My suggestion is… Add the Solar Eclipse to your bucket list.

Eclipse Shadow Art

It’s hard to even describe in words. When folks who are unfamiliar with phenomenons are focused on the question, “How or why is the solar eclipse such a big deal?” or the bitter citizens who barely grasp any unique opportunities in life and live slowly. How would you respond? Do you react based on emotions, or do you sit back and try to comprehend the messages prior to your response?

Well, this is my response. If you missed the eclipse, I HIGHLY suggest you plan to witness the phenomenon in 2024. Plan now! Yeah, you can watch the eclipse from the comfort of your home and in front of the damn TV, but you won’t ever be able to experience the feelings that the solar eclipse gives this atmosphere. Especially when it emerges to darkness in the mid of day. There is an effect in the environment that the eclipse reveals, that no other abnormality event does.

Not even the highest resolution of live streaming nor photography can really emphasis the emotions behind the two minutes and a few seconds of change in this experience.You witness animals react differently, even us humans, get some type of sensation. For me, it was a calming sensation in the midst of darkness. The beauty that is captured with the moon’s moment placed in front of the sun is unspeakable. It is just another part of evidence that we are all connected, not just with one another, but with the rest of the universe.

Now on to my road trip story…

Lincoln Memorial Bridge

My friend and I drove down Sunday afternoon. Mind you we got all the way to Marion, IL in 6.5 hours that night. That’s about 370 miles from where I live. Just remember that minor fact. We were some of the crazy solar eclipse road trippers that planned this less than a month out of the event. So, we packed only our necessities, and just camp out at a truck stop for the night. 

When we got to our destination, it was packed. There was no where to park at the truck stop due to liked minds traveling down to this event. It took about 30 minutes for us to find a spot, so we could set up our sleeping quarters in the Subaru. It surely was summer down in Southern, IL. We had to crack open the windows and the sun roof to get air into the vehicle. It wasn’t too comfortable early on the night, but it was interesting to just sit there, listen, and observe the atmosphere that was created by the curious population, world-wide. You couldn’t help, but embark the excitement that everyone else was inkling. 

As we woke in the morning, you can just sense the summer heat that was creeping in to challenge our patience. The weather wasn’t the first thing we noticed; we noticed all the vehicle swap outs from those who were sleeping along with us when we went to bed, to those who were currently sleeping next to us as we woke up. One of those individuals was a sweet elder lady named Mapie, but ‘Map’ for short. She had an accent, but we failed to ask about her background. She drove down from Chicago during the late hours of night. My friend did most of the talking with her, since I am not a huge morning person and when it comes to meeting new people, I am a bit shy and reserved. Shocking, I know.

The Vault Cafe

After the bit of sharing road trip stories and the advice she shared with her experience of road tripping across America, my friend and I adventure to a small local joint called, “The Vault Cafe.” The people of Marion turned their old bank into a cute and hot brunch spot for locals. For a minute, I felt I was on “Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives” with Guy Fieri while finding this delicious and unique spot. The food was delicious and filling, and the prices were just right. The hospitality from the employees was just on point. I gave them a five star review! So in 2024, if you are planning for the next eclipse, look for this spot!

After we got done eating, we headed to Ray Fosse Park in Marion. The priority was to find shade, because the forecast was calling for a heat index of 100-105 degrees. So shade and drinking our beverages were a priority while we patiently wait for the eclipse. We got to the park about 10-1030am, with a few other participants. Everyone was friendly regarding conversations, or just sharing a smile with one another. It’s like we all found more individuals that belonged in our ‘love for Science’ tribe across the states. I set up my camera and just waited. 

Camera shot through solar glasses

The eclipse started roughly at noon. It was the start of a twilight zone. The start to the total eclipse seemed rather quickly, while the two minutes and some change of the total eclipse felt completely in the moment. Time had stood still. It was beyond gorgeous and a calming effect on my half during the totality. Darkness of day, and I had never felt so carefree in my life. My soul, mind, and body just embraced the mystic muse. If I could rewind back in time, this is surely an experience I’d love to repeat. Like I said, words can’t really explain the experience, no matter how long I drag this post out.

