Category Archives: Origination

Protected: My Secret War

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UPDATED: The Past Won’t Go Away!!!

Was Googling random things and see what’s been shaking lately….and my stomach plummeted when I found this article headline….

Greenwald to receive $161,547 as Granite City’s superintendent!

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Jim Greenwald

This…ladies and gentleman …….is the man I had been speaking of in prior posts.  This is the man that was responsible for ignoring me time, time, and time again, for so many years when I would report countless incidents of physical abuse, verbal abuse, and psychological torture against me from bullies.  My complaints ALWAYS fell on very deaf ears from Mr. Greenwald.  Now the town is showing their gratitude by promoting him to over see the entire school district for the town.  Another fail from GC!

I won’t be able to put this chapter of my life to rest until I know that he no longer holds a position to overlook the welfare of children when I have numerous documentations that would show how very UNQUALIFIED he really is!

It feels like getting victimized all over again……

******UPDATE******

I was asked by a reader if I would elaborate on my history with this man, and why I was so disgusted with his promotion.  I wrote about him previously on a prior POST   (<~~ click link to see that particular post) that goes into a little further detail on why I despise this man.

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When life changed…..

When I talk to people about my past I always refer to the times as either before or after I “changed”, and this change was when I drop nearly 100lbs and discovered a WHOLE new lease on life; which took place between Fall 07 – Winter 08.  

I lost it, and didn’t realize it.  I started working for H&M in October 2005, and I was super-chunky….lol, and what scared me was that my boss at the time (temp store manager from NYC) told us when we were hired, “If you don’t stay fit, or lost weight, you are NOT doing your job properly, and I’ll fire you!” She was mean, but she was right!

……so yea…….I ended up dropping from a size 18 down to a size 4/6 and just shy of 100lbs total.  

To me, it was a miracle! I had finally achieved what everyone said I wouldn’t and got I wanted more than anything else in life, and almost more than life itself.

 …..More than money, more than fancy things, more than air to breath….I wanted to be healthy and I wanted to be beautiful (not perfect, but pretty).  I wanted a beautiful body, and after a little over a year, I finally had it.

I BECAME STUNNING….I turned into exactly what I had imagined myself as….ever since I was little, and I would get beat up…I always held on to this physical fixation about myself. I ultimately achieved the “impossible”, and the reaction from the public was overwhelming….almost to a fault.

This is where I found out that the grass isn’t always greener, and this was showing true in some aspects of my new “life”

The first thing I noticed was it was not difficult to get attention from really anybody.  This was polar opposite from what I had been used to.  I would go walking down the street and have random cars pull over and ask if I needed anything. I would always just smile, giggle, and decline, then go about my business.  Before, people would go out of their way just to avoid me. It was just so different…I almost didn’t know how to handle it.

The part I loved the most (besides knowing I was healthy) was that I NO LONGER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT MY LOOKS! It was no longer on my mind.  I no longer had to wonder if someone didn’t like me because of my weight….I knew that if they didn’t like me, it was because they didn’t like my personality.  Which for me, was waaaayyy easier to accept than “oh you’re just too fat”  LOL — Twisted, but true.

When I “changed” I didn’t just change physically, but my outlook on the world around me changed along with it.  Mostly good, but some bad.   One of the bad aspects was when I had truly realized HOW MUCH IMPORTANCE is placed on appearances.  How I dressed & presented myself would dictate how people I interacted with treated me in return.  Not a favorite trait from our society, but if you can’t beat em, join em.

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My Addiction

ImageI was 14 years old, and who’s not surprised? I mean, with all the crap from what was going on at school, and the less-than-perfect home life.  I was a sitting duck, and searching for ways to escape from reality, and forget my problems. What started out innocently enough, quickly turned into an addiction that lasted for over a decade.

My addiction was night clubs.  If music was a religion a nightclub was my church, and I was a devout follower.

My love for dance in general attracted me, but it was the atmosphere, pounding bass from the Louie Devito remixes, and being surrounded by mobs of club enthusiasts; that kept me going back almost every…. single…. weekend.  Night clubs became my new home away from home, and my way to escape.

Club Excalibur was the first club I ever stepped foot in.  It was an underage club that catered to the under 18 crowd, but I didn’t let age deter me from sneaking into 21+ clubs by the time I was 16-17. It didn’t happen often, and I never pushed my luck by trying to score drinks.  I was there to dance!  I eventually made my way to Club Liquid once I was old enough to get in (17+) and it was the local hot spot for the younger club crowd. Getting in the “VIP” area (upstairs) was always the ultimate goal of the night.  You could only go up by invitation, therefore, you had to know someone or get someone’s attention.  This was why I always made it a priority to become friends with the security guards.  They hooked me up….a lot, and I was lucky to get to hang out with a few local music artists (Toya, Pretty Willie), producers, and lots of wanna-be groupies. Liquid was where I began to build a reputation from club kid to networker and promoter.

