Tag Archives: writer

The Pink Notebook

Standard

unnamed

I remember wanting a fancy poetry notebook and either a) being too lazy to go buy one b) being too poor to go buy one or c) just saying, “F it!” and cracking open the thick, hot pink Five Star which was an extra from my last semester of college.

My first entry says 10/09/10. My last entry says 2/1/17. I never really liked poetry titles–I thought they kind of took away from the poem’s magic. Or maybe I just suck at titles. Either way, every page has a date at the top, nothing more. Well, this is a lie–there are a few random M*A*S*H games scattered throughout, a couple planning pages from my Teach For America days, some grocery lists,  Pros/Cons lists, to-do lists, and a food diary. Sometimes I wouldn’t have anything else to write on, OK? So I can’t say every page is poem, but almost.

I’ve taken this thing everywhere–so many flights, random countries, beaches, poolsides, and bus rides. It’s been through a bizarre six and a half years. I don’t ever share my poetry–only a few people have read from this thing (hand-picked poems, never free-reign flipping), but I figured I’d share a few to celebrate the momentous occasion of finally filling it up. I thought I’d fill it up in a year, tops. I mean, it IS thick, like I said–divided into sections with fancy pocketed page dividers. But I definitely didn’t stick to my poem-a-day plan. Shit, I didn’t even stick to a-poem-a-month plan.

Edit: I was going to share one poem from every year…but that quickly became a Ha! Some years are overflowing with loss/grief/I miss yous/fuck yous and nothing else. You can just go listen to any good break-up album instead. Other pages are only filled with cheesy I love you poems that I just…can’t.

You know what? I’m just going to share one. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, but it made me laugh out loud on this ugly, rainy Saturday. To all of you with awful tattoos that you got when you were 18, but still can’t admit that you were young and dumb, so you make up ridiculous explanations and “meanings”:

9/12/12
your tattoos lick over your chest
washing over both arms
the black contrasting against the bare white
the meanings are too obscure, forced
for me to believe they should be on your body forever
I think you just liked the idea, the look, the art
the way the girl’s hair curled around your collar bone
the way the microphone cord curved into song lyrics
the way the octopus met the elephant on your bicep
Don’t give me that deep, really reaching concept
that you made up
for moments like these
when a girl who needs meaning
asks you about your ink

Grandma’s Hairspray

Standard

1530521_10101946674051687_744866036_n

I don’t really use hairspray anymore, and it’s not because I don’t like it or need it. I choose to curl my hair and have it fall flat, frizzing pitifully in the Texas humidity.

The reason? I don’t want to throw away my hairspray–my grandma’s hairspray.

After her funeral two years ago, my family was handing out random items from cabinets–“Which teapot do you want? Which porcelain figurine?” I know they had good intentions–they wanted us all to have a memory or two to take home. But I just felt so weird about it all. I wanted to go home, away from my family and away from all the teapots. My mom gently said something like, “Alysha, there must be something you want to remember Grandma. C’mon, just pick something.”

I asked if I could have her hairspray. We were standing by the restroom, I looked and saw it, remembered mine had run out recently. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Mom laughed and handed it to me.

That was two years ago…and the silver bottle is still sitting next to my sink. I use it sometimes, but never too much, and I always get anxiety afterwards that I used too much, that I’m going to run out soon.

Because I mean…what will I do? Throw it out?! I’ll feel like I’m throwing out my grandma! A freakin’ hairspray bottle has become a weird version of an urn.

The truth is, every time I see it, smell it, feel it in my hair–I remember her wispy white curls and salmon dress pants and funny little British laugh. I miss her cooking and I miss her calling me “my dear” and I miss sitting in her kitchen on those awful wooden chairs telling her about my day.

I can’t throw away the hairspray, because it’ll be like Uncle Chuck’s salsa all over again. I kept the most giant jar of Uncle Chuck’s homemade salsa in my fridge for SO long after he passed away. I couldn’t even open it–the seal seemed to be intensely fused on. I finally made myself throw it away and have regretted it ever since. I miss seeing it every time I open my fridge.

It makes you wonder what weird items people would take from your place if they had the chance–to remember you by. Does anyone care at all about my favorite yellow cup? My wacky paintings, dusty books, giant seashell? Will anyone want my grandma’s teapot that’s on my stove or her porcelain figurine that’s on my writing desk?

