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Me with Sapphire in Feb 2013.  Photo by Nancy Livingston

Me with Sapphire in Feb 2013. Photo by Nancy Livingston

One of the most wonderful things about life is the pleasant surprises.  When I started writing for The Century TimesI never dreamed of the extraordinary opportunities that would come my way.  One of those opportunities came when I volunteered to cover Sapphire‘s  visit to Century College.  For those that may not know, Sapphire is the author of Push, which the movie, “Precious” was based on, and more recently, The Kid.  

I couldn’t help but think of what a wonderful experience I was about to embark upon!  When would a college student such as myself get another chance to interview a New York Times National Bestselling Author????  My goal is to have success as a writer, to give others a voice in order to help them, and to be on bookshelves throughout the world.  I couldn’t believe I was going to be able talk to her, as a writer, almost as if we were peers, and gain knowledge from someone who has achieved some of their dreams with their writing.

The event was amazing.  I cannot express in mere words what it was like to listen to Sapphire speak.   It was powerful, riveting, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  She started out reading a couple of Jayne Cortez poems.  I had never heard of Jayne Cortez until that day, but I was so moved by her poetry that I have begun to read much more of her work!

She also discussed things most people do not have the courage to talk about.  Things such as child molestation, prison rape, physical abuse, domestic abuse, verbal abuse, sexuality, and HIV.  She told the audience that it was her job as an artist to “refuse to look away.”  Sapphire also acknowledged that her work is harsh, difficult to read, and intense, but she also states that she is “not here to make you feel good.”  She adds humor by saying, “I’m not your massage therapist.”

I learned a lot from attending the event.   She inspired me.  She mentioned that the purpose of her books is to get people to sit up and take action.  It worked.  I have vowed to use my writing for giving others a voice, no matter whose it is or where it comes from.  My writing will not always be “fluff.”  It is my job as a writer and as a human being who cares about others to use my words to help others, to spur others into action.

Next time you read something that appalls you, ask yourself why.  You might be amazed at what you come up with.

My interview with Sapphire was more than I could have asked for.  She was so wonderful and easy to talk to, she was down to earth, and she had a very formidable presence at times.  By formidable, I mean that she had this powerful energy; it draws you in, it makes you want to hear more.  I was in awe of her.  I asked her questions that I was hoping she hadn’t been asked a million times.  We spent about 10 minutes talking and it flowed very well.  I appreciated her candor and the fact that she took time out of her schedule (I know they had her on a tight one!) to answer my questions fully and genuinely.

At the end of my experience, I came away with so much more than I could have ever thought possible.  I learned so much from my time spent at the event and interviewing Sapphire.  It’s something I will take with me for many years to come and I hope others were equally inspired by her visit!

If you are interested in checking out the article I wrote about the event, you can click on this link:

Saving our Newspaper

Image by Renee Cortez

Image by Renee Cortez

Being on my college newspaper has meant more to me than I could have ever imagined.  When I first signed up for the course, I knew it would be fun to write for the newspaper and hone some of my writing skills, but I never would have guessed the kinds of doors it would open for me, not only as a student, but a future writer!  I have been promoted to Art Director of the newspaper within a short period of time, I have met amazing people, I have learned how to interview, and I have found ways to network for my future using the skills taught within the newspaper curriculum.

Today I help fight for a good cause.  We could possibly lose funding for our beloved newspaper.  In effect, all of the students and faculty will lose their voice.  What kind of message does the college want to send if they remove funding and take that voice away???

I cherish the friendships, working relationships, and connections I have built while working on the paper.  It has been a learning experience far beyond anything I could have thought possible.  I fight with my fellow staff members today not only for us, but for future writers who would benefit from being on the newspaper staff.

Thank you to family, friends, staff and students who have supported us thus far.  We couldn’t have done it without you!


