LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Hello, 29.

Hello, 29.

You are now entering the story of a woman who drinks iced coffee even on the coldest days of the season. The story of a woman that has a k-pop boy named Kang Seungsik plastered on her bedroom walls after once feeling ashamed of doing so for her age. The story of a woman that travels an hour and a half to work on public transportation; the woman who is the youngest worker in her office. A woman who spends her Friday nights on the phone with her friends that are across the country. A woman who spends a couple days of her week with someone that she vibes so well with. A woman who goes to the gym to work out all the stress of life and work away. A woman who gets lost inside her mind through the lives of her fictional characters.

You are entering a story that took years to write and put together, and one that finally is publishable to the world.

29, you are entering the story of a woman named Liz. The story starts off with tons of trauma and mental health issues; Liz used to define herself through her struggles and even then couldn’t overcome them because she was consumed by the identity of being mentally ill. She saw early on that although she would be understanding to those around her and their mental issues, not everyone was like her and not everyone will be understanding about mental health in a world where it was still considered a taboo. She leaves everything behind from her early twenties as she triumphs into a new identity, hoping that everything would fall into place with the time she had to find herself. She discovers a new love for a genre of music; one that opens her up to a world she never thought she would be a part of. She spoke to so many people in a community she felt too old to fit in, yet that same community was the place where she met some of her closest friends; those who she has never met but still feels like she’s known for her entire life. She rekindled a relationship she never thought she would, hoping that with the time apart and lessons learned that this time around, things would be different. She quickly learns that things are different.

29, you are entering the aftermath of a two-year journey of weight loss; something she never thought would happen for her. In two years, she has managed to lose 120 pounds, but you are entering a time where she fears that all that hard work will go to waste if she isn’t careful with her diet.

29, you are entering the last of Liz’s twenties; the last chapter to a story about a girl that turned into a woman. She went to college and grad school and published her thesis in an academic journal and became friends with her thesis advisor. She sought out therapy when she needed it and got the professional help in order to deal with years of undiagnosed depression and anxiety. She tried new things that she either enjoyed in the long run or immediately stepped back from after learning she didn’t like it. She loved and lost family in her twenties; a grandmother on her father’s side due to breast cancer, an uncle on her father’s side after an unexpected heart attack, and a grandfather that was diagnosed with lung cancer and told us had 2 more weeks to leave after passing away just a day later. She lost her childhood pet; a white lab mix/dalmatian breed named Pal, who grew to be 15 years old before he passed away in 2016. She lost her cat, a black bombay cat named Babygirl, who we rescued from my mom’s office and brought her home for the last 5 years of her life. But in the things she lost, she gained in its place; a pet turtle named Squirtle that her sibling brought home one day in 2019 and two grey tabby kitten brothers, Porkchop and ShyGuy. She learned to take everything one day at a time and to appreciate everything that comes along with the day. She learned to leave work at work and to not bring it home, she learned that support is something she values the most in professional environments, and she learned that she can confine in people without feeling like a burden to them.

29, you are entering a story that is continuing to prosper, but you also are ending a chapter of Liz’s life that she’s known for the past 9 years.

11:59pm… 12:00am.

Hello, 29.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

28 Things That Happened/I Learned While Being 28.

Things That Happened:

  1. I spent the new year with my mentor, Ro, and her husband during the day.
  2. I left my bookstore job and got a new job at the Registrar’s Office at my old college.
  3. Victon made three comebacks this year with their Time Trilogy!
  4. I went to my first ever paint-and-sip with my family!
  5. I went to see The Game Grumps Live in NYC during the summer.
  6. Our senior cat, Babygirl, passed away.
  7. We then adopted two boy kittens; Porkchop and ShyGuy.
  8. I’ve dyed my hair more times than I can count this year.
  9. I’ve gotten a total of 5 new tattoos in 2022.
  10. I’ve gotten closer to my long-distance friends through pen-pal writing.
  11. I spent my summer walking throughout my neighborhood for miles on end.
  12. I went to see Demi Lovato on her NYC stop for her HOLY FVCK Tour in October.
  13. I had COVID for the first time since the pandemic started in 2020.
  14. I’ve lost 120 pounds since having surgery in July 2021.

Things I’ve Learned:

  1. Spend time with people that literally support and celebrate your journey.
  2. Some chapters need to end in order for new ones to start, no matter how unprepared you are.
  3. Some things just never change.
  4. Trying new things makes for the best story-telling in the future.
  5. Do things on your own time and don’t wait for anyone to do them with you.
  6. Things in life happen when you least expect them to.
  7. New beginnings can be scary but worth it in the end.
  8. Self-control is a real thing that people do struggle with, including me.
  9. Sometimes it’s okay to not get a tattoo at every little convenience, even if you want them! Hah!
  10. Remember where you came from and those who came with you along the way.
  11. Creating routines for yourself helps you gain some sort of control over your own life.
  12. Dreams really do come true. ❤
  13. Unexpected things will happen, and you just have to deal with them since they are out of your control.
  14. I will never stop being a better version of myself.
LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The "Something" Series: Season 2

Always Questioning Something: A Grace Monologue.

When I was in New York for the first time back when I was 17, I thought it was crazy to see snowfall before Christmas. That year, it snowed just a few days before Thanksgiving; I remember because it was before the audition for that year’s competition, and the first prize was a full scholarship to Julliard. I remember that was all that mattered to me at that moment. I remember I took the subway by myself for the first time since being in New York; my father had forbidden me from auditioning for the competition. I called Emerson to see if he can come with me, but he was too busy with his parents. I was nervous to call Scott, but I sucked it up and asked if he wanted to come with me. To my surprise, he said yes.

We both sat on the C train going Uptown, just passing Fulton Street. We sat in silence for what felt like hours when really, it was only 3 stops. Being 29, I know now that the A train makes the express stops in the city.

