LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Topic Tuesdays: Music

Let’s Talk About Some Problematic Things About Kpop.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

As many of you all know, I’m a huge kpop fan. I discovered kpop back in 2018 at a local laundromat where they were playing Twice’s “Knock Knock” on their television set and was instantly hooked to the catchy song. Soon afterward, I went down the rabbit hole that is kpop; different boy and girl groups, watching survival TV shows to debut new groups, and the most expensive part of it all: collecting.

I officially got into the kpop community during the pandemic in 2020. During this time, collecting wasn’t as intense as it has been for the last year. The community definitely was a lot smaller when I first joined it, and since then it has expanded to be this phenomenon that can be intimidating at first glance.

While kpop has become internationally known and wildly popular, many of us enter the community not really knowing that in any community, there are just things that are problematic as you dig deeper into the subject. I specifically want to talk about two things that have been on my mind as I’m writing this; to say the least, I think many kpop fans can agree that some of these things are problems that we just condone because there’s nothing else we could do, unfortunately.

The Curse of Pre-Order Benefits:

In the kpop world, a pre-order benefit (POB) is typically a photocard that you get when you order albums during its pre-order period. A pre-order period typically runs until the album release date, or on the date that is provided on certain sites. Before the pandemic, POBs weren’t a big deal; in fact, many people didn’t collect them! It was just a nice thing people got when they ordered their albums in their pre-order period. When I first got into collecting Victon, I didn’t even know what a pre-order benefit was! I bought my first POB on eBay when I realized it was a card I didn’t have, and when Victon announced their Mayday comeback during the summer of 2020, I bought my albums under the one website that was had a POB with the album. Since then, it’s nearly tripled. For their full-length album comeback, there were way too many to even sit here and count! If I had to guesstimate how many photocards were for that last comeback, I have to tell you that it’s pages. Tons of money went into getting these photocards, and even then I still don’t have all of them! The thing about collecting is that many collectors want to have completed collections of their favorite members. Again, another toxic mentality to have within the community; collectors think that the more you have in your collection, the better “stan” you are. Also, it feels better to have everything than to have missing slots in your collection, which again is crazy to think, but it’s a mentality that many of us have in collecting and somewhat tolerate in the community. The thing is when a group makes a comeback and pre-order details come out, sometimes it becomes more stressful than fun to collect, and a lot of people who were once in the community aren’t in the community anymore because of the stress collecting can be and has become.

The fact of the matter is, pre-order benefits became a big deal during the pandemic because entertainment agencies weren’t making their money through concerts and offline fansign events. Collecting became this huge thing during the pandemic, and companies hopped on that bandwagon and made it a battle of all battles to collect them all. So, in order for consumers to buy through specific sites, they include their own special pre-order benefit, which in all reality look the same like they are no different whatsoever. I hope that in the future, POBs doesn’t happen as often once the pandemic is mainly in control, but knowing that these sites and companies have already seen success in doing things like having lucky draws or POBs, I highly doubt they will just stop doing so. It’s just the new norm of collecting and as collectors, we just condemn it.

Line Distribution in Songs:

A little backstory on what inspired this part of the post: so back in August, a new survival show aired called Girls Planet 999, which if you’ve been a fan of the now-damned Produce series, you would know this was just another way for Mnet to make idol survival shows again without bringing back the Produce series. The network definitely had to be careful that there weren’t any scandals happening behind closed doors (i.e companies bribing their trainees to the debut lineup) so when the final lineup was announced back in October, it wasn’t that surprising that certain members were in the final lineup. For a show that had 33 Korean, Japanese, and Chinese trainees, only 2 Japanese members made it to the lineup, as well as 1 Chinese member. But, when 50% of the votes came from Korea, it was suspected that most of the final lineup would consist of Korean members, of which 6 of the 9 members are. Anyway, after the uproar in the community wondering how Huening Bahiyyih (TXT Huening Kai’s younger sister) got to be in the final lineup for Kep1er (which speaks for itself: she has a huge international fanbase), people anticipated their debut album release, which was finally released on January 3rd. While their title track is the most catchy song of 2022 thus far (and probably will be because, well, go listen to it), many people are upset about the line distribution of the title track and the rest of the album as well. Specifically speaking about their title track, one of the non-positioned yet members got a huge fraction of the lines while others literally had as little as 7 seconds of lines in the song.

Unfair line distributions have always been a problem within the community. If the member isn’t the center, main vocal, or main rapper, you most likely won’t hear much from other members. It’s common for the main roles of a group to have the most lines in songs, but for larger groups (I would say 9 members and more), line distributions can get a little tricky and borderline unfair. Line distributions (unfair ones) have been in the community for generations on end, but with kpop being a more internationally known genre (and Korean companies creating new groups and advertising them as a “global group”), fans all over the world demand for more even distributed lines in songs. It definitely pushes the agenda of companies when things like that happen: while some fans will argue that certain member’s voices just “fit” certain concepts more than others, but when there is a major distinction between a member and their lines and the other members, there’s typically a “favorite” that the company has. Again, this is an issue we as listeners can’t control; it’s a company-level thing and we as listeners don’t typically have a say. But, it influences our liking to certain members and even our dislike of the members with the heavy screentime and/or most lines in the songs. It definitely makes it a competition against the members in the community when in all reality, the members just want their fans to support them as a group because they all deem each member a major important part of the group.

But yeah, I just wanted to discuss some of these issues now that we entered a new year, and kpop already made January its “unofficial comeback season”. I wonder if there are kpop listeners and collectors who feel the same way!

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The Teenage Tell-Tale.

The Teenage Project Presentation: A Scene.

Classroom Management for an Effective Learning Environment - TeachHUB

A classroom of students sits at their desks, watching their fellow classmates present their exit projects in their English class. After one group finishes their presentation, the class applauds and the students take their seats. The teacher stands up from her desk to address the class.

Teacher: That was lovely, Brianna and Ava. Are there any volunteers wanting to present their project next?

No one raises their hand, they just look around the room at each other.

