Mid-March Writing Madness: My busiest month yet!

Oof, my weekly “What’s Happening?” posts are going in spurts and sputters, but hopefully I’ll be more consistent in the future. I’d appreciate any help from all 3 of you readers. If you have any venues, websites, or events you’d like me to check out, please send them my way! You can email me at info@jlowatari.com or even leave a comment here.

March has been a particularly busy month of publications for me. ::party balloons fall from the ceiling::

Kermit flails his arms excitedly

I’m very proud of myself this month, and I hope for more and even busier months as my freelance career continues. Without further ado, here are some of my articles and blog posts you can check out!

Edible San Diego

I have not one… but TWO articles in the March/April issue of Edible San Diego. Okay, okay, one of them is a short book review, so maybe it doesn’t count, but I’m excited regardless! The other is an interview I did with date farmer Andrea Hankins, who’s supported the industry and other farmers through her hard work.

You can pick up issues in local restaurants or flip through online.

PASTE Magazine

I’ve been sending in articles once a week to the Drink section of PASTE Magazine. Originally, I started reading the blog for its music section, but one day I strolled to the Drink section and was amazed at the lack of beer material! Though I will admit that I enjoyed reading about the bars highlighted in the Craft Beer Guide to San Diego, so I was inspired to hit up the editor with a few ideas.

And my Beginner’s Guide series was born, starting with the Beginner’s Guide to Craft Beer. I followed that with an interview with two BJCP judges to help give tips to newbies about tasting beer, and have been sending articles going more in-depth into each style. So far, Belgians and porters/stouts have been published, but keep an eye out for sours, lagers, and wheats!

PeriodView Blog

This one is fun, low-stress, and pretty interesting too! I always thought that I was fairly knowledgeable about women’s issues, including reproductive health, but as I’ve researched, what I’ve most learned is that I only have a very basic knowledge. Hopefully I can impart some of new knowledge to you in easy-to-read, digestible chunks.

My first post started off with my menstrual love… menstrual cups! I also talk about yoga and simple stretches to relieve menstrual cramps and tenseness at home or at your office/classroom desk.

I have a few others coming up that you’ll find listed once they’re up.

San Diego Jewish Journal

I met the editor-in-chief Natalie at Show & Tell, a very irregular meetup for creative professionals (or aspiring creative professionals) who are stuck in their home office or studio (or wherever) all day. She encouraged me to send her some pitches. You can see the first of those pitches here, an article about recording engineer and music community builder Roy Silverstein.

Next month, you’ll find an article on Jonathan Eig, author of The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution (<– Amazon Affiliates link). He’s an honest-to-god “real” writer and I was pretty much hyperventilating for the 30 minutes leading up to the phone interview. What if he thinks I’m a crock? I got through the interview okay, and hopefully the article isn’t a complete mess and he doesn’t hate me, but you know, whatever. I’m cool. I’m chill. ::breathes heavily for 20 minutes thinking about it::

What’s to Come

I already have a couple of upcoming assignments for Edible, San Diego Jewish Journal, and another big one that I’m crossing my fingers for. I will also continue writing for the PeriodView blog and would love to continue my relationship with PASTE Magazine. So who knows, maybe I’ll have another cool update in April?

After all my excitement, I leave you with a heartwarming yet sad video of a dog that made me cry for a half hour.

Which Side Are You On?

The Jizo Chronicles


Justice is traditionally represented by the symbol of a scale, where the strengths of a case’s opposition and support are weighed out, ostensibly with impartial objectivity.

This symbolism is noble but doesn’t take into account the often-unconscious biases that we carry into so many situations, the collective sum total of which amount to institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and more.

Even so, the scale is an important symbol that helps us to visualize countervailing energies.

I believe that somewhere there is a metaphorical scale that is collecting the courageous responses that have been flowing so strongly these past weeks: from the thousands of people of color and white folks showing up in the streets of New York, Oakland, Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities – often in the face of police armed with military-grade guns and equipment, teargas canisters, and even tanks – to individuals who are writing brave words, folks…

View original post 811 more words

Please help me find someone to interview who is involved in a lending circle

A lending circle, also known as a ROSCA, tanda, cundina, or tanamoshi, is an informal financial system that excludes banks. Generally, several people promise to put in a certain amount at regular intervals (say, $100 every month). Then, each month, one person from the group receives that whole pot. So if there were 10 people in your group, you would receive $1000 one month, including your own $100. Then next month, the next person in line receives $1000. The circle ends once everybody gets their turn receiving the $100.

