A Letter to 21-year-old me

Four years ago today I walked across the stage in my graduation commencement ceremony. This letter is meant to describe what happens over the four years that follow.

Dear John,

Take in every moment of your graduation day. Every one. It’s something you’ll never forget. The seventh of 8 siblings and the FIRST to graduate from college. I’m still proud of that, though Adrianna quickly became the second. The following events take place over the next four years, which won’t play out how we’d have expected.

2013

You finished school and our plan is to write. And we do. We write an entire book over the coming months. The book may not be comparable to Lee Child or Michael Connelly, but our name is on the cover. Don’t forget the hours we devoted to accomplishing one of our goals.

The book is released in the October following graduation. Again, soak in every moment of this day. It’s unforgettable. You’ll immediately start on book 2, early the following year you’ll abandon it. Nearly 4 years later and that manuscript is no closer to completion. We’ll get back to it. we will.

2014

2014 is rather uneventful until the second half of the year. Then, oh boy does it get juicy. See, during this time we have a friend. She’s someone we met in 2010 just before graduating from high school. Over the course of the four years that followed we realize how utterly fantastic she is. I’m still not sure what it means to love someone, but I know we loved her. And you’ll make the agonizing decision to tell her. It didn’t turn out as we’d have liked. The feeling isn’t mutual. But don’t worry, remember who we’re talking about here. She doesn’t laugh at you. She doesn’t throw it back in your face. She thanks you for thinking so highly of her. Doesn’t mean the feeling you’ll experience doesn’t suck, but it’s something. The worst part of this event is we essentially lose her from our life. Rather than talking regularly about anything, we stop talking altogether. I guess that’s what happens when you confess something like that and it isn’t mutual. Unfortunately, it’s 2017 and we still don’t really talk.

Immediately after that decision you’ll finally apply to your first police departments. You’ll be rejected by both. The beginning of many rejections from departments to come. Keep your head up. We’ll figure it out.

2015

This entire year is rather forgettable. In August you finally quit working at HEB to begin working at Half Price Books. You’ll meet great people and you’ll be paid to be surrounded by books. What could be better, right? Well it turns out it isn’t as great as we’d expect. But that’s not until next year to discuss.

In December you’ll get your fourth tattoo. Still waiting to add to our collection of ink.

2016

The tale of two halves of the same year. In May we’ll go on our first vacation as an adult to Washington, DC! Boy, those four days flew by and before we knew it we’re back at Half Price Books. The trip was nothing short of magical. Cherish the memories from our first vacation. It’ll only grow more distant into the past with each passing day.

In July we quit working at Half Price Books. We refuse to continue working for such a low wage and only 35 hours rather than 40. Our plan: law enforcement. You’ll immediately begin applying to departments all over the state. I don’t have the list in front of me but my memory suggests it’s around 15 departments. You’ll take written tests, you’ll be polygraphed, you’ll participate in multiple review board interviews, and you’ll devote several months to the process. But you’ll fail. Not a single department is willing to give you a chance to become a police officer. Not one. You’ll even cry a bit. It’ll suck. You’ll vow to never go through the process of applying for jobs in criminal justice again. The process is time consuming and we’ve gotten nothing out of it.

Once the law enforcement applications are completed you decide to apply for jobs you feel more qualified for. You’ll submit somewhere in the ballpark of 30-40 applications. Different companies. Different positions. And you. Some will never call. Some will invite you for an interview. Then there’s Travelers. They call. They invite you for testing. They invite you for an interview. But after all of that you have three more weeks to learn of the hiring decision. We’re up to five months without full time employment. Can we afford to wait?

2017

We turn a corner as the calendar turns a new page. We decline two job offers that would have given us more pay and hours. We do so because we’re waiting on Travelers. That opportunity is too important just to pass up before a final decision is made. The second week of January we get the offer. Travelers wants to give us an opportunity. We accept immediately and even cry a bit. It was the longest seven months of our life. But we finally had what we wanted.

Just two months after starting the new job we’ll go on vacation to Boston for eight days. It’ll be absolutely incredible. Now we’re setting ourselves up to visit many new places in the years to come.

Look, the next four years aren’t going to play out like we’d have hoped. They will be rough. You’ll be deflated and nervous. But you’ll always remain confident in yourself. You’ll never back down from what you believe in. You’ll stay true to yourself even in times of great uncertainty.