“So,” Scott began to say. I looked at him, nervous to talk to him. I don’t know why I was; we literally spoke every day in school with Emerson, but something about speaking to Scott Campbell on my own felt… scary. “What are you all dressed up for?” he finally asked.

“Oh, uhm,” I started as I looked down at my outfit. It was a sparkly dance ensemble with a flowy skirt; also sparkly. “It’s for an audition.”

“For like, a Broadway show?” Scott genuinely asked. I giggled, thinking that it was really cute of him to think that I was even a good enough dancer for Broadway.

“No, no… for a competition,” I corrected. I looked at Scott, thinking he was going to ask a million questions, because– well, let’s face it; I asked someone that I never hung out with outside of school to accompany me across the fucking borough because I didn’t know how to take the subway. “It’s for a scholarship to Julliard, and it’s–“

“For dance,” Scott finished. I looked at him, a little shocked that he knew. Did Emerson tell him? How did he know? “I, uhm… saw you practice after-school with Ms. Castro a couple of times,” I saw him swallow hard as his eyes widen. “I- I didn’t mean to watch or, like, knew you were always practicing, but…” I could tell Scott was nervous, but I couldn’t help but giggle.

“You would watch me dance?” I asked. Scott took a deep breath before finally answering.

“Yeah. You are hands down the best dancer in the school, and you’ve only been here for a couple of months,” he stated.

“You flatter me, but I am not that good of a dancer; not New York City good,” I responded back. He’s just being nice to you.

“Dude, I thought you were going to audition for a damn Broadway show!” Scott emphasized, and it made me laugh. It definitely took a lot of the edge I was feeling off. I was grateful Scott accompanied me to my audition that day.

I look down at my phone; I have exactly one hour before the audition begins in Uptown. I brush down my attire to make myself look clean and neat; two things I fail to be as a dancer, and in more of a literal sense: as a person. I took a deep breath before opening my eyes and finally seeing myself in the mirror. My hair is tied in a bun, my body shimmers in the sunlight from the glitter on my outfit, and my dirty sneakers to take to the audition, where I will take them off to put on my ballet shoes. Are we really doing this, Grace?

“Hey, girl,” I hear at the doorway of the room. I turn around and Ari’s there. She smiles and walks into the room to sit on the edge of the bed. “You look pretty.”

“Thanks, I feel like shit,” I responded. Ari scoffs as she adjusts herself in her seat. “Why did I think this was a good idea?” I questioned every little thing since the moment I got back to New York about two months ago. I questioned if I deserved to watch my daughter walk to her teacher for the first day of school. I questioned if those in my life; my parents, Max, Willow, Emerson, and even Ari should be mad at me for just disappearing and leaving New York for half a year. Why aren’t they mad at me? I would be pissed the fuck off if someone I cared about would just up and leave–

“Bitch, you deserve this,” Ari stated. “I mean, I’ve never seen you dance, but the way that your mom was so excited that you were doing this; like you must be a bomb ass dancer and you deserve to do what makes you happy. Plus, you’re back in New York, which means you get to spend some time with Willow–“

“You do know that if I get this gig, I’ll be practically spending a year overseas, right?” I asked. Ari’s expression completely changed. She didn’t know what was truly this audition.

“Well, where would you be going? Italy? London? Paris? Girl, imagining performing for Paris Fashion Week–“

“Ulsan.” I interrupted. Ari coked her eyebrow up; she clearly did not know where I was going.

“Bitch, where?” Ari asked.

“Ulsan, as in South Korea,” I finally answered. “The production is going to be in–“

“Grace,” Ari simply said. I looked at her, nervous about where this was going. Ari was visibly angry at me. Finally, someone is fucking angry at me. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No.” I simply said, back to Ari. Ari walked towards the door and closed it before saying anything else to me. She walked up to me, practically in my face. She was more than angry at me; she was livid.

“You’re trying to tell me that you left New York after getting your fucking heart broken by a man, who so happens to live in South Korea, go to California as some type of escape from reality, to then come back to New York with the sole purpose of coming back is to audition for a production that is going to be a year-long in Soth Korea; aka where the man that broke your fucking heart lives?” Ari was practically yelling at this point.

“For fuck’s sake, Ari; Jamie doesn’t own the entire fucking country,” I answered, annoyed at Ari’s lack of support. “I haven’t even seen him since I left New York,” I lied. Ari doesn’t know that for practically the entire summer, I spent it with Jamie in California. Ari doesn’t know that in some twisted way, I allowed Jamie back into my life for a whole summer, not realizing that with Jamie, it didn’t take long for me to remember why I loved him in the first place. Ari doesn’t know that, and it was pointless to bring it up now; I was never seeing Jamie again.

“You going there ups the chances of you rekindling something that is stale and burnt out,” Ari argued. It stung a bit when she called what I had with Jamie “burnt out”. I thought that was just something only Jamie and I felt. Why did it hurt hearing it come out from someone else? “Seriously Grace, I think this is a bad fucking idea.”

“Oh, so now it’s a bad idea when just minutes ago it was something I deserved,” I spat back at Ari. I hated when Ari did this; be a supportive friend, and then make me feel like an idiot when things don’t go the way she wants them to go.

“It was, but now you’re literally telling me you’re leaving New York, again, to go across the fucking world to dance in the country where your stupid fucking ex lives?! Seriously Grace, where the fuck are your priorities?!” I didn’t say anything; I just watched Ari pace back and forth in the room we were in. She finally stops and looks at me. “You’re being a shitty fuckin’ mother to Willow by doing this, Grace.”

I looked at Ari, remembering all of the times we’d had similar conversations in this apartment in the past. I remember Ari trying to convince me to work things out with Max right after I had Willow. We fought until she realized I was going to do what I wanted to do, and slowly we were able to work out our friendship again. The same exact thing happened when I quit the firm. The same thing happened when Jamie and I decided to work things out the last time he was in New York. The same thing happened when I didn’t tell Jamie about the abortion. Every decision I ever made in the time I’ve known Ari was questioned by her, and I fucking hated it. I always thought she did it because she truly had her best interest in my well-being. She was sometimes right in her concerns, but most of the time, she would just make me feel like absolute shit about anything that I did.

