Sunday, December 27, 2009


I worked Christmas eve, got home at 4am, edited a video until 5am and woke up Christmas morning at 11:30am. After wrapping the presents I hadn't had time to wrap, I headed upstairs to join everyone. My phone ringer had been off but when I glanced at it, I saw 7 texts all wishing me "Merry Christmas" in various ways. One was from my bff in highschool and for some reason that prompted my mind to reminisce back to Christmas morning 1996, when I woke up to various pages (yes, pagers were the "in" thing back then) from that same bff informing me via pager code "1774 1770177 607 1773 8 6812 4 641215717785" - "My mom got me a car for christmas" (for those of you who may be too young to have lived through the pager code era lol

Growing up, my sister was always awake before me and hated having to wait for me to wake up to open our stockings which were always (for some reason) the highlight of Christmas. And of course, we always compared "You got that? Wait, I didn't get one in mine!" My parents have never been "well off" but as I get older, I realize how spoiled we were. Christmas for us always seemed to be about "What did I get?" and "She got more expensive presents than I did" Though my mom never liked nor wanted us to be that way. She always took us to donate toys to shelters, and to look at lights - trying to instill in us that Christmas should be about more than presents.

This year, I cooked breakfast for everyone which I've never done and emptied my stocking piece by piece in between cooking. I honestly didn't want anything this Christmas. I've been trying to purge my life of "things" since I moved back in June so there really wasn't a great desire for much. Which was weird. To have that realization - that growing up I'd been such a different person placing value on who got what.

In conversation with my mom and sister, (which led to a mini argument), and today with an old friend, I also realized how much my own insecurities have diminished with age. My mom makes comments from time to time how she needs to lose weight and how many calories an item has so she shouldn't be eating it. She is petite and tiny by most standards (I believe). She's just under 5'4 and if I had to estimate, 115 lbs. (We're nearly the same height - with me being maybe half an inch taller and I'm 129 lbs) And any time she makes comments, it makes me sad. But in her eyes, I suppose she's still holding onto her 27 year old self (she weighed 109 lbs when she was 9 months pregnant with me), plus she was raised in era when thin was "in".

My sister just moved back from Seattle and told me that when our mom (or anyone that she deems skinny) makes comments about how they need to lose weight, it in turn makes her feel bad about herself. Which I told her, is ridiculous because she's personalizing it, and allowing her ego to control her. That the statement they're making has nothing to do with her. In any case, Christmas morning my mom made some comment about not wanting to eat potatoes for breakfast because we were going to eat them for dinner too and that's too many calories and she's fat as it is. My sister then voiced what she had said to me earlier. I don't remember my mom's response but I told both of them that neither was overweight and how it made me sad that they don't appreciate themselves the way they are. My sister mentioned something about liking herself better "skinny", to which I responded "you've been conditioned to believe that." Which pissed her off tremendously but I believe that to be the truth.

"Fat" is one of the most incorrectly and overused word in my opinion but then again, I suppose it's subjective. I remember during my sophomore year of high-school, one of my guy friends got in trouble for not having his shirt tucked in. (I went to a Catholic school with a dress code) As he tucked it, I noticed what a tiny waist he had and told him. Which wasn't meant to be offensive, it was just an observation, but he lashed out and said "At least I'm not a fat cow like you." 13 years later and I still remember his exact words, which being an extremely self-conscious 15 year old, cut me deeply and made me re-evaluate my appearance.

From that day on, I taught myself to skip breakfast, eat a very minimal lunch and eat dinner with my family - though never finish my plate. If I over ate (on thanksgiving or if we had a "heavy meal") I'd say I had a stomachache and induce vomiting. I began a regime of 650 crunches (at least) a night and when laying on a bed reading, I wouldn't allow my back to touch the pillows so my stomach would be "crunched" the entire time. I had already taken dance classes since I was 4 and began pushing myself more, obsessively stretching at home doing back bends and holding bridges for minutes at a time inching my hands closer and closer to my feet to increase flexibility and muscle strength until eventually I could bend back onto my elbows and hold my ankles a la cirque de soleil. I was not raised Catholic (nor any other religious denomination) but when my school did some "Fast for 24 hours" thing for Lent or something else, I took a step farther and consumed only water and 3 rice cakes for 72 hours. Needless to say, everything I did was EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and UNHEALTHY. I did however lose weight (obviously), but it makes me so sad that I valued my appearance and other people's opinions of it so greatly.

Makeup for me was also always extremely important. It quite literally was my mask. Today I was thinking about the fact that I know it began as a love of art and color, but during my high-school years it somehow morphed into this seemingly very necessary mask. I remember a summer when I had to be about 7 or 8 years old. My family took a mini vacation with another family up to Calistoga and my friend had this awesome sunscreen that came in 5 different little pots of various neon colors. We LOVED painting our faces and bodies with the vibrant colors. It was wearable art! Super cool. During summer school before 8th grade, some mean boy told me my freckles (which are a lot more prominent during the summer) were ugly and made my face look dirty. That day, I came home, locked myself in the bathroom and raided my moms makeup, applying her thick concealer (which was wayyyy too dark for me) all over my face in an attempt to see what my face would look like without the "dirty freckles". I wasn't allowed to wear much makeup (only lipstick) until the middle of 9th grade but the day I was given the okay to do so, I caked the foundation on and didn't look back for years. Even at 22 I did a full face of makeup (dark, smokey eye using sketch eyeshadow) right before my ambulance ride from one hospital to the next which would be "home" for 3 weeks while I had my chemo. When I arrived, my nurse questioned whether my eyes were bruised (because the rest of my body was covered in them), and I had to tell her, no, it was makeup. As drugged as I was, I somehow managed to keep my brows on for the duration of my hospital stay. Even in that one picture in the entry below where I am clearly drugged out of my mind, mouth hanging open and everything, that black bag on my bed was my makeup bag. RIDICULOUS.

Today I did a wedding trial and my friend Jasmine again brought up our Miami trip in regards to my Dr. Doolittle quality. In talking about what kind of lashes we'd use, she, her soon to be sister in law and I somehow ended up in a conversation relating to using Latisse because she wasn't happy with her lashes, the wrinkles we'd acquired over the years, weight gain etc. In regards to the Miami trip I remembered how one of our friends was so self-conscious about the stretch marks on her calves that she refused to even wear a skirt, let alone a bikini despite how hot it was, how I always had everyone on "eyebrow check" during and after swimming to make sure my brows hadn't come off, and yet another one of us was so happy she had been depressed and lost all this weight. Everyone had/has all these ridiculous insecurities. Seriously, think about it. I know I don't walk down the street looking at people I don't know thinking "OMG look at the stretch marks on her calves" or "WOW, that girl is FAT." or "Her lashes need to be longer." or etc etc And I certainly don't do that in regards to people I know. I would hope, that other people don't either.

I don't know when my mind evolved to put an end to all the nonsensical thoughts and way of living, but I'm glad it did. In regards to my mom, I suppose I can only agree with how Aaliyah put it "Age ain't nothing but a number" Do I enjoy wearing makeup? Yes, at times. Would I like to lose weight? Sure, I'd like to lose maybe 5 pounds of fat. But at the end of the day, I can finally say that I'm mostly comfortable with my bare naked self. My perspective and values have evolved to the point that I can say "Really? It's not THAT big of a deal." And I can only hope that we as a society evolve to that point as well. Though unless we also evolve to a point where money isn't a necessity I don't see this happening on a grand scale.

Our insecurities are what fuel the beauty and "health?" industry. A lot of people don't join gyms in general because they want to be healthy - they tell themselves that, and subconsciously probably believe that as well, they also join because they want smaller waistlines, or larger muscles. See? Appearance based. Of course there are some who want stronger hearts, better circulation, stronger muscles to support bones or better lung capacity but, let's be honest. There are just as many as people who join the gym almost purely based on an attempt to somehow rectify their supposedly flawed appearance.

And most gyms even create their ads using wording "get in shape", "Shape you life/future", "get stronger", "the way we help you play", while all the instructors I've ever taken classes from at gyms have also been knowledgeable, committed to strength and an all over healthy lifestyle saying things during class like, "Feel the burn! Keep it up. Your body will feel so much better the stronger you get! You'll have more energy." Which is all true. But they'll also throw in things like "Just 20 more! You're almost there, closer and closer to that tighter tummy! You'll able to fit in those jeans you haven't worn in 5 years," feeding into the appearance based "need" to be at the gym - because as I said, they're feeding off our insecurities.

This ad clearly states that's it's important to get attention, stating, "Attention! Get some." "Don't like being stared at, stay home. Because apparently you should want to be stared at because you should want to or need to get attention. As if you're lacking without attention based on people staring at you. They even keep it somewhat playful with "When you moon old ladies, they'll give you a higher score!" but again feeding into the desire of an appearance based positive affirmation.

