Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

A Reflection of 2022.

The last time a year ended in a 2, I wanted to kill myself. No seriously, I was suicidal. This time around, I wanted to live my life to the fullest. No seriously, I was the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

2022 was a year of challenges. I wanted to enter this year doing things that I normally wouldn’t have done in the past mainly because I did not have the confidence to do so. I began the year with a new wave of confidence; I was about 60 pounds down in my weight loss journey, and I was ready to finally get out of my shell after being tucked away in it for so long because I never felt confident enough to come out of it.

At the beginning of 2022, I finally felt like it was my time to leave the bookstore and begin a new chapter of my life. My chapter at the bookstore was one that I needed when I did, and it was a chapter that lasted about 2 and a half years. Toward the end, I knew my time was coming; I knew I was growing out of the job and needed to embark on a new journey. My mentor, Ro, connected me to a guy that worked in Academic Support. I helped him put together the syllabus for the remedial English class offered for students who don’t meet the proficiency levels in reading and writing to take the first level of English, ENG 111. I hoped that after working n that project, I was going to be hired to work within that department of that school, but with budget cuts and all that stuff going on behind the scenes, it wasn’t possible for me to take on this position as my regular job. It wasn’t until the end of January 2022 that I was reached out by that same guy, asking me if I was interested in working in the Registrar’s Office. After having a good and long conversation with those around me, I made the decision to leave the bookstore and take the job at the Registrar’s Office.

Embarking on a new journey meant that new issues and challenges also came up in my life. This was the year that I realized just how bad I need control over my life in order to feel okay with things around me and for me be able to move forward with my day. For the things I simply did not have control over, I would find ways to control parts of my life that really didn’t need to be controlled; even something as small as how much food I take in from the day because I was too worried to gain the weight that I lost back. It was a learning experience to be okay with the fact that I can only control things like my behavior, my mindset, and my actions. As I was learning this, I realized a lot of this stemmed from a place of uncertainty and fear of change. There was a point when I regretted all the changes I made in such a short amount of time, but then I would remember that I made these decisions because this was what I wanted when I made it in the first place. It took a lot of rewiring my brain to finally feel like I belonged at my job and that I was actually doing it correctly, y’know? I came from a place where I was the most knowledgeable about the job I was in to now being in an office with women who were the most knowledgeable workers about the job. It fucked with my head knowing that I was going to make tons of mistakes and yet I kept telling myself that I was a horrible worker.

With the proper guidance and support in my life, I was able to finally feel at ease in my position at my job and just life in general. It gave me the space to finally allow a friend back into my life after us slowly falling out earlier that year. It gave me the confidence to finally be my complete self without any judgment or second-guessing if someone liked me or not. It gave me the time needed to finally trust people again after feeling like I was on this journey of my life by myself for the first couple of months.

2022 taught me a lot about myself and opened sides of myself that I didn’t know existed in me.

I feel like I am finally comfortable and confident enough as a person and I can finally allow myself to be how I always imagined myself in my head. I’m not the main character whatsoever, but I am more so the side character with a couple of important scenes to have the audience thinking “wait, maybe the main character should listen to her quirky best friend” or some shit like that. I am the person that you were introduced as shy and private; didn’t speak often and when they did, they didn’t say much either. It’s not until I have something to say that I finally feel like I speak my mind and show my personality a bit more. Once I get comfortable though… I’m nothing like I was in the beginning.

I guess my year has just been the year that I was challenged by new anxiety and issues and finally found a way for it to not completely alter my progress or journey in the long run. What I mean by that is that in the past, I would be completely content with how my life is going until something out of my control happened. When that happens, it’s like everything else around me goes downhill, and depending on how severe that event was, it could take me years to finally feel that level of happiness and contentment with life again. I was afraid that this was going to be the year that I would fall down again and start from nothing once more, leaving me hoping that 2023 would be the year that it all changed for the better.

I’m glad that I was wrong.

I’m glad that despite the new challenges I had to face, I was still able to make the most out of what I could for the year. Like, I went to see both the Game Grumps and Demi Lovato in person; two of the acts that have been on my bucket list for years to see live. Not only did I go to these shows, but I also went to them by myself and enjoyed my solo adventures. I’m glad that despite the hardships I faced, I was able to go day by day and try to make the most of it and get by with what I had. I’m glad that even though I found myself at times in bad head spaces and in poor mental health, I ultimately didn’t lose who I was and what I was becoming.

2022 was a continuation of my journey, but somehow felt like there were parts of myself that felt completely new; a feeling I haven’t had for quite some time now. I don’t feel like the person I was when I entered the year, and I will probably not be the same person when ending 2023 in a year! It’s interesting that I am learning parts of myself like I was meeting a new person in my life, and that has been something I’ve been enjoying in this chapter of my life.

2022, thank you for allowing me to gain the confidence and courage that has always been on me yet needed to be awakened. I feel like I am 8 years old again, not being afraid to talk and be myself around people and having this spunk that made me funny and sassy and just what I’ve always imagined “Liz” would be.

I’m glad to say I feel like that little girl again, just 20 years older and a hell of a lot nicer. Haha!

Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Overexposed: How Going to The Gym Affected my Self-Esteem.

Back in 2017, I signed up for a gym membership to a gym that opened up in my neighborhood. I told myself that it was finally the right time to go and start working out in hopes that I can lose some weight that I noticeably gained since starting grad school.

I never went.

During the time that I was getting cleared to have weight loss surgery, my doctors recommended that I start going to the gym and try to start losing weight on my own so that I could try to lose weight and tone my body as I was getting cleared to have weight loss surgery. I told myself I was going to take the doctor’s advice and go to the gym to get my body ready for the year of testing it will go through in order to get the surgery done.

I never went.

After officially hitting my one-year anniversary since having weight loss surgery, I was getting nervous that the weight was slowing down. I thought I wasn’t going to lose any more weight because the momentum officially plateaued. My nutritionist recommended that exercise and weight lifting would be good to keep the momentum going. I’m not going to lie, it was something I dismissed because I was just really scared of going to the gym on my own and be sweaty in front of other people who have probably been loyal gym members for years on end. Something told me to take the chance and at least try it for the sake of my weight loss journey.

I finally went.

Hi, my name is Liz, and going to the gym has affected my self-esteem in a way I never thought it could.

It made me even more confident.

Going to the gym is something I feel like you have to be in the right mindset to actually join and go to. It’s one of those things that are easier said than done; I mean, it’s literally why most gyms market their businesses at the start of the new year because people always say they will start going to the gym at the start of a new year. Do people actually stick to their word? Maybe some, but there’s a reason why it’s such a common response to the whole “New Year’s Resolution” question. But, I get it because I was one of them.

When you don’t feel good in your own skin, you do whatever you need to cover it up and hide it from the world. You don’t purposely got to the place where you are at your most vulnerable to work on something that you don’t want to show to the public. You constantly think that people who are more fit or tone look at you different because you are out of shape or think you’re “fatter” than everyone else.

Sadly, it’s the mindset that most people have about the gym; I did.

But it wasn’t until I found myself weighing out the pros and cons of going to the gym. Of course, my biggest con was that Iwas afraid to simply be sweaty and out of breath in front of people in public. I was also afraid of the superiority personality that some gym goers have and judge you for going too slow or too fast on a machine (or perhaps you are using the machine wrong). I was just afraid of entering a new world that I never really belonged in, but it was my major pro that finally got me to the gym.

I worked hard to get where I am on this journey and I was going to do whatever it takes to keep it going.

I told myself that the gym was the next step in my journey and that I couldn’t rely on my body to naturally lose the weight like it did at the beginning. I now need to take the additional steps, and I guess when it came down to the wire, my journey meant more to be than my anxiety, and it didn’t hurt to try it out. Now that I finally joined a gym in my neighborhood, I find myself not worrying about those things. To come and think of it; I actually found myself debunking all these gym myths once I started going myself.

Now, the gym has become my escape to distress after a long day, or if I need a quick pick-me-up after being down all day.

