My FAV Girl Power books

I love a good female centric book and lately I’ve read SO many good ones.  The books on this list focus on books that I feel like empower girls and women that not only give you the warm and fuzzies, but also have nuance and depth beyond the go-get-em spirit.  This is definitely a short list and there are SO many other amazing feminist books that this list just grazes the surface.  This is just a list of a few that I’ve read recently and are some of my favorites.

 

Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy
by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters

I couldn’t leave Lumberjanes out of this list.  It’s a graphic novel that I think all young people should read, especially young girls.  It’s the classic story about a group of girl friends who spend their summer at camp, fighting supernatural three-eyed foxes and uncover mysteries around the camp. It’s a really bad ass group of girls who do everything in the name of friendship.  The group is diverse, the characters are fun, smart and flawed. There’s a lot of representation in this series without it being forced. It’s everything you want for your teenage girl without sacrificing the fun and story line. It’s absolutely beautiful and I think everyone should give it a go.

Bad Feminist: Essays
by Roxane Gay

I have two books on this list by Roxane Gay for a really good reason.  She’s so real, funny and insightful.  I guess Bad Feminist was my first book I bought specifically when I started searching for books on feminism.  Bad Feminist is a collection of essays Gay writes exploring her personal experiences, pop culture, intersectionality, what being a woman has meant to her, sexual violence  and a lot of other topics. She talks about what the current state of feminism is to her.  It’s very insightful for anyone just learning about feminism and why some people find that word leaving a bad taste in their mouths.  I love pop culture, so some of my favorite essays were commentary on Twilight and 50 shades of  Grey.  If you’re into that kind of thing, I would recommend this collection of essays.  One thing I constantly try to do is diversify my reading materials. That includes reading authors who have very different life experiences than I’ve had or authors I’ve read from in the past.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a black woman with Haitian decent, so I wanted to read more from her.

 

An Untamed State
by Roxane Gay

That being said, I picked up An Untamed State.  Where Bad Feminist was more of a collection of thoughts, collected together in one place, An Untamed State will definitely appeal to you if you don’t like essays or if you just like reading novels instead.  The story focuses on a woman named Mireille who was born in the US to immigrant Haitian parents.  In the first few pages of the book, she is kidnapped while she is in Haiti and tells the story of her kidnapping and flashes back to her childhood and the rest of her life.  This was absolutely gripping and it was the kind of book that I stayed up until 2 am to finish.  I definitely will warn you that it is graphic and has some really terrible violence.  I cried buckets and it definitely left me with so much heaviness in my heart.   A lot of people will sum of this story as a tale of a woman and her kidnapping but it’s so much more than that.  It’s a story about resiliency.  It tells a lot about a slice of Haiti and the United States.  It’s a story about family.  It’s about how women need each other.  It’s a hard book to read but if you can get through it, it’s definitely worth it.

 

Milk and Honey
by Rupi Kaur

You probably know Rupi Kaur from that infamous instagram photo she posted with period stains on her pants and sheets as a part of a series she was working talking about the taboo around menstruation that was taken down because it didn’t “follow Community Guidelines.”  Anyway, Milk and Honey is a collection of her poetry and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  She talks about her family, her relationships with other people and herself, abuse, love and trauma.  It’s emotional and raw.  I don’t know much about poetry to be honest, but there are some poems that broke me into a million pieces.  Her poetry will make you feel uncomfortable and then question why you do.

 

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

A classic.  Little Women was one of my favorite books in grade school.  Jo March was my hero and I thought she was the coolest characters ever.  If you’ve never read Little Women as a child, I read it recently as an adult and it 100% still holds up as a good bad-ass woman book.  The story focuses on the girls in the March family and their growth from little girls waiting for their father to return from the Civil War to strong women who hold each other up. It was one of the formative books that cemented for me that girls can and must pave their own way and make their own decisions.  If I have children, Little Women will definitely be on their shelves.