"Get in shape. (rather than round)" - again appearance based

I do believe that smaller gyms (in general) don't feed into that crap. It really is more fitness based and people tend to feel more comfortable.
-Yet this one still has the sex-based photos in the background:

This ad CLEARLY caters to the sexual undercurrent of some gyms because the "relationship" of personal trainers and client can I believe sometimes feed into peoples fantasies. For women I can say who doesn't like someone who motivates and inspires them? On top of that trainers tend to have more "in shape" bodies. And for men (also with women), there's lots of touching involved with less experienced clients to correct posture and such. With those photos underneath:

This Hollywood one (made for crunch fitness? read what the top tab says) is so far the best example of promoting that you NEED positive appearance based attention and You just have to look at it:

This is an interesting "article" on which asks "Does this type of ad further perpetuates an unattainable standard already foisted upon us by modern advertising?":

This Crunch ad tells us we need to be strong physically to deal with the world making fun of our insecurities. When in reality, we need to be strong mentally to deal with it. And I could be reading wayyy too into it but the "crush it" over and over again, sounds a lot like "crunch it".

So I very well could continue rambling on and on on this topic but I'll get to my whole point by saying this: I hope that we can eventually evolve into a society that isn't conditioned into placing so much value on physical appearance. As in my opinion, shouldn't be something we value so greatly. And I'm saying this as a makeup artist, somehow who absolutely LOVES makeup. But I think what shifted is that my old perspective of makeup was using various tools to create a mask to hide behind, and feeling the NEED to hide behind that mask, becoming dependant on that mask and uncomfortable without it hiding my "flaws" whereas now I see it truly as artform in that I make various creative decisions to create my own unique look - however I feel like expressing myself that day viewing it more as an accessory than a necessity, whether on my own or someone else's face.

Let's instead value mental and emotional health. Let's contribute to the health of society with positive energy and enforcing good self esteem from a young age. Let's focus on our goals, whatever we're passionate about and let's start doing what we want to. Stop buying into the crap the media puts out there telling you what to value. Physical health is important too. Because if you throw away the insecurities are able to be content with yourself and love yourself, life will probably be better as you'll see things in a different perspective no matter what your circumstances are. If you're living a truly content life you'll be more motivated to want to be physically healthy to live longer rather than you want to look a certain way so you'll be content with you appearance. Also, as I was trying to get at in the very beginning, let's stop valuing so many "things". "Things" or material items are not only visually chaotic but they're energy blockers. Energy needs to flow consistently to stay fresh, full of life, positive. It needs be able to evolve. If energy gets blocked, it can't move, becomes stagnant and therefore can't.

Just my opinionated observations.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hummingbirds can flap their wings anywhere from 40-80 times in one second

This morning a hummingbird woke me up. I had my alarm set for 8:30 in order to be awake for the post man/woman to pick up some packages. Feeling groggy and not quite ready to deal with the world, I turned it off and dove back under my covers. I am not a morning person by any means and it often takes quite a few attempts to really wake up. Some minutes later, after debating in my head "I went to sleep at 12:30 so 8 hours was really enough sleep...but then again I've had a fever the past few days and a person always requires more sleep when they're sick...what to do, what to do.", I rolled out of bed.

My sister just moved back from Seattle and doesn't have a place to live so she's staying here for awhile and sleeping in my room. I opened my curtains and saw the shiny wet pavement and clovers bedazzled with raindrops. I'm not sure what provoked me to go outside, but I threw on my Northface, slipped on my Diesel version of Uggs and walked out into my backyard.

Last Thursday I had a meeting with someone from a website to talk about possibly teaching some makeup classes and other stuff. After the meeting was done, while walking to bus, I saw Borders. I was in a newer neighborhood in San Francisco (by the ballpark) and it's an area, though I was born and raised here, that I haven't spent much time in. Wandering an unfamiliar territory is something I've always identified with and enjoyed much more than knowing where I am, what I can expect to see experience etc Seeing Border's, I realized I hadn't been in a bookstore since New York. With the little money I had while there, on nearly every trip into Manhattan, I'd somehow find myself in Barnes and Noble on 17th street.

When entering Border's my intent was to buy flashcards for a gift, use the restroom and hop on the bus. Wandering the store in search of educational tools (I never ask people, I don't like to bother employees unless I've actually made the effort to find something myself), I ended up finding them right next to the "Metaphysical" section of books. Which I hadn't even realized was the metaphysical section, because I saw "The Alchemist" and a few of Paulo Coelho's other books on display there. After picking up the flashcards, I decided to peruse the titles. Coelho is one of my favorite author's but I've recently finished reading all 13 of his books and thought maybe I'd find a new author with books somewhat similar to his in content.

I picked up one book that dealt with coincidences. I can't recall the title, nor the authors name. It was written by a woman who spent numerous years cataloging all the seemingly insignificant coincidences that had occurred in her life. For example she'd have a dream about a friend she hadn't spoken to in years and the following day, the friend called her. In any case, I didn't buy the book. But I remembered it. While writing this, I took a break to look through and see if I could find it. I couldn't. One of the books I did buy is one I've heard about for years, though I can't remember the various places or people who have recommended it. The Power of Now.

I was hesitant about this purchase simply because of the cover which states, "The Power of Now, a guide to spiritual enlightenment" the last line of which quite frankly sounds super cheesy IMO. One deciding factor for me was the endorsement on the bottom from Deepak Chopra, an author I've heard a lot about, yet again, have yet to read anything by. The other, was the back of the book which states:

"To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and it's false created self, the ego behind."

Of course, there's more written, but that first line was the only thing that resonated within me. A great series of events in my life occured shortly before I moved to New York last winter, none of which I'll address here, but I ultimately ended up moving, alone, in with 2 strangers because it was something I felt I had to do. This certainty came from somewhere deep within me and is something I can't even explain. I didn't accomplish much while in New York by most people standards. I had a hard time finding (and keeping) a good job. I didn't produce anything that I could use in my book. The short time I was there could be viewed as a failure, as I reluctantly returned home broke, living my parents (again) with about $6k in debt at 28 years old.

Shortly before I left I spent a day at Coney Island with a friend. We rode none of the rides, played none of the games, but paced the boardwalk, sat on various benches and seats, while conversing and observing people for about 11 hours. The conversation continued on the train ride back to my apartment, on my balcony and ultimately on my couch for another 2 until my body was so exhausted that I couldn't fight sleep any longer.

I believe, that day was the pinnacle of my unexplained need to be out there. I will not attempt to summarize our conversation (that could have gone on for days) as I simply cannot. But all the hours I spent alone reading, thinking, observing people on the train, breathing in the tremendous life force and energy that New York gives off, led up to this conversation. A conversation that continued, though fragmented, once I returned to San Francisco by means of the phone, twitter and email.

I started reading "The Power of Now" on Saturday and continued yesterday. This morning, as I said, a humming bird woke me up. I'll explain the relevance in a moment. Page 11 states the following:


Enlightenment- what is that?

"A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. "I have nothing to give you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you are sitting on?" "Nothing," replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember." "Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger. "No," said the beggar. "What's the point? There's nothing in there." "Have a look inside," insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to to pry open the lid. With Astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.

"But I am not a beggar," I can hear you say. Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer."

I've always lived with the affliction of an overactive mind. I believe most people do to an extent. Mine is to the point that I will analyze a problem over and over for hours upon hours considering every possible reason as "why, who, where, when, how" etc often times ending up back at the first possibility I considered along with a massive headache. Even when I don't want to think about something, it's like I can't find the "off" switch.

In reading the first 30 pages of this book I made a connection between something I've already been practicing but was unaware of. Since that initial 13 hour conversation, I've since been exploring the concept of Ego vs Self. I'm not gonna get too deep into that right now, (perhaps watch Shira's video exploring the concept - I love the way she approached it: ) but basically your mind is not you. And this is a concept I implore you to explore. I realize this post is turning out to be a lot longer than I had intended so I'll sum it up by addressing the hummingbird.

I wandered outside this morning within minutes of getting out of bed, why, I don't know. The first thing I saw was a tiny hummingbird. I haven't seen hummingbirds in my yard for at least 15 years. Perhaps I just hadn't noticed them in that long. Regardless, there was the tiny creature, wings beating ferociously, floating from one flower to the next, seemingly suspended in mid air. I smiled and just observed. I felt this warm energy of life creep through me. My memory tumbled back to Spring Break 2002 in Miami, when my friend Jasmine decidedly nicknamed me, "Senorita Animales", because while everyone else wanted to drink and tan on the beach, I ventured off alone with a snorkel & mask I had bought and was quite content spending 2 hours immersed in the ocean observing the colorful fish and coral and watching the flow of the tide pull at the underwater plants. Everywhere we went, I found lizards, cats, manatees, birds etc. Observing life has always brought me this unexplainable sense of calm and peace. Rewind to 1996. While studying transcendentalism in English class my junior year, I fell in love with Thoreau and Emerson. July 2002 - when I first moved to New York, I'd gasp at how beautiful the old architecture was, ask about the water towers, play with the fireflies in Central Park. My friend would tell me he didn't understand how I could be excited by bugs and old buildings.