Century Times Staff 2013Image by Jorge Vargas

Century Times Staff 2013
Image by Jorge Vargas

I am acting as current Art Director for a college newspaper, The Century Times.  We are currently in danger of losing our funding, and in effect, the school as a whole will lose its voice.  We need all the help we can get from our readers!  Please check out the article below, written by our Editor in Chief, Matthew Hoemke.  It has a lot of good information, including how a person can pitch in and help if they would like!  Any support would mean so much to us and future generations of writers who would benefit from this Journalism program!

Also… you can check out their Facebook page!

Image found at

Mary Tyler Moore Statue which can be found on the Nicollet Mall, Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Image found at

That is not an exaggeration!  I am feeling like the girl who “could turn the world on with her smile,” as of late.  Last week was an amazing whirlwhind of promotion to Art Director of the school newspaper, Spring Play auditions, an interview with a New York Times National Best Selling Author, and many newspaper deadlines and events to cover.  School and career are finally taking off!  I am feeling so very fortunate and I am frequently tempted to pinch myself just to make sure it’s all real!

This week, I found out I got a part, a much better one than I had thought possible, in my school’s Spring Play.  I am over the  moon with excitement.  I haven’t been in a play since I performed The King and I with the Saint Paul Opera Workshop when I was 12.  I have sung on a stage since then, but not acted.  I am so very, very grateful to have the opportunity to learn more from this new experience, to soak in all the information I can from the Director and my peers, and to just have a blast while doing it!

Today I will be participating in a Student Success Day panel showcasing my Honors Project on Anne Boleyn.  I am so thrilled to be asked to do this and I can’t wait to show off my work!  I loved the Anne Boleyn project and am so proud that my British Literature professor recommended me!

Going to travel to Madison, Wisconsin for the very first time right after the Student Success Day panel.  I plan to take a lot of pictures to practice my photography skills for the newspaper.

I just feel like I can’t stop smiling.  I never in a million years thought that when I started school after 20 years and having never been to college that I could do all of these things.  I knew I loved to write.   That was it.  Now… so many changes, so much richness has been added to my life and I feel it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I’m not looking back.  I am moving forward full steam ahead!!!!!!

School, school, school!!!!

bring it

Image found via Google Search

Today I start my fourth semester at Century College.  SO MUCH has happened since starting school in Fall 2011!!!!!  I received an Honors grade in my British Literature class, tutored for a semester as a Peer Tutor, met some INCREDIBLE people with whom I still stay in touch with, talk, get together for lunch, etc, and last semester I became Online Editor for The Century Times Newspaper.  I am returning today as Online Editor for the Newspaper, which I find extremely exciting, and I have also been asked to be a part of a Student Success Day panel to give a presentation on the Honors project I completed for my British Lit class.  So much to look forward to this semester!  I can also say that I am so very excited to be trying out for Mary Zimmerman‘s adaption of the play, Metamorphoses as well!

Going back to school has been the best decision I have ever made.  The only problem?  Wishing Century was a four year instead of a two year college!  I am getting so comfortable there, having such a blast getting to know everyone that I don’t want to leave next year!  I discovered that I after this semester, I won’t have much time left at Century…. time to start thinking about where to get my Bachelor’s Degree!!!!!!!  Another adventure I am VERY much looking forward to!

So, to get the Spring Semester started off right… I have a question for all of you….. what is your favorite college memory… or what is the best thing that has happened to you since starting college?  Please feel free to comment below!  Have a great day!

I don’t often write about personal things on this blog, and I have decided it’s time I changed that.  After all, it IS my blog, and I have decided I’m going to write more about any damn thing I want, instead of things I think others might want to read about.  I love to take pictures to commemorate the small but wonderful moments in life with family and friends, and I have decided to include those more as well.  To kick off this new little “decision,” I have decided to post my highlights of 2011 in pictures.  All pictures belong to me unless stated otherwise.  Enjoy!


My friend Troy made these beautiful luminaries for New Years and I got some pretty decent pics of them with my hokey little camera!


The hubby and I had a super fun fondue party for Valentine’s Day with a few close friends!

MARCH 2011

In March, I performed a wedding for a couple from North Dakota.  Hubby and I had a fantastic time!

GOTTA have the Jameson!!!!!