I won’t lie and say that I had to push myself to a gym. I was nervous, yeah, but I was already at a place in my life where I felt the confidence needed to join and actually keep going after the first time. It’s natural for us to gain some confidence when we lose weight, even if it’s the smallest amount. It’s not easy losing weight, and when you do lose some, you gain a wave of confidence! For me, I was finally at a point in my life where I felt comfortable with my body in public and showing it more to the public whether it was in tighter clothes or going to places like the gym.

There’s nothing like blasting music through your headphones and go to different machines and challenge myself for about an hour. I started on the treadmill, which then began rowing, and eventually I got to the point where I am experimenting on different machines and seeing which ones I like working on the most! As I’m writing this, I definitely have to go back to the gym since I’ve been slacking off badly, but I legit always feel the greatest when I leave the gym, and that’s something that I didn’t know the gym would give me that experience.

Whenever you feel ready to go the gym (even if it’s just for an escape), I hope that you are able to use the gym as a place where you can just feel better in the moment if you’re having a bad day or a bad week and whatnot. Sometimes, I solely go to the gym just because I need to get away and release some stress and anxiety in a more healthier way. It’s come a part of my “coping mechanism” options, and it works every single time that I need to calm down from whatever was bothering me or making me anxious.

It’s okay to not be ready, and if you are ready; do it for your mental as you work on that physical!

The "Something" Series: Season 2, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Something I Couldn’t Do: A Jamie Monologue.

The rain has gotten heavier these past couple of days since the seasons are changing. The leaves that fall from the trees have been drenched in rain; stuck on the streets, not getting a chance to dry up and blow away in the wind.

When I first arrived back in Korea, I couldn’t sleep for three days straight. My sisters kept questioning me by constantly calling my cell phone to check on me. After the first 10 calls, I forwarded them all to voicemail. Shawn went back to his apartment in Incheon; Kevin went to Seoul to be with JooAh at her apartment. They haven’t spoken to each other since leaving America, which worries me. They had arguments in the past, but they were always close enough friends to work things out. It makes me worried for Shawn; this wasn’t like him to keep a grudge or be so serious about something like this. It proves my point that he was truly in love with Skylar. Is.

On this particular night, I keep tossing and turning in my bed; uncomfortable. After a couple of failed attempts, I throw the sheets off my body and look at the window, watching the rain hit the glass and drip down.

It was only when I heard a knock on my front door that made me turn my head away from it.

I slowly get out of bed and grabbed my robe from behind my bedroom door. The knocks get louder as I walk closer to it. I opened the door, expecting it to be the landlord or a neighbor of some sort. Instead, it was Shawn. He stood in the hallway with an umbrella in one hand, dripping on the carpet in the hallway. His raincoat is soaked with rain; the hood is over his head.

“Shawn,” I huffed. I turned my head around to see the clock on the wall; it reads 3:45 in the morning. “It’s the middle of the night; what are you doing here?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” he simply answered. I sighed and opened the door for him to walk in. At the door, I take his rainwear and put them in the bathroom to let them dry off. When I got back to the living room, Shawn stood in the middle of it. Again, this wasn’t like Shawn to act this way. He turned around the look at me. I simply pointed my hand towards the couch.

“You could sleep on the couch,” I said as I slowly dragged my feet away from the living room, walking towards the bedroom.

“Hyung,” Shawn called out. I turned around and raised my eyebrows to answer him. Shawn picked at his hands; he was clearly nervous about something.

“What is it, Shawn?” I answered, coming off a little too harsh. This wasn’t the first time Shawn has come to my apartment unannounced in the middle of the night. Normally, he would quietly lay on the couch, and then he was gone before I woke up the next morning. I understand; maybe seeing Kevin’s stuff still in their apartment was making him even more angry or upset at the situation, but Shawn needs to learn how to pick his life back up and do what he was doing before going to California. I need Shawn to just makeup with Kevin, be his spontaneous self, and let the world feel right again for once.

“I’m not happy being back in Korea,” Shawn said. “I feel more of a foreigner here than I did in America. Why is that?” Because you found a home in a person. I walk back toward the couch and sit next to Shawn. He hasn’t moved or even looked anywhere else but forward; it was like he was trying to figure out the math behind this whole situation.

“It’s been a while since you’ve been here,” I lied. I didn’t want to get deep into the real reason, because I have no idea if Shawn has been drinking tonight or where his mind is. I didn’t want to add any more stress or pressure to what he was already going through.

“I didn’t feel this way when we were in New York,” Shawn emphasized and looked at me, clearly annoyed at my response. “I went to New York twice, and I was able to come back home and be a normal man living this normal life. I haven’t done that since coming back from California. But I don’t live in America. My English is subpar at best, and I was only there for 2 months. So, why is it that I feel like I’m not home anymore?”

“I think you already know the answer,” I said with honesty. I knew the feeling Shawn was talking about because I experienced it myself. The man that was in New York the first time was left in New York. He never came back, and it pains me to see that Shawn will never be back to what he was.

“Does it get any easier, hyung?” Shawn finally looked at me with soft, gentle yet tiring eyes. I don’t answer right away because the answer is no. It doesn’t. We know that there’s nothing for us to do to make this easier or better unless we leave our entire lives behind. It’s so easy to want to fight for something and say you will do whatever it takes to keep it, but what happens when the things that are keeping you stuck are things like your job and your family? What do you do when you feel like a leaf that is on the ground, stuck due to the heavy amounts of rainfall?

I simply shook my head, truly at a loss for words. Shawn looked down at his palms before speaking again.

“Kevin came by today,” Shawn started to say. “He was beginning to gather the last of his things in the apartment.”

“Shawn, you know he’s not leaving because of you,” I tried to reassure Shawn before any intrusive thoughts began to seep into his mind. “He’s going to be a father. He needs to be with JooAh during this time.”

“Kevin’s probably the only one out of the three of us actually sleeping at night these days,” Shawn mocked. “He’s happy he’s back home with the girl he loves…”

“You can’t be mad at Kevin for stepping up and coming back,” I said, trying to be stern with Shawn. I need him to understand that Kevin is literally doing the one thing I couldn’t do when I was back in America, and that was to be there for Grace when she needed me the most. “He got his girlfriend pregnant, and now he is owning up to his responsibility. You can’t be mad at him forever for doing just that. I mean, what would have you done if you found out that Skylar–” I immediately stopped talking. This had to have been the first time since coming back that anyone has ever said her name out loud. I wish I didn’t; but I did, and the wrath that is Shawn slowly pours out.

“I wouldn’t be as careless to get a woman in another country pregnant without marrying her,” Shawn spat out. I knew it was supposeto be an insult to me, but I won’t give Shawn the satisfaction knowing his insults affect me. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing Shawn complain about al of this without actually doing something about it. Was this what Shawn and Kevin had to deal with whenever I had to come back from New York?

“My point being is that you would do whatever you need to do to be with Skylar because you love her,” I continued to say. “I hope you would understand at least that; as a man that loves someone, you would understand Kevin putting JooAh above all else.”

“I don’t love Skylar,” Shawn snapped back. “How can I love someone that I fucking can’t be with?”

“Shawn, please,” I said as I grew more frustrated at the situation. “You’re obviously still in love with Skylar and you can’t come to forgive Kevin because he was the one that shortened our trip, that shortened your time with the woman you love; but, has it occur to you that even if Kevin didn’t have to come back to Korea, you would still have to leave Skylar behind because you were meant to come back.” Shawn stood up to be face-to-face with me, clearly angry at where this conversation was going.

“Then why fall in love with Grace if you knew that was always the result?” Shawn asked. I didn’t budge. I didn’t want Shawn to know that his words are getting to me because I didn’t owe anything to Shawn. I can always kick him out of the apartment and tell him to deal with his broken heart on his own. But I don’t. Maybe I don’t because I need to hear this. Maybe I don’t because I want to tell Shawn all of the things I wished someone told me when there was still time to amend things. Maybe I don’t because I know Shawn is capable of doing the things I couldn’t do. Shawn scoffs before he speaks again. “I don’t know, maybe you never loved grace if you were able to leave her all those times.”

