#WCW| Amanda

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Me and my sister Amanda didn’t always get along. She was outgoing and had a bunch of friends and was pretty and I was the quiet, weird little bookworm sister. In the way younger siblings can be, I was embarrassing and “not cool” and so she didn’t want to hang out with me.

That was fine. I had Marisa and kept to myself. I read to pass the time and vacated the room when her friends came over. But we were a lot alike. We both liked art and books. I remember she would collect these porcelain jester dolls from the crane machine game and every time we passed one I would try and win one for her (even though I thought they were really creepy.) I actually got her quite a few.

My dad would draw us our own coloring books and liked to do the same few drawings. Unicorn head, big wheel buggy, and Winnie the Pooh. (He still does them.) We would color them in and he would print copies of them at work so we could have our own book.

My uncle would watch us sometimes after school and we would watch Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, and wrestling. Amanda liked Gilmore Girls and 7th Heaven, but would watch the cartoons too. Our whole family loved to play video games and we would race our dad in Gran Turismo and fight in Tekken.

We fought and tattled and she would be in charge of watching me, only to go watch TV or hang out with her friends.

Then things got worse when our parents divorced.

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We both dealt with our parents divorcing and having to move to Dallas differently. I withdrew and she acted out. Being a preteen and dealing with everything is hard. She started dating boys and would argue and I stayed out the way.

In my mind, she was always causing trouble. In reality, we were both just dealing with a hard situation and didn’t know how to cope or feel.

When she was 16, my sister got pregnant. It was a rough time. We ended up moving back to Lubbock and stayed with my dad, going back and forth between our parents. She grew up fast. You have to in that situation.

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On November 12th, Amanda had my nephew Aidan. She was young but figured out motherhood quickly. She went back to live in Dallas with my mom and Aidan’s dad’s family. When she turned 18, they got married and he joined the military.

After a bit they moved around, going military base to base. She actually lived in Tacoma, Washington at one point and my grandma went and stayed with her to help with Aidan. Amanda would make join Myspace and Facebook so we could chat and we would share things that way.

Distance was the key to us getting along. We both have different but same personalities and sometimes they butt heads. I use to joke that sometimes I acted like the older sister. I was the cool headed sister and she was all fire.

A few years later, Amanda moved back to Texas. A bit after that, she got divorced.

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We would talk about her going to school or finding a new job. She had loved photography and art in school but didn’t think that was feasible as a single mom.

We talked more. Amanda was learning to be more independent and figure everything out. It’s crazy to think of all she had to deal with and she was only a few years older than me.

In 2010 she met Kaleb. They had known each other in school, but reconnected. He was nice and didn’t try to bribe me into liking him with Yugioh cards so that was a plus. He was sweet to her and Aidan and she was so much happier. He would take her fishing and they liked Walking Dead and video games. He could take a joke which is a must in our family because we all pretty much just bully each other.

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2012 Amanda got engaged and got pregnant with my niece Tabitha, Tabby for short.

Amanda got to start working from home and was able to stay home with Tabby. We texted and chatted online and I would download movies for her to watch when I would see her. One time I stayed with her for a week and we did nothing much lay on the couch in our pajamas, watch Game of Thrones, drink, and attempt to make fried Oreos.

We ate a lot of junk food.

She would borrow my makeup and clothes when I would visit and when she came down, would make fun of my apartment and cats. Kaleb always found me cat stuff because I was apparently turning into the crazy cat lady.

When I started doing vlogs, Amanda would watch almost every one and text me about them. She didn’t think it was weird and would read my blogs and we would tweet about things online. She was like an internet friend that shared the same parents and stole my stuff when I would see her.

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If I can say one thing, it’s that Amanda is a good mom. She was figuring it out as she went along, but she knew how to deal with a growing boy who was much shyer and sweeter than other kids and a little girl with enough personality to fill a room. Things would get crazy and she has a quick temper like me, but she would find a way to make everything work.