Pink Gloves

Standard

cover-boxing-e1467353363120-1010x365

Originally written for and published by TLM 🙂

I absolutely love the idea of a) a female-only boxing class and b) supporting an amazing cause while I work out.Pink Gloves Boxing (PGB) on Burnet in Austin combines those two awesome things (and yes, the gloves are really pink). Pink Gloves offers a tier program, drop-in classes, personal training, and private classes — with a percentage of all proceeds going to breast cancer research. Their website boasts about the 3 F’s: fitness, fun, and female empowerment!

Brenda Hull, owner of PGB Austin, got her start in boxing by branching off from her normal fitness routines to try something new.

It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo
It can be intense on the first visit, but by the end you will want your own gear. Courtesy photo.

“I have always been into fitness and working out. after working with a personal trainer for many years I needed something different,” Hull explained. “I found PGB and  took some classes and fell in love with boxing, then the gym closed and didn’t find any other boxing classes i enjoyed. A few years after that I was searching for fitness jobs and certifications and found an AD for Pink Gloves and how they would be in Austin for a training camp. I signed up and after a few meetings with PGB central I bought the license and opened Pink gloves Boxing Austin in 2013.”

Since its doors opened in 2013, PGB Austin has been met with eager Austinites wanting to give it a try, but sorry fellas — this one’s for the women.

“Women have mostly had positive experiences at PGB,” Hull said. “One member recently stated, ‘I was so very pleased with PGB class tonight! I am hooked! Can’t wait to go back! It’s such an inviting group.’ Many women have met their best friends, who later became their bridesmaids, at Pink Gloves Austin. That is our goal — to create a positive, comfortable environment that you spend with family! I have gotten several request from men, especially the PGB husbands and kids. We are working on something for men and the kids of our Austin community.”

Don’t be afraid to give this gym a try. You’re walking into a welcoming environment, not the gladiator area. There won’t be any fists flying at your face, but you will get a workout.

They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo
They really seem to be building a positive bond in the gym. Courtesy photo.

“We like to make everyone feel welcome so the trainers and members will introduce themselves and help you check in and get your hands wrapped,” Hull explained. “What has naturally happened is that a member will take the first-timer and go over what the class looks like and gives them a tour of our small space. Once class begins, a group warm-up begins where I tell my trainers to take this time to let your members know who you are. After warm-up, trainers go over each station and the punches and combinations are taught. Class begins and goes by WAY too fast! Class ends with abs circle. There is a question of the day that members answer and give the group an ab workout or stretch. This is the time where we hear from the members and gives them the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit more.

They also host an annual “Punch-a-Thon” benefiting Seton Breast Cancer Center. The Punch-a-Thon is not an actual fight (they say their real fight is against breast cancer), but rather, each team has to punch heavy bags for a certain amount of time. For every five dollars donated to your team, you have to punch for one minute.

If you’re looking for a new workout routine—something to spice things up a bit, get you in shape, and meet friends—Pink Gloves is for you! Give it a try—all levels are welcome (you do NOT need to know a single thing about boxing, I promise). Plus, there’s a killer Groupon deal right now—five classes for only $39! Get to punchin’ Austin ladies.

Brass Ovaries

Standard

brass ovaries courtesy2

Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

 

Does your exercise regime need some spice? Treadmills can get really boring, elliptical machines can only do so much, and the same old same old gym scene can become monotonous. Brass Ovaries off East Manor in Austin is definitely NOT your run-of-the-mill workout. From “Twerk Fit” to “Pole Dancing 101,” your body won’t know what to think. You’ll reach muscles you didn’t even know you had. Plus, you’ll step out of your comfort zone, which is always a fun challenge!

The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo
The staff at Brass Ovaries really know their stuff. Courtesy photo

“Brass Ovaries is a multi-functional aerial arts studio. We have been established for 9 years and have paved the way for every studio throughout Texas,” Bras Ovaries owner Haley proclaimed. “We are open to women, men, and trans-identified persons, no matter your age, shape, size, or fitness levels.”

I bought a Groupon to Brass Ovaries recently, mainly to defy my lame gym routine. Burlesque class was my favorite—kind of like a dance class (with a little more ooh-la-la). It was a blast—awesome instructor, fun music, and I left feeling sexy and empowered (I entered the room feeling nervous and embarrassed).

Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo
Pole class may have been difficult, but the results of persistence cant be argued. Courtesy photo

I hated Pole…but honestly, it was just because I have zero upper body strength. Seriously. I don’t think I could’ve lifted my body gracefully onto that pole if my life had depended on it. I was sore from trying though—don’t knock it ‘til you try it! It was an intense workout—I think it’d be fun to do with a group of girlfriends.

“We offer a wide range of services that include a world class training facility and staff, party planning, dance instruction, educational center, and a talented aerial performance group,” Haley explained. “We have an abundance of male students here at the studio. None of our classes are gender specific.”

All of the classes at Brass Ovaries are relatively small, which is great if you’re like me and need to watch or mimic the instructor 24/7. They offer such a wide variety of classes—there’s even aerial, yoga, belly dancing, and hoop!

It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo
It was a blast to get to workout with some of these fierce ladies. Courtesy photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To describe Brass Ovaries in 4 words….’Stop signs fear me,’” Haley touted. “Something like pole can be very scary to beginners. Sometimes people talk themselves out of it. They tend to say things like ‘I am not fit or sensual or skinny enough.’ These are just stop signs that people put up for themselves. Brass Ovaries helps by destroying those stop signs. Pole is an equal opportunity butt kicker. ‘Stop signs fear me,’ of course, does not pertain to the pole. Stop signs get in the way of individual goals, dreams, and desires. But with a set of ‘brass ovaries’, one should blast those stop signs right out of their way and proceed with extreme confidence.”

Give it a shot—especially if you’re feeling apprehensive at the very thought (that was me too). I promise you’ll love the change in pace. If, for no other reason, sign up for a class just because of their name…Brass Ovaries. Love it. Don’t we all have a pair of those, ladies?

Losing a Passion

Standard

download

I haven’t been writing, guys. At all.

Well I guess that’s a lie–I’ve written a few shitty poems. I’ve written a few magazine articles. But anything of real substance, vulnerability, skill? Nah.

I even thought about giving it up. Yeah, as in, giving up writing. Forever. Not the normal “I’m not good enough, I’ll never amount to anything, I’ll never be a famous author, fuck writing” thoughts that make you a writer. I’m talking black hole depression “I vow never to focus an ounce of energy on stringing words together ever, ever again.”

There are a few reasons for this disaster. I won’t go into those, but let’s just say I’ve been bumbling around for awhile now, and it’s starting to bug the hell out of me. Realization: I’ve never written “to be good enough, to amount to something, to be a famous author”…I’ve written to be true to myself as a person, to stay sane, to feel OK. I have not been any of those things as of late.

Anyway, I won’t allow myself to lose a passion. I may not ever self-publish again, I may not ever even finish another novel…but I’ll keep writing. Even if that means forcing myself to show up to Shut Up and Write! meet-ups at local coffee shops…the only girl in a private room full of old men writing memoirs.

[Sidenote: the group that was using the room before us was a “mens group”…I had to Google that shit. There are men who are emotionally secure enough to admit that they could use friends, mentors, advice, guidance…?! Whaaaaat? That’s badass. But you have to wonder…are they getting much accomplished without a woman in there, telling them what they’re doing wrong? Haha I kid, I kid…]

More on my new writers group. First of all, let me take back what I said about them all being old men. There is one who is not old, but rather, drop dead gorgeous. He is married. Of course. The rest are my grandfather’s age, with the same cranky jokes and wheezy laughs. Ron writes with a pen in a binder full of blank paper. Erwin talks about Chinese-Americans and the pressure they feel to succeed–so much pressure that two of his friends have committed suicide. He’s unsure whether this is short story-worthy. My eyes widen and I assure him it is. I want to read it NOW, actually.

This is going to be great for me.

ca3911359676a92b2fa0cfdd68e199aff354fe47637079bfb32ba92c18671bdd

 

 

 

 

Misguided Ambition

Standard

photo cred rebloggy.com

My dad drove us to San Antonio a couple days ago and we talked about…life. That’s kind of how me and my dad are—we either talk about ridiculous, trivial things like, I don’t know, “Decent Honey Mustard and Where To Buy It” OR super deep topics that stick with me forever like, “The Time A Man Died In My Arms.” We don’t have much of an in-between. Fart jokes or how mistakes can shape your future. The importance of washing your vehicle or the importance of family, friendship, and love.

