Monday, December 10, 2012

I've got a gypsy soul to blame

I arrived at work today bedecked in furs. I had a long knee-length, dark brown fur coat, complete with fur hood, and a white fur hat with ears that resembled a polar bear.
I spotted the children and opened my arms wide declaring, "today we learn about Russia!"
I put heavy emphasis on the R, flapping my tongue like a rattlesnake to sound appropriately Russian. They stared at me large-eyed, mouths agape and then began to grin. Hey, I have never been one to do things in half measure. And if I am shaping the minds of children right now as my current career endeavor, well then I want to make an impact. I want them to remember Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railroad far into adulthood not just because it stands out in their mind that their teacher arrived adorned in furs and speaking in an accent, but because I want them to believe these places are worth wondering about.
We sat down on the floor so I could read them an itinerary as if we were about to embark upon the majestic Trans-Siberian, trekking from Vladivostok to Moscow. I told them that we would pass Lake Baikal, the world's oldest lake containing 20% of the earths fresh water, that we could stop and visit St. Nicholas cathedral, see mountains and villages, make a pit-stop for the Russian ballet, all of this on a 17 day train ride through Siberia.
I myself was wooed just talking about it. The more I read to them about Russia and watched as they sketched out maps of the Trans-Siberian Railway, I longed to merely blink my eyes, Bewitched style and suddenly be standing in Moscow already set with my thick furs for a cross country adventure via rail.
Alas life does not work with just the snap of the fingers, but it does, however, work with magic. Teaching my lil students about far-off places that I dream of going was a nice lesson for them, but an even better refresher course for me. It reminded me that all I do right now is simply preparing me to get there. Oh and not just Russia and its railways, especially the lesser known Baikal-Amur Mainline railroad, which I read about this summer and have been having soul-shattering fantasies about ever since. You know how people think of what they would do if they won the lottery, those kind fantasies? Except apply that same sighing whimsy to how I feel about seeing the entirety of this world and its people, creatures, waterways, mountains, canyons, prairies, festivals, legends, lore... oh gosh, I feel downright heady with the possibilities.
In fact, just reading some of the facts about Russia aloud to the children would cause an exuberant squeal from me. While they were excited and attentive about Russia, they couldn't understand that my mere relaying of information about another world was feeding my soul in a way it yearns to be fed.
Let me be clear. There are things I want in this life. There are things I need. And there are things I cannot live without. And riding a hundred something year old railroad through the wilds of Russia is something I cannot live without experiencing. Along with getting my face obliterated by tomatoes in Spain, or learning to work on a lobster boat, seeing huskies take off at the Iditarod, hiking the Appalachian Trail, seeing whales off the coast of, heck who cares, I just want to see whales, hearing Native American drummers, sifting through cranberry fields, or sunflower fields, or any field that I have not yet explored... these aren't just wants, they aren't just needs. They are deep and borderline debilitating aches for a life I am certain I was somehow already a part of.
Maybe I kid that I was a mermaid because I am so found of the sea, but maybe I was a mermaid.
Or maybe I was just a sailor. Or an explorer. Or a lost soul. Or a dignitary. Or a pauper. Or a poet. Or a dreamer. Or a storm chaser. Or an acrobat. Or a wild thing.
Or maybe God put infinite desire in me to know and recognize the places I must see and the lives that must intersect with mine. And he gave me the acute fluttering of my heart and pining of my soul to know when I have found something that is somehow already a part of me. A place I was meant to go back to. Or a person I am meant to know. Maybe I wasn't there in another life, but I am meant to be there now.
I know this.

I may not know much else about understanding life and all its fickle uncertainty but I do know that my soul is a wanton gypsy that needs to wander this earth until the soles of her shoes are scraped off and she is too weak to stand.
That is what I know.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe for an existential crisis

*Author's note--there is no delight in this post, so read on at your own peril. However, there is a quality music reference, so I didn't fully stray.

Make sure your paycheck that's owed to you for the last two months from your previous employer never gets sent to you, though said previous employer insists it's in the mail.
Get threatening texts that your phone is about to be shut off.
Don't pay your bills on time, because you have seven cents, literally in your checking and savings combined.
Avoid calls from any city that's not your own, Seattle, Newark, Manitowoc, because they are definitely about the bills that you aren't paying with the money you aren't making.
Don't bother thinking about your dreams because they seem to be spiraling downward into the toilet that is your life.
Look for work and find a job that is in your field of interest and you find very fulfilling but is only twelve hours a week while your other options of supplementing your never-ending pool of debt are waitressing or bagging groceries.
Feel desolate looking at your student loan bills creeping upwards of $80,000 with interest accruing daily and wonder why you paid for higher education just to serve beer and accidentally walk into the bathroom on someone doing a line of coke.
Don't go for a run because even though the endorphins would be good for you, the thought of putting on different clothes seems to be too much.
Lay in bed but don't distract yourself in any positive way, like reading quality books or looking at choice photography but instead think of all the ways in which your life is an abyss and feel markedly worse.
Continually switch your Pandora station because even the most folksy, mellow music isn't depressing enough to match your mood. Bob Dylan. You read once that if you're sad, don't listen to Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan it is.
Sleep in a bed with two of your sisters in a bedroom where you don't have a dresser and all your clothes are spilling out of bags and you can't find your underwear when you get out of the shower and your siblings steal your socks and you end up wearing the same three outfits every week rather than dig through the endless bags of chaos.
Take half a Xanax, but immediately fret that you should have taken a whole.
Wonder where all your positivity and pep went?
Acknowledge that when your most loved place sucker punched you in the groin when you were down and thoroughly made you question not only your belief in yourself, but your belief in everything, that it could be a rough road back to the top.

Aaaaand that outta do it.

Congratulations, you are now in the throes of an existential crisis.

**Additional author's note--okay, after writing this post I waited awhile before publishing as it seemed rather bleak and true enough it is. But since then, a very kind and incredible man whom I love dearly made me laugh, well amidst my tears, but he accomplished something noteworthy in my crisis nonetheless. So I take it back about the no delight. Life isn't all grim. I love and am loved. That's not to be discounted, even for the sake of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Also I went ice skating today. So... there's that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Falling Apart

What do I write about? Hardship? No, that's dreary. So no writing then for the past few months. Why? Because it seemed that all I could possibly write about was the cold, dead weight of hardship pressing down on me to a point where I couldn't fashion a quick lemonade stand out of my hefty bag o' lemons anymore. For I was lost and sinking like a lead pipe in the Bermuda Triangle. Of course I started letting on that New York was hard--understatement by the way, that New York is not When Harry Met Sally or Sex and the City. The New York that I experienced wasn't even a comedy or a romance. It was a sad, sad story, definitely the kind that make Oprah's book club, you know the ones: They start out a little sad in the beginning, are a lot sad in the middle, and horribly bleak in the end. That was my New York.
But don't misunderstand me. I love that city and I would do it all over again, including the moments of sobbing in the fetal position on my bathroom floor. Oh but did I have my moments of grandeur. Even Oprah's stamp of approval books can't be all grim, there has to be glimmers of hope, for that's what every heart needs. And that is what I had in New York. I gave it my all and I gave it my love. But sometimes even the greatest love fails, despite what we want to believe about Edward and Bella. And even the battles that everyone favors the bold to win, well they sometimes are lost, despite the most noble and valiant soldiers. And when this happens, as it often does in life, the ugly part, the sad part, the part that no one really wants to know, because it's not the success story, or the time for great applause and the graceful dipping of a bow, it's the time when the hero or in my case heroine--while I may be downtrodden, I am still the heroine of my own life--is left with the remains, the destruction, the hurt and the defeat wondering and replaying what she could have done differently and how she is supposed to make sense of a tremendous loss and how to make something funny that doesn't feel funny at all?
That's the problem though, there is a time for laughter in life, and I want to believe that is always, because I prefer joy, and oftentimes I prefer denial, but while laughter has it's divine merits, so do tears. And if I learned anything from a very wise coach I had, it's that sometimes in life, you need to stop trying to be tough and just let yourself fall apart, dammit.
Alas that is what I have been doing for the past two months. Falling apart over and over again. Sure I did my marathon and believe me I sort of fell apart during that too as running for 26 miles offers a lot of time for self inspection. And it was a splendid metaphor for New York. Oh I started out so blithely unaware of the atrocity that is keeping your body going mile after mile after mile, hour after hour. By the time I got into the twenties I felt a wee bit deranged and asked myself why anyone would torture themselves in such a way, why would anyone intentionally feel horrendous pain and grief in the name of a dream? Honestly, because it's fucking worth it in the end. I didn't have a noteworthy time for finishing, took me six and half hours, that's tortoise slow by all running standards by the way, I had moments where I was chugging my cup of water and limping, certain I would require an ambulance, but I'll tell you what, crossing that finish line, still running, despite the knots in every muscle of my legs and my mind whimpering for mercy was one of the most profoundly rewarding moments of my life. For all the pain and wondering why I would attempt said feat during the six and a half hours of making myself keep going, it all became clear to me why I did it once I crossed the finish line and began to weep. Because I believed in something enough to try.
New York was nothing I could have expected, trained for or even forced myself though with sheer positivity alone: it was hellish and beautiful, poetic and heartbreaking, disastrous and wonderful, yet the race came to an end. But for me, it's important to know this, I saw it through to my finish line. At least for now. Because as much as I told myself during my marathon I would never endure such brutality for the sake of personal achievement again, I felt differently upon completion. I wanted it all over again. My mom sagely told me that was the same feeling as childbirth.
So while I may not be in New York right now, it doesn't mean there isn't another race in my future. Maybe it requires better training or maybe it's a simple understanding of what I want and won't settle for. And turns out as funny as it will be in my chapter of life that I did get to ever so briefly be homeless in New York, stay in a hostel and huck my wordly possessions through the subway and streets in the pouring rain, it isn't so funny doing it for more than a few days.
I wish I could sum it up in a more pristine package, make you want to stand up and cheer, but like I said, this isn't one of those stories. But do know this, in my book, the heroine doesn't stay down for long. She always has a comeback.

