. SO GOOD.

4. Runaway Bride (1999)
Like Meg and Sandra, Julia Roberts was heralded as America's sweetheart...she especially shines in this film with her frank, funny, and earnest portrayal of a woman who's looking for love, but doesn't know what she wants. Another great 90's film, this is great if you've already seen #1 and #3 but still want a 90's fix. The small town setting is great and Joan Cusack is marvelous in her supporting role of Julia's friend.

5. My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
Hilarious and so-true-to-life film about realizing you're in love with your best friend. After he's already taken. Julia plays a food critic who is horrified when her best friend announces he's getting married right before she professes her love. I'm going to risk being called un-American, but I don't find Dermot (her love interest) attractive. What I really watch this film for is Julia and Rupert Everett (her gay friend who agrees to help her win Dermot back). They are hilarious, Julia's antics are insane, and the famous chase scene at the end is classic.

6. 50 First Dates (2004)
This adorable, comedic film has Adam Sandberg trying to woo the girl of his dreams...only problem? She has short term memory loss, so he has to try again. And again. Hence the title. But it's anything but repetitive as all sorts of hijinks happen. Adam is sweetly earnest + funny as always and Drew is her usual charming, bohemian self. A little more adult in theme, but still hilarious in proving that love is messy but always, always worthwhile.

7. The Holiday (2006)
This is a really sweet film about falling in love with people - and places - when you least expect it. A British woman (Kate Winslet) and an American woman (Cameron Diaz) switch houses during the holiday season and find their new environment almost better than their actual one. And of course, they both fall in love while on holiday. A cute flick about falling in love when you least expect it. Bonus points for the incredibly sweet friendship that develops between Kate Winslet's character and the old screenwriter she takes care of.

8. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
This movie essentially depicts my family - except I'm Mexican, not Greek. But the chaotic, uproarious family dynamic is exactly the everyone can relate to this side-splitting comedy about trying to be "normal" in a family that's anything but. The main character is desperate to escape her Greek heritage, so when she falls in love with a non-Greek man, she tries her best only to discover that you can't leave behind who you really are. And that family, crazy as they are, will always be there for you. What really makes this film though is the dad, who religiously believes in the healing power of Windex for all maladies.

9. Kate & Leopold (2001)
I had never heard of this film until a friend made me sit down and watch it (thanks, Leslie!) and then I couldn't understand why I hadn't heard more rave reviews of it. Let's be honest...this is really a Meg Ryan movie list. I loved this sweet flick about Kate, a cynical career woman in modern-day New York City, who stumbles upon Leopold (a swoon-worthy, gentlemanly Hugh Jackman), a duke from the 19th century who has accidentally time-traveled to her house. A true star-crossed lovers tale, they quarrel and butt heads repeatedly...never realizing they're falling in love all the while. Kate's employless younger brother who lives with her and her ex-boyfriend who lives on the floor above her also add a note of hilarity.

10. You've Got Mail (1998)
Is anyone actually surprised that this list begins and ends with these two? It's my steadfast opinion that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are the king + queen of romantic we're ending on a high note. These two are just as magical (if not more) five years after Sleepless in Seattle as warring bookshop owners. Ryan is Kathleen Kelly, the owner of the precious "Shop Around the Corner" and Hanks is Joe Fox ("F-O-X!"), whose family business - an enormous, successful chain called Fox Bookstores - threatens the livelihood of Kathleen's shop. They hate each other in real life, only they've no idea the other is actually the person they've been emailing all year. If you don't like this movie, I'm not sure you have a heart as these two are incredibly adorable + witty together...also, a love story that happens through technology? Even more relevant now than it was then.

And there you go, friends! Hope you enjoyed that...happy Netflix-ing and do let me know in the comments if you're a fan of any of the above. Or anything you think should should have been on the list! I've got some fun categories lined up, so keep an eye out for more of these posts.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Breathing in the Gift of Today

Today was supposed to be an outfit post...but this morning, I woke up with words stirring within me. I needed to hear them this Monday morning. And so, perhaps you do too. May your day be one of quiet grace, friends. 

Today lies ahead of you.

Sun gleams. Breathe in. Feel the thrum and beat of your body, of your heart. 

You are alive. 

Whatever yesterday held, however hard last week proved, no matter how daunting and heavy this year so far has been for are alive. 

You have made it to this day today. 

You have survived. 

Against obstacles, hurt, loneliness, trials, doubts, deadlines, defeats, lingering thoughts of surrender. 

You are here. That is a triumph. You are a miracle. 

You are human, and deep within you, is a small inextinguishable flicker of the most fragile and strong thing. Hope.

We are a marvelous and wonderful thing, mankind. Again and again, we are beaten down, oppressed, worn out, stretched thin, knocked over by life, disregarded, abandoned, forgotten. 

