confessions of a bookworm

okay, i admit, im kind of a bookworm.

you’re more likely to find me at home reading, munching on some late night snacks (chips, arare, kimchi bowls) with a chilled bottle of stella rosa sparkling wine in hand, than out at the clubs, or bars.  although that’s not to write bars out of the question entirely — i love darts, & am new to the game of pool so it still has that exciting edge to it

i think my bookworminess stems from summers when i was little, being a part of my mom’s “summer adventure program.”  it included: adventures to the library, homemade lunches, & a mandatory book list that needed at least ten completed titles added to it by the end of the summer. (she’s a teacher, go figure. and her only enlisted members of this program were my brothers, my cousins, and myself)  during the school year, after homework & dinner, we had “quiet time” which meant no tv permitted (my dad hated that rule) for an hour, where we’d all sit & read quietly, sometimes i’d volunteer to read aloud & my siblings and mom would listen.

now that college is done, i find myself feeling very lethargic, & slow-minded if i’m not actively reading & writing.  i don’t like feeling like i have to scramble to find the correct descriptor, or as if i’m lazily “dumbing” down the way i speak because im not challenging myself to learn new words.

so, to help others out there that are like me, in need of titles of worthwhile reads on-hand in order to get the ball rolling (it’s like going to gym, it gets easier once you start, i promise) i’ve compiled a *list of my favorite books as of 2014.  keep in mind, it’s starting off small & to the point, because i’ve read a lot of books, but not all of them make it to the favorites.

*they’re in no particular order, because i’ve only fairly recently found that i like multiple genres so have at it, whichever suits you best :]

How to Kill a Rock Star – **Tiffanie deBartolo
This is the first book that comes to mind when a friend or coworker needs a recommendation for a new book to read.  A young adult romance novel, H.T.K.A.R.S is about Eliza, an aspiring journalist who move to NY to make it big.  her passion for music, and a little coincidence, causes her to meet Hudson, a musician.  the novel is told from both their perspectives, and you experience their jealousies, fears, selfishness, and selflessness carried through witty dialogue & an all too familiar raw vulnerability.  i identify with Eliza, and find myself torn between Hudson & Loring.  If you read it, please comment and let me know: are you team hudson?  or team loring?

“Eliza has the sky in her eyes and I’ve always wanted to touch the goddamn sky.”

There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. And I’m guessing that once you’ve discovered this distinction you can’t go back to solitary confinement without serious emotional repercussions.”

“Note to self: Always remember how lucky you are to wake up next to someone who thinks you’re the shit.”

**this author has only written 2 books in her writing career, the first being God-Shaped Hole which is not as well-crafted as H.T.K.A.R.S, but it’s a good read too. If for some reason Ms. deBartolo ever reads this: pleaseeee write another novel. your talent is too amazing to end at two books :] with much love & encouragement, your friendly bookworm.

Wool (Onibus) – ***Hugh Howey
Wool is for the rebel reader, the anti-establishment, down with conformity, & exploiting government corruption enthusiast in you. typically, this isn’t my cup of tea  (i usually stick to young adult romances, but like i said, i’m learning to explore other genres) but after the short kindle sample, i was hooked.  it’s part of a trilogy, with the 2nd & 3rd installment being Shift, and Dust.  it’s a little too complicated, and has too many dark secrets to simply summarize, but basically the earth isn’t as we know it to be now.  something has happened to make it unlivable, so the survivors, the last hope for humanity lives in underground silos. its a strict system that people abide by, live by, not knowing any other way of doing it — but there are a handful of rebels, that sense that they weren’t made to live like this. asking questions & challenging authority creates fear, & for those fighting for freedom, their greatest wish becomes their punishment: the freedom to venture outside the silo.

“And now you see why some facts, some pieces of knowledge, have to be snuffed out as soon as they form. Curiosity would blow across such embers and burn this silo to the ground.”

“We are born, we are shadows, we cast shadows of own, and then we are gone. All anyone can hope for is to be remembered two shadows deep.”