 

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

This book was given to me by my amazing boyfriend during a really tough time in my life where I felt uninspired, stifled and filled with so much self hatred and self doubt.  He gave this to me hoping to inspire me.  And if you need to light a fire under your butt, definitely give this a read.  Ruth Bade Ginsburg is an amazing woman who has literally helped shaped the United States as we know it in her work in gender equality and civil rights.  She’s a feminist pioneer who will make you question what you’re doing with every hour of your day.  RBG is a bad ass and this book inspired me to reevaluate how I want to spend my time and who I answer to.

 

We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I know this one is predictable, but I’m ok with it.  I have this as a physical copy, but if you don’t want to go out and buy it, you can watch it on her TEDx talk.  It’s an amazing talk on gender that is nuanced, beautiful and inclusive. It’s short, smart and reflects about why feminism is for all and everyone benefits from equality and how gendered expectations are dangerous.

 

What are you favorite girl power books?

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2016 in Review

I know I haven’t posted in QUITE a while, but one of my New Years Resolutions is to write more.  Although most of this post will be majority photos, I wanted to kick the New Year off with a post about 2016.

A lot of people have given 2016 a lot of shit, for some good reasons.  It’s been a real mix bag of experiences for me as well. There was a lot of bad but also a lot of good.

I’ve a fair bit of traveling to places outside of San Diego this year.  I went to Portland, Seattle,  Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco and back home to Philly twice.  We’ve visited museums, spent some amazing time with great friends, ate A LOT of food, drank a lot of coffee and spent a lot of time in amusement parks.  Two cons that I attended this year were Emerald City Comic-Con and San Diego International Comic Con.   I’ve had some great friends and family come in and visit San Diego and I got to play tourist in the city that I live in.  I’ve hiked, walked and roamed places I’ve never been to before.  I left my full time job and started my first contract gig to kick start my off my freelance career.  It also meant I had to say goodbye to some amazing co-workers and company I loved.  I’ve learned to tackle things that I’ve always thought really intimidating… like getting my finances in order and getting an accountant to help me. I spent A LOT of time in bookstores and comic shops.  Through intention and consistent practice, I do feel like I’ve improved as a letterer. There’s a lot to learn but 2016 was real turning point for me. Although I moved myself across the country, I feel closer to some of my family more than ever.  I lost my Lola on December 21st and I still feel guilty for not being with her those last few days.  It’s still a really dark cloud over my head but I know she’s not suffering anymore.  2017 has also started out with a few other tragedies that hit so close to home and my heart is really hurting for some of my closest friends.

2016 was a year of growing pains for me.   I’ve learned so much about myself, some of it really hard to swallow, and I’m feeling really excited about what I can find out about myself in the next year.  Here are a few of my favorite photos of 2016.

 

 

 

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Hyphenated

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Note: I promised myself to write something every week, but I’ve struggled with this post.  Whenever I try and write something easier, this looms in my head.  I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or looking for sympathy or anything. I just needed to write this internal struggle with myself to maybe gain some… clarity? insight? focus? direction?   

 

Filipino.  Most the time that’s the box I check off when I fill out forms when the ask for ethnicity.  Sometimes I’ll check off “Pacific Islander” if “Filipino” isn’t an option. Sometimes when I get in my head about the definition of what race is and ethnocentrism and I’ll check off “Other,” I feel like I’m stickin’ it to the man.   I assume a lot of people who were born to immigrant parents, or perhaps moved here when they were really young may pause when they have to fill out these forms because it’s not quite right. Sometimes “Filipino-American” is an option, but more times than not, the option is just “Filipino.”

I have this vivid memory from my first visit to the Philippines. I was probably about four or five when my parents took my sister and I on our first trip to visit family. Like a lot of memories are from when you’re five, a lot of it is a haze. We might have been to Aritao, in Nueva Vizcaya, where my mother grew up, we might have been to Maasin in Ilolio where my dad grew up… or was it Manila or did we go to all of them?  When I try and think back on the trip, all I get are flashes of family, dirt floors,  playing in mosquito nets, the heat and the joy of lying on the floor watching the lizards chasing each other on the ceilings.

