New Travel Blog!

Hey Sort by Genre followers! If you like travel writing and photography check out my newest blog: thedamselindiscovery.com!

I will be saying goodbye to Sort by Genre soon because it’s content is very dated. Please follow the new blog to see my current writing. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you soon at The Damsel in Discovery!

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Another Tale of the Sacramento Woman’s March

Until last Saturday, I took living in the Capitol of California for granted. As people from all walks of life collected in front of the familiar white building I grew up with- the one I associated with prom pictures and senior portraits-I felt a swell of pride as I recognized the political importance of my hometown. Being at the Woman’s march among sign bearers, pink cat-hatted women, and people with passion was an awe-inspiring experience. Even as a simple spectator, I felt like I was part of something greater, a witness to torrential storm of people ready to take action in the name of woman’s rights.

However, the greater message of the March transcended woman’s rights, serving to communicate that we must not lie dormant if we want to see change. Sitting at home and yelling at the TV screen is not going to quell the injustice we see. It is our freedom as Americans to be able to stand up and protest peacefully, run for offices, and organize together. So why don’t we?

The country wide marches are a step in the right direction for those who are serious about getting their voices heard. Isn’t it more fulfilling to be a part of creating change, rather than standing idle by, frowning at our screens?


 
I couldn’t help but document the day in photos…

Did you chose writing, or did it chose you?

I’ve had an intense relationship with the writing process for as long as I can remember. I recall going on play dates as a little girl and suggesting to my friends that we write a book instead of play with Barbies. Sadly, as you can imagine, Barbies won every time. Lately though, I have become obsessive about writing, to the point of considering dedicating all my education resources to the craft.

In attempt to solve my quarter-life college induced major re-thinking crisis I began reviewing the list of degrees offered at San Francisco State University. The “Technical and Professional Writing” BA caught my eye, sending me on an hour long Googling session about what a career in Technical writing would actually entail (in a later post I will present my findings).

Along the way, I found a blog called I’d Rather Be Writing, authored by a practicing technical writer which led me to a post titled “Writing as a Holy Calling.”

The notion of the “holy calling” suggests that writing is less of a hobby and more of an unavoidable calling for some individuals. Although there are more talented, seasoned, intuitive writers than I, I consider myself to be one of those people writing has called upon. It is not an activity I want to do, but rather it is something I have to do. It consumes my thoughts to the point where if I have a bad or traumatic experience, there is a little voice in the back of my head that says, “it’s okay, at least you’ll have something new to journal about!”

Like many folks who enjoy writing, I often find myself writing in my head during the day, flipping through my mental book of adjectives to find the perfect words to describe my surroundings. Every overheard conversation is a dialogue opportunity-an idea from which to build. This habit and thought process is the reason I believe writing chose me. I didn’t consciously make it a hobby, but I know at this point, I won’t feel satisfied with my week until I word purge on paper (or digital paper). When I read, I get distracted from the plot because I am focused on how strong of an urge I have to write and I tell myself the only way I’m going to be able to improve my writing skills is to read. Thus begins a vicious cycle of writing, reading, and getting overwhelmed with writing and reading.

If this sounds like you, then writing might be less of a hobby and more of a call you have no choice but to answer. Consider yourself whipped.

Whatever “holy calling” pushes me to write has been there for longer than I would care to admit. Perhaps, I haven’t wanted to accept it until now, because I never thought the compulsion could carry any weight in selecting my future career. However, the more I research, the more I realize that writing provides for other career opportunities outside of bestselling novel composition worth exploring.

If you think that writing chose you too, I encourage you to accept your need to create as many of the wonderful word puzzles that are sentences as you can. Don’t dismiss the idea that your inner author can potentially walk you down a fulfilling career path. Use the call of pen and paper to your advantage.

Did you chose writing, or did it chose you? 

Why Melissa Broder and Everyone on Twitter is “SO SAD TODAY.”

When it comes to internet references, Twitter, or current events in general I’m just about as good as Patrick Star living under his rock. I do thankfully know that Donald Trump is now president-a confusing reality making many Americans very sad, but enough people in the blogisphere are typing away on the subject of his orange hair, which leaves me room to discuss another reason why people on the internet are feeling hopeless.

Twitter account so sad today run by Melissa Broder is followed by 430k  humans who are either sad themselves or really like looking at another human’s sad Tweets to feel better about themselves. Either way, they are already sad. Why do they want to torture themselves with more painful thoughts?

