What's Happening This Week in San Diego?

What’s Happening This Week? (January 9-15, 2015)

What's happening this week?

Happy new year everybody! I hope you didn’t miss me too much the past two weeks during the holidays. I ended up at my parents’ house in Valley Center during Christmas week. I came back to San Diego that Friday and completely missed the surprise snow they had on New Year’s Day. Crazy, eh?

So how do you guys like my new banner? It was designed by my boyfriend over at Villains Records. Let me know what you think in the comments!

And if you have any events you want mentioned in the next few weeks, please let me know below or email me at info@jlowatari.com.

Friday, 1/9

  • Records Collecting Dust starts screening though tickets don’t seem to be available for today’s Digital Gym showing, but you can always head to Whistle Stop (2236 Fern St) for the afterparty. The documentary features the record collections of several “alternative music icons.”

Saturday, 1/10

  • South Park’s End of Season Blowout Sidewalk Sale! Several South Park businesses are participating, including my favorite shops Make Good & Progress.
  • 4pm: If you missed it on Friday, here’s the 2nd night showing for Records Collecting Dust, a documentary featuring the record collections of well-known artists. Get tickets here at Digital Gym.
  • 6-9pm: Opening reception for JARS, a crowd-sourced art installation at Art Produce (3139 University Ave). The show runs through February 20th and is presented by the Sugar Museum.
  • 6-10pm: Opening reception for Arrivals & Departures, a showing of new works by Victor Villa over at Visual Shop (3776 30th St). Villa’s work will be showing from the 10th through the 22nd.
  • 6-10pm: After heading to Visual, check out the rest of the art during Ray @ Night.

Sun, 1/11

  • South Park’s Sidewalk Sale, Day 2
  • 7-8:30pm: So Say We All returns to Broke Girls’ Coffee Bar (3562 Adams Ave) for Long Story Short, an improv storytelling show. This week’s theme: “chicken” (think birds, cowardice, dinners, and more)!

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…

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How I Fucked Up My 1st Year Freelancing… and How I’m Fixing It

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve done wrong this year and what I need to fix for 2015, especially when it comes to my finances, and I’ve been developing a sort of New Year’s financial resolutions list that I thought I would share with you.

We’ll start with the things I did wrong in 2014.

My 2014 Mistakes

White dude with a headache.

This is what I look like when I think about my finances, except less white. Photo by Brandon Koger. CC BY-NC-SA.

The first domino of my financial downfall this year: my complacency. I quit my full-time job in October 2013 and had about 6 months of savings. Because I still had this savings, I wasn’t trying that hard to pick up writing gigs, researching publications, networking, etc.

My complacency fed into two more mistakes: eating into my emergency savings for monthly expenses (like rent, bills) and the thousands of credit card debt I put myself into because I thought I could still live my carefree lifestyle — eating out, buying books and music, etc.

It wasn’t until my savings ran out that I started to worry a bit and started cutting down my “fun” spending, but I was still running up credit card debt, this time with cell phone bills, gas & electric, and Internet.

My other mistake was not calculating earlier how much I needed to hustle to bring in income, but part of that came from inexperience. I didn’t realize when I started freelancing that my hustling now might not benefit me until next month. Sure, some publications (especially online ones) and businesses need things done LAST/THIS/NEXT WEEK, but most times, there are negotiations, consultations, approvals, etc. between me and the business or within the business itself. So I might not even hear back on a proposal for a couple of weeks.

Those are main mistakes I made. If I keep listing the other mistakes, I’ll just get depressed, so let’s skip to my goals (in order of importance) and what I plan on doing (and what I’ve already implemented) for the new year.

My 2015 Goals

  • Double my freelance income… which sounds crazy but not really if you consider I made shit this year.
  • Pay off as much of my $6000 in credit card debt as I can
  • Start building my savings account
  • Start contributing to retirement
  • Start saving for business purchases
    • Wishlist: AP Stylebook, Writer’s Market, Scratch Magazine subscription
  • Start a club savings for holiday/birthday presents

How am I reaching my goals?