APRIL 2011

In April, me, my hubby, and my son participated in the Fraser Walk for Autism at the Mall of America.  My nephew, Luca has Autism and we wanted to show our support for an organization that has helped many, many children with Autism and families of children with Autism.  You can learn more about Fraser here:  It was really well done and a lot of fun!    I plan to participate again this year!

MAY 2011

My hubby and I attended a Toga themed party.  It was a blast!

I also performed a wedding for two friends on May Day in Duluth, MN.  It was cold, but beautiful!

Also in May was Easter.  Time with family!

My son and my niece

May was a SUPER busy month!  I went to a “Facebook Mom’s Night Out” with a bunch of friends from high school I hadn’t seen in forever!  It was an absolute blast!

Me and my friend, Amy.  Even though she’s giving me bunny ears, I still like this pic, LOL!

JUNE 2011

In June, I took my son to the Twin Cities Pride Parade for the first time.  I very firmly believe in equal rights for everyone.  EVERYONE.  I wanted to pass some of this on to my son in a fun, yet educational way.  He had a blast!

JULY 2011

In July, we went to Cumberland, WI to have a family reunion on my dad’s side of the family.  It was wonderful to see so much of our family all in one place and the weather was perfect!

Hubby shucking corn.  :)

My youngest sister Angie and her boyfriend, Tom.

My middle sister, Jennie with her best friend, Vanessa.

My son, about to take a whack at the pinata!

Dad, Mom, me, and my sisters

Of course, it’s not July without celebrating the 4th!  We went Downtown, Stillwater to watch the fireworks!


Unfortunately, the laptop I purchased in April of 2011 ended up with a failed hard disk in the middle of September.  Consequently, I lost all photos from August 2011, photos of a wedding I performed for a friend from high school, and photos of my son’s birthday.  I was sad to lose them.  :(


Procrastination paid off a little in September because I didn’t upload a lot of the pics from that month right away, so they were not lost with the others from the failed hard disk fiasco.  Hubby and I took our kiddo to the Renaissance Festival as we do every year and we had a blast!

In September, I caught a fun moment with three of my friends at a going away party for one of them.  I love these ladies!

Me and my friend Emily

Last but not least, in September I also had the honor of being personal attendant for a wedding for a wonderful couple!


In October, me, hubby and kiddo went to my aunt’s retirement party.  It was nice to see family, as it always is, and it was the last time I got to see my Uncle Sal alive and kicking.  I will forever cherish that.

My great aunts!


More cousins!

I love October… it’s the month I married my husband and there’s also Halloween!  My favorite holiday!

My favorite boys carving pumpkins!

My gruesome zombie kid!

The Red Queen and Mad Hatter!

Me and my sisters


November really didn’t have many events, but I did manage to take quite a few random photos with friends and family.

Our fur babies, Lily and Asher

Hubby and Lily

Love my purple streaks!

Ready for a night out!


December flew by faster than I could keep up with, which is what usually happens.  First thing I got pics of was a Christmas celebration for my dad’s side of the family.

My dad, his brother, and two sisters

Me and my cousin Frankie who is like a brother to me

And of course, there were a lot more Christmas celebrations, and a lot more pics!

We had Hot Dagos for Christmas with my Dad’s super awesome sauce!

My mom’s Bruschetta

Panzanella Salad

Mom and Dad in the kitchen

The tree at my parents’ house

My dad’s sauce! YUM!


Lily loves to curl up on Hubby’s jacket :)

Some nice family pics  :)

Christmas at my sister in law’s house

This past year has been a very good one for me.  Lots of changes, lots of tough decisions.  One thing I didn’t portray in pictures is my biggest decision of the year; to go back to school after twenty years.  It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made!!!!!  I am very happy with the way things are at present and am looking forward to seeing what 2012 will hold for me, my family, and my friends.  I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!  May 2012 bring everyone extraordinarily wonderful adventures!

Check out my post on Sir Thomas Wyatt here:

Thankful Reflections….