The traffic was extremely painful in the first 170 miles driving home, as it took us 6.5 hours to go only that amount of miles. With music, the Wazer app to chat and joke with other Wazers on the road, and the locals waving at us from off the Interstate, while we participated in the parade of traffic moving like molasses, I can’t help, but be proud and present a smile on my face for having the courage to find myself in the middle of the celebration and beautiful chaos of this once in a lifetime opportunity! Road rage had to wait another day.

This is a trip I’ll never forget and I plan to do it again in 2024, but better prepared. This event has helped remind me, no matter how big or small choices may be in life, live it with no fear and with all the passions in your life. That is where your happiness resides. Even if the smallest moments can bring people together, embark on it, don’t try to crumble the moment. Remember, it’s a moment of togetherness, but it’s also temporary. Let the people have that precious moment. Live life with the pride and love that comes from within. Don’t let negativity dictate your life or make you feel bad. As long as you aren’t harming anyone or yourself, physically, emotionally, or mentally, do you!

Debriefing My Mission in Toronto

I have had two weeks to sort out my memories and thoughts from my trip to Toronto. A part of me is still sorting out the thoughts and the emotions, since I am still in awe for parts of it still. I have a habit of getting the after effects after I decompress from an event that is so large in my heart and in my emotions. La Femme Nikita has done so much for me in a small dosage of my life, but nothing could compare to the event of sitting and personally interacting in the same room as half the cast and parts of the crew behind the production that created such magic in my young life.

Never in my life would I have thought I’d be able to personally witness similar magic sixteen years later after the final scene was shot for Season Five of the show that would go down as one of the most dominant female roles in television history. Yeah, the show only lasted five short seasons (96 total episodes), but at the same time, I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to creating television or film. La Femme Nikita was one of very few shows that proved that and still holds a torch in that influential aspect for creating stories in my book, figuratively and literally. It ended imperfectly perfect in my optical illusion.

Regardless of my feelings for the show, Toronto became so much more than the convention itself. Behold the reunion was beauty of its own with the cast and crew that attended. The priority was the convention, since I was handpicked by the organizers to be the lead for the photography team for the event, as well as, be a part of the security team.

With those positions, I got to observe a different view and have different stories than most fans at the event. The most important thing I must add before I share my individual stories, is this, the new, and some old, friendships I encountered during my week in Toronto will be the biggest memories I will hold dear in my heart forever. The memories and quotes I’ll share justifies my week in Toronto with the individuals’ who made an impression on me for the rest of my life.

I traveled to Toronto on Wednesday, just like the Co-Chairs did, and it didn’t take long for me to reunite with sweet Maxine and introduce myself to Jayne and Maria. We went to the bar to chat and prep for the weekend, as I shared my background with the two I recently met and asked the ladies what they expect of me over the weekend. Shortly after, I asked Maxine to invite our friend, Emma, down to get the party started, so to speak. Shortly, behold, Emma! We chatted a bit, shared some laughs, and shared some stories of our times together in Montreal two years ago to Jayne and Maria. The weekend was already off to a good start.

Thursday morning, I unusually was up by 0800 to prepare my day with Emma to go to the CN Tower. I opened the windows to discover I have brought the rain straight from Wisconsin. I then made my way downstairs to check out the breakfast, because I can’t say no to food often. I walked into the restaurant, Hemispheres, and I quickly spot Emma sitting down for breakfast and took it upon myself to join her since we were already spending the day together. After breakfast, we took thirty minutes to prepare ourselves to walk in the rain to the CN Tower and back.

Maxine thought we were crazy, but we went ahead and did it. The rain was heavy; however, it was also warm and refreshing. By the time we reached back to the hotel, we were just downright soaked from the weather. Emma’s raincoat couldn’t even save her from the rain, since it was coming down at an angle. A rich memory in its own way.

Thursday night, I met Kris, as she flew in and I welcomed her to stay in my room. We shared stories of our lives and some of the best quotes came just from our conversations:

Kris: “Geez, you type fast.”
Me: “Well, that’s what happens when you’re a millennial.”
Kris: “That is a great quote! I need to post it…
Five seconds later…
Kris: “How do you spell millennial?”
Me: “You want to be a writer and you can’t spell millennial?”

I still smile when I think of our monologues from Thursday night.