And something that we cannot describe within us takes hold, sends strength seeping through us...and we stand back up. 

Trembling, shaking, exhuasted, numb, so very tired. 

But we get back up. Again. And again. 

It's a flicker in our eyes, a sudden inhale, a straightening up, a decision to keep going. That we will not let this overcome us. 

Some call it courage. Some call it the unshakeable human spirit. 

I call it hope. 

The smallest fragment of a seed, buried deep in our souls - sometimes tended to and fed and watched with eager eyes for it to grow. But winter's chill comes, and storms rage. Then, at last after endless days of chill and gloom, days of sunlight appear and we think "At last - it will sprout now," only to be reduced to silence when the horizon darkens and swells with dashed dreams + unanswered prayers. 

But Spring...spring comes always. Gently, without our knowing. And maybe the storms and rainshowers and sullen overcast skies are as much a part of spring, of this endless cycle. They pour down on us and at last we cry enough! I've had enough for a lifetime; this is too much. I'm downing. Enough. 

But maybe the storms reach the part of us that we hide from the surface, the deepest part that can only be watered by the hardest, most persistent storms. Only these storms can shake us up, shake loose the soil, prepare it for planting. 

Why it must be the most painful is a mystery. But maybe it's counterintuitive and a mystery for the rest of time. Maybe we need to stop seeking answers and stop fighting. Maybe we just need to endure the storms and let ourselves be watered, let the shaking up happen. 

Because only then can the glimmer of golden light appear, only then does the smallest seed of hope split open and remind you that it has been there all along, waiting for this point. Only then can we look around and see with wonder what has grown. 

If rain pummels down with icy numbness; if storms are raging in your ears and beneath your skin; if grey skies are your world...then wherever you are, stop. 

Sit still. Close your eyes. Breathe in fully, feeling the weight and warmth of sunlight, of reality pressing gently against your skin, of the dizzying and magnificent world that surrounds and holds you. 

You are alive. 

You have made it to this day. 

You have survived. 

Celebrate that today. Nothing else matters today - just that small fact, that victory. 

You are alive. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Springing into Stripes

shirt// Hollister's
shorts// Gap
flats// Target
glasses // Ralph Lauren

Le gasp...could it be? Shorts? On the blog? Oh, yes indeed, friends. I know, I know...the world must be ending.

But the weather is warm and balmy - Narnian days, really, if you know what I mean - and shorts in spring seem to usher in the end of winter. They're still chic and simple with an element of casual dressiness that shorts in summer don't quite have. We're not quite at summer vacation yet, so I'll take my lovely days of strolling around campus in leopard flats + stripes, enjoying the breeze in between classes while studying, and alternating dinners with study dates.

In other news, I'm enjoying transitioning to lighter hues in my wardrobe - I still love my beloved darks and black skinny jeans - but I always gravitate towards beige and light, airy neutrals when winter starts to fade. It's no secret that I love stripes (my signature look, so Mariah and Abbey tell me), and they add a fun nautical flair to shorts...but I love mixing patterns, so a little leopard doesn't hurt either.

I would like to point out that a) aforementioned shorts are usually not so wrinkled, but when you're about to jump in a car to head back to school you take your photoshoots when you can get them.

And b) they're a little looser than normal...maybe I've actually lost weight?(although the amount of food and sugar I consumed this weekend should have automatically canceled all that out) case you ever think my life is glamorous, allow me to display some choice behind-the-outfitshoot-scene shots.

My youngest sister, ladies and gents. Every bit of a diva. And spotlight-stealer. 

I tried...happy Hump Day, friends! Have a marvelous week. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Other Side of Me: Writing

One thing I realize about myself is that many people don't know I'm a writer...yes, I blog and write about life and stirrings of the soul. 

But long before any of that began, I have always always written stories. Of other worlds and adventures and happenings...storytelling is in my blood - has been for as long as I can remember. Now as an upperclassman, I'm finally taking a creative writing class (I'm minoring in it), and it's as sweet and easy as breathing. 

I thought I'd share the story I'm currently working on for the class: a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in New York city. It's a story of gang wars, an old ivy-covered house in Brooklyn, secret subway tunnels, a man who hides in the shadows, and how beauty is found in the ordinary. If you follow me on Pinterest, you've seen my storyboard for it. 

(the song that inspired this story)

Enjoy, friends...I hope you like this other side of me. 


