Please check out my new blog, Quelle Belle: The Beauty Blog. I would really appreciate it! [Note: Considering the fact that I don't know any male makeup afficionados, I would say it's safe to say that this site is mainly for women.]

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Sound of Thunder

As I sit here wrapped up in my cozy felt blanket on my cozy blue couch, a tremendous storm is taking place outside. A dense fog obscures the mountains, and I am unable to catch a glimpse of the usually stunning volcano just across the valley. A bolt of lightning crashes nearby, probably closer than I'd like to know. A huge thunderclap shakes the house like a small earthquake. The rain pours down in sheets.

I do not know what to write. Sometimes this happens to me, when I least expect it. It's a common occurence among us writers. We find ourselves stumbling against a roadblock, unsure of how to bypass it, and not knowing in the first place just what lay ahead. It's funny, because people think that writers simply always know what to write, as if we could just pull words out of our rear ends and end up with a literary masterpiece. "Every writer I know has trouble writing," according to Joseph Heller. These words could not be more true.

However, I find that with this blog I can unmask myself, yell back at the thunder telling me to stay indoors. With my words and my mind, I can go anywhere, create anything. There could not be anything more beautiful or exciting than that. I don't fear writing here, and I don't fear criticism. What I fear is that one day, I will sit down, and nothing will come out. Not even "I don't know what to write." The fear that one day my thoughts and ability to portray them will shrivel up like a burnt leaf terrifies me; for without these, I am nothing. I would have no outlet, no true communication in this world.

I first knew I was a writer for life when I first held a pen in my hand, first heard a story at bedtime (and could understand it), when I learned to read. I knew it when I found myself having internal dialogues; only they weren't normal internal dialogues, like offering myself encouragement or pushing myself to the brink. I described things. I would see a bookshelf and think, "The tall dark bookshelf was filled to its edges with books of all shapes, sizes, colors and subjects." When I looked across the marsh in Georgia and painted a picture of it with words.

I don't plan on being a full-time novelist or anything like that. Too unsteady, not enough security for me. I need comfort, a zone in which I feel safe. And unfortunately, I feel that my writing wouldn't bring me the income that J.K. Rowling has gotten from Harry Potter. (Unfortunately I am not original or creative enough to come up with any stories like that...) So looks like I am having to find something else that peaks my interest as much as writing, and which I might actually be able to make a living out of.

International business? Foreign relations? Foreign languages?

We shall see.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tea and Texting

I recently found out some incredibly awful news. No, it's not as life-changing and traumatic as some things, but nevertheless I have learned a terrible lesson: Never text message overseas. You will most certainly rack up a $500 bill.

I know, I know. Stupid of me. Shouldn't I have known there was an international fee? Well, um.... oops?

Mom yelled at me about it at first, shrieking, "I told you! I told you!" (Which, by the way, she did not.) Dad looked at me with a disappointed air, and I hung my head in shame, my eyes wide open with shock, and my lips trembling. Slightly dramatic, but I was quite surprised. And ashamed I was, for truthfully, we simply can't afford $500. Especially not on a phone bill.

So now, I am working to pay it back. Not exactly an easy thing to do when you are not technically allowed to get a job in this country, or when you know that in a few weeks you will be back in boarding school with no opportunity to work there either. Online jobs work, but only if you can find flexible ones.

I think they should have online jobs for students. Someone should set up a website with opportunities for students, whether in high school or college, to not have to go out of there way to make money. I know I won't be able to work very much during the school year, as it will be my senior year and I'll be incredibly busy with college applications, a rigorous workload, and all the normal school things like heading clubs and completing community service requirements.

On a totally different note, I got stood up last night. Rather an awful experience for someone who, up until recently, had practically no self-confidence whatsoever. I was supposed to be home at 6:30 from my trip to the city with Mom, but we were an hour late. I thought it would be okay though, because he and I hadn't made any specific plans; we were going to figure it out when I got home.

