Book Review: You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was overwhelmed by how my financial situation was not going to keep me alive for very long if I didn’t get my butt into gear and start working on finding jobs. When the job search turned into mass chaos and confusion, and I felt doubtful I even deserved to follow my passions and get a job that I actually enjoyed, I started searching for self-help books to get advice and motivate myself.

That’s when I came across the book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth (2017) by Jen Sincero. Promised as a guide to get you in the mindset of making money, I was immediately interested. This book might not have made me rich, but it definitely changed how I view wealth and money. And that’s not an easy feat to accomplish.

Book Review Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Image from urban outfitters.com

Background

“If my broke ass can get rich, you can too.”

Jen Sincero

Jen Sincero is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, whose book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life has sold more than 3 million copies since its release in 2013. It’s easy to be skeptical of self-help books, especially ones promising they’ll help you become rich. But Sincero didn’t start out rich. She started out with very little money, living in a garage for a house.

Now Sincero works her own business, travels the globe, and speaks on how her life flipped upside-down through the power of changing how you see your reality. Yes, this book primary focuses on the Law of Attraction and Manifestation.

Summary

If you’re someone who’s had never been exposed to the Law of Attraction or Manifestation, the first encounter may leave an odd taste of skepticism in your mouth. How can just changing how you think really have an impact on your reality?

These two separate yet complimentary meditations are watered down into the belief in a higher force (God, the Universe, etc.) that wants to work with you and see you succeed. The key is to put as much positivity back out towards that force and back in towards yourself to open your life to the possibilities that you might have been blind to before.

There are some coincidences (if you believe in those) that may happen if you do this. Money appearing out of nowhere, job opportunity that connect with you as soon as you change your perspective on life. But the main ideas are to: radiate positivity (especially being kind to yourself), change your perspective on what money actually is (a tool, helpful, useful, NOT evil), giving back, taking risks, and practicing self-care.

“A healthy desire for wealth is not greed, it’s a desire for life.”

Jen Sincero

Critique

Full of jargon, profanity, and jokes, this book is highly entertaining to read. It’s also a great book to read if you were as down-in-the-dumps as I was when I read it. Sincero is genuine, funny, and sharp. She’s not the stuffy grandpa who wrote the last generation’s “Get Rich Quick” books, and she wants the people who succeed in life to be the people who will make the world a better place.

One of the most assuring things about the book is that Sincero doesn’t leave a reader convinced that if they just believe hard enough, they don’t have to put in any physical work. The reason why I could actually enjoy and trust this book was because it focuses on the first step: working on yourself. Work on how you see things. Sometimes this is what’s getting in your way.

From Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money

This idea actually makes a lot of sense. Have you ever started to have a bad day, and then you tell yourself how that day is going to be awful and how you deserve it? Then at the end of the day, you ended up having one of the worst days and believing you earned it too? The idea that Sincero proposes is beyond staying positive. It’s believing you deserve a life that fulfills you and includes all of your passions. Because if we believe we are deserving of such a position, we’ll try harder to get it. Or even try to get it in the first place.

Before reading this book, I had applied to over fifty jobs and not heard back from a single one in over three weeks. I was so discouraged. I saw people with money, people going out to eat, people wearing nice clothes, and I felt so angry because I couldn’t do that. Because of the mantras and guides at the end of each chapter, I began to reevaluate my mindset on money. Yes, I felt like money was evil. I felt like money ran from me, like it always was given to people who used it poorly.

So when I was challenged to continue to tell myself, “Money is a great tool. Money finds my easily. Money helps me achieve my goals and dreams,” I felt silly and like a down-right liar. Because I was. But I continue to tell myself these things almost every day. And the day I decided to be more positive, I got three interviews. Coincidence? Maybe. Definitely weird. Sincero’s book is full of stories like this though, and it makes me wonder if it isn’t just fantasy.

Changing my perspective on money changed my motivations for finding jobs and following my passions.

Is the Book a Story of Privilege and Entitlement?

It’s really easy to think to yourself while reading this book, Wait how come there are so many poor people in the world if all they had to do was think that they could overcome their circumstances for God/the Universe to make them rich?

To be honest, I don’t really have an answer to that, and Sincero doesn’t either. I think what’s more important about this book is recognizing that we all do have opportunities to change the way we live and see the world. And if we get the opportunity for wealth, it then becomes our responsibility to care for those that don’t. This is a major point in Sincero’s writing.

To this point she writes, “One of the best things you can do is get rich. Because of the way our world is structured, money and power are intertwined, so if you want to help make a positive change, money is one of the most effective tools you can use to do it. Yes, you can donate your time, organize, protest, lobby, alert the masses, post incensed rants on Facebook, but you will be much more effective if you have the energy, options, and freedom that come with not being in financial struggle, not to mention the resources to spend however you see fit.” So according to Sincero, yes, it’s possible to be a good person, be religious, be humble, and still become wealthy.