Friday, finally, my partner-in-crime, from Madison, came to join me for the weekend event. Rae Ann
flew in early, bright eyed bushy tail and not a moment was wasted for her arrival, as we dropped her bags off in the room, and rushed out the door to start our day. Our first stop was as predictable as they come, if you know me. If you don’t, it was Starbucks. Now you know me and what my priorities are.

As we were strolling to our first adventures, Ripley’s Aquarium, I spied a new face that would request me on my Facebook messenger, who would become a breath of fresh air for Rae Ann and I. Our new friend and addition to our adoption habits would be none other than Mary Rosa from Venezuela. She would join us at the aquarium and be added to our great memories over the weekend. Four o’clock creeped quickly as it was the start of registration. The three of us would stroll back together to the hotel.

After registration, I would be patiently waiting for our Chair meeting with the leaders of the pack (Maxine, Maria, and Jayne). Around 1900, Rae Ann and I would take over the registration table for Karen and Carol, so the ladies of the RD Fan Club could reunite for dinner and catch up with one another. Yes, I am one of those ladies, technically, but work was priority for myself. I do apologize for the ladies for not being able to join, but for those who came by the table to say their hellos to me after dinner, I am much obliged. Thank you!

There was not a dull moment at the registration table though, as Rae Ann and I were waiting for Jen to arrive for the night, our other roommate for the weekend. Stacey and Beth would eventually feed me brownies, as an attempt, to boost my sleep deprived laughter with sugar. I am not sure if that was a good idea, because unexpectedly, Rae Ann and I, would be introduced to Gene during that time. It came to the point of Maxine being a bit concerned about me momentarily, but I assured her I was okay. The moment I got to shake Gene’s hand, he spotted my accent:

Gene: “I hear an accent from you. Where are you from?”
Gene: “I can tell. I love it.”

Right off the bat, Gene did not portray an ounce of Operation’s character. What an amazing start of the weekend, might I add. He was surely warm and full of wonderment during all the moments I shared with him throughout the weekend. He seriously loved every minute of ReCon. You could tell with every moment you shared with him. He was in heaven that weekend.

Saturday morning, I reported to ‘Oversight’ after my Starbucks run with my roommates. I then went into my operative mode for the day with both teams I was running with (photography and security). I was focused. Saturday afternoon was huge. I got to witness and snap photos of Jamie Paul Rock with Gene, Matt, and Roy, before the panel. Jamie got me to do it right away with just the sarcastic comment, “What else do you have to do?” The guys were down to earth and chilled from the moment they walked into the VIP area with smiles and jokes that could go on for days if you allowed them.

The cast’s stories they shared from set was just a beautiful recollection I got to hear and witness from their tales during the panel. Peta was skyped in during the panel. It would be better and more complete if she was there in person, but skyping and sharing the moment with the guys was better than not making an appearance at all. For that, I am grateful that the ladies in charge and Peta could compromise and make the panel work with her on board.

The big test for my personal affairs came when the autographs and photo ops were next. Unfortunately, I got the word that Roy had to leave right at 1700 to catch his flight home, so when it came to the photos, I was set up to succeed, lining up my photographers, each with an actor. I got the opportunity to do Roy’s photos with the fans. One snap and it was on to the next, boom. Roy even complimented my work flow as professional, as I remained focused on the mission at hand. I won’t lie, having Roy in front of me, helped me stay calm during the whole experience.

I loved the afternoon with the cast, like everyone else, but what peaked me the most, as a student going through video production in college for my second degree, I was more intrigued by the stories from the editors, writers, Jon Cassar, Joel Surnow, Jamie Paul Rock, and the other crew members who got their start in the film industry on La Femme Nikita.

For me, the panels that these guys and gals held was very informative on the production side of creating good television. The panel that was the most insightful and most informative for me, was Brock Jolliffe (FX Effects) and Mic Jones (Stunt Coordinator) w/ one of his stunt doubles. I learned a lot about their jobs with the stories they shared and it gave me a new perspective of how much work and skills needs to be done to successfully film an action sequence.

Sunday night would be a post-con adventure of a lifetime with Jen, Rae Ann, Kate, and KC. We started to just stroll towards the Art Gallery, but we were hungry first, so we walked until we found a few choices. Across from a Catholic church, we had the choice of Village Idiot Pub or Sin & Redemption. Mind you, we chose Sin & Redemption. Most of us found redemption.

