An Anniversary Poem


the road runs underneath us
and orange lights pass
through the windows of our car
as we drive home

you sleep in the 
passenger seat

and i drive and drive 
and think about that day

we wore our best -
a tux and a white dress

and we stood before 
a crowd of people

i told you that 
i'd love you
for better or worse

i told you that i'd love you
for all the days
of your life

and you held your 
left hand out to me

and i slipped a golden ring
around your fourth finger

you smiled 

(i think the whole world 
lights up when 
you smile
by the way)

and as we drive down 
this road

i think about that smile
and all the smiles 
and tears and laughter and anger
i've seen since then

i will drive and drive and 
i will wait eagerly

to see that whatever comes
when you wake


for my parents, who have taught me that love requires dedication, patience and sacrifice, and that there are no limitations to what love can do. happy anniversary!



Tiny Story #140328

(silent house)

When I’m home alone, I think of how empty the house feels. I listen to the lawn mowers rumbling outside on the neighbors’ lawns and I listen to the wooshing sounds that cars make as they zoom down on our street.

I walk around each room, feeling the wood panels flex under my bare feet. I imagine my mother going about her day in this silent house.

I sit in our kitchen nook and imagine her standing near the island, writing a grocery list on a small note pad. She considers which pot she wants to use to make dinner, shifting them around in their drawer as they clang together like heavy bells.

I stand in front of our piano, plucking on key at a time in a C major scale. She has wanted to learn how to play for awhile now. I imagine her sitting on the black cushioned bench, squinting at the contents of Piano For Dummies. Her hands would hover over the white keys and then she’d slowly press a finger down for a note to sound.

I walk through the hallway, where all the doors to all the rooms are closed. I imagine hearing the crack of her slippers on the hardwood floors as she would enter hers and my father’s bedroom.

I imagine what I could do to fill up the silence.

I turn on the television, I turn on my music, I listen to Harry Potter audiobooks. I wait for someone to come home.

There are more stories at my website,! Thanks for reading.  

Rough, Rough Drafts | “Ode to Laundry Pile”


Here’s a rough, rough draft of something that’s been on my mind all week – laundry.  I’ve had a huge pile in my room since the holidays.  I set some time aside to do it this week, but every time I’ve checked our home’s washing machine, it’s been occupied.

I’ve also been itching to write something new and show it, even if it’s not perfect.  I’ve been working on some drafts of old short stories and working on some other stuff, so this blog has kind of gone by the wayside for the past two weeks.  There’s a draft I’m working on where the opening lines are just stumping me.

Drafts are never perfect, especially first drafts.  I can already see things I want to revise after I post, but I think I will always see things that I want to change, even if I get lucky enough to publish stuff.

So here’s to celebrating the rough, rough drafts and imperfection.

Ode to laundry pile

Monday, just a pair of underwear and a towel, slightly damp / Tuesday, my favorite jeans after a walk on the boardwalk / Wednesday, more underwear, more t-shirts, and a pair of socks / / It’s Sunday now and you’ve outgrown your laundry basket // I’m sorry – I’ll wash you soon.

Figuring Out a Direction

Since I graduated from college, I have been trying to figure out what my next move is.  Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Get a job (or two if you can)
  2. Keep writing – do an internship
  3. Pay off loans
  4. Grad school

Steps 1 to 3 are easy – I mean that in the most shallow sense.  The direction is clear and I know what  I need to do and that is to apply to any paying job and save, while getting real-life writing experience on the side.  I’ve procured some work in the fall, and am loving my internship with Noozhawk.

However, step four is giving me all kinds of trouble.

I have been seriously contemplating continuing my education beyond college since my junior year, when my parents convinced me that law school would be a good fit for me because of my good reading and writing skills.

Since I started taking Creative Writing at USD, I had thought about getting an MFA in Creative Writing and, more recently, I have contemplated an Master’s degree in Journalsim or Ethnic Studies (or something similar).

Whenever I pitch these latter options to my parents, they always direct me back to law school, and I am always defensive because I don’t particularly want to be a lawyer.

I know that you don’t have to go to law school and then become a lawyer, but isn’t that what you would usually do?   Wouldn’t the payoff of going to law school be to become a lawyer?  Isn’t it more fiscally responsible?  I’ve expressed the desire to become a journalist or publisher before – will law school get me there?  Will law school get me what I want, if I do not want to be a lawyer?