Watching the hummingbird, I tried to remember how fast their wings beat per second. I was tempted to grab my phone and look it up. See? The analytical mind at work, attempting to interrupt, explain, rather than just take it in and appreciate it. I told myself to shut up and just watch. Though I'm not that far into the book, I gather that it really is about appreciating and taking joy in the moments - living in the present, in the "now". My next inclination was to run inside and grab my Rebel. Then I thought "dammit! My telephoto lens isn't on my camera at the moment - it'll take me longer to change the lens and it might gone by the time I get back out." Eventually the bird flew over the fence so I ran inside, grabbed my camera, changed the lens and back out the door. It never came back. I waited 45 minutes.

I thought about why I had always been so inclined to take pictures as I am the "unoffical photographer" of everyone I know. I always have a camera on hand and can't even begin to estimate how many photos I've taken in my life. I realized my inclination towards photography is something really quite simple. It's always been my attempt to capture life. Duh! That's what photography is for the most part. Even if it's a staged shoot for a magazine or something. Life and the energy that it is, isn't something that can truly be captured and harnessed as it changes from moment to moment. It's always there, in you, in me, in every single thing on this planet.

Rather than look up how fast a hummingbird's wings beat per second, something told me to instead, look up what a hummingbird symbolizes and among all the various answers, I gather it to be a very spiritual bird. Needless to say, I wasn't surprised by any of the answers.


Hummingbirds, called new world birds cause they are native to North America, Central and South America, are considered to be symbols of peace, love and happiness, moreover, ancient pagans held them sacred for their tireless energy and anxiety.
In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes timless joy and the Nectar of Life. It's a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.
They are really spectacular birds, and have a lot to teach a person about self discovery and healing.
Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small
By: Ted Andrews
It stands for immortality. Or sometimes the Sun.
Hummingbird is seen by some as a messenger of love and joy. It symbolises energy, wonder and swift action. It is associated with the Ghost Spirit native American religion which teaches a dance that is intended to return the natural balance of the world.
The hummingbird represent abundant life and joy.

In regards to dreams:

Hummingbird - the tiniest of all birds - brings special messages for us. It is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed. It can hover, or can go forward, backward, up or down. It lives on nectar and searches for the sweetness of life. Its long tongue lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasures underneath. Hummingbird is loved by the flowers and plants, for as it sucks the nectar from the flower, the plant reproduces and more of its kind are created. In many traditions, Hummingbird feathers have been prized for their almost magical qualities. It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can, and its presence brings joy to the observer.

If you have Hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in, and make the most of your new circumstances. You don't waste time looking back and wishing for "what was" for you are concerned with making the most of "what is". Also, you could never become addicted to any artificial stimulants, for you find joy in your own heart. You take great pleasure in spreading joy and love and beauty to all around you, and have the gift of taking that inner joy into new and different surroundings. You have a talent for finding the good in people, and are not put off by a gruff or abrupt exterior, for you know that, if you can only get beyond that tough outside layer, you'll find goodness and beauty inside. You may have a gift for working with flowers, maybe growing them to share with others, or using flower essences for healing. Aroma therapy may be your calling. You have high energy and a spirit that must be free. To restrict that wonderful, free, loving energy is to suffer great depressions and feelings of uselessness. Hummingbirds must fly free in search of beauty, spreading joy and love to all it touches.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I realize I've kept this blog mainly makeup related, much as I have my main channel on Youtube. Our brains like to separate things in an attempt to keep order I suppose. But I'm not so sure this should be the way to do things anymore. In any case, I've decided that I'll start posting "normal" things on this blog that don't pertain to makeup. "Normal" things for me may not be "normal" things for you but I suppose I'm writing this just as precursor so you don't come here looking for makeup related entries and think "WTF is this?!" In any case, you're more than welcome to take a peek inside my head. ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Project For Awesome 2009 Look Good, Feel Better

I wrote this a few days before my 1 year anniversary...

Early morning June 14th, 2003 I jumped up in great pain. Looked at the clock - it was 3:40am. I couldn't breathe. Well, I could, but when I tried to inhale, sharp pains shot through my ribs. I thought it was a muscle cramp and tried to massage it out. No such luck. I hate asking anyone for help, but I didn't know what do. I called my boyfriend at the time and luckily he was still awake. I explained what was wrong and he rushed right over. He tried to massage it out for me, and again had no luck - which made us both believe it was something more serious and we rushed off to the ER at UCSF. . .

It was now about 4am, and fortunately there was no wait. The doctors decided to take x-rays and I thought for sure I must have developed a tumor or something in my lungs. At this point I had been an avid smoker for 8 years. I had no insurance yet - it didn't begin for 2 days and all I could think about was how much this was going to cost me. The results showed my lungs were clear. They diagnosed it as a muscle strain or something of the sort. They gave me Ibuprofen and called it a night. I suddenly was very sleepy and I could breathe without pain. Thank you . . .

At the time, I was working as a personal fitness trainer so it made perfect sense that I could have pulled a muscle. I never even really questioned it. The next day I told my boss what had happened and that I had limited lifting capabilites. He was completely understanding and I worked the front desk for the next few days. On my next day off, I spent the day in Santa Cruz, basking in the sun. Being in a bikini for the first time of the season I began to notice bruises. Though I thought nothing of them at the time because I was so active.

My ex boss loved to play around and play fight with us all. One day playing around he kicked my co-worker Vally, and she later replayed it for me pretending I was her. She didn't even kick me that hard - barely tapped my shin. I remember distinctly saying - "Watch, I'm so pale and because I smoke, I'll have a huge bruise because of that . . ." Little did I know. The next day, I woke up with a bruise the size of a golf ball. It was upraised and darker than any bruises I'd ever received in my life (and I had been a tomboy so they were nothing new to me). I attributed it to the aforementioned factors and again thought nothing of it.

As the weeks went by, I kept getting sick. It made no sense that I should have a cold for so many weeks, especially during summer. Dayquil did absolutely nothing for me. Mike and I drove north to Marin to go swimming almost every day I had off, and we both started noticing new bruises everytime we went. He even made a joke saying that people must have thought he was beating me or something. It was that day that the right side of my throat began to hurt. My glands were everso swollen and my right ear began to hurt. Something was wrong. Not wanting to miss work, I woke up extremely early and went to the UCSF walk in clinic. The Nurse Practioner took one look inside my mouth, without even using a tongue depresser or taking any tests and told me I had a bacterial infection which couldn't be treated. All they could treat were my symptoms. She gave me a prescription for 90 pills of Ibuprofen with 1 refill. I took almost all of the pills in a week. I later found out that this had contributed greatly to blood condition, DIC, I was soon to be diagnosed with.

4th of July. I wanted to watch the fireworks downtown - something I'd never done. My parents and sister were gone - went to Vegas I think. We bundled up and drove down to Aquatic Park, alcohol in hand. I felt very dizzy and nauseated and I had barely drank a thing. It was actually a warm summer night (for San Francisco) and I was freezing cold. I drank so that the alcohol would warm me up. Which of course, didn't work. My boyfriend and I decided something was seriously wrong and that the NP was an idiot. He slept over that night, and the following morning we made yet another trip to the ER. This time, I had my insurance card in hand so the whole money issue wasn't on my mind. The doctor felt my glands, took one look in my mouth and saw what she deemed "white stuff". She never bothered to test it though and diagnosed me with Strep Throat, wrote me another prescription for Pencillin and sent me on way. Finally I had the medication to cure this annoying problem. Unfortunately I had to take 4 days off work because of it. I would be contagious until then and had to stay away from people. My boss said he understood and hoped I felt better soon.

Friday, July 9th - I got ready for work, excited to finally return because I really enjoyed my job and had been extremely bored at home. I walked into the gym and put my stuff down. Matt came out of his office and told me not to get settled in. His boss, Aaron had suspended me for missing so many days and we'd discuss it on Monday. He told me to enjoy my weekend off. I did stress a little thinking I may be fired, but was reassured by everyone that that made no sense since I was a wonderful employee and had missed only 6 days total in the 4 months I had worked there - all within the past 2 months and excused by doctors. I was legitmately sick. I hadn't called in faking a cough. I had written orders from physicians. However, before he sent me home, I looked at the schedule for the following week to see what time I was supposed to come in and I wasn't on it. I asked Matt why, and that I had no clue what time to come in. He said he knew nothing of it, that Aaron had done the scheduling. We agreed on 12pm.

I walked in Monday afternoon, and Matt had a blank, sorry kind of look on his face... The look he gets when he doesn't want to deal with something. He took me in his office and told me that he was sorry, but Aaron had decided that they "had to let me go". I have never been fired before. Far from it. I was extremely upset and embarassed. I asked why. He said because of my unexcused absences the past 2 months. I then asked about the doctors notes and the fact that he had told me it was fine to take those days off. He then told me that Aaron had still expected me to show up to work regardless. He then said that Aaron had also told him it was because of my "bad attitude", which Matt knew was complete and utter bullshit, but I understood he saw it as his job or mine. He then told me that if it were up to him, he'd keep me, that I was a star employee but Aaron held more weight. I later found out that apparently some girl - the new assistant manager, had lied to him and told him I was walking around the gym trashing him and the whole system. She was later fired for stealing money and surprise! Lying about things. I was still sick and now really worried because I had no insurance and no job to pay my bills. It was so wrong and unfair and I had the biggest tantrum once I got outside. But just to shock them, I later went to workout with Mike once he got off work. Aaron was there and couldn't even look at me.