Aidan got older and was catching up on our height. Tabby finally started growing hair. Amanda and Kaleb got married in 2014. Me and Marisa and our younger sister Elizabeth were bridesmaids.

In 2015, Amanda got a camera. She had always loved photography and wanted to pick it back up again. It was the one thing she had always been super passionate about. She wanted to do pictures on the side, maybe once she got good enough she could make a little money. Simple. I was starting Ladies Night and offered to pay her $100 so she could drive down and shoot the event. She could launch her Facebook page and it’ll be a little exposure.

Amanda was our very first photographer for Ladies Night. And if you look at her pictures from then to now, it’s breathtaking how much she has grown. I’m my sister’s biggest fan. Her work is gorgeous and I’m not even that into maternity and bridal pictures. But they’re something else.

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Ladies Night 2015

The difference in those pictures is barely over a year. One year! But the best part is, her starting a photography business made my sister absolutely bloom into a whole new person. I remember that she was worried for the first Ladies Night because she wasn’t sure how her pictures would turn out. She was scared to try. And now I’ve seen her navigate photo shoots and pregnant moms and nervous couples like it’s nothing. She’s not afraid to tell someone what looks good and doesn’t and work with clients.

Better yet, she has a confidence in herself that I haven’t seen since she was a bold, stubborn teenager. We talk more now. We talk about our problems and how to deal with situations and websites and social media and being a small business. We talk ideas and photoshoot ideas and getting her clients when she comes and visits and she’ll share my art and events. We talk about our body image and health issues and anxiety and love lives and moving to Seattle.

It took almost 20 years, but I finally have a relationship with my sister and she is my best friend. She’s ambitious and artsy and goal orientated and we tell each other things honestly without the sugar coating. When our parents are driving us crazy or we get weird ideas or need outfit ideas, we text each other. And I’m so grateful for that.

The older we’ve gotten, the closer we’ve become.

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My sister is one of my closest friends. We help and support each other and even when we don’t always agree, we have one another’s back. I’ve gotten to see her grow from a scared teenager into this amazing mom and from novice photographer to someone whose work takes your breath away. Her pictures are what dreams are made of and people can see that now.

I know of a lot of the plans she has in store and I’m excited. If I could take her to Seattle with me, I would, but we’re not far from each other. We’re always a text and a message and a Facebook comment away.

I’m so proud of her and so proud of how far she has come.

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Amanda will be in Lubbock July 28th- August 5th if you would like to message her to schedule a session! She will also be the photographer for July 29th’s Ladies Night! All photos were taken by her.

If you want to follow Amanda’s work:

-Sam <3

 

Blog| 2017 Reading Challenge

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I love books. I wanted to be a writer so it’s a given that I’m an avid reader. When I was little, before I had a lot of friends, I’d read constantly to escape into other worlds and forget how lonely ours could be. Stories haven’t stopped being my escape, but the way I consume them have.

Time is precious now. I am always busy which makes sitting down and reading hard. So I mostly listen to audio books at work during the day and will read a bit at night or on the weekends. I give a lot of money to Audible.

Every year I try to make myself a Reading Challenge. I usually start it at 12 books a year and then will extend it once I reach the goal. I’ve already hit 12 books for this year so I thought I’d break down my reading list!


2017 Reading Challenge: First 12

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1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I am a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles so when I found out she was doing an Alice in Wonderland inspired book I pretty much instantly pre-ordered. I’m a sucker for retellings and fairy tale based books. This one kept me hooked and took me on a whirlwind of a ride. Sometimes I was frustrated with the main character but other times I was completely entranced by the world. The characters are completely engrossing and I was in love with Jest. It did not disappoint, even when it broke my heart sometimes. It was a great book to start the year on.

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2. Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Besides fairy tales, I love Urban Fantasy. It’s the genre I love writing. This is the latest in the Kate Daniels series and though I really liked the story, it felt like the series hit the climax a few books back before even getting to fighting the big boss. The conflicts are still interesting and I love Kate and Curran, but it doesn’t feel as tense as it previously did.

