Beautifully Flaw3d | Charlotte

We ladies of Beautifully Flawed are coming together, taking glamour shots, and telling the story of our personal battles with self-image in a society which would call us flawed by its standards.

A book will be published as the end result.

This crowdfunded event is something I think may intrigue you.

Livid Expression by LaKeshia Stigall is both project developer and photographer.

I believe sincerely you would benefit from this project greatly. Allow us to tell our stories, feel lovely, and let all those pains from the past have a beautiful purpose that could potentially inspire others.

A project to support positive and healthy body image and mind.

A project to help other realize their own value and beauty.

Love in the Dark | Music Interview

First, allow me to introduce the lineup of outstanding musicians:
Lead Guitar: Rob Bugos
Vocals/Rhythm Guitar: Mitch McLaughlin
Bass Guitar: Chris Kenney
Drums: Otto Gomora
Piano/Keyboard: Massimo Onesto
Saxophone: Cathy Gende
Trombone: Keegan Bramlet

I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with the bandmates of Love in the Dark. Here’s what they had to say:


When you did you start developing your musical talent?

Rob Bugos: I began to play the music with the saxophone in 5th grade band and continued that through the end of senior year. However, I had always really wanted to be able to play guitar so I began learning the instrument when I was In 8th grade and have been just playing since.

Mitch McLaughlin: My mom and dad surrounded me with music, whether it was Guns n Roses or Joni Mitchell; both were drama and choir kids growing up. I’ve been in musical theatre/plays since I was 5, and joined choir in 5th grade, guitar in 7th, and put it all together freshman year when I started writing songs for a folk project I wanted to create. Everything sprouted from there.
Chris Kenney: I started developing my musical talent when I picked up the guitar at 9. I wanted a guitar for christmas; my parents said I had to learn a song first before they would buy me one. So I had one of my brother’s friends teach me “Smoke on the Water,” and as result, I earned my first guitar!

Otto Gomora: I began playing drums when I was about 8.
Massimo Onesto: I began developing my musical talent when I was 10. It started by playing guitar.
Cathy Gende: I started playing 8 years ago in 4th grade, and started actually excelling my 7th and 8th grade years at competitions.
Keegan Bramlet: I started playing the trombone in fourth grade, yet I never really took it seriously. In fact, I wasn’t even going to continue on through high school.

When did talent become passion?

Rob Bugos: I really found a passion in music once the band starting sounding half way decent and I realized how much I love to write and perform. I also began to understand just how much there is to know within music and as a guitar player; I’d say much of my time up till this point has been a quest for knowledge and chops.

Mitch McLaughlin: It has always been a passion. I remember watching American Idol when I was super young and just getting pissed I couldn’t audition the next year. Hahah. Yet the last four years have been a progression of passion, where everyday I wake up wondering how we- as a band- could outdo ourselves as well as the musical community, pushing us to strive harder. Like competition in the best way, only to motivate and not get lazy within our own scene.
Chris Kenney: I really started developing a passion for music when I started playing with other people. It was over time, yet playing with others and making your own music firsthand showed that music was a way to bring people together: I loved that and I still do. For me, bringing people together turned the hobby into my passion.

Otto Gomora: I didn’t really get way into playing the drums until I joined my first band near the beginning of high school.
Massimo Onesto: That talent transformed to passion around my Freshman year of highschool as I became a more advanced musician: able to play songs of greater complexity.

Cathy Gende: My talent became a passion when I was placed in my school’s top ensemble Sophomore year. That’s when you could say I became more “musically intelligent”.
Keegan Bramlet: On step-up day for the band program, I was introduced to amazing musicians. Music changed for me, and since then I have always strived to become a better musician like those I have seen passionately proceed me.

Do you see yourself pursuing a life-long musical career?

Rob Bugos: I do see myself pursuing music all of my life. I don’t necessarily plan to make being a musician or performer my career, but I am going to college to major in music business and minor in music; so I am hoping to at least work within the industry. Playing, however, will always be a cherished hobby for me.

Mitch McLaughlin: I certainly do. Hell if I know what album or song or concept will do it, but I know I can’t walk away from music. I’ll be going to Nashville in the fall to major in songwriting, and minor in music business. So its for sure a career path.