I now had no job, and a lot free time on my hands. I went to Six Flags Marine World the day after being fired. Again, wearing shorts I noticed that my newly aquired bruises hadn't healed and gone away, but that new ones kept appearing. They seemed to be breeding. On the 16th I went to dinner with the girls for Heather's birthday. Jasmine made the announcement that she was pregnant and I remember thinking I shouldn't be near her because I was still sick. It was good to get out and see everyone but I couldn't get over how dizzy and lethargic I felt.

The following day, my ex called me. I hadn't talked to him in awhile and hadn't seen him for about a month or two. He came over and we watched Black Hawk Down. We then found out there was a dead beached whale and drove down to the beach to check it out. As we began to walk from the car, I felt as though he was speed walking, and I grew extremely irritated that he wasn't walking with me. I then realized that it was me. I was walking in slow motion. It was just like a bad recurring dream I've had over the years. No matter how fast you attempt to move your legs - you just can't. I tried and tried to keep up and couldn't. I felt out of breath. Not breathing hard, just breathing and feeling like there was no oxygen in the air.

I was planning on going to New York the following Tuesday. I prayed that I would get better by then and thought it was a simple mind over matter thing. Friday morning I woke up feeling different and upon getting out of bed, I saw what looked like a blood blister on my bottom lip. I had noticed these sorts of marks in my mouth over the past few days but they went away. No matter how hard I squeezed or how much I rubbed, I couldn't pop it. I had also developed little pink "freckles" on my forearms. . . Petichea as we later learned them to be. My mom forced me to go back to the doctor. She had been telling me I looked gray and pale for weeks. I was born with a VSD (Ventricular Septum Disorder) - 3 holes in my heart. Not a huge deal, murmurs as some people call them. Because of this, the doctor decided that most likely I had Endocarditis (what the woman died of in "Beaches"). It wasn't too serious - I just had to have IV antibiotics for a few days, but just to be on the safe side he sent me to General Hospital for blood tests.

Driving home, my mom scared me. She told me to change and dress comfortably in sweats and pack a few essential items, just in case I had to spend the night. Packing seemed surreal. I kept telling myself I'd be home in a few hours but deep down something told me I wouldn't. I walked into General Hospital not looking forward to being there. It's the City hospital so that's where everyone with no insurance goes and there's often a long wait. Last time I myself had been seen by a doctor there was at birth. Looking back, I find this quite interesting. The triage nurse listened to my story and symptoms and told me it'd be about a half hour wait and that she no clue what was wrong but whatever it was, it'd be interesting. This couldn't be good. I considered going outside to smoke a cigarette with a weird feeling that it may be my last one. I decided against it. My energy level was extremely low and I was afraid of losing conciousness should I go outside. The whole previous week, everyone had scared me. All my symptoms led to one conclusion - AIDS. My sister kept taunting me with it everytime one of those "One in 3 Americans has HIV and doesn't know it . . ." commercials came on MTV. I was scared. I was too young to die. How had I contracted it?

Inside my room, I received my first IV, which of course hurt unbelievably. Much more than giving blood or getting a shot. Having all the saline dumped into my veins made me have to pee every 10 minutes. Everytime I came out of my room the nurses yelled at me saying I had to stay in, but wouldn't tell me why. I was extremely bored browsing through my college course catalog - I decided to re-enroll and go back to school the next semester. At one point I snuck outside to call my boyfriend and let him know where I was. 9 hours later, they decided they were keeping me overnight for tests and such. No one really told me what was so wrong that they had to keep me though. I was rolled in my bed to my new room on the 5th floor in none other than, the AIDS unit. How appropriate . . .

While trying to put a new IV in, the nurse bursted my vein and huge hematoma formed. This hurt like hell, and they decided to put me on a Morphine drip. This was my first time having any super heavy drugs and I was everyone's entertainment. Great stuff. My boyfriend came by and was a huge combination of emotions. He looked mad, worried and confused. After everyone but him left (he spent the night), he told me my parents had told him I had no white blood cells (no immune system). Why had no one told me this? I called my mom and she told me he was lying, that she had never said that. I didn't know who to believe but what he said made perfect sense. Looking back, I realize she was trying to protect me from the truth. Kellyx, my old boss, mentor and somewhat surrogate mother had called me a few days before and I decided to return her call. My boyfriend was in a weird mood and I let him sit in his corner and think. I didn't feel like dealing with his moodiness at a time like this. They hadn't yet told me I didn't have Endocarditis and I prayed that that's what it was so I'd still be able to go to New York come Tuesday. I told Kellyx where I was and what happened. She was in the city on her way to Monterey but said she'd stop in and see me. I hadn't seen her since Christmas.

Upon her arrival, I immediately cheered up. It was great having her there and she was her normal self - didn't look worried at all. I was extremely mad at my boyfriend because he was rude the whole time she was there, saying only "Oh, hi. Nice to meet you." After she left I passed out from the drugs while Mike layed across the room on the opposite bed staring at the ceiling.

From then on things are very hazy...

The next morning someone woke me up. I remember them telling me I had to have a bone marrow biopsy. What in the hell was that? They said it would be painful, but that they'd give me tons of drugs beforehand so hopefully I'd feel nothing. They had confirmed that I didn't have endocarditis. Well, there goes NY I thought. I still didn't realize how serious things were. I wasn't completely worried. I suppose in a way I almost enjoyed being in the hospital as odd as that may sound. Growing up, my sister was in and out of the hospital. She has had 4 open heart surgeries. Perhaps it was the kid in me coming out, but it was almost fun to be away from home, eating whatever I wanted, getting special attention from everyone and hopped up on morphine too? It was great until this point.

The biopsy was the strangest, most painful thing I'd ever felt. My eyes filled with tears. My vision was already blurry from the drugs and now everything was like a nightmare. I squeezed my mom's hand until it turned blue and screamed so loud I swore they could hear me on other floors. I felt as though they had removed my leg bones and were sticking metal rods down my legs, controlling them and making them jump. I was their puppet. And the bleeding, it wouldn't stop. I now had been reduced to wearing a diaper to soak it all up. They had given me Dilaudid and told me I could not get up for an hour because of it and because of the bleeding. I pressed my call button to ask for a bedpan. My nurse (an asshole) told me I didn't need one, that I could go to the bathroom to pee. I explained to him that I had only been lying down for 30 minutes and that I was so drugged I couldn't walk. He assisted me to the toilet and sat me down. All of a sudden I felt nauseous and fell over throwing up all over myself. There was blood all over the floor from newly pierced pelvic bone. I screamed for help. I hated it. This wasn't me. I'm strong. What was wrong with me? My nurse came in and I kept apologizing for throwing up, asking if he could help clean me. He threw a wet washcloth at me (literally) and said "Here, clean yourself and then I'll get you back in bed."

My mom came in, found out what happened and was pissed. She told the NP that she didn't want him as my nurse anymore and said she was going to write a huge complaint letter because that wasn't how patients were supposed to be treated. That night I had blood and platelet transfusions. The platlets helped to stop the bleeding a bit, but they kept disappearing and never stopped it completely. At this point they had diagnosed me with DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation). It's a disorder common to my type of leukemia. In DIC, platelets and the proteins that make blood clot are activated abnormally . . .Once the blood clotting mechanism is turned on in DIC, blood clots may form inside the bloodstream. These tiny blood clots can damage tissue by blocking blood flow through blood vessels. In addition, if the DIC persists, all of the blood clotting proteins may get "used up" or destroyed. This may lead to abnormal bleeding. Basically I was screwed. I had to have transfusion after transfusion . . .

I passed out and woke up to see my ex awake in a chair at the foot of my bed and my then boyfriend in a chair next to the bed, sleeping. Whoa! They had never met and wow. I didn't want to deal with it and went back to sleep. The next day Jasmine, Michelle, Heather and Regina came to visit. Regina brought a huge bouquet of flowers that I never even got to see. They were confiscated from her by the nurse as she reached to open my door. Apparently, plants carry bacteria and I wasn't allowed to have any in the room. We talked and laughed for a few hours and they left.

The next day I was sent down to radiology for more tests. Echos, catscans, the works. As I was rolled back up onto my floor from a catscan, I heard my mom. I don't remember her words but I knew she was upset. She was crying as she walked up to my bed and grabbed my hand. I propped myself up to look at my ex and Melody (my sister) and they both had sad looks on their faces. I was dying - I had AIDS. I knew it. This was the end, but no! I'd still try . . . My Mom said, "Risa don't worry, we will get through this. I know you're my fighter. You are so strong and we will fight this." Then she took a step back and made a kind of sad smile and said "leukemia" with a sigh of exasperation.