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3. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

I have mixed feelings about this book. In one aspect, I liked the world and lore behind everything. But it all felt very messy, hopping from region to region and feeling more like world building than a build towards the climax. The main characters love for her childhood best friend annoyed me because at no point was I told why she loved him enough to go through everything in the book for him. And there’s like a love square thing going on. I may read the sequel because I did like the magic and world.

 

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4. The Big Life by Ann Shoket

I like reading memoirs and motivational books. It’s a good boost for me to get off my ass and get work done. The Big Life is the book that told me about the Badass Babes Dinners and the struggles other ambitious women go through and how to balance it all. Ann Shoket goes through different topics that she’s discussed at these dinners and tells you about the experience of the women that attend to hopefully help you pursue your own side hustle. It was more self-help than I usually go for, but did the job of motivating me to do more.

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5. Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

I went on a memoir trend and found this book. It’s a darker, more depressing memoir than the others but I related with a lot of the experiences Jessica Valenti talks about and it was engrossing hearing her talk about her struggles. If you didn’t know, Jessica Valenti is a feminist blogger and writer and founded Feministing. She talks about dealing with awful comments and her sexual experiences and a lot of hard moments, but it’s worth the read.

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6. You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

A much lighter memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It is essentially the struggle of trying to find yourself and navigate being a woman without having all the instructions. I related to it a lot. My teenage years were spent living with my dad who knew nothing about dressing a teenage girl or teaching her about makeup. There were a lot of bad style choices. This book is hilarious and takes me back to those awkward confusing moments in my life and definitely a good read!

 

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7. You’re Better than me by Bonnie McFarlane

Bonnie McFarlane is a comedian and talks a lot about her pursuit of writing and touring and being on Last Comic Standing while also sprinkling in stories about the people she’s met. She’s not always the good party in the stories, but she tells them well and there are more than a few laughs.

 

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8. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Real talk, I’ve been waiting for this book for like a year. I LOVE the Court of Thorns and Roses series. Like I’ve listened and read them more than a dozen times, literally. When I can’t think of what to listen to, I put on Court of Mist and Fury on. This is the last book in the trilogy and I was dyyyyying to find out what happened. If you listen on audiobook, a heads up though. The narrator changed. Yeah, I know, what the hell. If you look at the reviews, a LOT of people are pissed but apparently the previous narrator didn’t want to do the 3rd. BUT if you give the new one a chance, she actually ends up sounding really similar. The voices are almost the same and she does a really good job. You just have to give her a chance.

Some parts of the book were a little slow and of all three, it’s the most dispair-filled and emotionally draining. The big battle constantly is tugging your heart and emotions around and it feels chaotic. But there are so many good moments and I love the characters so much. Not everything gets tied up nicely, but apparently there are going to be 3 more books following a different character. In the end, I was happy but still craving more from the world. I wasn’t disappointed and it’s definitely my favorite series.

 

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9. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

If you love the movie The Labyrinth, this book is for you. Like, really, the author talks heavily about how David Bowie and that movie inspired the book. It features a Goblin King and Labyrinth and all that good stuff, but the world she builds is much more detailed and interesting. There’s so much lore and when you think the story is going one way, it goes another. There’s very much a Hades/Persephone vibe going on mixed in with heavy influences of music and folklore. Sometimes dark, sometimes playful, it kept me interested even when the story flow felt a little off. I’m definitely going to pick up the sequel!

 

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10. Depravity by M.J. Haag

So the last set of books are actually all in a series, but I kinda feel they should have been put altogether into one book. They’re pretty short and the story is almost like it was chopped into three parts. The series is like an adult version of Beauty and the Beast with more sex and for some reason, a lot of the men are pretty brutal and dark. It doesn’t shy away from the problems a small, poor family in a small, poor village face and Benella’s sisters will drive you nuts with irritation. But it’s an interesting world and this one is a good set up for what’s to come.

