September Update

With the pandemic still looming like a black cloud over the United States, my life has stayed eerily the same since March. My phone alarm rings out at 7:00 am most days with me snoozing until the very last moment. Then at 8:00 am I open my laptop and begin my next day of work. Instead of in an office, I work from the couch, or from my new desk, or my green armchair pushed into the corner beneath the window overlooking Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Mornings for me are quiet. There’s no bubbling, drip coffee machine filling the room with the smell of roasted beans, or coworkers shuffling into their desks after a jam-packed morning commute. At home, I open the curtains, so light floods over me and my laptop screen. The only white noise comes from the tower fan in the corner blowing the air conditioner’s cold air in my direction. The only interruption to their motors’ sound is the patter of my fingers pressing hard against my keys while I type my early morning email replies. With all of this staying the same, I am still looking forward to change.

What a year whirlpool of eight months you’ve been, 2020. Spring lingered the same way an unsettling feeling of being watched stays with you when walking home alone. How that feeling never subsides until you’ve locked the door behind you—but we can’t just lockout time and the way 2020 has gone thus far no matter how much we would like to.

However, July & August blew past me like the last gust of wind from a powerful hurricane. I spent spring and June hunkered down, expecting this summer to be the gust that knocks me to the ground. I prayed that the walls would remain standing after the beating they took in spring. Surprisingly, they did. This summer faded away quickly like a storm not willing to hover long before moving on. There was destruction left in its shadows, there is no doubt about that, but I am hopeful for growth.

I don’t know what to expect for this autumn. If it is like the past decades of autumns that have come and gone, then 2020 will bring me some change to my life. 

With the pandemic still looming like a black cloud over the United States, my life has stayed eerily the same since March. My phone alarm rings out at 7:00 am most days with me snoozing until the very last moment. Then at 8:00 am I open my laptop and begin my next day of work. Instead of in an office, I work from the couch, or from my new desk, or my green armchair pushed into the corner beneath the window overlooking Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Mornings for me are quiet. There’s no bubbling, drip coffee machine filling the room with the smell of roasted beans, or coworkers shuffling into their desks after a jam-packed morning commute. At home, I open the curtains, so light floods over me and my laptop screen. The only white noise comes from the tower fan in the corner blowing the air conditioner’s cold air in my direction. The only interruption to their motors’ sound is the patter of my fingers pressing hard against my keys while I type my early morning email replies.

When the work is done for the day, I tie a surgical mask underneath my hair and lace up my pair of black Nikes whose soles are practically worn thru to my toes. I walk the same path to Central Park to meet my boyfriend after his day in the lab, passing by strangers cloaked in the same masks. When I am home, the evenings are filled with conversations, cooking a new dish for dinner, reading a new book, or binging the next Netflix series that caught my eye. Once midnight begins to creep closer, I tuck into bed and set both the 7:00 am & 7:15 am alarms, close my eyes, and start the loop over once more.

Sometimes I throw a wrench in my routine. I spend the day baking, exploring a new city in a rental car, or simply losing track of time reorganizing my bookshelves. I have started five new hobbies during quarantine: calligraphy, candle making, letter writing, graphic design, and gardening. At this point in time, I still think my calligraphy looks like a dolled-up version of my cursive, and I have practically gone through 10 pounds of wax. I gained seven new pen pals across the world and purchased an iPad to try my hand at Procreate fame. Lastly, I have killed all of my edible plants, but the remaining inedible ones are still *thriving*.

With all of that being said, it’s jarring to realize it’s already September.

Like many of you, I had so much planned for 2020. And as it continues to slips through the cracks, I wonder how and when I will catch my breath. I don’t know if I ever will have a chance to do just that this autumn, but I have dedicated this season to what matters in this ever-changing normalcy.

Ever since November 30, 2019, I have figuratively crossed off the days until I would be met by autumn’s change once more. And its finally here: the months that end in “-ber” have arrived and the last thing I want is for them to do is fall out of reach. 

This autumn, I am looking forward to debuting my writing and honing in on my craft. I have spent the summer diving into books, working on projects as a freelancer, and developing my publishing world experience. There are so many projects I would love to work on, places upstate that I have been itching to drive through, and just general self-building practices that I have put off during this quarantine. The one thing that I love about autumn is that no matter the change, both good or bad, it still sparks this light inside of me. For me, autumn is the physical embodiment of how the change is personified by the dusted firey-hues before winter comes to blanket the senses.