Oh and a leading man. But that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dukes up

I have not been entirely forthright with you on my New York experience. I guess I like to think in grand terms all the time, so if circumstances and experiences are less than grand I may go on a miniature detour shedding a glimmer of light on the bumps ahead on my path, but then I steer you right back to the straight and narrow making New York seem very glam and fab, fab, fabulous.

New York City is phenomenal of course, but not for nothing. It is by and large, a brutal beast who is doing her best to decimate me. Unlucky for New York--fickle temptress that she is--I am not to be underestimated. I don't give up so easily. But here's the truth pals:

Remember that perfect, huge brownstone I said I signed the lease on awhile back? Well that was true. I did sign the lease, but oh about three days before move-in they pulled the plug as my financials weren't quite up to par for this city. Word to the wise, New York doesn't just want thousands of dollars put down for security deposit and first months rent, but then there's that tricky business of a broker. Before when I used to get stressed in college coming up with $800 for a new apartment, I thought I had it bad, working at a sandwich shop and cashiering at a craft store. Nope, try coming up with about $5,000 and a co-signer and probably a sugar daddy for good measure all while having two jobs and considering two more while contemplating selling off some of your wardrobe and book collection.

Was I homeless and living on subway cars all these months? Of course not, I am one blessed individual and I have had a bit of a Fairy Godmother type situation, but alas, even Cinderella had a time limit with her mice turned chauffeurs and had to return to scrubbing floors. So while I have enjoyed my time at the ball, or rather my time in the lush neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights with a rooftop garden and a view of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge, the time has come, the wise walrus did say.

This girl is going to have to get ugly. My standards have officially lowered a great deal. Forget dreams of Kirst and I having our own bedrooms and a place all our own--home sweet home--in a quaint Brooklyn neighborhood with a charming name like Red Hook, or Carroll Gardens. Nope, I have started looking on the outskirts, the rundown areas, the places that sound like garbage pails and not places on a Monopoly board, offering bedrooms described as itsy-bitsy and insisting that you be 420 friendly for your new skateboarder roommate.

I happily reply, that yes I am interested and my sister and I will share a room overlooking a rat-infested alley! Can we move in by October 1st? After spending the majority of my yesterday having meltdowns envisioning myself on a cot at the local YMCA, I have fully embraced this new struggle as a charming chapter in my book of life.

This is nothing but another adventure for me and quite frankly, even though I like to throw up a lot of fuss about how many struggles it takes to make it here, I have realized I never expected easy and not many people get the opportunity to do things my way, which of course is off-road it as often as possible. Who the hell likes the straight and narrow anyway?

Not this girl, adventure is my middle name and the prospect of living with someone who says they are into rooftop yoga and play the guitar tickles my fancy right fierce. Why did I ever want a huge brownstone in Park Slope anyway? How overrated, how very un-starving artist of me.
I have a worn-out laptop for writing, my beaut of a camera for photo opps, my poetry books, my very own guitar, and my sister. Fuck brownstones. Fuck expectations.

I am not going anywhere New York, even if you do continually sucker punch me in the jugular. I will one up you, because guess what? I will sleep on a cot in the YMCA before buying a one way ticket home.

Yep, dukes are up, baby.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

how normal

Oh New York.

New York.
New York.
New York.

What you do to me? This city is most definitely a relationship and a tumultuous one at that. And were it a man, I don't know if I'd put up with the abuse even if when it's good it's oh so good. But when it's bad, the tears and angst almost don't seem worth it. Almost. Until days like Monday. Ah Monday, who ever dreamed a Monday could be so blissful.

I was strolling through Brooklyn around mid-day, let's say high noon for affect, to return some books to the library and I see this family who looked like they just dropped in from a ball in Russia. I mean, the puff and splash of the vibrantly colored dresses, the suits, it wasn't even just show-stopping New York, it was show-stopping otherworldly. And the thing is, it seemed perfectly normal on a sunny Brooklyn street, near a fountain in the middle of an afternoon on a Monday. I couldn't help but ponder what on earth they were doing and where they were either coming from or going to, but other than that it was a couple appreciative glances from me and I was back on my way to the library.

Later as I rode the subway for an hour, making my way up to Astoria to meet with a very posh songwriter for my next Music Monday installment (look for it, gonna be good pals) at a very posh coffee shop, I people watched on the subway. An older gentleman sat next to me with a baby. The lil boy, a very happy tot, kept reaching his hands up for the subway handrail above his head and so, dad or what I soon ascertained to be grandpa as dad came over, let him up to swing on the bar like a wee acrobat, while holding his stomach. The child was obviously delighted with this and every time he was brought back down to grandpa's lap reached his hands back up to swing on the bar. I was as amused watching this as the baby was swinging back and forth. Then baby got transferred to dad's lap, which was closer to me and started looking for something new to entertain himself when he spotted me.
I of course beamed, as I love kids and he was a cutey this one. He gave me a large grin and then decided to show me a trick I gathered he had just learned. He slowly blinked, precisely and methodically as someone who has just learned to use their eyelids and wants to show you with great affect what a phenomenon it is. So he sat there slowly closing his eyelids, then springing them open with delight grinning largely, like do you see what I am capable of Ms? I couldn't help laughter. And the more I laughed, the more he laughed and then repeated the trick.
I find it so intriguing children riding the subway, just accepting this mode of travel as complete normalcy, swinging from subway rails, while I sat strapped into my carseat staring out a car window at that age, no acrobatics for me. Not only this, but I have to say, I see a lot of unusual business on a subway and like most New Yorkers, I have now gotten used to electric guitarists, singing trios, beggars, people dressed like Lady Gaga sitting across from me and hardly bat an eyelash anymore, but something about this laughing child continually doing his blinking trick waiting to get an enthusiastic response from me, delighted me more than anything else thus far on any subway ride. It was the best hour of public transportation I would say to date. Thanks kid.

Then as I sat avidly listening to my next musician wax poetic on life, lyrics, and writing I was positively wooed with this city, its people, places, faces, finds, coffee, energy... I felt utterly bowled over.

After the interview I wove down Broadway to meet up with a friend and stared at the twinkle lights in the trees, and it fit. Everything fit in a way that was as magical as seeing sparkling lights moving in the wind months before Christmas.
I had a pumpkin beer to celebrate the crisp sharpness of the air and the goosebumps dancing up my arm as we sat in the restaurant that opened to the outdoor patio.

My friend walked me to my train stop and waited on the platform with me, like a true gent and on the less exciting ride back, no bouncing baby entertainment, I still couldn't dismiss the pure poetry of a day of what felt like the abnormal, but for New York was perfectly in accordance with everyday life.

If this is everyday life: people dressed for the stage at all times of day, babies swinging on subway rails, coffee with songwriters, and drinks overlooking twinkly city lights, well, count me in. I am very keen on the new norm.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coffee and Brooklyn: Epiphanies

I woke up this morning, much like every other day, nothing seemed significant, until I heard Kirstie in the kitchen and spotted her preparing to make oatmeal and I sprung out of bed and told her no.

”I’ll go get us bagels!”

My mom and dad discovered this most sensational deli right around the block from us and Kirst and I fantasize about it daily, but usually don’t feel like walking there—not that it’s far—and try to eat sensibly with what we have available in our fridge anyway. Besides these bagels being everything that a quality bagel should be, they are also quite cost-effective and since my ever-generous mother put a solid twenty-five dollars in my account for my coffee/writing fund—I had asked for ten to purchase coffees for the week, therefore utilizing free internet in all my favorite coffeeshops to scour writing jobs and of course be a bloggess. And my mom, amazing mother-of-the-year that she is, got so jazzed about me writing that she insisted upon twenty-five. To me, that felt like a prince’s ransom and I decided Kirst and I deserved a splurge on bagels for all of $1.70 of my prince’s ransom.
I told Kirst to get started on coffee while I ran around the corner.
Now for me doing anything without caffeine first, is noteworthy, but as I whipped on a summer dress and ran out of the apartment, my eyes still hazy and scrunchy with sleep I noted the bustling Brooklyn street. And the weather. Something was different. No, I was different.
I spotted families and bearded men with puppies and coffee and their bagels and it made me deliriously happy. And the air felt non-oppressive and almost like… fall. I threw in a small canoli for us to split because Kirst had yet to try one and I was feeling really top-notch. I came home and the coffee was done. I couldn’t get it down my throat fast enough. Kirst asked how I did that without burning my tongue and I taught her the technique. She caught on and we went into the living room with our bagels and mugs and sat and visited.
I happily munched away on my bagel, yummying every five seconds and sipped my coffee and thought about what could be better than Brooklyn, bagels and hot coffee?

Kirst and I then got gussied up as there was a literary fest I was not going to miss with children reading their own work accompanied by New York authors. Bliss? As a matter of fact, I would say so.
We decided walking was the better option as the day was so un-disgusting and just shy of cool that it made us almost giddy. As we neared the park, I happened to look up at the sky and saw that even the clouds looked crisp. I glanced around Brooklyn and for the very first time since moving out here I felt like I was home. Sincerely and completely I felt I belonged and I wanted to skip.
Once settled at the park listening to children read aloud, I felt this tingly feeling coming over me and I questioned it. I looked around the park and felt the cool air and could have sworn I smelled fall. And I knew what I was feeling: fulfillment. When my soul is supremely fulfilled, it wants for nothing. And it doesn’t distress and yearn to fill voids. It is happily present.
The thing about me is while I am always trying to find and hold onto what most nurtures my soul, sometimes the search is so frantic and the thing I want most can’t be held so I fixate on past soul experiences or ones to come and I am not present at all. I am horribly lost somewhere in between. And that’s a dangerous place for me to be. For when my soul is restless and unsatisfied it starts to shrivel a little and other things take precedence and what gets fed isn’t my soul at all. I start to squelch my hankerings for God, music, art, poetry, the rain, grandeur, quiet, trees, love, with fall-backs that are easy and comforting in an altogether different way: food, Facebook, sleep, or anxious ruminating and list making. Not that food can’t be grand, or sleep isn’t needed, but Facebook doesn’t feed my soul and anxiousness gets me nowhere.
As I waited for the next child to take the stage and woo me with words, I couldn’t believe how happy I felt.
When my soul is utterly cozy and curled up like a well-fed housecat, a snappy part of me likes to note how I never crave food at these junctures. And how if I don’t ever want to struggle with food woes again all I have to do is make sure my soul doesn’t get so damn anorexic. And how easy is that as I already know what makes it happy. Perfect diet plan! As long as my soul stays fed, then food becomes just a means for survival. As it clearly is right now, because my fridge consists of outdated eggs and wilting spinach. But I have quality coffee on hand and live in freaking Brooklyn. What could be the problem?
Oh yeah, by the by, no matter what levels of pauper-dom I reach I will not, I repeat NOT buy cheap coffee. I currently have Zabar’s freshly ground coffee filling up my kitchen with its luscious scent and an incredibly small bag of expensive caramel flavored grounds.
There are some corners I cut in life, and by some, I mean a lot. I will chance eating day old eggs. I will wear the same three discounted skirts in rotation all summer. I will buy bar soap.
I will not drink Folgers. I would sooner forgo a ten dollar subway pass and walk to Manhattan so I can spend ten dollars on Zabar’s coffee, which is bloody exquisite if you must know. Priorities, people. It’s all about priorities.
I would like to tell you that my day of soul perfection continued with an outdoor market and trip to a new organic grocery store, (where I was offered a shopper’s reward card, my FAVORITE! I did not even try and hide my delight with the cashier and then decided to also boldly compliment his choice fro. He seemed as pleased as I was) followed by coming back to my apartment to enjoy an overflowing cup of aforementioned Zabar’s coffee and reading Rumi in bed while pleasantly noting that the fan didn’t need to be turned on, because it indeed was feeling very fall-esque in my apartment.
The moral of this little (or long-ish, but who likes little tales anyway) tale is simply this, as Rumi so eloquently put it: Surrender to your soul.