 

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11. Deceit by M.J. Haag

Book 2 in the series takes a weird turn. The “rose” is actually a witch who cursed the beast and the spell is weird. The beast has to spend the whole night “pleasing” the witch to break the curse. She’s old and it’s been 50 years. Yeah, that’s the premise. It turns weirdly sexual (like the curse is heavily based on sex) and the Beast is an ass, but I applaud Benella on taking on everything in stride. In spite of all that weird stuff, I still really like the world and a lot of the characters. Benella is interesting and the world is intriguing. But yeah, there’s some sexual assault in this book and in general, awful people.

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12. Devastation by M.J. Haag

And then there’s book 3. I don’t know what happened, but book 3 took a weird turn and ended up feeling extremely long and drawn out and I wasn’t even sure what the problem was besides “emotions are fickle”. The beast is still an ass but getting better and there’s a lot of angst. Her sisters are the woooooooorst, but there’s a good supporting cast and more character development. A lot of it could have been cut out and there’s not as much sex stuff, but the end isn’t bad. It’s just not as interesting as what was presented in book 2. Not a bad series, but it’s got a lot of weird moments and in the search for something fresh in a fairy tale retelling, they went for a weird sex adult version.


 

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There’s my first 12 books of the year. I moved the goal to 24 so whenever I finish the next 12, I’ll do another reading list! I’ve already got a couple under my belt. Let me know if you liked this type of post! My Goodreads Currently Reading is at the bottom of the Home page if you want to follow along!.

What books are you reading?

-Sam <3

#WCW | Marisa

I have a lot of strong, amazing women in my life and I thought it would be great to talk about them when I can and our history together.

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This is Marisa. I’ve known her roughly since I was like 7 or 8 years old. We lived down the street from each other and went to the same school but didn’t really know each other until our parents made us say hi. We both can’t agree on how we first met, I say there was a dog and I think she says there was a bike. Who knows.

We both have older sisters a couple or so years older than us. She’s technically a year younger, but her mom managed to get her into school a year early so she could be with her sister. It was a good choice because I wouldn’t have met her.

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Marisa was my very first friend. I was a shy, introverted kid who read a lot and stayed indoors. She was a happy ball of sunshine and we played Pokemon, watched Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z, and would act out adventures on our bikes.

Our favorite memory is one time when a giant dust storm was hitting, you could see this wall of dirt coming for our street. We were racing up and down on our bikes when my dad runs outside and yells at us to get inside the house. It was dramatic and like the movie Twister and we swear that we pedaled as fast as we could and made it inside right as that giant wall of dirt hit as my dad shut the screen door.

Our childhood is probably a lot more exciting in our minds than it actually was.

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When I was 9, my parents divorce and we moved with my mom to Dallas. I was more upset about leaving my dad and Marisa than the actual move. I had a hard time adjusting and like I previously talked about, got depressed. Marisa would write me letters and doodles and we wrote back and forth for years. I actually got a cellphone rather young so I could talk to my dad, because I walked home from school, and so I could talk to her. Back then we had to talk after 9pm when minutes were free, but we tried to catch up as much as possible.

In the summer, I would stay for a month at my dad’s and spend the whole time hanging out. It felt like nothing changed. We played Kingdom Hearts and Crash Bandicoot and talked about fan fiction and cartoons. She would catch me up on friend drama and I’d tell her about my school. We’d stay over at each other’s houses and try to make horror movies with an old camcorder and read about ghosts.

I moved back to Lubbock to live with my dad when I was 12 or 13. Since I had good grades, I got to pick my school and went to the same one as Marisa. She introduced me to all her friends and showed me the ropes. Her friends became my friends and it was this whole big group of people. She attracted everyone to her even if she barely knew them. Everyone knew her.

