Hoe Improvement


I’ve been feeling like a grade A garbage girl lately.


Over time, I’ve convinced myself not to try as hard at work because it isn’t my dream job. I’ve convinced myself to be easy on myself, let myself drop a math class, let myself get cozy on the couch. As much as I believe in self-love, I think I’ve gotten a little too used to Netflix, sleeping in, and skipping bike rides.


Me to the left of Lil

I have, however, been putting myself “OUT THERE.” Very scary, folks. I’m a part-time hermit, so when an old friend and a new friend invited me out this week, it was a change of pace.

When you allow yourself to become a hermit, give in to your anxiety and lock yourself in your home, become best friends with yourself, or all of the above, like me, it’s weird going out in public with new friends.


It was like I convinced myself I was socially awkward, so I became socially awkward.

I’m slowly becoming self-aware (I seem to switch between vegan power juicer cyclist and couch potato every other week), and although working at a computer store can be a little depressing when customers can’t live without their devices for 2-3 days, I do enjoy many things done on computers like code, design, and digital editing, and I can’t do it without old faithful.


Here’s a list of things I’ve come up with to feel less garbage-like.

1. Wake TF up

For the next week, I intend to wake up 15 minutes earlier than the previous day (8am tomorrow, 7:45 Sunday, 7:30 Monday, etc). I’ve been pushing it until the last possible minute lately, and I hate being the last to arrive at work.

I’ve also been falling asleep watching movies on my couch like every single night, or crashing at my boyfriend’s house and sleeping in because I’m just really good at it. My plan is to sleep in my own bed without my phone or my computer, with my curtains open, so the sun wakes my ass up. My cat will be very pleased.


Graphic by Michelle Blackshire

2. Plan my outfits

Since I have a work t-shirt, I rarely pick out my outfits, but it still makes me anxious finding clean jeans or leggings that aren’t see-thru.


Whatever you end up picking out, pretend it’s Gucci Spring ’16.

3. Meditation

I used to be a brainwashed Buddhist meditation rockstar. Now, that I am out of that dysfunctional relationship, and my cult leader ex-boyfriend is out of my life, meditation kinda freaks me out. After you’ve spent months of daily hour-long meditation sessions, going back can seem impossible. If your mind is anything like mine, it takes a lot of practice to be able to actually focus on a particular meditation. No, I don’t mean, just sit back and daydream. I mean, actually focus on your breathing without being preoccupied by life’s stupid events. Honing in on your breathing is harder than finding a clear radio station in the middle of northern Arizona. This is going to take work. That’s why my goal is only 10 minutes before bed and 10 minutes in the morning, after yoga.


4. Yoga, bitch!

This will be pretty easy. I am naturally inclined to do yoga when I want to avoid homework, but I’m too lazy for a bike ride. 15 minutes twice a day. Reminder to make this yoga mat spray asap.


5. Eat regularly and well.

My diet is pretty on it. I don’t have much I want to change here besides trying not to buy chips, planning my meals, and preparing my meals, so I don’t leave the house without plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snax.


6. Ride my bike as often as possible.

I’ve been skipping the bike rides, and my body has been feeling it. I intend to ride to work on Saturday (tomorrow), and go for long rides on Sunday and Monday.


7. Wash my face every night and every morning.

This is something I can be pretty bad at, and it’s so easy.


7. Keep minimizing.

I’ve gotten rid of a ton of things by minimizing my lifestyle, but I still have a ways to go. My goal is to get rid of three pieces of furniture and donate some more clothing I don’t wear.

8. Work toward a goal.

While I’m minimizing my amount of things, there are necessities I need, like a backpack and a watch, so I’m saving for this sweet piece of meat.


Alright, y’all. I’ll let you know how it goes!


Sketchbook to Screen: Mountain Meditation

graphic, Uncategorized

This illustration was created for the Aztec Press in my story on minimalism.
That link opens in a new tab because I’m not a sociopath.