It’s based on trust and a strong sense of community. The community aspect is what really caught my attention, and I’d really love to talk to someone or several someones about their lending circle, what it’s helped them or their community achieve, etc. for an article I’d like to write for an online magazine.

So please, if you’ve been involved in or are involved in a lending circle, please contact me! You can call or text me at my Google Voice #: (619) 786-4796 or email me: info@jlowatari.com.

Either way, could you please re-blog, link to, share this post? I would really appreciate a signal boost!

Thank you so much guys!

Time to bust down your creative blocks…

Character goals and motivation Tarot Spread

Character goals and motivation Tarot Spread

… with Tarot?

Yeah, yeah, it sounds weird, but trust me. Sometimes pulling random cards can trigger different ideas in your brain and bring them to the forefront. Don’t believe me? Even Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt thought it’d be cool to have a bunch of cards help break your writer’s block.

Too embarrassed to go buy your own Tarot deck? Well, heck, look, I can do a reading for you. It’s only $5 on Fiverr! (And I wouldn’t mind an extra tip through PayPal or Amazon Payments).

If you want to know how I work, you can see some of my readings that I’ve done on Forumopolis (1) (2).

Plus, it’s only $5. Try it out! What do you have to lose?

And again, here’s my Fiverr link.

Live Anyway

“Be afraid but do it anyway.”

Tell Me Something Beautiful

My whole life I’ve been telling myself “don’t be afraid.”

And it is only now that I’m realizing how stupid that is. Don’t be afraid. Like saying “don’t move out of the way when someone tries to punch you” or “don’t flinch at the heat of a fire” or “don’t blink.” Don’t be human.

I’m afraid and you’re afraid and we’re all always going to be afraid, because that’s what happens.

What I should be telling myself is “be afraid, but do it anyway.”

Live anyway.

View original post

Why I choose organic and sustainable shirts instead of American Apparel

You guys already know that I make jewelry, but I also have grandiose plans of creating a t-shirt line based on some cartoon drawings I’ve done. And you guys probably know that I’m pretty conscious about the sustainability and workers’/civil rights, so I had to find the right wholesale t-shirts to print on. The obvious choice, initially, was American Apparel. Hell, I think most of my wardrobe is American Apparel, but looking into them, I’ve discovered they had business practices that didn’t sit right with me. Because of this, I looked into some other alternatives, and I wanted to share them with you.

Before I get into the wholesalers I ultimately decided on, let’s talk about American Apparel, and why I decided not to choose them for my clothing line. On the positive side, they are well-known, have a huge stock and can almost always guarantee availability. The shirts are made in a Los Angeles factory, right on American soil. So what’s not to love? I would be supporting an American business (in an industry that so often outsources to shitty sweatshops) that pay their employees fairly. But their negatives outweigh the positives for me.

  • Throughout the years, CEO Dov Charney has faced multiple lawsuits for sexual harassment and creating an unsafe work environment for women.
  • He masturbated in front of a reporter… multiple times.
  • They regularly use ads objectifying women, often using waif-like models. They have been accused of portraying “kiddie porn”-like ads. (Though in recent ads, they have used a 60-something model and other “non-traditional” models.)
  • Hiring practices require full-length photos and are based on non-transparent, seemingly arbitrary criteria.
  • There are reports of segregation of race and gender in retail stores.
  • New hires are required to sign a contract agreeing to a million dollar penalty for whistleblowing.


These next few companies are the ones I’ve ultimately decided to go with, either for their fair trade practices or organic & sustainability principles: HAE Now, Econscious, and ONNO Textiles. These companies aren’t as big or as old as American Apparel, which means that not all stock may be readily available, and there isn’t as diverse of a selection as you would find at AA. But since I’m looking for simple t-shirts, these companies are great for me.

HAE Now is the best of both worlds, both organic and fair trade. Their name stands for “Humans, Animals, and Environment Now” and they use that motto to guide their business practices. The cotton they use is grown on farms that use crop rotation and botanical pest control. They use low-impact processes and dyes that help reduce water and electric use and toxic run off. HAE Now is Fair Trade Certified through Fair Trade USA. The program certifies companies that offer higher wages, safe and hygienic work conditions, the right to unionize, and additional funds to supplement wages or invest in community programs. HAE Now’s t-shirts range from baby onesies all the way up to adult women and men’s shirts. They also produce aprons and grocery tote bags.