Well, much to my surprise, instead of telling me what time would be all right to come over, he told me, "My ex moved back in."


Talk about a disappointment. It's too bad, because I really was starting to like him too. What I found all the more confusing was that he was really puzzled as to why I was being curt and cold with him. Will men never understand? Of course I attempted to explain to him, as he seemed very keen to know why I was so upset, that it really had been a crummy thing to do. In what I suppose what supposed to be a friendly attempt to comfort me, he said, "Well, you showed me how much fun a girl can be." Oh, thanks.

And on top of it all, he would not stop asking if we could still hang out. "Have tea and talk," he said. Talk about what? Oh well, I suppose I'll figure it out one day, the whole dating game. That's what it truly is: a game. If you know the works, have a strategy, a technique, you can win. Hmm... maybe I should work out a game plan. You never know until you try.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Art of Laughing at Oneself

When I was in middle school, I had changed a lot from the bubbly, sunny and vivacious child I had once been, the golden girl who made friends with everybody and had enormous birthday parties with pony rides and clowns. I had become a girl in the midst of the pre-teen "awkward stage" who hid behind her hair and clothes and took offense to any sort of prodding or nudging jokes made at my expense, including teasing from my friends.

Later I learned that you had to be able to laugh at yourself in order to move on with life and be a person people want to be around. Who wants to spend time with somebody you have to walk on egg shells with? My mother used to tell me all the time, "It's okay to laugh at yourself, and to admit that you're wrong. We all are sometimes, and we all deserve to be laughed at at times."

One of the ways to be a "people person" and to have people like to be around you is to make fun of yourself. It shows confidence, and the ability to do this is reassuring for people who may have a hard time laughing at their own mistakes or flaws. I learned this the hard way, taking offense every time someone called me a dumb blonde (to which I would retort that I was an intelligent blonde) or every time I was accused of stuffing my bra in the sixth grade (which, by the way, was all a rumor... really!)

So if you ever find someone pointing out your worst flaw or a mistake you once made, turn it into a joke, one that you initiate. It's a great way to build self-confidence, believe it or not. But what am I doing, sitting here writing this as if it were to be published in a self-help book. Who am I to presume that I have anything to teach at such a tender age? And yet, though I may be young, I do know much about the way of life and how the world works. I know what makes the world go round, and I know about the theory of utopia. Who doesn't want a perfect world? But that topic can be saved for another time...

P.S. I have been thinking of setting up a website offering my services as a proofreader/editor. Any comments or feedback on this idea?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Passing of a Loved One

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. It started out all right, but the evening was spent in misery, and contained some of the most difficult moments I've ever experienced when it comes to any of the pets that I've had.

Yesterday, we were forced to put my beloved friend Czarro, a 120-pound Akita, to sleep.

This is not the first time we've needed to do this, or had a pet die. When I was about 8 years old, we had another white Akita named Ali. I don't remember him very well, because he wasn't my greatest companion; he was my mothers'. They were soul mates, the two of them. The great 150-pound bear-resembling dog would allow her to get down on the floor with him and rest her head on him like a large pillow, and all he did was lick her hand and practically purr in contentment. But unfortunately, we found out that he had a spreading cancer, permeating his body. We had to let him go before he began to suffer.

Then when I was about 13, my wonderful cat DJ died. He was very sick as well, unable to eat or digest whatever food we managed to force-feed him. To put him out of his misery, my father put sleeping pills in his food, a large dose, and force-fed him, hoping that this time, he would be able to keep it down just long enough. Unfortunately, it didn't work. He threw up his food once again, but had kept it down long enough for it to be nigh impossible for him to walk. I remember laying him in my bed and curling up with him, watching tv and trying to keep him comfortable.