Pretty lights coming down from storm clouds.

The heavenly host coming down to deliver the book that kicked my ass into gear. Photo by Matthew Perkins. CC BY-NC-ND.

Using The Money Book as my guide — I wrote about that book here — I’ve implemented the most important step to reach my goals: my savings percentage spreadsheet. For each payment I receive, whether it’s from my part-time job or from freelancing, I take a pre-determined percentage and transfer it to different savings accounts. I take 25% of my freelance income and move it over to my tax fund, 3% to savings, 7% to credit cards, etc. I have different percentages for my part-time job income because they take out taxes already. The remaining money stays in my checking account and I use it for bills, groceries, rent.

When I pay 2014 taxes, I’ll adjust how much I save in my tax fund for 2015… and actually pay quarterly taxes. I didn’t this year because I wasn’t sure how much I was going to make. Next year, I plan on having a bigger income *crosses fingers* and don’t want to be penalized.

Which leads me to my plan on getting more gigs.

I need at least one big web content or copywriting job a month but I would like 2-3/month. In-between, I would like a pathetic bare minimum of one article a week. Ideally I would have at least one a day, if not more!

How am I getting there? I’m researching, pitching, and bidding every day… while still being selective. On Elance, oDesk, Reddit, and Craigslist, I’m only hitting up bigger web content/copy jobs with higher budgets. For articles, I’m always searching for new blogs and publications (online and print). I’m reading a lot more pubs that I never thought I’d ever read so I can get inspiration for possible articles.

And is it working so far? Kind of. I’m hoping for the snowball effect… once I get a project here and there, I start getting more and more projects.

And like I mentioned earlier… some of these bids I won’t hear from until next month.

What was your first year freelancing like? Did you fuck up as badly as I did?

Or are you thinking of quitting to become a freelancer? Because I can tell you all the things NOT to do when first starting off.

What’s Happening This Week? (December 19-25, 2014)

Happy holidays!

As expected, there’s a much-needed lull in events in preparation for the holidays, but there are some art events happening if you’re interested.

Friday, 12/19

  • 7-9pm: Music collective Montalban Quintet performs at beautiful Balboa Park’s Panama 66.

Saturday, 12/20

Sunday, 12/21

Thursday, 12/25

  • Merry Christmas! If you’re sick of family, head to Blind Lady Ale House from 5-10pm for craft beer.

What’s Happening This Week? (December 12-18, 2014)

We’ve got lots of crafty things happening this weekend! We’re down to the wire for holiday shopping, right? What are you guys planning? Are you staying in town or braving the airports?

Friday, 12/12

  • Visual Shop SD will be showing “Homely for the Holidays” over the weekend starting today from Poortraits artist Nick McPherson.  Visual Shop is open from 12-7pm on Fridays and 12-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • 5pm: Whistlestop Bar hosts Stormy Lights Opening Party with deluxe re-crafted lamps by Garriss, music, videos, and a food truck.

Saturday, 12/13

Handmade Holiday San Diego at the San Diego Central LIbrary

  • 9:30am-4pm: The first annual Handmade Holiday features over 30 vendors, 4 local bands (including Erik Canzona from The Heavy Guilt), and various family activities all to benefit the San Diego Central Library. Music starts at noon.
  • 12pm: If you’re shopping for the beer lover in your life… or you’d rather drink beer than watch local artists… then check out the Green Flash Grand Holiday Marketplace.
  • 6-10pm: Ray at Night
  • 7-10pm: Have you been wanting a look at the North Park Post Office building since it started going under construction? Now’s your chance. Low Gallery and Joe Sloan presents Full Disclosure, “a show about process.”
  • 8pm: Old Main, a holiday horror radio play at Finest City Improv. Tinsel, mistletoe, and axe murders!