Well, Rumi, I don’t mind if I do.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Worth sticking around for

For the first time ever, a few days ago, I hated New York. I was on a midnight run which started out rather pleasantly along the Brooklyn Bridge and then Battery Park. As I passed yachts, sailboats and twinkling city lights I thought about how on my very first trip to NYC at the ripe age of twenty, I looked fondly at runners jogging along Battery Park and thought, that will be me one day. A part of me was a little shaken with the knowledge that I had so aptly foreseen this day, that I was indeed living in New York and running along Battery Park. The rest of me however was hot and parched. So hot that I kept looking for ladders into the Hudson because I was seriously considering diving in, if only I could get back out.
By the time I wove my way back around to make the trek home, I was a little crazed with my want for water. I started sizing up puddles, fountains and forgotten water bottles on benches and asked myself how bad it would really be if I drank up? I mean the human body is quite resilient, no? A mild case of scurvy would totally be worth it just to soothe my dry and aching throat.
I didn't even make it midway through the park before I veered inland to try my hand at begging a bartender to give me a glass of water. I ran and ran not seeing any sign of anything other than parking garages. I then questioned whether I could run into one of those and ask the parking attendant if I kissed him would he find me water, admittedly not the most enticing deal with the sweat pouring down my face, but at this point I understood that I was going mad for thirst.
I finally, finally spotted a Burger King at about mile seven and felt like I was reaching the Holy Land, but upon grasping the door, I saw that they were closed. Lucky for me there was a pizza place nearby so I ran in and asked if I could please have a cup of water. I already knew this was going to be an issue, as I have lived in NY long enough now to know that they expect you to buy something in order to get a freebie. But I thought they must see me and have compassion, mustn't they?
The guy behind the counter pointed to the water bottle case and I began to feel panicked.

"Um, no not a water bottle. Could I just have a cup for water?"

He looked a little helpless and turned to a co-worker. The new angrier looking one sized me up and said, "fifty cents."
Honestly, I wanted to scream, look at me! I was drenched in sweat and heaving. Clearly I was not out on a late night pizza stroll.
"I don't have my wallet," I could feel myself pleading and already the look of haughty disdain on the co-worker's face made me feel like I was a beggar on any one of the streets I passed each day. "Couldn't I just have the cup... I am on a run..."
He smirked and that's when I felt like I'd been slapped. Then followed up with, "I just work here." And then he shrugged and proceeded to ignore me.
I whipped around in fury, clutching my headphones and ran out the door to try and make it to the next location, which happened to be a McDonald's about a block away. I got in and the line was huge and quite frankly I was terrified I would get the same embarrassing treatment. So I made a beeline for the bathroom.
Once in I saw that there was someone in a stall but propriety be dammed at this point, I set my phone down, turned on the faucet, cupped my hands under the tepid McDonald's tap water and began to guzzle like a buffalo. I could not stop. It almost felt like I hadn't had water in weeks. I kept trying to reel myself in, because the girl could come out at any moment and see this maniacal sight, but I just couldn't get a hold of myself. Finally I stopped, moved into the stall and waited for the girl to come out so I could go back at it. She seemed in no hurry, so I went back to the faucet and drank until my stomach couldn't take any more and then I grabbed my things and left.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on my way home, I couldn't get that pizza man's rude smirk out of my head. And it wasn't even his smirk and refusal to give me water that made me the most mad, it was the fact that I really knew that'd be the case going in, but wanted it to be different. I wanted, like always, to believe the best in humanity and the best in New York. Whenever I have high expectations though and they get crushed, it's a rather nasty blow to recover from.
And because of this one tiny thing, which felt like a symbol for all big expectations as of late that haven't gone my way, I got to my street and started to cry. Because I thought, if I don't love New York, then what do I love?
Ahh, dramatic, but of course. But that's just me and like any girl who loves something fiercely, she can tell you that you may discover the side of your love you never wanted to see, you may be disappointed at that side, but you don't give up on your love. You give it another go, even if begrudgingly.
So although I was shocked and horrified that anything could ever make me hate my city, I was warmly enthused when my first night on the town since the incident, tonight, I found my city did nothing but deliver for me.

She showed me dapper men in suspenders, to which I had to do not one but several double takes
And gave me a date with The Strand bookstore
A stroll through Little Italy and feasting my eyes, not my mouth though, on plate after plate of heaping spaghetti, wine, and large Italian paintings
And film crews and cameramen for I don't know what, some models or a TV show, but gosh it felt scintillating and though I didn't stop and ogle because I wanted to appear to be a posh New Yorker with better things to do than be a Looky Louise, I secretly felt thrilled wondering what I was privy to
And chocolate pecan samples on the house from Max Brenner's, just when I needed something sweet

My dear city knew she'd upset me and wanted to win me back over. And though I pouted for a few days and re-thought the relationship, ah, my sweet love proved me right. A great love is always worth sticking around for.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Go brush your teeth

When things get a little out of control, I start to make mental lists. Lists are one of my favorite things. I like to make them and I like to read them and quite simply they are one of a handful of things that can soothe my rattled mind.
So as I prepared to go on a cigar walk with Kirstie, not for me, for her--yeah, of all the things you wouldn't expect from my fashionable, pixie of a sister, she enjoys cigars greatly, so much so that when we left our apartment she proclaimed that she forgot her lighter and ran back in to get it.
At any rate, I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish today, most of which didn't get tended to, so quite frankly I told myself I didn't even deserve the cigar walk and had Kirst been in a better mood, I would have told her I was staying in to finish what I had not started.
And being that I had not even remotely accomplished what needed accomplishing, I of course began to panic. Hence where the frantic list making came in. I started doing this while brushing my teeth, which I have noticed myself doing an inordinately large amount lately. Not just your standard morning and night business. I don't know what this weird quirk is but it happened sometime last summer while visiting my aunt in South Carolina and waiting on news on whether or not I would make the show The Biggest Loser. I became downright obsessive with my oral hygiene. I found myself going into the bathroom on multiple occasions, not just to brush, but to floss and use mouth rinse.
Now of all the things to get obsessive about when stressed, this is obviously an A-Okay one. You can never have too clean a mouth... not to sound like an Orbit commercial or anything. But as I furiously brushed my teeth, then leaned in toward the mirror critically inspecting and deciding no, floss was definitely needed too, something I used to despise constantly being lectured about at the dentist, I realized why the renewed over-attention to my teeth.
It's a control thing.


I love to be in control. When I am not, or feel semi-out-of-control, which admittedly is more often than I would like, I look for outlets in which I can regain the upper hand on this elusive beast. Weirdly enough, my mouth has become one of these fixations. If I can't control who is going to publish my book, or who is going to find me date-able--ahem Josiah Johnson, seriously marry me--or this infernal heat that is making me question whether I ever had nice hair, or if it was all a figment of my imagination, then I better be able to control something.
Hence why I am dangerously low on toothpaste right now, my toothbrush looks like its met an untimely attack, and I angrily wonder why mouthwash wasn't on my grocery list this week.
I can control how fresh my mouth is, making sure I never get another cavity and that my dentist will praise me again with how splendidly I have been attending to my gums next time I see him.
I also found that my diet was rather rigid today. Almost bordering on punishment. I haven't been bad lately either, though I have been feeling bad about my body, but I blame Kirstie's 100 pounds for that and the fact that she looks so much more New York than me. I want to hate her for it, but she is so darn adorable and she is my sister, so no can do.
I know you are not supposed to covet, but oh my gosh! We sat on a park bench in Brooklyn while she lazily smoked her cigar, looking like bloody Kate Moss, with her torn "sell your computer buy a guitar t-shirt," that I also covet and I fumed.

"You just don't know what a blessing it is to have thighs that don't touch."

She started to retaliate about what she didn't like about her body, because that's what girls do and I stopped her.

"Just trust me. You don't have to know how hard and despicable it is to get your dream body, because you already have it. I just wanted to point out how lucky you should know you are."

She didn't argue much more with me, while I tried not to pout, thinking about all the work I still had ahead of me in the way of attaining a flat stomach and some sick muscles. I don't know why all of a sudden I am obsessed with muscles. I never cared much about them before. Okay, of course I know why, it's because for the first time in my life I've spotted them on my body and turns out they were nothing to sneer at before as meaning you were an idiot gym rat--note, this was just my incredible insecurity lashing out before. Muscles do in fact mean you work really freaking hard and deserve to have them.

