writing

If the Timehop App Knew Too Much

Alongside hitting snooze upwards of three times, my morning routine usually consists of checking the Timehop app on my phone. For those of you unfamiliar, Timehop connects to your social media accounts and tells you what you have posted on that day, however many years ago. In my case, Timehop usually reminds me of bad jokes I’ve made—though to be fair, I usually still laugh at them.

Sometimes when I read through an old status or tweet or Instagram picture, I’m reminded of more than just the post itself. I have flashbacks of the days and moments surrounding the post, getting a little glimpse into where I was when I posted it. This got me thinking: wouldn’t it be something if Timehop somehow tapped into those moments in time, both the good and the bad?

It would probably look something like this:

6 years ago today you said “you too” when the theater ticket taker said, “enjoy the movie.”

4 years ago today you woke up and felt inexplicably different about the relationship you were in.

2 years ago today you spent the entire day on the couch for no reason.

1 year ago today you ate 15 Oreos for breakfast and couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.

7 years ago today you fell in surface love with a person you saw on the freeway and spent a solid 10 minutes picturing what your future together would be like.

3 years ago today you looked in the mirror and liked what you saw for the first time in a long time.

5 years ago today you ate expired food from your fridge.

5 seconds ago today you were still wondering if it had any lasting effects.

14 years ago today you saw your favorite movie for the first time.

10 years ago today you made awkward small talk with a person who would become your best friend.

 

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d like a deeper digging Timehop. I like the freedom of being able to block things out here and there. But I suppose the important thing to remember, both about the real Timehop, and the nosy, fictional one I’ve imagined, is that it can remind us of all the moments that have lead us to where we are now, and the ones currently leading us somewhere in the future. Today will be full of those moments, as will tomorrow. They won’t all be easy, but they’ll be necessary to help us get where we’re destined to go.

Blogging Tips that Helped Me (& Can Hopefully Help You Too)

By no means do I consider myself a professional in any capacity when it comes to writing, however, I have done (at least one) lap around the block, as they say. 

This past month marked my 4-year blogging anniversary, which made me feel a lot of feels and sent me on one of those oh, how far I’ve come type mind rants. And while I’ll spare you the details of that I thought it might be nice to give a list of different tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

The way I see it, this is an ever evolving medium that will always have new things to learn, and it can never hurt to share!

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1) Beyond Your Blog

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If you’re a writer looking for places to submit your work this is essentially the MECCA of opportunities. I owe almost every publishing credit I have to this website, so I could never recommend it enough. Unfortunately, I think it is closing down soon, but before it does, do yourself a favor and take some notes!

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2) Submittable Newsletter

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When sending work to different publications, I often come into contact with Submittable as the platform used for submissions. And while I’m not sure when exactly I found out/signed up for their newsletter, I’m glad I did. Once a week the Submishmash Newsletter sends me two emails, the first of which gives a list of a bunch of publications and competitions that are open to submissions and the second gives you a list of top stories you can read for inspiration! It’s a win win!

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

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3) Unsplash

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This is my go-to place for all things pictures! When I’m writing a new blog I often try to find a nice/appropriate picture to go along with it and this website is stocked with absolutely GORGEOUS, free photos. You heard me right: FREE! Just type in a couple keywords and browse around the incredible gallery and voila your blog is looking professional.

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4) #MondayBlogs

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On the average week, I try to post two blogs, one on Mondays and one on Thursdays. (HEYOO, she’s on it this week!) In keeping to this schedule, I eventually came across #MondayBlogs on Twitter, which is a tag tracked by the account @MondayBlogs. They go through and retweet a ton of blogs posted on Mondays, which is great because it can both give your blog more publicity and give you access to a bunch of new reading material!

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5) Daily Post/Community Pool

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If you’re a WordPress blogger, you gotta jump on these trains!

The Daily Post publishes a prompt every single day to both give you inspiration and provide you a place to share your work! I love going through and reading the posts and have made more than a few blogging friends doing so.

The Community Pool is another place you can share your work with the WordPress community. It’s give you the opportunity to post a link to either a recent post or your blog as a whole and ask for feedback from your fellow bloggers!

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6) The Paper Kites

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Feel free to disagree with me on this one, but I have yet to find an artist that gets my creative juices flowing like The Paper Kites. I don’t know what it is, they just get me in the zone, you know? I’ve probably listened to their album twelvefour over one hundred times, so if you’re looking for some high quality writing music, I recommend it!

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That’s all I have for now, I hope that any/all of these can be of some assistance!

Have any tips/tricks/go-to writing music of your own you are willing to share? Please do!