After lunch, we finally made it to the Art Gallery of Ontario, but we only had an hour and a half before it closed, yet… three and a half hours before we had to be at the Murdoch Mysteries Escape Room that Rae Ann booked for us. There was no way we would get through the whole Art Gallery in an hour and a half, so we chose wisely and kept to the culture of the country we were in, Canada.

I was profound by the aboriginal and the abstract art in the galleries. Two of my favorites. Some of the most incisive art in my book at the AGO was the art made by bone. It creeped some people out, but I was drawn to it most for some reason. The pieces shared some stories, I can tell you that much.

As AGO closed at 1730, we still had two hours to kill before the Escape Room, so the ladies and I strolled some more, going towards the house that we needed to be at for the Escape Room. We would find a local Mexican joint for Margaritas. Unfortunately, Mexican in Toronto, is not up to par in my book. Not anywhere close to the authenticity of the food South of our border, but the virgin margarita I had was delicious and refreshing.

Honestly, I never been to an escape room, nor have I ever watched the Murdoch Mysteries. I was going on this damn thing blind. When we got into the room after the constable gave us instructions on the room, the only thing I knew I was good as is finding things, so I started to just randomly find clues and deliver them to Rae Ann since she was the most experienced individual in our group for these escape room thingy’s.

The highlight of the adventure was when Rae Ann and I caught on to the fact that the constable we were working with was the ‘bad guy’ and the good guy was trapped in the jail cell. We didn’t know who or how we were going to distract the ‘bad guy’ and we were failing badly with just the two of us. I don’t know how she found out, but then out of nowhere, here comes Paula, bum rushing into the constable as Rae Ann was able to pick pocket the constable, so we can free the ‘good guy.’ Then as the ‘bad guy’ tried to stop Rae Ann from leaving her side, I somehow used my operative skills to grab the key from Rae Ann and unlock the jail cell for the ‘good guy.’

While all of this was going on, Kate was in her own world in the secret room trying to figure out what an out of tuned old piano was trying to hint at us for the next clue. She had no idea what was going on in the main room. She then came in, and by that time, we already swapped constables, and her expression was priceless. Rae Ann and I just said, “Don’t worry, we got this.”

Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the task when the one hour was up. With a group of seven, we were only one lock away from succeeding, but it was extremely fun for something that I have not done before. Trust me when I say, I will make Rae Ann take me to more rooms back home.

If you have not tried an escape room, I highly recommend you find a theme you like, grab some friends (preferably more than seven people, max is twelve), and go at it! This was surely one of my top favorite non-convention memories from Toronto.

Another favorite memory I got to take home was from my last night in Toronto with Maria, Jayne, Mary Rosa, Maxine, MJ, and Kristiana on Monday night. We first gathered in the bar to recollect the whole weekend, and ended the weekend memories hanging in Maxine’s room. Two generation of fans (the old and new) just enjoying each other’s company! Such sweet ladies I get the privilege to call my friends!

PS – I went 2,507 words without saying my favorite word… Fuck.

What I Didn’t Know Then, I Sure As Hell Do Now

I am working hard to revamp my business foundation. So much more on the business aspect. Ugly, but necessary to succeed in this world. A to-do list has been made. To-do lists are a means to make the productivity go as smoothly as possible. Without the organization, the foundation will crumble.

To-do lists also help me stay focused when my mind enjoys a loop into the Attention-Deficient Disorder episodes. I guess you can say a counter-act of sorts to the obstacles that try to stand in my way path to find the means of the business life I want to succeed in.

Yes, my mind is slowly expanding towards the business aspect of my dreams. I’ve recently learned that majority of artists don’t understand the aspect of business. Some are not even willing to compromise their creativity, or expand in a sense to profit their artwork or work towards the demands of the business world. Especially with today. So many corporates give the word ‘business’ a bad name and even sometimes portray it as a satanic mindset, but let’s get back to earth. Like it or not, money makes the world go round, money puts food on the table (which reminds me…), money helps those in need. If you were true to your heart as an artist or a business individual, you wouldn’t hesitate to keep to your heart. Sacrifice a little to help others, but also make sure you can feed your own soul, mind, and body as well.

