Confessions Can Help | Women’s History Month

CW: This post contains content about mental health and sexual assault. Resources are the bottom of page.

A lot of people are probably “still processing last March,” as the memes say. However, I think this month is already pretty monumental, especially for women. It is Women’s History Month, after all. With that being said, we should celebrate women every day. After a tumultuous year, and one year since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, we may have even more to celebrate.

On Sunday night, while chowing down on my bacon cheese fries from Classic Pizza, my mom and I were watching Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Harry. Simultaneously, social media was blowing up along with every word Meghan said. Mental health, I think, is something that wasn’t so much touched in the media, however. Mental health often goes unlooked, and I don’t know why I’m still surprised at the fact that people can be so inconsiderate to the topic. As a matter of fact, I just read an article about taking mental health days and why they seriously matter in terms of attaining clarity. You won’t get anything done with a clouded mind. And you definitely won’t get anything done when your mental health, at large, is going to sh*t. It’s even worse when you’re stuck in a toxic environment, like Meghan was. Markle begged for help, and the institution wouldn’t give it to her because it just “wouldn’t look good.” They lied to her when they said she’d be protected. Protection and security are ultimately what we, women, want in life, and that may look different for everybody. But needless to say, there are a lot of parallels to Meghan and Princess Diana. And boy, do I have a lot of opinions of Prince Charles. 😡 Harry was absolutely right when he said he didn’t want that (still) raw piece of history to repeat itself. So, he didn’t let that happen to his wife. Harry really is the husband that Diana needed.

In third grade, I had a fascination with Oprah. This began with a Black History Month book report. Oprah was interesting to me because she was a “troubled teenager,” but you really have to understand why. She was molested by her father as a kid, and she additionally grew up impoverished. It wasn’t until the age of thirty-two that she became a millionaire. Something I didn’t know, was that she opened up the doors to “confession culture.” Huh. That’s maybe because self-help was frowned upon in the ’90s, at least that what’s conveyed to Charlotte in a Sex and the City episode. However, what Oprah probably had in the back of her mind, was that these so-called “confessions” could actually help people. That’s exactly what I aim to do on this blog, too. Personal experience does help people.

Nevertheless, I idolized Oprah in secret. I wanted to be a journalist until I was whisked away by outside distractions. I realize, now, that it’s women like Oprah who inspire me to tell stories and women like Meghan Markle who inspire me to convey parts of my story that were left untold.

Resources:

https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline

You Are More Than Your Career

It was the end of the morning on a Friday, and I peruse through social media after conference after conference (virtual, of course — we are living in a pandemic, after all.) I saw a striking post on Instagram, then again on LinkedIn later on that night. The post alluded to dearly missed author, Toni Morrison’s birthday on February 18, 1931. She said, “One day, alone in the kitchen with my father, I let drop a few whines about the job.” What job? I may not know. But I presuming it’s about being an author. Yet again, I am no expert on Toni Morrison’s life. She continued to write, “Although he listened intently, I saw no sympathy in his eyes. No ‘Oh, you poor little thing.’ Perhaps he understood that what I wanted was a solution to the job, not an escape from it.”

Her essay on the value of work and home-life included the following:

  1. Whatever the work is, do it well — not for the boss but for yourself.
  2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
  3. Your real life is with us, your family.
  4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

I came to terms with all of these as I continue to live what I call my “quadruple life.” Yes, that’s me being dramatic, but also somewhat serious. I write for three publications, not just this the April Diaries, but I also work part-time at my local Dollar Tree. But who am I at home? Who am I when I’m with my friends? I think, pre-COVID, I would’ve been able to answer these questions. I haven’t seen a single one of my friends since the pandemic started. Nowadays, I just say, “I’m a writer.” But no one ever inclines to say, “not what, who are you?”

When I think about it, when you eventually pass on, your soul is what people will miss — not your career. You may have made an impact on your career and your respective field. But what you bring to it, people will remember forever. The attitude, the liveliness, and your unique charm draws people to you. The same thing goes for events.