As soon as I hit 18, my obsession blew up!  I began hitting up as many night clubs as I could all over the St. Louis area.  Then, I took my addiction to San Diego, Chicago, and even Mexico.  At 19-20 years old, I began dancing with a group for a local St. Louis club as…I guess you could call us… “go go” dancers.  We’d choreograph routines and perform them for tips….good times.

I hit the peak of my freelance promoting when I moved back to Chicago in 2008.  I started promoting tattoo studios and artists, special events/parties, etc.  My phone would be toppling with text messages and voice mails for future events to hit up, and being this was my only source of income at the time, I rarely missed an opportunity.  I was always looking forward to that next gig because you never knew who you might run into too, or where a connection would lead, therefore, it was non-stop and exhausting.  My feet would be covered in blisters from spending 10 or more hours in heels, making countless rounds and striking up a conversation with as many people as I could before dawn approached.

I eventually ended up suppressing my nightlife addiction when I met my husband at a promotional gig I as working at Navy Pier, but even to this day and after all these years, I keep that club kid part of me alive and well, and more than likely, I will have the launch party for CTA….at a night club.

— FiN

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First chance I got….I ran away!

I graduated high school in May 2003. Accomplishing what some said I never would, and I had never been happier to prove them wrong, and most importantly, I had survived high school. Kind of weird to say and a bit dramatic, but it’s true, especially considering that some kids (even today) …..never do.

I felt like I was released from a prison in a way. The day after graduation…. the sun was brighter, the air was lighter, and for the first time in almost 10 years….I felt relief! HALF of my nightmare was finally over. I felt empowered; feeling that whatever life was going to throw at me, it couldn’t possibly be much worse than what I had already been through. I felt I had nothing more to lose and everything to gain…..including a new future.

My mom had hoped that I would go to a local college, but honestly, hell would freeze over first before I’d agree to stay local. I wanted to be in a place where I knew no one and no one knew me. I needed to start over and college was the only solution of making that possible. I began to research colleges that were over 200 miles away…I thought it would be a good distance to start with. This ambition is what lead me to Chicago, but there was a small problem with my decision….. I didn’t know a damn thing about Chicago….NADA! I barely knew where it was in the state of Illinois, let alone, how big of a culture-clash it would be. I had no idea how big it was, how busy it was, the diversity, how to utilize public transportation (most people drive everywhere in St. Louis) or how dangerous the city could be to a 19-year-old social butterfly like myself with limited street smarts. This in turn made my family insanely nervous for my safety, but bless them, they didn’t stand in my way of wanting to go.

NEXT STEP: Get accepted into a college! Easier said than done!

Due to my horrendous transcripts from high school, I had to “wow” the admissions department to get accepted. Initially, I was technically rejected, but I was not about to take “no” for an answer. Therefore, I had submitted an admissions essay on why I wanted to attend ILIA, and needless to say…..they were very “wowed” with my letter; stating it was “incredibly passionate”, and the initial rejection was reversed, and I was officially accepted into the Illinois Institute of Art as a fashion design major. Even though I couldn’t really draw or sew worth a damn….still….I had never been so happy before in my life.

I moved into my new place the night before my first day of classes. It was a large studio on the 17th floor that overlooked parts of downtown and the Sears Tower. That first night was an awkward one. I didn’t sleep…I was excited, but scared knowing that for the first time in my life…… I was completely on my own. After I managed to freak myself out enough, I ended up taking a walk outside to the front entrance of the apartments (in my PJ’s and slippers), and met my first college buddy, Brendan*; a tall, lanky, curly-haired street artist from Madison, WI. He was very laid back and had a open personality that made it easy to start up a conversation with him. We sat and talked on the bench for about an hour or so, going back and forth about where we were from, and how nervous I was about going to my first class considering that I didn’t have a clue on how to get to the campus (2003…no smartphones or GPS apps). So Brendan politely offered to walk with me since we had the same Design 101 class together, and through him, I met a group of friends that were my backbone while I was there. It was amazing! I literally woke up every morning, looked out the window, and said to myself, “OMG, I made it, I’m here”, and I just remember the incredible feeling of happiness, hope, gratitude….emotions I wasn’t used to experiencing on an everyday basis. As time progressed, everything was going so well, classes were solid, friends were awesome, times were good, and of course, reality was about to hit me like a ton of bricks.

……I had ran out of money. I could no longer afford my monthly housing costs, and with no money for school, there was definitely no money anything else, and I began to fall apart rapidly knowing that I was on my way back to the town that I hated beyond recognition, and that I had worked so hard to get away from. It was the first time I ever really felt as though I had failed. Feeling that I missed my one shot to become someone and to do something extraordinary was absolutely devastating to me. A few weeks after finding out of my financial situation, I ended up returning back to my small town, back in with my mom and right back to square one. I was down, but wasn’t giving up yet. I had another plan!