***Howey has a new book unrelated to the silo series called Sand, but i have yet to read it. it’s on my wishlist of books for the future :]

All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Before the thrilling plot, before the intricately crafted characters, the first thing i was drawn to was the lyrical tone of the book.  Doerr knows how to move the plot along, while still keeping the narrative poetic.  overall, it’s beautifully written.  as for the genre, this novel is more historical fiction, based on WWII france and germany.  the storyline jumps between the past and what is perceived as the present, and is told from main characters of both sides of the war.  marie-laure is a blind french girl who is daughter to the key maker for the natural museum of history in paris, which holds a stone that is sought after by many due to the legends surrounding it, and needs to be protected.  werner is an orphan who has a great curiosity for science, which enables him to get further than the coal mines most orphans are predestined to work at. i dont want to reveal too much, but the paths of these main characters, & other supplementary characters are all woven into a complicated, sometimes tragic, storyline which i was addicted to until the very end.  on a side note though, i think this novel would make a great movie someday, & would really hope if that ever happens, that the movie doesn’t miss/mess up the lyrical aspect of the text.

“She walks like a ballerina in dance slippers, her feet as articulate as hands, a little vessel of grace moving out into the fog.”

“His voice is low and soft, a piece of silk you might keep in a drawer and pull out only on rare occasions, just to feel it between your fingers.”

im sorry i dont have more favorites yet. i figured it would be kind of redundant to list the books that are already very popular (for good reason) that i’ve enjoyed like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Fountainhead, and many more.

please let me know if there are any favorites of yours that i should add to my “future reads” list (which i promise is longer than my favorites :3)

lastly, if you’re curious, i read most of my books on my ipad, using the kindle app so that i can easily have multiple books lined up ready for me. it’s nice because i can download free samples of books im on the fence about as well. i recently subscribed to Kindle Unlimited via amazon, which im finding a lot of new books through. it’s $9.99 a month, with unlimited titles to download & you can also listen to the audiobook version of them for free too!  i understand if you don’t get a lot of reading done every month, it probably wouldn’t be worth it, but for an avid reader like me, it’s definitely worth it.  just something to look into :]

– mm.

rainy day fund

9 rainy day fundRainy Day Fund oil on canvas

So here’s a little more about me as an artist.  This is the piece that was reviewed in the Honolulu Star Advertiser (unfortunately they don’t provide the access to the archives freely on the internet) & was a part of the HI/NY show in 2013.

It ties in to a greater body of work, my senior portfolio for graduation, but this piece is important to me because it’s kind of the “in your face” work to disprove any prior doubts classmates and other professors had in me.  Prior to my final semester at UH i had a very grueling one with a professor who is a credible, well-connected artist, but didn’t help me grow & improve, which i think is one of the biggest sins an educator can commit.  That’s not to say i wasn’t trying to learn, just, her criticism came without other outlets, lacking inspiration for me to look to.

Now people not from an art community can argue, “well art is subjective, so what does she know?”  Even i have asked myself that.  People have a love/hate relationship for art they don’t understand, & it’s all about the “individual experience” someone has with a piece, so supportive friends and family asked, “how can she judge your work as bad?

And who knows, maybe it still is “bad art.”  What do i know?  But the biggest criticism i faced, was that my work was too “stylistic.”  Now, after being told this, naturally, i inquired about what she meant.  nothing was ever clear enough for me to fix. i looked it up in the dictionary, googled images for examples, asked other artists, other professors, asked writers, family members; no one had the same definition, or explanation of what made my work too stylistic.

So that brings me to my final semester, feeling defeated, & completely out of place.  what was i doing graduating with a BA in art, when everything was too “stylistic”?? thankfully, my final professor in college pulled me out of my funk.  she always had new suggestions, specific criticisms that i could actually work with.  telling me my proportions are off is something i can fix.  suggesting i build layers of charcoal more in certain areas to create intensity is something i can work with.

this piece was shown alongside an abstract piece done by my critical professor.  i am proud of what i’ve done, because it is an example of my ability to adapt, & is proof that with help, i can make worthwhile art.

i hope you enjoyed the little back story to this painting :]

– mm.