Chris Kenney: I do see myself pursuing a lifelong career in music. Majoring in percussion performance at NIU starting Fall 2015, I enjoy the idea of opening my own percussion studio in order to give lessons to those wanting to begin their own musical journey of sorts. Playing and performing into old age is also a hope of mine.
Otto Gomora: I feel like I will at least always play my instrument with others

Massimo Onesto: I do not see myself having a career in music; however, music is still an important part of my life and will always stay with me.

Cathy Gende: I’ve always seen myself majoring in music but that might change.

Keegan Bramlet: I do not foresee myself with a career in music, yet the passion will always be there. My dream is to open a restaurant (with live music of course). Whether or not Love in the Dark someday plays there, love for music will always be a part of my life.

What is your favorite aspect of performing?

Rob Bugos:When you look out at the crowd and know they’re loving it. That means your music has gone beyond just you and has really communicated with other people. I enjoy knowing there are those appreciating the noise we make.

Mitch McLaughlin: Easily, my favorite aspect is convincing the crowd to enjoy themselves. People our age seem a bit weary about going to concerts as usually they’ve only seen famous acts who have a giant team to make then sounds perfect, look beautiful, and act correctly. So when our first chord strikes and I’m dancing, I know people think it’s silly, but I’m having so much fun; within minutes I can tell mostly everyone has forgotten about the venue: it suddenly becomes the perfect environment for listening and enjoying.

Chris Kenney: Performing is cool because you really get a chance to give others something great. And also, you get to put to the test all you’ve learned since you started your journey. Whats better than that?

Otto Gomora: At last playing the music for an audience and hearing the interaction that goes on between our band and them.

Massimo Onesto: Entertaining crowds of people alongside some of my best friends.

Cathy Gende: Definitely NOT soloing; the rest of the band will assure you of that. Shaping the lines of music appropriately and blending with the band to make an awesome sound: this is my favorite part. I also enjoy seeing people who get into the music.

Keegan Bramlet: I don’t have one aspect of performing that I like the most because I love every bit of it. If I had to narrow it down though, I would have to say I love soloing. I love playing loud and making the crowd get into the music. However, it’s an amazing feeling when you are jamming along on stage and you get into what musicians call, “the pocket”, when every instrument is like a little puzzle piece and it all just fits in together to make one perfect, complete sound. That beats soloing every time. I love seeing people’s first impression of our band, because at each venue there are at least two people who say “Wait, there are horns in this band?”. One of them is usually Chris.

If you wanted your fans to know one thing important about your role or view of the band, what would it be?

Rob Bugos: I’d say that I would want people to know that I recorded our first album myself and it was the first real set of recordings I had ever done. Anything else I did was for fun and usually didn’t involve more than capturing just a guitar or two: there was definitely a learning curve involved during the process.

Mitch McLaughlin: I want everyone to know that without our guitarist, Rob “Bobby B” Bugos, our songs would not exist: flat out, no arguments, never would have happened. He’s one in a million. And without Otto supplying his basement, we’d never have the “following” we have today. Both are honestly the best parts of this band, and I say this while still acknowledging the incredible talent of each band member. Those two are specifically standout players for me personally. Yet I love this group as a whole: we’re like a 2 -dimensional triangle, in a 3 –dimensional world. Together, we just manage.

Chris Kenney: Everyone has their role and must work together to form something greater than the sum of its parts. I am just the bassist. There are six other human beings that make up Love in the Dark, and each of them bring their unique personalities to the plate which is what makes the music. Its all a collaborative effort. Without rob, our songs wouldn’t be nearly as well put together as they are: he masterminds everything. Without Otto, we wouldn’t pay nearly as much attention to what’s going on around us musically, because he really stresses that.

Without Cathy, wed be missing a great improviser (although she claims she doesn’t like to haha) that also blends perfectly into a song, no questions asked. Keegan gives us sheer power, and really knows how to push a song to make it sooo exciting. Massimo offers a full, complete sound, just by adding the keys. And finally, without Mitch we wouldn’t have any idea the direction to take our music. None. Zip. Nada.

