“This Is Not Going To Be Perfect. It’s Going To Be Powerful.”

“This Is Not Going To Be Perfect. It’s Going To Be Powerful.”

Investing in yourself is not only important, but it can also be insanely expensive. This is the second paycheck I’ve gone through (almost completely) to follow my dreams. Yes, I actually have a job that’s not writing-related that actually pays me. No, I do not get paid to write, though I wish I did. I bet that was a shock to you folx.

Moreover, one of the things I invested in, ($179 a month to be exact) is a book-writing class. After getting out of our weekly ZOOM session today, I found myself in the midst of a conversation about the archangel of anxiety: perfection. I preached in a previous blog post, EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow? , more or less that perfection isn’t worth losing yourself over.

I can’t help but wonder, why am I so afraid of judgment if I don’t strive to be perfect? The simple answer is: I get judged either way. I shouldn’t say “I,” I should say “we [get judged.]”

I’m the only one in that book writing class who’s still in her twenties. In fact, my twenties are just getting started with me venturing into grad school. What’s funny about that, is public transportation is completely foreign to me, as are some parts of Boston. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, as you all know, but my carefree years took place in small towns. I was completely oblivious to looking both ways before crossing the street. (My kindergarten teacher would not be proud.) In a similar way, I’ve become oblivious to having a plan set out for my book. I confessed today that the “sandwiching” doesn’t work for me. Again, as you all know, I’m like an ocean — choppy and free-flowing… and with a whole lot of depths to my story. So there.

There’s that string of poetry in Jessie J’s “Masterpiece,” those who mind don’t matter/those who matter don’t mind. I’ve lived by those lyrics since my senior year of high school. Those same lyrics apply to those who I am trying to help with my book. Essentially what I mean by that, is (and this goes for all of you future authors out there) your soon-to-be biggest fans/readers are not going to care if you’re some sort of grammar wizard. What they care about, is that you helped them. Take Danielle Bernstein for example. I saw many publishing errors throughout her book, but I still loved her story about how she became a household name in the fashion industry, and among influencers. Her book helped me build “The April Diaries'” baby sister, Candidly Worn. (Yes, I threw in a little self-promo.)

What we concluded with today was this phrase: “This [your story] is not going to be perfect. It’s going to be powerful.”

Every story is different, and you have one to tell!

I was so angry, I couldn’t write.

I was so angry, I couldn’t write.

I couldn’t write. I couldn’t find the words appropriate enough to describe my anger. I was, and still am, angry at the ignorance, racism, xenophobia, trans-phobia, and everything else that’s BEEN plaguing our society for CENTURIES, even more so than COVID-19. I couldn’t even find a filter for this thumbnail to hide the rash that broke out on my face just now.

I am furious.

My “philosophy,” or I guess “wisdom” behind this, is that if you’re not angry, you’re just not paying attention. Period. And if you’re not “political,” you’re not paying attention.

I can be as angry as I was prior to writing this. Hey, I can write, after all! So, what do I do? I take small steps. 🦶🏼

This includes posting stories to Instagram, writing posts like these, but more importantly, sticking up for what is right and fighting against what is unjust. Four words: do the right thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But there’s a difference between having an opinion and just being an a-hole.

But as I reflect on my own behavior on social media, I realize there were a lot of things that could’ve been left unsaid, especially when I was in high school. We make mistakes — all of us. We get angry, we then regret, and some of us have the empathy to say “I’m sorry,” even if it takes months to find the words. However, the things left unsaid could be either unnecessary, or they could be uncomfortable. And the thing about the discomfort is that it helps us to grow. Even the most uncomfortable conversations are the ones worth having. I’ve known people, and I’ve been the one to cry when they get mad. But that’s when you know you’re, again, doing the right thing.

It’s okay to cry and feel when you’re sticking up for what’s right, especially when it’s for another person or for yourself.

xoxo,

April 💕

To the Roger Williams University Class of 2020

To the Roger Williams University Class of 2020

On August 5, 2019, which seems like forever ago at this point in time, (given the turbulence 2020 brought us already before this very moment), the literary world and the world at large, lost an icon: Beloved author, Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison earned her B.A. at Howard University and her M.A. at Cornell University. She taught at multiple universities before finally retiring from Princeton. Just like any other author, she was full of quotes. One quote that I found while perusing the internet, struck a chord of truth within me: “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.’”