I guess it’s easy to say that the coronavirus took a lot of things that probably will remain “changed forever.” Perhaps wine nights will remain virtual, until everyone gets the vaccine. But this is me going on a tangent.

I’ve been identifying as a writer for almost a year now. When my mom asks me, when I complain I have nothing to do, “what is your hobby?” I immediately say “writing” because it’s the only thing I know so far. I love to do tarot and journal in the mornings. I can’t even begin to describe how sacred mornings are for me!

You can’t just work 24/7 — it’s impossible! What’re even worse are the back pains and eye strains (yes, I use blue light blockers) from sitting at your computer for what seems like eternity.

You have to give yourself a break. You have to set some time aside to go back to yourself. You are not your job. You are you, and I am me: the woman who loves mornings, tarot, journaling, photography, going out to eat, and exploring new places!

Who are you?

“And Just Like That…” The April Diaries Grows Up

The best part about growing up is that you get to actually live your dreams, instead of being told “you’re a kid” or “you’re too little.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing since I was 8. But even then I was saying to myself, “one day, people will take you seriously [as a writer.]” One day turned into Day One, where I served as a coordinator for RISC (Rhode Island Student Collaborative.) Before that came Rhode Island Monthly, where I indubitably had the best summer of my life. And just like that, three years later, I am interning at Art New England and writing for the Boston Globe Magazine, as a “globe correspondent,” in relation to a class I’m taking at Emerson.

As I look back on the popular “for the girl turning 2–” posts [For The Girl About To Turn 21 | Moving Onto 22, For the Girl About to Turn 22 | Welcome to My Jordan Year (23), Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first], the lessons that I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced have surely molded me into someone who I am today. But the experiences haven’t existed without the people and the things and ideas that easily influence(d) me. What I know now, however, is that I’m not the girl who settles anymore, instead I learned how to be picky. I’m not the girl who watches Grey’s Anatomy anymore, and as you all know Sex and the City is my bible. But yet again, everyone has their comfort show, and that’s more than okay. It’s good for anxiety.

How I’ve grown as a writer, has honestly changed but also been somewhat lost from when I interned at RI Monthly. There’ve been those who have been with this blog since the beginning — a brokenhearted twenty-year-old, lost, and with no direction. I’ve grown in various forms of copyediting. I laugh at my own grammar mistakes now, which is all you can do, right? Doesn’t that add to the authenticity? There are also those who have grown with me along the way, maybe not so much at the beginning, but have managed to catch up like a Sex and the City re-run marathon. That’s what it’s been like for me, a whole re-run of my life just documented in a digital diary (hence why it’s called “The April Diaries.”) I invite you in. I also invite other people to share their stories with me, as well.

And just like that… the April Diaries has grown up.

Self Love In Bleak Times

January is Self-Love Month, and I’ll be honest and say it’s been sort of a struggle to be positive all the time. I think, as I mentioned in New Year’s Resolutions that people tend to beat themselves up as if they want their resolutions right away. I haven’t been consistent with my walking 2,000 steps every day, but when you need to rest, you need to rest! Besides, who really is positive all the time? January is a time, not a “free trial month” but to make a plan.

The thing about this elusive “self love” (and shout out to my aunt who came up with this idea for a post!) is, why do people put so much pressure on themselves? I’ll admit from personal experience that I strived to be that perfect student in high school, and I got a rude awakening in my first semester of college that really no one can be perfect. With that pressure, aside from OCD, came arrogance and many hours of crying thinking that I wasn’t good enough, even though I was doing just fine. You know what the scary part is? I’m realizing all this as a write this. Self-awareness is something I also need to work on, and I admit that wholeheartedly. Ding, ding, ding! Another thing about self-love! You’ll learn to embrace imperfection.

I wish I could shake my eighteen-year-old self and tell her, “you’re going to be a much more confident young woman, and you’re going to excel beyond words. It may not be at an Ivy League school, you may not be in science, but you will end up getting into your two grad schools of choice, in a field you always loved.”