My message is to not get into the feeling one person is ever more important than another because that just ain’t true. While everyone has their own specialized jobs, your band is completely changed with the alteration of just one member. Understand that.
Otto Gomora: I think I just want them to know they’re welcome to dance and groove with me during the shows.

Massimo Onesto: We have a unique sound by a good variety of instruments, making us a memorable band.

Cathy Gende: That I came into this project rather late and pretty much just play what I’m told (unless I’m improvising) which is fine by me.

Keegan Bramlet: I think each person has their role, but we are a band. Our job is to take our role and and make it work with everything else. There is a lot of compromisation, as well as collaboration. Having said that, I want our fans to know that we are more than a band, we are brothers… and a sister. We may not be related through blood, but we are family through our collective love for music: and I think that’s just as strong.

Out to Pasture | Soundcloud

I.

The horse of metal had only begun to settle within the parameters of the pasture, when he glistened in reflection upon the chapter of his life spent at the palace gate. He did not hesitate to rattle in wit and vanity about his experience guarding the entrance to the royal family home, protecting the king’s body and the queen’s bone. He had known perseverance; he had acquired a metallic temperance to deal with the idle situation, and although restless at times, the nature of retirement was he hardly more inclined.

The horse of water chatted fluidly while moving lusciously about the prairie knoll. As she strolled flowingly about, spilling tales of her days in the cavalry, trotting along carrying an army scout. She told of the adventures in spontaneity. She mentioned the homecoming parades of gaiety. She shed a tear for the changeability of her riders, she often a survivor of what they could not overcome.

The horse of fire, extremely volatile, engulfed the pasture; she burst back, forth, and all about the fenced-in land while exhibiting her fiery need for freedom. Exuding hyperactivity, hating everything about captivity, she desired the dangerous sort of occupation. She had been a traveling horse, one burning hot in speed, one brazenly equipped with the stamina required for exploration. Her vigor carried her riders abroad and about the nation, to vast lands and far off destinations; and now she felt barely as gray embers within these sequestered and sheltered spaces.

The horse of earth was practical, had been a horse of the stable, and spent his dusty days perfectly able to work hard, fully capable of exhausting sensible limits. Grounded in dependable efforts, he was shrewd and prudent, and did not boast in himself like the others. He smothered his pride in the compost of experience; the gravel of laborious hours, the muck of toiling in sun and showers, the red clay of his blood spilled without powers to control his own desires. Here in the pasture, he sensed rapture at his hooves and chuckled in the sweet serenity that was, at last, part of his elderly identity.

The horse of wood could not contain her gentle glee, as a horse of the clouds she considered herself to be. Meandering outside the pasture parameters- not enclosed, not contained- her mane was stiff from a life spent drifting about without either regard or fame. Her mood was elevated and whimsical; her mind was acute to all things imaginable. She was sociable in tendency, and very much influential in propensity. She was committed to a life of innovative promiscuity; she flaunted her coarse coat and sauntered on sturdy limbs, consistently creative towards her own independency.
II.

The horse of metal- having embraced the rusting caused by winds of change and waters of time- grinded the mechanics inside of his mind. Although he had longed for the shining brilliance of youthful regard for duty, he found himself annealing, softening in age, melting for idealistic beauty. Where once he had been impetuously hard about opportunity, he morphed slowly; yet recently became golden through the process of alchemy; he now took pleasure in the aesthetics of personal unity, composed no more by a variety of ore; he swore himself solid: venerably enthusiastic about the future, he felt reassuringly, his past had been fantastic enough for him to clink about the community in total confidence of personal history.

The horse of water gallivanted spiritedly, splashing in the sea of her recallable memory. She felt a sudden ease wash over her, pleased as she was regarding all that had been accomplished. Astonished at her own fluidity during time spent working for the military, she bathed in appreciation for her own life: having been keen to perceive peril and strife, she stayed afloat, head above the tide, because she was as changeable as the currents that ride along the shore. She did explore as much as she could, and yet to go back, she never would; a subtle assertion revealed: she found her situation of shallow exertion to be a pool of perfect splendor and exactly right for her older inclination.