Sunday, 12/14

  • 11am-11pm: This all day party will have everything for families and non-families. Sledding on real snow, an animal adoption area (adopt responsibly!), skateboard demo, live music, and of course… beer! Bring new toys or clothes or a $5 donation to enter.
  • 11:30am-4pm: Blind Lady Ale House hosts the annual Craft & Draft, organized by Laura Lande. Drink beer and buy local gifts.
  • 2-5pm: If you’d rather not venture downtown to show your kids some good ol’ family fun, take them over to the Kensington Library Park on Adams. The event features Santa, snow, and the San Diego Creative Arts Project.
  • 8-10pm: Long Story Short: Wild Card at Broke Girls. “What’s the topic? You decide!” This is an improv storytelling show.

Monday, 12/15:

  • 5-9pm: Yelp presents Merry Marketplace at SILO in the Makers Quarter. This 21+ holiday shopping bazaar will feature local goods and Etsy artisans, entertainment, free bites, and drinks.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Musician in Your Life

I thought it’d be neat to follow up my Holiday Gift Guide for Freelance Writers for one geared towards musicians! From history, inspiration, and songwriting craft, this is a well-rounded guide for those of you who are stuck on what to get for your musician friends and loved ones!

(Just like for my last gift guide, this post uses Amazon Associates links. That means if you end up buying from these links, I get a small percentage of the sales. Enough of those, and I might be able to buy myself lunch! Thanks guys!)

Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad

Our Band Could Be Your Life

When we read the list of bands interviewed and profiled for this book, I had to pick it up. It’s a thorough history of the indie music scene in the 80s that starts with Black Flag and moves its way through the decade, covering many of the movers in the indie record label and music scene. Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Minor Threat, and Sonic Youth are just some of the bands featured in this book.

Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison

Writing Better Lyrics

For some people, lyrics is an intuitive process. But like any other craft, it can be learned. I grabbed this book as part of the free Songwriting class offered by the author and Coursera (which I also recommend).

The book is easy-to-read, well-organized, and breaks down songwriting in understandable chunks. From creating vivid imagery, developing a story, and effective structuring, this book is a great start to develop lyricwriting skills. Exercises follow each chapter so you can actually practice what you’re learning.

Journals by Kurt Cobain

Journals by Kurt Cobain

At times poignant and insightful, this collection of Kurt Cobain’s journals and letters uses reproductions of the actual notebook pages and is an intimate look into his head. Even if you’re not into Nirvana, this book is an important way to see how a musician sees the world, thinks, and works.

Scarlett Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite 2i2

I bought this for myself and my boyfriend last Christmas and we’ve been using it ever since. Affordable and portable, this USB audio interface works with all the major DAWs out there. It comes with Ableton Live Lite, which is fun to play with, but we mainly use it with GarageBand on our Macbooks. (And our roommate has used it with Logic.) If you’re just getting recording your own music, this is the perfect audio interface — it doesn’t have too many features where you’re overwhelmed, but has the basics of what you need.

Thanks for reading guys!

What’s Happening in San Diego? (December 5-11, 2014)

It’s shopping season! Have you read my holiday gift guide for writers yet?

If you don’t have a writer in your life, maybe you know a gardener? I came across the San Diego Garden-to-Table Almanac when I was at Ripe this past week. It looks like an awesome resource for those into organic gardening AND it’s a planner too! If you’re not near Ripe, you can find a list of vendors here.

Anyway, here are some notable events in San Diego this week!

Saturday, 12/6

  • 10am-2pm: The Peace Bazaar is an annual event put on by organizations who work towards a peaceful, just, and environmentally healthy world. 2014 entertainment includes carolers, circus acts, a TranscenDANCE performance. Come support many important causes and get great holiday gifts without setting foot in a shopping mall. Mid-City Gym (4302 Landis St)
  • 6-10pm: The annual South Park Holiday Walkabout is here! Walk around this small business haven. My favorite shop is Make Good!
  • 7-10pm: Thirteen galleries around 30th Street in North Park present 30 Block Art Night. There will 13 art shows opening around the neighborhood including World of Wonder by Kassi Grunder at Low Gallery (3778 30th St).