The negative aspect of this idea is that some people might still be unable to break out of systematic poverty or break into the cycle of wealth. It’s never a bad idea to gain more self-confidence, but it’s also irresponsible to spend every last dime of your rent money because you think you need an acting coach this very minute. Sincero luckily is smart in this particular area. While she encourages people to take risks, she doesn’t explicitly tell people to blow all their money on coaches if they really, honestly can’t. Though she did end up hiring a coach for thousands of dollars during a time of extreme credit card debt.

The problem I have with this book is mostly the notion that of course someone is going to make it out of their poverty, but how many more will do the same by following what that one person did? We all have different stories, different struggles. Hiring a life coach when we have credit card debt might not save our own lives, but there are plenty of other take-aways from the book that are helpful, encouraging, and paradigm-shifting. All things considered, it’s definitely worth the read.

Conclusions

The jury is still out on whether I’m a fool for following my dreams, but I’m much happier in pursuit of my writing and art than I would be in an office cube. I believe that I have the ability and skills necessary for making enough money to thrive.

Do you?

The Positives

  • Changed my harmful mindset on money
  • Was full of laughs and entertainment
  • Challenged me in ways I had never been before
  • A money-guide like I’ve never read
  • A great analysis on having faith

The Negatives

  • Some entitlement and privilege
  • Profanity and dialects (could be a positive — I didn’t mind)
  • A good first step, but won’t work for some

Further Information

Jen Sincero playing with dog
Jen Sincero and puppy // Image from jensincero.com

You can visit Jen Sincero’s website by following this link. Her books are available in over 25 different languages.

Art in Los Angeles: Mural of Mario Torero compared to Byzantine and Medieval Art

Mural by Mario Torero and D. Von Simons 2014

Every day that I go for a run, I take the same path from my apartment to Echo Park, passing local businesses and fruit sellers. I also pass this mural by Mario Torero and D. Von Simons, created in 2014. For being over 5 years old, the mural is still vibrant and striking, and I can’t help but stare at it every time I pass it. What does it mean? What does it remind me of?

As someone who has studied art history and loved learning about the different cultures and symbols throughout the ages, I thought it might be interesting to compare this piece to some workS throughout the Byzantine and Medieval period.

While I was trying to research Torero for this project, I couldn’t find this mural in his online gallery of paintings. Maybe it was a small project he did for the local community with Simons? I couldn’t find information online regarding a D. Von Simmons, but Torero is a very famous artist from the San Diego area.

Mario Torero, Mural Painter and Activist

Mario Torero poses with his paintings
Mario Torero with his paintings // Image from San Diego City Beat

Torero was born and lived in Lima, Peru in 1947 until 1960 when he immigrated with his family to the United States. Their destination was San Diego, CA in search of more opportunities for art and freedom. Torero was taught how to paint and draw by his father Guillermo Acevedo, who was an established artist in Lima. When they came to America, Torero’s father quickly became popular in San Diego as well. Together this family was part of the young Chicano Art Movement.

Torero is known as El Maestro, because he believes in teaching young people about how to combine art and community. He has spent many years volunteering at art schools to help students learn the skills his father taught him. With shows and exhibitions, he aims to continue to develop Artivista for the inspiration of the community.

Some of Torero’s murals are inspired by his heritage and other famous painters such as Picasso and Frida Kahlo. His works were featured in the Acevedo Gallery in Mission Hills, and many of his paintings can be seen in places such as the San Diego Airport, Chicano Park, University of California San Diego, and San Diego State University.

“Chicano is about people. It’s practically a state of mind. It’s a human movement Because we wanted to create a world, an ideal world. Can you imagine?”

Torero, Interview with San Diego City Beat

Analysis of the Mural

Torero’s use of color is striking to me. The purple gray of the skin and hair contrasting against the bright white of his eyes makes you feel like the figure is watching over you as you walk by. The greens, oranges, yellows, and reds of his robe bleed into each other. The figure appears to be wearing a cape over his robes, the cape being a lighter combination of colors over the over saturated red-orange of his under layer.

Then there is the globe at the center of his chest. While Torero’s figure does not hold anything in his left hand as the figures pictured below do, Torero’s figure grasps the edge of his cloak as if he is trying to expose the world on his chest for more people to see. Because of the white marked across his left hand, it’s unclear if there was anything else the figure’s hand was detailed with.

The slight lean of the figure’s head expresses an emotion of intrigue and question. His eyes, though striking, are not judgmental but considerate. Compared to the pieces below, his expression is softer and more expressive.

Byzantine and Medieval Art

Byzantine Mural from Hagia Sophia
Christ Pantocrator, Hagia Sophia, Circa 1204-1261, 4.08 x 4.2 m // Image from Approach Guides

Just as in Torero’s mural, you can see the two fingers raised, usually indicating the figure is meant to represent Christ. These two raised fingers can also be a gesture of blessing. The expression on this figure’s face is very neutral, almost impassive, though he stares straight at the viewer.

While I didn’t notice it at first, both Torero’s mural and this mural from the Hagia Sophia have a halo around around their heads. While Torero’s yellow orb could be seen as a moon or just a design created around the body of the figure, it seems possible that the circle is meant to represent this kind of symbol.