I’m proud of our growth we’ve experienced over the last four years. And looking forward to what’s to come for us in the future.

Sincerely,

The only person who knows exactly what it’s like to be you,

John Guillen

This is Rough

Every human alive has experienced loss and hardship. No loss is worse than any other because no two individuals are the same. It’s easy to say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now.” That saying is an actual fact. No one can understand the tragedy and loss another person experiences. That doesn’t mean we can’t be empathetic.

I wrote yesterday about my dogs. For anyone thinking I might be taking this too seriously, know I’ve lost 3 of my 4 grandparents and have no living great-grandparents. That isn’t to say I’m better or worse than the next person, but I know loss.

The emergency surgery on one of my dogs was a success. But as a result of the incident he lost an eye. I’m overwhelmed with sadness. But we could not keep the dogs under the same roof any longer. This morning I surrendered the other dog to the county. They informed me that he will most certainly be euthanized. I cried right there as he was taken from me. Then for an hour driving home.

RIP Charlie. We had 2 great years. I only wish we could have had 10 more.

2016: My Year

2016 is over in just a few short hours for us here in the Western Hemisphere. It’s already 2017 in much of the world. A perfect time to look back.

In 2016 I didn’t read enough. I almost let my blog completely die. I quit multiple jobs. And I’m on the verge of rejecting multiple job offers at once. Sounds wonderful.

But there are some positives to come out of this year. I bought my first DSLR, which I’ve wanted for quite some time. I proceeded to take my new camera to Washington, DC during my first real vacation as an adult. I visited the Library of Congress. I visited Austin for the first time on my own. I made some long overdue personal decisions that I’m looking forward to.

Everyone wants to talk about how 2016 has been the year of celebrity deaths. I don’t see the point of this. It sounds to me like people are worried about the wrong things. Old people die. It isn’t surprising. Especially when the world as a whole has actual problems affecting the lives of every human alive today, and those not yet born.

Maybe my year wasn’t ideal and a few celebrities died, but I refuse to complain. There are people without food, shelter, and clothing. How about all these people worried about the deaths of celebrities actually worry about something a little less glamorous?

That’s what 2016 really boils down to. People focused on such trivial things. Instead of making memes about Harambe, why not support an animal rescue organization? Instead of focusing on how many celebrities have died in 2016, why not support some of their favorite charitable causes and organizations? And instead of complaining about how rough you have it, why not think of the people who have to walk miles just to have access to water?

I know my 2016 didn’t go according to plan, but you won’t find me feeling sorry for myself.

What were some of the highlights of your year?

Nominated for an Award, no Two!

ImagePhoto Credit: Out and About

I typically only post on one Saturday a month, but this is a celebration! So, sorry for two straight six post weeks. Don’t get bored of me, please. 🙂

I’ve read about SO many bloggers being nominated for this award and that award and every time I just want to punch them in the face. Cause I think I’m a pretty good blogger who writes interesting and relevant posts and I never get nominated for anything. Until now! Actually, I have to admit that I was first nominated about a month ago but my blogging schedule is planned quite a bit ahead and certain posts are scheduled for certain days so I’ve been trying to fit it in and never had a good day for it. So let’s just get on with the fun-ness, shall we?

I’d first like to thank Writer X for first nominating for me the Versatile Blogger Award. You are too kind. Second I would like to thank Erynn for nominating me for the Liebster Award. Geez, you guys. I love you both. Haha I’m only kidding. Okay, I’m not. Moving on!

Image

Before I begin, I’m going to merge the two awards. So instead of 11 facts you’ll get 15 and I’ll nominate 11 bloggers. Time for secrets!

15 Facts about me

1. I was the youngest in my university’s graduating class last May. Something like 1,000 students. I was 21.

2. I have a crush on this girl I work with and I haven’t told a single soul. Until now. Wait, am I too old to crush on someone? Eh. Y’all are officially in the know! Shhhhh.

3. I cried during Transformers 2. Hush your mouth and don’t judge me!

4. I’ve never had a sip of alcohol in my life. I’ll be 23 at the end of the year.

5. I lost all the numbers in my phone last November and never made any attempt at getting them back. Now I have 26. I laugh every time I see it.

6. I honestly believe that baseball is man’s greatest invention.

7. I graduated from high school weighing about 110 pounds four years ago. I’m currently at about 180. Remember, bodybuilder over here.