First, I drew some mountains as a base. If you have a tablet, you can 100% skip this step. I am kind of broke old school and I can’t afford a tablet like to draw and scan. Open this in Photoshop. Obviously rotate it the right way, and hope for the best because you just got yourself into a big mess volunteering to do all of the illustration for your school newspaper even though you kind of suck at drawing.


Alright, we’re in Photoshop now. Select each mountain range. Fill with a gradient of colors, starting with the darkest in the foreground. I chose an Arizona sunset, so I picked a burnt sienna which fades into a tangerine, then a bright orange, to a goldenrod, and an apricot color for the furthest range. I am so good at naming colors. Suck it, Pantone!



Each selection should be its own layer. That way, you can apply  a gradient on each layer. The goal is to make the top of the mountain darkest and fade toward the bottom of each range, sort of like this photograph, which will open in a new tab because I’m not a jerk.



Things got a little extra and it turned into The Lion King around these parts. I increased that gradient intensity even more because I was worried it would not translate on newsprint that well. I changed the sky to this beautiful pink linear gradient and just threw a circle shape on their. I used glowing edges to make the circle sunny. I also made a radial gradient on the brown foreground because that is where our subject will be sitting her little booty.



Now, draw this lil Grudge gal and scan it and just stick it in there, okay? I don’t know why.




That’s why. Because I am so bad at drawing, I draw my foregrounds and my backgrounds separately, then I add my subject later. I hope to improve and draw everything at once in the future, or I hope someone buys me a tablet. So just color this meditating lady in and give her some shiny anime hair.




And here we are. I added some crinkly paper for some texture, which actually looked pretty bad in the newspaper, like my illustration was just a photo of some crumpled up illustration, but I think it looks cool here. And there we go. Girl meditating in Arizona/psychotically staring at the sun until she goes blind in a crop top.

Moving day

blog, Uncategorized

From zero roommates to two, moving from my little house to an apartment was a strange change, but it was totally worth it.

If you made a move like me, from an old house to a new one, you may have noticed these culture shocks too.

  1. Carpeting is weird, but now, your floor can be one giant sleepover.
  2. Drywall is the thinnest material ever made, but at least you can drill, hammer, or at least push a thumb tack through it, unlike the concrete-like adobe I have been used to.
  3. I can smell my neighbor’s weed and hear his weird sex noises, but that brings us closer, right?
  4. I actually need furniture. The way old houses were built often meant they came with built-in shelving and lots of storage. Not so much of that in a new apartment.
  5. I have access to an on-site gym, two pools, and three hot tubs? No complaints here.
  6. WTF is AC? I am so used to swamp cooling. The AC definitely dries me out, and I feel so boujee, but it really does make summer much more bearable.

Recently, I moved into an apartment with my sister and her partner. My old house in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona was adorable, old, dirty, falling apart, but mine, all mine, at least for rent, it was.


The old pipes finally burst after 105 years of being patched up and only partially redone. My little adobe shotgun style house had everything I needed. I lived alone in it for exactly three years, and the evaporative cooling, which didn’t do much in the 110 degree weather if there was even a drop of moisture in the air, kept my electricity bill low. The black widows kept me on my toes as I existed pretty closely with nature. My friendly daddy longlegs ate the flies, and my cat, Henry, had the backyard to herself.

When my landlords decided it was time for an overhaul, my sisters proposed the idea to find a new place together as they were my neighbors and were getting ready to move on themselves. I said yes and had a week to pack and leave.

As I packed up all my dust and dirt-covered items (when you live in the Barrio, your weather stripping sucks, and your hardwood floors or Mexican tiles are always dusty), I was relieved to be in a more updated house, but I reminisced on what and who I was leaving in the literal dust.

My community of neighbors was tight-knit, friendly and too quirky to be replaced.  I took many things for granted, like my own shower, my own area to garden, my own kitchen, and my own privacy.

Of the most important items I took for granted was a hose and hose hook-up. (How to wash your bike without a hose article coming soon!)