I actually let out a sigh of relief and my brain started working overtime. My relief was because this was something that could be cured, AIDS could not. What was leukemia? I mean, I'd heard of it of course, but what was it? What did this mean? I was scared and fearful yet hopeful and determined at the same time. Strange combination.

My boyfriend and I fought that night. This is where things went downhill with him. I explained to him what I had and his first response was "Well then why don't I have it?" SO many thoughts went through my mind. I thought "you idiot! Cancer isn't contagious." I also thought "How selfish are you, that I tell you I have cancer and all you can think about is yourself? And why you DON'T have it?" We argued and argued and from then on my Mom officially hated him.

The following 24 days I had a lot of "firsts". Later that night I got to ride in an ambulance to UCSF. How exciting! My sister videotaped the whole thing. I had to wear a mask because of all the possible infections I could catch. Only once I was in my new room with the door firmly shut, was I allowed to take it off. My nurse Lisa Ramsey was an angel. She sat with my family and I and explained what I had exactly (APML) and how it's normally treated. My oncologist would discuss it with me the following day.

I woke up to the floor's Nurse Practioner telling me I had to have another Bone Marrow Biopsy. Why? They just wanted to "be sure". It was so unnecessary and so painful. A few hours later, they came to get me for a central line. I had no idea what they meant. I had never heard of a central line and thought I was being taken for more tests. I was delivered to an operating room. Everyone was in scrubs and masks. They didn't tell me what they were doing, just started covering me with blue towels, face included. They had tipped my head to the left so that the right side of my neck was exposed. The towels were itchy on my face and I reached up to scratch it. One of the nurses swatted my hand down saying I couldn't touch, that it had to stay sterile. They said I'd feel a bee sting. The needle went into my neck and I screamed. They seemed to get mad at how I was reacting to their procedure. They next told me I'd feel pressure and proceeded to stick a catheter down my jugular vein. This seemed to take forever and I screamed the entire time. They then sewed it into my skin and slapped some tagaderm over it. I went back up to my room traumatized.

Later that night, one of my old coworkers from the Academy, Yves-Langston, came up to see me. While he was there, Dr. Martin walked in. He began to ask Yves and Antonio to leave since they weren't family and I said no, that they could stay. He then began to explain my options. Looking at me directly in the eye and looking to my family every now and then to answer their questions. I couldn't for the life of me understand why he was talking to me. I didn't understand anything he was saying. By the last word of each sentence, I had forgotten the first. My mom and Yves got a horrible first impression of him, thinking he was more interested in my being a research subject than saving my life.

The next day, I received my first dose of chemo. I don't even remember it. At this point they had me on a Fentanyl basil drip. Fentanyl is used as anesthesia so this was super strong stuff. The next thing I remember is being sent down to Radiology for an Echo. After 3 days and 3 doses, my heart had failed for a brief moment. They had to see what the damage was. It was decided at this point that I was far too sick and that my body just couldn't handle the 5 doses I was supposed to have.

The view from my room

Every morning I woke up with a pounding headache. The light . . .the noise - everything made it that much worse. I couldn't stand the smell of food and didn't even want to think about eating. They had neglected to give me any laxatives and because of all the pain meds, I was literally "blocked up" for 9 days. My hips blew up. I had gained about 25 lbs of water weight. I went from wearing a size 5 underwear to a 9 in a matter of days. For any pain, my nurses would tell me to "push my button" which dispensed yet more Fentanyl into my bloodstream. This did absolutely nothing for the headaches and the end result left me so drugged I could barely move or speak. My hair had started to slowly fall out but I was in denial. I was too weak to get up to the bathroom so I went without a shower for a little over 2 weeks.

Everday I got mad at my mom for opening my food trays. Even from all the way across the room, the second she lifted the lid a centimeter, I could smell the most nasty metallic scent. The nutritionist came by and told me I had to eat or they'd feed me through a tube. I cried and explained that I couldn't help it. They explained to me that I'd become anorexic and I pleaded that I wasn't doing it on purpose, I couldn't help it. My weight began to drop rapidly from the lack of eating and the chemo. All my proteins from my muscles I had worked so hard to get and mantain were used by my body to repair itself from the damage the chemo had done. I dropped about 15-20 lbs of fat and all my muscles had atrophied by the time I was discharged 3 and a half weeks later.

The headaches continued and they thought I may have brain damage and needed me to drink some dye so they could do another catscan or something. Cranberry juice will never taste the same again. My nurse came and gave me an IV saying that they also had to inject dye, but couldn't do it through my central line because of risk of infection. I got downstairs to radiology and they were complete assholes. Oh! I also forgot to mention, a few days after arriving at UCSF, I got my period. It normally lasts maybe 5 days. This one just kept bleeding because of the DIC. They had put me on birth control pills to make it stop but it didn't. Downstairs I went to pee before the procedure and was bleeding everywhere. It looked like someone was murdered in the bathroom by the time I left. My hip was still bleeding from the biopsy and my period wasn't helping either. I wasn't allowed to wear tampons because of risk of infection. I only wore pads and they were soaked within 30 minutes. I staggered back to the lab covered in blood and explained. They said it could wait and reached for my central line. I asked what they were doing, and they said "injecting the dye". I explained to them that they couldn't and that was why I had an IV. They told me not to question them and shoved the dye into my neck. 2 hours later my neck was sore and the area around where the catheter went in was bright red.

Later that night, the shaking began. I ran a fever at 104 degrees. Within minutes it jumped to 106 degrees. I couldn't stop shaking. It was horrible. Everyone was telling me it was mind over matter and to stop it. I closed my eyes and tried to focus - nothing happened. It felt as though my muscles were involuntarily clenching and releasing over and over. I tried to joke with my ex through my chattering teeth that I felt like I was getting the work out of my life. I was picturing myself all cut up the next day from all this. I opened my eyes to look at him and he was crying. I was scared. I tried and tried - completely exhausted with seemingly no choice in the matter. Finally after about an hour, the shaking lessened and eventually I passed out. What I think was the next day, I was sore, yet thankful to still be alive. I had got a bacterial infection in my central line from them injecting the dye. The solution was to yank it out of my neck. They tilted my bed back in ways I didn't even know it could move and told me to hum. I screamed while they cut the stitches. It felt as though they were cutting my skin. I later learned that they had indeed had to cut my skin, which had grown over the stitches. It felt as though I imagine acid would feel poured onto skin. They instead decided to put in a pic line. It's actually kinda cool what they do. They stick a catheter in your arm and literally thread another catheter through your vein, into your heart. This too ended up getting infected days later. The day they pulled in out, I set a floor record. It took them 26 times before they could get an IV in. My veins kept rolling and bursting. I remember closing my eyes and seeing a kaledescope of colors somewhat like the flares on top of a nudibranch. The image pleased me. It was a nurse from peds ICU that finally got it in.

I'm not sure when all the rest happened but I remember hallucinating horribly. Because of the infections, they had put me on steriods which made me nuts. I saw people in the wall. My nurse came in and asked where the bathroom was. I pointed to a portable toilet next to my bed ( though I had my own bathroom). She asked me if that was the only bathroom in the room. I was convinced it was. She pointed to the bathroom and asked me what that was. I truly didn't know. A closet? I had never been in there. They called psych down. They asked me my birthday and I didn't know. An easy question and I felt so stupid and flabbergasted for not knowing. I had been all excited about being tested at first since I love mental games. I was sent for another Catscan and nothing was wrong. I screamed at my ex that night, convinced he was plotting against me. I don't remember that part, but it's what I'm told. He couldn't take it anymore for that night and left. Later that night I woke up, and was convinced I was in an evil hospital. After not having walked for weeks, I got up, grabbed my IV pole and ran out of the room. A nurse said I had a glazed over look in my eyes and she tapped my shoulder and told me to go back to bed. I passed out.

The steriods I was on had made me nuts and it wasn't a pretty sight. They finally took me off of them but I was still drugged. Everyday my mom urged me to get out of bed and walk. I had my first shower. I sat in the shower stall with the hot water pounding down on my back/neck which had been killing me from being so tense. I felt battered and bruised as though I'd just been through a war. My body hair had grown disgustingly long and they didn't allow me to shave because of the risk of infection should I cut myself. I also started receiving shots of Neupogen in my stomach. Well, not my stomach exactly, but the little fatty tissue I had left in that area. It was supposed to help stimulate my marrow to produce more white cells and aid in boosting my immune system. My mom and I joked about it because every shot was $700, which blew our minds because in the course of my stay I had at least 12 shots of it. Later that night, it was my sister who pleaded with me to walk - for her. I obliged and when we got out into the hall I swerved from one wall to the next and these weren't thin hallways. I hadn't realized how drugged I truly was. From then on I stopped pressing my button everytime I had pain and began demanding tylenol for my headaches instead. I began to wake up.