In one corner, Milo and Sophie sit next to each other but are not facing nor talking to each other. Sophie has her arms crossed on top of her desk, while Milo doodles in his notebook.

Teacher: Well if no one wants to volunteer; Laurie and Brooke, you’re up.

The two girls get up from their seats. Laurie rolls her eyes as she walks towards the front of the classroom. Sophie watches her and Milo notices.

Milo: *to Sophie* Don’t stare for too long, she’s gonna think you’re jealous of her and Simon getting back together.

Sophie: You know, you’ve been a real jerk these days. How about you don’t talk to me and I don’t talk to you.

Milo: Whatever, Sophie.

Sophie completely turns her body to face Milo; she’s now annoyed and fed up.

Sophie: I don’t remember ever doing anything to make you this mad, mate. The last time I checked, I had nothing to do with the whole fight between you and Simon, so you should just drop whatever is making you so mad at me.

Milo: And I don’t remember ever doing anything to you to make me out to be the bad guy, yet here we are; Milo Kamalani: certified bad guy in friendship!

Sophie: Well, a good friend would talk and understand that things aren’t what they always seem.

Milo: You kissing the boy that literally left you for your best friend makes it loud and clear that you don’t care about how others treat you.

Sophie: Again, how is that your concern?! You weren’t there when it happened, and it’s not like we were anything but friends; so tell me, what is the true reason you’re mad at me?

Milo: I told you a million times; I am sick and tired of you letting people walk all over you! Like you don’t have friends that actually give a fuck about you!

Sophie: If you did, you wouldn’t have ultimately thought that I wanted to kiss Simon in the first place. You would’ve came to me before believing anyone else had to say, especially Laurie.

Milo: Whatever, Sophie; do whatever you want.

Sophie: I just don’t understand you sometimes…

Milo: Yeah, me neither.

Laurie sees the two bickering at the back of the room and ultimately stops during her presentation.

Laurie: Miss! Can you tell those two lovebirds in the back to stop talking over us?

The class giggles and the teacher quiet down the class.

Teacher: Milo, Sophie; can you please stop being disruptive during the presentations.

Milo: *to Laurie* You’re always talking over someone else, so what makes you so special?

Sophie: Milo.

Teacher: That’s enough! Laurie and Brooke, thank you for your presentation, but it’s clear that Milo and Sophie are eager to be the next presenters of their project.

The two teen’s eyes widen, they look at each other and back towards the teacher. The teacher folds her arms and looks at the two teens.

Teacher: We don’t have all day, you two. Come up and present.

The two slowly get up from their seats and walk to the front. Mollie watches Milo walk towards the front, as well as the rest of the class. Milo and Sophie turn around to face the class once they get to the front of the classroom.

Milo: *awkwardly* Uhm, hi. I’m Milo Kamalani…

Sophie: Sophie Lee…

Milo: And this is our Teenage Tell-Tale Project.

An awkward silence fills the room for a moment. Milo clears his throat and begins to present his part of the project.

Milo: I lived in the neighborhood all of my life, and even though I am still young, I’ve been to places around that meant a lot to me, and went to new places that meant a lot to Sophie.

Milo looks at Sophie, who then starts to talk.

Sophie: My story is the complete opposite of Milo’s. I’ve lived in the neighborhood just a little over a year now after living in the UK for most of my life. Being half British and half Korean, I never really felt like I belonged in any specific place; I didn’t fully look Korean to other Koreans in Korea, but I also didn’t look fully British to other British people. So to come to America, where everyone looks different and is proud of their culture and heritage, I found myself feeling like I belonged in New York.

Milo’s face softens as Sophie talks.

Sophie: Within the year I was here, I discovered places I never thought I’d find comfort in these days, and I was quite shocked to hear that Milo didn’t know some of the places I picked for our project.

Sophie looks at Milo, smiling. Milo begins to speak.

Milo: One place, in particular, was the park on the other side of the bridge. I live near the water and never really explored the other areas of the neighborhood, but Sophie showed me this park that had a stage in it, and she called it one of her favorite places to go and practice her violin.

Sophie: Coming to America, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue playing my violin because the kids at my old school would tease the other kids who had instruments to carry and band practice. So, someone told me to not be so afraid of the people around me and just do what I like doing. So, I played violin on the stage and a couple of people stopped and stayed to listen; they even clapped for me! I guess visiting the stage again for this project is what made me decide to not listen to other people, and go do what I wanted to do. That’s why I auditioned for Waverly High.

Milo: I really liked her place because I am also a musician, and her for to pick the stage as her comfort spot, I could really relate to it.

Sophie smiles and takes a deep breath in.

Sophie: Milo showed me a place not all people will be able to visit in their spare time, but it was a place that I found to be possibly the best place in the neighborhood because of how personal it was to Milo.

She looks at Milo, hesitant to continue. Milo nods his head. Sophie turns her head forward to proceed with the presentation.

Sophie: Milo’s comfort spot is the treehouse in front of his grandparent’s front yard.

Mollie cocks her eyebrow up, slightly confused.

Sophie: The treehouse is full of music sheets, notebooks, and blankets that cover the ground the floor. While a treehouse is just a treehouse, Milo’s had a backstory to it that gave me a clear understanding of family, and how important it was to remember where you came from.

Milo: The treehouse was built by my grandparents, but it was originally used for my mother, who passed away when she was around my age. My dad wanted my grandparents to keep the treehouse and give it to me when I got older. It was like a little piece of my mom that I could remember her by since I was too young to remember anything about her. So like Sophie, my comfort spot is used to practice my music.

Before Sophie can say anything else, Milo continues to speak.

Milo: This project made me realize that no matter how different people maybe, people can ultimately share so much in common; music especially. Sophie was just a person that lived in other countries for most of her life, and I lived in Brooklyn for most of my life, and we may have other things that we like, we can ultimately connect through our love for music.

Milo looks at Sophie, who decides to finish the project.