So things I can control:
My breath and my teeth not having sweaters as my ever-so-eloquent best friend would say if she needed to freshen hers. Ugh, that phrase still makes me shudder.
My food intake.
My not buying wine when I feel frazzled and instead opting for a run, which I suppose includes my exercise regimen, and fixating on sick muscles and not those stupid carrot cake doozies down the street.

Things I cannot control:
Josiah realizing there was a fetching pink-haired girl with mustard yellow suspenders on in the crowd of his concert singing all the words to his songs, and deciding to find me in Brooklyn.
National Geographic opting to send me on a trip to the Swiss Alps to photograph... honestly I don't care. They could send me there to photograph sewage and I would say yes, sirs! I salute you!
And apparently no matter that I spent nearly $20 of my Target gift card on lavish moisture-rich conditioners and for once diligently followed the instructions to a T and condition and re-condition for 3-5 minutes, every time I am in the shower, which if you know how little I like to dilly-dally in the shower, you would know what an incredible pain this is to do, that no matter all this work, my ever-loving hair still, STILL day in, day out, looks like I had a nasty row with an electric fence and lost.

I guess I am going to go brush my teeth again. Oy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

You probably should

The other day I was on my way to volunteer for Ronald McDonald House, as a friend had asked me to help out--wonderful for my soul--but on the way there I was of course fretting. Fretting over my life, job, finances, making sure my sis is okay now that she's here, and wondering if I could indeed make it here.
I happened to be watching the cityscape pass me by and I looked up at a billboard for a storage company that said, "If you can make it here, you probably should." And maybe I am someone who always needs a good sign or can simply take some handy advertising and plug it right where I want it in my own life, but that billboard was exactly what I needed to see that day, of course along with meeting a wee little Irish lass (among other darlings) who prompted me to help her make the world's largest hopscotch game--done--while she cursed us running out of chalk.
I loved her and found that I also have a new love of hopscotch. Maybe it's because I can only recall ever playing it once as a child and then I think my weight started to inhibit me from hopping around to and fro, like I was carefree. I also stopped attempting cartwheels. Note to self--try those again.
I digress.
Along with being a gal who thoroughly eats up a good sign, I also devour a good mantra. And so it was that I started feverishly repeating to myself that if I can make it here, I probably should. I owed myself that much after buying the one-way ticket and losing hair left and right with stress. Or okay, I probably lost some hair because I bleached it and then dyed it pink, but I am prone to theatrics so saying it's from stress makes me sound like a real tortured soul, no?
Of course it would take another sign for it to really sink in that I can't give way to my rampant fears and run for the woods. My go-to for any sort of panic about my life is to rashly contemplate the most dramatic exit strategy I can conjure.
I started thinking maybe I would go stay at my family's camp for a year and force myself to finish my novel. And since I sold my car it would be very Walden-esque. I would chop wood for the sauna. Get very meditative and find myself. Plant a garden. And in the winter I would walk the 20 some miles into town for food because it would double as my workout. Then I remembered U.P. winters and frowned thinking I very well could freeze to death on the side of the highway before I made it to town.
Wilderness hiatus was out. I next wondered if I could hitchhike out West. Before imaginary me had even gotten as far as Pennsylvania I realized to hitchhike I would only have to take essentials, like one bag. And all of a sudden I was aghast. I came to New York with four behemoth overflowing bags, which has already doubled.
Ok. And if I were honest with myself, I realized, even if I hoofed it to the mountains I would still have to face my fears. I would still have to finish my novel. And I would still be scared shitless when talking to editors.
The location could change all it wanted, but I knew I wouldn't change. So as scared as I was and have been, I decided to man up and get cracking on my novel again. I hadn't gotten that far in the editing process when I happened on a chapter I wrote over a year ago, back when I was living in Wisconsin. I was of course writing about my longing to get to New York (surreal) and lose weight (doubly so) and how I knew if I didn't start practicing the whole happiness bit as I was, then it wouldn't just happen when I was thinner and in New York, but I wrote as a side note that who could ever be unhappy in New York and that's when I stopped reading.
I was dumbfounded.
There have been a lot of stipulations I have put on my happiness in life. By the time I got my first boyfriend at twenty-three I was convinced that was the missing piece to my happiness puzzle. It wasn't. I was more miserable with him than I'd been single. Big lesson, but I moved forward feeling better knowing that a boyfriend wasn't a key ingredient in the recipe for happiness.
And then reading this little excerpt from my past saying how I'd be happier once I lost weight and made it to New York? Uh-oh. And yes, I am incredibly happy having lost weight and actually gotten here, but understand this: for weeks I have been putting stipulations on my happiness, again.

Oh you'll be happy once you get a writing job
Or sell your book
Or finish your marathon and have a killer runner's physique

I have been putting the kibosh on my happiness and is it any wonder that I am fretting all day, everyday, am surprised when I actually bask in the city, and most nights do not fall asleep until at least three a.m. because my mind will not shut down.
And even though I am in the greatest city in the world, without a doubt it is, life isn't perfect. No one is happy all the time, because life throws you curve-balls and change is without a doubt stressful, so yeah, just because this is the greatest city in the world, it doesn't excuse me from normal human woes, but it's a problem when I am drowning in them. And that's what I have been doing.
I have been more and more prone to wanting to throw myself to the floor of my apartment, lay in the fetal position and cry. And that is a problem.
It's a problem because I have felt myself losing hope. And I am not someone who deals well with hopelessness. I always need hope, even if just a glimmer.
Naturally seeing that billboard rekindled something in my spirit. So I started fighting. Then, reading that blast from my past shocked me into awareness. I blessed needed to stop putting stipulations on when I was allowed to be happy. That was not okay.
So I woke up the next day and went to my Crossfit gym. And running in the rain with a twenty pound sandbag on my shoulders reminded me of the ranch and how every time I challenged my body, my mind got stronger.
I walked back to the subway after my workout, thoroughly soaked with sweat and more rain and didn't care that I looked like hell. I felt like Rocky and I knew I could see my hope on the horizon, finding her way back to me.
Kirst and I made our way to the Upper West Side that night because I wanted to check out Zabar's and we found an amazing bookstore, my nirvana of course and as I touched the spines on many a book, I felt my hope getting stronger. I all of a sudden wanted to be in a musical, so that my epiphany could be accompanied by song, while I wheeled down the ladders attached to the shelves and sang about being on my way. Instead I bought a book with my last ten dollars that was supposed to be for a can opener and laundry.
But books make me happier.
And when I walked into Central Park at dusk, I started to get a little weepy and shaky. Kirst asked if I was about to cry. I told her no and locked it up, but turned to her and said,

"Can you believe it? We did it. We're really here."

And she smiled at me, with what looked like relief. I think my loss of hope had started to worry her.
I told her I spent my last ten on the book. But that it didn't matter. Because I was going to be a best-seller soon and then I could buy all the books I wanted.

And guess what?
I believed my statement. If I can make it here, I probably should.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Family Lottery

Absence makes the heart grow fonder is a crock. It doesn't make the heart grow fonder, it makes the heart go crazy. I will tell you one thing; if you are a little uncertain on the depths of your love for your family and friends, move across the country.
A two-hour, nor a four, not even a seven hour move will quite do. Or maybe that's because I have lived within eight hour radius's of my family before and still could manage to see them upwards of six times a year.
No, to be truly certain your absence will have a staggering affect on your heart, you most definitely need to put a few states between you and your loved ones. Make sure you sell your car also and use up what few pennies you have, so as to have utterly no option of seeing them when you are in dire need, but know you will have to wait until the next major holiday in which your parents will probably have to foot the bill for your plane ticket as a gift to you.
Were you to give me the most perfect cup of coffee made with the freshest grounds hand plucked from Brazil, whilst sitting on a porch swing at my camp(favorite place in all of creation by the by), with a live folk band serenading me via a sparkling sunset, that would probably measure only half of the sentiments toward my fam. My crazy, one-of-a-kind, boisterous clan.
While driving back from our little impromptu East Coast road trip last week, my sister Kirstie and I quizzed Bella and Nick on what they wanted to be when they grew up. Nick said a detective and I couldn't help beaming with pride. What a top notch career choice. And so smart. Bella informed us that right now she was really thinking acting. In our family? An actor? Lord it was only a matter of time!
So Kirst and I, both huge theater nerds, began coaching and telling her she better learn to cry on demand, and maybe we should practice a scene. Bell kept wanting to be a hillbilly grandfather, this was a surprise to no one as Bell has quite a few tomboy tendencies. Example: my mom demanded I braid her hair one morning and Bell huffed and puffed but let me do it, but when I put a bandana in as a fetching piece de resistance, she looked in the mirror and began to sob until my mom told her she could take it out.
She played the part of hillbilly grandfather rather well I might add, but we told her to be a truly well-rounded actress she would need to play lots of roles, so we decided to do some improv in the car. A little Whose Line Is It Anyway, with scenes and characters.
Everyone wanted to play, including my mom and dad. I don't know what I found more delightful about this: the fact that my baby sis was already contemplating a career in the arts, or the fact that my entire family was on board for supporting her in this endeavor. Probably both. Stupendous is the word I would use.
So it began.
I started us out at a circus, because that seemed appropriate. We went around the car, where everyone made a statement that the next person had to follow up on. Nick got into it, Bell was a natural, my dad an absolute hoot, but all in all, I was downright taken with each and every one of the family members I was with. My soft spoken brother doing a circus scene with us, Bell practicing her technique, Kirst and I thinking we were the aces because we've taken theater classes.
It's like this: nowhere in the world can you so truly be yourself and be loved, loved so unconditionally for being artsy or corny, cranky or unbearable, ditzy or crude than with your family. And it is so darn comforting.
I have realized it is the single most comforting thing I have ever known. Maybe I will feel that way when I have my own family and my own children, I would imagine so, but for right now, when I am near my family, playing car games, or telling my mom to quit back-seat driving my dad, or falling asleep in a hotel room three each to a bed, with Bella spider monkey that she is, latched onto my neck, I feel like an untouchable. Like nothing could really get to me with them.
I have only ever had this feeling, this complete comfort, untouchable feeling once more in life, not from a family member, but someone I loved all the same. And if you ever experience this feeling, you must know that it is one of the best ways to feel.