The one thing she never brought up was Willow. Sure, I had my moments when I could’ve been a better mother. I could’ve made my decisions with Willow in mind. I could’ve just been this stay-at-home mom and watched her grow into the little girl she is now. I could’ve done a lot of things in my differently, and Ari made me know that fact. But, she would never say anything about me as a mother and how I should be raising my daughter. I took a deep breath, thinking about my words.

“I’m… going to be late for my audition,” I began. I grabbed my bag, throwing it on my shoulder. “And when I’m done with that, I will come back and pack my things.” I looked at Ari, trying hard to not let my emotions read all over my face. Ari scrunched her eyebrows together, looking genuinely confused.

“Are you serious?” Ari asked.

“Yeah, Ari. I’m serious,” I sternly said. “I’m going to stay with my parents while I’m here in New York.” Ari’s response was a condescending laugh. Maybe I was too young and blindsided to see this in the past, but I see it clearly now: Ari is nothing but a mean girl.

“Here you go again, running away from the truth,” Ari got up from her seat. “Seriously, girl, aren’t you tired of running? Like you’re about to be 30 years old, Grace. Grow the fuck up and deal with your shit head-on like a real adult.”

“I’m not getting in this with you,” I said, calmly. I realized that whenever I would react to Ari’s “tough love”, it would feed into this cynical side of her that felt like she was staying the truth. “So, I’m leaving for the audition, and then I’m leaving your apartment, and I’m leaving this friendship.” I passed Ari as I walked out the door. Before I walked out the apartment, she came out of the room we were in and in typical Ari fashion, began shouting.

“This is your problem, Grace! You can’t keep anyone or anything in your life because you think life fucking owes you an apology for your shitty life up until now,” I turned around to look at Ari. In the corner of my eye, I saw Dean take the headphones off his head from the living room to see what was going on. “You need someone to constantly tell you that your decisions are shitty and that you aren’t capable of keeping anything good in your life because you always go and fuck it up!”

“Is that what you really think of me, Ari?” I spat back. “You think being a shitty friend to me is actually something I need?”

“If you think I’m being a shitty friend–“

“You are a shitty friend,” I interrupted. Ari began to walk in my direction, and Dean finally got up from the sofa to calm Ari down.

“Fuck you, Grace! This is the thanks I get for helping you out all these times you literally had no one in your life because you fucked them over?!” Ari was yelling over Dean. I tried so hard to not let her words hurt me. I blinked before exhaling.

“Bye, Ari. I’m sorry, Dean,” I said before turning around and opening the front door to her apartment. I walked out and closed the door behind me; closing the door on yet another chapter of my life. I’m always questioning if I’m doing the right thing.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The Teenage Monologues.

What’s the Motive: A Mollie Monologue.

I walked into the school’s library, waving at the person that sits at the front desk during the day. She knows me by heart since I’m always in this library. Yeah, who would’ve thought Mollie Sue Castro would be familiar with a library. I walked toward the front desk like I normally would do whenever I visit the library.

“Hi, Barb,” I greeted the woman at the front desk.

“Good afternoon, Mollie,” Barb smiled as she answered back. She goes through the wooden box of door keys behind her, picking one out. “Doing some more vocal study?”

“Yeah,” I nodded my head. “We have quartets later in class and it’s always easier to practice with another person.”

“I bet it is,” Barb answered as she takes out the paperwork for me to sign. “Well, tell Aaron I said hi, and good luck with your vocal assignments.” I smiled as Barb handed me a key to one of the study rooms in the library. Aaron and I have met to study for the past couple of weeks now; he wasn’t kidding when he said he needed help in vocal class. It’s not that the guy can’t sing, but he is clearly using all the wrong techniques to sing! He’s going to end up fucking up his vocal cords if he keeps straining his singing voice like that.

“Yo!” I yelled out to Aaron as he was singing. “You don’t hear that sus ass note? It’s sharp, not flat.”

“Where in this song do you see that it’s a sharp note?” Aaron yelled back, obviously frustrated. I walked toward him and pointed at the sheet music.

“There,” I answered. “The baritone note is sharp and the bass note is in the major key. You are the melody, they are the filler with the sopranos.” Aaron’s eyebrows cocked up, realizing his mistake.

“Oh shit,” Aaron responded, and I couldn’t help but laugh. He clearly looked offended at my laughter. “Yo, what’s so funny?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I said while trying to contain my laughter. “I just realized that you might have been the one person in vocal the other day who was singing solo notes out of this piece.” Aaron widens his eyes and a smile appears on his face.

“You heard me sing off-key in class and now just telling me, Castro?!” I begin to laugh out loud at the situation again; thankfully Aaron was now laughing along with me. “Yo, I thought I was killing it that day!”

“Yeah; killing that song,” I said, still trying to keep my composure but couldn’t help myself. Aaron nudged my shoulder and continued to laugh so loud, a library worker had to bang on the glass to quiet us down.

It’s not until a few minutes later do I see Aaron tapping on the glass door of the study room. I get up from my seat and open the door for him.

“Hey, Castro,” Aaron smiled as he greeted me. “Ready to absolute slaughter the class in quartets in class today?”

“Stop gassing me up,” I said playfully. Aaron shakes his head and takes out his sheet music. “So, which song do you want to practice?” Aaron looks through the papers in his hand before he answers me.

“Let’s do… oh! In Mozart’s “Requiem”, I don’t understand how the baritones began the piece with the altos when they are in completely different sections.”

“Those two sections typically carry the melody of a piece,” I answered, flipping through my folder of sheet music to get the right one out to start practice. “It makes sense if they typically sing together or start off the song,” I looked up and saw Aaron looking directly at me while I was speaking. It made me nervous. “What?”