Sunday, 12/7

  • 11am-5pm: SoNo Festival & Chili Cook-off presents a chili contest featuring many, many great SD restaurants. You’ve got my favorite sandwich shop Big Front Door, my old haunts Blind Lady and Tiger!Tiger!, newcomers City Tacos and Bazinga. And of course there’s gonna be some great craft beer in the beer garden, some local music, and vendors. $20 gets a handmade ceramic bowl and five restaurant chili tastings, AND benefits the McKinley Elementary’s art and music programs.

Show & Tell at Tiger!Tiger! poster for December 9, 2014Tuesday, 12/9

  • 6-9pm: Show & Tell meetup for creative professionals. These guys (*cough* with me and two other organizers *cough*) are meeting at Tiger!Tiger! (3025 El Cajon Blvd) in the back patio. It’s a chance to show off your work, but even more valuable, getting out of your home office or studio and meeting other professionals in the creative field. Come say hi!

Holiday Gift Guide for the Freelance Writer in Your Life

I’m sick of reading gift guides for writers that tell you to buy us our “favorite pen” or “more notebooks.” No. Fuck that. If you know me, you know I have a shelf full of empty notebooks that I’ve impulsively and compulsively bought. I have boxes and boxes of pens because I love buying pens. I don’t need you to buy me those things.

Who am I kidding? I love getting more notebooks. But if you want to help a writer friend or family member out, consider these following items instead. Some of the following are especially useful for a new freelancer, but I think all freelance writers can benefit from these.

Are you a freelance writer? What do YOU want from this holiday season? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(I’ve included Amazon Associates links when possible. That means if you buy through these links, you’ll be helping me buy myself a meal! Thanks.)

The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed ($12)

The Money Book for FreelancersI’m listing this book first because IT SAVED ME. And if you know a struggling freelancer, it will save them too! I wish I had read this before I quit my full-time job so I was fully prepared for what was to come.

It is so, so important for freelancers and self-employed peeps to get their finances in order. Freelancers don’t have a steady paycheck so they HAVE to strategize their savings. This book is a great resource that talks about how to save, where to save, and why. We don’t have employers holding our hands and contributing to our 401(k)s anymore. We have to do it ourselves! And we can’t put ourselves into debt doing so.

This book will kick your freelancer friend in the ass and tell them to get their shit together. I would pair this with a good bottle of craft beer or wine because if they’re like me, they probably can’t afford good bottles of craft beer or wine.

Ulysses (Mac $45) or Scrivener (Windows $40, Mac $45)

Good writing software is a must, and these two are on the top of the list. Pick one of these depending on the type of writer your friend is.

Scrivener has a TON of features that mimics how a pen-and-paper novelist might have brainstormed back in the day: corkboard with movable elements, storyboards, outlines, project organization, and more. The novel (or research paper or feature article or whatever) can be broken up into smaller parts (like chapters) and be edited together or separately, and you can include all of your research into the app as well. Scrivener also allows you to prepare your finished manuscript for printing — whether to send off to an agent or for self-publishing.

Ulysses, my personal favorite, has less features than Scrivener, but that’s why I like it. There’s no storyboarding or outlines, but damn, what it does offer, it does well. It’s perfect for writers who self-publish. Formatting is super easy with Markup and you can easily export to ePub, PDF, HTML, or even plaintext. And if you do publish to PDF or ePub, you can guarantee it’s going to look pretty. Ulysses, like Scrivener, also allows for project organization — so you can have different chapters or scenes glued together. Markup also makes it easy to annotate, link, and structure your work as well.

AP Stylebook (Print $21, Online subscription $26/year)

Have you seen this Onion article on the ongoing dispute between Chicago style and AP style?

Join in on the warfare, and get your writer friend an online subscription to the AP Stylebook. In the U.S., it’s considered one of the standards for style, spelling, and grammar usage in the news-writing world, but its the basis for so much more writing than news. Major blogs and magazines use the AP Stylebook, and even press release writers and web content writers should have this resource handy to help develop a consistent style.

I recommend getting the online subscription because your friend will receive updated styles and tips throughout the year. Or you can buy them the print version that comes out annually. You can find the 2013 version cheap on Amazon or buy the 2014 version directly from the AP Stylebook website. But if you’re going to go there anyway, you may as well get them the online subscription.