I began to reflect on this quote and my experience at RWU, which all of you might be doing right this very second — on the day of our graduation. The thing about English Literature, that I have come to know when fulfilling my requirements for my Creative Writing degree, is that all characters struggle with an internal and/or external conflict. Most of the time, we focus on the external conflict surrounding the character, but no one pays attention to how and what the character is feeling – what is going on in their heads. That is, until we analyze or “pick apart,” as some of us said in Dr. Scheinberg’s “The Other Victorians” class. Why do authors even write these stories? The simple answer that I can give you, is to not only educate, but to inspire, or in Toni Morrison’s words, empower. As I listened to a Katy Bellotte podcast, I remembered that I randomly brought up my blog to a friend of mine in my art history class. One thing she asked me is if I ever get “Imposter Syndrome,” to which I said, “yes and no,” and went on to say that I used to want to be an influencer and promote all of these brands that I knew would never give me the time of day. But really, in a world where the universe relies on technology and overly edited photographs, I realized I want to influence people to be the best version of themselves. I want to be real, and not only say, “my name is April Federico, and I am a writer.”

I’m convinced that we all knew what we wanted to be when we grew up when we were at least eight years old, if not infants. For me, this was shown in a photograph of myself as a baby “reading” a plush book about farm animals, which I proudly showed to Mrs. Green’s Kindergarten class in a “Me Magazine” that we all got to fill out and show our peers when we were each the “special person” of the week. Let’s just say the “Me Magazine” is how I began to love the art of producing magazines. When I was finally able to actually read, I picked up a copy of J-14 magazine. That copy of J-14 turned into a heaping pile sitting on a bookshelf in my room, comprised of M, Popstar!, Tiger Beat, and BOP. I would only go grocery shopping with my mom simply to pick up a magazine. And on the topic of being “real,” my mom (whom most of you may know as adjunct professor Melissa Macaulay Federico of marketing) called me out one time for reading the embarrassing stories sections. As much as I loved learning facts about the Sprouse twins, Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff, Avril Lavigne, amongst so many others, it was the humiliating, yet raw and earthly stories from people. Why do you think that we love to read the captions of Humans of New York? Put simply, they’re real. And because I loved to read, not just magazines I promise, I learned that I loved to write my own stories, which prompted my second-grade teacher to say when giving an example of a spelling word, “April loves to write.” It did take some trial and error in my college career to figure that out for myself, but it’s been true all along.

The funny thing about all that is that some of us, if not all of us, may have been struggling, too – to find ourselves and our true life’s purposes. On this day, when we glance down at our degrees (who knows if we’re doing that or not, today), no matter if it’s a BS, BA, or BFA, remember not so much about the numerous cups of Caramel Macchiatos, Nitro Cold Brews, or Venti Iced White Mocha Lattes purchased at Starbucks, or the tears, sweat, (and hopefully not blood) that have been shed trying to complete an essay or project, but realize that you did, in fact, find your purpose at RWU. For some of you, it may have been to give your power to those who may feel powerless or estranged from society, thus you took a trip with Habitat for Humanity, joined the Women’s Collective, or even took an international trip with FIMRC. For some of you, it may have been the urging need for something to be done for the student body, thus you joined Student Senate or Inter-Class Council. For some of you, it may have been to share your extensive knowledge of math, science, foreign languages, and/or the art of writing with students needing that extra reassurance in the tutoring center. For some of you, it may have been the ability to carry your athletic team across that finish line or shoot that winning shot in basketball. No matter where you take your “superpowers,” I encourage you to keep Toni Morrison’s words not only in your minds but also in your hearts. Also, no matter where you go, just do the right thing.