Christ in Majesty mural for church of San Climent
Christ in Majesty, Church of San Clement, Taull, Catalunya, Spain. Circa 1123 // Image from Art: A Brief History 6th ed.

While this mural is technically from the Early Medieval period, it has similar characteristics to the Byzantine-style art. For one, patterns and shapes are used to create movement in the design like a mosaic. The image however is less flat than the mosaics of the Byzantine period and has clear indications of the 3-D model by using shading on the folds of the robe.

Like the previous murals, this figure has the two fingers raised in blessing and Christ-identifier and also has a yellow halo around his head. Similar to the Hagia Sophia mural, he holds a book in his hand and is flanked by several other figures.

The colors used in this piece are closer to Torero’s, with the yellow, red, and green used for the robes and background. Unlike Torero, the colors in this mural do not run together and are usually separated by small patterns of cream.

Colors of the Murals: Torero, Byzantine, Medieval

In Byzantine art, blue can be used as a symbol of purity. Gold is also a symbol of purity but is meant to represent the heavenly realm as well as royalty.

Purple robes outlined in red are often used for holy figures in both Byzantine and Medieval art. Green is meant to symbolize rebirth, growth, and peace.

Torero uses a combination of these colors, though perhaps not for the symbols they represented in ancient history. Instead, his colors more largely express a heritage of the local community, a community he is a part of and wants to share with the world.

For More Information See the Links Below

Hagia Sophia Mural: https://www.approachguides.com/blog/hidden-gem-in-istanbul-the-deesis-in-hagia-sophia/

Color Symbols: http://www.historyofpainters.com/colors.htm

Interview with Torero and City Beat: http://sdcitybeat.com/culture/seen-local/mario-torero-goes-to-washington/

Mario Torero’s Website: http://www.fuerzamundo.org

Artist Feature: Mitchell Kois’ Short Film “The Audition”

The release of Mitchell Kois’ second short film “The Audition” is now available via Vimeo. Check out the video by following this link. Mitchell Kois is a writer, director, and actor from South Bend, Indiana. He is a recent graduate from Indiana University, Bloomington, where he studied film. After a semester in Los Angeles, he knew that he would eventually return to California, and he has recently made that move in the pursuit of larger projects.

Poster for “The Audition” by Kristen Kois
Poster for “The Audition” // Poster designed by Kristen Kois

“The Audition” is about a band (featuring the local Bloomington band Window Love) who are humorously harassed by a judge during a competition audition. It’s witty, funny, and uncomfortable in all of the best ways.

On Set with the Crew for “The Audition”

I had the honor of helping the crew one day write down what scenes and cuts they were on as they filmed. It was so exciting to see what really goes on behind the scenes of a short film.

They filmed in a local bar and used musicians from the Bloomington area. While there was a clear script that most characters were following, the judge played by Rick Romanek improvised a majority of his lines and actions, making for a quirky and hilarious run-through.

It was hard for many of the crew members to not laugh as Ricky danced around the room — and though it doesn’t seem like it in the short film, most of his dancing cuts were done without music.

Living with a Film Writer, Director, and Actor

Mitchell, being my partner in crime, has always shared his ideas with me. I’ve watched him mess with the same scene thirty times only for Adobe to shut down and losing all of his progress. He has a keen eye for the vision he wants to achieve in his films, and he knows what looks good, whether in shots or editing.

He has several larger feature projects in the making, including a semi-biographical piece about a girl and cancer, and a story of a pirate musician running from his past. With a combination of passionate story-telling and action, these are sure to be hits.

If you haven’t yet, you should definitely check out the video and see it for yourself. It’s a great time of laughs and a quality, catchy song as well.

Backing on Kickstarter

Support the film by going to Kickstarter
You can support this film by helping out on Kickstarter.

Mitchell is currently raising money for this project on Kickstarter so that he will be able to submit it to film festivals (which can be pricey so they can weed out the legitimate entries). If you’re interested in backing him, you can receive a producer credit on the project. Super cool.

Writing Tips: 3 Reasons You Should End Your Book Series

Write to finish your story, not make money
Our favorite series as writers are often the reason we started writing. // Image by Nick Fewings

Maybe you’ve written just a single novel, and you consider that the ending leads to possible sequels. Maybe you’ve written multiple books in the same series and consider that you could continue writing about these characters forever. Maybe you’ve developed a fan-base and think that if you start another series, your fans won’t stick around for a new kind of journey.

Whether you’ve looked up to Robert Jordan, J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, or Rick Riordan, we’ve all wondered when the series will finally be over.

We all grew up with different series we loved reading, but how many of them had official endings? And how many of them were re-booted with terrible results? Here are three reasons why you should always end your book series. For good.

1. Dragging Readers Along Can Hurt Your Credentials and Viewership

My friend Brandon told us recently that he only just started watching the Avenger-based Marvel movies. When we asked him what made him decide to start watching them now that the series was “finished” in a way, he said that because the series was over, he felt like he could actually enjoy the movies more.