“If you are claiming to love Skylar, then why not do something about it?” I said, angry now at this conversation. “Seriously though. Why not get your visa, go back to America, get your woman, and then live there to be with her since you clearly love Skylar more than I ever loved Grace.” I get up from the couch, ready to leave Shawn to dwell in his thoughts.

“Would she forgive me if I do?” Shawn said, almost inaudible. I looked at him to see his face completely turn soft. Worrisome. Debatable. I sit back down on the couch and didn’t say anything.

“If you do what?” I asked, even though I know exactly what he was talking about. I just didn’t want to believe it right away that he was serious in what he was thinking about doing. Shawn-ah…? Shawn sighs and answers to the air.

“If I go back to America for her,” he answered. I thought the insomnia was just talking but this was the most coherant I’ve seen Shawn be in the last month since being back in Korea. He was serious. I know he was serious, because I use to have these thoughts all the time every time I came back from America. But, I never had someone to actually talk it out with. Maybe that’s what makes Shawn and I different; he was able to voice out the things he was planning to do or wanted to do. Maybe tonight, he just wanted to tell me that he was thinking about going back and just needed someone that was once in this situation tell him if it was worth it or not. Shawn knows my answer. He knows what I’m about to say, and I don’t know if what I’m about to say would even matter to Shawn. I know he’s made his mind up already about this.

“What about your life here?” I asked. “I mean, you’re leaving your whole life behind to be with a woman you spent two months with–“

“Don’t give me that shit, hyung!” Shawn yelled. “You fell in love with Grace as soon as you started to spend all your time with her! You spent all hours of the day and night with Grace in New York! You spent your last hours in New York with her! You were amess every time you had to come back here! For fuck’s sake, you had it all with her and yet you fucking left her again for this?!”

“I had to think about what made sense instead of my emotions, Shawn,” I spat back. “My career is here, my family is here; apartment, friends, and everything else that I built here! This is my home, and I couldn’t leave that behind. We are not the same, Shawn–“

“We aren’t,” Shawn snapped back. “I don’t have a family with this huge hold on me to literally stay in a place where you don’t fucking feel like you belong anymore because the happiest version of yourself is in another country,” he stated. Shawn’s family consist of his parents and younger sister, and even then their family dynamic is different than the one I had with mine. Maybe Shawn is able to leave his life behind in Korea for Skylar. What is here that is truly holding him back? Me? Kevin? I know Shawn doesn’t care about that. I know he would take the next flight out to America tonight if it meant he would be with Skylar.

The first time I came back to Korea after meeting Grace, I thought about going back to New York at least 3 times a day. I eventually wanted to leave my life behind for Grace, so why didn’t I stay when I went back for her? Why did I get the one-year work visa and didn’t marry Grace and be with her? Would have she wanted that? Would she think I was only marrying her to stay in the country? Would she even care if that was the main reason why I wanted to marry her, aside from being completely in love with her? Why the fuck didn’t you stay, Jaemin-ah?

“Then go,” I said, defeated. “Go after Skylar, Shawn. If you love her, you have to show her that you do. Be her girlfriend; show her that you are serious about her, because we all know you are. And the language? You’ll pick it up quick. You might have to take some English language classes to speak English better. I know you would, because I know you. I know you would do anything for Skylar, and at least showing her that you want to be with her and make a life for yourself in America.” Shawn just looked at me, not really saying anything every time I gave him a chance to say something. Maybe he was just exhausted. Maybe he really is considering everything I’m saying. I don’t know anymore, because this Shawn is a Shawn that is a product of what he left behind in Californina, and at this point I just want my friends to be happy in their lives, even if that meant that it was too late for me to fix what makes me happy.

“I want to go back to California to Skylar,” Shawn finally admitted. “I want to be with her.” I smiled at Shawn’s decision. This was the most mature thing Shawn has done at least in the years I’ve known him. I was happy to see him make a decision for himself. I was happy to see Shawn do what I couldn’t do, and I can only hope that Shawn is serious enough to not hurt Skylar again.

“Then go be with her,” I said. “You both deserve to be happy.”

Black Sheep in Society: Season 2, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

A Black Sheep’s Trust Issues: Two Monologues.

I couldn’t concentrate, and that pisses me the fuck off.

Dani kept looking at me whenever I fucked up a chord or missed a beat in rehearsal. If it weren’t for Tanner, she would’ve definitely ripped my head off. But the truth behind it was that I was fuming. My body was hot like it was on fire. For fuck’s sake, Roe; are you that fucking stupid?

I immediately hung the phone up when I saw Rosie walk out of that asshole’s car on campus. The more I looked at him, the more I wanted to punch his plastic-looking teeth in, and the more I looked at Rosie with him, the more I wanted to yank her away and punch his fucking face. She looked up at him and fucking smiled in his face like everything was peachy-fuckin-keen and like he didn’t hospitalize her a month ago.

She looked at him like she completely forgot about kissing me that night at my place.

“Yo, dude!” Dani calls out. I rolled my eyes at her.

“What?” I said, more annoyed than anything. Dani placed her notebook on the chair next to her.

“What the fuck is wrong with you today?” Dani asked. “Like, you fucking suck today.”

“Well if I suck, then why the fuck did you want me for your rehearsal?” I spat back.

“If I knew you were going to half-ass it today, I wouldn’t have bothered,” Dani quickly snapped back. Tanner, like he always does, comes to stand in between us to cool us off.

“Don’t you both have an off day of not cussing at each other?” Tanner said. Dani doesn’t respond and I don’t either. Tanner sighs, and then looks at me. Why the fuck am I always the one that gets looked at first? “Dude, are you okay?”

“Fuck this shit,” I got up and started to pack my things. This wouldn’t have been the first time I allowed my emotions to get the best of my rehearsal time. The last time something like this happened, it was when–

“I thought you walking out of practice would’ve stopped after Kalia broke up with you,” Dani emphasized. “Guess bitches will always get you in your bag.”

“Fuck you, Dani,” I spat more than actually said. “How about you worry about your goddamn self and your relationship instead of getting in my business.”

“Come on, dude, just–” Tanner began to say, but I was also tired of his shit at this point.

“Shut up, Tanner; just tend to your annoying ass bitch,” I responded and grabbed my bag. Dani ran after me, but all I could hear is Tanner trying to calm her down.

“Fuck you, Micah! You aren’t shit and you aren’t ever gonna be shit!” Dani yelled.

I slammed the door shut and left.

The thing about me is that I learned that no matter what, you’ll be by yourself. You were born alone, and you’re gonna die alone. So, why as a society we allow other people get to us? Why do we let them affect us so fucking much to the point you’re fucked up in the head? Why the fuck would I ever let a girl like Rosie Delgado get to my fucking head?

Rosie has proven herself time and time again why she can’t be trusted. Rosie is the type of person that will tell you one thing, but then will go to another person and say something completely different. She will say one thing that makes you think she’s letting you in, and then she will act like you’re a complete stranger. When you tell her that you care about her and her well-being, she would literally tell you to fuck off. So, once again; why the fuck would I ever let a girl like Rosie Delgado get to me?

I walk down the streets of Brooklyn with my equipment in my backpack and my hands deep in my coat pockets. The cold air turns hot with every breath I let escape my mouth. I looked around as I walked under the train tracks that the D train run on. Grown women with short dresses and high heels walk toward cars that are parked along the sidewalk. They remind me of Rosie. Fuck, wouldn’t be surprised if that was–

Micah, don’t.

I shouldn’t have kissed Rosie the same night she told me about her junkie ex-boyfriend in Philadelphia and how she used to pick up dates to make extra money in the streets. She bluntly told me that she did what she did because she was comfortable doing it. Did that mean she was comfortable with men treating her like shit? Does she think so poorly of people in this society that she would just shrug off the shitty way that people treat her? Has she lost faith in humanity because she’s seen it all being out in these streets? Again, these were the things about Rosie I never understood; one minute she could be a normal girl hanging out and talking about college assignments and art stuff, and the next she can be dressing up like a 26-year-old trying to pick up older men that have steady jobs so that she can get paid more money. Maybe I never knew Rosie. Maybe I shared some personal shit with a complete stranger.

That pisses me the fuck off.