But I do I remember waking up one morning and an uncle coming up to me and trying to speak to me in Tagalog and I couldn’t respond.  He repeated something over and over, like repeating it would make it easier for me to understand. I looked around for my mom, not understanding.  However, what I could understand was the growing frustration in his face and I remember the shame I felt when he finally switched to English and said “You are not Filipino.  You do not speak Tagalog.”

“You are not Filipino.”

I remember going to my mom, burying my face into her and crying. “I don’t speak Tagalog, I need to learn to speak Tagalog.”

My first words were in English and my parents have only ever spoken to me in English. I know a lot of first or second generation friends who have varying levels of speaking their families native language.  From being around my Lola and other aunts and uncles and listening to my parents talk to friends and family, I can understand a lot of Tagalog or at least can understand the gist of something said to me.  I can most definitely tell when my parents or someone else is talking about me.

I’ve never really prodded them about why they never taught me Tagalog or Ilocano. I suppose they’ve always wanted me to identify as an American first and foremost, which I suppose I do. Whenever I try and speak Tagalog, it’s clumsy, accented and pronunciation isn’t right.  It’s embarrassing and I’m uncomfortable and that fact makes me even more uncomfortable.  I hear that voice in my head “You’re not Filipino.”

And it’s true.  It makes me feel uncomfortable calling myself Filipino.  Although I do sometimes call going to the Philippines as “going back home” I know that it’s not really.  Sure, I eat Filipino food, I’ve read a bit about Filipino history and keep up with Filipino events and politics. I’ve been to Filipino gatherings and church functions.  I get a laugh from watching TFC, the Filipino Channel,  but I still find it a lie to call myself Filipino.

But don’t get me wrong.  I love that I come from such an interesting and diverse culture.  I love that I grew up eating with my hands, using a tabo, eating rice and longganisa for breakfast, having anyone else who was filipino treating me like family, listening to drunken karaoke during family parties. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m proud of my roots and it’s helped shape the way I see the world but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with what it means for my identity and what it means for me living as an American. Going to the Philippines is always a culture shock.  Yes, when I’m there, I’m surrounded by people who look like me.  It’s not weird to be my height or skin color but I know that I’m spotted right away as being an American.  I dress differently, I hold myself up differently and the moment I speak, I know that I’m not the same. I’m the other. I’m American.

Like I said, I’m pretty sure my parents have always wanted me to identify as an American.  We don’t talk about it much, but they’ve done so much and left so much back in the Philippines to raise a family in the US.  Although I have a lot of cousins here and my parents have always been a part of their local Filipino community, it’s not surprising that I grew up in the minority.  The area of South Philly I grew up in was mostly white.  In elementary school, I was one of three colored students in my class of thirty, which was actually a high percentage compared to the rest of the school. At that age, looking different from everyone else was enough to make me feel like an outsider.  Most of my classmates were pretty friendly and being non-white for the most part wasn’t an issue. But it was surprisingly many of their parents that made me feel like an outsider.  I remember a friend’s dad speaking to me as if I didn’t understand English almost every time they had to interact with me. And feeling like an outsider still happens everyday.

There’s nothing that makes you feel less American than someone asking you “Where are you from?” because you really know what they’re asking.  They’re not looking for “Oh I moved here from Philly” because sometimes they’ll follow up with “Oh, but I mean where were you born?” And as much as I want to tell them if they want to know the address to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, they can fucking google it, I usually  bite my tongue and respond politely, “Philadelphia, but my parents are from the Philippines.” Because your fragility is showing and I don’t want to be it’s target. 

Even though I’ve grown up only speaking English, ate my Happy Meals, held my hand to my heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, watched with my classmates when those towers fell, feared for my family members lives who joined the armed forces, paid my taxes and everything else a good goddamn American should do, I still, on the regular hear “Go back to your country.” 

“Go back to your country.” 