“You are fucking smart,” Aaron responded. I laughed to myself, shaking my head.

“Yeah, well try to tell everyone else that,” I said, not realizing that I was about to have this conversation with Aaron Serrano of all people. “Like, does being smart in vocal make you a smart person?” Aaron scrunched his eyebrows together; he looks hella annoyed at me all of a sudden.

“It makes you passionate about your talent,” Aaron answered back. “I don’t know who told you otherwise, but being good at what you’re here to do makes you fucking smart. You are hands down the smartest person in our vocal class; I think anyone would trade their book smarts for your talent.”

“Thanks, Serrano,” I said back, not really meaning it. It’s nice to be known as the “girl who knows all her music” or the one that answers all the questions correctly on our quizzes. But truly, does it even mean anything if I’m doing something that’s not completely my passion? I like singing, but the more I walk around these halls and see the dancers, it makes me feel like even in the place I should be in, I don’t fit in. Aaron taps his pencil on the table in my direction. It makes me look directly at Aaron, who is still looking directly at me.

“I mean it,” Aaron said. “You’re talented and smart and funny and just… if anyone thinks otherwise, they are a fucking loser.” I smile at Aaron’s honesty. I look down at my sheet music but before we started studying, I look back up and back at Aaron.

“What’s your motive?” I spat out, not realizing I said what I was thinking out in the open. Aaron looked confused.

“Motive?” he asked.

“Yeah; like I see you with your other friends all the time and yet we are always in this damn study room, studying for vocal. Are you just trying to use me to pass vocal or something?” I was growing annoyed now. Maybe this is just some bottled-up shit I kept in that bothered me, but no one ever wants to hang out with me for many reasons. It seems like all the boys in this school just want to be with the pretty girls and whenever a guy talks to me, it’s either he’s using me for his own personal gain, or he’s keeping this big secret from me. Guys don’t like me, and they don’t ever want to be my friend. It’s never this easy to keep a friend, and I feel like I’m making it very obvious that I’m a major reason why I can’t keep friends. Aaron looks annoyed with me, and I don’t blame him. The guy just told me I was all these great things, and now I’m showing him every reason I’m not any of them.

“With all due respect, Mols,” Aaron started out. Mols. He never called me by a nickname before. “I don’t know what assholes you have or had as friends, but I actually really like you as a friend. I like spending time with my friends, and you so happen to be one of my friends. So I guess liking you as my friend is my motive.” I felt like shit after hearing Aaron say what he said. For fuck’s sake, Mol, not everyone is trying to fuck you over.

“Sorry,” I quickly said as I looked back down at my sheet music, flipping through the pages. Aaron placed his hand on top of my pile of sheet music. I stopped in my tracks and slowly looked up at Aaron. He was reaching from the other side of the table to place his hand on my papers. He looked at me directly in my face and smiled. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bring me some level of comfort knowing he was still in this study room and wanting to hang out with–

“Mols?” Aaron asked.

“Hmm?” I went back to focus on Aaron.

“Show me how to really sing this damn Mozart’s Requiem,” he said as he went back to his seat to get his sheet music.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Where Was I in 2013?

Credit: Leona Lee

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

To think back and realize that ten years ago was the year 2013 makes me feel more of my age as the days and years pass. 2013 doesn’t feel like it was a decade ago, but here we are in 2023, and, well, 2013 was truly 10 years ago! Like every beginning of a new year, we start it off reflecting on where I was 10 years prior, and we just so happen to be entering 2013 territory! Like 2012, 2013 was a tough year for me; but, it was the year that I finally learned to let go of the bad things in my life and adapt to new things that I was interested in and good for me and my mental health.

But first, let’s take it all the way back to the year 2013!

At the beginning of 2013, I had just turned 19 years old and was about to start my second semester as a college freshman. The first semester was a horrible one; it was hard to pass my classes and was on the verge of failing almost all of them. I knew for my second semester, I had to get my grades up, or else the college would put me on academic probation. I was still struggling a lot mentally at the beginning of 2013 year. I still was very much caught up in the high-school drama since it followed me even after graduation. Even though the person that I was still very much into was hours away at a different college, I had made it my mission to always see them whenever they could come back to the city. Thinking about it now, it was really stupid of me; like, here I was friendless and barely passing my classes, yet my mind and energy were hyperfocused on this one person who went to the same college as their partner, and, didn’t even bat an eyelash to actually think about me. But then again, I was 19 and still fresh out of high school, so my high-school mentality still influenced a lot of my thought process and decision-making.

Fashion for 2013 Liz was bringing much of what “Tumblr fashion” was, which is crazy to think that Tumblr used to be the biggest social platform for those in my age range at the time. It was dip-dyed/ombre hair color, “summer scarves” that yes, I used to wear all year round, including hot summer days, and Toms/Keds/Bootleg Toms named Bobs. Needless to say, 2013 fashion was weird and random fashion. Like, even the music was weird! I can’t explain how music was a decade ago; it was just a lot of dance music that we all use to fuck with heavy with a mix of like… swing 1950-esque beats? Also, it was still truly the “British Invasion” era of music which I think also became more of an identity crisis for some of us.

I remember 2013 being the year that I tried out dieting because I noticed that I was gaining that “freshman 15” everyone used to talk about. I lived at home and commuted to my college, but I think that as I got older and continued to grow, my weight started to go up as well. I remember my toxic diet culture mind tracking how many points I had for the day and how many additional ones I was allowed to have and when I even began to see some slight changes, I would then stop the hard work and celebrate that little weight loss with something that I shouldn’t have.

At the time, I didn’t realize that the rapid weight gain was due to the fact that by August 2013, I would spend most of my summer nights sitting up in a butterfly chair trying to sleep since the pain was unbearable. I still remember having to wake my mom up at 6:30 in the morning to take me to the Emergency room because the pain got to a point where I was losing hours of sleep and I was barely functional because of it. After going to the ER, I was told that I had gallstones, which also meant that I needed to get surgery to remove them and my gallbladder altogether. It would be my first ever surgery, and I remember crying the night before because I was so scared. I had the surgery about a month later, and it took me about a week to fully recover and go back to school.