Sophie: I’ve learned that no matter how far the people you love maybe, like my family back in the UK and Korea, you can always carry them around with you on your new adventures, in hopes that one day, you get the chance to show them some of your favorite places as well.

Milo: Thank you.

Both Sophie and Milo bow in front of the class, and the class applauds for the two of them. They look at each other and smile.

In the back of the room, Simon watches, not pleased or amused at the presentation.

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

Overexposed: The Halfway Mark.

New year, new me! Well, not really. More like a “new year, new ways to better me!”

I remember looking at all the paperwork in my doctor’s office planning out the next couple of months after surgery. They counted them as days. They told me what I should be doing and eating at certain points of the healing journey. They tell you what you should be doing at different points of the journey to help keep the weight off and adapt to now healthier lifestyles. It’s crazy to even think back to those times, not realizing that one day, I’d be where I’m currently at.

Hi, my name is Liz and I will be making 6 months in a week and a half!

Six months. Where did the time go? It really does seem like it was just the summertime, and I was being pushed out in a wheelchair to the entrance of the hospital where my sibling picked me up. It feels like it was just my first day back at work after surgery and my coworkers asked me a million and one questions about the process; of course, out of concern and curiosity. It was just the first time I visibly saw changes in my body through the clothing I was wearing! Now here we are, celebrating a milestone that seemed like would never come.

In the time I am writing this, it is very much still 2021, and the total amount of weight I’ve lost since surgery is 69 pounds! To think that my ultimate goal is just 30 more pounds; it’s a little scary, to say the least. Things fit differently, my body is looking different, and I feel different. But like I documented here on the blog, getting here wasn’t an easy transition.

Six months really is just the beginning of this lifelong journey. It’s still very much a learning process and I’m not the “perfect example” of what someone on a post-surgery journey is like. Nevertheless, these last couple of months have taught me so much about my body, my mentality, and the strength it took to even make it to this point.

This journey is possibly one of the most important stories I am currently telling. I say that because this was something I really didn’t think would ever happen in my life. I’ve told myself that this was something I should consider doing and was always afraid to take that step forward and go for it. The drive to want to change my life and just experience it in a way where my weight wasn’t going to hold me back.

Like I mentioned in the previous Overexposed posts, I write about this journey because there’s not a lot of people telling the truth of the process. They don’t tell you the day-by-day process of WLS and the hardships one truly goes through during the process. I honestly didn’t realize people were reading until my coworker told me that they read the series and felt unworthy of reading it because it was like “reading in on someone’s diary”. The truth of the matter is, it is. This is how I document my process for myself. I write for the blog, to come back in a year to see where my mind was during the beginning of this process. I want to be able to look back and see just how far I’ve come in this journey, and other readers who stumble upon this blog while doing so are more than welcome to read along and learn this very important thing about me and my life.

I’m not one to have new year’s resolutions, but this year I want to set some things to do things differently with this process. For starters, I want to start working out more at home. We have a treadmill in our apartment and it doesn’t hurt to go on it for half an hour to burn some calories. I also want to go on more walks when the weather gets warmer to do more exercise! I also want to stay away from sugar as much as possible to not gain a tolerance for it (I have to admit, my sweet tooth has been making its return and I don’t want it to). I definitely want to eat better and make better food choices to help the process continue smoothly. Most importantly, I want to just go through this next half of the first year not too anxious about the process and stressed about the number on the scale. The journey is unique to everyone, and this just so happens to be mine.

Here’s to 6 months, and cheers to the next 6 months!

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Throwback Thursdays

Where was I in 2012?

Ten years ago, I was 18-years-old and a senior in high school. It was the year 2012, also deemed as one of my worst years to date.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

Every year, I always reflect back on who I was and where I was a decade ago. Ten years ago, it was 2012, which in case you haven’t been here since the beginning, you would know that 2012 was an interesting year for me. Although it has been ten years, I finally feel like I am now in a place where it doesn’t affect me in the way it does, so writing this doesn’t leave me in any weird state of mind or in a bad place. But anyway! Let’s talk about the Liz that was in 2012!

I was a teenager that lived in beanies and scarves throughout my senior year. I also wasn’t a major makeup wearer, but this was the year that I got into liquid eyeliner! I mean, it wasn’t really great at it, but it did the job for a teenager that really didn’t care about appearance that much. I very much still wore a lot of older-looking clothes, meaning I wore outfits that would date me much older than an eighteen-year-old. My hair was constantly straightened, or at least a part of it was straightened, like my damn bangs. I was also the girl with two nose piercings; to come and think of it, I don’t know how the hell I rocked two nostril piercings and it didn’t bother me. Like, if I had them to this day, I would’ve been surprised, but I actually don’t! I upgraded to a septum ring! ;D

I was a vocal major in high school and was a member of the Performing Choir since my sophomore year. This particular school year, we were able to go to a lot of interesting places! For example, a part of our choir was invited to go to the 125th Birthday Celebration of the Statue of Liberty and performed for the major and some celebrities! We were also featured on “Good Morning America” earlier that morning! It was surreal; I had to meet up with my vocal teacher and my other choir members at like 4:30 in the morning to make it to Ellis Island by 7:30ish. It was definitely a fun and cool experience to be on National television. We also performed “Carmina Burana” with other high-school choirs at Carnegie Hall! It was my second time performing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, but this time was definitely so much fun and I got to meet so many new people who participated in the show! My family got to see me perform, and the rehearsals were so much much to attend! Plus, hearing a live orchestra perform with us was ethereal. For me, my time in Performing Choir was what kept me together during my senior year of high school. It was my escape when life was getting complicated for me and things were getting dark for me; dangerously dark.

Senior year of high school was the year that tested my mental abilities, in all honesty. Prior to this year, life wasn’t as chaotic or hard, to say the least, but senior year taught me a lot about life and make me realize that I wasn’t this innocent, perfect girl I wanted to be. I made mistakes, I made selfish decisions, I did things that weren’t in my character that everyone portrayed me as. To be quite honest, I wanted attention. I felt under-appreciated and invisible, and all I wanted was for people to see me and like me more than just another person in the school.