Then, when we moved to Panama almost 4 years ago with our two dogs, Crumpet, a mix of black Lab and German Shepherd, and Czarro, we experienced another tragedy. Crumpet was a very old dog, but would probably have lived for another year or so had she not been poisoned by a toad in the garden of our rental home. She was paralyzed. I know that now, but at the time I merely pushed her aside on her bed for being in the way of the door. I feel so much guilt when I think back on that moment when I nudged her with my foot and told her to move, not realizing that she couldn't. Later that day, she died in my parents' bedroom. My mom wouldn't let me in. She was crying. I remember going in after she was dead, hugging her still warm body and sobbing mercilessly. How could this happen? I'd had her since she was a small pup, and I was a mere 5 or 6 years old.
I remember the night when I got her, though rather hazily. I had been soundly asleep in my bed when my father came and woke me up. "We have a surprise for you downstairs honey, come on," he said. Looking forward to the surprise, but having a hard time waking up, I slowly followed my father downstairs to the kitchen, all the while rubbing my eyes open. There at the kitchen door my mother was crouched down next to a cardboard box, and out of the top of the box sprang a little black puppy, eagerly licking and gnawing everything in sight. I remember being so delighted, and she became my favorite dog. Her death was a real blow to me, especially at a time when I was already depressed about having moved to a new country.

Czarro had congestive heart failure. We didn't know that until yesterday, when an american vet we'd asked to take a look at him told us that he was in the "end stage." We decided it was too late to try and fix it; he needed to be put down before he was put through any misery. It was the right decision, I know it was. But that doesn't make it any less difficult. We tried to make it as comfortable and normal as possible for him; we put him outside on his chain, did our usual routine of feeding the birds. Then when the vet arrived with the medicine, my mother and I sat down next to him and petted him, rubbed him, spoke to him... anything to prevent him from being afraid. For a while I held the flashlight for the vet, because by that time it was dusk and there wasn't much light, but I wanted to hold Czarro and be with him, and besides, my hands had started shaking. When the vet inserted the needle into his vein, it was all right at first, but then the vein collapsed, so he was forced to use the other leg. Poor Czarro. I just hope he didn't know what was going to happen. Mom kept murmuring in a soothing tone, "It's okay, baby, it's okay, after this we're going to have lots and lots of walkies and tummy rubs, it's okay..." After having gotten it right the second time, the vet set Czarro down on his side as he was becoming limp, and checked his heartbeat. All the while, mom and I stroked him and hugged him and kissed him. And then.... "He's at peace now."

I'm glad he is. Truly I am. But I miss him so much. He was a constant presence, a member of the family. It was just so sudden... these things usually are, aren't they?

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I don't hate Panama. Really, I don't. I've lived here for almost 4 years now (though most of that time has been spent at school) and I think I've gotten used to it. For the most part, anyway.

When we first came to Panama, I was 13 years old, leaving everything I'd ever known and heading towards a new life. The unknown void was filled with new and challenging things, like learning a new language and meeting new people (something I was not the best at). And what did I know of the world? I knew a bit about pain; the pain of losing someone, be it a cat, a dog, a friend or a family member. I knew about physical pain, such as what it feels like to have one's arm or toe broken.

I didn't, however, know what it was like to live in constant discomfort. I had never seen poverty. I didn't know what to do with it when I did. Instead of looking at the world around me and observing what was there, I withdrew into myself and focused on my own personal pain. (Which, looking back, was petty compared to what pain there is in the world.)

I missed my friends; I missed my pool; I missed my house; I missed my school. I missed the park behind my house, and the malls back home. The one thing I didn't miss was schoolwork. Supposedly, I was being homeschooled by my parents... this consisted of several weeks of waking up at 9 AM, showering and eating, and then writing a book report. Occasionally, my father (a retired surgeon) taught me biology. Neither of these activities lasted long (and believe me, I didn't complain!)