I also miss my laundry room. There were two washers, but only one successfully got the job done, in the whole community. Every few days, I’d walk across the dirty lot with my wet hair held in a towel to do a load. My neighbor John would yell hi at me and laugh at my outfit choice. You can wear athletic socks, Birkenstocks, a robe, and a towel in your hair in Tucson. You just can. Actually, you can wear whatever you want whenever you want. So there.

It’s funny to think I miss our lone washer now. My sisters and I now have our own washer and dryer in the apartment.

Overall, moving was a necessity and has brought some good changes into my life. I actually regularly go to the gym, and I swim all the dang time.

My favorite parts about my new home in northern Tucson are:

  1. I live right on the bike path!
  2. I’m down the street from Trader Joe’s and some rad small businesses.
  3. I’m far enough from downtown to appreciate it and not get sick of the hipsters, alcoholics, or lovely combinations of both.
  4. I don’t see someone I know every time I walk to get my mail (sounds like a con, but I’m an introvert).
  5. I’m closer to so many more hiking paths.

An early spring



My favorite part of spring is the memories it provokes.
When Arizona’s short winter ends, a warm day greets us.

We put away the heaters (temporarily, because winter comes back with a vengeance for a few days in February, just to say goodbye one last time).

We put on shorts, dresses, fewer layers.
I go on more sunny bike rides, and my skin tone tans (crossing my fingers).

Tumamoc Hill was so lovely and warm today. It’s something I’ve made a routine of, which I am not often able to say. Every Sunday morning, my sister and I walk up Tumamoc. I cherish Sunday mornings for this reason.

Sketchbook to Screen

blog, graphic, Uncategorized

I wrote a piece for my school newspaper on a topic I get lost in often: nostalgia. It goes to press tomorrow. Until then, here’s the illustration for it.

I’ve never been a skilled artist. I like to doodle and make things, but at the beginning of the semester, none of the returning reporters wanted to fill the role as photo editor, so I volunteered to be co-photo editors with this cool gal I met in class.

There were no comics or willing artists on staff, so I volunteered to do some of the illustrations.

It’s been odd since people who volunteer to help with art are usually really good artists, so people expect that, or I just expect people to expect it, but it’s also been super fun!

I’m still new to it, but here’s the process behind the nostalgia illustration.


I knew I wanted the title in the drawing. Handwritten cursive seemed romantic and fitting for the topic. I began by writing the title in pen and going over with a Sharpie. I kept the doodles which I considered items of nostalgia (Autumnal leaves, Polaroids, a camping scene, a Christmas tree, Nickelodeon VHS tapes, etc.) in pen. Then, I scanned the three sheets and pulled them up in Photoshop.


I also made a new document, sized it, picked a background color, lassoed and pulled all the doodles over to it, and made those each have their own layer. I like to title layers by which drawing they are. I also made each layer “multiply,” so it would blend into the peachy pink background instead of having a rough white outline around it.

As you can see, I rearranged the text so each word was closer together. I used “threshold” to make it only black and white (see how bold and not sketchy it is compared to the doodles?) Then, I made a selection of each letter, refined the edge by going to “select” -> “refine edge” -> “smooth,” and made it all one solid color.

I almost like it better this way, but my editor-in-chief preferred it colored, and it is pretty fun that way.


I added a gradient and an outline around the text to make it stand out. My reluctant fingers only complied because it’s getting printed on newspaper. I thought it looked a lot cuter and simpler without the effects, but I’m learning what looks good on the web and what looks good on newsprint can be pretty different. Ink on newpaper can often bleed and not look as clean especially without a border.My favorite parts are the lil campfire, Doug and Cynthia, and the record with my byline on it.

Thanks for looking!

4th Avenue’s Celestial Rites wishes you a Blessed Samhein

Aztec Press, journalism
For Aztec Press. View original here.

When I walked into Celestial Rites and took a seat on a couch in the shop’s cozy backroom, one of the owners told me not to be nervous.