*Dedicating this post to the memory of Brendan Scanlon aka “SOLVE”

Brendan was murdered in Chicago, June 14, 2008. He was 24 years old.

— Thanks for looking out for me and creating the best prank on my mom ever!

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I sent my mom this picture, and told her this was a real “tattoo”

……she fell for it.

Circa 2003

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Downside to Dispatching

One of my main motivations that keeps me fighting for my company ever single day, unfortunately, is the hope that I will be able to resign from being a police dispatcher.  Some ask me why would I want to give up dispatching; which CAN provide a solid, secure lifestyle;  for a dream that doesn’t have the same type of security….The answer is….well there are many reasons why….thought I would share a few, so people understand where I am coming from, and how I am making the transition from this profession into an apparel entrepreneur.

I have been a police dispatcher since Spring 2009, and the areas I provide assistance for are some of the heaviest crime-ridden areas of St. Louis County, and just outside of St. Louis City.  If you follow my tweets on my @PDispatcherSTL, you can see the continuous headlines I post of shootings, murders, pursuits, burglaries, robberies, domestic assault, drunk drivers….. daily.  Due to its sheer volume, I don’t post a lot of what takes place in these areas anymore, simply because it would severely depress people who need hope verses non-stop crime updates.

I see myself as a very compassionate and empathetic person, even to complete strangers…it’s really weird, but I do.  With dispatching, you have to become desensitized, most people do over time, and those who don’t or can’t, it tends to stick with them for a very long time… if not…. for life.  Most of my calls, are things you would expect to hear about in an action-drama-thiller Hollywood movie, but it’s not.  It’s real, and it concerns me to see that crime is claiming more lives, all the while, suspects are getting younger and younger…truly frightening to me.

I don’t want to have to detach my emotional mind and sensitivity in order to maintain this profession.  My fault….. is that I care VERY much, to the residents that are stuck in between this war with police and some of the worst criminals I have ever heard of (ie: gang members, murders, those who do nothing more than live to victimize other people)  My heart breaks for these TRUE victims every time they call me for help.

Most people get in to law enforcement for the “adrenaline rush”  it can give you when you have a big call — major crimes, felony crimes.  Others, want to help, like myself, but regardless of the motives of getting into this line of work either as a dispatcher or a commissioned officer,  it is never easy, and if you are a bit more emotionally sensitive than others (empathetic) :::raising hand in admittance::: this type of work can and will hit you much harder.

In the three short years I have been a dispatcher,  I can’t count how many screaming voices I’ve heard, how many mother’s have called my lines hysterical because their 15 year old child had just been shot…. simply because his neighborhood is infested with gangs.  Not even involved with those responsible for the shooting and not the intended target.  I will never forget what those voices sound like.  No one does, and once you have been exposed to this side of society, you definitely look at society from a different view.  Yes…..you do get the reward of helping a lot of people, and protecting the officers….you help to save lives, but the major downside is you sacrifice your emotional and mental state of mind.

All-in-all this profession is beginning to wear down my emotional optimism.

I am very happy that I have had this experience to take with me, but I am very much looking to close this chapter in my life, and beginning the next one!

 

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Protected: My first MAJOR fashion influence, Age 4

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A Special Thank You

We all have those who move us, inspire us, & make us strive for the things we want most.  I know personally, I have hundreds of people who do this for me every day.  One person in particular was a major inspiration to me, and I wanted you all to know who she is.

Her name was Jamie.

She befriended me when most wouldn’t.  She saw me for me, and never judged me once.

She gave me a very precious gift…..hope. For that, I say……Thank you!

 

In memory of: Jamie Lynn Pagano 1987-2001 ():-)

 

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”  ―    Anne Frank

 

 

Positive Impacts

To the ones who were/are there for me, one day I WILL show them that their love, support and encouragement has never been in vain.  I made a promise that one day I would have the opportunity to show how much that meant to me, and this business is a great start in keeping that promise, and an perfect motivator to keep pursuing it; too never give up…

I had been thinking of a way to always show my gratitude to those who have/are helping me reach my goal  — then came an idea that would work well with my urban store design, and a way of showing that gratitude; creat a Gratitude Graffiti Wall.  Why not? 

This wall would display the names (with permission) of the positive impacts that give me the strength to continue on this very long and crazy road; whether it’s the few teachers that took extra time to help me in my horrible situation, or  those I have met along the way of launching my company.  It would be a very public way of sharing my successes with them.  Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ just doesn’t give it justice.

I never forget where I come from, or the ones that made it possible……ever!  ():-) 

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