However, instead of embracing my new life, I set myself in a rage against it. Had I not done this, I imagine I wouldn't have been so unhappy. As it is, I dug myself deeper and deeper into the hole of depression, which is very difficult to climb out of. "Why should I leave the house when I know I hate everything outside it?" I would think to myself. Foolish, I know. Childish, too.

Sometimes I like looking back and seeing who I was and how I've progressed since then... I ask myself, "How have I changed?" and "How am I the same?" I think it's a good thing for people to do at any point in their life; it can provide strength by knowing that you've faced the forces and whirlwinds and made it through them. Or it can show you what you need to work on in the constant quest to develop yourself.

For myself, I know I need to work on my confidence level. One's self-image is more important than people realize. It affects so many aspects of life, like your relationships with people or your performance in anything you do. It affects how people see you and relate to you.

I've improved in that area though. Looking back just a few years, I see a completely different person in that respect: a girl who did not know her place in the world or why she should even have one. Today, I am a woman who knows that she will find her place eventually, and for now needs to just sit tight, work hard and enjoy life.

I think that journey and its outcome are something to be proud of.

These made me happy =]

I absolutely love (a traffic-producing program). I have found a whole bunch of great sites by browsing through their members, which is how you gain traffic anway, and I decided to share some of the cool little nooks on the web that I spotted; hopefully you'll enjoy them just as much as I did!


The Cookie Crumbs Unique Boutique has cute bags, jewelry, candles, natural soaps... all the things I love.

lieblingdesigns has great handcrafted jewelry in all kinds of styles. Check it out!

Soul-Flower. Great hippie type clothing, and even if that's not your style, you're sure to find a tank or two that you must have!

Shop_23. Cool t-shirt designs and logos.

Two Coconut Swimwear. Adorable bathing suits! Mix & match bikinis, custom made, etc.

JennJenn's Closet has tons of brand names for cheaper resale prices. Great quality!

Ady's Attic is similar to above, except that there are more clothes, more accessories, and tons of other stuff! Books, movies, toys, shoes... you name it, Ady has it!


My Mineral Girlz. I love, love, LOVE this site. Being a makeup addict, I took one look at the site and thought, "Home" with a contented sigh. (At least, in my head...) Besides being able to buy makeup, you can also buy jewelry and create your own body lotions and products!!!. I have to say, I fell in love.

Healthy Life is a great blog that is updated every day with tips on how to stay healthy. Great for anyone who wants to live a nice, long life! And don't we all? (well... i'll post on that later)

Good Reads

Read Write React: a blog touching base with the main political issues out there. A must-read to anyone who wants to know what's going on in the world.

Dreamwalker's World: a freelance writer / English teacher's blog. Daily life encounters and events. Good writing.

Go Into the Story: A blog reflecting on screenwriting, television, movies, Hollywood, and everything in that venue of the entertainment world. The blogger is a screenwriter.

On another note, for those of you who read my post on (Lil) Green Patch, I've now saved a total of 10 sq ft of rainforest. Whoopee!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Old Man's Lightning

We all know the song: "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring..."

More like drooling all over my town. This rain is incessant, repetitive, monotone. It feels like the clouds have been holding onto all the pressure and limitations I've been under, and the sky has decided to release its hold and let it shower down upon me. Is it a coincidence that I have to start filling out college applications? I think not. That I am constantly studying to improve my math SAT by 100 points? I don't think so.

The lightnings seem to me to be my brief moments of clarity; those few seconds where I know I need to crack down on everything and pull myself together. And then in an instant, it's gone. It's only a brief flash in my mind, imprinted on my memory, but I am no longer sure it was there.

The thunder, you may ask? What's that in this strange analogy of mine? Well my friend, that's me, grumbling at myself for not holding on to that moment of clarity for maybe just one second longer. And for refusing to fuel myself to do what I know I must, all in the name of laziness. That's right... I'm just plain lazy. Give me something interesting to do, a new place to go, a lunch date, and I'll jump at the opportunity... but without plans, I am practically useless. At least when I'm tired. Which I always seem to be nowadays.