He could tell I was nervous? Of course he could. Michael Kraych reads energy for a living.

With his partner Jennifer Kraych, Michael has owned Celestial Rites for five years. The shop started on Seventh Street and Hoff Avenue, but the Kraychs outgrew that space and moved to a storefront on Fourth Avenue.

“It was great for starting out, but it was only 600 square feet,” Michael said of their first shop.

Michael has been a palm reader for three years. He sought a form of divination and began palmistry after having his palm read.

Jennifer, on the other hand, has performed tarot readings for 19 years. Her sister gave her a tarot deck when she was 17.

She also became a Wiccan at age 17, but the shop focuses on more than the Wiccan faith. Books on Satanism, Nortic magick, Celtic magick, black magick, Voodoo and herbal remedies line the shelves.


Delicate stones and crystals hang on the branches of a tree display. A collection of small cauldrons and figures are thoughtfully placed throughout the store, along with an assorted supply of incense, oils, powders, tinctures and card decks.

Two crystal balls are set up underneath the glass counter top.
“I tried to use a crystal ball once,” Michael said. “It just gave me a headache.”

The shop owners also make and sell dream pillows, puppets, herbal blends and magickal herbal candles.

Celestial Rites is for “everyone with an open mind,” the owners insist. They cater to most religions but agree there isn’t much Christian influence.

When it comes to acceptance in the community, the couple hasn’t received negativity beyond a Bible verse written in chalk on their front door.

The verse was Leviticus 19:26: “You shall not eat any meat with the blood still in it; neither shall you use enchantments, nor practice sorcery.”

“There are extremists everywhere,” Jennifer said.



Jennifer comes from a background helping mentally disabled hospital patients at University Medical Center, and has a passion for helping people.

The Kraychs agree more Tucsonians are open to the idea of the metaphysical. In fact, Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States.

“It seems like a lot of people are drawn to the goddesses we have on display, like a relation to Mother Earth and environmentalism,” Michael said.

The rising normality of feminism also has a lot to do with the increasing love for goddesses, Jennifer added. But even more so, she said a rise in spirituality has drawn more people into Pagan culture.

The shop will host a henna artist for the street festival and a psychic who can communicate with animals and the dead later this fall.


With Halloween nearing, the Kraychs expect the usual customers looking for capes and kitschy costumes.

“It’s all Hollywood,” Michael said, referring to customers who expect to cast a spell or dress the part.

Rather than “Happy Halloween,” the Kraychs might offer a “Blessed Samhein” greeting.

Samhein, pronounced saw-wen, is the witch’s new year in the Wiccan faith.

“It’s the thinning of the veil, or when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest,” Michael said.

The Kraychs will celebrate together and have a private ceremony after Halloween.

Jennifer plans on dressing as Hecate, the queen or goddess of the witches.

“I’m not green,” she said. “I don’t have warts on my nose.”

You’ve got females!

Aztec Press, journalism

I wrote my first article for the Aztec Press! Here it is:

You’ve got females:
The rise and celebration of women in technology

By Katelyn Roberts for Aztec Press

When Cindy Dooling began her career at Pima Community College’s Computer Sciences department more than 30 years ago, the same number of women occupied her department as men.

Over the years, however, the numbers changed. “Soon, all faculty were men,” Dooling said.

“I was concerned that we were not attracting women into technology positions and believed that if women are not engaging in entry-level positions, there would be a significant lack of women in leadership positions,” she added.

Dooling was eventually promoted to assistant vice chancellor for information technology. As her retirement grew closer, Dooling organized a professional development workshop for women in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

The vision of the workshop, “to provide networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities to support women in all stages of technology careers,” would become Women in Technology’s mission statement.

“Women shouldn’t be shy or hesitant
to join male-dominated fields;
Connecting with other women through
networking groups like WIT is a great way
to feel more comfortable in tech fields.”
– Paula Borchardt

There’s no ‘I’ in STEM
IT Principal Analyst Aleksandra Knezevic formed Pima’s Women in Technology organization a year and a half ago with help from Dooling, Keith McKintosh and Steve Chang.