I asked myself that same question when Barnes and Noble was having a buy 2 get one free sale and out of all the gleaming novels perfumed with new book smell, I decided to go for the collection of essays called “SO SAD TODAY” by Broder in all caps. I didn’t know it was by a well known Twitter figure until after I read it. Maybe I picked it because I felt like its type was yelling at me, as if it was saddened to the point of crying for help in a bookstore. Let’s go with that, because the thought of me rescuing a poor sad novel is far less sad than the thought of me trying to save my sad self through relatable literature.

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From Melissa Broder’s Account @sosadtoday.

From the moment I peeled back the cover, I knew I dove into something dark. “So Sad Today” is a colloquial novel designed with the modern internet addicted, sexting community in mind. It is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable books I have read, as there is literally a chapter transcribing a series of open relationship sexts, that concludes with a commitment to monogamy, and is followed by more exploration of anxiety. But don’t worry! Before you fear you won’t be sufficiently sad, the book throws in drug addiction, body image issues, far too real illness, and those existential questions that give us all migraines.

This book will give you anxiety. If you already have anxiety, it will give you more anxiety, but Broder’s dark humor happens to ease you mind just enough to get you through it. A part of me wanted terribly to stop reading it, because it felt like the embodiment of everything people assumed to be wrong with Millennials. Then I somehow got to page 125 and resolved to commit.

While “So Sad Today” might not be the happiest read, there is a merit to such a series of essays which stems from its modern shape. It is clearly influenced by today’s digital culture and Internet jargon and for this, it is important. Melissa Broder’s collection shows the shifting of what it means to write (and read) an enjoyable essay in 2017.

 

 

On writing and rewriting and re(you guessed it)writing.

A couple months after starting college I began writing a book- a book I told no one about because it is, at present, a sorry seven pages of rubbish. I had just enrolled in a creative writing class when I wrote those seven pages and little did I know I would end up telling that same story in a one line poem, a five page short fiction, a single act play, and ultimately a thirty page compilation to be turned in for credit.

You see, that seven page book I started to compose had already been drafted dozens of times and continued to be reworked until I was forced to end my war with it and accept the constraints of a dearewrite-1dline. I am still working (and will probably work perpetually) on getting that story  “right.” However, the principal lesson I learned from class was not about writing the perfect story, but rewriting a perfect revision.

I had never intentionally revised a piece before, so the thought of taking a lengthy story I felt was complete and smushing it into a tiny poem or scraping out the dialogue for a play not only seemed impossible, but flat out wrong. I was “married to my piece” as the professor put it. I didn’t want to change the rhymes in my poems or the characters in my short story because they were fine the way I had originally written them. Or so I thought.

The greatest thing I could have done for myself as a writer was open myself to genre fluidity. Pieces that I categorized as “fine” were just that: fine. They weren’t conveying the right emotion. They weren’t putting the emphasis on the right syllable. In the middle of writing this post I examined my seven pages of rubbish and exhumed from it a gem of a poem that I think is much more interesting than anything I wrote in those other paragraphs. Would I have found it if I didn’t revisit the story? If I didn’t allow my draft to be rewritten into a more satisfying morsel? No. Which is exactly why I now accept revision as part of the natural writing process and maybe even the most exciting part. It is like trying a mystery food with a blindfold on. You are convinced it it one taste, but then you open your eyes to find out its not what you expected. And maybe it’s your new favorite food.

So next time you feel like your draft is garbage or simply fine the way it is , think about how many forms it could possibly take, what flavors it could be, how it might surprise you if you gave it a chance. Then write, and rewrite, and rewrite.

 

My new life as a public transportation rider in training: a guide to making a smooth TRANSITition.

While some might curse the city, I was cursing myself for my inability to make it to Kaiser in under three hours. Let’s just say my San Francisco transit transition hasn’t been as fluid

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Cute old man I spotted reading a newspaper in Russian on the Muni.

as I had hoped. And my current grade in the class of life, for moving from point A to point B, gets a big fat D. Minus.

One of the things I love the most about the City is the efficient-ness of the Bart and Muni bus systems. Ditching my car was something I looked forward to, not having to worry about constantly being stuck in traffic or giving others rides. I felt free taking the bus on my own for the first time like I was finally a lone traveler, experiencing the world in a whole new way-even if I was close to home.