The horse of fire, confined as a flame burning upon a wick, was not quick to acclimate to the boundaries of the pasture. It took much persuasion of self to look inside and find dignity within what had been her responsibility; she approved her retired role only as a soul fulfilled through much travel. She had seen every place her hooves could race towards; she had moved through time and space at such an accelerated rate, there was nothing left out to search. She, who was esteemed as genius, had never dropped a rider through convenience. She was all business, and although tempestuous at times, she had sense enough to enjoy her line of work. Now, fully aged, she had reverence towards her experience, and comfortably accepted that fact that her blaze would soon extinguish.

The horse of earth, for what it was worth, felt no discomfort towards his new situation. It was gratification to roam at his leisure, pounding the ground at his pleasure. His rocky frame had eroded over time, yet in his mind, shrewdness still resided. Patience and innovation were the soil of his person, and from it bloomed the blossoms of elation: nutrients that were his past brought forth the fragrance of a pleasant odor, one that made the older workhorse inhale his aroma of continual dedication. A life in servitude had been perpetually grueling, but at last, at rest, he was placatory, perfectly at ease in his life’s story. There was nothing left but to enjoy his disintegration.

The horse of wood saw to the ease of the other four, those within the borders of the royal prairie. She too reflected on her life, time spent in solidary merriment, and suddenly found her lack of accomplishment as a source of anxiety. What did she have to show for never working a day? What pride could she take in living astray? Head in the clouds, she gave her life away. And now, in age, who would protect her frame? Her timbers were routed, her limbs were shrouded in gloom. Soon she would fall, crash, and become a tree without roots. She was withered and she shivered as the sun set afar, and left sight of the great pasture for evermore.

miranda hourse

An Open Postscript to Katie Cross and Clan

Yes, the Bipolar has been quite a conundrum in MI Life for about seven+ years now, but fortunately for me, I have at long last discovered who I am, and how I must live, in order to maintain a healthy balance. This is a blessing, and yet, a blessed curse, to bear the weight of my Savior’s cross via my own “thorn in the brain,” if we shall quote Paul in mine own way.

I appreciate your empathy, your sympathy, and in a noble way, your apathy: in that, you judge not, despise not, loathe not, and cannot hate me because of mine illness; the mental health can be so delicate, and must be reverenced beyond respect, and feared beyond fear; and with the gratitude gained only through wisdom attained via love unconditionally given by mercy; I appreciate what I can not have, and in that, am content with the plethora of prowess and fortitude in which I have been blessed by our Almighty to bestow upon my small, meek, and humble-hearted self- with noble grace and valiant mercy, I therefore do stand in the days of the evil one, one day at a time, moment by moment, in the smallest of stepping stones as humanely, spiritual, and monumentally possible.

Please share my utmost sincere regards to your {brethren}: the healing process of either manic episodes or depressive seasons can be a tremendous burden: on the self- [to forgive, to forget if so scathing the thoughts haunt; and to reclaim what has been given, let go of what must go, be gone, destroyed, and abated, and to understand the ramifications and consequences of the choices made during the past trial period, for that indeed- the suffering mentally through mania or depression- is most certainly of the highest: a trying of our faith, which yes, must! worketh patience, and patience, please GOD: hope, and hope, praise Him! makes us not ashamed (for all things DO work for the GLORY of GOD, the ALMIGHTY, Most High GOD) as I will vouch that in mania or depression, all actions, all choices (bad or good) and all motives of understanding SEEM pure, seem righteous, seem good and very good: and in that, we must proceed claiming Christ, claiming Jesus, claiming the Prince of Peace and the peace of our LORD of Lords and KING of Kings; always and in all ways, and forever. Amen.]; on the family [the redeemed of whom once was “the lost,” to forgive the loved, to honor the loving, and to know the LOVE source of all sources, which is the powerful One who made us to be in His image, and therefore, loved, in mercy, in grace, by faith and charity: loved, entirely and unconditionally]; and by the world we have chosen to roam free within by the sanctimony of the Word which was what formed the worlds, brought the light out of the darkness, and gave us this earth as our inheritance: [for in our tremendous periods of times, do we ill forget the power of the world; and claim for ourselves: immortality, by Christ’s bloodshed, we are yet so redeemed that we must know the caliber of our spirits].