I keep wrestling with these questions and the answer I always get is always this: law school would give me the best chance to be whatever I wanted to be.  Not only would I learn about extremely important social and legal systems within our society, but I’d be able to become a better thinker and do-er.

I keep thinking that my parents and grandparents are excited about my consideration of law school because it makes me sound impressive, but the real reason is that it ensures a lifestyle of success for me.  It doesn’t really guarantee anything, but it is definitely more stable than a Masters in a humanities subject.

So, I guess the ultimate question is this: What am I looking for?  Do  I want stability?  Will law school help me have a future in which I am happy with my career?  I have some sort of idea of what the answer may be, but nothing concrete and nothing close to Step Four.

Can Your Personality Make or Break Your Career Choice?

Since I was a little kid, I’ve always thought myself to be extremely introverted.  I never really liked initiating conversations and awkward silences always came my way when talking with others.

So, in my adventures in journalism, it has been a challenge to talk to people and get a complete story.  I am currently interning for two companies, both of which have given me opportunities to write stories and go to different sites.  One of them is for a non-profit.  It’s not very structured and I have complete freedom to initiate something amazing.  I’ve had a couple of ideas – one to do a series of interviews for the volunteers at the non-profit.  But I haven’t started because whenever I’m on site, it never seems like a great time to interview people.  I’m too nervous to say, “Hey, I’m making this video, would you consider being interviewed right now?” So far, people do not normally react well to having a camera shoved in their face.

In this case,  I feel as though my part is out of place.  My thoughts are these when I’m onsite: I don’t really belong.  My job is to blend in and document the good times that others are having.  My presence cannot interrupt that good time.  So I can’t interrupt and ask questions.

If I am feeling this way, should I keep considering this career?  I have enjoyed writing and taking pictures and everything – it’s been great… except for the one snag.  I don’t enjoy the feeling of being out of place, but I love going to the events and learning new things.  There must be a way to rework this snag.

By Errol Elumir and Manda Whitney,

By Errol Elumir and Manda Whitney,

Last week as I was thinking about getting up my courage to ask people questions and do interviews, I saw this chart on Tumblr and rated myself.  I’m more of an introvert, with some extrovert mixed in.  I’ve always thought that as I grew up, I would become more extroverted.  The reality is that I can’t change who I am.  The chart won’t define me indefinitely, but it helps me understand how I think and how others think. It helps me see why I feel stuck in this silent rut.

I keep thinking that I just need to do it.  Just go up to people, introduce myself, ask for an interview, and just do it.  I imagine it and envision it for hours before, and then it all just crashes down.

For now, I’m learning.  I’m learning what to ask people and learning how I work with myself.  I don’t have to be perfect, but just be honest with those I am working with and keep coming up with ideas.  Then, I just need to do it.

Dear Dad


Dear Dad,

Thank you.  You do so much for us.  I cannot imagine how life would have turned out without you in it.

Thank you for being our driver anywhere and everywhere even if I could see your eyelids drooping in the rearview mirror.  Even if I or Mom offered to drive you wouldn’t let us.

Thank you for the nickname Frankerooski.  And for all the nicknames you’ve given to everyone in our family (i.e. Niks the Deeks, Lex the Tex, and other rhymes of the sort). It makes us feel special and loved and part of something.

Thank you for all the movie nights, even when we watched “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with the traumatizing sex scenes and the traumatizing almost-murder scene and the thrills.

Thank you for teaching me to listen to mom because she’s usually right.  Thanks for teaching me how to take care of my car.  Thanks for teaching me how to properly walk on someone’s back.

Thanks for believing in me and thank you for all of your love.

Real Versus Fake: What Does it Take to be a “Real” Anything?


As I try to break into the field of writing, I have thought a lot about the tools and experience I would need to be a “real writer.”  Real writers seem to spend a lot of alone time.  Real writers have awesome cameras.

After seeing a call for submissions on a local magazine, I thought about writing a piece about Pacific Coast Highway – my boyfriend and I had driven down it the a few weeks ago on our way home from Santa Monica.  It’s beautiful and would be a great subject for writing because of its familiarity and beautiful scenery, but I couldn’t imagine the spread without some great pictures of the water and local tourist traps.