I walked into a corner store and walk towards the back where the fridges were. I grabbed a bottle of beer and confidently walked toward the counter. I guess it was always about how confident you walked with the alcohol in your hands that makes people not check to see if you’re actually old enough. Or maybe people just didn’t give a shit anymore. Maybe I gotta stop giving a shit.

I didn’t go home that night.

I took off my shirt while the shower was running. I stood in front of the mirror in my bra, looking at the bruises on my hips. They don’t hurt much these days, but I do wish they would just go away. I wish a lot of things went away.

I told Hudson I was going to do better the night I got discharged from the hospital. I watched him pack my things into bags and get everything together. Sometimes, I just watch Hudson and get so fucking sad; I don’t deserve someone like him caring about me like I was his daughter. I’m not his daughter, and sometimes I think he forgets that; a part of me feels like he’s trying to make up for all the lost time he had with his own daughter that was kidnapped and killed when she was a teenager. I don’t feel worthy being a place-holder for his daughter. His daughter would’ve probably made better decisions than me.

“So, you’re going to call me when you go to and from the campus, okay?” Hudson said as he zipped one of the bags. I nodded my head, too tired to really say words. “Okay, Rosie?” Hudson emphasized.

“Okay, okay; sheesh,” I answered back. Hudson walked toward me and sat in the chair across from where I was sitting.

“Rosie, I have to trust you in order for me to keep an eye on you,” he explained. “You can’t tell me you’re one place when really you’re in trouble.”

“I know, Hudson,” I wanted nothing more than to get this conversation over and done with. Hudson was growing annoyed with me.

“No, Rosie; you don’t,” he stated. “I’m not trying to micromanage your every move, but when I get a call that you’ve been hospitalized for a man putting his hands on you, things are different.”

“Oh, so because a man decided to beat me up, now I’m the one that gets punished and has to check in at every fucking point of my day?” I asked, angry that Hudson feels the need to watch over me even more than he does.

“Who was he, Rosie? Huh?” Hudson asked. He’s asked me the same question ever since he got to New York to be with me during my stay at the hospital. I didn’t want to make this a bigger deal than what it really was, so I told Hudson I didn’t know the guy. I gave him some half-assed story about how I was fighting off the guy that attacked me for my money. Huh, good thing I wasn’t dead; my coroner’s report would’ve shown that I didn’t fight back the attacker at all. But, I know Hudson knows I was lying to him. He knows I know who it was, and even though he’s not pushing me to know the answer, he knows I know who the guy is. Someone who doesn’t know you wouldn’t have known to bruise the already bruises that were on my body.

“I don’t know, Hudson,” I said, defeated. “I just want to go home. Can you please drop me back at the dorms?” He didn’t know I lived off of campus in some shitty abandoned movie theater apartment either, making it even easier to feel like I don’t deserve someone like Hudson caring about me.

He didn’t fight me anymore about who the guy was. He did what I asked him to do without questioning me any further.

Before I could get in the shower, I hear my front door being banged on. I turned to look outside of the bathroom, terrified at who it could be. It’s fucking 11 o’clock at night; who the fuck is banging on my door like that? I put my shirt back on and walked out of the bathroom. I walked towards the closet nearest to me and took out the broom for protection. I held it like a bat in my hand. I slowly walked closer to the door as the door kept being banged on.

“Rosie? Rosie, I know you’re fucking in there,” the voice from outside said. It finally clicks.


The Teenage Monologues., Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Ticking Time Bomb: A Sophie Monologue.

Missing school always gives me so much anxiety. I always fear that the one day I stay home from school, there’s this all-or-nothing type of test happening or the class does something completely new and I’m left not knowing what or where we are in the curriculum. On this particular day, I go to my classes early to speak to the teacher and ask if I missed any work.

The bell rings and 3rd period ends. I raced out of the classroom, knowing that my class for 4th period was on the other side of the hallway. I make my way through the crowds of other students and occasionally apologize if I have to cut through their group to go towards my needed direction. I didn’t realize that at first that someone knocked my books out of my hand as I was walking by. I looked at the floor towards my books, and then at the person who was walking in that direction. It was Laurie, and she was smiling back with her new “friends”.

“What is your problem, Laurie?” I yelled, wanting Laurie to hear that I was finally talking back to her, and not afraid of her using anything from our past friendship against me. Laurie turned her whole body around to walk up to me.

“Wow, you actually speak up for yourself now?” Laurie mocked and then began to laugh. “Please, we all know you’re too much of a wuss to actually mean it.”

“And you are actually trying way too hard to play the mean girl role in high school,” I spat back. “Seriously, Laurie, just leave me alone–“

“Seriously, Laurie, just leave me alone,” Laurie mimicked, and her friends began to laugh. After seeing the type of people Laurie hangs out with, I never understood how we were once friends. Maybe Laurie was once a decent human being capable to have real friendships, instead of “yes” girls. “You know I passed by your band class the other day while I was on my way to the bathroom and… well, I don’t know who’s going to tell you this, but as a former bestie of yours, it’s only right to tell you the truth and say that you were really dragging the rest of that class down.” Her friends “ooo-ed” as Laurie said that. It angered me that Laurie knows my major, and the fact that she knows that one way to get me upset is to tell me how to play my violin.

“We were never best friends,” I responded, not even paying attention to anything else she had to say.

“Please, give us some credit! We shared our deepest darkest secrets with each other… except the one where you tried to get with my boyfriend at the time.” Her friends gasped; clearly, they are paid actresses or they really don’t know anything about this. “How is Simon, by the way? Got sick of you too? It’s okay, girl–“

“You really do not know what you’re even talking about,” I said, really wanting nothing more than to end this conversation. “And no, I don’t speak to Simon, but maybe you should try calling him; I know how he likes going for leftovers.”

It wasn’t until then that I felt a hard thud of my head hitting the hallway ground. I looked up to see Laurie on top of me, and I began to fight her while I was on the floor. Eventually, her friends stepped in and tried to grab her away from me. When they successfully did, I wipe down my clothes and put my hand near the cut on my lip. Laurie would not stop trying to fight off the people holding her back.

“You’re a fucking bitch, Sophie! I hope your dad stays in prison forever!” Laurie screamed at the top of her lungs in the hallway. The security guards grab hold of Laurie and begin to escort her out of the hallway. I grabbed my head where Laurie had grabbed my hair. What in the bloody hell is that girl’s problem? I hear what she yells as she gets pulled away down the hall, and it immediately makes me sick to my stomach. I hated that I told Laurie so much of my personal life back when we were friends; it was nothing but ammunition now whenever Laurie wanted to upset me. She was once a friend I confided in, and now she’s a person I wish I never opened up to. Milo was right all those times back in middle school; Laurie was never a friend to me, even when I was one to her.

“Mrs. Lee?” a voice from a room called out. I looked up and then at my mum, who gets up from her seat and walked toward the principal’s office. I already know that I’m grounded for the rest of my life after today. I always worry that my mum thinks the American culture is the reason why I’ve gotten in trouble in school. I’m afraid that she will make us move back to the UK or even worse; back to Korea. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping that this day would just end.

It wasn’t long until my mum and I left Waverly High for the day. I felt sick to my stomach knowing that I was going home before the school day was over. I looked over at my mum. She continued to look forward and walk towards the car parked in front of the school. I was terrified to even breathe in her direction. She entered the car from the driver’s side, and I entered the backseat, not really wanting to sit next to my mom. She sat in the driver’s seat as if I wasn’t in the backseat, just waiting for her to say something to me. She simply started the car and drove away from the school without a single word said.

I looked down at my phone, opening up my messages with Milo to text him until my mum finally spoke while waiting at the stoplight.

“That cell phone will be confiscated when we walk into the house,” mum stated without looking back at me. I didn’t fight her on it; I knew the consequences of being a kid in trouble. “You know better than to get into fights with other girls, Soojin-ah.”

“I didn’t get into a fight with her, she started it!” I tried to explain to my mum, but she wasn’t listening to me.

“You were never like this before you met that boy,” mum spat back, and I knew exactly where she was going with this. “You met that boy and all of a sudden, you’re now getting yourselves into situations that you wouldn’t normally get into!”