Regardless of everything going on in this world, STILL TODAY, nothing is just black and white. Not art, not reality, not science, not imagery, not politics, and not business. Everything is becoming clear. Everything is based on comprehension, perspective and subjective in the most obscene ways. My philosophical viewing is just getting stronger as I age, regardless of the current populum fallacy of the world.

I think that’s my cue to end this post. This is just an example of my ADD. One second I am talking about business, the next… philosophy? One of many mysteries of my mind. Welcome to my visions.

Discovering Minimalism…

Pop! Vinyl collection

The other week I watched two documentaries, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and Happy. It astonishes me how materialistically we are consumed in the Americanized societies in the world. We have so much luxuries! Why do we struggle with mental health as a whole?! Hell, there are people in India who lives in poverty and are much happier with the cards that God dealt them in life than an American with a crap load of money. The two previous documentaries are a wake up call for me.

No worries, I am going somewhere with this; first, define happiness and minimalism for me right now. Just jot down your ideologies at this very moment. Set it aside. We will get back to this point of my blog momentarily.

Just a part of my
book collection.

I will be frank, I have financial stability in my life, but I am also a geek that has to have so much crap to prove my geekiness. Money flies, but I am not alone.

America and majority of developed countries have a need to buy materialistic waste for a short-term satisfactory emotion. We have the needs to get the most recent technology, the most expensive brands of clothes, the most fashion furniture. What happens when we pass on in this lifetime? Most things gets handed off, but a lot of it gets thrown in the trash. More space consumption for the infamous pollution crisis. Well, that’s my visual on the bigger picture, or am I missing something? I mean I understand each individual is different.

We, as a whole, are always competing with each other with the best of this, the
best of that, and how much money we make. Why? I am guilty of it myself. I envy my friends who make more than me and sometimes find myself a bit stingy with those that make less than me. Yes, I worked my ass off in my life to be where I am at, but it needs to be nip in the butt. I need to get back to the reality of what values I possess in this greedy society and hang onto that. My poetry, my books collection, my camera; that is the most valuable means in this life for me.

Another kryptonite of mine is food. Either I order too much or I buy too much groceries than I can intake in my meal preps and end up throwing out a good portion. Speaking of portioning my prep meals, I need to discipline myself with leftovers. I need to be better for the environment and for the people. It’s a slap in the face when you have all this food and in the world hunger and poverty is still one of the biggest issues. If I nip my part of this issue in the ass, I would be doing my part in society for the environmental and societal issues that we have today. I want to do better, I know I can.

So for moving into my new apartment next month, I am going through my excessive foods and materials and will donate what I really don’t need or won’t eat in the next four weeks.
In return of all these adjustments in my life, I can do more of what makes me the happiest, traveling.

Now let’s go back to you. What makes you happy? What are your thoughts of minimalism? Are you willing to adjust your lifestyle to do better for this society as a whole? I am not asking you to radicalize, I’m just requesting baby steps.

Tis the Season… To Get Back To Writing.

I’m breathing, hastily, but still… I am breathing. You can either thank the harsh, wet winter or the fact that I have survived another semester of the college life. I should be happy working on a second college degree, but lately I been frustrated. These days all I want to do is write. Write, write, WRITE!
So of course I am working on my third book once again after putting it aside for 18 months and focusing on a largely transition in my life from moving to a bigger city, getting robbed in six months of living here, consuming my life with institutional training and now working a decent job. All of this gives me a hard time to let my creative juices flow naturally.
But there is a positive note for my challenges. I have written enough new poetry for a fourth book to publish within the next year as well, but I need to get my third book done first! My ADD has other plans though. I have no idea what theme or design to create my book cover or even a title for my fourth book.
So, I pinch myself to refocus on my current projects and to finish editing this damn book I been sitting on (figuratively, not literally) for the past year or so. Ironically how I am killing time while typing you up a livelihood of an update in my articulate journey.
Life is fucking crazy!
Okay, I feel better now that I screamed that out…

…In my mind and onto this blog.

Bottom line: The Road to Healing: An Equestrian Journal will be published on 12/22/16. Two years after my second book was published! Speaking of my second book, I need to go back and edit the format for that book and my first book to make it more readable for my readers and republish those collections. After that, I can figure out where to go with my fourth book.

For now, I need to snowboard through this two-part snow storm to get my ‘happy-ass’ to work for the evening. I am closing with a sneak peak photo and poem that will be in my new book.