On one hand, there’s all of this struggle in my head about what it means to be both.  There’s this deep longing to feel truly accepted here and there’s a lot of anger behind this need to explain and justify that I belong here. There’s this shame that I don’t speak Tagalog and yearning to try and figure out how I can feel more “authentically” Filipino than this sham that I feel like I put on. But I know deep in my heart that I wouldn’t want it any other way.  It’s complicated, but I love my Filipino culture.  Despite the racism and the worrying political climate, I also love being an American. No way in hell do I want to live any where else.  I love this quote from Jose Antonio Vargas about what it means for him to be an American.

To me, what it means to be an American goes beyond your place of birth or the documents you have, back to when throngs of Irish, Italian and Eastern Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of a better life, no papers asked. What it means to be an American is less about who you are than what you are about— how you live your life, how you contribute to this country, how you pledge allegiance to a flag hoping and praying it will make room for you. What it means to be an American is in the hearts of the people who, in their struggles and heartaches, in their joys and triumphs, fight for America and fight to be American every day.

Read the whole article here (and if you’re opening links, also find out more about his organization Define American.)

There’s so much else I want to say.. But I think I’ll leave it here for now.

Filipino-American. Hyphenated. Not really either and I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be both.

HeartApril-09

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What’s in my con bag?

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Con days start early and end late.  They are jam packed with a lot of interesting things to see, do and buy.  Even if you have a hotel room right next door to your con, you definitely want to be at the con as much as possible. The worst thing is seeing the most detailed Groot cosplay you’ve ever see, whipping your phone out to see that it’s dead or having to run back to your room because you forgot your badge. Being prepared with a well stocked con bag will keep you focused on the con. A lot of these items are also handy for traveling! Here’s a couple things that make my life a little easier.

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My Bag

I personally think that back packs are the way to go at a con.  They keep me hands free and keep the weight of all the stuff I tote around evenly distributed on my back.  A lot of people love messenger bags but they usually end up hurting my shoulders. The minute I saw this Luna back pack, I knew it had to be mine.  I am OBSESSED and excited to use it.

My FAVORITE thing in my bag!

My absolute number one essential inside of my bag is my Grid-It from Cocoon. I’ve had this hand little organizer for years now and it keeps my bag organized and my sanity in tact.  You’ll see that I bring a ridiculous amount of support accessories and it keeps everything so beautifully organized. It’s a series of woven elastics, so you can easily configure everything you need in a nice, tight and secure place.

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Inside my bag:

  1. My phone: Obviously, you’ll need your phone.  I’m constantly Snapchatting, sending photos to Instagram, checking twitter (and stalking the #sdcc hastag) and taking pics.  And, yes, I’m sure EVERYONE will be playing Pokemon Go there. You can find my case here.
  2. Business cards: I always suggest having business cards on hand! I’m a graphic designer, so I have business cards with all my contact information and a link to my portfolio. I never really go with the intention of trying to get work, but always take some with me to trade with other designers, artists, writers and anyone else that I meet.  No matter who are are, I recommend carrying around a business card. If you’re a cosplayer, definitely throw your contact info on there with a picture of yourself and hand it to any photographer who takes your picture and they can send you some grade A photos!  I always get mine from moo.com
  3. Extra camera batteries: I take most of my photos on my camera, a Panasonic Lumix, which isn’t in the photos because I was using it to take these photos. The batteries usually last for a day or two with heavy use but I like to have extra on hand.
  4. Sharpie: Sharpies on hand are really important to me.  At comic con, you never know who you’ll run into or what artist is currently free to do a quick signature, so I like to keep a spare on hand.  I actually got this adorable mini one from the Deviant Art booth two years ago. You can find similar ones here.
  5. 3Ds Charger
  6. iPhone wall charger
  7. Amazon basics 4 in iPhone charger cable: This is the best charging cable for my bag because it’s so tiny. It won’t get tangled and is less likely to fray or break.
  8. Portable Power bank: I love this power bank.  It easily charges my phone 3 or phones times before it needs to charge again.  This particular one isn’t available anymore but you can find a similar one here.
  9. Lipstick Portable charger: This portable charger is the one I take everyday in my normal purse.  It doesn’t hold as much juice as previous one, but it’s handy when both my boyfriend and I want to charge at the same time.
  10. Charger for my power bank: lol yes, I bring my charger for my powerbank with me. You never know!crashboomdesigns_BlogPostImage2
  11. Bars or other snacks: I have a confession to make.  It’s a little controversial and some of you might be totally grossed out: I love con food.  It’s my shameful guilty pleasure.  I’m a fan of the overpriced hot dogs and greasy pizza.  However, no one should eat con food for four days straight.  I’ll indulge myself once or twice but I try and keep a few snack options in my bag.  I really like keeping KIND bars or these nature’s bakery bars in my bag to tide me over until I can eat a real meal.
  12. Make up bag:  I like to keep a handful of cosmetics with me, but nothing too crazy.  This is a make up bag from Madewell that they don’t make any more. I think I got it free with a purchase? You can find something similar here.
  13. Lip balm from Burt’s bee’s: Because I always need this with me.
  14. Advil: These travel size tubes are so convenient.  I think I’ve had this tube for a couple years now and I just refill it from time to time.  If you get headaches often like I do, these are a must.  They’re also handy when your feet starts to hurt on day 3.
  15. Travel Perfume: Right now I’m wearing Elizabeth & James Nirvana black everyday and I like to top off from time to time.  Don’t be that person that stinks up the panel room.
  16. Lipstick: Nars Audacious Lipstick in Deborah is my fav right now.  If you’re a brown girl with naturally tinted lips and you want to get that perfect brown color, try this one out!
  17. Blotterazzi: I am the oil queen. To keep the shine in check, I love these little pads.  It’s like they’ve taken the beauty blender and sliced them up to make these beautiful little oil absorbing sponges.  They don’t move your make up around and if you need to re-powder, you’re not doing it with extra oil on your face.  YES.  MAGIC IN A COMPACT.
  18. Wallet: I don’t carry around cash, so I try and keep it minimal and only hold a couple cards in my card holder.  This one is from Madewell from a couple years ago, so they don’t make it anymore and I can’t find anything super similar but I’m obsessed with this one.
  19. Band aids: Because the blister struggle is real and you can’t have that slowing you down.crashboomdesigns_BlogPostImage3
  20. Moleskine sketch book: I bring this every where with me.  There’s always a line to wait in, so I bring this and…
  21. I bring my Nintendo 3DS.  This is the Pokemon 20th Anniversary Edition New Nintendo 3DS. Right now I’m playing Pokemon Red and I also have Animal Crossing.
  22. Don’t forget your badge. They’ve ramped up security and this year they are RFID to make it a lot hard to get in with fake badges or to get multiple people in with the same badge.   The lanyard is from the Marvel Collector Corp Civil War box.
  23. And my pencil case for impromptu sketching in panels and waiting in queues.

So that’s everything I bring in my bag! There’s still plenty of room for swag and other things that I pick up during the day.  Also, I’m anti-poster tube because once you roll up a piece of paper, it’s almost impossible to  have it lay flat again.  I keep a protective art sleeve in a totebag for all the artwork I buy at cons.

Everything I bring is to make my life a little easier.  Do you think I’ve missed anything? Let me know how your bag differs from mine!

 

HeartApril-09

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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San Diego Comic-Con. It’s crowded and noisy.  It’s overwhelming and frustrating to get tickets, hotels & parking.  It’s a sacrifice & it’s expensive. The food’s overpriced & really terrible for you.  It’s a headache just to get in every morning.  Your feet hurt from walking the floor three times over.  Some people haven’t showered since preview night and you can’t escape the scent.  You’re back hurts from sitting on the floor waiting for your panel.  You’re sleep deprived and your toes have been run over by a goddamn stroller.

It’s my absolute FAVORITE time of the year.