“That’s not even true!” I yelled out. My mum stopped the car on the corner of the street, double parked in front of a busy store.

“Soojin-ah,” my mum sternly said my name. I know talking back is wrong, but I needed her to understand that my friendship with Milo is not the reason I am getting in trouble. It’s people like Laurie that don’t mind their own business and want to make my life a living bloody hell that–

“Your father would be disappointed in your behavior,” my mum said as she continued to drive along the road. I turned my head at her, wanting nothing more than to yell and scream and say everything that I wanted to say.

I don’t, even though I feel like I’m a ticking time bomb at this point.

Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022, Voiceless Rant: The Series

A Voiceless Rant: December 2022 Edition.

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz. God, I miss these types of posts.

When I started the blog, I created a monthly series where I just sit down and free-write anything that comes to mind in hopes it makes some type of sense at the end. I used it to do some self-reflection during a time in my life when I didn’t have the mental space to take a step back and see if I was doing okay. Those grad school years were no joke, y’all.

In the end, the series that came about this was called:

I remember this series mainly being about my mental health and how I knew I wasn’t in the right place, but I always hoped that maybe with time, things would fall into those right places. Newsflash: they didn’t, even after seeking therapy in mid-2018. I honestly don’t know what changed these types of posts; maybe was just more in love being in my writing universes than actually sitting here and writing about things that are just bland and mediocre. Maybe my life has just gotten that boring, but I’m more passionate about exploring fictional characters and their lives than my own but in a good way! I feel like as the years passed and I started to deal with my mental health in a different way, I felt like my mind is now occupied with storytelling and the characters that live in these universes I’ve created.

I love thinking about 30-year-old Grace that is still trying to figure out her life at her age and what it means to be just herself. She’s at a point in her life where she doesn’t want to be identified as something she doesn’t feel confident or comfortable in while also trying to let go of the identity she had when she was with Jamie. She thinks that her choices are what fucks everything in her life up, but little does she know it’s those choices that put her exactly where the universe wants her to be.

I love thinking about 20-year-old Micah that is eccentric and outspoken and going through the waves of college life while still trying to see where his place in society is. He’s the one in his family trying to chase after his dreams, but it’s also his family that holds him back from doing what is needed to achieve those dreams. Also, he’s trying to figure out how to live a life without his real best friend, Rosie, after the traumatic sequence of events for both of them.

I love thinking about the 14-year-old entourage Milo & Mollie, two best friends that are total opposites yet come together because they are the best friend duo. Milo is the shy and hyperfocused friend while Mollie is the spontaneous and headstrong friend, sometimes their personalities clash in a way that puts the both of them in tough situations. To see the different directions that these two friends are going in their stories is exciting to play around with, especially because they both have something that the other lacks, which makes the outcome of their storylines so interesting to portray.

I love thinking about the sub-characters of these stories and thinking of potential spin-pff series with them as the main characters. I swear sometimes my brain works like a Nickelodeon or Disney mashup; all these different characters from different stories do live in the same, wider universe and are even related. Milo and Micah are brothers; Mollie is Grace’s mother. Again, it’s interesting to see these characters and their personalities and see just how much their traits and flaws affect those that are around them. For example; Mollie as a teenager speaks a lot about how Mollie is as a young adult. We also see that in Grace as a young adult even following in her own mother’s footsteps–

Wait, when did this become a post about me gushing over these characters?

Needless to say, this is a part of my identity that I felt was neglected in the years that I was trying to get my mental health in order. I felt like I never had the space to think in depth about these characters that I developed in my imagination for quite some time now. Mollie and Milo were created when I was 14 years old back in 2008. Micah was created in 2017, and Grace was created in 2014 when I took screenwriting in college. All these years that these characters have literally lived in my mind rent-free but it wasn’t until 2020 that I actually began to tell their stories and actually followed through with them.

And that’s when these types of posts began to slow down, and in a way, I’m glad that I made the transition from this type of content to just storytelling. Sometimes I do ask myself, “should I rename the blog because I’m not really writing in the format that I used to write in?” But at the end of the day, my blog is just a space where these characters can live outside of my mind, and I’m so glad that many of you follow my blog for these characters because like, I never thought that anyone would get invested in a bunch of characters that I made up one random day of the year.

This content– the storytelling content– is the most “me” I’ve been in a while on this blog, and maybe that’s why I take posting and writing and staying on a schedule so seriously because like… I actually enjoy writing on here now. I think there will always be a special place in my heart for my old content, this type of content because it’s literally the foundation of what this blog is. But just like me, my blog grew up, and this is the best version of “Liz, the writer” I’ve been in my opinion.

And that’s the end of this voiceless rant.

Overexposed: A Self-Love Project., Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Overexposed: Life After The WLS Journey.

This time last year, I was just months into this new journey that I was unfamiliar with. I was still learning how to enjoy food again, and to make connections with people without eating the same food. The holidays were a challenge this time last year; Thanksgiving felt like a challenge I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go through smoothly because the entire holiday is about eating food. Nevertheless, last year’s holiday season went okay for the most part.

This year, things are a lot different as I am now entering the final stages of my weight loss journey.

Hi, my name is Liz and I’ve lost 123 pounds in 15 months.


As the months’ pass and the weight loss slows down, I am learning to come to terms that now is the time that my journey of weight loss is coming to an end. Technically speaking, it’s not supposed to “end” until you hit the 2-year mark since having surgery, but every physical body is different and my body seems to be slowing down on the weight loss. Honestly, I don’t mind if I don’t lose any more weight; I’m at a place in my journey where I feel good in my skin, and I met the goal I initially had when getting cleared to have weight loss surgery back in 2020 and 2021. I’m now in the phase where I am trying my best to now maintain my weight by limiting the amount of sugar I take in, the amount of food I have in a day, and even working out at the gym whenever I want to tone up my body. It’s not an easy journey; I would even say that this is the harder part than what it was this time last year I had to learn my body cues and my food intake after not ever having a limit on what I can eat and cannot eat, but now that I am fully recovered and going on with my life after surgery, my body is able to handle a lot more and now its more about having self-control in what I decide to take in.

Am I nervous about what the future has in store for me? Of course. I think this will now always be something I will be anxious about for the rest of my life. This journey has been so important to me, and I would hate to become another statistic regarding failed weight loss surgery stories. Maybe that fear in me is good though; it actively makes me aware of the things I am doing with my body and even have more control over what happens to it. This journey has introduced so many things into my life and provided me a new outlook on it. Pre-surgery Liz wouldn’t have thought about going to a gym to work out her stress and anxiety away after a long day at work. Pre-surgery Liz would’ve ruled out a walk in the neighborhood because she would get too tired too fast for her liking. Pre-surgery Liz wouldn’t have taken her health so seriously because she was at a point where she felt defeated in trying to change her body. Like I’ve said time and time again, this surgery gave me a second chance at bettering my life both physically and mentally in the long run, and although my journey feels like it’s coming to an end, this will always be a journey for me that I will work on and improve on being and doing better at.

With that being said, I want to thank every single person in my life (past and present) that helped me through this process and witnessed me throughout all the stages of this journey. I still have the clearest memory of signing the consent papers and having my friends telling me to sign them because this was going to be a great new start to a better life. I remember sending them this ridiculous picture of me in the sleep study gear at the research center and laughing so hard at their responses. I still remember sending a voice note to one of my friends after having surgery just to let her know that everything went well. I still remember expressing to my friends and family that life after surgery was a difficult transition and at the end of the day I always felt like I had a good support system with those around me.

And for those who have read my story through blog posts for the last year and a half whether you’re a casual reader or wanted to hear someone else’s experience before making the decision on your own; I hope that in reading my story and following e on my journey as reassured you in your decision. In being on my journey, I’ve met a few people in the process of beginning their weight loss surgery journey, and I’m always honored when they want to hear the ups and downs of the process. It’s more than just a before and after photo; it’s months and months of physical and mental preparation and knowing that once the surgery is over, you have to redo your entire life to now fit this new lifestyle. I just hope that my honesty and my journey inspired others to take that next step in bettering themselves or really think about making that decision for different reasons.