Yesterday, however, I felt less like a traveler and more like a trainee for a pathetic marathon as I raced up and down the hilly streets after fleeing buses, only to find out I was going in the opposite direction of my destination for a solid 20 minutes. Twice. By the time I reached Kaiser, my hair was windblown and matted, I was sweating like a pig, and I ended up in the Emergency room panicking at the sight of surgeons and wounded people on gurneys. All I wanted was to get a TB test so I could start my new job working at a preschool downtown. Rushing back down the hall of the emergency room, I knew I had to get out of there before I over-pondered my mortality. Naturally, the clinic was closed when I arrived, but some nice doctor ladies took pity on me and sent me over to get the injection. This whole fiasco could have been avoided if I hadn’t become so flustered after my 3 hour Muni trip failure. Since I have to go back again to get the test read, I figured I needed to shape up quickly, so I could steer clear of future marathons.

If you are new to San Francisco like I am and don’t have a car, I suggest you go out prepared unlike me who had to flail around to figure out these common rules. Here are a few uber basic things I learned:

1) Get a “Clipper Card” 

Don’t be that guy who carries around a bag of heavy quarters to pay the bus fare in exact change. It’s annoying and you block the door. Clipper cards are reloadable or you can buy a monthly pass. See https://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/muni/fares.do for more information.

2) Get a backpack and wear comfy shoes.

Forget about your favorite heels or cute purses. I was deeply attached to heeled shoes and fashionable bags when I got here, but as a bus rider, you are bound to do a lot of walking, bumping into people, and quick moves from Muni to Muni, so its just best to say you goodbyes now. Your feet will thank you and a solid pack is just easier by the end of the day.

3) Make sure you are going on bus 28 and NOT 28R. 

Some of the buses are only differentiated by a single letter, so be very careful as to not mistake 28 for 28R because they will take you to different locations.

4) Keep your phone charged.

Apps like “Metro San Francisco- Muni Bart” are great for figuring out when the next bus will arrive and are far more accurate than google maps. Or the bus stops have numbers you can dial to hear the schedules. “Citymapper” also has some great reviews and works well for navigating.

5) Don’t rely solely on your GPS.

GPS is great and wonderful and I don’t think I could survive without it, but it doesn’t always supply the most effective route options. Do your research before heading out and figure out which stops will take you where in your area.

6) Don’t be afraid to ask directions-from the DRIVER.

Asking for directions is OKAY, buy pedestrians will lead you astray. The bus drivers are more than willing to answer your questions and are actually pretty friendly, despite any road rage they might have. Avoid relying on the word of random people on the street because they may not know the streets as well as they think they do.Just ask the bus driver. Or at least old people who are native San Franciscans. You are new to the city. Don’t stress yourself out more than necessary.

7) The bus numbers run on BOTH sides of the street. 

Something I didn’t catch right away that I probably should have, is the fact that a bus 57 toward Lakeshore Plaza is not the same as a bus 57 toward West Portal Station. Pay attention to the bus number and the in/outbound location displayed on it. Sometimes, you have to cross the street to a more discretely marked stop of the same number to get to the destination you want.

8) People on the bus can be super inspiring!

If you are a writer, public transportation rides can be a great way to find new experiences and characters to write about. Being on the bus gives me time to do my homework before my next creative writing lecture and I am never without a story. There is a constant flow of travelers and families speaking various languages. Eaves drop on a few conversations here and there. Strike up a conversation. You never know who might have an interesting story.

I know there is much left to learn before I can call myself a Muni/Bart pro, but hopefully in another month, I’ll be able to get somewhere 45 minutes away in less than three hours…

Four Amazon Stars, Four Year Plans, and Publishing Fortitude: A Small Tale of Writing Success

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Photo by Carly Christine Photography.

As the florid Thoreau remarks, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Today, I would have never imagined that direction would navigate me through a forest of e-mails while I hunted for not one, but two online order receipts so I could collect a refund.

This is the unfortunately dull tale of my first, but hopefully not my last of mini publishing successes.

You see, I am about to embark on a trip around the world through literature thanks to my first college English class that requests I buy The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volumes A,B, and C. Amazon only sent me vol. A when I paid for the whole set… so I frantically tried to hunt down the collection in a city that seems all too absent of bookstores. (Thanks, Internet). The Barnes and Noble guy laughed at me and said “Wow, you’re planning to do a lot of reading.” Then it hit me. I was about to do a shit ton of reading and I couldn’t waste time by not having my books. School would be starting in four days and I needed to be completely prepared.

But that’t the funny thing about life, school, work- we can never be prepared for what’s ahead, no matter how many four year life plans we make for ourselves (yes, that is exactly what I was doing a minute ago).