Self-love is so much more than just giving yourself a bubble bath or a spa day (not that I recommend going to a spa during a global pandemic.) Self love is believing in yourself. Find that faith through whatever outlet, may that be religion or spiritual practices. In bleak times like these, when people are losing their jobs, working jobs they don’t want but need to put food on the table, people also need that place of comfort. As much as I resent retail at the moment, my crew is like my second family. Self-love is that optimism that every day is going to be a good day, despite how you’re feeling that day.

Also, if you did lose your job in 2020, that’s NOT your fault in the slightest. Again, we’re in a pandemic.

Self-love is also knowing that better things are out there for you when something doesn’t work out for you. Don’t ever say you’re being scammed by the universe because you’re destined for better things. This is just the universe, or God, telling you that you are worthy for so much better than what you initially applied for, or whatever. Self-love is not being your own best friend, it is being your own advocate.

With that being said, self-love is knowing when you must step away from the negativity that’s surrounding you. If people refuse to be happy, that’s on them. And it’s most certainly not your fault. People are only mean when they are not happy with themselves. Again, that’s on them. Let them watch the negative news when you could be watching “Forrest Gump,” a movie to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Self-love is the most important love you’ll ever have. Like I said, and it was very timely in Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first , that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Well, actually, Carrie Bradshaw said that — but still relevant, nonetheless.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year, folx! It is the first full week of 2021 and I am already banging out my resolutions.

My resolutions are the following:

  1. Walk/run 2,000+ steps every morning (9,000 steps each morning by the end of 2021)
  2. Turn The April Diaries into a community
  3. Drink more tea
  4. Eat organically
  5. Eat more superfoods
  6. Get a new job
  7. Read more books and magazines (I kind of slacked in 2020 😂)
  8. Drink less alcohol
  9. Be more open about my spirituality
  10. Support others.

Those are the big ten thus far. There’s no doubt that list will grow. There’s also no attempt at perfection, but every improvement counts. Stepping stones, guys, stepping stones. Another thing I’d like to do is have more people to interview on this blog. So if you or anyone you know would like to be featured, let me know in the Contact page.

The thing about resolutions is that they are easy to make and harder to create habits to form them. But at the same time, it’s easier to create bad habits. Why is it harder to create good habits? Perhaps it’s not in our nature to have them. Perhaps, as humans, we are destined for imperfection. And perhaps we simply don’t know exactly what it is we really want to attain. Some want to attain that “hot body,” that new career, while others, like myself, or maybe those same people, a degree. And trust me when I say that those “what does your future look like?” quizzes on Facebook are nowhere near real.

I encourage you, however, not to take quizzes that supposedly “determine” your future but to create your own. I love a good challenge, do you? Some call it creating, others call it manifesting. I’ve been trying to be more transparent about my spirituality, recently, and I’ve gotten a lot of support, so thank you for that! (for those of you who reached out!)

Making the most out of a situation is good, too. Despite what’s going on in the USA right now in terms of the upcoming inauguration, our current president, and the horrible domestic terrorist attack on the Nation’s Capitol Building. But I remain hopeful in Biden’s upcoming presidency. I also sincerely hope that my D.C. followers are safe.

Last thing, I did get another job, a second job, if you will. It’s at an Animal Hospital. More details to come later.

For now,

xoxoxo April ❤

What 2020 taught me, and hopefully taught you

2020, it’s been a hell of year. But I wouldn’t even put the emphasis on the hell. Sure, COVID-19 took a lot away this year, for some people more than others. The Cheeto in Office finally signed the relief bill (too little too late.) But I’m not here to talk about politics. I will say this: our country may be severely divided, but community is more important than ever these days. I know we’re all sick of the “we’re all in this together” phrase, at this point in time, but my goal in 2021 is to make this blog a community. Life’s too short to be all “me, me, me.” In fact, I try not to make it all about me because I want college students and graduate students to know what I wish I knew and to provide little “philosophies,” if you will.

2020 has taught me more about myself and my capabilities more than ever before, and even more about what I can do with my brand. And it hopefully taught you all to be more appreciative for what you have, rather than focus on what you want. But if you focused on what you wanted, it probably came true in more cases than one. Even though COVID-19 took a lot away from us, I believe it still gave us opportunity for growth. My goal at the very beginning of the year was to gravitate less towards negativity and more towards that growth, and it’s brought me more hope than I had say, back in February or the month of April (yes, I always have to make that distinction between the month and my name.)