I will forever be grateful for being able to embark on this journey and to put me in a place where I could make good changes. I am able to be who I am today because of that journey.

Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Overexposed: A Thank You to My “Team Me”.

"Hey, if you have a minute (of course if you're free) could I stop by your office and talk about something?"

In grad school, I spent my nights in classes where I was silent. I was too afraid to speak and voice my thoughts and ideas and anything that I knew should be talked about. I thought differently and analyzed literature and theories differently, yet I always felt like I couldn’t express them to others without feeling dumb or stupid or like I’m constantly being judged for my “reaching” ideas. In a world where most of my peers were studying literature to become teachers or adjuncts, I wanted to be a better writer. I wanted to learn about the audience, what I was talking about and how to explain to others what I was trying to say. In a nutshell, my first grad class was “The Teaching of Writing”, which is where I met my then-professor-now-friend Ro; or, Professor Carlo. In the two years that I was in grad school and struggled mentally to keep it all together, Ro was my support. She would sit in her office with me during our thesis meetings and listen to what I needed to say and how I felt about everything regarding this Master’s Thesis, which was a piece calling out a lot of her colleagues and their teaching techniques and how toxic they were to student writers in the classroom. She always helped me keep my head high, even when all I ever wanted to do is look down and stay silent in my comfort zone.

Three years later, Ro and I wrote an academic article; one where I was able to tell my story and reflect back on my time in grad school. In a nutshell, Ro always gave me the opportunity for me, a shy and quiet young woman, to speak my mind and confidently tell my story.

And for that, I think I will always be thankful for having Ro in my life; a role model who’s accomplished so much at her young age, and no matter what wants the best for her students; past and present.

I am the youngest worker in the office. Nine months ago, I embarked on a new journey in life; I left my job at the college bookstore to become a college assistant at the Registrar’s office. This was my first real “big girl” job; I was now officially considered a city worker with city worker benefits, something that none of my family ever was before. I was excited to start the new year with a new journey, even though it was scary at first. It took me months to finally feel a part of the office. My boss at the time was hard to get a hold of due to how busy she was and having someone still in training didn’t make the transition a smooth one.

As months passed, I was beginning to feel like my anxiety wasn’t going to settle down, and eventually considered looking for a new job because I would end up going to work sick to my stomach because I was afraid of getting thrown into something I wasn’t comfortable in doing yet. It wasn’t until the record department was out a supervisor, and Christine, my co-worker, shared the temporary spot with another co-worker of ours.

Christine was the first (and only) person at my job to know about the passing of our senior cat back in June. I wasn’t too comfortable talking to anyone besides the other CA that was closer in my age range, but something told me that if anything, I was able to tell Christine that this had happened in my life and that if I wasn’t completely on top of my game, that was the reason why. I would even say this was the beginning of me finally opening up and trusting someone in that office with myself.

In the next couple of months, Christine would pull me into her office every start of the week to check in with me. As someone that could be struggling internally, I will not allow it to show in the workplace. Christine was able to pick that up quickly when interacting with me, so it was nice that she would check in with me at the start of the week just to see where I was at. She would call it her “mommy senses” whenever she didn’t hear from me or if I was not acting like myself. She would always mentor me and talk to me about the future and where I could potentially go if I decide to go down the “city worker in CUNY” route in life.

But, it wasn’t until I was having a major anxiety attack one day at my desk. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I felt nervous to do anything because of a situation with a student that escalated and now needed to involve our supervisors. I didn’t want to go home and bring “work home with me”, as Christine has told me countless times to not do. I simply texted her if she had time to talk about something and even though we were able to begin our crazy season of registration, she quickly told me to come into her office. It was then I began to talk to her about the things that were bothering me and were on my mind and having her listen to me without making me feel like my voice didn’t matter like how I felt before with my former boss. I always felt like Christine was able to understand my mindset and my struggles as a college assistant because she was once in the same position and literally sat at the same desk and worked under the same former boss, and Christine has always made it known that she sees a lot of me in her younger self, and I admire that someone understands me because they see themselves in me. I cried in her office every time she told me how much she appreciated me being there because I always struggled with feeling like I was a good enough worker and how it felt good knowing that my efforts and my hard work is showing in a positive way, even if I’m internally struggling. Even when my father was in the hospital and needed a blood transfusion after losing a ton of blood and dying, I told Christine because I trusted her with this. She constantly checked in with me whenever she had the chance to that day, and I honestly appreciated it knowing someone literally cared to see if I was doing okay and was always asking for updates. She even shared with me how this particular day was a hard one for her as well, and she also was using work as a distraction to keep her busy. It felt nice knowing she understood why I was in the office even after finding out what was going on with my dad. For the entire process that he was in the hospital, Christine checked in with me, and for that, I am forever grateful because the fact of the matter is that she didn’t have to.

"Hi Liz. I stopped by my church tonight to light a few candles and decided to light an additional candle for your dad. I hope his surgery was a success." 

I’ve had a couple of good group friends in my life, yet it was interesting that the ones that stood around the longest are the ones that I have never even met in person before. I met Lae, my friend from California, in the K-pop community 2 years ago when she reached out to trade Victon photocards with me. I remember being nervous interacting with someone I didn’t know, let alone someone who’s been collecting longer than me. We helped each other out with our collections until we saw that someone was opening a Viction Trading Group Chat and we both decided to join it. It wasn’t until we then met Ro, my friend from South Carolina at the time, who really took a lead on the group chat helping other collectors out get the cards they needed for their collections. Slowly but surely, the three of us started to talk more, becoming the friend group that we are today. Like every friendship, we all had our ups and downs with each other, and many of those times we didn’t even know if we were all going to stay friends due to issues we had with one another. Nevertheless, this group of friends has been through some of the lowest points in my life, and my highest! They were the main ones that went through my surgery journey when I was prepping for it. Even when I’m going through tough times and just need some support, they make sure to always know that they are there when I need them, and it’s good to always come back to friends that genuinely care about your well-being. For someone that struggles to keep friends because of my social anxiety, it was refreshing to have friends that understood that flaw of mine but also were able to make sure that I don’t run away or disappear when things get hard. I appreciate these two, and it really boggles my mind knowing that these two people I have not ever met them in person, yet they both feel like the closest people in my life besides Obie.

"Don't think too much about it. Trust me, I've been through this, and best thing for you to do is not think of the worst, even if you feel like things are going down that path. Your dad is a fighter and you have a strong family."

I remember sitting in Obie’s bathroom one night as we smoked a blunt together. It was a good day for me, one that didn’t come around as often during my time in 2019. We spoke about the future, and I spoke specifically about the struggles I was having finding a job that I could get due to the lack of experience I had since I spent the last 20 years of my life being a student in school. Obie then told me, “what about working at a bookstore? I know that’s not what you want to do, but I think you would do well in a bookstore because it’s not as hectic as regular retail.” It wasn’t until months later, I was hired at my old college’s bookstore, where I spent the next 2 and a half years being a bookseller, where I began a completely new chapter in my life that nearly shaped the direction I’ve been on since. Even when I’m having bad days at the office and need to just escape for a night, Obie always greets me with open arms, sharing his space so that I can unwind and turn the day around with his good company.

Obie has known me for 13 years, and I think it is completely natural for me to tell him things when things happen; good or bad. When telling him about my father being in the hospital, his words were the most comforting, and not because he’s the closest person in my life, but because he spoke to me out of the experience when he went through taking care of his father before his passing late last year. At this moment, I truly thought I was going to lose my father that Monday morning after getting the news about his condition. Hearing his words to comfort me and for them to come from a place of wisdom and experience felt completely different than the usual “everything is going to be okay.” I am grateful to have someone like him in my life; someone that can always teach me something new as he gives me advice, and sometimes it’s those lessons that stick with me through the rest of my journey.

So, to my “Team Me”; thank you for always allowing me to be myself and for always supporting me in whatever I decide to do in life. Thank you for always allowing me to speak my mind, when really it’s become one of the hardest things for me to do as I got older. Thank you for seeing me, and believing in me, and always being able to make me laugh and smile.

Team Me, you are the best. ❤

Music Reviews, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Top 5 Albums of 2022!

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters from Liz!