My rage toward the expansionist nature of the cyber-bookstore-lacking-non-stop-connection world calmed when I got an e-mail from an editor of local newspapers, saying the article, submitted in a flurry of other stressed messaging, was a “great fit” for their papers. Now this might have been a small achievement in the unforgiving world of publishing,but for me it was a huge “success in common hours.” I was definitely not expecting that news. All those dull e-mails I had to send during the day to get my appropriate textbooks or keep up with work were faithfully nudging me along in the direction I wanted to go. Sticking to the tasks at hand got my book situation corrected and- surprisingly -got my article printed.

To anyone who has a publishing dream or a simple Amazon order they need to take care of, my advice for you is to be vigilant and self assured that your efforts will allow you to achieve your goals.  You will get angry at the perpetual waterfall of e-mails you will almost drown in while editing, approving, and submitting work. You may doubt yourself- a lot. After the college application process, I was deeply saddened by the fact I was not accepted into any UC’s, not because I was sad about not being able to attend (I’m headed off to the state school of my dreams in four days), but because I thought it was the writing of my personal statement that failed my chances. I tore myself apart internally as a writer. And this is where I was misguided.

Receiving that e-mail from the editor made me realize I wrote something that someone out there was pleased to hear and thought others needed to hear too. All I needed was to find that audience. It may have been a small article, but the same principle applies to whatever short story, novel, poem, essay you seek to craft. (If it is an article you seek to publish, contact the editor of your local paper by going to their website, breathe, and submit). So before you dismiss a future of publishing, ask yourself, “Am I headed confidently in the right direction?” If you are writing, yes. If you are reading, yes. If you are invested in your own success, yes. And if you have the confidence to show that to the world? Absolutely.

With this new writing motivation, I think it’t time to revise the four year plan.

A Night Owl Swimming in “A Moon Shaped Pool”: Why Radiohead Is Keeping Us Awake

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I was editing three of my favorite moon photos together while listening to A Moon Shaped Pool and was inspired to write this article. Photo by Carly Christine Photography .

There’s nothing more haunting than the sound of Thom Yorke cooing in your ear late in the night, but we can all rest easy knowing that after a 5 year hiatus, Radiohead
has brought us just the musical gift we’ve been restlessly waiting for: album number nine, A Moon Shaped Pool. 

All those thoughts, doubts, and feelings reserved for 3am that plague our brains in the dark are backed by the eerie raw Radiohead sound fans have come to know and crave.

Emotions ranging from love to panic are covered in this chilling selection. Some numbers, like “Burn the Witch” even carry underlying political tones, addressing the isolation of immigrant groups and barbaric mob mentality. Fear of descending into the unknown is conveyed in the graceful ballad “Glass Eyes,” whose calm instrumental moment contrasts the anxiety of the lyrics while emphasizing the sadness of feeling “love turn cold.” The aloof heartbroken “Identikit” that follows is more antsy with its use of guitar and is akin to the impatience heard in “Burn The Witch”. Hopeful “Desert Island Disk” (after the BBC 4 Radio talk show) might as well be a lullaby, whereas “Daydreaming” might be the most unnerving track on the album with its slew of frightening background vocals and ambient noise.

The orchestral progressions that mark this album make the tracks transition smoothly from one to the next, making it difficult to simply listen to one song. A Moon Shaped Pool is a series of disturbed and impassioned waves that rise and fall. Once you start riding, these waves engulf you. You drown and feel like you are mentally swimming (or floating) in whatever otherworldly Moon Shaped Pool the band manifested. Thom’s signature uneasy vocal peaks and troughs provide for a sound that is as foreign as the moon, yet unapologetically Radiohead.

This beautiful fusion of electronic, rock, and classical styles will keep you listening all night and force you to feel something profound-even if you are emotionally squeamish.
 

“The City” is (even more) Pretty After Reopening of SFMOMA

 

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SFMOMA exterior.

After a three year closure, the SFMOMA boasts having “three times more gallery space” open to art lovers of all ages and free to those 18 years or younger. Last week, I had the pleasure of accompanying a bus full of individuals over twice my age to see the newly remodeled San Francisco Museum of Modern art. I must say, it was a bit intimidating to listen to all the others in the tour group discuss artists and styles that I had never even heard of, but I knew my job wasn’t to be an expert, it was to photographically document the trip held by the Sacramento Fine Arts Center.