Ideas that Never Became Blog Posts (For Good Reason)

Even though it may be IMPOSSIBLE to imagine, sometimes I have bad ideas for blog posts.

What? You mean you’re not always a genius lyrical angel?!

At the risk of shattering your universe…no.

But while we all occasionally have bad ideas or plans that don’t work out quite how we imagined, I feel that as a writer—who writes every idea/random thought/passing emotion downI’m often subjected to physical evidence of these plans and ideas, and the results consistently leave me scratching my head.

So, in the hopes of garnering a few smiles and giving a few shout outs to the crazies like me, I’d like to share some of these failed ideas with you. These are notes I’ve written on my phone, on post-it’s, in the moleskin notebooks I carry around in my purse, these are even ideas I tried to flesh out in a Word document on my computer, only to come across it months later and think: Where the hell was I going with this?

Enjoy!

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“Balloon: blowing it up, leaving you light headed?”

Yes, blowing balloons up does leave you lightheaded…and? What’s the metaphor here, Kim? Why did you feel the need to write down something you’ve known since you were 5? And why is it a question rather than a statement?


 

“2 grey jackets”

Am I buying the jackets? Are the jackets a code word for human beings I admired/hated? Am I one of the jackets? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! 


 

“0 –> velociraptor REAL QUICK”

This, of course, is a parody of Drake’s lyrics: “Zero to one hundred, real quick”, though I’m not sure what my rewording is in response to, or the party involved. Had I met someone whose persona switches from zero (a.k.a normal) to velociraptor (a.k.a ???) at an expedited speed? Was I the person that did this? Did I write this whilst in velociraptor mode?


 

“Life is like a puzzle. We are the piece among thousands that make up the world and we collect pieces to complete our own. Some pieces are easy to find. The edges make sense and the patterns match—

Okay I’m not even going to finish that one. Stop it, Kim. Just stop it. You’ve taken this metaphor too far. You’re trying to be too deep. This was clearly written on an iPhone note at 2 a.m. You should have just rolled over and went to sleep. 


 

This next one was found in a document entitled “The Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Trust Issue.” Again, this was CLEARLY written late at night, when thoughts really shouldn’t be written down for the morning brain to find. This one, however, is too funny not to share in its entirety.

Pigs don’t need houses: Farmer john is the one taking all the shit, seeing and shielding all the bad

Pigs get threatened (we get hurt)

Our house is blown down. We’re a little shaken up, we go out and find sticks, we’ll obviously need something stronger to protect us, not as easy to break down but also not as easy to get inside

House blows down. Now we are thoroughly convinced of the impending bad. We expect it, and refuse to be surprised, so we build a home of bricks. One sure to keep us safe. The only people worth trusting are those already inside. A knock at the door means danger, so it’s best to shake off any new introductions.

It’s just like the story, except there’s only one pig, and we keep getting tricked.

Please do yourself a favor and read that last line a few times and have a good laugh. “It’s just like the story, except there’s only one pig, and we keep getting tricked.” So, yeah. In case you were a little confused about the way life works, I pretty much spelled it out for you there. We are (apparently) all naïve pigs, the end.


 

And for the grand finale, here are a bunch of snippets from a long winded metaphor I typed up about…SANDWICHES.

I wish I was kidding.

A sandwich is a small part of the food chain we’ve grown familiar with, but then again so are we.

I make myself a sandwich every morning. The ingredients are basic, safe. I don’t venture far into creative combinations. The innovation isn’t appealing enough to risk the stomach ache or the bad taste.

Like any good food metaphor, this one takes a moment of self-reflection. Are you the sandwich, hoping to satisfy? Or are you an ingredient, hoping to be made into something bigger and better? Are you the butter knife? The bread? The extra avocado?

I was bread. Lying in a pile of others just like me, wondering when I’d get my chance to make something of myself.

All I’m certain of, is he is the cheese. Of his own sandwich or mine, I’m not sure.


 

Honestly, why do you even listen to a word I say?

I mean, I’d like to blame all of these on staying up too late, but some of these ideas float by during working hours. Should we be worried? Should I be worried? Maybe I am just a naïve pig after all.

How to be Me for Halloween

With only about two weeks left until Halloween we’ve officially reached that point where you’re either going to have to suck it up and overspend on a costume at an outlet, pull a clever one together at a thrift shop, or cut holes in a trusty white sheet.

I personally am not a huge Halloween person, but I also refuse to be the party pooper in the corner that came as a disgruntled version of myself. So, I’ve got something in the works that hopefully doesn’t turn out terrible. (That’s the spirit!)