Because I did not properly handle my mental health, a lot of my issues carried over into 2013. It was a very weird summer; the person I still had feelings for came back from college and every time they did, those around me would see my personality change. In a way, I was always trying to be something I wasn’t; I constantly tried to show off my ability to “be strong” and tough, yet we all knew it was a facade. I still remember seeing my best friend before going out to an underground show in the city and having a huge argument about putting people on pedestals and who deserves to be on them and such. Again, this was an energy I usually didn’t have whenever I was here on my own just living my day-to-day life. It wasn’t until I was told by my best friend that I switch up whenever this other person comes back into my life. Of course, I denied it, and it wasn’t really until later on in the summer that I realized just how toxic this person was to me, and that it was about time I let them go and out of my life.

I spent one last time with them in my neighborhood that summer. Prior to this last meeting, I had gone through something extremely triggering with them, and instead of feeling appreciative about my actions, I felt like absolute shit getting yelled at over the phone and constantly being called a stupid bitch. I sat on my bathroom floor and constantly asked myself if maybe I was the problem. Was there something wrong with me? Was it some undiagnosed mental illness that made me behave the way I did? In the long run and nearly a decade later, I realized that while yeah, this experience has been the deep rooted cause of my mental health issues in the years to come, I was in a situation where it was nothing good coming out of it, and quite frankly was verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abused for about 2 years by this point. It was scary to go from thinking you have a person in your life who understood you to having literally no one besides the friends that drifted away because of this one person. But, when one door closes, another one opens.

During the summer of 2013, my mom was heavily involved in this TV show that she watched since 2011. Every Sunday night, her and my father would sit in the living room and watch this show and my mother would then go online to the forums to discuss who could have possibly be the perpetrator of these season-long crime cases. I vaguely remember my mother telling me that the first 2 seasons had a major twist at the end, and that the acting of the parents and supporting characters were some of the most raw and realistic acting she has ever seen in television. This particular summer, they were airing season 3 and I just so happened to be in the kitchen while she was watching the third episode of the third season. After that, the rest is truly history.

I was in love with this show, and I swear I probably rewatched the entire series more times than I can fully remember. Although, I did restart the series over the summer and stopped midway into season 3, so perhaps it’s about time I picked it back up and finished the series. AT the time, I was really involved in my Twitter account, and while interacting with the stars of that season and other people in the hashtags, I became a part of the community that we dubbed as “The Killing Fam”. When the show wasn’t renewed for a fourth season yet left us on a major cliffhanger, the community fought to have Netflix or another streaming service platform pick up the season for a fourth season. In November 2013, we were granted that fourth and final season.

This might sound so dramatic and cheesy, but this show and the community saved my life. It felt good to go into a community and feel connected to other people to talk about something that we all enjoy or are passionate about. This show also gave me some true inspiration to start writing my own stories down and honestly, Sarah Linden as a character has inspired so many of my own OCs, it’s kind of insane.

By the end of 2013, I felt like I was becoming the person I wanted to be at the time and for the first time in a long time, I genuinely was happy. It made the transition of going into 2014 a smooth one. I ended the year thankful that despite being in a really shitty situation and thinking I couldn’t come out of it, I found a part of my identity through a community that to this day will thank for literally saving my life. I think that’s why in 2020, transitioning into the K-pop community and finding my identity as a 26 year old was so important and crucial o my healing. Also, I realized that situations like the one I was in will always come up and disguise itself as being something different or new and honestly, I think I was just so traumatized by that toxic situation that I just know when and if something around me is going to turn for the worse. Reflecting back on this time of my life really makes me realize that a lot of this past Liz lived so that the Liz I am today can succeed.

But yeah, here’s to 2023! See you guys for 2024 where, that’s going to be a fun year to reflect back on. See you in the next one!

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Overexposed: 2023.

January 1st, 2023.

The first day of the year indeed feels like the beginning of a new book of a series you’ve been following along with. You left off with the main character standing on the balcony of someone’s apartment at a party, and as you stand there to look out towards the city and ask yourself, “did I really survive another year?” Atlas, the new book is waiting to be written for the next 365 days. Further character development, new plot twists, and new motifs and themes that are hidden in everyday activity.

Today is the first page of that book.

I don’t know what this year has in store for me. I don’t know if this year will be a calm one, whereas last year was the year that I made so many life-changing choices that it would be nice to have a year where I continue going down this journey of life without having to make significant, life-altering decisions. I want to continue to grow at my job in the Registrar’s Office this year; I would have experienced an entire year of what the Registrar’s Office is like. I want to master everything that I do already and challenge myself to new abilities in my craft and in my career; as much as I’m a creature of habit, I am always looking for ways to push my limits and challenge my anxiety in ways I never was able to do before.

I want to finally do the things I’ve been wanting to do, like travel some more and fly again. I want to go to more events and concerts outside of my comfort zone; see everyone and anything that catches my eye and my attention. I want to simply enjoy my last year in my twenties doing things that I want to do without feeling restricted or constantly judging myself for the decisions I make. I want to be able to look back at my twenties and feel like I did everything that I wanted to do.

2023, I hope that whatever you have in store for me allows me to grow as a person yet continue to challenge myself on things I was too afraid to try or do when I was younger. I hope that you help me embrace my “bad boss bitch” persona that I always wanted to feel like but never could successfully achieve. I hope that with 2023, you help keep everyone in good health and that we are all able to make good memories with the people we love and make it for what it is, especially as we get older.

2023, be good to me.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Overexposed: A Self-Love Project.

Overexposed: 28.