As a woman, I understand the tragedy of love, and the nobility of loving, of losing, of reclaiming Jehovah Nissi as my war banner; I know the certainty of loss: the promised redemptions- for all things we trade for our crown of glory do we have more the more the more certainly, in power, and in truth by the valiancy of our merits gained by the talents bestowed upon us through Christ Jesus: the full armour of GOD enables my everyday actions: of no merit of myself shall I endure; by no understanding of my own am I considered wise; by nothing but the blood of the lamb which was slain before the foundations of the worlds shall I tribute mine life unto glory. For that, I say hallelujah, and praise be the ONE TRUE GOD, YHWH, Yaaaaaaaaahwaaaaaaaay. Amen.

beautiful people free-writing prose

There are some truly beautiful people in this world. I could, sit here, tagging all of you, but instead, allow me a moment lacking brevity: there are some, so rich in spirit, they confess their heart openly; they pour out rich timbers that heal the soul, and caress the mind with thoughts tender enough to remove scathing memories, like the scars of legions we call the past; there are some so good to one another, race, creed, or color are only significant in sociological understanding; there is no contempt, nor are they disquieted by our pain, for that is what it is: “our pain,” as when one friend endures the trials of their faith, another friend is there to comfort the pangs of enduring; while they may assess the situation, they judge not the caliber in which the struggle was ascertained; nay, they count their blessings, just the same as some count stars- in a glance, for a pondered moment, or within a lifetime spent, occasionally, turning eyes towards the Heavens and praising the source of existence for the miracle of light and life beyond understanding- and they move, night and day, onwards with hope attained. My joy today is a wish that you all count yourselves as beautiful, because in my eyes, you truly are such as that. Thank you.

Unpacking Adoration | Short Story

Unpacking Adoration
by Miranda Innaimo

It would seem by the contents of her luggage, the trip had been a success: there were trinkets obtained at memorial sites, receipts from extravagant restaurants, museum pamphlets, and a signed copy of a music album. Yet these things were tossed aside, and sorted garments of clothing brought swelling emotions to the woman’s heart.

A pale blue cardigan with a sleeve spotted by champagne: the woman could still recall the handsome man handing her the tall, slender flute, his eyes sparkling joy beyond the bubbly. They had sat near each other while upon the flight oversees, his elbow gently brushing against her own, her breath fluttering not only from the altitude. After sharing a bottle, it soon became obvious the woman would not use the services of a tour guide; the gentleman upon flight 403- with a relaxing personality, carefree poise, and with well-founded understanding of their destination- he suited her standards for exploration far better than whomever the travel agency had chosen as her guide.

A silk handkerchief, embroidered with his initials: attending an opera in a language neither could understand, quietly whispering their interpretations of the saga; the woman occasionally silently laughing to tears while the pageantry’s storyline unfurled in hushed giggles. He put his arm around her, the handkerchief slipped into her purse. Now, fingers tracing the embroidered letters upon the silk, and she bit her lip with the desire to be held like that again.

An evening gown, the shoulder strap broken at dawn after an evening of dancing: they had commemorated their final night overseas by swinging together upon a rooftop dance floor, the city lights shining upon them as they moved together. They were radiant, and the entire crowd melds together as a fading glow compared to their shimmering happiness. Held close, the woman felt his breath upon her hair while hearing him whisper sincerely, “I’ve never felt like this before.”


That morning at breakfast, the woman looked languidly across the kitchen table. “More coffee?” she asked. Her husband slid his mug towards her and continued scanning his business files.

After another moment of silence, she asked, “Would you like to go kayaking this weekend? We could go downstream, camp on the shore and see the stars come out.”

He lifted his chin from the manila folder, “We don’t own a kayak.”

“How about we attend a lesson Thursday evening? I’ve always wanted to learn swing dancing. There is a big band performing.”

Between sips of coffee, he casually reminded, “You know trumpets give me a headache.”