I got myself involved in a situation that at the time I didn’t want to see as bad and stupid. I started to experiment with girls to the point of falling in love with one that was already taken. Again, it was the attention I liked. It was feeling something that I didn’t feel before, and it was the thrill. I felt like I was living two lives. It was starting to interfere with the relationships I had in my life, and instead of getting myself out of it, I was falling deeper into the rabbit hole of self-destruction. It may be dramatic to say, but it really felt like every decision I made to try to get out of it, it was just another thing that made things worse. If you want to read more about this time, I wrote a lot about it in this post, as well as this post.

One of the ways I gained attention from others was that I went completely blonde for the first time ever. I wanted to not be me anymore; I wanted to be someone else in the midst of everything that was happening in my life. To some degree, it actually wokred. I was getting the attention from people that I wanted; people began to think of me as attractive. It was the attention I thought I wanted when in reality, it began to really tarnish the image I wanted to keep. Instead, I was just this homewrecking, easy chick that allowed anyone to walk all over her. If it was in school or in my after-school activities, I really couldn’t escape the sadness and depression I was going through.

2012 was the year that started my poor mental health. I was in this state of mind that I was severely depressed, I was making impulsive decisions, and I eventually became suicidal. I would walk in the streets, sometimes just standing in the middle of the street wondering how would it feel if I allowed a car hit me. Sometimes, I would cry on my bathroom floor at night, cutting my arms, wanting to gain back control of my own life. It got to the point where I had to go spend the day at the guidance counselor’s office because I was depressed and my arms were cut up. It was definitely the lowest point of my life.

I graduated high school that year and thought life was going to be okay once I got out of school. I still dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression, which seeped into my first semster as a college student. I was failing half of my classes miserably, and I wanted to do nothing but drop out of college. I really didn’t think I was going to live past 18; that’s how bad things got. The year ended and then 2013 came, which also was a tough year to go through, but we’ll wait until 2023 to talk about that!

In a nutshell, 2012 left a lot of emotional scars and trauma that I had to talk about years later in order to conquer most of it. A lot of my social anxiety stems from the events that happened during those years, and it took tons of therapy sessions to work out some of the darkest thoughts I had during that time. It’s crazy all of that happened 10 years ago. It’s crazy that I graduated high school ten years ago and started college ten years ago. Like, where did all the time go? Maybe it went from all the healing, the challenges, and growing up I had done within the last decade.

Here’s to 2022, the better year ending in 2!

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

Overexposed: 27.

Twenty-Seven.

I thought I wasn’t going to make it past 18 at one point. I thought that one night at 18, I would take my own life for not wanting to be here, to not seeing a future in this body, and for never wondering what life would be like in years to come. I thought that I wouldn’t be here long enough to experience all of the amazing things I’ve experienced in my 20’s.

Hi, my name is Liz, and I am a newly 27-year-old woman. Happy Birthday to me.

At 20, I remember being a sophomore in college being completely obsessed with the show The Killing and having an immense interest in dramatic television writing. I had long ombre hair, I was with my ex, and I was finally feeling confident enough with myself to the point where I was embracing myself in different aspects; sexuality, emotionally, physically, mentally. I was in a really good place at 20.

At 21, things started to get bad again. I was now dealing with issues in my life that I didn’t know how to solve; i.e new arising family issues that came out of the blue. Personally, I felt like I was still in a good place; I was getting good grades, my passions were still aligned up for me, and my relationship was doing okay. But things behind close doors was tough, and I lost a lot of myself along the way due to the fact that I wasted a lot of my own energy trying to change and control the situation.

At 22, I started to make changes for myself for the better. I was graduating college and I wanted to make the most out of that year. I would write in a journal to document everyday of that year, I made friends in one of my classes, spent the summer hanging out with my newfound friends, and I started grad school. It was am amazing year and I felt my best at 22, despite having moments when I felt like I had no sense of direction or idea where I was going.

At 23, I felt the pressure of life get to me. I started to allow my grad school studies get the best of me and lost the ability to take care of myself properly. I wasn’t taking the time out of my school schedule to unwind and take a break from being “Liz: the student”. No one in my family understood how isolating it was to be in grad school surrounded by nothing but my studies.

24, things were weird. I graduated grad-school but I was also at a place in my life when I didn’t feel like I was completely living my own life. I first started to attend therapy and got diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder & the journey to recovery was difficult that year. Anxiety attacks, breakups, really hard discussions to have with my therapist and psychiatrist. The list goes on and on.

At 25, I found myself needed to change. I knew within my soul that I needed to change the old habits in my life and the things that I felt like weren’t serving me anymore. I new chapters of my life were closing, and whether or not I was ready to do so, I had to do it. My relationship ended, I started a new job, and I started to do some rediscovering of myself and figure out how to take care of me before I involved anyone else in my life.

At 26, I continued to see what life was like for me; for Liz. She went to her first kpop concert, she went on her first solo plane ride to Florida, she made some cool new friends at her workplace and online in the kpop community, and she’s just doing the best that she can regardless of what’s going on around her.

Decorative clipart header, Decorative header Transparent FREE for download  on WebStockReview 2021

At 27, I am hoping to keep on finding myself and getting to know myself in different situations. I am hoping that I will stop letting my fears get the best of me and allow myself to do new and exciting things. I am hoping to keep working on the things that I haven’t embraced or accepted. I am hoping that I am able still make progress, even if it’s not linear. I am hoping that 27 treats me well, and keeps me on this path of just doing what’s best for me and the life that I am living.