I know this blog has become more of my “writing universe just typed out in blog format”, but I really do like coming back to my roots every holiday season and writing more pieces like music reviews, overexposed posts, or even something simple as telling you my top 5 favorite albums of 2022! I did this last year for Lizmas, and thought it was only right to continue this tradition for 2022 just to see just how different my favorites were from this time last year to now!

So without further ado, here are my top 5 favorite albums of 2022!

5.) “BORN PINK” by Blackpink

Alright, y’all. So I wouldn’t call myself a Blink, which is the fandom name for Blackpink. I’m a very casual listener when it comes to them and for the most part, I enjoy their music when they release new music. Prior to this release, their last comeback was way back in 2020, and it is uncommon for K-pop groups to wait so long between releases since the industry is so fast-paced. So when “Pink Venom” was released back in August as their pre-release single, many people felt robbed of the anticipation that these girls has around them when they announced that they were making their comeback after a 2-year hiatus. I can’t lie, I was one of those people that had a love-hate relationship with the song, but when their second full-length album came out a month later, my jaw was to the floor. This album is seriously a “no-skip” album. Months later, their title track for the album, “Shut Down” still gets played every single day on my way to work and vice versa. The album showcases some vocals that we never got from the rap-heavy group, and although they experiment with more “trendy” sounds, they somehow still make it feel very much Blackpink-esque. I do hope that YG Entertainment gives them more comebacks, because as much as people want to the on them because of their popularity, as someone outside of the fandom: I understand why they are so popular, and literally with the right guidance and direction, these girls can stay on top in the midst of the fourth generation girl group battle.


So unpopular opinion: I really enjoyed this debut album from NMIXX. Just for some background: NMIXX is a seven-member girl group under JYP Entertainment; the same company that Twice, ITZY, and Stray Kids are under. They debuted earlier this year in February, and despite everyone not liking their debut album due to it’s experimental genre, I actually was hooked when I first listened to their title track, “O.O”, and their b-side, “TANK”. The group’s concept is to literally mix genres in their songs, which is something not new to the K-pop scene, but it’s new for a girl group’s entire concept to be just that. Many listeners did not the concept or felt confused about the song’s structure, but I didn’t mind it too much because I was always a fan of the type of songs that would change melody or beats within the song. Some examples that come to mind are SNSD’s “I Got A Boy”, and last year’s mega-hit “Next Level” by aespa. Needless to say, despite their complex concept, these girls are possibly some of the best vocalists within 4-gen K-pop groups. Lily, their eldest member, has a vocal range so insane, she can literally sing high notes the same way we speak regular words. Plus, her duets with other NMIXX member and leader, Haewon, are literally so lethal and magical; I would definitely want a sub-unit promotion further down their careers because those two together are whoa. But yeah, I think for a debut, this was really strong and unique and I am excited to see their range when they release a mini-album in the future!

3.) “Colorful Trauma” by WOODZ

I need to know what crack Seungyoun puts in his songs because he’s had 5 releases since 2020 and every album he’s put out has been a favorite of mine or a “no-skip” album. Seungyoun isn’t my ult bias once Seungsik of Victon took that spot, but he’s definitely number 2 on my list. Seungyoun, or known by his stage name “WOODZ”, released his fourth mini album back in May with a pop-punk concept and I swear, he knows how to do a motherfuckin’ concept right! The title track, “I Hate You” literally is anyone’s anthem that got their heart broken and feeling angry as fuck. It definitely had my happy ass singing out loud “I hate you! I don’t need you! I forget you!” and then go over to my guy’s place and be all cute and lovey-dovey. In this case, I really enjoyed the b-sides of this album; while most still staying in that pop-punk genre, all the other songs have different messages and honestly, a lot of these songs have become inspiration for my writing universe because of the diversity and atmosphere that they all have. “Better and Better” makes me feel like I’m skateboarding down a hill with my crush as a teenager wearing baggy pants and a zipped-up hoodie and overly worn Converse. “Dirt on my Leather” makes me feel like I’m at a bar chugging cans of beer while I stand on the bar table dancing. “I Hope To Be Like You” makes me feel like I’m telling all of my mentors and my support team that, well, I hope I can be like you one day. The album takes you on a rollercoaster of feelings and I’m just saying, Seungyoun knows how to make good music. Of course; besides Victon, any other K-pop act I would want to see on tour is Woodz because every song is a fucking bop. There’s a reason why his new releases come into my top favorites every single year.

2.) “Chronograph” and “Choice” by Victon

Am I completely biased for including two Victon releases? Absolutely. It’s for good reason, I promise.

Anyway, 2022 was the year of Victon’s “Time Trilogy”, meaning that we were going to get three comebacks within the year, and honestly; as an Alice, I was excited that our boys were now getting multiple comebacks after going radio silent for the entirety of 2021 after releasing their full-length album in January 2021; VOICE: The future is now. If you would like to read more about the three releases, feel free to read my completely biased music reviews for Chronograph, Chaos, and Choice.

Chronograph was the first installment in the trilogy and was released in January 2022. This was also the first comeback since the eldest member, Seungwoo, enlisted in the military back in July 2021. It was a single album, which meant there were only two songs released. I really enjoyed “Chronograph” as a title track because it was so different than their previous release, “What I Said”. The song is super catchy and fun, and the styling was so futuristic and fun; also, Red-hair Sik is one of my top favorites ever now because of this era. Their second and only other song on this album, “Want Me” had me in a chokehold for the first latter of the year. It showcased the member’s vocals and also kept to that classic Victon sound and the lyrics are heartwrenching. It was a strong start to their trilogy and I was literally obsessed; I still am considering that I have the English version of “Chronograph” memorized word for word. Such a great era for our boys.

Choice was the third and final installment in the trilogy and was released in November 2022. It was the first comeback since former member, Chan, had left the group in early October after his DUI came out in the media. It was a weird transition for the group, and I know that this last part of the trilogy was most likely planned and recorded before this news came out, and seeing the boys dwindle down to just 5 members felt wrong. I was nervous about this comeback to say the least. But when the album was finally released, I gasped in shock. Even before I became such a die-hard fan of Victon, I was always impressed at how most of their discography had “no skip” albums. this album is the definition of a “no skip Victon album. The title track, “Virus”, has a nostalgic vibe to it, making it feel like a 2nd or 3rd gen K-pop group (which is crazy to think that these boys are a 3rd-gen group but didn’t get the recognition they deserved until K-pop was in its 4th-gen) type of song. The album tells a beautiful story; starting off being about tragic love and loss yet ending with songs like “Better Place” and “Feels Good”, which are some of the cutest fucking songs to be released by Victon ever. Needless to say, this has been the strongest mini album since Continuous, which was released back in March 2020. This album has become one of my favorites that Victon has released, and that says a lot since I am, once again, very biased for my favorite group.

1.) “HOLY FVCK” – Demi Lovato

For the first time since getting into K-pop, my favorite album of the year wasn’t actually a within that genre! Coming in at number one is my Disney Channel 2008 queen, Demi Lovato. As most of us know, Demi has had a really hard time getting her groove back when it comes to her life but also her career as well. She’s had some bops and bangers of albums even after her Disney days, but none of them truly reign in the same success as her earlier stuff did. I think a lot of Deni fans can agree that she was always our pop-punk princess; her first album, Don’t Forget had hints of pop-punk and teenage angst. Even at a young age, she slaughtered it, so it was a shame that when the music trends changed, she had to change with them as well. Don’t get me wrong, I think one of Demi’s strongest albums post-Disney years was her album Tell Me You Love Me, but when Demi began to release singles off her new upcoming album, I was hyped.

Her first single, “Skin of My Teeth” had me in a chokehold all summer. It was so fucking good and I was so excited for Demi and going back to her more pop-punk but now a little more heavy rock days. Then, she released “Substance”, which again was so fucking good and was on repeat for most of the summer as well. It was gearing up to be an awesome album so when it finally was released in August 2022, I was blown away. The album as a whole tells a story of Demi that we are not strangers to but still remains to always give us glimpses of her story that she never told before. We see this in her third single of the album, “29”, which is basically her talking about a relationship she had with an older man and how now, being 29, realizes that wasn’t okay. Other songs, like “EAT ME”, “HOLY FVCK” and “FREAK” are such fun and hard songs to rock out to, and even after it being months since her album release, these songs still are on my everyday playlist. When she announced her HOLY FVCK Tour dates and I saw that she was coming to NYC, I had to go and see her and it was no doubt the best night of my 2022 year. Hands down.