8. I have many celebrity crushes. Jennifer Lawrence is number one. Emma Watson. Katherine Heigl. Rachel McAdams. Kimberley Perry. Taylor Swift. Just to name a few.

9. I look up to my little brother more than I think he knows. My degree is in criminal justice. He studies petroleum engineering. He’s also the only person who can push me in the gym. And he calls me fat.

10. I LOVE tattoos. A girl with a sleeve is like heaven.

11. I LOVE girls who wear boots. It’s weird. Like it doesn’t even matter what the boots look like. Cowgirl. Hot pink. Ugly rain. Doesn’t matter.

12. I’ve named characters in my first two books after the best people I’ve ever met. I’m talking about you Nathan, Sydney, Mercedes, and Stephany.

13. My favorite country singer is Blake Shelton. If you don’t like him then I don’t like you.

14. I’m Mexican-American. Many people think Filipino upon first meeting me. It’s the eyes.

15. I’m atheist.

Now the 11 questions I’m to answer.

1. What kind of music do you like to listen to while writing, if any at all?

No music for me. I’ve listened to ocean waves before. They’re soothing and bring a sense of calm to an otherwise stressful situation. Writing.

2. What is it about writing that keeps you going, even when you’re not sure you want to continue?

I have stories that need telling. They may be bad. They may not be read by many people, but they’ll always be mine and have my name on them.

3. Who is your favourite author?

Stop it. This is nearly impossible. I’m going to say that it’s a tie between Robert B. Parker and Michael Connelly. I could have named several others.

4. What genre do you read, but swear you’ll never write?

Easy. Sci-fi. I like it okay. I have maybe nine sci-fi books. But I’m not into world building and all of that. I’ll leave that to the real writers.

5. What do you do when you tell yourself something along the lines of ‘I’ll only procrastinate a little bit longer’?

Read. Sleep. Read one of the many blogs I follow on here. Or lie in bed. I’m boring.

6. What brings you right into a writing mood, and how do you keep it that way?

I read this quickly and wondered why the heck you wanted to know what gets me in the mood. Hahaha whoops. Nothing. I just write when I have something to write. That’s about it.

7. Favourite series, and favourite stand alone?

THE HUNGER GAMES! The Hunger Games! The Hunger Games! Remember I’m in love with Jennifer Lawrence, and I love love love the books. Standalone would be Pacific Beat by T. Jefferson Parker.

8. Have you ever seriously screwed up your sleeping schedule because of a book? Was it worth it, and what were you reading?

Well first off, my sleeping schedule is already messed up. Since I graduated from college. But of course. I never mind finishing a book at three in the morning. I like it. I’m about to finish my latest book as soon as I finish typing this up. It’s a little before one in the morning now.

9. What do you do to remember those ideas you come up with when you’re not able to write?

I’m always able. I don’t work Monday-Thursday. Which means I make my trip to the gym each day and spend the rest of the time at home. I’ve tried carrying a notebook around but always ended up leaving it somewhere and never actually writing anything down. I remember. I mostly come up with blogging ideas more than book ideas. I have a notebook on my desk with like twenty ideas for blog posts.

10. Are there any books or series that you thought were great, and then the ending just ruined everything for you?

Hmm. I’ve only finished a few series because most of my favorites are long and I’m behind. I’d have to say that Mockingjay was my least favorite book of THG. And I didn’t like what happened to Prim. At all. Thank you, Katniss for what you did later. You’re my hero.

11. Why do you write?

Because I’m a writer, silly.

My nominations

1. Melissa L. Delgado

2. Jenn not Jenny

3. NaturePreserve

4. The Road Jess Traveled By

5. Coffee. Write. Repeat.

6. Meg Writes Stuff

7. kdaugh1992

8. The Sonrisa Project

9. Browneyedgirldotcom

10. Inkcouragement

11. Seihren Songs

If you haven’t checked out any or all of these blogs, then you should. Seriously, they’re all great. I had to choose from SO MANY blogs I follow and these are the ones I came up with. So, all of you are nominated for the Liebster Award! I’m supposed to have 11 questions for you but I’m sleepy. So you can answer the same questions I did. Sorry for not being prepared!

Lastly, I’m writing this late at night and it won’t publish until the morning, so you’ll be reading this as I’m at work. So if you see your name then comment so I don’t tell you about it later! Deal? Deal.