So when careers and ambition came up, it started off as Dad casually listing every job he’s ever had (before, during, and after his 31 years in the Coast Guard). It was like a game—because the things he’s done are absurd. They sound like pure fiction. Movie-stuff.

Mowed lawns|Ranch laborer|Roofer|Tugboat oiler|Rode rodeo|Convenient store night manager|Seaman|Wrestler…yes, wrestler. I’ve seen the photos. Don’t tell him I wrote this, it’s supposed to be a family secret hahaha|EMT|Boat coxswain|Aviation structural mechanic|Search and rescue air crewman|Special agent|Chief warrant officer|Bailiff

Yeah, now you get it. Like, I’m sorry, what? How have you been all of those things? How have I never heard the word “coxswain” before? And how many people out there have had this many titles in one lifetime?

What I really started realizing though was—wow…Dad has done SO much in his life, traveled to SO many places, saved lives, earned awards—but his true happiness came from marrying my mom. Kind of crazy, right? To think that all those sappy cards, cheesy movies, and romance novels are *gasp* RIGHT about LOVE being the true purpose of life?! Ahhhhhh my life is a lie!

Except, oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve been a hopeless, disgusting romantic since maybe…second grade? I’ve always wanted the meet-cute, the traveling the world hand-in-hand, the poppin’ out babies…you know, that whole gross thing. When asked my CAREER AMBITIONS and LIFE GOALS I say things like, “I want to publish another novel and travel to a new country every year. Maybe get my PhD. Maybe teach college one day instead of high school.” And then in my head, I add, “Meet a lovely man and have a giant family and a really noisy house.”

My ambition has been a little misguided over the years. I think it’s a generational thing. Our parents had no problem stating their goals of settling down. They are content with “average lives” because that means love, family, friends—bliss. They have no qualms with “ordinary” or “mediocre.” This means happiness. Whereas my generation sees a conventional life as a failure—you’re not rich, you’re not famous, history books won’t talk about you, you’re not a household name, you didn’t shake the world? Oh, well then you’re a disappointment.

Everyone my age wants to be EVERYONE’s everything, instead of “settling” for being someone’s everything. It’s kind of sad. And it’s weird because we admit it, freely. I would LOVE for my novel to take off one day, landing me a publishing deal that I could skate on for a lifetime, sipping coffee by the beach and typing a few pages a day.

But do we really believe THAT’S what will lead to fulfillment? I think it’s far too easy to get caught up in that line of thinking—solely focusing on how to make your life more meaningful, exciting, memoir-worthy—constantly comparing yourself to “the average Joe.”

Having ambition is amazing—it shows confidence, it proves work-ethic, it displays creativity—it’s sexy. But if you let career ambition define you…and nothing else…what will you have when you’re wrinkly, sick…dying?

If all I ever have “to show for my life” (ugh, even that expression is a terrible tactic used to make people feel bad about…what exactly?) is a few students who thank me or a guy who digs my quirks and flaws or a kid who calls me Grandma and likes to read my old poetry notebooks, I’ll be pretty damn happy. That kid might be the last person to ever even remember my existence, but that’s OK, as long as I’ll be able to say that I did what I loved (I wrote, I taught, I traveled) and I loved who I wanted to love and they loved me back.

My Debut Novel Turns ONE!

Standard

3D Preview

HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAAYYYY to my baby, my first novel, THE WAITING ROOM 🙂

This experience has been scary, amazing, fun, self-deprecating, empowering…an insane rush of emotions, every step of the way. From collecting dust on my laptop for years, to finally being done and selling on Amazon and at BookPeople…I’m just so happy.

I also need to thank the people in my life who have been so supportive–my parents, namely. I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing, and they’ve always been there to support me. My best friends–geez, the whining and stress they’ve had to endure from me haha, thank you guys. My readers, the first people to take a chance and buy the damn thing, the reviewers and their lovely words–I cannot express how grateful I am for you!

So let’s celebrate!

I’ve been thinking about doing another wave of giveaways, and I feel like this is the perfect time.

First 25 readers to email me get a free ecopy (please specify if you’d prefer a Mobi, PDF, or ePub file)!

alyshakaye@gmail.com

My only request is that you please post a review on Amazon and Goodreads 🙂