Thank you, Roger Williams University, for creating a nest that we, hawks, will all miss dearly. And thank you for everything. Congratulations and good luck to the Roger Williams University and University College Class of 2020. I’ll see you all a year from now in 2021 when we WILL have our chance to walk across the stage.

xoxoxo,

April 💕

Take an apple and put it in your own words

Take an apple and put it in your own words

Today’s the two-year-anniversary in which my poetry professor told me I have an “authentic and strong voice” in my poems, which led me to write my 60+ page thesis on docupoetics in 2019. Doing a thesis was difficult but after a heartfelt conversation via Instagram Live with my rock star fashion designing friend, Maria del Carmen Mercado, I came to a realization about writing, in general.

She said to me, take an apple and observe it. If you have to write about it, do it. However, don’t write about what society thinks about an apple. Don’t write about what your family thinks about an apple. What you think of an apple, is on YOU. It’s the same thing with fashion designing, for all my fellow fashionistas out there. You can research and get inspiration from any fashion designer, but what they did has already been done. With writers, it’s the same deal; you can research all you want for your book. But what other authors have already written about is already out there, no matter how much you try to put it into your own words. How do you feel about something like, love? Friendship? Marriage? Genocide? Every president of the United States that’s ever lived and served in Office?

It’s hard to tell what we’re feeling about a certain topic when we’re so influenced by other people. We can have our own opinions. We’re not stupid. And we’re certainly allowed to disagree with other people. Social media definitely plays a factor in how we are influenced. Oddly enough, I had a dream about dresses. Perhaps it’s because I’m not trying to spend my money on clothing, though I did “splurge” on an Emerson sweatshirt that I’ve always wanted when I was applying to graduate school (it was only $42.) Nonetheless in my dream, dresses were being judged. But again, who cares what other people think? Dress up for YOU, girl!

I said this in my very first blog post, The Art of Communication, but not communicating how you, yourself, feel about a topic means losing a part of yourself. Your argument gets lost in a sea full of other people’s second-hand research and opinions. This is especially what you need to avoid when writing a paper. Needless to say, this applies to my English Literature majors who are reading this, as well.

Beware the Sides of March | I’ve Seen Both Sides Now

Beware the Sides of March | I’ve Seen Both Sides Now

There is no doubt this month pounced its way in like a lion with the coronavirus happy whoreshit, and ended today, March 31st, with the death of Tomie dePaola, famous Strega Nona writer. Remember those books we read as preschoolers or kindergarteners? We were too young to even remotely understand the ideas, let alone words, like “pandemic” or “death.” These words didn’t make sense to me until my grandmother’s death in fifth grade, and when the Swine Flu pandemic began in Mexico in sixth grade.

I remember, in sixth grade, some of the first things that were ever spewed out of the mouths of “authority” at my middle school were “this year’s theme is survival.” Little did I know we were going through a recession, as we are right now, but we were sixth graders just trying to navigate middle school — the worst years of our lives, or at least mine.

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I saw a picture of an otter recently, and it reminded me of how otters sleep while holding hands so they don’t drift apart. Random animal fact, I know. But it should make you smile, nonetheless. But I remember even the simplest of sixth grade days, I had a fuzzy backpack, and I convinced myself I was both bad at math and friends, which made me relate to an American Idol contestant who sang “Barracuda” for an audition. Her name, I forget at this point in time. But one thing I still remember is how she used singing at a mode for survival. This was the year that Adam Lambert lost to Kris Allen. These were simpler times.

However, another thing I was doing, other than watching American Idol, was creating my own stories. My favorite subject, though everyone else hated it, was English. I remember coming home after school and wanting to read something like P.S. Longer Letter Later, and I actually liked Tom Sawyer. I became fascinated with the idea of writing stories. I did this to block out the idea of me being bullied, which was, unfortunately, my reality.