I want to tell you a million and one things about my family:

how growing up if we got donuts on a Sunday before church, Savvy would purposefully take forever to eat hers so that she could be smug when we were all done and she still had some left to savor and we all wanted to beat her up.
how we used to play this game on the way home from my grandmas house where we would try to be the closest to determining the exact moment we would stop in our driveway and we would all change our approximations a dozen times to try and be the winner, and half the time end up falling asleep before knowing who won.
how Alexa would sing the word watermelon repeatedly during parts of a song she didn't know because she said it sounded like what the lyrics were supposed to be and it made me utterly hysterical every time.
how Kia knows everything there is to know about France and will give you all the latest and greatest on McDonald's news.
how my dad would watch Bugs Bunny with us on Saturday mornings and find Elmer Fudd so downright hysterical that we would all be laughing in turn, not at the cartoon, but at his reaction to the cartoon.
how on every vacation Jordan would sneak off somewhere in retaliation if my parents didn't give into his demands for a Snickers bar at a bathroom stop.
how my mom is the first person to believe in every crazy dream and aspiration I have and tell me what I am capable of.
how I never wanted to be the last one to fall asleep in my house full of people, because I didn't like the sound of silence, I preferred to fall asleep to chaos and sports on TV, because it meant my dad was home from work and I loved when he was home.

I want to tell you everything there is to know and love about them, to make you understand that I am the luckiest girl in existence when it came to the family lottery, but even if I wrote books on them, which trust me I intend to do, I still couldn't measure the depths of my adoration. Or make you quite understand.

But I do hope you understand the significance of the family you were given because you don't get that kind happiness from anything else in this life. And if you are confused on the depths of your love, like I said, just move across country and you will all of a sudden remember that the reasons you wanted to beat your siblings up as a child are now the same reasons that bring a smile to your face when you are crazed with longing for their presence.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A walk in the park? Not exactly.

New York City is exactly like the movies and nothing like the movies. How it's exactly like the movies? Well, all the beautiful New York shots of people in the parks, passing the looming architecture, the huge and flopping cheese pizza slices, yep, that's all here. Rest easy. And it's epic in every sense of the word. I know and feel a keen sense of being ever so small in a grand place, trying to make some ripple. Everywhere I go I think I've spotted Carrie Bradshaw's exact brownstone stoop, or I know without a doubt I can happen upon scenescapes in Central Park from Home Alone. It is most definitely here.

Kirst and I snuck into the Plaza Hotel one day, I don't even know that we needed to sneak, but we felt like paupers and that the concierge would instantly be onto us and toss us back onto NY's grimey streets. We fully prepped ourselves before going in:

"Hold your head high, Kirst."
"Yeah, let's act like we own the place."
"Look like you know what you're doing. And look posh. And rich."
"Let's not make eye contact either."

And then we burst into giggles and put on our best we're rich gals staying at the Plaza faces, lips tight in snobbish lines and sashayed right through the turning door and tried to keep said snobbish lines in place but failed miserably and our jaws dropped at the grandeur as we held back squeals while picking up our pace trying to see as much as possible before we were nabbed.

We weren't nabbed though we did start to raise a suspicious eyebrow. We obviously aren't Plaza People. The place is pure class. Chandeliers that probably cost more than my home, spiral staircases, gold everywhere, probably real gold. It's no secret that New York City is a city worth oggling.

But here is how it is nothing like the movies. You know how in every romantic comedy, the 20 something girl has a hugely hip apartment above some chinese restaurant, that has brick walls, a fireplace and walk-in closets? And said girl either has one of two jobs. She does something important in PR--dream girl, dream job, dream apartment. Or she is a waitress, yet still has that apartment.

Ok, for humor's sake, I'll say the PR gal could maybe afford that apartment on her own, without a roommate, in Manhattan. But the eclectic waitress with expensive shampoo tastes? Get real. She would so be living in a small studio in Queens with two other people. If the place was charming, it would be because she was eclectic and happened to know how to decorate. Otherwise it'd look like a college kids dorm.

If you think this is raining on your parade, just you wait. I watched a lot of movies about New York before coming here, in particular, my favorite, When Harry Met Sally. I had that movie so locked down in my mind as my perfect New York experience, is it any wonder that I've had nearly two dozen meltdowns thus far, when nothing and I mean absolutely nothing about my New York experience is like When Harry Met Sally.

For starters I don't have an incredibly hilarious best friend/soon to be love of my life who wants to take me to museums and quote Casablanca with me. That is one of the smaller letdowns, but I was prepared for that reality.

What is shocking is how little New York still feels real to me. I admittedly am getting quite savvy at my directional capabilities, getting on and off the subway at the appropriate stops, picking my New York sports teams and learning never ever to be haggled again in Times Square, that was a rough lesson, $89 dollars later and a salon coupon I didn't need, but an important one nonetheless. Yet even when I am out and about doing some hip and trendy New York thing like drinking champagne at The Redhead in the East Village, with friends I still feel like I am pretending. Oh and if you're wondering how I could afford champagne when I can barely afford subway fare right now, know that you're right, I can't afford champagne and was under the delusional impression that if I picked the cheapest bottle on the menu divided by three, it would be totally doable. New York lesson number... um I've lost count. If the price seems too reasonable and the restaurant is truly awesome, question it, as when I got the bill, I nearly vomited in my mouth and pulled the waitress aside to clarify that I did pick the bottle that was half the price. She looked at me a little uncomfortably and said that was the price of the half bottle. No more champagne for this girl.

Who are you, my brain keeps demanding and what are you doing here? I know it all makes sense and change isn't a snap your fingers type thing, but I keep waiting to be walking through Central Park in my smaller, cuter clothes, with my writing sensibilities, drinking a chilled coffee beverage and say, oh yeah I've made it. This is totally like the movies! No, no it isn't. It feels nothing like that.

The problem is I don't feel like I've made it at all. Most days I am a terrified wreck, the state of my hair matching the state of my brain. A frazzley, electrifying, scary mess. Nothing feels all that real and nothing feels certain. Of course, I still need the writing job or my book deal, and yeah I definitely want my own Billy Crystal, a la Harry Burns, but those two things aside, I still feel unsure. Do people ever know what they're doing? Do they ever feel like accomplished adults with 401k's and a life they're impressed by? I don't know if I am doomed to be a restless gypsy who never really has a clue, or I am simply still pulling my ship in. Trust me, my ship isn't lost anymore, but I think she is rather large and being a bit of a toot with coming into harbor.

And maybe I am still reeling with the information from a very successful New Yorker who told me no one is Carrie Bradshaw.

"I don't know anyone who does what Carrie Bradshaw did and can afford Manolo Blahniks every week. I mean maybe she exists, but I've never met her."

Well, dang. So no Carrie Bradshaw and no Sally Albright. I am most definitely riding a very topsy-turvy sea here. Just trust me when I say this little piece of New York wisdom is entirely true though: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Now that's a fact!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Music Monday!

In honor of all things lyrically illuminating, I will here on out be striving to deliver a little something new in my blog. Despite already being privy to my music obsessions and adventures, I thought why not more—as me prattling on about phenomenal artists simply isn’t good enough. Why don’t I interview them? And try and find new venues, excursions, and all things encompassing musical enlightenment that aren’t just riveting to me, but can somehow transcend to you. Get ready for my new installment: Music Mondays, where I will do my utmost to keep you informed on the best that music has to offer. (And since this is very much in the newborn state, bear with me as I get Music Mondays off the ground).

On this fine Monday, I will of course be attending The Lumineers concert at the Central Park Summer Stage. From the moment I heard this trio, I was catapulted into a delirious state. I am already downright obsessive when I discover a new song or band, but there was something particularly striking about this one. I would listen to the song Ho Hey, on repeat for hours in a day. No other song could possibly compare when I tried to switch it up. I am not sure if it’s the potent mix of upbeat lyrics that start to wail, the jangling folksy sound and stomp, the references to beloved New York streets and this line, “I belong with you, you belong me, you’re my sweetheart,” but this song is tops. I mean, bloody tops!
It still slays me! I have the entire thing memorized, and I don’t have many songs entirely memorized, though I am a master at memorization. True fact. Anyway, digression.

Let’s get to the good stuff. The band. Here is a brief bio on The Lumineers, found on their website, which I urge you to check out.

It begins in 2002, the year Jeremiah’s brother, Josh, died from a drug overdose at 19. Amidst the loss and grief, Wes and Jer found solace in music, writing songs and playing gigs around New York. After battling the city’s cutthroat music scene and impossibly high cost of living, the two decided to expand their horizons. They packed everything they owned—nothing more than a couple suitcases of clothes and a trailer full of musical instruments—and headed for Denver, Colorado. It was less a pilgrimage than act of stubborn hopefulness.

The first thing they did in Denver was place a Craigslist ad for a cellist, and the first person to respond was Neyla Pekarek, a classically trained Denver native. As a trio, they began playing at the Meadowlark, a gritty basement club where the city’s most talented songwriters gathered every Tuesday for an open mic and dollar PBRs. Neyla softened Wes and Jer’s rough edges while expanding her skills to mandolin and piano. And so The Lumineers sound took shape; an amalgam of heart-swelling stomp-and-clap acoustic rock, classic pop, and front-porch folk

Now without further ado, my interview with the band’s wildly talented Neyla Pekarek.

Adventuredame: What song means the most to you?
Neyla: Charlie Boy holds a pretty special place in my lil heart. It was one of the very first songs Wes, Jer and I worked on as a trio when I first joined the band, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out on the record.

AD: Can you tell me more about the song, Ho Hey and how it came to be? (By the way astounding)
Neyla: Well, thanks for that! Wes initially wrote Ho Hey as sort of a pep talk to himself when times were a bit rough for him, and that same thing held true for us as a band in our beginning touring days. It’s the kind of song that would always boost our spirits in a set, whether we were playing to two people in a dirty bar in the middle of Wyoming, or to our first full room in New York with 100 people singing and stomping along.

AD: What most feeds your soul?
Neyla: My friendships. I have some pretty incredible friends who keep me grounded and happy, especially when things get hectic. They would be my friends whether I was in a band or in a ditch.

AD: In the spirit of all things adventure, what is your greatest adventure to date?
Neyla: Dang, I’ve had a few. Jumping in a van with a couple smelly musicians with very few dollars to my name is pretty high on the list.