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We hit high school and got older. I had a disaster of a first boyfriend and she was there for me. Crushes came and went. Friends left. High school drama. She learned to drive first and it was like a mini-panic attack every time. One time she hit a bump and our friend bounced up so high she hit her head on the roof.

Her birthday is November 1st so we’d celebrate every Halloween and I’d make her a cake to eat at midnight. Our family’s got along a knew each other and sometimes we’d both go with our dads to movies or even accidentally run into each other going to the same one. There were many action moves.

Our first “road trip” was to a small town an hour or so away. She got her first ticket on that trip. We didn’t know what her insurance card look like so he just gave her a warning. That trip her and our friend also accidentally got maced because we thought pepper spray was only a liquid. They maced a rock (I had climbed higher onto a ledge) and then started crying and coughing as it hit the air around them.

It was good times.

We went to college together. I tried to go for Video Game Design and she tried for Nursing. We both realized that it wasn’t for us. I dropped out but she continued, switching to try to be a social worker. She’s a good listener and likes to help people. I think it would suit her well.

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When I moved out on my own, she moved into the apartment next to me. I got her a kitten and we named him Loki. He’s kind of a jerk, but can be pretty lovable if he warms up to you. She helped me through my second heartbreak, was there at every art gallery, and when I was sad or lost, would hug me until I was okay.

We both joined roller derby together. We learned fast and made a lot of friends. It’s a commitment but we would go to practice together and the different events and hang out with the girls. I got hurt right before our first bout but she was wonderful. We ended up playing against each other at a mash-up bout (Gene Simmons vs Richard Simmons) and we trash talked each other and had fun hitting and blocking one another. I hurt my knee and had to stop but she kept on and was so good.

We moved into an apartment together a year or so later. It was a weird apartment complex with shady neighbors and a horrible parking lot. I started vlogging every day and then we tried to make a sketch show series. We did 3 episodes but it wasn’t too bad. She was in my vlogs a lot under her roller derby name Goldie Han Solo. People jokingly called us Gaico.

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We moved into a house and got another cat. I painted the walls blue and put Doctor Who quotes up. She started working as a waitress and would tell me all the crazy stories that working in the food industry and I’d tell her Emergency Room stories after my shifts. Marisa has a weird thing about food where she leaves only a tiny bit of food left but will put it away for later. I would constantly find like an inch of Little Debbie snacks in the pantry, a single chicken nugget in the fridge, or when she was trying to hide it, a bite of hamburger in the cutlery drawer. She would never finish it either.

I could make a new house out of all the bites of food she would leave.

Our first road trip was to Santa Fe and then to Austin. We stayed in weird, shady hotels and visited museums and took weird pictures and ate Star Fruit because we are Kingdom Hearts nerds. When we were driving to Santa Fe at night, I accidentally turned off the headlights on a hill while trying to switch it to my high beams. She screamed like she was being murdered and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.

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We’ve had more adventures than I can count or remember. I moved out a few years ago and got my own place after starting to date Rony. She was there in the beginning and I was so overjoyed when they got along. When I got Almond, she helped me with her and then ended up with a dog too that looked just like her. Almond and Cooper are best friends now too.

The beauty of our friendship is that we are sisters. I don’t need to constantly be texting her or calling her for us to be close. We’ll hang out or text or bitch about people in our lives. We’ll tag each other in stuff on Facebook. We’re there for every birthday and event and support each other. Not everything we agree on, but we get each other and know when it matters to be there for each other.

We’ll have been friends almost 20 years. I’ve gotten the pleasure of spending 20 years of my life with this bright, glowing star of a person. I don’t know how I could have managed to get this far in my life without her and she constantly inspires me and has my back and I wanted to show her how amazing, beautiful, and courageous she is.

She’s my #woman crush everyday ;)

You don’t always need a giant group of friends. You just have to find that one that will pretend to be a Sailor Scout with you and buy you flowers when you’re heartbroken. Luckily, I have that.

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-Sam <3