When I was brainstorming my costume this year, I scrolled through a bunch of articles online and saw a variety of clever ideas. Television characters and famous personalities, punny collaborations and comically literal depictions of pop culture. In looking through the costumes of athletes and movie stars and TV characters, I started thinking about how funny it is that we love to dress up in “costumes” that depict the casual dress of a character or real-life person. In doing so, I thought about what someone might use to fashion a costume representative of me.

This is what I came up with:

What You’ll Need

  • Black leggings
  • A t-shirt and a maroon zip up hoodie OR a crewneck sweatshirt
  • No-show socks
  • Black converse
  • A birthmark on the middle finger of your left hand
  • A Fitbit
  • A broken-in hair tie on your left wrist
  • A hydroflask water bottle
  • A medium sized purse containing a Mary Poppins assortment of practical things
  • A casual blend of awkward, anxious, and confident
  • Well timed bad jokes
  • Well timed laughter to back up the jokes

How to Pull Off the Character

  • Be nice to most everyone, but don’t be afraid to give the occasional dirty look and/or refusal of laughter to a clear cut asshole
  • Whenever there is an awkward silence, look at your nails
  • Whenever you’re trying to fill an awkward silence, overuse finger guns for no reason and then regret it for hours afterwards.
  • Try to work Chopped into almost every conversation
  • Squirm around desperately whenever given a compliment
  • Consistently be cold, regardless of the weather.
  • Constantly mention how much you’re craving ice cream
  • Cry after almost every commercial
  • Resist making any decisions regarding dinner choices
  • Follow all the rules without shame

Key Vocabulary Words/Phrases

  • “Dude”
  • “Oh my gosh!”
  • “What a day”
  • “Shitty”
  • “I’m about it”
  • “Truth”
  • “Honestly, though!”

Did I just invent some sort of psychological “know thyself” exercise? Because I feel like I just explored the inner depths of my psyche. Credit me in the textbooks, folks.

In the meantime, what would a Halloween costume of you look like? I might need some backup ideas…

Swipe-tember: What I Learned from Spending a Month on Dating Apps

After recently turning 27 I had the normal rush of emotions, as well as a few new, introduced-in-the-late-twenties specific ones. For example: ARE MY EGGS DYING?

This was more or less a ticking time bomb. With friends in every direction getting married and having babies and then more babies, as I sit on my couch watching Food Network eating another re-microwaved meal for one, I was destined to start hearing the clock tick. And if that didn’t do it, the now normal tendency of family, friends, and acquaintances alike to graze over the “are you seeing anyone?” territory as often as they can, just in case a two week period we go without seeing each other might provide me a husband and vicious fertility, surely would.

I consider myself to be kind of old fashioned. With a string of well-set examples in my family, I fully believe there is someone wandering around the world that is meant for me. It’s also fair to say that while I’m not against dating apps, I often doubt their credibility, mostly because I assume everyone on the Internet is a serial killer. Amongst this paranoia however, also lies curiosity. Multiple friends have asked me why I won’t give dating apps a try, and while the “everyone’s a catfish waiting in the wings to kill me” excuse usually ends the conversation, there have been a few that remain persistent, quoting some form of the “don’t knock it til you try it” variety.

So, I decided to try it. “One month”, I said. “I’ll log on and sell out for one month, just to see what it’s all about.” Thus, on September 1st I downloaded Bumble, giving life to an experiment I was calling “Swipe-tember.”

While creating my profile, I felt like I was back in 9th grade creating a Myspace. Back then, besides AIM, Myspace was the best way to showcase who you were both to strangers and, more commonly, the classmates you saw all day, every day. Being an awkward kid with wiry braces and low self esteem, I was desperate to create an impressive profile, so I dove headfirst into the world of coding, providing myself the skills to add music, graphics, and a well written, well organized, yet fittingly brief autobiography.

On Bumble, while I had less creative freedom in terms of profile design, I had just as much responsibility to present an impressive introduction. This time around however, I felt the responsibility was reversed. No longer did I have as much interest in presenting what I felt was expected or desired, as I did to express an honest depiction of the person doing the presenting.

High school, college, and the corresponding years of self-discovery had provided me with a much more balanced sense of who I was, what I wanted and what I deserved. I had no interest in creating a veiled version of myself, only to meet an Internet stranger in person using a matador style “ta-da!” with who I really was. If I was actually going to do this, even if I didn’t necessarily expect or intend to go on many (if any) dates, I was going to be up front about it. So when it came to profile pictures, I chose a handful that represented the different parts of my personality i.e. a travel hungry, family oriented, Los Angeles Dodger loving fisherman.

And for my bio, I lasagna-ed in a few more.