AD: And what might you suggest to other artists/writers pursuing their artistic endeavors?
Neyla: Work ethic is invaluable. Treat your art with the same standards, the same respect, as you would any job or relationship. It takes time and patience and care. And it’s totally worth it.

Oh Neyla, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Huge thanks to Christen Greene for setting this interview up and Neyla for being ever so accommodating in answering my questions.

Now do yourself a solid and go buy The Lumineers album. I am going to do one better and go see them live. Mmmmmmm. Ho Hey indeed!

For more info on The Lumineers, check out their website:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things to Consider

I want to say that lately I have been hyper-aware of my surroundings, because I am in one of the most majestic cities in existence, but it's not just lately. I find that a lot of the time in life, I am completely bowled over by what God has put together for my roving eyes. Even in little old Fowlerville, MI, my hometown that I gotta be honest I was never particularly struck by or fond of, this past year I have seen it in a whole new light. I would go on my morning runs on this trail that paralleled the railroad tracks by my house, that I hadn't been on since childhood and oh my, I had forgotten how striking the surrounding landscape was. Passing trees and hills that I used to play in with my neighbor and brother, the rows of perfectly lined fields, with one lone tree. Oh those are my favorite! Fields as far as the eye can see and then one big oak smack dab in the center of all that attempted perfection. I always wanted to run out to one of those trees and stay under it all day in the middle of a farmer's field, probably with a book. Mmm. Does it get any better than that? Even the notion? I've never done it, but just the thought is pure poetry. I like the thought.
Which brings me to other thoughts I have been having, that I want you to have.
Ponderings, I should say, or things to consider.


Dogs that sit on stoops ever so politely. And when you walk by they don't bark or get rowdy. They lazily look at you and you look at them, and they're content and you're content. Consider this.
Revving of motorcycles. And not when it's done in an obnoxious show-offy way, but a simple appreciation of seeing how a motorcycle should sound. It's a good sound. A quality sound. And it reminds me of my Uncle Lee. And I am really fond of him. And his amazing motorcycle. Consider motorcycles and all they represent.
Brownstones. What could be more beautiful and enticing than a Brownstone? And when you're walking by one and it's dusk and you can see inside to a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf and possibly a chandelier, such luck. Never ever pass a Brownstone without considering a peek inside if you can get one. It's pure decadence.
The song, Float On, by Modest Mouse. Seriously I don't need to say more, consider this song.
Rooftop Gardens. If you can get to one, or experience one, take a moment. They are nothing to be trifled with. Definitely worth all sorts of consideration.
Twinkly lights. Oh my gosh. Anywhere you see twinkly lights, stop and take them in with your next breath. They are freaking sensational and completely bespeak of magic. Wherever you find twinkly lights, consider them.
New York City firetrucks, complete with firemen. Every time I see this I have to stop, whether they are going fast in an emergency or slowly making their way down the street. This is a powerful and soul-stirring sight. Always consider firetrucks and yes, also firemen, but of the New York City variety, well you are in for a real treat.
The movie, Little Miss Sunshine. What a gem. If you need affirmations on the awkward and incredible parts of life and people, watch this film and consider the quotes, especially the ones at the end. They are worth considering, for sure.
Folksy tunes. Ok, come on, you probably all know by now how I feel about folksy tunes, but I don't know if I could be more seduced by such lyrical genius in bands like The Lumineers, The Head and The Heart, Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros(I could go on, but those are my fave, faves!) Seriously, even if you aren't the folksy type, consider these bands for their words, their complete and utter power to describe emotion, human connection, the soul. If nothing else consider them artists.
Breezes. Okay, hands down if I were to tell you my top five favorite things in the universe, this would make the list. I love a good solid breeze. I mean I love it like you couldn't fathom. Seeing trees bend and whip with a good wind gets me all in a tizzy of delight. Or when the wind picks up all out of nowhere and leaves start doing a twirling tango in the middle of the street and you check out the sky and see that a storm is most definitely brewing, oh man, the best kind of breeze. Man, consider the wind and that is absolutely God. God made that breeze. And it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

This is such a small list of conisderations and they just happened to be ones that hit me all in a matter of a few days time. Start considering more and I promise you will be left longing for more. This world is filled with awe, waiting for you to swallow it up. Ahh, consider that, my friends.

Consider that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A little less alone

I woke up yesterday feeling terribly alone. If there is one thing about me you should not be confused on, it's that I truly adore my own company: I can take myself on a date to museums, movies, dinner, no problem, I really am keen on myself, however, I am a sharer. I love to share my life experiences with people. Hence why I love to woo you with tales, long and short. But mostly long.
And my friends and family who are absent in this big city, fuck (sorry there's no other word to describe the gaping abyss that is my longing for them) it's hard. So I woke up yesterday decimated by my loneliness. I got up out of bed, got a drink of water and crawled right back under the covers with no interest in my city or the day. I didn't want adventure, if it meant adventuring alone. I wouldn't and I couldn't.
But after only about ten minutes of lying in my bubble gum pink bed staring at my baby pink walls, I knew I couldn't stay sad. I had to fight it. Because as much as I wanted to throw myself a pity parade and wallow all day, well the thing about wallowing is it's a slow road to nowhere. And it's pretty rare you feel better for having wallowed.
I forced myself up and out of my bedroom. I braided my hair, put on a dress, packed my camera and caught the next train to Coney Island.
My sadness didn't disappear with my decision to not remain in the fetal position all day, but I felt a light hopefulness and buoyancy at the thought of experiencing the Iconic Coney Island, even if alone.
And sure enough, upon disembarking the train and seeing the signs reading: Coney Island, Mermaid Avenue, Boardwalk my heart begrudgingly began to stir with delight.
I slowly made my way up past the fried food vendors and throngs of people carrying beach umbrellas flip-flopping to and from the train.
I wove my way through the crowd and stopped to take a few pictures. A fountain sprayed into the air on the beach and the salty wind caught the mist sending it spritzing onto my face. I couldn't help a smile. I caught sight of white caps on the ocean and heard music coming from a Gazebo despite still having my headphones in listening to Modest Mouse.
I spotted Nathan's Famous hot dog stand. I didn't really care to eat but wasn't really sure what to do but walk up and down the boardwalk and I felt a little curious about these infamous hot dogs that seemed promising if the lines of people were any indication.
I got in line, still listening to my music when I felt a little someone staring at me. It was a young girl with long brown curls and a tan to be envious of. I made eye contact then looked away. I still felt her staring and knew why, so I felt compelled to be polite and pull out my headphones so she could speak to me. I smiled down at her and she took the invitation. She reached up and tugged on one of my braids, not hard.

"Your hair is pink," she stated. Oh yeah, by the by, I dyed my hair pink. Cotton Candy to be precise.
"Yes it is." I smiled.
"And you have pink in your dress."
I nodded.
"And on your phone."
I laughed.
"You sure like pink."
"I do."

I love children and in my current state of lonesome adventure, conversation about nothing in particular with a talkative 8-year-old seemed promising and much more worthy of my attention than my current playlist.
So we began a rather lengthy chat in a line that sincerely did not move for upwards of an hour. It was all well and delightful until the child turned a bit sassy after showing me that she had a live crab in her beach bag and wasn't that exciting? I made a point of looking properly interested, but much like dogs, I think children can sense fear, even if you try and hide it. I saw those crab legs poking out from beneath the shell and had to control a shudder.
I do not do crustaceans of any variety. And little Nora, (we had done introductions at this point while her mom, clearly used to her daughter being incredibly loquacious, patiently faced the hot dog stand with her back to us) pounced on my fear in a matter of moments and started shaking her little bag o crab near my dress in a taunting manner while I stiffened. If that bag dropped or she dumped it on me, I knew I would become a total pansy and scream/flee and I had been waiting in line far too long to turn back now on account of a mischievous little child who'd decided to test my patience.
I tried to act indifferent about the shaking crab bag, but when she reached her hand down into the bag with an evil glint in her eyes, I knew the jig was up and she was onto me.
"No, no, Nora. I do not like crabs, they scare me."
"What? Why?"
"They just do. I don't like them," and to try and appeal to her childish sensibilities I referenced Disney, "the only crab I like is Sebastian and that's because he can sing and dance." And then I smiled a great big come on, kid, work with me here smile.
"And because he's red?"
"Yes! Exactly! Because he's red too. And that crab in your bag isn't red." I shrugged, like what a conundrum, unless your little creature busts out into sh-la-la's he isn't coming near me or my pink dress. But this wasn't an ordinary easily swayed 8-year-old apparently. She might have been working with Lucifer.
"He's red on the inside," she said and stuck her hand back in the bag quickly and yanked it out and whipped it onto my dress. I realized as I drew back quickly, while firmly saying, "No, no!" that the crab actually wasn't in her hand but that she was tricking me and being a little deviant. Her mother still had not turned around amidst my mini crab crisis and at this point I was getting a lot frustrated because she was singing a little taunting tune about how she was going to put the crab on my head.
"I really wouldn't like that," I said as I evaluated how worth it a hot dog really was.
Then she got really nasty.
"You are a scared girl!" she proclaimed.
"Well, yes, of crabs," I clarified.
"You are not brave at all!"
Okay now I was not only offended but getting a little angry. I was very brave! I had been nothing but brave this entire year, I thought while mentally tallying all my brave acts. And New York too. I don't know why I felt compelled to convince this child of my bravery, but feeling prickly, I began to explain. If she only knew that I was brave and I just didn't like little creepy creatures maybe she would leave me alone.
"I am brave!" I said probably a little too loudly. "I bought a one-way ticket to New York City and that was very scary and..." she started talking over me, loudly, mocking me and my move to New York City. She had a Spanish lilt to her voice and when she put her hand on her little hip, she seemed even more threatening as she rattled off all the places she had lived and how I wasn't brave at all. She finished her tangent and harumphed like she had gotten me and all I needed to do now was admit my non-bravery. Or handle her crab.
Neither was happening.
I knew this was bloody ridiculous and I was letting an 8-year old with a penchant for teasing unnerve me and question my bravery simply because I would not hold her captive crab. At this point I was over being polite and turned my head toward the hot dog board to pretend study what I wanted while she still yammered on trying to get my attention, but thankfully not with the crab but with talk of hot dogs.
I was over it. And was just praying this was the best hot dog in existence for having stood in line for this long while being badgered by an unruly little girl.
Yeah the hot dog was not worth it.
And when Nora was finally pulled away, cheesy hot dog in tow still maintaining her malicious smile, I sighed with relief. At this point I had spotted a young man walking up and down the boardwalk with a large white sign that said, Free Hugs. I don't know if it was Nora and her exhaustive insistence that I was a scaredy cat, my sheer and aching loneliness, the long hot dog wait that absolutely was not worth it, but right at that moment I felt desperate for a free hug.
I walked up to him and said,
"I'll take one."
He seemed quiet and soft spoken, but put down his sign and pulled me to him. And held me a long time. Maybe he knew I needed it. Or maybe he simply knew what humanity needs and sometimes that is a hug.
I pulled away and thanked him profusely. He nodded, picked up his sign and asked if I wanted to try, pulling out another sign with the exact same message from behind. I got a little nervous and quickly questioned internally whether I could walk up and down the Coney Island Boardwalk enticing people to hug me.
I could. Because of course I was a brave girl.
I took a sign and slowly began to walk around, but did indeed feel very nervous so at first didn't make much eye contact, but then I mustered up my wits and began to feel bolder. I caught a woman's eye who was walking hand in hand with her boyfriend. She smiled a tremendous smile, walked right up to me and pulled me to her. I wanted to weep.
It was perfect and beautiful and the exact remedy for my bluesy day. As we let go of each other I saw that her boyfriend opted to hug the young lad. This made me even happier. I walked back over to him and handed him back his sign. He opened his arms up for one more.
I took it. Turns out you can never have too many hugs.