Dealing with reality, nowadays, during this world-wide pandemic [that everyone is sick of talking about], is harder for some people. It makes us feel like we are out of control. But the fact of the matter is, we are more than what we think. Our souls overpower our fear(s). This time is certainly uncertain for a lot of people, if not everybody. According to a quote by Danielle Doby, “…in the uncertainty, you hold the power to create anything.” Shakespeare was living proof of this, which is one of the main reasons he remains as one of my literary idols. He wrote Romeo and Juliet out of the Black Death. Even Isaac Newton’s university closed down for two years, thus he had to retire to a country home where he developed calculus. I was in my senior art studio “class” via ZOOM, and although I had my aches and pains trying to get comfortable for a four-hour class, it was refreshing to see what people were creating. My anxiety has been through the roof recently because of this new transition towards online courses, but now that I’ve seen things through a positive lens and I’m actually getting stuff done in my office [my room — a room which I draw, read, and write in.]

In short, you can see March as “hell month,” or see that March isn’t so bad, after all. I’ve seen both sides of March, now. It can’t phase me any more than it used to do.

BLOG-MAS: How to Positively Survive Stress During the Holidays

BLOG-MAS: How to Positively Survive Stress During the Holidays

I’ll be honest with you, at the beginning of the month, I sat in my therapist’s office… and cried. The holidays are stressful for some, others not so much. For me? I’ll be candid. The holidays have brought a lot of emotional baggage for the past four years, so basically, since I started college.

People tend to put a lot of pressure on the holidays. I was talking to one of my fellow writers, and she said, “I put a lot of pressure on special days to be extraordinary but sometimes they’re just a regular day with a little extra ‘pizazz.'” For some people, the holidays can bring back unpleasant memories, while others may be struggling to make ends meet and actually put something under the tree, or simply stocking stuffers! I almost didn’t get a tree this year! People could be grieving, while there are those who thrive on social media posting pictures with captions like Merry Chrysler! but don’t let those pictures fool you, social media has a way of hiding stuff “behind the camera–” the things not seen. I’m surprised if there’s someone out there with not the least bit of baggage around the holidays, and I’m not being negative here!

But here are a few tips to survive any aspect of the holiday season:

  1.  Pray or meditate. I know there may be so much to do, but even if you’re a parent wrapping gifts for the kids, a simple meditation (while the kids are sleeping) will help.
  2. When in doubt, make gifts! If you’re crafty, I’m sure you can make something even if it’s a pinecone elf! There are other things to do like writing a poem or making a video!
  3. Journal. I cannot stress this enough. I especially recommend Junk Journaling — I’ve been following Katy Bellotte’s journaling methods, and I LOVE it. I even asked for glue sticks and washi tape for Christmas!
  4. Donate to a cause you care about, even if it’s just a dollar. This year my mom donated to one of my favorite causes, Women for Women. I SUGGEST YOU DONATE, TOO!
  5. Volunteer someplace. Giving blood helps, too especially during the winter.

Here’s an example of “Junk Journaling:”

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Certainly Not the Same

Certainly Not the Same

“As I sat in the booth of Quito’s with my mom, we decided to cheer, or ‘clink glasses,’ [I wasn’t yet, 21] to no regrets.”

This was written around this time three years ago at the beginning of what I like to call “Book 2,” a.k.a when I switched my major to English and I was still at SAC. Now, I am 23 years old with a whole new mindset, law school applications, and more!

I am reminded of the same “Sex and the City” phrase every single day: “You can’t stop being who you are because you’re afraid.” For those of you who have been there with me from the beginning of this blog, you’d know that I started this blog shortly after a tumultuous and insidiously controlling breakup. I basically lived a “Sex and the City” lifestyle, minus the infamous sex. (For clarification, I’m still a virgin). This includes dying my hair a dark brown and giving myself a whole new “look.”

One fellow writer of mine posed a question on Instagram not too long ago that asked, “when you die, would you rather be remembered in small snippets of someone’s memory or a statue?”

Remembering this question, and I’m not trying to be morbid, but that me that I was referring to in that last paragraph was just but a ghost of all the women (or girls, considering I’m in my early 20’s) that I used to be. I’m listening to Katy Bellotte’s latest podcast episode of “Thick & Thin,” appropriately titled “Feeling hopeless & redefining yourself.” That me that I was referring to certainly felt hopeless and tried to redefine herself from “so-and-so’s ex-girlfriend” because I certainly did not want to be known as an accessory. Katy alludes to her ever-popular YouTube videos, and she, too, mentions how she changed.