Without an end in sight, watching all of the movies, especially when he was so far behind, was more of a task than a journey. Because he now had End Game to look forward to, he could build up to it in anticipation.

Building Anticipation with Your Books

I had a similar experience with the Harry Potter books. We all knew there would be seven books, and we all knew that when it was over, it was over. But was it? There was the release of the new Harry Potter-based book written in an entirely new format. There was an entire movie series based off an animal field-guide.

Did these movies and new book additions take away from the original series? No, but they certainly distracted us, and made us feel like maybe we didn’t have conclusion. Maybe we should always be expecting more.

Sometimes, you’ll have readers who will be such dedicated fans that they want anything new from the wonderful world you’ve created. But should we always give them extra information that doesn’t exactly fit into the original story? Should we continue to edit and revise our books just so they stay relevant and part of the mainstream culture?

If you write a full, complete story — even in multiple books — you must trust that the story is strong enough to stand the test of time.

Writing More Doesn’t Always Work

Good writers know that there is a lot of information about the world, characters, and plot that might not make the final cut of the writing. But there’s a reason for that. As Stephen King said, “The most important things to remember about backstory are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don’t get carried away with the rest. Life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour or so before closing time, and if you are buying.” If we tack on another two books after the knight has already defeated the big bad, because we as writers know that the knight would revisit his home town and go eat a sandwich at his favorite bar after all that hard work…aren’t we kind of dismissing all of his hard work?

Main character fights dragon in climax of story
The climax of your story should be your motivation to end the series // Image by Clint Bustrillos

No one wants to get sick of their favorite writer making retcons to their favorite book series. Whether you only have a single book, or you’ve written eight monsters of books that tell the most cohesive story about a fire-breathing cat, trust that your story is strong enough to maintain itself through great writing and great marketing.

2. People Will Want More From You, and That’s a Good Thing

Sometimes your characters deserve to live the rest of their lives in peace. The Adventure Zone, a podcast run by three brothers and a dad playing Dungeons and Dragons and other table-top games, created an almost 70-episode arc that inspired a following up to the standard of bestselling fantasy books. People made fan-fiction, they made art, they made t-shirts, and dressed up like the characters.

The McElroy brother Griffin ended the series with the promise that there would only be revisits of their characters for fun in live shows. As they concluded their heroes’ journeys, he stated, “And even more happier days were to come. That was the world you had made. That was the ending you earned.”

The family agreed that if they continued to play as these characters, it wouldn’t be the same. In fact, it would diminish the significance of the character development, undermine the climax, and burn them and the listeners out entirely. The point is, the story had ended. And it was time to move on. They took a risk doing this. By the end of their Arc called Balance, the boys had become financially supported by the podcast. If they had decided to continue playing as these characters, no one would have complained.

“That was the world you had made. That was the ending you earned.”

Griffin McElroy

The fact is, they didn’t. They tried new stories and experimented. They learned new skills by sharing the role of story-maker and trying new game formats. They didn’t get burned out. In fact, the opposite happened. They became anxious to tell a real story again and found just the right one. Maybe their listeners dipped during this time. I’m sure it did. But they held to their belief that the story was over. They trusted their fans to stay. And more importantly they trusted themselves to move on and create something new and stronger than running their finished story into the ground.

Now The Adventure Zone cast has created graphic novels of their Arc Balance (already bestsellers), and I recently heard they have a card-game coming out. If money was ever their concern by ending their story, it shouldn’t be now. Is this selling out? No. They’ve made their audio-format story into one that can also be read and remembered by their fans. They’ve maintained and added to the integrity of their creation.

Writing an endless series can end up being a bit like a putting together a puzzle for your readers. // Image by Patrick Tomasso

Writing with the Same Characters After the End of Their Story Can Put Them in the Danger Zone

Unlike the McElroy brothers, Cassandra Clare, a YA Fantasy writer, originally wrote six books that worked as a complete story of shadow-hunting, gorgeous teens that fell in love during a time of war. Beautiful, right? Absolutely. But then she added anthology books, a prequel series, another series that exists in the same world but takes place after the original war, etc. Are you exhausted yet? Because I am. Don’t get me wrong, I read everything she put out, because like most obsessed readers, I thought I couldn’t wait to hear what happened to the characters from the original series. And —

They were fighting. They weren’t as in love as they were in the original series (during which they had fought through everything to be together). The first six books contained one of the best character development sequences I have ever seen happen to a teenage boy in YA fiction. And while I liked reading about the Shadowhunters in her latest books, I felt like these same characters I had grown to know and love were short-changed and flatter than I remembered.

3. Ending Stories Creates New Writers and Makes You a Stronger One

The beauty of stories is that we can make them different than real life. We can make them better. Don’t be afraid to make your characters suffer. In fact, suffering is encouraged. Suffering is conflict, inside and out, and it’s necessary for characters to grow. But too often writers make their characters suffer, give them a happy ending, and then throw them right back into the fire.