Hello, 27. Welcome to the life of Liz.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

26 Things That Happened/I Learned While Being 26.

Things That Happened:

  1. I discovered “The Chemistry” by Victon on my way to work on my 26th birthday.
  2. I went to my first kpop concert to see ITZY back in January.
  3. I went out to a happy hour with my coworkers one day after work.
  4. I went to visit Tori in Florida as my first official plane trip.
  5. Lots of Quarantine thinking…
  6. I started to collect Kpop albums and photocards during the summer.
  7. I opened up a kpop trading/selling account & collection account on Instagram.
  8. I met my best friend through the kpop community over the summer.
  9. I wrote, revised, and submitted my journal article this year.
  10. I decided to try dating out and downloaded an online dating app.
  11. I went on my first date with a man for the first time.
  12. I celebrated a Friendsmas through video chat as we opened gifts.
  13. I am ending the year almost completed the Bariatrics Program.

Things I’ve Learned:

  1. Despite it being the first birthday I spent by myself, sometimes music discoveries will literally change your life.
  2. Even if you’re by yourself doing things, do things because you absolutely can.
  3. Hanging outside with your coworkers outside of work is literally normal despite people telling me otherwise.
  4. Never be afraid to try new things no matter scary they are; you never know how much you’ll enjoy yourself.
  5. Even when society stops, the world keeps on going.
  6. If something makes you happy, do it without any shame…
  7. … because you might just find a community that you belong in!
  8. I am able to have and hold meaningful friendships in my life.
  9. Productivity is sometimes the best way to stay focused and out of your own mind.
  10. There’s nothing to lose, so why not try it to say that you tried it?
  11. New things and experiences are scary, but they make good practice and good stories to tell.
  12. Even for the most socially anxious person, being around friends during a holiday season is the happiest feeling in the world.
  13. I am capable of changing my life.
Creative Pieces, LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, The "Something" Series

Some Things Never Change: A Monologue.

Lighting controls in hotels: things could be so much better... - Lux Review

My phone screen lit up and his name came up. Jamie. I sent it straight to voicemail.

Pulling the comforter off of my body, I dragged myself out of bed. The sky is gray and white; to the point where it’ll probably start snowing. It’s snowed a lot since he left. I hear nothing but the cars and the other loud, obnoxious shit that makes the city sometimes unbearable to be in. The thing about living in the city is that it never allows you to have time to just sit in your thoughts. Someone’s loud car alarm is always going off, some bus is always trying to make its way through a double-parked car, and there’s just always someone just yelling or talking way too fucking loud on the other side of these walls. Maybe it’s for the better that I just can’t sit in my thoughts for too long… the last time I did that, I woke up in Ari’s apartment with the craziest fucking hangover.

The last time I did something as stupid as that was just months after Willow was born. The stress of being a new mother and having my entire life put on hold after having Willow made me panicky, so I decided to disguise me wanting to go out and celebrate “my first drink post pregnancy” and just get fucking wasted. Ari was not impressed. I never heard the end of it from her, let alone Max when I got home that night…

The vibration from my phone in my hand jolted me out of my thoughts. I looked at the screen:

Ari: We got another case coming in later today, make sure to make it to the appointment this time, okay? See you soon!

I don’t respond; I haven’t answered to anyone’s messages for the past couple of weeks. I read them to let people know I’m up and breathing, but I just don’t have the energy to cough up a response like “oh-em-gee, life’s so fucking amazing! Let’s catch up with coffee soon!”

I finally get myself out of my bed and walk over to my closet. Another day, another dollar, a new fucking case. My father warned me about this when I told him I wanted to go to law school after my time in college. He swore I was going to stick to dancing, like my mother did, to pursue a career in dancing; just like my mother did. I guess a part of me–although I’ve grown to love her and appreciate her now–didn’t want to become like her. I didn’t want to grow up and leave my life behind for my career. Sure, dancing for the biggest names in the world sounds great on paper, but mom lost so much of her life trying to chase that high. I’ve seen her try to awkwardly get to know me when I first met her when I was 17. I felt sorry for her; that woman thought I hated her for leaving when really, at that age I understood why she did. Dancing was my whole life, and it was hers.

But I didn’t want to become like her. Says the person who left her family to pursue her career in law.

Like I said, my dad warned me about going into this field. One case ends, and another one opens; it’s a vicious never-ending cycle of losing your dignity for a reputation in this field despite what your personal beliefs are.

Maybe I’m good at my job because I’m always lying to myself. Maybe I’m my best client; just constantly have to tell myself a fabricated story and I have to believe it and defend it.

I grabbed a blouse from a hanger and a pair of pants to put on. I look at myself in the mirror, wondering who the fuck I really am. My hair is knotted and dry, it looks like I haven’t slept in a week, and… is that yesterday’s makeup still under my eyes? Fuck it, now it’s today’s makeup.

I grabbed my purse from my kitchen table and head on over to the coat closet. Before reaching for my coat, I stopped and stared into the closet. I slowly pulled out the article of clothing that I’ve come across. Jamie’s hoodie.

I remember the first time I saw Jamie in very casual clothing. It was a different look for him; he’s usually all about business casual and, well, it was refreshing to finally see him in a pair of jeans, sneakers, and a hoodie. A navy blue hoodie. The hoodie he gave to me when my little dress was way too cold to wear in the transitioning nights from summer to fall. He had to have seen it hanged up for him? The amount of times he came over here.

That’s the thing. His hanger was still next to the navy blue hoodie. He was still probably the last person that touched that hanger. Am I really thinking about this man and the hanger he used to put his fucking jacket on? Yes, and I want to cry just thinking about it.

I unzipped the hoodie from the hanger and held it in my arms. The hoodie still smelled like him; fresh and earthy. Sandalwood. I hold it up to my face and inhale his smell on the hoodie. I close my eyes, imagining that he’s right here, hugging me, looking down on me with his intoxicating smile and eyes. His eyes… fuck, those eyes.

I cock my head back towards the ceiling, trying my best to stop the tears from falling from my eyes. I don’t get why my body is reacting this way. I’ve been through this same-old-cycle for years. Kelvin Hanes back in Virginia. Scott Campbell in high school. Spence Wilson in college. Max Harper from the law firm.

Jamie-motherfuckin’-Kim. From the cafe.