I walked away from him and down to the ocean where I stuck my feet in, watched the waves and the seagulls and felt for the first time all day a little less alone.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Since moving to the Big Apple I have had quite a bit of time to reflect on, well me. I spend a great majority of my day not only walking all over, exploring my new terrain, duh as if I would do it any other way, but also riding the rails. I don't think New Yorkers get any real satisfaction over having to ride the subway but maybe because I am so new here and everything still tickles my fancy right fierce, I get a smug sort of delight over being in a subway car. You may wonder why smug, because if I were truly smug I would definitely be hailing a cab, but quite frankly the one time I had to resort to a cab because my train was delayed and I was going to be late for work, I had mad anxiety over watching the meter increase minute by minute and calculating how many rides I could get on the subway for that price.
So, anxiety. This is one of the many facets of myself that I have been mulling over. This is a little something I dabble in daily. I can't help myself; I am a very anxious sort. And a bit of a control freak. For all my spontaneity and being footloose and fancy free, if I expect something to go a certain way and it doesn't, or things seem to be slipping out of my control, I start to feel the fibers of my being twitching and writhing, getting wildly uncomfortable with being put out.
Like being late for instance, and OK, the only person who will refute this is one EJ Dockery whom, yes I was always late meeting, but EJ I swear it was you, not me, it was out of my control! (And honestly it started to get a little funny, you must admit, me walking in the door and avoiding eye contact while you make some smarmy remark about how nice it would've been to train me an hour ago, okay I don't even know why I am wasting words on this, you don't read my blog, brat).
Anyway, I do hate being late (EJ aside) and every time I have to be somewhere in the city, I tend to give myself hours to get there, to account for not knowing where I am going and unexpected delays. So a few days ago when I was scheduled to meet someone at 3:30 yet my beloved iPhone was on the fritz I purposefully scheduled my genius appointment at the apple store in Grand Central station for 1, giving me two and half hours to have my phone looked at and make it to Penn Plaza, which isn't too far away.
Well! My phone had apparently bit the dust and I needed to back up everything in order to get a new one. Okay, fine, do I back up ever? Of course not. So I sat there attempting to collect my 1200 some pictures, while my stupid un-hip Dell took its embarrassingly sweet time uploading. I began to fret looking at the time and adding and re-adding how long I thought it'd take me to get to Penn Plaza if my pics continued to upload at a snails pace. Of course I am always way more comfortable being early and feeling secure, than running in at the last minute feeling frantic and deranged and having my nerves all aflutter, so the more the minutes ticked by and my phone was nowhere near complete I evaluated how important my pictures were to me.
Okay, very important, but this was NOT a meeting I was about to miss and I couldn't leave with my iPhone going ballistic and freezing up because I needed its directional capabilities for getting me to my meeting.
At this point it was pushing 2 and I had only accounted for being in the Apple store until 2:30 as the absolute worst case scenario and already I was berating myself internally for not giving myself a solid 4 hours at the apple store. By the time my darling little Apple assistant put my iPhone to sleep and started the process of updating my new iPhone I watched as it loaded in a full blown panic. I was going to be late! Late, late for a very important date!
And once everything was loaded and none of my apps, including my subway navigator were restored to the new phone I whipped my stuff up from my station and fled to the underbelly of Grand Central desperate to find a subway map feeling disgusted with how upset I was over my frazzle-y meltdown.
Until I got an email I had been waiting for, a particularly good one, (more on this later) and I stopped dead in my tracks near my subway car. All of a sudden I was overcome with emotion, also something I am pretty good at. And my anxiety started to dissipate. And that is when it hit me.
I am a lot of things that are maybe not desirable. I am very easily frazzled. I am quick to get my feelings hurt and sometimes take things a little too personally, like when I was at what I determined to be my new coffee shop the other day, trying to make a fit and the barista told me there were no computers allowed until after 4. And he wasn't very smiley. And their chocolate chip cookie I sampled was a little hard. I took all of this as a somewhat personal blow. Couldn't they see that coffee shops were my version of a bar and I desperately needed my own version of Cheers where the baristas know me by name, know that I am a writer, that I have a penchant for strong black coffee and the occasional decadent cookie with appropriate moistness in the middle? Why didn't they know this or care?
I huffed out of there after admittedly still finishing my sub-par cookie, of course, I would. And as I lost some of my steam a few blocks later, I realized I was being a tad dramatic getting in a nice tizzy over one coffee shop not being my new coffee shop.
It wasn't personal. It was just the wrong coffee shop. I got over it rather quickly. But this is just one of many examples of me over-reacting. Yes I also do that. Oh and go on incredibly long tangents. These are all things about me that I know, that I have been a little conditioned to downplay or feel sorry for anyone who has to deal with these attributes of mine, or feel sorry for myself that I am not more put together or less frazzle-y.
But if this last year of intense retrospection and gradual self-love has taught me anything it's this: There is only one me. In fact when I got selected for The Biggest Loser, as in, just made the cut and was hyperventilating and couldn't breathe or find words, one of the producers said to the room at large: "You were all chosen because of who you are. So continue to be yourself, because everyone else is taken."

Everyone else is taken.

And despite even my nerves unnerving me a lot of the time, I know that no one else can offer the world exactly what I can offer the world. A certain huffy, overly dramatic, sensitive, frazzle-faced take on life.

So. Hats off to me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If you build it they will come

When I decided to buy a one-way ticket to New York City, doing so with about eighty dollars in my checking account and no job or plans to speak of, I fancied myself very Madonna-esque. A gypsy. A dreamer. A doer. She too bought a one-way ticket here with forty-five dollars less than I had! And inappropriate clothing and desperate attempts to still be relevant aside, there's no doubt the woman has made it.

When I arrived on New York soil I will admit it was a rough go at first. My sheer panic over actually being in the city and whether or not I would have to sign in blood and give a voucher for my first born in order to secure an apartment, and/or job made me break out in hives. Literally. Twas not pretty.

But this is very like me. I have to get all woo-hoo dramatic, fret over the worst case scenarios, like whether I will lose all my hair from stress or if I have enough allure to secure a sugar daddy in order to make it here, hey don’t judge, rich financiers need arm candy for their important social gatherings (I kid, as if I’d pass as arm candy. Okay I further kid, I would never have a sugar daddy—I don’t even like the word daddy).

But once I get it out of my system—all my insane worrying that is—I generally perk right up, truer words were never spoken than when the going gets tough, this tough cookie definitely gets going. I told myself, apply the Secret, (read this book) tell yourself every freaking day you will make it. You will be a writer, who actually gets paid. You will travel. You will find an apartment. You are not crazy to do this. Well a little crazy.

Then as I am fond of mantras I started repeating incessantly:

If you build it they will come. (Side note, I know the accurate quote is if you build it, he will come, but that does not apply quite so well, and as if I have time to worry about men!)

So the novel idea here is, if I keep telling myself I’m a writer, well duh, I am, why I even need a reminder of this is complete hogwash, then a writing job will come to me. And a place to live, pretty important, obviously. And travel. To say I am satisfied with settling into one place and sticking would be the equivalent of saying I like bees trapped inside my eyelids. No thank you. And I do not accept, sirs.

I wish I could take credit for this little gem of wisdom, however, I think it all goes to Kevin Costnar. Or more accurately the wise and talented writers of Field of Dreams, which okay I have yet to see, but I know this line and I am keen on its merit as I handily rearrange it to fit my life.

With this mentality of stockpiling my mind with positivity, books, words, grandiose notions of travel and a life that feeds my soul, I pushed ahead, telling myself day in and day out, if I build this, it will come to me.

Well here's the sitch: I am not writing for a major publication... yet, but I do, however, have a writing job for a very hip and posh artist. In fact she flew me to Tahoe to talk shop. As in I am going to be writing her book! Furthermore I've been hired at Starbucks (a company I am very fond of) which works quite splendidly for my ever-increasing coffee addiction. And my purse-strings as lord knows this city ain't cheap.

And miracle of all beautiful miracles I have landed my dream, Carrie Bradshaw-esque, envy worthy, Brooklyn Brownstone, located a block from the subway and the park and a mere 5 stops away from my new job. Fate? Divine Intervention? Krishna?

No, me gooses! I built it! I said, no way you're failing here, Jose. And okay, let's give credit where credit is really due--my main man upstairs. God. I have prayed a lot since landing in the Big Apple. More accurately I have had God on serious speed dial, but boy has He delivered, right when I would start to question my sanity again, I gave it up to Him and continued to build my metaphorical baseball field, my field of dreams, my perfect New York.