Without further ado, here is what 2020 taught me, and hopefully taught you, as well:

  1. Take no crap, from anyone.
  2. If people say, “you think life is all roses,” let them. There’s nothing wrong with being happy.
  3. Grow a backbone, and call out others who don’t have the balls to grow one.
  4. Graduate school (and college) are times to explore and try out different avenues. When I was in my last semester at RWU, I took a Law and the Family class while interning at a Domestic Violence resource center. And this past Fall 2020 semester at Emerson I took a Book Publishing Overview class, when my concentration is in magazine publishing.
  5. With that being said, apply to jobs and apply yourself to things you haven’t even considered doing.
  6. Learn how to fend for yourself.
  7. Therapy is important and nothing to be ashamed of.
  8. Being an influencer is not as important as being a good role model.
  9. Everyone makes mistakes, you just have to have to take responsibility for those mistakes.
  10. Take that leap of faith, no matter what it is. In fact, only you know what that is.
  11. Be a positive force in someone’s life. You never know who needs it.
  12. Also with that being said, be kind because you never know who’s fighting what battle.
  13. Someone’s success is not your failure.
  14. In other words, jealousy isn’t worth it, and neither is comparing yourself.
  15. Also, we all go through life at a different pace, and we go at our own pace.
  16. Patience and acceptance are virtues. Accept the things you cannot change.
  17. If you feel like you can change something, ask and you shall receive.
  18. It’s better to be alone than to cry and agonize over people you’re trying to please. Let them go and stop making excuses for them.
  19. Be nice to essential workers, from an essential worker.

I was going to put a twentieth teaching, but I’ll leave that one up to you folx. I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I know that with each year, despite their drawbacks, have many valuable things to contribute. And you have a few wonderful things to add, as well.

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: Let’s talk about… strengths and weaknesses

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What is your biggest strength and what is your biggest weakness?”

These are questions that often come up in job interviews. Most of the time we don’t want to say what our weaknesses are because we’re afraid our weaknesses will decrease our chances of getting said job. I’ve given different answers to different job prospects, mainly because I feel put on the spot. But that’s a weakness of life; you will have to be put on the spot. It’s called “Socratic Method” in law, at least that’s what Emmett says in “Legally Blonde.”

I started to list my strengths and weaknesses. Some of them included “strive for perfection,” “I want it all and I want it now,” “impatient,” and “headstrong.” I look to Ashley Tisdale’s song, “Headstrong,” and I can’t help but feel as though I want everything right this second.

Overtime you can’t help but feel you’ve inherited strengths and weaknesses from your parents. However, you’re responsible for controlling them. It’s true that we have at least 3-5 vices, depending on who you are. And at the end of the day, you’re your own person and you can’t really blame anybody but yourself if something were to go awry. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying take the blame for everything but taking responsibility for something you know you did is important.) People aren’t lying when they say you have to earn your respect. Others think they’re entitled to it because of their position, status, etc. Did they ever think that’s their own ego getting in the way? That’s a weakness: pride.

Also the whole “sorry I’m a Scorpio” or whatever zodiac sign you are, is complete and utter B.S.

Taking responsibility and being responsible are strengths of mine, as is honesty. Both have earned me mass amount of respect, and that’s not me being “proud.” And this has come at the perfect time since Jupiter is in conjunction with Saturn, forming the actions to slow and to take responsibility for our actions. Did I mention they’ll meet in air signs for the next 200+ years?

But did you notice how, in the beginning of this post, I mentioned my weakness first? This is quite common. And at a job interview, there’s no “right” way to phrase your strengths and weaknesses, unless you know they can/can’t get you the job. Nonetheless, it is quite common to take a piece of paper and just write down everything that’s ostensibly “wrong” with you. But the fact is, there is nothing wrong with you; you’re human. We all have our imperfections, personality-wise. Those who are too proud to say such a thing? That’s wrong.