The best part about having an ending to your series is that whether it’s satisfying or not, either way it will inspire the next generation of writers. When I was finished reading Harry Potter, I felt so empty — a feeling I know a lot of other readers have felt after finishing their favorite series. But I also wanted more. I was thirsty for an ending to a story I didn’t realize at the time was my own book series, Spell Bound.

Whatever genre you write, allow your readers to be so inspired (or so angry) that they write their own stories. Maybe it will stay fan-fiction. Or maybe they will create amazing stories of their own.

Inspire other writers to write their own creation.
Inspire other writers to continue a story of their own creation. // Image by Green Chameleon

Become a Stronger Writer

Challenge yourself to be the writer who actually has an ending to their series. While The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan can be a little long-winded at times, it remains one of the most influential Fantasy series in the genre. Jordan managed to end the series with the help of Brandon Sanderson, but Jordan died before he could finish the series himself. Imagine if he didn’t have a ghost writer. He had built an entire world leading up to a grand finale, but he took FOREVER to get there. His readers would have been devastated.

Finishing a series allows writers to have the freedom to explore new genres, new stories, and new characters. Writers get so attached to their stories that they sometimes believe they won’t be able to write anything else. It’s like making new friends. No one likes it, but you never know who you’ll end up meeting. They could be better characters than you’ve ever encountered before.

Conclusion: Writing Your Story Is Not the Same As Building a Money Machine

Don’t be a sell out. The happily ever after ending may not be appealing. We live in a world where happily ever after means “we didn’t want to tell you that they weren’t actually in love.” The thing about writing a good story is that by the end, your characters are your children. And children leave the house and get up to all kinds of mayhem that you, the parent, will never even know about. You, the writer, must let you child live the rest of their lives without being a helicopter parent.

Whatever you do, no matter how hard your fans may beg, no matter how much money you’re promised, if your kids want to leave the house and make their own path without you, you must let them go. And you can take a breath, knowing you did a good job raising them.

Reviewing Restaurants in LA: Donut Friend

Donut Friend in Los Angeles
Donut Friend in DTLA

History of Donut Friend in LA

Donut Friend is an all-vegan donut, ice cream, and coffee shop located in Downtown Los Angeles. They’ve been around for about six years now and also have a location in Highland Park. Their slogan is “Donuts Done Differently” (love the alliteration), and many of their donuts have fun, quirky music-related names such as Bacon 182, Chocolate from the Crypt, and Dag Nutty. They also offer customizable donuts where you can pick from yeast and cake donut flavors and add a whole bar of fillings, toppings, and glazes to your own creation. Customers can order just one donut of their choosing, or they can order a whole dozen, a giant donut—or even a two or three TIER donut CAKE! I have yet to order this, but I do have a birthday coming up soon…

Experiencing Donut Friend

LA  Restaurant Donut Friend
Donut Friend in DTLA

Donut Friend is just over a mile away from my apartment, and let’s just say this was not my first time experiencing the magical flaky goodness of a fancy donut at an odd-hour of the day. Mitchell and I usually walk Downtown and then go back home before eating our donuts. Partially because it makes us feel better about what we’re about to do to ourselves by consuming such a dense and rich dessert.

Their shop is super easy to find thanks to the sleek over-hang sign. It’s basically impossible to walk by their shop without looking in and seeing the clean, minimalistic set-up leading to a case full of colorful donuts.

Evaluation of DTLA’s Donut Friend

DTLA Donut Friend Vegan Restaurant
Inside Donut Friend DTLA
  • Design 4 out of 5
  • Ambience 3 out of 5
  • Tidiness 4 out of 5
  • Value for Money 4 out of 5
  • Service 4 out of 5
  • Variety 5 out of 5
  • Quality 4 out of 5

There are literally endless combinations you can make with the donuts, but just know that the later you come in, the less options you may have for the customizable donut base (cake or yeast and their different flavors) as well as limited options for the signature donuts.

In my experience, you get more bang for your buck by just going with the signature donuts. They have way more experience in how to combine the flavors of their donuts, and there are so many to choose from that there’s always going to be something for everyone. Prices for signature donuts range from about 4-6 dollars a piece while the customizable donuts can get a little more expensive if you go over-board on the goodies.

People have always been super nice whenever Mitchell and I come in. We also have mostly come in around lunch or after dinner time, and we’re usually only one of a few customers there (they’re probably busiest in the morning).

There’s a couple benches to sit on which aren’t super comfortable and also are a little awkward as the employees are just a couple feet away with not much else to do but watch you eat your donut. This is another reason Mitchell and I take our donuts to go usually. (We’re a little socially awkward.)

Donuts from DTLA Donut Friend
Our Donuts from the Latest Donut Trip

Our latest donut trip ended without the most colorful of donuts, but they were heavy boys. The top is a yeast donut with brûléed sugar, filled with hefty peanut butter cream. The bottom is the Youth Brûlée complete with brûléed sugar and filled with rich Bavarian cream. Definitely one of my favorites that I’ve gotten before.