Anyway, that’s it for now! I’m excited to see how 2023 is going to be within the K-pop scene and even in the western genre! K-Pop prediction: Seungsik making his solo debut before he has to enlist in the military next year? Please and thank you. 🙂

The "Something" Series: Season 2, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2022

Somewhere, Someday, Something: A Grace Monologue.

“Momma will see you tomorrow night, sweetie,” I talk into my phone with it on my shoulder as I go back and forth from my closet to the suitcases spread out on the floor. I finally put the phone on speaker and place it on the floor as I kneel in front of one of the suitcases, organizing everything in it.

“I can’t wait to see you, mommy!” Willow’s voice says through the phone. I smile big.

“Me too, baby,” I said to Willow, looking at the phone. “I love you; put papa back on the phone.” A couple of moments later, I hear the phone being picked up and hear Max’s voice.

“What time is your flight landing tomorrow?” Max asked.

“I’m taking a Red Eye flight tonight, so I should be landing around 5:30,” I answered as I continued to pack. “Ari is picking me up from the airport.”

“Ari?” Max asked and then laughed. “Are you sure she’ll be up that early?” I smiled at Max’s reaction.

“Listen, Ari is a different woman now,” I said. “She’s an almost-married woman.” Max laughs loudly over the phone.

“If Ari actually picks you up on time, tell her I owe her $20,” Max said. I shook my head and chuckled. Max and Ari were always teasing each other; of course, whenever Max and I were on good terms. It’s been a long time since Max and I were on good terms like this. It truly only happens when there’s a distance between us.

“You guys are too much,” I responded. “I should be situated at my parent’s place by the time I should be headed to you guys, but let me know when you’re ready; it’s no rush.”

“Please,” Max scoffed. “Willow will make sure we are ready for you when you come over. Mariam is cooking dinner, so don’t feel like you have to bring anything unless you want to.” I hear a knock on my bedroom door; the door slowly opens and Skylar stands there.

“Alright, I’m going to finish packing, tell Willow I love her,” I said before hanging up the phone. I looked up at Skylar. I feel bad for leaving her in California after everything that happened. I feel guilty even; she’s going to be by herself after having her heart broken by a person I was affiliated with by association.

“Hey, Sky,” I said. Skylar walked into my room and sat at the edge of my bed.

“Hey,” she finally said after looking down at the clothes on the floor. She kneeled down next to me and started to fold the pile of clothes I previously threw on the ground. “You shouldn’t leave this unfolded; it’ll get wrinkled.” I watched Skylar fold the piece of clothing she was talking about. When she was done, she looked at me.

“Are you gonna be okay when I leave?” I asked. Skylar scuffed and began to fold the rest of the clothes.

“Skylar Ashmore is an independent woman,” she started. “I’ll be just fine on my own. I always have.”

“Sky,” I started to say. “It’s okay to still feel sad about Shawn.” Skylar and I haven’t spoken about Shawn or Jamie since the night I saw Jamie at the pier. In a sense, it became taboo to mention those two in this house. But I was leaving in a few hours, and I didn’t want Skylar to have all of this bottled inside her. She deserved to let go. To breathe. To ease her mind.

“I’m fine,” Skylar stated. I rolled my eyes at her. I swear the Ashmore women suck at lying.

“I know you’re not,” I began. “Because I told myself the same thing the first time. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you, Sky.” I was being honest and protective more than comforting and supportive. I know how reckless Skylar can be, and I was afraid that once I left, she’d go party and drink herself into oblivion. Skylar looked annoyed with me.

“I’m not you, Grace,” Skylar spat back at me.

“You don’t have to be like me to be heartbroken because you were in love,” I said bluntly. Skylar didn’t respond; she sat there still folding clothes, most likely deep in her thoughts. “I loved Jamie. The first time he left, I didn’t know how or what to feel. I was just angry and sad and confused. I did stupid shit because I was in love, Sky, and I really look back at that time and really wish I did things differently.”

“Like what?” Skylar asked. Like what? What would I have done differently? I say this about almost everything in my life. I wish I did my childhood differently. I wish I did my high-school years differently. I wish I did college and my career differently. I wish I did things differently with Max and Willow. I wish I did things differently with my life all the time.

“I wish I was able to tell myself that it wasn’t worth it,” I finally said. “I wasted so much time being sad and heartbroken over someone that had no choice but to go back to his home country, but–“

“Then why take him back in the first place?” Skylar asked. I looked at her, not understanding her motive behind this conversation. What was she trying to prove?

“I was in love with him, Sky,” I emphasized. “When he came back, all that hurt that he caused just… went away. I was so in love with him that I subconsciously forgave him for leaving me in the first place.” Skylar got up from the ground and walked out of the bedroom. She left the door open, in which I looked out from where I was sitting to see where she went. She immediately comes back into the room and throws something at me. I looked down at my lap and saw it was a little black box. I looked back up to Skylar.

“What is this?” I asked.

“Open it,” she demanded. I slowly opened the box and saw a bracelet with a charm on it; specifically a charm of a key. I couldn’t process what was going on. “I don’t know if you ever noticed,” Skylar began. I turned the lid of the box around to see a folded piece of paper. I unfold it as Skylar continued to speak.

“It was in the mailbox. Y’know, Jamie wore that bracelet every single time I saw him in person,” Skylar pointed out. I finally unravel the note, in which it simply said, I’m sorry. I know this bracelet was Jamie’s. I know he never took this bracelet off. I noticed it on him the first time I saw him here in California. He said the love of his life gave it to him. I still remember the night I gifted him this bracelet. I felt sick to my stomach. All I could do is look at Skylar, who continues to talk. “And I know you gave him that bracelet because you asked me to get it handcrafted for you and ship it to you when you were in New York.” I couldn’t say anything back. It was like the words were trapped in my throat because if I were to say something, nothing but tears and possibly vomit would come out.

Skylar crossed her arms across her chest and looked directly at me, without any sort of emotion on her face. “If he was able to go back to Korea all of those times without batting an eyelash, then giving back the one thing he held closest to him, the one thing that he had connected to you? It wasn’t hard for him to do. He never truly loved you if he was able to do all of that.”

Was that true? Did Jamie never love me in the first place? That can’t be true. But then what explains this? He had this bracelet for years now. Why give it back? Why give it back if it wasn’t because he didn’t love me?

All I could hear is the white noise from the light on in my bedroom, followed by a sigh from Skylar. Her voice was soft now when she spoke.

“That is why I choose to be fine about Shawn leaving me,” Skylar admitted. “Because he was able to break my heart without even hesitating. Because he always knew he had to go back home when he allowed me to fall in love with him.” Skylar finally left my room and closed the door behind her. The tears couldn’t help but fall down my face. I look at the bracelet in the box. The tears kept falling into the box and on the metal of the bracelet. I couldn’t bare to look at the bracelet anymore. I chucked it on the bed, hoping that I threw it hard enough for it to disappear so I wouldn’t know where it went.

Everything made sense at that moment. It was so easy for Jamie to pack his life up and let me go countlessly in the process. It was so easy for him to let go of the things that he told me all those years ago he would never let go. He let me go time and time again and then got mad t me for trying to let him go for good. Maybe Jamie used me all this time. Maybe he said those things to me because he saw I was broken or some shit. Maybe he saw me at the cafe that day for the first time and took pity on me. Maybe he took everything we had and saw it as temporary and useless to hinder on. Maybe he didn’t see me the way I saw him. I truly did love him, but maybe he truly never loved me.

And maybe it’s that belief that I have to tell myself in order to let go. It’s about time I let him go, because holding on is hurting me more when I know the release will feel like a weight off of my shoulders, and I need that. I need to feel free again. I need to feel something else but emptiness again.

I need to feel like I have a purpose again.