In opposition to popular demand, I am not ready for 2020 to be over. I think there is still so much we can do to help communities such as promote change systemically and within ourselves in the same way our seasons change. The way time can blur is the best reason for us to see that there are still four more months left in the year to do something. I hope all my readers, new and old, enjoy what I have prepared for this month.

I look forward to the change with myself and this platform, but also for whatever else may come from a new month. Plus, autumn would be a great time to arrest Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove.

September Book Review

As you know from my previous post at the beginning of the month, First Impressions of ‘Uncommon Types,’ I have spent the month reading Tom Hanks’ debut novel of short stories. I want to start off by saying I am glad I did. Hanks did a great job cumulating a collection of short stories, where the characters repeated throughout the novel. At times, it was a comfort to see how the relationships between friends grew throughout various scenarios, but I found the stand-alone stories, the ones that didn’t follow any sort of preconceived relationship to be the most intriguing.

Among my favorites are, “Welcome to Mars,” “These Are the Meditations of My Heart” and “A Month on Greene Street.” Together they discuss heartbreak, relationships, and self-betterment. They are the stories that have me convinced I need a type-writer and need to rewatch a Hanks Rom-Com. The characters are beautifully constructed and left me questions about what happens next in their lives.

Although it isn’t my favorite book ever, it definitely is a read worth listening to and following along. What is better than hearing Tom Hanks get into character and talk about his passions, typewriters that is?

With September on its way out and October coming tomorrow, you may wonder what is next on my agenda?

The official book of October is The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. After sitting in the audience during her panel at Book Con, I knew I’d want to pick up the book whose cover is a work of art. Summarized by “a teenager must rescue her kidnapped mother in a dark YA debut that mixes horror and fairy story,” Hazel Wood is just enough magic and spook for the haunted days of October.

I will be releasing more thriller, horror, and spooky books for this month, but in the meantime get your hand on a copy of The Hazel Wood and read it along with me in October!

Read along with me this month, and stay tuned for the 30th of October where I unravel the ends of October’s book-of-the-month, review other books I may have read over the coming weeks, and announce November’s read!

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

It may not be lost entirely, partially because I am doing everything I can to revive the sweet satisfaction of sending and receiving letters through the post, but it is an activity of our past that today’s technological advances continue to bury.

I love that I can pick up the phone and listen, see, and talk to my loved ones all over the world, but there is something so romantic about the act of grabbing a greeting card at the local shop, sealing an envelope with a kiss, and marking an envelope with the address of a loved one.

There’s a delay of satisfaction as days or a week goes by until they receive it in the mail which prompts a smile as the last thing they expected in their bundle of bills was their name written in familiar handwriting.

In May, I attended Book Con and had a chance to talk to a few volunteers at the Thinking of You Week Booth. They had set up a card shop where large rotating, greeting card stands surrounded tables filled with stickers and markers. People filled every table as they spent time scribbling long notes, detailing sketches, confessing their innermost thoughts, or telling someone how much they miss them.

Because a letter literally translates into showing someone you are thinking of them and it makes the recipient’s dopamine sing sweet serenades of satisfaction. And that is precisely what this week is dedicated to, showing your loved ones you are thinking of them.

There is something about a freshly sharpened pencil pressing into a crisp card —there’s something about watching the way the ink bleeds onto the page that makes your thoughts come to the surface. I find it so exciting to sit down and write to a lover, friend, or family member. I love the way you can personalize a simple birthday wish or holiday greeting and know that theyTOYW_Badge_Undated.jpg will read the letter and feel the warmth in your words.

The group at Thinking of You Week celebrates sending a card and delivering a smile. On their website, you can find thier mission, “Thinking of You Week is an international movement to celebrate the joy of sending and receiving hand-written notes and greeting cards. Between September 23-29, 2019, help us create a wave of happiness across the globe by letting people know that we’re “Thinking Of You”. Thinking of You Week is all about the personal touch!” 

I encourage all of the you to take a moment to write your loved ones this week and remind them how much they mean to you. It’s a small, but a grand gesture to spread positivity throughout the world. I love writing letters, but something I will always love more is receiving them — I love the reminder of how pure my relationship is with someone and having a little memento from them to look back on in years to come.