Jamie was just different. He felt more than just space in my life. He felt like a necessity, like your wallet or house keys; something that you always needed with you. Everyone else before him were special in their own ways. My first boyfriend, Kelvin Hanes, was just some dumb puppy love in middle school. He kissed me in front of his friends at lunch to prove that we were dating. I didn’t even know we were dating, but I guess we were. It’s funny, that relationship surprisingly lasted longer than I ever thought it was going to be. When I moved to New York with my dad briefly a few years after, we just… broke up. No hard feelings, no tears for him. I guess I just liked him. Maybe I never loved him.

Scott Campbell, in a nutshell, was probably my first real serious boyfriend. I met him when I was in NYC for the first time. I met him in the school I was going to and I don’t know, he was just incredibly sweet. Despite me and my heavy passion for dance, he was always around. He was my first time, my first real date, my first long-distance relationship once I moved back to Virginia shortly after. He was patient with me until he couldn’t be anymore. Sure, that breakup at first hurt like a bitch, but we stayed friends. He’s still the one friend I run to when everyone else in their lives have shut me out. I have a tendency of just tiring people out to the point where they want nothing to do with me.

Spence Wilson, the nerd from law school. He was incredibly smart yet so fucking handsome. He knew so much about everything and anything that sometimes I still wonder how the hell did we work out as a couple through our law school years. Spence should’ve been the indicator on why I shouldn’t date someone within my own field. Too much clashing, and too much work being involved in our relationship.

But then Max Harper came along. I swore he was the one. He once felt different. He made me feel like my voice in the case mattered, he was funny, and if anyone was ever patient with me, it was Max. Max and I had a lot in common; we both come from families that were unconventional; his father killed himself after going bankrupt and his mother lives in a residency to manage her mental illness back in England. I can understand why he wanted to leave the firm after our intern case. He had it hard and I think he just needed some peace in his life. He thought I was his peace. Settling down, having Willow and starting a family; eventually getting married… I sometimes wish I was able to fulfill his expectations of me. All he needed was someone to keep him happy, be a wife and a mother to his child. Even after being madly in love with Max, I still couldn’t be what he wanted. Instead, I just left. I will never regret having Willow; she’s my light, my purpose that I keep going, and my smile on my darkest of days. I only regret not being a good enough mom to her.

But Jamie Kim tells me otherwise. Being the youngest of two older sisters with their own children, he tells me that I’m such a great mom to Willow. He would sometimes smile and randomly take pictures on his phone of me and Willow together. Jamie, the man who held Willow on the nights when I would accidentally double-book our case meetings with the weekends I had with Willow; the thought still warms my heart. Willow, or “little bean” as he used to call her, was comfortable with Jamie to the point where it felt so natural for them to be together. Moments like that are when I felt most like a family. Jamie taking Willow in as much as he took me in was… something I never thought a man would do. Jamie, the man that was in the States working on his own case within his own company, was here one moment and gone another. It sometimes feels like he wasn’t even here to begin with, but I know that’s not true. The pain in my chest, the knot in my throat, and the tears in my eyes tell me otherwise.

Despite being me, the most fucked up and destructible person on this planet, he was here. He smiled at me. He kissed me, held me, made love with me… he fucking saw me better than anyone else in this goddamn life ever did.

Yet life is what took him away… some things never change.

My thought is at a hold once I look at my phone.

Incoming call: Jamie.

I send it straight to voicemail. I hang his hoodie back on the hanger once more, take my coat from my own hanger, and leave home for the day. It’s not even home anymore.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!

What Was Liz Up To 10 Years Ago in 2011?

It’s 2011. Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep” is the top song on the charts right now. LMFAO was on everyone’s radar. Blackberry phones were more popular than iPhones. Every teenager lived on Tumblr and liking pages on Facebook about the relatable things we felt were the norm (as well as poking your friends).

I was a 17-year-old girl in high-school; a junior to be exact. I was studying vocal for my third year, I was looking at colleges to attend to study writing in, and for the most part, I lived a pretty normal and standard life as a 17-year-old girl. Of course, things happened and not everything was always alright, but for the most part I was still living my life as a normal teenager, getting by, learning new things about life, being young.

I was your basic teenage girl. I wore t-shirts and skinny jeans with my Converse, I wore cardigans religiously since uniforms were required in my high-school, and to top it all off I wore a nice decorative scarf to add some personality to those boring uniforms. I experimented with different hair colors and hairstyles, white eye-shadow and eyeliner were my stables in makeup routine, and I used to wear one too many bracelets on my wrist. I wasn’t your typical teenager that was preppy and girly; a lot of the times I felt very boyish to the girls around me or the girls that I thought were prettier than me. Nevertheless, I was in my awkward teenage years as a 17-year-old, which most of us are at that age.

In 2011, I was very busy with my high-school choir. Coming off the success the 2010 choir had, 2011 just deemed us to be even busier than the year before, and busy is what we were. We performed in a numerous amount of events and venues, one of them being at the Statue of Liberty with a bunch of celebrities as well as Carnegie Hall! We did competitions that we both won and lost, and we just enjoyed the trips and the memories made during that time in our lives.

I wasn’t a popular kid, but I was friends with some of the more well-known students at my school. Being known as the best friend of a guy that graduated in 2010, everyone knew who I was, which was something I wasn’t used to. I then became friends with another well known group of people within my grade, and it was just… something I still don’t know how I was able to do. But besides the point although I wasn’t considered popular (someone once thought I was a sophomore when I was in their grade and have known them since freshman year because we had classes together).

But I did get myself in a lot of trouble when I was younger. I was rebellious. I broke the rules and didn’t listen to people and I made some pretty dumb decisions that I thought were smart at the time. I did unintentionally (and intentionally) hurt people out of my own emotions and selfishness, I didn’t know what were my priorities in my life regarding friends and the good people in my life; I was just a teenager that didn’t know any better, which again, most teenagers don’t.