‘Love and Hate are beasts,
and the one that grows is the one you feed.’
~Shane Koyczan~

Years later, Alina Barra would think that it was the rain’s fault when looking back on that day. Because if it hadn’t been raining – if it had been a cool, sunny January day, her life wouldn’t have changed. She would have remained an ordinary, introverted twenty-two year old with a hunger for old books.
She wouldn’t have sighed, opened her faded navy umbrella, and peered anxiously at the swollen, grey sky framed by slim skyscrapers. Wet, cold winter days were commonplace in New York. But on that particular day, rain proved a threat to her canvas bag holding several eighth editions of Tennyson’s In Memoriam.  
If it wasn’t for the rain, she wouldn’t have tucked a strand of brown hair behind her ear and decided to take a shortcut instead of her usual route back home. She wouldn’t have ended up on the corner of 23nd and 6th at the exact moment a particularly forceful gust of rain bent her umbrella backwards with a snap. She wouldn’t have ignored the “Closed for Construction” sign and ducked under the tape into the nearby subway stairs to keep the precious books dry.
She wouldn’t have been too distracted by the stupid rain dripping off her to notice that the subway platform wasn’t empty – that someone else had also ignored the sign.
That she wasn’t alone.
It would always be the rain’s fault.


“No, Iain – please!” A male voice echoed in the empty subway platform, stained with terror. Desperate, begging.
Alina paused, broken umbrella in hand. She took a cautious step forward, her boots squelching as she looked around. Water flooded the grimy brick floor; dust and neon orange construction cones lined the platform; discarded drills propped on slabs of concrete; and a thin bar of fluorescents lined the ceiling, flickering on and off.
Help!” The voice – a man’s – screamed again, coming from below her feet. The hard smack of a fist followed by a shuddering gasp.
Against her better judgement, Alina took another step forward. She froze.
A burly middle-aged man struggled on the center of the tracks; thick rope bound him to the steel slates. Red leaked down the side of his mouth as he panted, his wild eyes fixed on a calm figure standing above him.
She couldn’t see the second person’s face, just the gleam of a white-blond buzzcut and street clothes.
“Iain, I’m telling you, I don’t know where he is! I’m on your side, I swear -”
The man with the buzzcut – Iain - crouched down, inadvertently turning towards Alina, revealing a hard mouth and a thin face in its twenties.
“Oh, I know,” Iain mocked. “Why do you think you’re here?” He stood and stepped off the track. “I like to send messages that he’ll see. And shooting – well, that’s just juvenile,” he told the man who sagged in relief. He stepped back again.
“Enjoy the non-stop to Hell.”
Alina couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything but stare as the eerie, metallic shriek of the subway pierced the air – rushing, grating, howling down the tracks.
The captive man’s eyes bulged and he screamed in unison with her as the steel dragon slammed over him with a sickening rush.
Grey compartments flickered by – blurs of faces and clothing through the windows – nameless individuals with no idea of what had just happened – who had just died –
Then they were gone in a stream of silver metal, the haunting cry of wheels against tracks fading - and she was still standing.
Numb. Swaying. Empty, was she on her feet? So cold. Was her blood gone too? Alina shut her eyes...maybe it’d been her on the track, her blood splattered thickly, her pressed thin and dead - Tennyson’s words rose in her mind, as if taunting her:

Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Gravel scattered against metal and her eyes flew open.
On the other side of the tracks, ice-blue eyes stared back at her in shock; immediately, they hardened, flying around the empty platform rapidly. A sharp whistle sliced the air and shadows behind him converged and shifted, sudden shapes of broad shoulders and shaved heads stepping out of the wall behind, out of what she thought had been a swirl of red and black graffiti but was actually a door...
“Get her!” Iain bellowed.
Her bag of books hit the floor.
Alina staggered back, spinning around; a scream tore from her lips as her feet slid out from under her in the traitorous puddles of water. Her knees cracked against sharp brick – get up, get up, oh God, hurry!
 “Get back here!”
She scrambled up, her heart pounding in her chest painfully, grunts and soft thuds behind her as the men jumped up on the platform.
Yelling, dripping water – just make it to the stairs, so close – shrieked profanities -
“Don’t let her get away – SOMEONE GET ME A GUN!” Iain’s voice screamed, echoing off the concrete walls.
Alina’s fingers closed on the stair railing; something hard slammed into her, jerking her back. She screamed as loud as she could, kicking, punching, her brown hair mingling with tears in her eyes.
They dragged her backwards and –
An ear-splitting clap of what must have been lightning silenced everything for a moment and the florescents flickered off.
Someone pushed her down against the edge of the platform and her head exploded with sharp, searing pain.
The light flickered back on – suddenly bright and blinding, dirty sneakers moving closer to her, pain in her ribs – they were kicking her. Wet concrete biting into her cheek, yells and cat-calls, fingers grabbing at her shirt and coat, flickering lights - or was that her consciousness flickering in and out?
Alina’s head lolled to the side, her eyes slipping closed just as the shadows behind the group of feet shifted again.
Something roared and sprang forward.
Screams again – but from the men, not her...heavy thuds of fists and cries of panic. She lifted her head, trying to sit up. Someone fell on her torso, slamming her down again onto hardness. Darkness closed over her.