First Impressions of ‘Uncommon Types’

While an autumnal spice blend and rich pumpkin scents are thrown throughout my small New York City apartment, I enjoy the pitter-patter of rain on my bedroom window, over-cast skies, and Tom Hank’s narration of his first collection of short stories, Uncommon Type: Some Stories.

Because my morning started off with Tom Hank’s recognizable cadence and meticulous character interactions, it must mean that September’s book-of-the-month read has begun. To commemorate my monthly book club, my best friend selected Uncommon Types: Some Stories as the book well will discuss at the end of the month. However, before I release my final thoughts, I felt that should I preface my first ever book review post with a first-glance into my initial impressions.

I’ve grown up with Hank’s and his witty sense of humor, eclectic characters, and oscar-worthy acting. I am always up for a Hank movie marathon and can be found quoting the movies of his I have seen an uncountable amount of time. Many of you may know that You’ve Got Mail is one of my mother’s and grandmother’s favorite movies. I grew up dreaming of autumns in New York and love that

Weirdly enough, I found myself living the plot of the film. To this day, I still remember the moment I FaceTimed my mother and flipped the camera to show a non-contextual aerial shot of a Starbucks from above. “Do you know what this is?” I asked. She replied, “You’ve Got Mail.”

“No,” I said, “that’s the Starbucks next door.” I grew up religiously watching the movie besides her, and she smiles whenever my life relates to the rom-com now. I found my current heartthrob online, I live in the UWS with him where I occasionally zip my credit card through the credit card machines at Zabar’s, but at the apex of it all I spent one summer working with the corporate team of the IRL Fox Books.

Up until the summer of 2018, the nostalgia watching the film focused around my childhood and my relationship with my mother more so than the growing pains surrounding what life used to be.

Ever since You’ve Got Mail, Toy Story, and The Polar Express entered my list of top watched movies, I wondered how he would turn out to be a writer. I still am curious to see how his love for story-telling and affinity for typewriters would mix when he channeled an inner author.

With the book being released in October of 2017, it is currently ranking at an average of 3.45 stars from 24,724 ratings  and 4,532 reviews on Good Reads; with some of the top reviews mentioning “these stories are aggressively competent and aggressively bland.” In total, Uncommon Types: Some Stories is “a collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.”

Because at the root of it, the reason I bought this book because I knew the author because he is an actor. After just completing The Road by Cormac McCarthy, national bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, I knew this story may pale in comparison. That’s okay because there is always something to appreciate from another’s writing style.

Hank’s may never win an award for his literary feats, but from the two short stories I have read, I have enjoyed them both for a lazy day spent in bed enjoying Tom Hank’s narration as I read along.

‘’Three Exhausting Weeks”: Two best friends decide to enter in a romantic relationship, but even after the first night together, readers can feel their incompatibility. Read to discover how an authoritative, busy-body creates a regime for a laid-back, home-body.

“Christmas Eve 1953”: An incredible recount of a cold Christmas Eve that harps on joy, belief in tomorrow, and the healing wounds of a past filled with physical and psychological trauma.

Both stories stay true to the movies Tom Hank’s stars in, and the humor he uses to keep readers following along. The nostalgia of typewriters remains a theme throughout both stories, which I am happy to see since I know Tom Hank’s is a fond collector.

There are still fifteen short-stories for me to dive into, and although at times the crisp short sentences and dimmed imagery can pull away from the reader’s attention, Hank’s makes up for it with a handful of beautifully crafted paragraphs to leave the readers wanting to know more about the characters he described.

Read along with me this month, and stay tuned for the 30th of September where I unravel the ends of September’s book-of-the-month, review other books I may have read over the coming weeks, and announce October’s read!


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Starting a Book Club

As a writer and aspiring author, I have found myself buying up more books than my Ikea bookshelves can handle all while calling myself a “reader.” Which I am, but I am the type of reader who rewards myself with new books, even when I have hundreds of novels left unread on my shelves, and I wasn’t reading to keep up. For a while, I obsessively bought every recommendation and new release and added them to my fast-growing collection of “want to read next” while I neglected to read.

In May, I said enough is enough, no. more. books.

Before I get ahead of myself, I was doing this to save money. I called it my ‘book hiatus,’ which is where I set the goal for myself to read 1/3 of my books before heading out and buying new ones. My bookshelf would always be accepting of Advance Reader Copies and gifts, but I am now actively trying to read what is already in my collection.