As I imagined myself driving down and taking some great pictures, I thought about the shots I could take, but for some reason, I felt limited by the camera I have.  It’s a Canon Powershot, a digital, point-and-shoot camera.  I received it as a gift from my parents on Christmas a few years ago after I expressed the desire for a camera.  They bought it specifically because it takes great close-up shots – I was really into taking pictures of flowers at the time.  It takes really crisp, clean shots and is a great little camera, except for a couple of things.  It’s a bit on the heavy side and I feel as though the lighting is off a lot of the time (which might or might not be a camera issue).

However, when I think of “real photographers,” I think of people with DSLR cameras who know about shutter speed and aperture and lighting and Photoshop stuff.  One of the things I thought I needed to be a journalist was a good camera and maybe more photography experience.  I have always wanted to take a photography class, so I looked into taking a class at city college during the summer so I could get my bearings.  I even shopped Craigslist ads for DSLR cameras.  In my mind, to be a real photographer, I had to get a camera with a real shutter.

I called someone who was selling a Canon Rebel and talked to him about potentially interning for his event photography business.  It seemed sketchy – I called him about a camera, he started asking invasive questions about why I wanted the camera, and then he was directing me to a website about his business.  I still wanted to do it anyways.  It meant doing “real photography” and becoming more than an amateur.

My mom was really worried – not just because it seemed like a total stranger was looking to take advantage of my naiveté, but also because it seemed like I was jumping at any chance with some desperation.

“Just take it easy,” she said.  “You have plenty of time to get where you want to be.  You don’t have to resort to Craigslist.”

And she was right.  In just the last two days, I’ve gotten the opportunity to take loads of pictures through my current internships.  And I’ve done just fine with the camera that I have.

In my last post, and even the one before that, I have talked about taking risks and slowing down. It’s clearly not easy for me.  I still have that vision, that goal, and I am hell-bent on achieving it.  I’m desperate, even.  I’m slowly learning that It’s not really about the tools that I have, but the experience that I am gaining.

So, I don’t need a new camera – it would be great to get one.  But, my parents bought my camera for me to take pictures with because they knew I had an interest in taking pictures and they thought I had an eye for it.  Just this alone gives me the opportunity to be a real photographer.  I’m not going to say that I am a real photographer – I don’t think I’m even close to it.  What I can do is take that belief that my parents had (and hopefully still have) in me and use it to add it into my life’s work.

I’ve got a lot under my belt – I just took some pictures at a fancy charity event, and I’ve got the support of my family and friends.  I don’t need to be a real journalist with a real camera and everything else.  It’s actually more simple than I ever imagined.  I just need to do my job with the tools that I have.

The Summer Before the Rest of my Life

Last week, I delved into the job hunt.  Here are the numbers so far:

  • It’s been days.
  • I have emailed 12 people about potential jobs and internships and submitted 3 job applications.
  • In response, I have gotten 4 phone calls and 2 emails.
  • I have driven 180 miles for a job interview in Santa Monica.
  • I have 1 internship interview lined up for this week and am waiting for callback.

Currently, I have volunteered to be a social media intern for Girls Rock SB and a cantor at a local parish.  On top of this, I recently had a job interview in which the interviewer informed me that there would be a training period of 6 months in New Jersey.  It’s kind of exactly what I wanted.  I’d be able to move to somewhere new, living in a small apartment somewhere, and learn how to take care of myself.  It could complete one of my scenarios.

But as I think about the possibility of moving to New Jersey, my recent interview experience with a rude Craigslist employer, my recent commitments here with Girls Rock and church, and my plans for the summertime, I start to feel very overwhelmed.  I feel as though I am trying to move 100 miles and hour while summertime requires a slower rate of speed.  In 7 days, I have been in contact with six different people so that I could build up my summer schedule, not including friends and family.  I have made promised to two organizations for my time, and a lot of plans with friends for summer plans.  There’s lots to do, and what if I have to move to New Jersey next week?  What will happen to those commitments and plans?

In the past 7 days, I have learned a lot already.  I have learned that I need to live out each day with every intention to succeed.  I have learned that there is a great pasta place just a bit out of Downtown Santa Monica.  I have also learned that good things come to those who wait and to those who seek those things.

These commitments and plans are fleeting opportunities, and I need to grab them whenever I can – whether that be a career opportunity or a fun opportunity.  This summer is full of possibility and all plans never go the way I see them going – I just need to keep waiting and looking for those things.