Writer’s Market ($23, $34 for Deluxe Edition, $40 for annual online subscription)

2015 Writer's Market

The Writer’s Market is a behemoth that lists nearly every single paying publication that your writer friend can submit to. And it’s not just for fiction writers too, which is what makes this such a great resource. A lot of freelancers have their hands in many different pots. One week they’re writing an article about cars, the next week they’re working on a short story they’d like to get published.

The print edition of Writer’s Market updates every year, but the online version updates throughout the year. And it includes listings from all the other print editions as well like the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.

My recommendation? Get the Deluxe Edition of the Writer’s Market. It INCLUDES a one-year online subscription. Print + online subscription = $36… or online subscription only = $40. What’s the better choice?

150 Screenwriting Challenges (Kindle $5)

150 Screenwriting Challenges by Eric Heisserer

Yes, I know this says screenwriting challenges, but these challenges are great for all kinds of narrative writers. And for $5, it’s kind of like a digital stocking stuffer and totally worth it. Eric Heisserer has been writing for nearly two decades, so he knows how to get his juices flowing. I highly recommend following him on Twitter for his whiskey-fueled writer rants as well, which are both informative and entertaining.

And that’s it!

Thanks for reading the guide. And take care of your writer friends!

What’s Happening This Week in San Diego? (November 28 – December 4, 2014)

I hope you guys are having a great Thanksgiving!

Hopefully you’re lucky enough to still be relaxing with family. Or if you need to get out of the house for a bit, there are some great family-friendly events happening this weekend you can take them to.

Friday, 11/28

  • 11-5pm: Pop up shops from Maria Baker, Primrose Plum, and Boygirlparty will be at Low Gallery (3778 30th St) to kick off your shopping season.
  • 8pm: Black Friday bumming you out? Join Finest City Improv for their weekly “The World According To…” Every week, they invite a San Diego person — or in this case… a whole family! — to share their story, and then their house improv team uses those stories “to go crazy hilarious places.” Buy tickets here.

Saturday, 11/29

  • 10am-2pm: Family Farm Fun Day at Wild Willow Farm. Hands-on activities for every age, including cheesemaking, soapmaking, seed planting, and a nature scavenger hunt.
  • 11am-5pm: Art Bazaar and Trunk Show at Visual Shop (3776 30th Street)
  • 1-5pm: Wild Willow Farm is hosting a Schools for Chiapas Workshop that features vendors, short films and music about the Mayan communities in Chiapas, Mexico and zapatista movement. Learn about corn, the agricultural system, how to make tortillas and tamales.

Monday, 12/1

  • 7-8:30pm: Dedicate some writing time at the Greenroom Writing Workshop hosted at Words Alive (5111 Santa Fe St. 92109). Greenroom Writing Workshops are free and open to writers of all experience levels. “All Greenrooms are structured around a topic and include periods for discussion, generative free-writing, and opportunities to share aloud.”

What’s Happening This Week? (November 21-27, 2014)

Whoops, sorry this is late!
Friday, 11/21:
6-10pm: The BLVD Market II is an outdoor food market on the corner of Utah and El Cajon Blvd. in North Park. Heart & Trotter, Tribute Pizza (my favorite!!), and Calexico Creamery are a few of the vendors this month.

Saturday, 11/22:
7-9pm: Sariling Atin: We Are Our Stories features Filipino-American writers and storytellers at the San Diego Central Library (330 Park Blvd). Free.

Sunday, 11/23:
8-10pm: Finest City Improv presents their level 5 students and teachers at 8pm, and then at 9pm, Songs Against Humanity takes the stage for a one-time-only, hit song and dance extravaganza, followed by The RC George’s with their short form improv comedy.

Monday, 11/24:
12-2pm: Open studio at Expressive Arts (32nd & Thorn St). $10

Wednesday, 11/26:
9pm: Commune Wednesday at Whistlestop (2236 Fern St). Art, trunk shows, DJs, and dancing. Featuring photography by Nicole Espina.

Thursday, 11/27: Happy Thanksgiving!