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In the end, I was happy with who I presented, because at the very least, I knew it was me, and even if this materialized into nothing more than the experiment it started as, I’d walk away regret free.

Next came the swiping.

While I knew the general principle of the act, as I’d seen friends do it to pass the time, determining fates with their thumbs, there was a different kind of pressure associated with being the one behind the screen. If I swiped right, I essentially gave someone the chance to be the love of my life, but if I swiped left, I was banishing them to the confines of an existence separate from my own for the remainder of time. (It sounds dramatic, but it’s true if you think about it.)

In determining who I would offer that fateful right swipe to, I did my best to overanalyze. I understood that it was supposed to be a glance, choose and go type of situation, but the only way I’d been convinced to join the app in the first place was to remove the association I made with people on the internet as devious catfish, thus forcing myself to see them as people, just like me, and in doing so I felt they at least deserved a glance at the entire person they chose to present.

Over the course of the month, I flipped through hundreds of profiles, “meeting” all kinds of guys. Oftentimes I’d swipe through a few batches of profiles, then close the app, only to return a few hours later to find my inbox full of matches. On Bumble, it is the girl’s “job” to make the first move, so as I would scroll through this list of strangers I’d opened the lines of communication with, I realized that I now had the responsibility of entertaining them.

No. Not responsibility. Opportunity.

More than anything, dating and meeting new people is an opportunity, and it’s important to ensure that it is beneficial to both parties. As I sat wondering what I should say to this group of strangers, I realized that unless I wanted to lead with a Google suggested witty comment or joke or internet meme, I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to do anything. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize the parallels between both on and offline dating. For no matter what app I was logged into or in-person conversation I was starting with a stranger, I was in control. It didn’t have to be written in the rules, it didn’t have to coincide with the narrative I thought would be most desirable. I have the power to start a conversation and I have the power to stop it. I have the opportunity to let someone get to know me and I have the right to walk away.

I’ve always been very shy when it comes to new people, and as a result have walked away from many conversations feeling like a failure. Oftentimes I’ve felt as if it were my responsibility to keep a conversation going and if I couldn’t, I assumed I wasn’t interesting or worthy of a meaningful relationship with that person.

Talking to the guys on Bumble, I realized how much I relied on them to give back what I offered them, even if that just meant politeness. I didn’t have to accept aggressive sexual innuendos or overly personal questions, and letting those conversations peter out didn’t make me less interesting or worthy of finding a meaningful connection. We were all people looking for something, and it was okay if I didn’t want the same things.

I’ll admit, it’s been a couple weeks since I logged into the app. After making a diligent effort for the first half of September, my busy schedule consumed most of my time and I often didn’t think about Bumble until right before I fell asleep. But while I didn’t put in the time and effort one might need in order to find the rare, yet meaningful connection the online world may have to offer, I’m still glad I gave it a shot. If anything, it was a great reminder that I’ve grown up a lot since high school and I am more prepared now than I ever was then to wander my way into a love story.

And while I don’t know if I’ll continue to pursue the world of online dating, I won’t count it out either, because I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to dating is to be open and honest. Open, that is, to the opportunity to find love anywhere, in a variety of different scenarios, even ones that might seem impossible. And honest in that no matter where you are or who you’re talking to, you are being yourself. Because in many cases, the people you meet on and offline are just like you. They have friends getting married and having babies, they have family members pressuring them to do the same, and they may or may not have eggs that they fear are dying. So give them a chance. Give you a chance. Take a swipe at love and see where you end up.

Sometimes They Just Know (feat. My Sister)

My sister has always been good with kids. She has the patience and the kindness and the key voice change required to get them to both listen and understand you. When she was 16, she started working at a summer camp where she quickly became highly and widely adored by all. They called her, “Miss Natalee” and the name fit.

A few years later, after she graduated high school, she entered college as a Child Development major and got a job as a Preschool Teacher’s Assistant while she finished her degree. It was hard. She worked hard. But even though some days at the preschool were exhausting and some night classes were worse, she still managed to get up every morning and put a smile on her face, because she knew those kids deserved it and that she loved them with all her heart.

When my sister got out of school, she started to specialize her zone of work to kids with special needs. She wanted them to be known rather than just sympathized for and nervously looked at. About a year ago, she took a job as a shadow for a little girl named Tess who was born with sensory processing disorder and apraxia as a result of being born extremely premature. Many people might have been intimidated by a case like this, but my sister took in stride, understanding that no matter how hard a day was for her, it was 10 times harder for Tess.