Let’s face it, she and I both graduated from the “cutesy talk,” and we both discovered alcohol come college. However, she did also say there is no shame in being vulnerable, which is something I’ve learned to preach, as well. And as we age, we really do change! Time moves us onto bigger and better things, and we learn, develop, and edit. What mattered a year ago doesn’t matter to me anymore. What mattered two years ago no longer matters, and so on. It’s all about how you redefine and market yourself, as I mentioned in Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better.

That me wanted to be who I am today. I just had a friend tell me that my Instagram makes her happy because I don’t put up any fronts and that I’m all about spreading positivity — hi, Allie! I have my moments, who doesn’t? Whoever doesn’t have their moments is clearly robotic.

Moreover, I realized who I am, and I have the stamina and motivation to fulfill that persona. Except, I don’t have to be a persona. I may not be the same person I was 2-3 years ago, but I am me. In fact, things are going so well that I lost track of what book I’m on. Quality, not quantity, people!

 

 

Believing | 3 years (and counting) of this blog

Believing | 3 years (and counting) of this blog

Life is full of possibilities. I’ve learned that throughout my time at RWU. So much has changed in one year, two years, and evidently three years after starting this blog. This includes but is not limited to my outlook on life, my career path, and my interests. I watched this video, and I have to say, it’s spot-on.

If you believe you have a happiness that lies within you, for example, you will be happy. If you believe that “all guys are the same,” you won’t find that love you deserve. Did I mention I found love again? All this time I thought I was a Carrie Bradshaw but it turns out I really am a Miranda! (only people who’ve watched “Sex and the City” will get it)

Moreover, simply dreaming about that love, job, positive mindset, etc. is easy to do. But the truth of the matter is that life, and all the little blessings and/or luxuries that come with it, don’t come easy. They’re not meant to come easy. Nothing is meant to come 100% easy.

We all know that math is tough, as said in The Correlation of Hummingbirds, Dancing, and Algebra, but dealing with anxiety, depression, and PTSD isn’t easy either. “Everything is okay,” is what I’ve been telling myself since I first started high school, despite bullies and flunking math tests. But the one thing I wasn’t cognizant of was that deep down, despite nearly failing math, I believed I would get into private school and excel. I even let this one kid in my English class call me stupid in front of everyone and said that I belonged in Hufflepuff (which doesn’t even exist, unless you live in Harry Potter’s world) because I would soon be rid of them. Besides, being in Hufflepuff doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it actually means you’re nicer and loyal than most. Go ahead and chew on that.

Even when I say “my dumb bunny butt,” sometimes, I don’t believe I’m stupid. In fact, I believe and know I’m the opposite of such. I am by no means an “underachiever,” and I don’t need to watch “Legally Blonde” two more times to instill that belief within myself. Three years ago, I actually got “My story ;sn’t over yet” on my left shoulder” to remind myself that there are pages still left to write, minds and hearts to inspire, a cat to take care of, grad school apps to be sent out, and more!

 

Week In The Life of a Blogger/Busy College Student!

Week In The Life of a Blogger/Busy College Student!

It has been two weeks since I posted a blog post. You can definitely say things have been busy according to the April Diaries! With that, it is the last weekend of September which only calls for something I promised a long time ago… a week in the life!

Monday

11:00AM: Work-Study! My job is being the editor-in-chief of the English/Creative Writing department zine, “Voices.”

*Depending on the day, I also work table times for clubs and Student Senate*

1:00PM: Queer Theatre and Drama class!

6:30PM: Student Senate meeting!

In between class and Senate, I have time to do homework or go home and chill for a while.

Tuesday

9:30AM: Advancing Public Argument class!

11:00AM: Another work-study meeting!

12:00PM: LUNCHTIME! I usually get a Chicken Ranch Wrap or Sushi.

2:00-3:20PM: African Literature class! I have been waiting so long to take a course like this!

3:30PM: Get (a billionth) coffee of the day. Have you ever had the Pumpkin Spice Chai from Starbucks???