 

This may go down in history as one of the best work days of my life. I got to roam around a stunning museum all day in my favorite city drinking over priced coffee and clicking my camera’s shutter button relentlessly.

The building itself beckons and the remodeling has created extra perks  ,including six art filled terraces that allow for city dwellers to breathe fresh air, appreciate sculptures, and take in the urban glory that is San Francisco.

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View from one of the SFMOMA’s outdoor terraces. Perhaps I am strange, but I was hoping for a foggier day… Photo by Carly Christine Photography.

For almost an hour, my friend and I sat enjoying the view. There was a great deal to explore during our visit (and an even greater number of stairs to climb), so we were thankful to have a place to rest that still made us feel like we were participating in art admiring activities.

We didn’t have to move a muscle to check out this stoned guy (am I punny yet?)!

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This outdoor sculpture is next to a glass window that reflects the cityscape. Photo again by me.

Although the building’s exterior had much to offer, the SFMOMA’s interior brought the eye to something exquisite. More than ten floors of crisp white walls supported art of all media, size, and color. Over one day-even more than 2- is needed to digest all the works. Even the sitting areas with random splashes of  blue were worth appreciating . And don’t even get me started on the bathrooms…

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One of the only spots without a white wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bathrooms (at least the woman’s) were the most vibrant shade of red-a hue so intense, that my eyes needed to readjust after taking a potty break and admittedly a few selfies. I never thought a hand washing station in a public restroom would be so inspiring, but leave it to SFMOMA to blow my mind.

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Yeah, I made my friend model in a public restroom. Deal with it.

The loo aside, my favorite exhibit hands down was a two wall section filled with photos by Jim Goldberg: an excerpt from a series titled “Rich and Poor” that takes an uncomfortably intimate look at the desires and feelings of Americans on various levels of the social spectrum. The concept of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is challenged by Goldberg as he quite literally meshes his subject’s own words into his photographs, giving the still picture subjects a haunting, yet strong voice.

 

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Photo from Jim Goldberg’s exhibit. The intensity of the collection had me messed up for a while…That’s how you know art’s good.

 

I was sorry I couldn’t spend another day at the SFMOMA, but impending wine and cheese on the bus ride back definitely made saying goodbye a little less difficult. Besides, I will be back. Hopefully many times more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Smart Photographers Travel With Smartphones?

For a long while, traveling without my Nikon DSLR made me feel anxious. Actually, I felt naked. I needed the security of a strap slung over my shoulder and a lens cap in my back pocket. Lately however, I’ve been thrown into situations that require my photo happy self to take a deep breath and ditch the extra luggage. And this is where the withdrawal begins…

Perhaps what I fear most is lacking the ability to capture an image in a moment of intense inspiration- a kind of fuel that makes a me stop in the middle of the street and take a knee to get the perfect shot regardless of the people running into me, the kind of creative outburst that interrupts vacation activities with friends. Not being able to act on this photographing habit (or dare I say impulse) is like being a junkie without his or her fix. I become obsessive, thinking over and over again, “damn that would have made a great picture. If only I had my camera…”

Then one day, I got my hands on an old issue of American Photo that talked about the budding realm of smartphone photography that was supposedly revolutionizing the practice. I was obstinate and unconvinced-until I saw the photos. They were stunning and admittedly way better than anything I have ever taken on my digital camera. Moreover, I’ve been constantly seeing the “Shot on iPhone 6” billboards displaying exquisite images. A new hope emerged and I vowed to be unafraid of losing my picture potential on excursions as long as I was armed with my Samsung.

The result: painless and fairly picturesque. Below are some of my favorites so far.

*all images taken on a Samsung Galaxy S4 by Carly Christine Photography

 

 

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Surprise Bouquet

 

With all the different filters out there, you don’t need anything fancy to convert your photos to black and white!

And the overall quality of the image is surprisingly high.

 

 

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Rain in the Window

 

 

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San Fran Salutations

 

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Sunset

 

 

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Truck on the Road

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Carmichael Botanical Gardens

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Summer Bonfire

 

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Somewhere Near Wine Country

The best part is that the device fits in a single pocket! My smartphone will never replace my Nikon, but it helps conquer that craving for creativity. To any photographers like me who shy away from their phone camera, don’t dismiss the functionality of your cell! Since many of us carry around our phones 24/7, repurposing your mobile device as an art tool can open up even more opportunities to be inspired. So be spontaneous next time you travel and leave behind your clunky camera. Afterall, this is the 21st century.