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: You’re responsible for finding inspiration

“An ambitious writer looking for her next adventure,” I type into that big white textbox. I figure I might as well put some aspect of my personality, yet also something clever, into my application for Au Pair Paris. Don’t ask me to speak to you in French. It’s very minimal. In fact, I never took French in my middle school, high school, or undergraduate careers. I was convinced at the ripe age of twelve that I’d be richer if I knew Spanish — right and wrong. Given that in thirty years from now, minorities will become the majority, my near-fluent Spanish hasn’t lasted my transferring to a Rhode Island university.

It’s hard learning anyone’s language, really. But learning somebody’s background/backstory? Why they buy so much coffee? Why they drink so much? Why they’re so impatient? Those are things linguistics can’t teach you.

No, I am no longer considering being an au pair. No, I haven’t been writing as much with the exception of graduate school papers. It seems like I can never catch a break, yet it always feels like I have to write. It’s a little ironic considering I have a book to be published by January 2021. I’ve only ever published fiction once, and that was in And So Yeah magazine. And that’s the thing about magazine publishing — it’s fast-paced and people want new and novel ideas (no pun intended.)

This may or not be a struggle for me next semester as I am writing for Boston Globe Magazine next semester for a class — just a life update. Although, through various internships, I’ve learned how to pitch successfully. It’s harder to get out there than in usual circumstances (i.e. before COVID-19 started and btw there’s going to be a lockdown in Rhode Island starting Sunday, December 20th.) I remember going to artists’ shops in Newport over the Summer two years ago and to Cape Cod last year. I can’t do that until further notice.

But on the topic of writing, writer’s block has hit me harder than ever during the pandemic, and I’ve been struggling to write this book. Thank God I learned the word “curation” in college Aesthetics class (spoiler alert.) But what I’ve learned in terms of regaining that special “spark” is that inspiration isn’t something that you, if I may be so bold, “poop out.” Yes, I just said that. You have to find inspiration. That’s why I walk 1-2 miles every morning averaging at 3,000 steps (not that I’m obsessively checking my health app or anything 😅) I bought hot pink roses the other day at Stop&Shop, so yes, inspiration can cost $8.99 or more.

But with a vase full of roses, you do have to take of them, like you would do unto yourself.

With that being said, the other aspect of it is, and this is where I get real, here — you have to be sober and awake while doing it. You’re not going to get anything out of a bottle of wine. I used to say, “that’s where I get some of my best work!” No. You have a brain, so use it. You rely on yourself and you are responsible for getting that inspiration. Sometimes that does mean waking up at 4:00 in the morning, just to get some words down on paper. Ernest Hemingway would write every morning at 5 a.m. Ernest Hemingway was infamously not a sober individual, but he wrote some of the best essays, short stories, and novels in the history of literature. But nonetheless, you won’t get anything done if you’re drunk and/or tired.

There’s also nothing wrong with getting inspiration out of personal experience. Again, everyone has a story — something linguistics can’t teach you. There’s no shame in being vulnerable with your audience. I remember when I was first being published with the Odyssey Online, I was terrified, petrified, at best. But to be an artist takes not only curiosity but courage to proclaim your truth.

BLOG-MAS Tuesday: You’re your only competition

I remember looking at colleges, wanting to be a lawyer with a cool chemistry background. The schools that I was applying to were extremely competitive. I’d be applying to schools with much more competitive attitudes about applying than I ever had.

Now, as a writer with a whole other motive in life, I find it easier to compare myself to other creatives. However, here’s the plot twist: what if I were my own competition?

That, my friend, is the philosophy that I’ve been following in life nowadays. I haven’t fully come to terms with it until today when I was interviewing my Associate Editor at Rhode Island Monthly. She said she likes to compete with herself every year when entering feature writing contests every year, to see how she improves.