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, I have been thinking about the things I am most grateful for throughout my morning.  My life in just the past six months has completely turned around in the most positive ways.  There is so much more to life for me now and I can’t help but smile about it and try to hold on to that feeling for as long as possible.

Here are the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving 2011:

1.  First and foremost, FAMILY.  They are always my first priority and I love my family through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  They are my rock, my reason for striving for better in life.  This includes my extended family as well.  I feel that I on both my mom’s side and my dad’s side we are a very close, tightly knit family unit.  We always have each other’s backs and that is a pleasantly rare thing.

2.  Second, I am grateful for my FRIENDS.  Like my family, my friends are always there for me and have my back.  There are a small handful that I could not ever do without.  My sista from anotha mutha, the Princess, the Monkey, Ms. Blekum, X and T, DL and his wonderful girl, and then there’s our “alternate family” friends as a whole group.  They are so much more than my hubby and I could ever ask for!  I love you guys, and if I don’t say it enough, I will rectify that!  I appreciate all of you for the unique, fantastic, fabulous, beautiful people you are and I am so thankful to have you all in my life in one way or another.

3.  Third, I am grateful for MY JOB.  I absolutely 100% feel as though I have finally found a place to work where I can have fun, I fit in, and it’s so perfect in so many ways, one of them being that it is SUPER close to home!!!  Who can complain with a commute like that, right?  I have awesome co-workers and I absolutely LOVE what I’m doing!   YAY for being employed in a still iffy economy as well!!!!

4.  Last but most certainly NOT least, I am grateful for SCHOOL.  Going back to school after twenty years was scary as hell.  I was worried that I was too stupid to do well.  I worried that I would cave and not finish, that I wouldn’t like the classes, that I wouldn’t be able to do all of the homework.  I am delighted to say that I was SO WRONG!!!!!!!  School has opened up an entirely new world to me and also has shown me just how much I am capable of.  If my sister, Jennie wouldn’t have bugged me to get off my ass and try, I would never have taken the steps to do it.  Thanks, Jen, Jen!!!!!!!  I’m loving school and so happy I took the chance!!!!!!

So there is my short list.  There are a lot more things I am grateful for, but we would be here forever, lol!!!

Today when you are all out doing your various visiting, cooking, eating, drinking… whatever other activities that strike your fancy, really take a moment to stop and truly SEE the wonderful things in your life.  It makes it so much more worth living!!!!!!!

Have a very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Image from

***Warning:  This post contains spoilers.

Wow.  What an episode last night!  Sutter has been powerfully jamming so much content into an hour’s span of time, it’s almost been tough to keep up!  But, it has also kept his fans engaged and perpetually on the edge of their seats.  The most intense feeling I got from this episode from the very beginning is that something is off.  Ever since season three’s finale last year, I have been hesitant to take anything at face value.  I underestimated Jax’s talent for Machiavellian moves.  I am not making the same mistake this season.  In this respect, everything starts to turn into a giant mind fuck.  The only question is, who is going to be dishing it out and who is going to be taking it?

Things with the cartel are getting far too out of hand, we all knew that.  How are the boys going to get themselves out of that mess?  It has been a question which has plagued my mind since the club voted in the drugs.  When the IRA wanted nothing to do with the cartel, maybe that should have been their first clue????

Then we have the issue of Juice, the sheriff and Lincoln Potter.  What the hell is going on with that?  He had no reason to play the rat anymore!  Why is he caving?  In relation to Potter…. I’m dying to see what comes of Bobby.  I feel like there should be some hidden meanings we should be seeing in these turns of events, however, it’s boggling to try to understand the way Kurt Sutter’s mind works at any given point in time.  And I LOVE that!!!!!

The whole issue of Jax’s ex wife Wendy coming back into the picture to be an irritating pain in everyone’s ass is something I really could have done without, but I’m sure that is why Sutter chose to throw her in there.  Wendy had to reappear at some point, as her storyline never really ended.  It’s just logical that she would come back to Charming.