The drugs made me a bitch . . . to everyone. No one was spared. I vaguely remember waiting in my bed outside radiology. The lights were so bright, I felt as though I didn't have eyelids. My mom and sister were with me and we were waiting for someone to bring me back upstairs. I was extremely uncomfortable and screamed about it. "Where are these motherfuckers? What the fuck? Don't they care that I'm in pain. I fucking hate this!" My sister laughed and my mom whispered sternly "Shut up. You are not the only patient here Risa. You're disturbing other people." I screamed back, "Who cares about other patients. I'm your daughter. You should care about me and that I'm in pain. Fuck the other patients." At this point an old man was being wheeled by. All I heard was this nasty snorkeling /snoring noise. I screamed "what the fuck is that annoying noise? Someone please turn that shit off" My mom was very embarassed and apologized to the people walking by. I fought with my boyfriend daily. I'd sit there for hours and tell him everything I disliked about him, every little thing that bothered me. I knew I was being a bitch but didn't care. I held nothing back. I saw it as being honest. He saw himself too perfectly and someone had to put him in his place. Everyday he came in he looked pissed. He'd crack his knuckles and clench his fists. He rarely showed an ounce of emotion aside from anger. No fear, no sadness, nothing. Just anger.

But I couldn't take the daily attitude and negativity. My mom didn't want him there while she was there because he had screamed and fought with me when I was first diagnosed. He came as much as my mom would allow, but was growing angry with the situation. My ex was there everyday and almost every night with me. My boyfriend was extremely jealous and hurt. I understand that now. I told him I wanted him to act like my friends that had came to visit. Cheerful - even if it was fake and they were shocked by how ghastly I looked. He replied with "If you want me to act like your friend, then I have to just be your friend. You have to worry about yourself right now and not out relationship. It's not a priority. When you get better we'll discuss everything."

He never came out and said he was breaking up with me and with all the drugs in my system - it didn't click. He eventually said he broke up with me so that I didn't feel obligated to worry about him at all. So I could focus on myself, and my recovery.

August 20th my counts finally came up. I once again had an immune system. It was weak - but I still had it nonetheless. We celebrated. I finally was allowed to eat fresh fruit and my nurse brought me an apple. I have never tasted anything as refreshing and sweet. I called my Mom to tell her the news and she rushed over to the grocery store to buy me nectarines (my favorite). My nurse snuck me off the floor and outside for a few minutes. This was my first breath of fresh air in 21 days. The week before I had glared at the people 11 floors below waiting at busstops. I was so mad and jealous of them. They didn't think twice about the wind caressing them. They had the freedom to do whatever it was that they wished and were taking it all for granted. It just wasn't fair. When I stepped outside it was windy and a bit cold, but I embraced it. The wind lifting my hair into the sky delighted me. It was this that I had craved.

My counts stayed stable and 3 days later I was discharged. I was actually scared to leave the hospital and had a huge anxiety attack when they told me the "good" news. I was scared that something would happen and I didn't have the security of my call button. I had grown so dependant on the doctors and nurses that I couldn't even begin to imagine living without them nearby just in case . . . I didn't even know I was being discharged. They just surprised me with it one morning. I began to cry. I wasn't well enough I thought. I took the last of my daily pills with applesauce and 30 minutes later threw it all up. I was nervous. I still can't eat applesauce a year later . . .

The ride home was scary. I had never in my life felt this fragile. It was cold outside. The breeze went straight through me. Walking down to the car I felt as though people were looking at me weird. I was 22 and walking like an 80 year old. The car ride did nothing but make me nauseous. The bumps from the potholes hurt me. I no longer had the fat to cushion my body.

Arriving home I was obsessed with looking at myself in the mirror. I hadn't seen myself in nearly a month. I was disgustingly skinny. My ribs stuck out in the front and back and my hip bones were more prominent than ever. My boobs had gotten slightly smaller yet looked humungous on my newly tiny body. All of my muscle and most of my fat was gone. It took me 5 minutes to walk up our 13 stairs. My muscles had atrophied from lack of movement. I immediately went looking for my nose rings. They had made me take mine out along with all of my earrings during my hospital stay. My piercing had partially closed. Being used to enduring pain the past month, I figured that popping it back through couldn't hurt that much in comparision, so I did it. Looking back, it was a stupid thing to do with such a low immune system but whatever.

From then on out, for the most part, I got physically better. I spent the first month mainly in my mom's bed. My room is downstairs while the rest of the house is upstairs and I was too weak to climb the stairs everytime I had to use the bathroom. I had a doctor's appointment every week and that was my big outing for the most part. The first 2 weeks were tough. I saw Mike for the first time and obsessed about my weight to him. And my hair. It was coming out quicker now yet I was still in denial. September 16th I went to Norma's competition and saw everyone for the first time. I had no energy by 8 oclock and asked Mike to take me home. The following day I decided to try the gym again. Mentally I was still in workout mode. I thought I was stronger than I was. It killed me to be tired so quickly and to lift half the weight I used to.

I had been going to the clinic at General because I hadn't yet been approved for medi-cal and UCSF doesn't see patients with no insurance. Once my medi-cal got settled I began to go to UCSF instead. At this point, when my oncologist saw me, he restricted me from using the gym. Too many germs. He said to wait until December after my last round of chemo. No one was sure when I was going in for my next round and it was nerve wrecking.

We went shopping for wigs and did research on healing meditation and imagery. I took a yoga class for patients and tried to calm myself. My second round began on October 8th. It was a very different experience. I was only there for 3 days and for the most part I was sober. Also, because I had somewhat of an immune system, I had to share my room. I was given a different type of chemo (daunorubicen) which made me sick, but wasn't as bad as the previous one (idarubicen). I still went to the clinic once a week but was getting better and better. I was bored. I had good days and bad days and couldn't work, go to school or to the gym. I went on lots of walks and slowly got back into being online. I tried to read and couldn't focus. I'd read a few pages a day of Lance Armstrong's autobiography. Although it wasn't written by him, it gave me hope. To read about everything that he accomplished after the fact and how much stronger it had made him ignited the fighter in me even more.

My "boyfriend" and I were drifting apart. I spent days sleeping and felt crappy so I didn't always call him. I didn't have the energy to speak. People don't realize how much energy is required to have a conversation. I saw him on October 30th. We spent the day at the beach and it was just horrible. We fought the entire day and ended up getting up and just leaving. That weekend there was a competition in Sacramento. I couldn't go because I had plans already. My third and final round of chemo.

My last three days in the hospital were as great as they could be considering the circumstances. I had a wonderful roomate and my mom was there a lot. My uncle came by to see me finally 4 months after the fact but whatever - he still came. November 6th - The last dose left me sick but thankful to still be alive to feel sick and relieved that I was done. My 23rd birthday was on the 18th and it was probably the best one yet. My mom and my ex threw something together last minute. My closest friends; Jasmine, Michelle, Sabrina, Regina, Tiffany and even my ex-best friend Sandy came by. We ordered pizza and drank wine. I was allowed one glass to celebrate since I was still taking Oxycontin.

December came and I had made a new friend - Ashley. I needed her and she needed me. It worked. I needed the positivity in my life that she brings and she needed me as a reminder to stop stressing over the little stuff. I went out for the first time on Regina's birthday. Not just "left the house out", but out to a club. It was a last minute decision and I was self concious the entire time. At this point I had accepted the fact that my hair was falling out and it was extremely thin. I had half of one drink and it was too much. My tolerance was gone. Which I found quite amusing since I could handle 40+ milligrams of Oxycontin, yet less than one glass of alcohol had me tipsy. Christmas came. I got what I had wished for and was happy . . . my hair had started to grow back. Another "milestone" as I saw it. I figured if I could make it to Easter I'd be okay. Jasmine's babyshower was after Christmas and I found myself slowly making my way into the world again. I was getting better. I had my fourth biopsy.

At this point I felt some pressure. The spring semester of school would be starting and everyone around me thought I could just jump into life again. But my mind and body weren't ready and people didn't seem to understand this. They figured I'd be even more ready and raring to go after everything I'd been through. Shortly after New Years - January 7th I believe, I went back to the gym. I say this as though it were an "event" but in actuality, for me it was. Though I had been given the green light to return in Decemeber I stayed away because of the boyfriend that broke up with me in the hospital who frequented the gym. I just couldn't handle seeing him. I realized I had no choice though. After months of being super skinny and doctors telling me to eat whatever wanted - just eat, I had gained weight. The last dose of IV chemo had worn off and my new habits of eating everything I wanted finally caught up with me. The oral chemo pills which I take started to kick in to help me gain yet more weight.

Going back was hard. To face the same assholes who had fired me for being sick. And I was scared. I was afraid to push myself at all. Lifting weights was fine, but I was afraid if I did too much cardio I'd have a heart attack. I figured my heart was still weak from the chemo. This tore me apart. I'm naturally competitive and athletic and I wanted to push myself as Lance Armstrong had done, especially that I no longer smoked. I worked my ass off. Since I had nothing better to do with my time, I went everyday for hours. I started to gain more definition but the fat wouldn't come off. Very frustrating to say the least.

January 9th. My doctor's appointment. The doctor's appointment. Everyone around me was worried. This was the appointment that would tell all. My biopsy results were back and I'd find out if I was in remission. I remember not really understanding the hype everyone was creating. I didn't see the big deal. I was already taking oral chemo meds, so if it came back I just had to get another round of chemo - been there done that. Luckily, the results were negative. It was official.