5:00-6:20PM: Math class! As mentioned in The Correlation of Hummingbirds, Dancing, and Algebra, I’m taking (guess what) College Algebra!

6:30PM: Women’s Collective for Violence Prevention and Victim Empowerment Eboard or general meetings! I serve as Vice President of the club!

Wednesday

11:00AM: CPC (Community Partnership Center) Publication meetings!

1:00PM: Queer Theatre and Drama class!

2:00PM: Academic Affairs meetings! This counts as one of my Senate committee meetings.

3:00PM: LUNCHTIME! (Late, I know).

4:00PM: Finance meetings! This is another one of my Senate committee meetings.

*Depending on the Wednesday, I usually have to go to meetings of clubs I represent, CPC full-staff meetings, RISC or Title IX meetings*

Thursday

9:30AM: Advancing Public Argument class!

2-4:50PM: How to Write Your Novel class! This is one of the classes I have to take as a Creative Writing major.

5-6:20PM: Math class!

8:00PM: Hawks’ Herald Eboard meetings (though I am not technically a part of their executive board, I still have to go because I’m their Organization Senate Representative). This is also the school newspaper (that I took a break from) but I chose to write for them, again!

(Fabulous) Friday

9AM-12PM: My advocacy internship at Day One Rhode Island!

1:00PM: Queer Theatre and Drama class!

2-3:20PM: African Lit!

3:30-4:30PM: Senate office hours!

Finally, let the weekend commence!

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend usually varies for me. Saturday’s I’m most likely doing homework, studying, writing, or hanging out with a friend or two. Then Sunday is the day I set aside to hang out with my boyfriend (hi, Steve!)

 

 

The Truth About Writing Full-Time | You Have A Purpose

The Truth About Writing Full-Time | You Have A Purpose

I’m starting to realize why writing for a living can be tough. Often times, I denied that fact and thought I could do whatever it takes. But I’m not giving up, even though it really is hard and can make you feel a tad manic. I’m not trying to be an Ernest Hemingway, who was a quote-unquote “abusive alcoholic.” And yes, I just quoted “Ten Things I Hate About You.”

For those of you who don’t know, I recently published an eBook of poems. No, this is not a “self-promotion.” This is where I get real. Again, unfortunately, it may an eBook for the rest of its existence. It wasn’t the way I wanted it to come out, mostly because I was trying to self-publish with little to no money. In fact, I published it without spending a dime! I personally don’t know of any authors who self-published and were successful, except maybe Rupi Kaur (correct me if I’m wrong.) Self-publishing is hard! Really, it is. You know what’s harder? Making it as a writer. I’ve had trouble making it as a blogger!

Everyone knows the story of J.K. Rowling and how she got into writing. If you know me, you’d know that I am a sucker for literature and the authors that compile some of the greatest works of all time. I write this as I look at my unread copy of War and Peace sitting on my shelf along with Moby Dick and On the Origin of Species, all of which I am determined to read and conquer one day (or within multiple days.) Two summers ago, prior to starting my career at RWU, I read Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austen excessively. Like myself, Hemingway was a budding journalist before realizing he wanted to write creatively.

I remember when I was still at SAC, my Spanish professor heard me quote Ernest Hemingway (in Spanish) and she strongly encouraged me to write for the campus newspaper. This was a week after I started this blog. Again, as I’m writing this, she’s not the only one who recognized my talent in writing. How am I just realizing this? I don’t know.

But Hemingway was more than an alcoholic, even though it was highlighted in some of the characters of his novels and short stories. But that’s the thing with us, writers. We build based off of personal experience, which may seem like it’s hard to write at times. Coming up with content, even for a blog, is hard. There are touchy subjects that need to be shared in order to empower. Hey, I think I just came up with my reason for #WhyIWrite. And that’s just the thing! You write for a reason, no matter if it’s sports journalism, technical writing, grant writing, travel writing, creative writing, etc. You write because you have a purpose on this planet. That’s the same concept of why people teach young minds, serve in the military, etc. — you have a purpose. Any profession is hard, but you’re doing great.