“you are comprised of contradictions,” he says

& i cant help feeling like you generalized,
all that makes me.. me.
brushed aside like the Saturday crossword puzzle,
after only filling in 40 down & 32 across
too much hassle you grumble

why do i feel like the facets
that create the multitude of complex,
[dare i say alluring?]
are the best part?
[should be the best part..]
for they’re carved of flaws
& dislikes, & likes
the love of beaches, but distrust of the ocean
the claustrophobia felt from sunday morning costco shoppers, but love of concerts
& so on, & so forth

maybe to make sense to another being,
is nonsensical.

daily necessities

On the daily, i try to wear as little makeup as possible.  i work 5-6 days a week as a server, which anyone in the food industry can tell you, can be quite intense and physically taxing on your body.  On top of that, the particular restaurant i work at is a hot pot style restaurant, where servers teach customers how to cook their food over burners that are steaming hot broth.  The oils from the soup, mixed with the natural sweat i produce from running around the restaurant during peak hours, tends to take its toll on my complexion.  I used to be a firm believer in not leaving the house without eyeliner, brows, and mascara, but I have found that i prefer a natural look while serving, so that when i do want to dress up for date night or other things, the impact of my efforts is greater.  Besides, i’d like to think customers at this job appreciate me for how friendly the service is, & not how well i apply my makeup.

The 1-2 shifts i work at my other job, a small local boutique, affords me the chance to “look pretty” without worrying about sweat/steam running my mascara.

These are the handful of products i wear on the daily, that have made the cut via trial and error:


– Benefit Cosmetics “The POREfessional” ($10-$31)
– Make Up Forever “Duo Mat Powder Foundation” in shade 207 ($34)
– Maybelline “The Falsies Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara” in very black ($6)
– Maybelline “The Colossal Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara” in classic black ($5)
– Swissco “Electroplated Eyelash Curler” ($5)
– Anastasia Beverly Hills “Brow Wiz” in caramel ($21)
– Anastasia Beverly Hills “Brush #12” ($18)
– Anastasia Beverly Hills “DIPBROW Pomade” in dark brown ($18)
– NYX “Eyebrow Gel” in brunette ($15.50)

the POREfessional is an extra step i take if i have the time, & if im feeling extra self-conscious about my skin that day.  it’s lightweight, & makes it appear like i spent a lot more time on myself than i really did
– my duo mat powder foundation is something i use only on my t-zone which gets excessively oily/shiny throughout the day without it (even with it, i still need to blot with oil papers to avoid looking greasy)

– after gently curling my lashes with my electroplated eyelash curler — just a few squeezes & im good; i apply 2-3 coats of either the falsies or the colossal mascara (they both work wonderfully for me so i interchange them without any bias or favoritism). waterproof is a must for my job or else halfway through the night i have racoon eyes. even on a normal night out, just the sheer humidity of hawaii’s weather usually causes me to grab for my waterproof mascaras over any other.
**side note: i am a maybelline convert after using Urban Decay’s cannonball mascara.  This raved about cult favorite just doesn’t seem to give my lashes the volume and lasting curl that my drugstore maybelline contenders do.

– so this part of my daily product list is still being fine-tuned because im undecided about what works best for me. i have a decent natural arch, and no obvious bald patches, so my biggest concern with my brows is keeping them neatly groomed, & matching my hair color
– usually i’ll reach for my dipbrow pomade & apply that with the brush #12, using the brush side to apply the product (more towards the tips and lining the arch top & bottom) & the spooly side to brush any flyaway hairs & distribute the product evenly
– sometimes if i have more time i’ll go through first with the brow wiz to add some extra dimension since the colors do not match exactly
– i recently started using the eyebrow gel which is a much cheaper alternative to the pomade. the consistency is liquid, so its definitely more difficult to apply without going overboard but once you get the hang of it it works really well
– like the mascaras, what i love about these brow products is their staying power. after a double shift i dont have to worry about misshapen brows — they look just like how i applied them 10-12 hours prior

i hope this lengthy post proves to be beneficial in some way, if only to learn of the amazing staying power of some drugstore brands!

– mm.

idle hands

let’s be honest, since graduation there’s been nothing to compel me to break out my galkyd, brushes, primed canvases, and sit down to paint.  there’s no pressing deadlines, the fear of harsh critiques, or anyone to demand something “less stylistic” this time, or “less melodramatic”.

i need to be my own motivation.
thus, trusty blog, you shall be my critic, mentor, & competition.

be patient, for i am ever so rusty..