Poor Opie.  He’s officially cracked, and with more than good reason.  The way I can see things is Gemma sort of orchestrated and is still orchestrating events that are occurring and will continue to occur.  Gemma is the matriarch, the Lioness protecting her den, even if what she is doing is a bit twisted at times to those of us on the outside looking in.  For instance, what did she mean by the fact that she was “protecting what it took twenty God damned years to build.”  That could mean quite a few things…. any guesses?

The whole Bobby and Otto thing was just weird.  I can’t help but feeling things are not what they seem and I’m hoping there is a very good reason (other than what might be the obvious) that Otto gave up intel on the Sons.  Did Otto really want revenge on Bobby?  Or is there an underlying scheme here?  What the hell???? In a way, it seemed like justice was served.  An eye for an eye, so to speak.  But is that all there is to the story?  We could look at it in the way that Otto really had nothing left to lose anymore.  He really didn’t.

The “baby factory” element was just stupid.  I’m hoping it has some higher meaning, because it just made no sense why Sutter chose to stick that in the middle of the episode.  The main thing I got from this part was that the IRA is now thinking Jax is a loose cannon which may come back to bite him.

Clay meeting with Tara was really nerve wracking.  I couldn’t tell what he was going to do, if anything, but the set of balls on that man is just uncanny.  He is so full of shit and arrogance.  He’s never honest and has proven time and again that he is only out for his benefit and his alone.  I love the sort of “Godfather” reference when Gemma kisses him and tells him she loves him. It felt like she was issuing Clay a death sentence.  And I think he knew it.

I wanna know what kind of “truth” Gemma could tell Tara or Jax.  The “buckets” of it!  Let’s have it, woman!!!!!  I can’t wait to find out what she’s got up her sleeve!!!!

I’m sad that Jax and Opie had the confrontation they did, but it was one of those things that was going to happen eventually.   I can’t believe Jax stood up for Clay.  Yes, he has a duty, but Clay is not doing anyone in the club any good.  Opie had a perfect right to feel what he did.  It was sad when Opie threw Piney’s cut into the fire.  :(

I love that Opie wanted to kill Clay while he was at the gavel.  Nice touch, Ope.  I was truly disgusted but not surprised that Clay still tried to lie his way out of it and then had the balls to call Donna’s death “ancient history.”  What an ass.  I will admit, I cheered when Opie shot Clay.  I was pissed as hell it stopped right at that moment, but what do we expect, right?  Now we are left with this ugly feeling.  Bobby is thrown in the clink, Juice is hiding out in the cell next door to him, Tara sits at home, still in danger and in a daze from all that has happened, and Opie shoots Clay despite Jax’s efforts to prevent it.  BUT, is Clay dead?????  That is the real question we want answered.  Too bad it’s going to take a whole week to find out!!!!

Picture from George Stuart's Gallery of Historical Figures


It’s been quite a while since I have written anything, so I felt it was high time I did something to change that fact.  This past Fall, I made a life changing decision to go back to school with a focus on my writing and have been enjoying it immensely.  One of the classes I am taking is British Literature.  Can we say, “No brainer?”  I love the class just as much as I thought I would.

My professor talked to the entire class about an Honors Project which is purely optional, but I was immediately intrigued.  After obtaining more information about the requirements, I decided to go for it and my topic would be…. what else?  Anne Boleyn!!!!!!  Keep this in mind:  I had not went on to college after high school, nor have I set foot in a classroom in about 20 years.  I knew I was striving for a lot when I agreed to try for an honors grade in British Literature, but I was confident I would be able to handle it.

As it turns out, the project was just what I needed to validate my feelings towards my skills as a writer, a researcher, and a presenter.  My best friend helped me with the artsy fartsy part of my project, and helped me to create an amazing Power Point presentation, but the rest was ALL ME.

My obsession with England’s most controversial Queen Consort paid off in a big way and all the years I had spent researching the history of her life helped tremendously when putting words to paper.

My professor loved my presentation!!!  He told me it was very well done!  When I later asked him about my chance of getting the Honors part of the grade, he let me know that I have it!!!!  :)  It’s so exciting!!!!

I have decided to post a few excerpts from my honors research paper during the next few weeks.  I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!


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