Dooling retired and, with her husband, funded a Women in Technology scholarship.

“My husband and I funded the first of what we hope will be many scholarship opportunities for women,” she said.

Knezevic continues to oversee WIT. The group is relatively new, but its members are anything but inexperienced.

Knezevic has studied math and computer programming since her high school days in Sarajevo in former Yugoslavia. She took C programming, math and business intelligence courses in college.

The first of many scholarships
Scholarship recipient Rosalyn Norman served in the United States Marine Corps and has a background in meteorology. She plans to use her $500 scholarship for school supplies and books.

Norman is a math tutor at PCC and a member of Pima’s Engineering Club. That involvement lead her to opportunities at Xerocraft Hackerspace and Women in Technology, along with NASA-funded student projects NASA ASCEND! And the NASA RockOn workshop.

She now works at TECAccessories, an online distributor for inventions and techy gadgets.

Taking a different path
Freshman Lydia Stinchfield’s story of success within the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields is a little different.

Stinchfield isn’t the caricature of an administrative networking major. She isn’t a poster child for hackers and she’s definitely not trying to be a female role model in the world of technology.

Stinchfield wakes every morning at 5:30 to pull on a pair of muddy rubber boots and feed llamas, goats, chickens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, quail, pigs, dogs and sheep on the multi-acre ranch where she lives and works.

Receiving a Women in Technology scholarship was a “sweet surprise.”

Graduating without debt by using federal aid and earning scholarships has been Stinchfied’s plan since she decided to go back to school.

She previously tried to make ends meet by working as a freelance pastry chef and for a general contractor.

Growing up as her household’s personal IT kid, her interest in computers started at age 10.

“I’m fascinated not only with the intricacies of how things work in the digital world, but also in the physical world,” she said.

Ranching by day, cybersecurity by night
Stinchfield plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to specialize in cybersecurity.

“We’re the people who build protection for you, whether it’s your online banking, taxes or online profile,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are there to protect you, but there are also a lot of people who try to counteract that protection.”

Stinchfeld maintains her own VPN, or Virtual Private Network, setup in her two-bedroom home on the ranch. She spends most of her time there because all of her IT classes are online.

Books on cybersecurity and coding stack up next to her bed.

Down the hall, four computer monitors powered by her laptop sit atop a large desk next to a bearded dragon lizard’s tank. A cage occupied by two sugar gliders, a type of gliding possum, stands caddy-corner to her desk.

Tiny spotted eggs fill a yellow plastic container plugged into the wall next to her laptop. The container serves as an incubator that simulates a mother quail sitting on the eggs.

She’s documenting the features of her fertilized quail eggs in an Excel document.

Maintaining a balance
Stinchfield finds ways to incorporate technology into her life on the ranch for projects she is excited about, such as her quail research. However, she’s not as high-tech as you might assume.

“I have like 90,000 books and I only watch VHS tapes,” she said. “The ranch and my love for the outdoors are the reasons I can say I’ll be successful in network security because I have this balance.”

Stinchfield may look like she lives two lives: one as a technologically inclined computer coder and the other as strong and hard-working ranch hand, but she’s got it figured out.

Her favorite part of her major is that she can live the life she wants. “I can be in the cabin, stuck in the middle of the woods, and work remotely,” she said.

Networking possibilities
Paula Borchardt has been an online instructional web designer at Pima for the past 12 years, and currently works at the Center for Learning Technology. She joined WIT earlier this year.

“Women shouldn’t be shy or hesitant to join male-dominated fields,” Borchardt said. “Connecting with other women through networking groups like WIT is a great way to feel more comfortable in tech fields.”

Students or faculty members in STEM, those pursuing a career in technology or anyone interested in learning more about Women in Technology can email pcc-wit@pima.edu for more information.