I know this is a bunch of crazy rambling from what may seem like just a whiny teenager, but I can promise you that if you spent too much time in such a lethargic environment as I have this summer, you'd be feeling the same way. Remember: it can happen to anybody.

"Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear." - Anonymous
"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning."- James Dickey

My (Lil) Green Patch

For all you Facebook users out there, I have recently become addicted to the (Lil) Green Patch application. It's an application that lets users save a certain amount of square feet of rainforest simply by sending and receiving "plants" from other users. In just three days, I've saved 8 sq ft; talk about feeling good about yourself!

The authors of the application get private funding from sponsors, and to date the application has led to the preservation of 38,886,327 Square feet of rainforest. The graphics are adorable and the results wonderful for the ecology; what more do you need?

On the same note, another great site is Free Rice [dot] com. Test your vocabulary (great for the SAT!) and for every question you get right, you donate grains of rice. It's funded by a branch of the UN, the UN World Food Program. 1 word right amounts to 20 grains of rice, while 5 words is 100 grains of rice. The more you play, the more you donate and take a step toward ending world hunger.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beauty is Pain...

... Or at least, it used to be! For all you young fashionistas and makeup lovers out there, things are getting a lot easier on us. In the mood for a little DIY project that will brighten your day and your skin? Want to find some great deals on your favorite clothing brands? Check out these great sites!

Shop It To Me: Sign up and this great site will email you deals and markdowns on your favorite brands and stores; you choose how often, and you choose the names!

My Beauty Recipes: This site is chock full of great recipes for things like body scrubs and homemade facials.

iVillage: iVillage has great fashion and beauty tips, along with tons of other entertaining topics. Not sure what to do to keep your summer skin radiant? Want to know if short shorts are in or out? iVillage has the answers!

BlueFly: BlueFly is great for those of us who like finding great bargains. With tons of clothing and accessories from your favorite names (Diane von Furstenberg anyone?) marked down by at least 40%, who can say no??

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Fork in the Road

Everyone's different. (Okay, okay, I know that's a cliche phrase. But you'll see where I'm going with this.) Some people know what they want to be or what they want to do the second they come out of the womb. These people make it their life's goal to fulfill that dream, to be successful at it.

Then, there are people like me. People who are interested in a lot of things, but don't quite know which one to choose to become the sole focus of their career, let alone any other aspect of their life. How do people decide what they want to do? I suppose I'm simply indecisive, but I have so many interests that I feel like I would be happy doing any of them for a living. Of course, my interests don't make very easy careers, but nevertheless, the whole ordeal is frustrating.

When you're at that crossroads in your life where any decision you make affects the outcome of your future, most people find it wise to tread cautiously, while others take the leap and choose a path. Me? I'm lingering on the green light. (Thank god no one's in my lane.) There are so many options in front of me, so many roads. And I can't pick one. What if I choose the wrong one and end up like so many others, unhappy and regretting their past decisions? I guess it's like ripping off a band-aid, or jumping into a freezing pool. You just have to jump in and hope you made the right choice. You can't stay sitting on the edge forever, and if you do, you're no better off than if you'd taken a poor path.

I know this sounds like philosophical preaching or the stuff you get out of self-help books and parental lectures. But it's true. That's what people tend not to understand: the ramblings in those books? True. The lectures from your parents? True. The people writing the books made choices, have experiences, and have made it their mission to study human nature and help people out with what they find. And your parents? They've been there, done that. They know all about making decisions and what it's like to hesitate. They've been in that position, where they have to take a leap of faith. And it's not easy. For people like me, it's not easy at all. It doesn't help that I can let alone decide what to order at a restaurant with a large menu, let alone plan out my future.

I guess I'm just going to have to rip off that bandaid, and deal with the immediate pain and be glad for the eventual relief. Maybe it won't be so hard when I finally jump into the ice-cold water.