I had developed a much better relationship with 2 women from the gym, Gemma and Norma. Gemma's birthday came and that was my first "real" outing. (The last time I hadn't been prepared) I had come to accept my hairloss and started wearing hats everywhere. Gemma bought me a hairpiece to add to my thin pony tail. We had a good time. But towards the end of the night, I was faced with what I now refer to as "the question". Some guy started talking to me. After a few minutes of conversation, the question was asked. "What do you do?" A seemingly innocent question. I considered lying and telling him what I used to do, and realized there was nothing wrong with telling the truth as real as it is. "I don't do anything. At the moment I can't." Then comes the "why?" "I'm a cancer patient. I have leukemia." He didn't believe me because I had hair. I replied that yes I had hair because I bought it. I think I shocked the shit out of him. I shocked myself a bit too because of how open I was being.

I decided that I would finally take the trip I was supposed to take in July. To my second home, New York city. My friend Gigi was going to fly to San Francisco for a few days. We'd go to the Britney concert, then I'd go back to NY with her for 2 weeks. I ended up staying for 3 weeks and it was one of the best trips ever. It was also very trying. To look at me, you'd think I was healthy. Half the time I myself forget. Too many people had unrealistic expectations of me. I don't think most people get how badly chemo screws with you. Though I went out, I slept a lot and had to cancel plans with people because of my lack of energy. The only person who I felt truly understood was my bff/"wife", Liz. She took care of me. I went to visit my Aunt and her girlfriend in Boston. That weekend was my saving grace. Though I love all my friends and know they mean no harm, it gets tiring explaining my situation and why I can't do everything I used to be able to do. My Aunt and her girlfriend were both cancer patients so we were all on the same page.

When I returned to SF, I had yet another bone marrow biopsy. This one left me unable to walk for a few days and I began going to the gym less and less. I spent most of my days sleeping and on weekend nights I'd go out with Gemma. I bought another plane ticket to return to NYC in June. Before I left, my oncologist warned me that I might get sick because my immune system's memory was gone. Every virus I came into contact with I would contract again. My first 2 weeks I was there I was sick. I thought it was just a cold and that my body would fight it. I finally went to the ER where I was diagnosed with an Upper Respiratory infection. Great. Vacation ruined. But it wasn't. I still got to see people and relax which was my reason for going. I was asked "the question" quite a few times while I was there. Getting sick reminded me once more that I wasn't yet done with all of this.

On my last day there, I had an anxiety attack. I suppose I'm scared about returning to "normal" life. Scared about having to go on interviews again and explaining the year gap in my resume. Scared that employers won't hire me because I'm an insurance risk. Mostly I'm scared of failing. I still feel everyone's expectations around me and I have expectations of myself. Now that I've "overcome so much" failure in any form is not an option.

In 6 days, it'll be my year anniversary and it's been one hell of a ride. I'm not through with all of this yet but I'm getting there. I fight my energy levels everyday and still am in great pain from the biopsies. I will continue to have chemotherapy (in pill form) until September. On July 28th 2008, I will officially be cured of this disease. In many ways I am actually greatful for what happened and thank the disease, as awful as it may be, because I now have a new outlook and a greater appreciation for life.

Please go visit and if you can donate! If you know someone going through chemo, this is an amazing program they should know about so spread the word! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Monochromatic Pink Makeup Tutorial

Products Used

Untitled Paint
Coastal Scents Hot Pot Eyeshadow #M13
Coastal Scents Hot Pot Eyeshadow #M18
Coastal Scents Hot Pot Eyeshadow #M08
Burnt Burgandy Pigment (MAC)
Pink Opal Pigment (MAC)
Zero 247 eyeliner (Urban Decay)
Black Liquid Liner (Prestige)
Luxe Black Faux Lashes (Shu Uemura)

Tender Glow Studio Lights (MAC)
HD Concealer (Senna)
HD Powder (MUFE)
Pink Swoon Blush (MAC)
Taupe Blush (MAC)

Pink Fuschia lipliner (MAC)
Saint Germain Lipstick (MAC)
Show Orchid Lipstick (MAC)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I don't think I posted this video on my blog yet, but this is how I take my photos for the blog...

When taking makeup photos I generally (though not always) use the same camera I use to record my videos, a Sony Cybershot DSC-T2.

Here's some decent articles I found that you may be interested in:


Shutter Speed

Getting a good exposure

Deviant Art is a great art community where you can store your work, AND it has TONS of resources. Check it out!

Peachy Purple Bright Eyes

Products Used
Untitled Paint as Base (MAC)
Soft brown eyeshadow (MAC) in crease with dome shaped fluffy brush
Dusty Coral Pigment (MAC) in crease with pencil brush
Motif Eyeshadow (MAC) on browbone and center lid with flat fluffy brush
Love Lavender Pigment (Sappho Cosmetics) on inner and outer lid with fluffy pencil brush
Pink Opal Pigment (MAC) directly beneath eyebrow with angled brush
Zero eyeliner (Urban Decay) on upper waterline
Black Liquid Liner (prestige) above upper lashes
Luxe Black Faux Lashes (Shu Uemura)

Lift concealer (MUFE) and Select Moisturecover Concealer (MAC) under eyes
So Ceylon MSF (MAC) with stippling brush
Shell Pearl Beauty Powder (MAC) with large dome shaped fluffy brush
Hyper Real Pressed Powder (MAC) on bridge of nose and plume of mouth with flat fluffy brush

Pink Fuschia lipliner (MAC)
Impassioned lipstick (MAC)

Cosmic Candy

Products Used

Untitled Paint (MAC) as Base
Purple Shower eyeshadow (MAC) on inner crease with dome shaped fluffy brush & fluffy pencil brush
Haunting Fluidline (MAC) on eyelid with flat brush
Seamyth eyeshadow (MAC) on browbone with flat fluffy brush
Mancatcher eyeshadow on eyelid with flat fluffy brush
Entremauve pigment (MAC) on inner lid and crease with pencil brush
Zero 247 eyeliner (Urban Decay) on upper waterline
Black Liquid liner (prestige) above upper lashes
Luxe Black Faux Lashes (Shu Uemura)
Electric 247 eyeliner (urban Decay) on lower waterline and beneath lower lashes
Parrot eyeshadow (MAC) on lower waterline and beneath lower lashes

Taupe Blush (MAC) with angled contour brush
Maidenchant blushcreme (MAC) on apples of cheeks
Sunsparked Pearl Beauty Powder on cheekbones with large fluffy brush

Stroke of Lust Lipstick (MAC)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fairy, Pixie, Mermaid Makeup

Products used:
Studio Fix Fluid mixed with Shimmertime and Pink Opal pigment (MAC)
Green cream base (Wet and Wild)
Green and Teal Shadows from 88 matte and Shimmer Palettes
Beautiful Iris (MAC)
Pink Opal pigment (MAC)
Zero 247 Liner (Urban Decay)
Black Liquid Liner (prestige)
Blue Lashes (MUFE)
Posey Blushcreme (MAC)
Dervish Lipliner (MAC)
B-cup lipstick (MAC)
Luminary Lustreglass (MAC)
Like Venus Dazzleglass (MAC)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dark Angel Halloween Makeup

Products used:
-Urban Decay Primer Potion
-Red and Black from MUFE Flash palette with a flat brush & a dome shaped fluffy brush (242 & 224 from MAC)
-Burnt Burgandy pigment (MAC) with a flat brush & dome shaped fluffy brush (242 & 224 from MAC)
-Carbon eyeshadow(MAC) with a flat brush (242 from MAC)
-Blacked Red Glitter (MAC) with a small flat brush (236 from MAC)
-Gesso eyeshadow(MAC) with a flat fluffy brush (238 from MAC)
-Zero waterproof liner (Urban Decay)
-Black Liquid Liner (Prestige) with fine tipped brush (210 from MAC)
-Feather eyelashes from
-HD Concealer (Senna Cosmetics)
-HD Foundation (MUFE)
-Taupe Blush (MAC) with an angled contouring brush (164 by MAC)
-accentuating cream in Beiglite (Senna Cosmetics)
-Nightmoth lipliner (MAC)
-Sexie Lipstick (MAC)
-Angelwing lustreglass (MAC)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boop boop be do!

Up next!

Products Used:
MUFE HD Foundation
MUFE HD Powder
Black from MUFE Flash Palette with angled brush
Carbon eyeshadow with angled brush and flat brush
Black Liquid Liner - Prestige
Fascinating Eye Khol - MAC
White from MUFE Flash Palette with flat brush
Gesso Eyeshadow - MAC with flat brush
Cherry Lipliner - MAC
Russian Red Lipstick - MAC

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween is nearly upon us!!!

I've been sick, procrastinating, working etc (excuses, excuses!) In any case, I have some downtime this week to play catch up on Youtube. I have a few reviews to do along with the Feedback video I promised.