I’ve had a couple of the fruit ones, including the Strawberrylab, which was good but not great. Without a filling, the donut fell a little short for my money. I would recommend something with a filling such as jam or cream, as these are more worth the price, and their fillings are BOMB DIGGITY good.

More Donut Friend Information

P.S. Their Instagram is super fun and shows cool videos of the employees making donuts. You can follow them @donutfriend.

Link to their website: https://donutfriend.com/wp3/

Store Location:

DTLA: 543 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Highland Park: 5107 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065

Store Hours:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 7am-10pm

Friday and Saturday: 7am-Midnight

Bonus: If You Liked This Post Check Out…

Book Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

While I read this book a couple years ago, with the movie coming out recently, I considered this a great time to revisit my thoughts on The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicole Yoon. This book is a Young Adult Fiction/Romance, and was published in 2016.

Book Review Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Some Background

This book is the second published work of Yoon, who is also the author of The New York Times bestselling book, Everything, Everything. Yoon sets her story in New York City, a crowded landscape used to show that each individual can have an impact on another person’s story. While the book is mainly told from the point of view of Daniel and Natasha, there are also biographical chapters on many of the side characters. Yoon includes short chapters of the occasional word, place, or idea that connects to the characters.

A normal day in New York is transformed into commentaries on possibly controversial topics ranging from illegal immigrants to the science of love. While the book is crammed with diverse characters and interwoven sub-plots, The Sun Is Also a Star might not have reached a verdict on its audacious claim: love is controlled by both fate and science.

“America’s not really a melting pot. It’s more like one of those divided metal plates with separate sections for starch, meat, and veggies.”

Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star

Summary

Daniel is first generation American. His parents moved to America from Korea and own a black hair shop. While Daniel does not resent his Korean heritage as much as his older brother Charles, he struggles with his love of poetry and his parents’ pressure on him to become a doctor. Daniel succumbs to their will and plans to attend an interview determining if he will be recommended to Harvard. His reluctance leads to distraction, and he winds up in a music store after following Natasha (a stranger at the time) on a whim.

Natasha is an immigrant from Jamaica, who relies heavily on science to sustain her. The arts have scorned her family’s efforts of having the American dream, as her father, a denied but talented actor, exposes their illegal residency after a DUI. Natasha spends her last day meeting with an immigration lawyer, who is caught up in his own romantic drama. Though she is a firm follower of science, the music of her headphones causes her to enter a trance-like state as she enters a music store.

“I don’t really want to know her story. I just want the music and the moment.”

Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star

Critique: the Good and the Bad

Just as the back of Natasha’s jacket reads “Deus Ex Machina,” the story eludes to the fact that there might be someone pulling the characters around like reluctant puppets on a string. Daniel addresses the main issue of the novel in his lines, “I don’t really want to know her story. I just want the music and the moment.” While we read about Jamaican and Korean words and the backgrounds of side characters, the main characters remain ignorant and therefore unaffected by the people around them. Or at least the people that they are not romantically intrigued by.

Most teen fiction novels do little to enlarge the awareness of others amongst teenagers. While Daniel and Natasha may not recognize this impact entirely, Yoon still tries to encourage the awareness of others’ feelings, backgrounds, and cultural differences by writing about them herself. Through her small commentary chapters on words and ideas, Yoon addresses conflict between Jamaican and Korean culture when they are mixed with American ideals and dreams. The book also introduces teenagers to the world of immigration laws and two cultures they might not understand.

Though the novel tries to address the stereotypes of Korean, Jamaican, and American culture, Yoon’s characters lack the ability to escape them. Korean heritage plays a large part in why Daniel’s family wants him to be a doctor. Natasha’s Jamaican family are illegal immigrants and are being forced to leave the country. Yoon captures the dialects of Jamaicans and Koreans, but she leaves us wondering if she has presented a new way to look at Koreans and Jamaicans or if we are only meant to widen our perspective of the humanity behind the typecasts we may have formed.

Does Yoon Actually Overcome the Wave of YA Fiction?

Yoon is more successful at promoting the inner character of Natasha. She does not try to hide her main characters’ skin colors, but that does not define their core beings. Yoon writes, “It takes three years for Natasha’s natural hair to grow in fully. She doesn’t do it to make a political statement. In fact, she liked having her hair straight…She does it because she wants to try something new. She does it simply because it looks beautiful.” Yoon might be contributing some personal experience into this character. Her own heritage gives life to Natasha’s personality.

While Natasha makes hair choices based on personal values, Daniel wears a ponytail to make a statement against his parents. Daniel’s ideals and culture directly contrast with Natasha’s. Where she is science, he is art. But while Natasha’s character is defined by her reason, confidence, and drive, Daniel is mostly marked by his poetry writing and sudden obsession with Natasha.