My 18-year-old self wouldn’t believe the 28-year-old me when I say that this body that we shared is celebrating it’s 28th birthday. The 18-year-old me would look at the 28-year-old me and not believe me when I say I finished college in 2016 and grad school in 2018. A lot of things happened within the last decade that my younger self couldn’t even imagine doing or going through in their 20’s.

Hi, my name is Liz and today is my 28th birthday!

It’s crazy to think that in two years, I’ll be 30. Like, the 90’s babies are officially going into their 30’s and I can’t believe that our 20’s are ending! But, as I think back to the last 8 years of my twenties, I’ve learned so much about myself and my life! Of course, I have a ton of other things to learn in life, but for the most part, I’ve been through a lot during my twenties!

In my early twenties, I was still a college student. My life and most of my identity were tied around being a student. I was an English major, applying to a film grad school, and finally making some friends within my college through my acting classes my senior year of college. I will always deem some of my best years being in my early twenties; 22 to be exact! 22 was not only the end of my undergraduate studies, but it was the start of truly the rest of my life outside of those 4 years of college. I also started graduate school and met my professor/mentor/now friend, Ro (Professor Carlo), and found a different passion for writing and writing studies through her class.

My mid-twenties taught me a lot about life, in all honesty. The further I got into grad school, the more my mental health began to decline due to the stress grad school carried. For once, it felt like I couldn’t take care of myself because I was swamped with schoolwork. Because of that, I sought out therapy and was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and major depression; both on the chronic level. After graduating from grad school, it was even harder to adjust to life as a regular adult and not a student anymore.

Adjusting to medication and getting used to therapy took a toll on the relationships I kept with people. It was hard for most people to understand that I, the person who was once outspoken and bubbly and had plenty of friends, was now the total opposite. It was rough because I was trying to find my identity outside of the relationships I kept with my loved ones, but also trying to be more assertive and to have people accept that things were changing as I became more aware of my anxiety and depression. It took years to finally not allow my mental health to define me as a person, and in some incidents it still does. But during my mid-twenties, I always had this awareness of my behavior and my mental health really became a clutch for the things that I couldn’t do right.

My life started later into my twenties. I was now by myself after going through an intense break-up, and I was on a mission to discover who I was as just me, myself, and I. I started my first job at my old college’s bookstore and made a ton of new friends through that job. In a weird way, I needed to close some chapters in order to start some new ones during this time. There were so many fun things I got to do! I had holiday parties at work, I went out with my coworkers for a happy hour after work, i took up pen-palling, I went to my first ever Kpop concert, and I took my first ever solo trip on a plane! I also co-wrote a journal article with my mentor and got published in an academic journal! And of course, I challenged a fear of mine and entered a community full of people who were also interested in Kpop and collecting like me! I learned a lot during these years in my life, especially even after having surgery back in July 2021.

Entering these last two years of my 20’s, I hope that I am able to continue on this journey in a smooth and healthy manner. I hope that I enter my 30’s in 2024 excited to see what the new milestone is going to be like! They do say that your thirties are where it’s at! But back to 28; I hope that this year is full of adventures and memories, to show my 18-year-old self that things do get better, and that life goes on and you grow up and mature and the things that affected you when you were younger aren’t severe when you’re older. I hope that my 18-year-old self can completely rest and just be a place in the past that this body once was. I hope my 28-year-old self can learn to lay 18 to rest for good.

Happy Birthday to me. 🎂

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Self-Reflection

27 Things That Happened/I Learned While Being 27.

Things That Happened:

  1. I rang in the new year with my online friends watching Kpop videos.
  2. Victon made their comeback with their first full-length album!
  3. I started to write more creative writing stories on the blog.
  4. I got some new tattoos and piercings.
  5. I got cleared for bariatrics surgery!
  6. I started to write penpal letters & opened my penpal IG account.
  7. I rekindled an old friendship with a long-time friend.
  8. I went to the beach with my sibling for the first time since the pandemic started.
  9. I had gastric bypass surgery back in July.
  10. Friendships were tested throughout its many phases.
  11. I got a second job at my old college in Academic Affairs.
  12. I finally got published in The Journal of Basic Writing.
  13. In total, I’ve lost 69 pounds since having surgery.

Things I’ve Learned:

  1. Your online friends are very much your friends as your IRL ones.
  2. Comeback season is hectic, but so much fun to experience with those who are just as excited as you are!
  3. Write what makes you happy, not what you think everytone wants to read.
  4. Things will always inspire me, and documenting them on my body is the way I want to remember them.
  5. With consistency and drive, you will accomplish what you want.
  6. New hobbies can be much more than just a pasttime!
  7. Forgiveness comes in more forms than just one.
  8. Have fun, no matter what.
  9. Your life can change at any time of your life.
  10. You have to respect yourself if you exepct others to respect you.
  11. Always challenge yourself, and it’s okay to ask for help along the way!
  12. A path towards your desired field is always a step forward.
  13. Time is seriously a crazy concept!
  14. I can do anything that I want in life!
Black Sheep in Society., LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

A Sheep Out of His Suit: A Scene.

With mirrors you will be able to make your room look bigger

Micah looks in the mirror in his suit. He straightens out his tie and takes in a deep breath. A knock his heard on the door, to which he turns around and sees his mother, Jennifer, standing at the doorway.

Micah: Hey, Ma.

Jennifer: Are you ready for your night out with Kalia?

Micah: You mean Kalia and her parents? No.

Jennifer walks into the room and helps Micah with his hair.

Jennifer: You’re going to be fine, baby. Her parents are going to love you.

Micah: Her mom is chill, but her dad just seems… scary. Like he wants to rip my throat out of my mouth type of scary.

Jennifer: That just comes with all dads. Your father would do the same thing if Reagan and Dylan bring around guys they like.

Micah: Yeah, but dad’s not a big time Swedish movie actor that looks like he works out at every minute of the day.

Jennifer finally finishes pulling Micah’s hair back away from his face.