And while I am still building and have a lot more I set out to accomplish, I have to say, I think I have a very nice foundation... or bases, er diamond? Too many mixing of metaphors? Ah, you catch my drift.

If you build it, they will come.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Master of my Fate

So it probably isn't news to any of you that I like food. I was on a reality weight loss program showcasing how much food played a role in my life. To say that I am done with the show and am all of a sudden cured and just look at food like any normal American would be quite the lofty lie.
But before you go getting your knickers all a-twisted, know that I am a lot better off than I was before, of course, learned a great deal, so on. So forth. But I still struggle, oh yes, food and body image struggles are definitely a sea I submerge in frequently. Like take today for instance.
I woke up and weighed myself, which I generally don't do anymore for two reasons. A. My trainer told me to throw out my scale (didn't of course) because I was obsessive--shocker. And B. I know how I look and feel and when things that fit me a month ago all of a sudden don't zip, or my once always present double chin seems to be making a guest appearance, I most certainly don't need a scale to tell me something's amiss.
That I have had one too many pieces of Italian pastry and ninety degree heat is still no excuse to weasel my way out of my workout regimen. But seeing the number somehow makes things so much worse. It's a nice karate kick to the groin sort of feeling. And it sets the tone for me to start a vicious attack, along the lines of this,

Well isn't that fantastic, now your clothes don't fit and you look like a two-ton heifer.

You look pregnant.

You have probably lost all your muscle and can't ever compete in another race.

You should probably starve yourself as punishment.

(I apologize if that was a smidge unrefined, but it's the sad state of affairs sometimes and the colorful and yes, dramatic thoughts that run through my head).

And I pout and fling my things all across the room and look at myself the way I did when I was 240 pounds, which is not kindly. And like any person who has traversed this tricky terrain of weight loss, weight gain, self love, self loathing, you will know that even if you are different, are changed, are thinner, happier, that one misstep and all of a sudden you see the you you most despised and that's all she wrote, folks.

And all of a sudden I forget everything I have done, all the ways in which I have grown and excelled and I am skidding into Miserytown U.S.A population--me, with wild abandon.

As I decided to start finding other things to fret over and hate, because why not-- okay you probably won't find a writing job or an apartment or ever backpack Europe and marry a dashing yet witty Rogue--I was making myself breakfast. Do you want to know what it was?

1/2 a cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries
1 fried egg
2 cups of coffee
1 bottled water

So as I am eating my plain Greek yogurt and blueberry bowl and ripping myself to shreds it all of a sudden occurs to me that I am eating plain Greek yogurt with no sweetener, no honey, no vanilla. I have been doing this for a few weeks now, cold turkey on the Truvia, but today it really hit me.
Yeah, just hold the phone for a second. Do you have any idea how hard it is to eat plain Greek yogurt? Like the legit kind, not the flavored stuff, or the ones with pomegranate at the bottom, but the stuff that tastes like sour cream, that I have used as sour cream replacement?
It isn't tasty. Until now. Until your tastes have changed. I remember trying to eat plain Greek yogurt at the ranch and gagging so profusely that I would throw out the barely touched container and make vehement vows that I didn't need to like egg whites and freaking Greek yogurt to ever lose weight. I would not, could not like them, Sam I am.
Now I love egg white omelets and yeah, even Greek yogurt sans sweetener of any kind other than real fruit. All of a sudden mean me picketing in my mind with all her nasty slurs and rude commentary started losing her zest, because stronger, happier me realized something. Or as Bob appropriately summed up at the ranch:

"Don't let yourself be a victim to that fat bitch inside your head. Fuck her."

Okay, I know that's blunt and I like the word fat the least of all those other deragatories, but for all it's punch it also has swagger. I get it, Bob. Shut her up, because she's wrong.

Yes, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Because you can run more than one mile without wanting to die now. You can eat Greek yogurt without gagging. You can feel like an athlete, something you've always dreamed of and yearned for. You can go on a hike with a guy, and yes still be a sweaty brute but feel good about yourself afterwards. You can shop with your sisters without spiraling into a deep depression. You can accept a love you think you deserve instead of settling for anything that's even a fraction less. You can get out of your own way and succeed. You can write. You can travel. You can move to NYC and be terrified but know that if you survived the ranch you most certainly can survive the big city. And if you gain a little weight, it won't define or destroy you and it's still okay to love yourself even if your favorite dress doesn't zip at the moment. It will again. You know that.

You are not a victim anymore.


I am not a victim anymore.
Ignorance is not bliss.

I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Memoriam

I am wildly emotional this morning. In a good way. Correction. A bittersweet way. Last night my lovely and thoughtful parents sent me a New York Times article about a writer who just died that they said reminded them of me. It was about Nora Ephron whom I am ashamed to say I didn't even know about!
And this is a travesty considering I have loved and quoted one of her finest works for years, When Harry Met Sally. This article detailing her life, passion and humor struck me immediately and stirred the embers in my soul that are always burning for writing into a full blown flame once again. I got a little teary. Not because she passed, though I was sad about this, but because once again this woman was doing something to me, something she started long ago.
Anyone who knows me, or asks about any of my loves will most likely hear the When Harry Met Sally story. This movie changed the course of my life. Nora in her very own way changed the course of my life with writing this brilliant film.
In case you don't know how this movie has impacted me, let me regale you with it now.
If I knew in the fourth grade that I wanted to be a writer and I loved New York City always, it was my eighth grade year that cemented my love and knowledge that I yearned for and would have both.
I was home after school sitting in our recliner near the living room window flipping through the channels trying to find something on TV, when I came across the film When Harry Met Sally. I knew about this movie. In fact I knew I loved it before I even watched it.
Why? For starters I have always been a hopeless romantic and when I would write stories, which was how I spent the majority of my youth, and most of them being love stories, the main characters in my tales loved the classics. And the two iconic and classic love stories my characters knew to love before I ever saw them were, When Harry Met Sally and Casablanca. The two movies that were destined to be my favorites.
Finally, my eighth grade self thought upon landing on the film. I had been meaning to watch this movie for what felt like years. So I settled in and partook of the movie that introduced me to my home. New York City.
Scene after scene that showed Meg Ryan in New York, from arriving at the Arc de Triomphe, to being a journalist in the city, to hauling a Christmas tree back to her apartment resonated with me and an ache started fiery in my depths. And I knew it then. What I still know now. I was meant to live in this great city. I too would be a journalist. I would haul a Christmas tree back to my apartment and walk Central Park in the fall. See the Arc de Triomphe, which I did see for the first time, three days ago and my throat closed up, my insides fluttered and I felt very close to tears. And last but not least, I wanted that speech. That amazing speech at the end of the movie. The one that goes like this:

I love that you get cold when it's seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.

I have desperately yearned for someone to know the silliest things about me and love me anyway, to know that I too am a little fussy and particular. That I don't like ketchup on my burgers or hot dogs. That my eyes turn a violent shade of turquoise after I've cried, but that it is my favorite. That I color coordinate my closet and always fold my underwear.
Besides what this movie did for my drive and determination to make it to New York, it became my bible for relationships long before I discovered Sex and the City. Eighth grade me knew then, like it still vehemently believes now that men and women can't be friends, not necessarily because of the sex part, but some sort of emotion on the part of the man or the woman, always, yes always gets in the way. I believe that.
Do I have men friends? Yes, of course. Have I had a crush on every single one of them, whether mild and fleeting or full on falling in love? Yup, sure have. If you are a man friend of mine reading this, don't be alarmed, I am over it now if we're still friends, but yes, I have wanted you at one point or another(Amendment, unless you are taken, gay, or markedly younger than me, then no, I have not wanted to date you, so rest easy). Trust me, I don't want you now, for if I did, we would not be friends. Why?
Because men and women were not destined for friendship! I have said it before and I'll say it again. If I meet a man who is delightful, charming, makes me laugh, gets me, why in God's name would I want to sit and talk tea with him? I want to kiss him! I have my girl friends to talk with. I don't kiss them. Hence, why every man who comes into my life and ends up being just my friend I want to shake my fist at them and say, lord have mercy haven't you seen, When Harry Met Sally? Don't you know the rules? Posh on these new-fangled men and their silly ideas on female friendship.
Ok, that was an incredible tangent but it pertained to the movie and one of the many lessons it imparted on me, that I still take to heart today.
I have been emotional and weepy throughout writing this whole blog as that is how much this movie has been a part of my life.
And here's the thing. Now that you know how crazy I am for this film, also know this. In a sense having just discovered Nora Ephron and all the ways that she has shaped the writing world, still I know enough. I have always known her. She did more for me than any writer ever has or ever could. And I know that's a lofty statement and there are loads of writers I respect and admire, but, Nora, you in particular, you paved the way.
You were instrumental in me finding the path I was supposed to be on, am still on, and in me aspiring to not only move to New York City, religiously pursue writing, but also know that a great and worthy love is out there for me. One who indeed would know that Billy Crystal's speech is my favorite toe-curling speech of all time and that I secretly yearn for a speech all my own.
Last but not least, Nora awakened something in me long ago that is nowhere in the realm of being finished. The exact same feeling I had sitting in my parents living room all those years ago yearning deeply for something that seemed very far off and very intimidating indeed is exactly what I felt last night reading about her life.
I knew with a blazing ferocity that I am meant to be a writer. I want it so badly it scares me. Rattles me to my core. How can someone want something so badly? But I do. And in reading about Nora and her passion for writing, I know that I am right in this. In wanting what sometimes feels like the unattainable.
But if Nora did it, so can I.
So with an overwhelming well of gratitude which she will never know, I still want to say thank you, to her.

Thank you, Nora from the depths of my soul for doing what you did. And doing it so well.

And with that, I will leave you with one of my other favorite segments from the film.

Harry: You're the worst kind. You're high maintenance but you think you're
low maintenance.

Sally: I don't see that.

Harry: You don't see that? Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't
want the regular dressing. I'll have the Balsamic vinegar and oil, but on
the side. And then the Salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard
sauce, on the side. On the side is a very big thing for you.

Sally: Well I just want it the way I want it.

Harry: I know. High maintenance.