On that note, Yoon introduces us to another stereotype: steamy teen romance. After Daniel and Natasha meet in the music store, they decide to test a theory that strangers can fall in love in one day based on three sets of questions that increase in intimacy. The science experiment consumes the rest of the novel, with interesting results. For one, it works—on the same level as most other teen fiction novels. The teenagers claim to experience love, but only when they experience intense physical contact. But what the characters first sought to discover seemed to be a deeper concept than tongues in mouths. So what can be taken away from the quick progression of the teenage love? Maybe Natasha says it best in her line about love songs, ‘“Easy…lust.”’

This comment in comparison with the climax of Natasha and Daniel’s day together offers conflicting messages about what Yoon classifies as scientifically provable love. While Daniel and Natasha believe that this moment of physical affection proves that they can fall in love in a single day, the two spiral apart after this moment in the novel. The couple go from thinking in unison, “I can’t get enough. I can’t get close enough. Something chaotic and insistent builds inside me” to “Her eyes have been replaced with storm clouds.” Instead of creating a convincing argument for love at first sight, Yoon seems to prove what every teen romance has proven before.

Conclusions about the Book

It’s obvious that Yoon desires to showcase diversity and convince teenagers that love, fate, and science can coexist. But as the last scene take place several years into the future, on a plane where both characters meet by extremely vague and downright fishy chance, Yoon’s writing lacks the tact that real fate often shows. Sometimes people just don’t meet again.

The Positive

  • A great showcase of diversity
  • Empathy of different cultures
  • A clash of different worlds unlike most YA Fiction

The Negative

  • Unclear, ambiguous endings…twice
  • Characters that conflict with central themes of the narrative
  • A hallow example of love

For Further Information on the Book and Movie

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Nicola Yoon, Image from Goodreads.com

The Sun Is Also a Star has now become a movie, and you can watch the trailer by clicking on this link here. You can also learn more about the author by visiting her website: http://www.nicolayoon.com/#welcome-new.

Road Trip to LA the Cheap Way!

Road Trip to LA
Road Trip to LA with your cat and all your stuff

Transportation to LA by Car

Mitchell and I chose to drive to Los Angeles from Indiana, partly because we knew we couldn’t fit all of our stuff into a compact space to fly. We also were freaking BROKE and needed a way to get there both cheaply and—honestly—still kind of in a fun way. I had never been out west, so I knew that driving to LA was going to be both exhausting and full of landscapes I had never seen before. So we decided to road trip our way there. In three days. With a cat. And a car full of everything we needed for the next two weeks.

Packing to Get to LA

Here’s the thing, we used a U-Pack system to pack all of us stuff from Indiana to LA. They basically drop off a cube on your driveway, and you have to pack your stuff. Then they drive it on a truck to wherever you’re moving. This was a great idea for us (it was cheap and we’re pretty strong and able to move large objects ourselves).

I was also super impressed with how much stuff we were able to fit in there. We had a sofa, desks, like ten boxes of books (mine). This is the video that made us believe that we could actually pack all our crap in a little cube.

The problem was they kind of…picked up the crate a day earlier than they were supposed to. So we had a lot of stuff we had to jam into the car and drive with. So not only did we have our cat Dany with us, but we also had to wrangle her out of the suitcases, blankets, and other various objects so she wouldn’t get smooshed. Eventually she found nice spots like in the space between the driver’s back and the chair.

Road trip to LA with your cat
Road trip with the cat (I swear she’s comfortable)
Road trip to LA with cat
Driving to LA isn’t the same without your cat

Camping During the Road Trip

We ended up using a service called Hip Camp (https://www.hipcamp.com) which is basically like a Air B&B but with camping out in someone’s yard. I was a little nervous to be honest, because the idea sounded like some great start to a horror movie. But when we stopped in Colorado, the guy’s yard was basically a huge plot of land that he had turned into a campsite. Then in Utah, it was a big open field with a lot of space between campers. It was about thirty dollars each night, and they didn’t mind that we had a cat and a car full of everything you usually don’t bring camping with you. We pitched a tent and slept with our kitty dearest’s litter box just a few feet away.

Sights Along the Road Trip

Road trip through Colorado and Nevada
Somewhere between Colorado and Nevada

I’ve travelled to several places with gorgeous mountains before making this drive. I just loved how different the the mountains looked as you drove through each state. It was also very fun to drive straight downhill in Colorado in the pouring rain (not really, I don’t think I’ve clenched my entire body for that long). I had flown over these mountains before, but it’s really not the same. Even if you find a cheap flight, you won’t be able to experience this kind of view.

Road trip to LA through Colorado
Driving downhill in Colorado after the rain

Driving to LA Road Trip Style

One thing we did to break up the drive was stop every four hours. This may be too long of a time for some people, but we were able to map out our stops at gas stations (using https://www.gasbuddy.com) and stretch our legs before switching who was driving. All in all it was over thirty hours of driving over three days. Let me tell you, I will not be doing another road trip for a very long time.

Short Story Press Release: “Bottlenecked”

Short story “Bottlenecked” available on Kindle
“Bottlenecked” available for Kindle

Nightmares Are the Gateway to Creativity

When I was in my senior year of college, I woke up from nightmares several times a week. After months of this, I decided to do something different than I had done before. Usually I might journal the nightmares. But instead, I sat down at my computer and wrote them like I would write a story.