Now, I am at the end of my first semester of grad school, that has taught me more what I wanted to know than anything else (but I guess that’s the point of a master’s degree.) I am beyond grateful to what Emerson offers me, and I am blessed to have taken the leap of faith to write and publish my poetry book. Not only that, but I learned I am a Muckraker, which by definition is someone who uncovers the dirt. In the case of journalism, it’s someone who “uncovers the dirt” in investigations for the sake of reporting and informing the public of what’s going on. I knew this was a phrase already, as I love to playfully troll the page my “fans” created for me on muckrack.com. Who comes up with this? I have no idea. That’s just the beauty of the internet, folx.

I have known school for the past 20 years, now. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to give up learning quite yet. But the truth is, you’re learning everyday. You don’t learn from what other people do, you learn by doing, which is the beauty of grad school. Competing and comparing yourself to others, I’m sorry to say, won’t get you anywhere except for defeating your ostensible “competition,” or worse, getting heartbroken over something that won’t even matter in a year, months, or even a week. Not to mention you only damage relationships, that way.

You can’t help but have that expectation of yourself, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get that 100% on an English test (that actually happened to me, yes.) I also have received the full credit on a paper. I’ve had teachers tell me, “you’re really good at writing,” or “you should be proud of this essay.” But I set beyond-unrealistic expectations of myself, and that’s just me. Perfection is indubitably a weakness of mine. But instead of competing with others, like I did in high school track & field, I compete with myself to see if I can do better, to improve myself.

Starting Over Versus Trying Again With Experience | 4 Years Of This Blog

Four years… wow. That’s about the same amount of time it takes to complete a college or high school degree. For some of you, it could be a Ph.D program! But everyone goes through life differently, it has it’s twists and turns and rotaries (that’s round-abouts to you, those who aren’t from New England!) It took me a bit of time, but perhaps I already knew, who my target market was. And it’s been all of you reading this blog! It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school, college, grad school, or beyond. I mean, hey, I bought my first issue of Cosmo when I was in elementary school! It’s funnier because the issue happened to be the prom dress issue. I’ve accumulated probably thousands of magazines since I was eight years old. Nothing unusual to me, at least.

I tried to start this blog when I left The Odyssey Online in June 2016, but didn’t quite have the words to say, yet. It turns out that a writer isn’t a writer because they say they are. They write because they have something to say — something important to them. If someone else doesn’t like it, that person can “go pound sand,” as my mom would say. My personal experience with writing has been a tumultuous one, at best. However, I didn’t “start over” with writing. I tried again with more experience in the craft.

I posed the question on Instagram, “Do you start over or try again with more experience?” And all of the respondents said, “Experience Necessary.” The same thing goes for getting a job or an internship. People can leave a job for whatever reason. They don’t “start over” in their career, whatever their career may be, though they do have the option to try something different. There’s that word again: try.

You can begin essentially anywhere, but you have to keep trying. I remember trying to film my first YouTube video and I tweeted at Katy Bellotte (whom you all know I admire) “my YouTube video came out like 💩” and she actually took the time to respond to my tweet saying, “Keep trying!” I also remember trying to start a literary magazine. That was a bust. But I used the platform for that same lit mag to create a new one. Yes, I’m full of ideas. Yes, I want to build a magazine empire one day. And I think already did. (Follow @ reallemag on Instagram.)

Say it louder for the folx in the back: I TRIED AGAIN WITH EXPERIENCE! I didn’t necessarily start from scratch. With experience comes the inevitable failure, but you take that failure, forget about it, and you LEARN SOME MORE! For me, I chose a magazine and business track at my grad school. No, I will never give that up no matter what people will try to tell me. I started learning via BonBillo and I have to tell you, it’s an awesome platform to help start and grow your business.

You’re always going to be learning, even when you’re not in school. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true as hell. Think about it, when a poet, like I was in undergrad (and still am on the side), they start out with a rough draft — a really rough draft. Then, they take it to their professor and possibly a peer reviewer. It’s a team. As frustrating as the revisions and [constructive] criticisms are, you end up coming up with something fantastic that can be shared with anyone.

Life is essentially poetry. It can be edited a billion times, you’re going to ask for help along the way, major changes happen, you may regret not thinking of the idea in the first place, but in the end, it’s something you’re proud of.