It was around the time of my hiatus that I realized I was reading a lot in the spring, but that number started to dwindle in the summer. At one point, I was reading a book a week, which sounds like a lot, but I was a fast reader and I often get sucked into a story and have a hard time putting them down. In order to maintain my habit of buying and not reading, I revamped the goal by talking to my fellow reading friends and asking if they wanted to start a book club.

My best friend is just like me, she obsessively stalks Barnes & Noble’s inventory, rewards her seven-foot-tall bookshelves with more books, and is trying to find time to catch-up with all the books she wants to read. It was back in 2016 when we first started this idea of a book-club. We were prepping for our road trip from Florida to Colorado, and I was showing her all around my home town of Naples; which included stopping in Barnes & Noble. We both, separately, found the book Virgin by Radhika Sanghani which followed a 21-year-old on a mission to deflower herself.

We both decided to pick up a copy, read it on our own time, and discuss the book when we were done. Together we sat in my living room on matching couches and turned the pages in silence. I ended up devouring the book before bed, which pushed my best friend to read it faster, and still to this day, I loved the book, and I loved discussing it with a friend.

Since then, I have picked up duplicate copies of books for us to read, in addition to us both recommending and FaceTiming one another to show our recent book haul.  Together, we decided enough is enough. No more “let save this for a book club” instead, “lets actually read this for a book club.”

Those words made me a reader again. We planned for September 1st to be the start of our monthly book club. We planned to read one book together, starting with Uncommon Types by Tom Hanks (yes, that Tom Hanks). We habitually start multiple books at a time, so we left the final weeks in August to wrap up our books of the summer. Because I had a plan, I stuck with it. Throughout the past few weeks, I finally finished A Darker Shade of Magic and City of Ghost by V. E. Schwab, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dryer.

I mention that I habitually read multiple books at one time because I would love to read more books with more people. I may have started a book club with close friends, but also entice to my readers to join along in the conversation! You may just be here for my mental-health blogs and tantalizing travel essays, but in actuality, I would love to interact with my followers, and I feel like reading is something you can do to improve your mental well-being and a book is portable enough to take on your journies.

So whether you are interested in reading Uncommon Types with us, or are wanting to discuss books with me, please comment below; if there are four full weeks in September, then you better believe that I am going to be up for at least starting four new books soon!

I think one will be Educated by Tara Westover. I am all for a memoir, and I have never had so many recommendations for a single book since I became a more mature reader. Have any of you read it? Let me know if you’ve been meaning to and want to read it with me!

Final Month of Autumn

Autumn is my happy time—I thrive for the overcast days that mist the fresh air and amber leaves. It is the perfect time for warm sweaters, tea, and cuddles under a flannel blanket. Outside of my cozy time, Autumn inspires me the most. It is when I head out to the park and just take in my surroundings. When my journals overflow with ideas and I can’t help but be happy.

By now, Autumn has slowly crept into to New York City. I remained patient for the month of September, filled my October with jackets, boots, and Hocus Pocus every day, and I am prepping for my first Thanksgiving this month. This time last year, I was still settling into the fast-paced lifestyle I found myself in. I could not fully enjoy my first fall in The City, because I was incredibly sick and a negative headspace. I still had fall films on repeat, but I was limited on what I felt up for. I did, however, get out of the city for a weekend, and it was my best decision yet.

To ring in autumn, I boarded an early train to Poughkeepsie, New York, to explore Dubois Farm. I was excited to explore their Annual Harvest Festival, and as a Florida girl, I had never experienced apple picking. I came home with pounds of apples, pumpkins, and yummy apple cider donuts. The remainder of October I prepped my home with decorations and lit every fall candle I could find.

My partner picked our outfits this year, based on my affinity for scary makeup and dead costumes. I have a feeling I make him watch Harry Potter a bit too often, but everyone at the bars and parties enjoyed our couple costumes as Moaning Myrtle and Cedric Diggory. I was sad to see October go, but now it is time for my first November in New York. 

I started walking to work this month — the wind kisses my cheeks and turns them a rosy-hue, while I wake up during my morning commute. I know the winter will be cold, but for now, the colors in Central Park make my morning a lot brighter.

This time of year inspires me to give and be thankful so I have decided to host Thanksgiving at my house for my friends, and have volunteered myself to make multiple gâteaus for my work’s potluck. Hopefully, I will find some time to capture everything as I take on this new endeavor, but I am excited for the coming weeks! For now, I am enjoying the final month of Autumn.