In regards to the feedback video, can anyone reccomend some good FREE video editing software? I currently use Windows Movie Maker and while it's suited my needs up until now, it's not cutting it for the feedback video. I can narrate on my laptop but the audio sounds HORRID. I would much rather record on my camera and just use the audio from that while showing a slideshow of the looks I'm talking about. Either I'm not using WMM correctly, or that's just not possible with the program. So please please give me your input on your favorite video editing software!

I will be doing reviews on: Senna Cosmetics, Dior Deep Hydration Radical Serum, Dior Airflash spray foundation, 2 Astara Masks, Redken layer lift spray gel AND lastly, Swiss Clinical Pure Body Milk.

In regards to Halloween tutorials, I have a few face charts sketched out of various looks HOWEVER I would like to know, what do you want to see?! Leave me a comment and LMK :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Christina Aguilera inspired Burlesque Halloween look

Products used:
matte Red, matte purple and matte pink in 88 coastal scents palette
Plumed Violet ccb - MAC
Destiny eyeshadow - Senna Cosmetics
Pink Martini - Senna Cosmetics
Black Liquid Liner - Prestige
Engraved powerpoint pencil - MAC
Eyelashes are from here: - They're the 7th pair down on the left side.

Beet Lipliner - MAC
Currant Lipliner - MAC
Last Tango lipstick - Senna Cosmetics
Mirrored Gloss - MAC

Friday, September 25, 2009

Warm toned "Vampy" Goth Eye

Products Used:

Bare Canvas
Eyeshadow #146 (Yaby)
Burnt Burgundy Pigment (MAC)
Sequin (Calypso Minerals)
Engraved Powerpoint Pencil (MAC)
Black Luxe Lashes in pieces (Shu Uemura)
MUFE lift Concealer
MUFE HD Foundation

Taupe Blush (MAC)
Shell Pearl Beauty powder (MAC)
Pretty Baby Beauty Powder (MAC)

Pink Fuschia lipliner (MAC)
Show Orchid Lipstick (MAC)
Saint Germain Lipstick (MAC)

Poison Ivy Comic Book Style

"Late at night you'll be sleepin' Poison Ivy comes a creepin' arounddddd"

Products Used:
True Chartruese Paintstick (MAC)
Green & Black (MUFE Flash Palette)
Chartruese Pigment (MAC)
True Chartruese Pigment (MAC)
Engraved Waterproof eyeliner(MAC)
Black Liquid Liner (Prestige)
Wet & Wild Fantasy Lashes
Leaf Eyeliner (Prestige)

Broken & Bruised Flesh Wounds

Here's some tips to make yourself have that "undead" look for halloween. Whether you go as a zombie or Rihanna (KIDDING! - though I'm willing to bet someone *will* do that for a costume), you can use these simple steps to make yourself look as though you've been beaten.

Products Used:
White MUFE Flash Palette
Red MUFE Flash Palette
Black MUFE Flash Palette
Silly Goose Eyeshadow (MAC)
Sketch Eyeshadow (MAC)
Carbon Eyeshadow (MAC)
MAC Gloss (not lipglass, but GLOSS)
Most importantly - DUO adhesive

She-Devil Makeup

This was OHHHHHH so fun to do! Though, it wasn't until the next day that I realized the red did indeed, stain my skin a tad. I would definitely reccomend possibly putting a layer of your own cream foundation down first to act as a slight barrier against the red. But Halloween is only 1 day a year, so I'm all for going all out in the makeup department! I made some horns just for the video, but definitely invest in the prosthetic horns, or the headband kind, whatever you prefer.

-Make sure to buff your powder in!!! I didn't notice it until after I took it off, but you can see it in the photo AND in the video.

-Yes I used photoshop to make my horns symmetrical in the photo. :)

Products Used:
Face and Body Mixing Medium (MAC)
Basic Red Pigment (MAC)
Panic Blush (Illamasqua)
Carbon Eyeshadow (MAC)
Smolder eyeliner (MAC)
Black Gel Liner (Loreal HIP)
MUFE HD Powder
Russian Red Lipstick (MAC)
Garnet Lipliner (MAC)

This took me 30 minutes remove. I used Olive Oil which will remove any makeup - waterproof or not and is actually good for your skin. I also used sugar as an exfoliant to scrub everything off quicker.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I've been lazy with my blog entries.

Embed, post corresponding photo and list products. That said, I'm going to attempt to update this more frequently. After I posted a t-shirt video, a lot of you asked how I stay in shape. The answer? I'm nowhere NEAR "in shape". My "shape" is what it is because of genetics but I am by no means fit. Once upon a time, many many moons ago I was, however this is no longer the case. I danced (tap, jazz, ballet technique and hip hop) for 13 years of my life. After which I became obsessed with weight training to the point that I had a 6 pack and the upside U on my triceps and wanted to compete. I worked for a very short time as a personal trainer and Human Physiology was at one time my favorite class in school which led me to starting college as pred-med. As I said, many moons ago...

I am a vegetarian, have been since birth (yes, you read that correctly). So I suppose that may be a contributing factor, because I do believe if I ate meat, my 5'4 self would definitely be a lot heavier. I am not the most healthy vegetarian in the world as I consume more carbs than I do actual vegetables.

Since moving back to San Francisco from New York, I've actually gained 12 lbs. On my way to workout for the first time in a few months today, I asked myself why this was.
What had been so different in New York? The primary answer I settled on is walking. I do not, nor have I ever owned a car, though yes, I can drive (very well, if I do say so myself ;) While in New York, I left my house nearly everyday. Whether it was to go on open calls for work, wander through neighborhoods looking for work, going into Manhattan to meet up with friends or simply walking 5 blocks down St. Marks to my friend Gabriel's house. Then there's the subway stairs, and lugging around my kit. My Zuca does have wheels, but I still had to carry it up 3, if not more flights of stairs, 1 being in my apartment. I ate out twice that I recall while living in New York. The rest of my food I cooked.

San Francisco is a very different story. We don't generally have "open calls" too often. A great majority of my friends either have kids and dont go out too often, or they have cars and pick me up. I technically work one day a week & to get there, all I have to do is walk 4 blocks and climb 1 measly flight of stairs. The other 6 days a week, *if* I leave the house, it generally because someone is picking me up. And food wise, I don't cook too often. I'm at my parents house. Their kitchen, their food etc. Not that they dont share - they definitely do! Dont get me wrong, but, well women can be a little territorial and controlling in "their" kitchen. Nuff said.

Today I went to a circuit training "booty" camp (gotta love the name!) and it kicked my ass within the first 5 minutes. I stuck it out and struggled through the remaining 55 minutes, but it was awesome. I'm sore and exhausted, but it's that good hurt.

We live in a society that makes it okay for us to be lazy. Fast food all around, cars that make us forget we have legs to get us from point A to B, and demands from work, relationships etc that monopolize our time. So all I can say is this. Don't allow society to make you lazy. If you're unhappy with how fit or healthy you are, change it. It's that simple. Here's some tips I've acquired over the years.

- Drink water. No Soda. Drink at least half your body's weight in ounces of water per day. Example: If you weigh 140lbs, drink 70 ounces of water.

- Park as far as you can from a store entrance in a mall. Walking even that tiny amount can make a big difference.

- Take the stairs, not the elevator.

- Escalators. Dont just ride them up. They're moving stairs. Walk up them.

- An apple a day... Apples are negative calorie snacks. Meaning, a medium sized apple is about 90 calories. Just in digesting that apple, your body burns 120 calories.

- ABC's - Abs, Butt, Crunch! Even while sitting, (if you have an office job, or you just cant pull yourself away from your computer), you can "work out". And it doesn't just have to be your abs and butt. You can also flex nearly any muscle in your body while sitting. Hold it for 30 seconds, release and do it again. If you cant hold it for 30 seconds, start off with 5 seconds and work your way up. Even this small motion will help your muscles tighten up a bit.

- Stretch. Stretching your muscles improves bloodflow and increases flexibility contributing to strength.

- Dance! Who doesn't like to dance?! I realize some are self concious, so even if you're not comfortable at a club, bar or concert, turn up some music and dance by your lonesome while cleaning or folding laundry. Getting your heart pumping is important.

- Alcohol. If you are seriously trying to drop fat, stay away from alcohol altogether. However, if you must, keep it light - vodka, gin, light tequila, light rum etc Definitely NO jager, whiskey, or cognac. Vodka and Soda (NOT tonic - there is a difference) is the lowest calorie drink. Try a flavored vodka and squeeze a lime or lemon into it. Stay far far away from anything using sweet & sour. Midori sour, whiskey sour, long island, lemon drops, long beach, adios MF, tokyo tea etc. Sweet and Sour is like sucking down almost pure sugar.

-Deserts - Do not deprive yourself, but try and find alternative options. Frozen grapes are AHHMAZING (IMO at least) as a desert or even a snack. I also love Skinny Cow Ice Cream products.

Most of these tips you all have probably already heard, so maybe this will just serve as reminder, or hopefully be helpful to some of you. Typing it all up reminded me! Also, remember that the photos you see of that celebrity who's "perfect" body you want, are edited and airbrushed.