So 10 years later, I look back trying not to have so much regret on the decisions I made. They were decisions that I thought were the right ones in that moment, and I made them. There’s nothing that I, 2021 Liz, can do about it besides let it live in the past and remember that things happened because they were suppose to happen. They taught me lessons. They taught me things that I was meant to learn about life sooner or later. They showed me what bad things can disguise themselves to look like and how good things can go unnoticed and unappreciated until it’s too late. So, I have to thank 2011 Liz for putting her in situations where she need to make tough decisions and just decisions in general that influenced her overall being. It’s those decisions that helps this version, this 26-almost-27-year-old version of myself, understand my worth, challenge the things that scare me or worry me, and know myself better.

What was Liz doing 10 years ago in 2011? Just being a teenage girl getting by.

LFL's Anniversary Blogging Celebration!, Topic Tuesdays: Love/Relationships

“Hi, I’m Liz!” : Dating with Social Anxiety.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

So with 2020 finally out of the way and with 2021 here to give us more opportunities to better ourselves, I realize that in leaving 2020, I wanted to keep something up that I actually started last year!

… I started dating!

Late last year, I started to feel like I wanted to meet new people and challenge the fear I had about potentially getting into territory that requires… liking people in a romantic matter. Nevertheless, I felt like I needed to make that leap of faith and just downloaded an online dating app. And the rest is history.

I won’t lie; actually sitting down to create the online dating profile in the first place was the most anxiety-producing thing. I just felt like I wasn’t going to have people interested in me and that I was just going to be sitting on the app with no success. My best friend gave me the courage to just face that fear and go for it, because honestly what could I possibly lose? So one day on my way home from work, I sat on the bus, downloaded the app, and made the profile.

I got some matches here and there and spoke to a couple of people, but nothing really came of it. There was this one guy I matched with that actually wanted to meet and hang out, and while I was excited and nervous to have my first official date as a single person, at the end of the night it wasn’t a match and we went our separate ways. Since then, it’s been more of a miss than a hit, but I’m not stressed out about it.

The more I got around to the app and starting to experiment around it, I got less anxious and nervous engaging in conversations with people that I matched with. Sure, you don’t know these people, but the sole purpose of being on this app is to meet people!

I’m specifically on an app but allows me to write whoever I matched first, which in all reality has been helping me get over my fear of speaking to new people.

But, I can’t say dating has been the cure to my social anxiety; as a matter of fact, dating has been challenging my anxiety in ways that I haven’t seen in a really long time.

For starters, having those social cues that I haven’t been able to have in public due t the pandemic was interesting. My first date was awkward at first just because I didn’t pick up on the social cues in the beginning; i would stop talking randomly or just seem very tense and distracted and just in my head for the entire date. The same thing with writing the messages first: it causes me so much anxiety to think of something to say to these matches and to be able to keep up with them is just one of the hardest things to do, especially if they just aren’t willing to keep up the conversation with you in the first place.

Nevertheless, I am learning that this dating scene doesn’t measure my level of attractiveness and my ability to be liked on these apps. It doesn’t measure if I’m a good catch or not, it doesn’t determine whether or not something is wrong with me if no one is swiping with me; it literally means nothing at all but the fact that someone saw your profile and decided to either swipe left or right on you; nothing else.

Sometimes, I have to tell myself that.

As we speak, I have been somewhat taking a break from swiping and actively being on the app just because my mental health hasn’t been the greatest lately and before I can take care of someone else, I have to take care of myself. Although sometimes I allow my anxiety to believe these stereotypical things like “guys aren’t swiping on you because you’re a fat girl” or “you’re too boring and old, no one wants you”, I try my best to remember that I don’t have to take this seriously, and whatever comes from it, comes from it.

Personally, dating for me has helped me improved some areas of my social anxiety, but it also enhances some areas of it as well; that’s just what comes with the whole anxiety thing. Again, it’s about not allowing it to stick with you and make you believe that you are incapable of trying new things, finding and experiencing love, and just being a damn woman in her mid-20’s.

My anxiety can tell me whatever it wants about dating and the new people that come in my life… either way, I’m allowing these experiences to teach me instead of holding me back.

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

Something Reckless Tonight: A Scene.

Cool bar setting. Feels like you walked back in time 100 years. - Picture  of Carmelitas, Calumet - Tripadvisor

A phone is placed face down on a desk. An audible sigh from a woman echos in a room. Grace pulls her hair back away from her face. She hears her coworkers in the hallway celebrating the won case. It was a major win for the firm, and Grace has proved to them that she’s good at her job. The win is bittersweet for her; she’s happy she has another win under her belt, but she wishes she was celebrating this win with the one person that matters and helped her get through it.

She remembers her first win on a case, she was still partnered with Max. She remembers jumping into his arms due to the excitement of the case ending and them winning it. She was happy celebrating that win with the man she loved. She only wishes now she could do the same again, but not with Max.

Jamie.

Grace starts to sort out the files on her desk and puts them in their proper spots. A knock is heard on the Grace’s door. Without looking up, she calls out to come in. The door opens and Ari walks in the office.

Ari: Look at the baddest bitch in the firm just sitting in her office, being humble as fuck, not celebrating with everyone else.

Grace rolls her eyes.

Grace: Case closed, that’s it.

Ari: *annoyed* Grace.

Grace looks up and at Ari. Ari has her arms crossed and one of her eyebrows cocked up.

Ari: I’m not saying you can’t be a sad girl, but damn sis… you just won your first official case as a lawyer! That’s fucking huge! Are you not happy about that?

Grace: *annoyed* Sorry that I have other things on my mind besides a useless win on a case.

Ari: Grace Ashmore? Not caring about a win on a case? Who are you?

Grace gets up from her desk with the box of files and puts them on the table next to the exit. She walks back to her desk to straighten up some more. Ari watches her carefully.

Ari: Did you talk to Jamie today?

Grace doesn’t say anything. She just mindlessly continues to clean her desk. Ari gets annoyed and turns Grace around by the chair.

Ari: You’re not shutting me out again, Grace. You did it the first time, but you’re not going to do it this time. Talk to me.

Grace looks at Ari in a sullen matter. She deep sighs.

Grace: I told him about the case, but I doubt he read it; it’s like 3 in the morning over there.