Econscious takes pride in their code of conduct for a fair and equitable work environment. Their principles of sustainability extends to human and worker rights and the environment. Econscious offers a few different styles of tees and polos, along with sweatshirts, headwear (do I sense a future embroidery project for shop.JLOWATARI? maybe), and tote bags. Most of their products are made with 100% organic cotton, the few exceptions made with a blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester.

ONNO Textiles produces hemp, bamboo, and cotton shirts. The hemp and bamboo shirts are both combined with organic cotton. The materials and shirts are produced overseas, and factories are overseen by the Business Social Compliance Initiative monitoring system, which bases its labor standards on the International Labor Organization. The company only offers adult-sized shirts (sorry kids) and organic tote bags (I guess those are in right now, eh?). Unlike HAE Now, which provides long-sleeves and other styles, ONNO shirts are one style only. Out of the three companies, they seem to have the smallest stock.

HAE Now, Econscious, and ONNO are smaller companies than American Apparel. None of them come with the baggage that American Apparel carries. Despite their smaller size, combined they offer a great selection of styles to choose from. I think they are great alternatives that offer a clear conscious and well-made product.

Keep an eye out for my new shirts, coming soon to shop.JLOWATARI!

State of my life

I didn’t realize that quitting my job last October would require me to learn how to juggle. Yup, I’m a full-time juggler now, and I’m not even that efficient at it yet. I mentioned all my main projects last month, but I think I’ll break it down even further and talk about some things I’ve learned and that I’ve realized I have to learn to be successful.

I’ve found that when I focus on one main projects that the other two have to take a backburner. While it may be better for the one project getting all the attention, it’s not good for the others. But I don’t have the energy to try to devote equal time to three separate goals. Attention seems to sway every month.

Right now, I’m mainly concerned with my freelance writing since I consider that my main source of income. I’ve been trawling Elance and Odesk — both overcrowded with writers from other countries who work for very low rates — and sending letters of introduction to different publications. Occasionally, I’ve used Craigslist to find projects to pitch to. Fortunately, I have a chance to practice my writing chops and create writing samples through this blog and Villains Records.

Although eat.drink.craft. originally started off as a travelogue of sorts, I now have a chance to write whatever I’d like. Writing for this blog gives me a chance to research different topics that I’m interested in and write about it. Granted, I haven’t done that too much yet, unfortunately, but it’s something I’d like to keep doing.Some topics I eventually want to cover are depression and anxiety and how it affects freelancing and productivity; punk rock/alternative spirituality in terms of meditation, yoga, and religion; and Star Trek. It always comes down to Star Trek for me.

For Villains Records, I get to focus on marketing. I get to write engaging and interesting blog posts for the website and update its social media. And with the help of a friend who has been coaching me, I’ve been working on press releases for various album releases as well. My favorite part of working on the site is all the band biographies. I get to research band members, which includes interviews, and write biographies that show off their personality. Using those skills, I plan to land more gigs that will help companies and websites engage with their audience.

Next on the list of things to work on: face-to-face networking. Ahhhh! I’ve written about my anxiety previously. Most freelance projects are landed from knowing someone or knowing someone who nows someone. The Internet is over-saturated with other freelancers like me, so it’s hard to get gigs that way. I need to learn to network in my local community. You’d think it’d be easy, right? I worked in a high-volume casual restaurant and bar for 5 years, yet I still quake at the boots when I think about meeting with a few strangers at a networking event. I do plan on making business cards soon, so hopefully that will prompt me to get out there.

I’ve been less engaged with music and songwriting than I have been with freelancing, but I do pay some attention to it. Fortunately, I have a friend who comes over once or twice a week to jam and we’ve been attempting to write songs together. I’m supposed to be writing a song a week too, for Raymond the Sparrow, but it’s been hard to focus on that when I’m also trying to make money freelancing.

Ugh. I’ve been paying the least attention to this right now. I still have a LOT to do to hit my goal of being carried by at least one consignment shop. I think that’s what’s most daunting. I hit a bit of an obstacle with the broken china jewelry I’d been working on — mostly cost of materials — and have been discouraged. (Damn you, depression and self-esteem!) I’ve spent money on materials and such, yet still need more. Since I’m trying to MAKE money and not SPEND money, it’s been hard to convince myself to invest in more materials to get the job done right. I also need to organize a photo shoot, or at least borrow a DSLR, and start emailing shop owners. Money, time, and anxiety have melded together to create a firestorm of self-doubt. I do want SHOP.jlowatari to succeed, but the fact that it’s taking so long to get my act together is discouraging.