She continued, trying, “we could see the Hungarian movie playing at the theater tonight?” After he had consumed several bites of toast while putting a note in the margin of his paperwork, she nudged again, “the Hungarian movie, darling?”

He looked up, snapping close the file. “I’m working on a special account this evening, so I will be home later than I would like.” Her husband rose and left the table.

Bidding him farewell at the door, the woman placed the silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. “Thank you again for our lovely vacation,” she said, her fingers trailing the embroidery initials on the cloth.

“Hmm?” her husband gazed into the foyer mirror, adjusting his tie and straightening his collar. “Oh, yes, you’re welcome.” He smiled, “I’ve got to go.” With a hurried kiss, he was out the door for the remainder of the day.

The woman shuffled her feet into the laundry room: the clothes from their trip clean and dry without as much as a spot upon them; no lingering stain of adventure embracing the cotton, no scent of the exotic airs they gasped together in romance. It seemed that all residue of their experience was washed away, yet, she knew, the adoration unpacked would reside forever.

Flicking the light off, she carried the laundry away and went about her daily routine.

Silent Mission | short story

I pitied the public in my spare time. I felt sorrow for the oblivious when I remembered to do so. If I had a minute of downtime, I realized that our plan was happening plain in their faces while every day unfurled steady progress. The ordinary citizens were powerless, too busy technology-crunching or fast-food-munching to do more than pander their days away consuming. They didn’t have a clue what was happening, and it was my job to assure they never found out.

I considered myself special. I was on the inside. My people were quiet and our project was discrete. Coordinating the shuttle flights, I oversaw the team which worked the remote areas for departing and returning passenger crafts.

While I managed the flight logs, my buddy over in media saw to the meticulous care of blasting insignificant stories on repeat during news broadcasts; occasionally something (I considered transparent) would slip: a senator retiring without justifiable cause, a soap opera star leaving the set after years in the limelight, the highest ranking city officials not running for reelection.

Yet even these stories would never give us away.

Entire planes gone missing, the supposed assassination of key politicians, elite families abducted by recently-emerged terrorist groups: these things called more public attention and were assigned greater interest by news anchors; these stories trended seventy-two hours and then faded away in the blur of new stimuli dropped by the media.

Our planet was rapidly evacuating, and hardly anyone knew of it.

When the Vatican telescope confirmed the impending arrival of impacting asteroids- a confirmed thirty-thousand bits of galactic boulder heading our way- it was decided to keep the public unaware. No plan could be executed to save us all. The lists and diagrams were formed, week-long committees held, and at last, names were put on flight logs from our planet to Space Station.

While the public thought to mourn the loss of some over-dosed celebrity, I was shaking the starlet’s hand while they boarded the space craft. I saw all sorts of people come through: new money, old money, the famous, the brilliant, those afraid to leave, all afraid to stay.

Yet with every flight I saw depart, I should have demanded my way onboard. I suppose I always assumed one crew would be back in time to take me away.

You’d think that when I found myself unemployed, I would be full of the same pity I felt for the common citizens, myself now one of them; instead, I was lost in silent pandemonium, awaiting destruction: no true government in place, no entertainment stars coaxing us into a stupor. It seemed only a matter of time before civilization crumbled. You’d think I would have been beside myself with remorse.

Only, I was too busy laughing to feel sorry for myself. For weeks past, I saw the arrogant, the prideful, the money-hungry and the savage board their evacuation shuttles without even a glance back at the society they were leaving to die. I couldn’t help but laugh when the sky became dark, the light of the sun obscured by a field of asteroids; I laughed, and laughed, our planet unharmed, as the space station appeared as another shooting star, massive explosions, flying overhead.

Poetry Challenge | 8/100 Combat Within

The battle abroad
amidst the combat within:
fighting airs and errors,
and arrows of fiery whims,
like the murky death of
life uncontended; taking
no stance, a cause
worthy of defending.

Nay! Endure the war,
understand thine arms,
move forward and sound
the alarm; give notice
-what realms bursting
upon us?- spirits unleashed,
admonish! command them,
bind them, bond for service:
finish the story, and
onwards to glory.