Jennifer: No, but your dad is still pretty crazy when it comes to the girls.

Micah chuckles to himself, and turns around to face his mother.

Micah: I’m just afraid that I’m too different for Kalia’s lifestyle. Like, the way the media puts it, it’s like I’m dating the princess of Sweden or something…

Jennifer: As long as you stay true to yourself, you’re going to be fine.

Micah: Mom, that advice only works in movies.

Jennifer faces her son before he walks out of the room.

Jennifer: The only thing that matters is that you treat their daughter with respect and that you treat her right, which you do.

Micah: We’ll see.

He walks out of the room, leaving his mother standing there.

Micah opens the door for a woman with long blonde hair and a red dress on. He waits for her to fully walk through before walking through himself. The door closes behind her, and they both begin walking down the long hallway.

Kalia: You look quite dashing tonight, babe.

Micah: And you continue to be the most beautiful girl in the room.

Kalia giggles and slips her hand into Micah’s. She looks at Micah’s face and then stops in her place.

Kalia: Babe, your piercing.

Micah: What about it?

Kalia: I told you that this was a formal event; no piercings like that are allowed.

Micah: It’s just a septum ring, Kal.

Kalia: My parents are going to say something about it; I am just warning you before they do.

Micah annoyingly flips up his septum ring to make it invisible in his nose. The couple continue to walk along the hallway.

Micah: So, your dad; does he know about us dating?

Kalia: Well, my mom definitely didn’t leave that little detail out…

Micah loosens his collar a bit, nervous.

Micah: I wish I was able to meet him in a less intimidating place, not at this gala thing.

Kalia stops in her tracks and looks at Micah.

Kalia: Babe, you’re going to be fine. He’s going to like you.

They both continue to walk down the hallway until they reach closed double doors. Micah opens them and the couple enters the ballroom where the gala is being hosted. People on all status levels are dressed in tuxedos and ball-gowns; the room is surrounded by celebrities from all around the country. Micah looks around the ballroom and immediately swallows hard.

The couple walks through the ballroom and begins to mingle with the other people. Micah stays silent and looks around, feeling uncomfortable in his place. He looks at a tall man in a tuxedo across the room; he’s buff, fit, and kept together. When Kalia leaves the other people she’s talking with, she looks at Micah and the direction he is looking at.

Kalia: Who are you looking at?

Micah: Who’s that guy surrounded by all those girls?

Kalia playfully slaps Micah and laughs.

Kalia: That’s Prescott Jones. He’s the sole heir to the multimillionaire company, “Joneson”.

Micah: *widens eyes* You’re serious?

Kalia nods her head and immediately goes to talk to another person. Micah stands in the middle of the ballroom, not really knowing what to do. He takes out his phone to kill some time and walks towards the balcony. He bumps into someone and immediately looks up.

Micah: Oh my god, I’m so sorry, ma’am-

He looks at the person he bumped into and immediately recognizes them.

Micah: Rosie?

Rosie: Micah?

Kalia: *from across the room* Micah?

Micah looks towards Kalia and back at Rosie, who isn’t standing there anymore. Micah just walks back towards Kalia.

Kalia: You’re okay, babe?

Micah: Yeah, yeah… I’m okay.

Kalia smiles and grabs Micah’s hand, pulling him towards a table. Once they reach that table, Micah looks at the table full of well-dressed adults. Micah immediately panics.

Kalia: Hi, daddy; hi Marcielle.

Micah looks at the man that is Micah’s dad, Joel, with slick-back blonde hair and clean-shaved face. Accompany him is a red-haired woman with a emerald green dress.

Kalia: Daddy, this is Micah, my boyfriend.

Micah puts his hand out; nervous.

Micah: It’s nice to meet you, sir.

Joel: Likewise, young man.

Marcielle: Micah is Milo’s son, Holder.

Both the guy’s eyes widen in shock.

Joel: Kamalani?

Micah: *nervous* Y-yes.

Joel: What a small world. We used to know your dad when we were younger.

Marcielle: Tell him we said hi.

Micah nods his head; he pulls out a seat for Kalia, and sits next to her.

Joel: So, what do you do for a living, Kamalani?

Micah: I, uhm, I’m in college, sir.

Kalia: Micah is a sophomore, daddy.

Joel: Ah, I see. What are you studying?

Micah: I’m studying music…

Joel blinks in response, not expecting for that answer to come out.

Joel: I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Marcielle: *stern* Holder.

Micah awkwardly picks up his glass and drinks.

Kalia: Micah is looking to do some producing when he graduates.

Micah: Uhm, yeah. Hopefully.

Joel: One can only hopes in this world. *to Micah* Your hair looks like you play music.

Kalia: Daddy…

Micah takes another sip of his drink and places the glass down.

Micah: Thank you! My family and I just have really good hair genes!

Joel and Marcielle look at each other, confused. Kalia laughs to break the silence.

Kalia: Of course! Heh, so, uhm, daddy – I have a couple of auditions this upcoming week!

Joel: That’s great sweetheart, I knew you would eventually get into acting, just like your dad!

After a few more drinks, Micah gains some confidence in the conversation.

Micah: Kalia was a banging drummer though in high-school! She would’ve been one of the hottest members of a rock band!

Micah laughs obnoxiously and Kalia tries to quiet him down.

Kalia: *whispers* Babe, you’re embarrassing me.

Micah: I’m just making small convo with your pops, Kal!

Kalia: I think you had enough to drink…

Micah takes his drink from Kalia, who is trying to help stop him drink anymore.

Kalia: *annoyed* Micah!

Micah: Whatever.

He gets up from his seat and excuses himself.

Micah: If you excuse me, I am going to smoke a cigarette, would you like to join me, Joel?

Joel: *annoyed* Please, call me Mr. Holder. And no, I don’t smoke.

Micah: You look like one of those actors that just smoke. Maybe it’s your hair.

Kalia: Micah!

