Wow. It’s been four months since I last posted here, and I can honestly say I never had the time to. Heck, I don’t have the time, now. I’m off to college at Central Michigan University in under a week, and I can’t even imagine the amount of ‘no time’ I’ll be experiencing there. Nevertheless, I got infected with the writing bug today, and as much as I possibly can, I would like to recount these last four months.
I won’t say that senior year was the best educational year I’ve had, nor will I say the same of my summer. What I will say is that both were undoubtedly the most productive I’ve ever experienced. As far as senior year goes, I graduated thirty-third in my class, made a great friend in my AP Lang student teacher (We love you, Ms. Rogers), got the highest score possible on aforementioned subject’s National Exam (Repeat previous parenthetical), and killed it within Grand Rapids’ poetry scene. Being Northview’s Poet Laureate really pushed me to better myself in the art of abstract writing, and networking with incredible community members got me connected both to my city and its art scene in an amazing way I never thought possible-especially at my age. I participated in a slam competition whose goal was to create West Michigan’s first National poetry slam team (WHICH IS CURRENTLY WAITLISTED NATIONALLY, SO CONGRATS TO ALL INVOLVED!!!!!), won two $50 gift cards to Schuler’s Books by slamming with some local teens and submitting my work to a critic, and honestly made what I hope to be lifelong comrades.
This summer, I spent my time very thinly stretched between different artistic expressions, work, socializing, and trying to get enough sleep to continue on that path. I got hired at Ulta Beauty at the beginning of the summer, but didn’t work the full-time job I had originally promised for the initial month following my hiring-I was busy rehearsing Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm for FAME! The Musical put on by the heavily talented and supremely dedicated Stage GR. I don’t know what it is about them, but the program is like a magnet for talent. While a bunch of peers from high school made up the most condensed squad of kids, there were thirteen local schools represented in all, and it was a fantastic place to hone my skills as a performer because I was surrounded by incredible people.
Once the musical closed, it was time to grind at work. Let me tell you-there is no unskilled labor. When I worked at Taco Bell, it took talent to get the customers’ food out before the ‘you’re SLOW‘ bell rang (normally 60 seconds or less), and at Ulta, if you were on the floor, you were the person to go to for anyone who needed help-which, thankfully, was my favorite part of the job, but whenever someone asked me to shade match them, I panicked a little more than a little bit.
Tangent: Let me tell you a few things about shade matching. To start off, if you don’t know what it is, it’s basically when someone needs to match the color of their skin to the color of a cosmetic product, and whether it’s foundation or concealer, that stuff has to be spot. on. or else your guest is going to come out looking like either a really racist, knockoff halloween costume of a ‘Geisha’ or an Oompa-Loompa. If you don’t wear makeup or don’t know what either of these products do, they are meant to even out the skin tone of an individual, or conceal any blemishes the costumer may have. That’s the broadest definition I can give, although there are foundations and concealers out there with many different focuses (redness correction, acne-safe formulas, etc.) and different finishes. Anyway, foundation shades vary by brand, the lines within each brand, and depending on your guest’s skin type, they may need a formula for oily skin or whatever else they may prioritize as a skin ‘blemish.’ If you’re lucky, your guest will have a specific brand and line in mind, which will help you out by preventing a situation where you have to lead your guest around while acting like you have all the different brand formulas memorized (which is where the FAME! experience came in handy in my case) when you’re just skimming across their names in hopes that one will stand out to you and scream that they’re the golden ticket. When you have decided on brand and line of products, you’re all set to go Picasso with your face paint. With some brands (Urban Decay, for example), you’ll see a set of products ranging from 1.0 to 12.0, beginning from lightest and going to the darkest shade possible. The thing is, there won’t just be 12 shades-there will be shades within shades, like a 3.5 or 7.75 for example. These are variations in the original shade that will either have a yellow, pink, or neutral undertone (See, I told you. No unskilled labor). You have to take a nice lil gander at their skin tone, decide whether they look better in gold/silver/either jewelry (warm/cold/neutral skin tone, respectively), and pick out a few shades you think might be the liquid cocaine for their face (because, let’s face it; the foundations worth spending 30+ dollars on are super addictive because they’re so goOD). Take a small dot of each shade on the back of your hand/forearm, and with either a brush or the tips of your fingers, apply it to your guest’s face, near their jawline, and make sure it will blend well with the color of their décolletage. Ironically, you wanna match the shade their face should be with their neck. Don’t ask me why. I use a color by Fiona Styles that looks super yellow and pale on me until it dries and then it looks fine. *shrug*
But yes. Tangent over.
In other news, I met my birth mother a little bit ago, which absolutely mADE MY LIFE. She’s so bouncy and free-spirited, she talks with her hands, she’s tiny tiny tiny, and agh, just, meeting her made everything fall into place. I’m so happy she agreed to meet with me, and we’ve agreed to keep in contact. I don’t want to share too much information, for fear of invading her privacy, but I’m so honored we share the same DNA. I think I clicked with her faster than anyone else I’ve ever met, and whether or not it has to do with the fact I’m half of her, it doesn’t matter to me.
As for artistic expression goes, I worked with two incredibly photogenic individuals on two separate projects with the ultra-talented photographer/producer/artist Nick Ensing (Insta: @nick_ensing) who painted this.
For our inaugural project, we collaborated with Alexus Voss for a dark/light themed photoshoot. Nick shot on his beloved film, while I relied heavily on the digital media so that I would be able to pick and choose from the multitude of shots that were available.
The darker theme allowed for vibrant color editing,
while the lighter shoot allowed for a more nostalgic and organic feel.
…In the time she spares from being gorgeous, Alexus blesses microphones with her voice (like, seriously, she sounds like an angel of soul).
For parts of the shoot, we also paid homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, but I’ll be leaving those photos because I am aware that it would upset some people on my timeline. I may post these at a later date when I am entirely independent.
The second project of the summer involved Caleb Wells as our model. His senior photos are honestly the best I’ve ever taken. I won’t even bother apologizing for tooting my own horn-these are great. Check these out.
Caleb himself is a fantastically creative mind as well. Not only did he design my Prom dress…
but he’s also designing the performance costumes for Northview’s Colorguard this year! The theme? Poseidon. Yeah. Sounds hella rad. Come and see them perform at the halfway point of Northview’s homecoming game this year!
In closing, I move to Central Michigan University in two days. I’m rooming with three sophomores, who already seem absolutely lovely, and I’m almost as excited as I am terrified. My boyfriend, Sam, moved into his dorm at Aquinas today, and since I’ve known him since he was twelve, I feel like a proud mother sending their kid off to college… but also, not at all, because that’s gotta be a weird dynamic, and I’m not into that. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us, both together and as individuals, and though I am terrified, I know everyone looks towards the future because there’s always some sort of good in it, whether it’s because of their God(s) or because of their faith in themselves. I gotta join the bandwagon.