You’re surrounded by people who not only love what you love, but love it just as enthusiastically.  Instead of the blank stares and incredulous remarks from your other co-workers, family and friends, you’ll find someone who’ll burst into song when you start the first few words from A Very Potter Musical (or insert your choice theme song).  Everyone around you is there to just geek out.  You’re there to get the latest exclusives, talk to your favorite artists about their favorite Hamilton songs, and make friends with that one guy who travelled all the way from Australia to hopefully see that Wonder Woman trailer first.  You’ll sit overnight to see that Star Wars panel and be treated to a private concert.

Can you tell I’m excited? The pilgrimage to the San Diego Convention Center for San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) has started. Downtown San Diego is already starting to get in the spirit of Comic-Con and is prepping with artwork on poles and trolleys. That familiar feeling deep in my stomach has started and I’m ready to burst with excitement.

I’ve been going to comic con’s now for about 5 or 6 years now.  I’ve been to small cons, big cons from Emerald City in Seattle and DragonCon in Atlanta and SDCC is near and dear to my heart.  SDCC was my first ever con. It was quite the con to start out with, but being thrown into the most overwhelming, exciting con was probably the best way to do it.

If you’ve never heard of SDCC… where have you been?! It is the mecca of all things pop culture.  If you’re interested in comics, movies, TV, gaming, toys, books and general fandom, you’ll be interested in following what comes out of SDCC this year.

If you want to read a the mission statement and history of SDCC, check out their website here: www.comic-con.org/about

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There’s so much to talk about and I will in the upcoming posts.  BUT I did want to let you guys know that I’ve been working on a cheeky mini quest for everyone going to Comic-Con.  I’m going to be leaving stacks of these stickers that I’ve designed all over the convention center on all four days! If you see them around, pop them on your laptops, the back of your badge, on your con bag & whatever! Snap a photo and tag me on instagram or use the hashtag #sdcc so I can see where my little stickers are off to!

Are you going to SDCC this year?! Let me know!

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An exposition on the fear of blogging

Hello

 

Hi!  I’m April.

First blog post. Deep breath.  I’ve wanted to start a blog for really long time.  To be completely honest, I’m terrified, which is really silly. Up until this moment, the thought of putting myself out there brought on a lot of anxiety and fear.


Here’s just a couple reasons I’ve told myself why I shouldn’t start a blog:

  1. You haven’t written anything in years, who know if you can still do it & do it appropriately. Remember last week when you almost put a heart-eye emoji in an email to a client?
  2. You don’t have anything to say.
  3. And if you do have something to say, who cares?
  4. OR WORSE: WHAT IF THEY DO?
  5. You’re not smart, witty or clever enough.
  6. You’re also not pretty or fashionable enough.
  7. You’re not, like, an expert at anything. Except maybe procrasti-working. Because girl, you’re BOMB at that.
  8. You’ve never kept anything like this consistent, so why is this different? Remember all those tumblrs you created for writing?  Remember all those XANGAS you created for writing?
  9. Do you really want to fill the internet up with more fluff bullshit?
  10. Do you really want to put yourself out there and talk about thing that are important to you?  Would you be ready to hear back lash about it?
  11. You know challenging it is for person creating content on the internet but you also know it’ll be challenging as woman of color creating content on the internet.
  12. What’s your niche? (Get off of Pinterest)
  13. You’ve rolled your eyes at other bloggers, you hypocrite.
  14. You would be wasting your time. You’d only be doing this for yourself.

Wait. Hold up.

Yeah. I’d be doing this for me. I NEED do this BECAUSE I am scared.  I need a place to hold myself accountable to my lettering & writing exploration. I’ll put up things that I’m currently loving, places I’ve gone and other things I’m obsessing over.  Also, all of those reasons are really, really silly.  A lot of them are also self-damaging. I need to stop this cycle of self doubt & self hatred and really try to get over it.  Seriously.

Deep breath.  So here I am.  I’m going to put myself out here. Posts are going to be about me, my experiences, lettering, comic books, movies, general fangirl life, race, feminism & whatever else I feel like writing about.  Maybe I’ll make some friends.

I promise some posts will be fun and not so serious. For example, San Diego Comic Con is in less than a month, so prepare for things con related.

HeartApril-09

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