Last fall, my church hosted a Harvest Festival for Halloween and invited families to come out in their costumes to play games, exchange candy, etc. My sister and I signed up to run a face painting booth where we spent the evening creating subpar masterpieces on children’s cheeks.

One 6-year-old reviewer of my work called it, “Okay.” Another said, “Thanks, I guess.”

After we were done, when the last kid walked away with an average amount of satisfaction, we made our way to the buffet to overeat. With our plates stacked high and our hands still cramping, we took a seat around one of the tables and ate and shared stories of our failed face paintings with our fellow churchgoers. Once the meal was finished, the MC announced it was time to reveal the winners of the pumpkin carving competition. My sister and I turned our chairs forward and as we awaited the winners, we saw a little boy turn around in his chair. He glanced at me briefly, then looked at my sister and smiled. A few seconds later, the MC announced the winner to be none other than this little boy. He went up on stage and collected his prize, then walked back to his table to hug his mom, all the while glancing over at my sister with a smile.

My mom made a comment about how cute all of the pumpkins had come out and was about to suggest we start cleaning up, when suddenly a little voice interrupted her. The little boy walked up to the table with caution, his eyes on the ground, and my sister immediately greeted him with a smile and congratulations. He blushed and said thank you and then immediately looked back down at his feet. The group of us exchanged a smile, then we all watched in amazement as the boy slowly walked towards my sister and climbed up on her lap. We were stunned. Had she met him in the preschool room where she volunteers on Sundays?  Had he been in her group for Vacation Bible School in the summer?

“No,” my sister said after he left, “I’ve never talked to him before.”

Later that week, when we were back at church on Sunday morning, a woman came up to my mom and I to talk about the Harvest Festival and what a success she thought it was.

“Not to mention I saw little Aaron sitting on Natalee’s lap at the end of the night.”

“Yeah, he really latched on to her out of nowhere, it was so cute!”

“He’s not usually like that, but sometimes they just know.”

“What do you mean?”

She went on to explain that Aaron had a few different learning disabilities and was often very shy and slow to take to other people. But there must have been something about my sister, some sort of undeniable goodness that made him trust her instantly.

“Sometimes they just know.”

They know, I know, & I hope you know.

Happy birthday!

Writing What I Want (Another Try at Blogging)

I want to write a book. Like really bad. But I’m not sure what to write about. I find it the easiest to write about myself. My day to day activities; my failures; my lack of love and heartbreak; my terminal nuttiness.

I try to write as often as I can; whenever I feel the inspiration. But after I get the initial word vomit typed into my Word document, I become stuck, judgmental, and frustrated with myself, so I stop. As a result I’m left with an incomplete thought and less hope for a complete book. Who would want to read a book with not one complete thought? Actually, I probably would.  I would feel an immediate kinship with the author.

I suppose my biggest problem is that when I start a thought process, I’m in my own stream of consciousness. I know how I’m feeling and I’m expressing it in the best way I know how. Then, I start to wonder how others will interpret this train of thought. Will they enjoy it? Will they hate it? So I start to conform to those—who do not exist at this point—who are reading my book—which does not exist at this point. I try to write things that will make them laugh, or inspire them, and then I hit a wall. It makes sense. This is how most social interactions go for me when I meet someone new. I try to think of material they would find interesting rather than what I actually want to talk about. To me, a perfect world would be one where upon meeting someone you can immediately cut the shit and skip to the part where I tell you all my little oddities. “Hey, I’m Kim. My second toe is longer than my big toe, I still cut the crusts off my sandwiches and I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. Shall we be besties?”

The biggest problem I have with writing is the fear of actually finishing a book. So let’s say somehow I actually pull myself together and complete a—most likely unconventional—novel, then what? What happens if it just stays in the confines of computer for only my eyes? What if it’s wildly successful and suddenly people start wanting to meet me or know how I take my coffee? I HATE COFFEE.  So much stress. It’s a marvel anyone ever writes/finishes a book. How do they handle all of these emotions?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, of a large variety of books. I went through a period of reading sappy romantic books that made me hate my life a little bit. I read the Fault in Our Stars which simultaneously built and crushed my universe. I read a bunch of autobiographies by hilarious women I wish I could be. (I.e. Ellen DeGeneres & Mindy Kaling) And right now, I’m reading a book about dead people. Yes, dead people.

In doing all of this reading, I came to an important realization: I can write about whatever I want.  There are absolutely zero guidelines or limitations on how to write a book. It can be about anything. It can be any shape, any color, any language. It can be written backwards, upside down, in a font made of flaming unicorns. You name it, you can do it.

So I’m going to.

It may not become a book. It may not become anything at all, but it will have been written, and that’s what matters.