Micah leaves the table and heads towards the balcony. He takes out a cigarette and lights it up. He takes in the brisk air. He looks toward the ballroom and squints to see the people inside. His eyebrows scrunch together when he sees Rosie sitting at the table with Prescott Jones. He’s surprised when he sees her sitting with someone as rich and high-profiled like Prescott.

Moments later, he is faced with his girlfriend, who is visibly upset.

Kalia: How the hell did you get yourself so drunk, you would embarrass me like that in front of my father?

Micah: What? I just had the sparkling apple cider crap you fancy folks drink up.

Kalia: That was champagne, you asshole! How could you act that way in front of my father? You made me look like a fool!

Micah: Well sorry that my presence and my actual personality doesn’t sit well with your rich and famous dad!

Mich puts the cigarette out and starts to walk inside the ballroom. Kalia grabs Micah’s arm to stop him.

Kalia: You are not entering that ballroom while we are upset with each other; the press will leak a story and I don’t want to have to deal with that publicity tomorrow.

Micah: Is that all you care about?! Seriously Kalia, why the fuck are you even dating me if you want to change every little thing about me?

Micah yanks his arm out of Kalia’s grip and walks inside. He walks towards the entrance to leave the gala; Rosie watches Micah leave the venue from her table.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The "Something" Series

Something’s in Retrograde: Their Monologues.

Nothing had changed about her. Her hair was still a fire red. Curly and messy. It was shorter, but still styled in the Grace Ashmore way. I reached down for her hand. I wasn’t sure if she would take it; I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t. I’m literally her ex that she probably thought she would never see ever again. Yet here we are.

I almost dropped her when she grabbed onto my hand to help her get up. I pulled her up as she got balanced on her feet. She’s wearing heels. She’s wearing heels. I gave her the remaining papers that I picked up from the floor. She looked at me, not saying anything. I waited for her to leave; it’s what she was probably going to do anyway. But she didn’t. She just stood there, speechless.

“Can we get another order of what Grace was having?” I said to the guy behind the counter. He nodded and began to make another drink for her. I took out my wallet and took the money out for the drink. She could’ve left at any given time since I helped her up from the ground. But she stayed.

“Do you want to sit?” I asked her. She still hasn’t said anything, and it’s nearly killing me. I haven’t heard her voice in almost a year and never thought I’d be even in the same room as her, let alone get the opportunity to sit with her at the cafe, where we met almost two years ago.

She still didn’t say anything, she just sat at the table, our table. The guy calls out Grace’s concoction of a drink, in which I walked up to the counter to pick it up.

“You’re Jamie?” the guy whispers to me. I looked at him perplexed.

“I am,” I answered. The guy nods his head and gets some tissues and a lid for the drink.

“Hopefully this is the last I see of Grace like this,” he said in a more serious tone than before. I take the drink and tissues and take it to Grace. Did she talk about me?

I sat at the table across from Grace and handed her the drink. She took it, still not saying a word, and began to sip on it. I looked at her while she drank. Am I really sitting across from her?

“How have you been?” I finally asked. She looked at me, in deep thought. I wanted nothing more to hear her voice. I also couldn’t help but ask, and a part of me wish I didn’t.

“How’s little bean?” I asked, smiling. Grace began to gather her things to walk out of the cafe. “Wait, Grace!” I called out for her, but she didn’t turn around. It felt inappropriate to go after her. She’s not yours anymore.

The guy behind the counter must’ve seen her walk out the door, because it wasn’t long after until he came walking to where I was sitting. Aigoo, am I getting kicked out? God knows what this man knows about me. I looked at him as he sat in the seat Grace was sitting at before.

“She’s been running out of here for as long as I’ve known her,” the guy said.

“Does she run often?” I stupidly asked. Of course she did. She always runs.

“Only when she’s running late to work, never after a hangover,” he stated. I leaned back on the seat, trying to put it all together. Was I just wasting my time?

“She would talk about you a lot when she comes in here drunk,” he randomly said out loud. I looked at him, waiting for him to continue his thought. He looked at me and takes in a deep breath, followed by a sigh. He gets up and takes the drink from the table.

“What would she say?” I asked out of the blue. Here I am, in this goddamn cafe, asking a complete stranger about the woman I couldn’t stop thinking about since going back to Korea last year. He turned around and just stares at me.

“Maybe you should ask her, sonny,” he answered. Before I began to plead for some answers, I vote against it; Grace is not yours anymore.

I get up from the table and walk past the guy and out of the cafe. The air hits my chest harder than usual. I need to talk to her. I had an idea, although it would be slightly invasive, I know I needed to do it. I couldn’t stay in New York without knowing about Grace.

I followed a woman to a door in a long hallway. Not much of this place has changed, just the people who occupy these offices. The woman knocks on a door that is labeled, Arissa Johnson, Esq.

“Ms. Johnson? You have a visitor,” the woman says as she opens the door. Once Ari sees me, her face instantly changes.

“Bitch, it’s too early to go for lunch yet,” Ari says, straightening out the papers on her desk. I remember when I would constantly do the same every morning, in hopes that they stayed together as the day go. Maybe it’s some lawyer shit that they all do. I look at the woman, whose eyes widen at the change in Ari’s voice. I guess Ari noticed and began to clear her throat.

“Thank you, Kim,” Ari said without any tone in her voice. The door closes behind me, and Ari doesn’t wait to start off the conversation.

“You’re never here this early unless Bernie calls and says you’re drunk,” Ari said, clearly surprised at my presence. I took in a deep breath, not knowing how the hell I was going to word this next part.

I sit down at the chair across from her desk. Ari doesn’t notice that I haven’t said much until she stops what she’s doing. She looks at me when she does.

“You good?” Ari finally asks me. I shift in my seat, trying to make myself comfortable before I say what I need to say. Ari grows more concerned the longer I take to answer.

“Grace?” Ari questions.

“I saw Jamie today at the cafe,” I finally blurted out.