The way I dream is not what I would call normal. I often dream that I am not myself but someone I don’t even know. So when I started writing these nightmares down as stories, they formed a more cohesive plot, filling in the cracks left from my sleeping mind, and created full-fleshed characters.

Now I am working on a collection of these short stories, releasing each of them with a cover of my own design. I hope that people are able to experience the disorientation and confusion nightmares often bring—but in a more enjoyable way!


You can buy a copy for yourself if you follow this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XZJB62Z/ref=dbs_a_def_awm_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i0

First Month in LA: Finding Jobs and Staying Alive

“The walls of your comfort zone are lovingly decorated with your lifelong collection of favorite excuses.”— Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass at Making Money

Living in Los Angeles without a Job
The view from our apartment hallway

Finding a Job in Los Angeles

After nearly a month of living in LA, Mitchell and I have yet to find work that will actually support us. You know, pay the rent (an amount you definitely don’t want to know) and generally stay alive. There’s a lot to be said for people who just up and leave a decent job to go somewhere completely different in the hopes of finding a career in what you actually love to do.

Here’s a list of what I would love to do:

  • Be a published author
  • Be a children’s book illustrator
  • Work with a company that feels like family
  • Write songs
  • Paint and take photos

And what was I currently doing in Indiana? Being a Technical Writer for the US Navy. An intimidating, yet satisfying job to tell people about. But it wasn’t what I wanted. Not really. Meanwhile Mitchell, who is a great film writer, was working at a golf course. With Indiana weather…let’s just say he wasn’t getting much hours.

Sites Used to Find a Job (and My Ratings)

  • Indeed.com
  • Career Builder
  • LinkedIn
  • A Google Search (AKA “Jobs in Los Angeles Near Me”)
  • Neuvoo
  • Zip Recruiter

Indeed (4 out of 5)

So Indeed is how I’ve found most of my jobs in my life as of right now. It’s how I started as a Barista at Starbucks, and how my contractor hired me as a Tech Writer. They have a decent search engine, a really good variety of jobs, and a nice application process.

The downside…

Sometimes employers can set up a test on Indeed. A test that may or may not have anything to actually do with the position and has ridiculously short-timed, detailed questions. Some aren’t too bad. But if you mess one up, you can’t retake it for another 6 months. So yeah, that kind of sucks.

Also, there are some sketchy AF jobs posted on this site. I applied for a position that I thought was an architectural company. But when I showed up for an interview, it was a entirely different company that was doing some crazy telemarketing scam-like calls that were never listed on the website at all. So…just be careful.

Career Builder (2 out of 5)

I found a couple interesting jobs on here, but nothing actually applicable to me and where I wanted to go in my career right now (which is ironic and sad considering the name of the site). I also got super spammed by their emails, which is pretty normal for these kinds of websites, but this one was worse than most. Their site was also much more difficult to navigate.

LinkedIn (2 out of 5)

I think this is one is more of a joke than most. I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn. But most of them are, well, in Indiana. Also, their “easy apply” for jobs doesn’t usually let you put a cover letter for employers. And some employers won’t even look at your resume without a cover letter. Plus the jobs listed are not as extensive as Indeed or even a Google Search. So that’s not great either. It’s also SUPER fun to see all your connections posting about great things in their jobs when you’re trying to find one yourself. Very self-confident-boosting.

A Google Search (3 out of 5)

So this was actually how I ended up using so many different job sites. What Google does is lets you see a lot of different websites’ postings and will take you to those sites when you click on a job. The job listing is not very extensive though. And also I’m not really happy with any of the sites it took me to, so maybe it’s helpful for finding other things that might be helpful? Google did show me a lot different options than Indeed had posted, so that was a plus.

Neuvoo (1 out of 5)

Funny story, I don’t remember signing up for notifications for this site, but they literally text me everyday and say something along the lines of: “Postmates wants to hire you.”

One: they would hire anyone. That’s not what I’m LOOKING for.

Two: if you click on the link in the text, you’ll see that the employer doesn’t actually want YOU exactly. They’ve just posted, you know, a job opportunity. For anyone.

I could stop these texts, but I find them strangely reassuring and entertaining. I like to think of it as a game of “who wants me to work for them tonight?”

Zip Recruiter (1 out of 5)

This one’s kind of funny too. Because it literally didn’t and still won’t work for me. I don’t know what happened, but no matter how many times I reset my password and tell my email that emails from this company are okay (even though they’re really not to be honest) I couldn’t get on the site more than one time. I only gave it a one star because they actually had decent customer service who *tried* to help me. It didn’t work. Whoops.

Conclusion

I think I’ll stick with Indeed for now, even though I kind of hate it in several ways. Finding jobs is really tough, especially when you don’t want to work for a company that you don’t plan on sticking with in the long term. But we must persevere and keep our chins tilted towards the sky.