That’s the state of my life right now. Thanks for reading.

Back in the real world after a crazy Valentine’s Day weekend

Mariel performance in Los Angeles. Picture by @ehighstrete.

Mariel performance in Los Angeles. Picture by @ehighstrete.

I had the pleasure of going on “mini-tour” with my band Mariel, Sullen Ray, and friends during Valentine’s Day weekend.  The tour was in celebration of the release of an annual compilation by Villains Records, a local garage label founded by my boyfriend.  (I’ve mentioned that I write weekly blog posts and content for them.)

We started on Valentine’s Day at The Griffin, located in Linda Vista.  It’s a nice enough venue with friendly staff and craft beer.  The performance was a bit shaky since we hadn’t practiced with the guitarist in a couple of weeks, but overall, we had a good response!  Hands down, my favorite song is our closer, “Shipwreck.”  At the end we have 3 singers going at once and I think it’s a great way to end the set.

We opened the bill and were followed by Privet, Muscle Beech, and Sullen Ray.

Privet performance at The Griffin in San Diego, CA.  Picture by @sethaeubanks

Privet performance at The Griffin in San Diego, CA. Picture by @sethaeubanks

Second night was at a Chinese restaurant in Ventura, CA. Yeah, we thought it was weird too, but it ended up being a nice night. The restaurant was huge and divided into two separate sections. On one side was a room where karaoke was going on. That’s also where the bar was located. The other side of the restaurant was the stage, a huge pond/fountain, and the kitchen. The latter is where we played. It looked like a good spot for say, a wedding reception. I met some cool people here and got to watch a great performance by Dan Driskill and Andrew Saks (spoken word and guitar) and rockin’ sets by first timer Jane Gray Black Orphan and Sullen Ray.

Dan Driskill and Andrew Saks performance in Ventura, CA.  Picture by @juniejuniejune

The third and last show was in Los Angeles. We saw an amazing set by Tarah Who? I was completely blown away and it was my favorite part of the night. (My least favorite part was the bartender yelling at me for not tipping before I even had a chance to pull out my wallet. So, fuck you bartender.)

Now I’m back in the real world writing this blog post in the local cafe down the street from my house. I don’t miss the cramped hours in the back seat of the car, but I do miss being surrounded by other musicians and artists.

A run down of my life and projects 2014

I thought it might be a good idea to mention some of my other projects. I have three main things going on right now: my writing (poetry, prose, and freelance), music, and my shop.

Main Thing #1: Obviously, reading my blog, you’ve read some of my creative nonfiction (Thoughts while sitting in Caffe Calabria and A memory from Valley Center). I also like writing about music, which you can see with these short song and album reviews (listen category). I have a couple of ongoing sites I blog for, including Creative Edge Music and Villains Records. In addition to weekly blog posts, I also write the web content — band biographies, mostly — for Villains.  Did you know that I also freelance?  I would like to start writing more and more music content for up-and-coming musicians and artists.

That leads me to Main Thing #2: my music. I play in a band called Mariel. You can read a little bit about us on the Villains site. I play synth/keyboards and sing. We’re going on a miniature tour with another Villains band, Sullen Ray, this coming Valentine’s Day weekend, in celebration of the annual Villaintine’s compilation release. I also have a solo project called Raymond the Sparrow that I started as an homage to sci-fi but has turned more personal as the months have passed. My friend/roommate Will recently recorded me, and that song will be released on this year’s Villaintine’s record!

And finally, Main Thing #3 is my online shop. I like to make jewelry and knit and embroider cards and the list goes on and on. My 2014 for SHOP.jlowatari is to get at least one brick-and-mortar to carry my earrings. I wrote about my latest jewelry project on the blog. To succeed, I have to get more earrings made, take professional-looking photos, and start contacting shop owners around San Diego and outside. My friend Jonnie Estes has been so nice and helpful, giving me advice! She and my friend Becca of Little Otto Shop inspire me to continue with what I’m doing, despite all the self-doubt I have about my skills and creativity. I hope they know how much I appreciate their help!