Ari: Did you talk to him about anything else since he left?

Grace: No, because why should I? He’s in another fucking country, living his normal life, doing his normal thing with no thought in mind. Why should I bother holding onto something that clearly isn’t here?

Ari: Because you love that man, Grace.

Grace stops what she’s doing and looks at Ari. She’s angry.

Grace: I am not in love with him, Ari. You don’t know a goddamn thing about how I’m feeling, so don’t assume you know.

Ari: *annoyed* I may not, but I know my best friend, and I know when how you felt about him. If he didn’t matter as you claim, you’d be coming out with us to celebrate after work tonight.

Grace: Just tell me the time and place and I’ll be there. *sarcastically* Let’s go out and celebrate a damn win!

Grace grabs her purse and coat from the back of her chair. Ari watches her; she’s concerned. Before Grace walks out from the office, she turns around to look at Ari.

Grace: Meet me at my place at 8pm.

Grace walks out.

Later that night…

The bar is lively on this night, and a crowd of people from the firm walks into it. Ari and Grace follow behind. Grace is wearing a short skirt with an off the shoulder sweater and booties. Grace confidently walks to the bartender and requests a drink. Ari is nervous for Grace; she feels like Grace is going to make decisions she is going to regret in the morning. Ari’s boyfriend puts an arm around her and tells her that Grace will be okay and to just let her breathe a bit. Ari agrees. She walks away from the bar and mingles with the other people in the firm.

One drink. Two drinks. Three drinks. Grace keeps drinking and she has now a crowd of men surrounding her as she chugs like one of the guys. Grace is feeling warm inside, she’s feeling confident, and she’s being flirty with the guys at the bar. One guy has got her attention, Nick, and she’s feeling good about herself; possibly more so because of the alcohol.

Nick: So what’s the occasion? It seems like you’re celebrating something special tonight.

Grace: The occasion is meeting you tonight and celebrating life! What more can I ask for?

Nick laughs and puts his arms around Grace and she giggles. She takes another drink and leans in closer to Nick. She circles her finger along the bar-side table and continues to be flirty. Grace’s phone buzzes in her pocket; she ignores it. Nick whispers something in Grace’s ear and she flirtatiously giggles. Ari watches Grace from across the room; her boyfriend notices right away. Ari gets up from her seat and towards Grace while her boyfriend calls for her.

Ari reaches the point of the bar where Grace and Nick are getting cozy. Ari interrupts.

Ari: Hey, Grace… Dean and I are getting ready to leave.

Grace: *slurs* Ima stay a little while longer, *looks at Nick* The night is still pretty young.

Ari: The night is coming to an end, come on–

Ari tries to grab Grace’s hand, but Grace yanks her hand away.

Grace: No, I wanna say with… with… Nick, right?

Nick smiles at Grace and she winks at him back. Ari is visibly disgusted.

Ari: Grace, come on, you had enough to drink tonight–

Grace: Don’t worry about me, I’ll go home when I’m ready to go home!

Nick: Hey, I’ll make sure she gets home safely tonight.

Ari: …Yeah, no. *grabs Grace’s arm* Let’s go. Now.

Grace: *annoyed* Ari, stop!

Nick: Hey, let her stay.

Ari forces Grace off of the bar stool and walks away from the bar. She turns around and looks at Nick; annoyed.

Ari: Sorry sweetie, she got a man that’s waaay better looking than you.

Ari continues to pull Grace away from the bar towards the front door. Grace continuously tells Ari to let her go. Once they are outside and Ari’s boyfriend calls for a cab, she lets Grace go.

Grace: I’m not a child, Ari! I could take care of my damn self!

Ari: I’m not treating you like a child, I’m treating you like a dumb bitch, because only dumb bitches do what you were trying to do.

Grace: You told me to come out and celebrate this dumb win on this dumb case so that’s exactly what I did and now you’re dragging me out?

Ari: Yeah, I didn’t mean get shitfaced and throw yourself all over a guy! What the hell are you doing?

Grace turns around and stays silent. Ari walks to face Grace and keep her in place.

Ari: This isn’t like you. This isn’t you. If you stayed in there any longer, you would’ve done something reckless tonight and instantly regret it.

Grace: And what makes you think that? Huh?

Ari: Grace, you’re emotional as fuck. You legit lost the love of your life to his job back in his country, and you’re heartbroken. You need to allow yourself some time to heal.

Grace: Maybe I don’t wanna heal. Maybe all I want is some random guy at the bar to fuck the sadness away for one night. Maybe all I want is to forget about everything and everyone and just fucking live for a little bit! Maybe that’s all I fucking want!

Ari: So that I can hear you instantly regret your decisions once you’re off this roller-coaster of self-pity? No. I won’t allow you to do something as stupid as that, because I know you, Grace. I know that you will wake up in the morning next to that man wishing it was fucking Jamie!

Grace stands there and hr eyes get watery. Ari immediately notices and takes a deep breath. The cold air is shown when she exhales.

Ari: Come on, let’s go home.

Grace walks with Ari and her boyfriend in the cab, and it drives off once everyone is in it.

A little later in the night, Grace is shown sleeping on a couch with a blanket covering her up. Across the room, Ari stands at the doorframe, arms crossed, looking at Grace while she sleeps. Her boyfriend passes her and kisses her head goodnight, leaving Ari looking after Grace. Once the room is cleared, Ari walks into the living room and grabs Grace’s purse from the coffee table.

Ari walks into the kitchen and sits at the table. She pulls out Grace’s phone out of her bag and unlocks the screen.

3 unread messages: Jamie.

Ari ignores the messages and immediately goes into the contacts. She clicks Jamie’s name and writes the phone number on her own phone. Backs out, locks the phone, puts it back into Grace’s purse.

Ari walks back to the living room and quickly puts the purse back where it was, and walks herself back to the kitchen. She sits back down and writes a new message.

Ari: Hey, it’s Ari; Grace’s friend. Talk to Grace when you get the chance.

Sent.