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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I did cartwheels in your honor

I have been obsessed, delirious and crazed over a handful of songs lately. I cannot stop listening to them and as a writer noting and devouring the sublime words and lyrical genius of some of these artists. So in a hats off salute to my favorite bands and the way they make my heart stand up and clap, I have selected my absolute favorite lyrics as of late, and woven them into a little tale.

Open your eyes and your 9 years older,
Hands on the wheel and your racing on over to lie with your first love you can't wait to see her,
You borrowed the car and you think your the driver,
But now your the passenger to your own heart and it takes you travelling,
Travelling on...

And the songbirds keep singing,
Like they know the score,

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

“Do you remember that day you fell out of my window?”
“I sure do, you came jumping out after me.”
“Well, you fell on the concrete
and nearly broke your ass
and you were bleeding all over the place
and I rushed you off to the hospital.
Do you remember that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, there's something
I never told you about that night.”
“What didn't you tell me?”
“While you were sitting in the backseat
smoking a cigarette you thought
was going to be your last,
I was falling deep, deeply in love with you
and I never told you 'til just now.”
“Now I know.”

Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free

The grass was so green against my new clothes,
And I did cartwheels in your honor, dancing on tiptoe

I feel her filth in my bones
Wash off my hands til it's gone
The walls they're closing in
With velvet curtains

It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all
The opposite of love's indifference
Pay attention now, I'm standing on your porch screaming out
And I wont leave until you come downstairs

Look at what it might have been if you took the bus to china town. I've been standing on Canal. And Bowery. And she'd be standing next to me

And the only solution was to stand and fight,
And my body was bruised and
I was set alight,

Fallin' apart, spellbound, scheming for you
I'll crawl to the corner store
Courage makes me want you more

Six a.m. you left me for the last time
On my doorstep blinking in the sunshine
Blamed and framed I'm frozen in the picture
Hanging in the space you left inside me
Climbed upstairs into the final scene
Waiting for the credits to appear
For all the years that I've been starring
Starring in a film with you and leading

Don't you frown when you're feelin like that
Only love can dig you out of this

Monday, June 25, 2012

la douleur exquise

I had one of those dreams last night, those dreadful dreams, and by dreadful I mean it gnawed at something inside of my soul that I desperately want, so much so, that when I started to come awake, the dream version of me started panicking, running around dreamland crazed to find a hiding spot, no, no, you can't wake up, you can't leave yet, there is unfinished business here! I could feel my brain resisting, trying to mentally put the brakes on waking up, while dream me cried, fight it, while clawing at the remnants.

I can't go back yet, I'm still lost.

But I woke up. And instantly I could feel the weight of the dream on me, like a sopping wool blanket, holding me to the bed. And I felt sad. I won't go into details about the dream for two reasons, one I know for a fact that bores the shit out of people and two, the significance of it is something I want to hold protectively close to my chest. But I will tell you this, the french say it best: it was la douleur exquise.

I didn't know if I had it in me today. I lay in bed for a few moments contemplating the sadness, like a Rubik's cube I wasn't really sure I had the energy to tackle. A part of me wanted to stay lost. Stay in bed. Stay sad. But that looked and already felt rather bleak, so I whipped the covers off of me, got dressed immediately, putting the kibosh on staying in my pj's all day and went downstairs to write--my therapy.

I still could feel the ache deep in my core but I fought it off while I concentrated on my pep. I am always trying to maintain my pep as I thoroughly dislike the blues. Once I finished my writing, however I decided to call a friend who always has phenomenal insight. I told him all my best news first: Apartments, and writing, and New York, Oh My!

And then I told him about my dream. And that I was fighting my sadness something fierce. I mean it was a raging battle that I was fending off with a sharp stick, swinging in all directions to protect myself. His response,

"There's something special about being sad. It shows that you're alive."

Yeah. He's good. After I ended the call I thought long and hard about that. And his further advice to embrace the sadness. I decided to dip my pinky toe into the sad pool and let myself feel a little. Okay, a little was alright. Not a lot though. I don't particularly care for a lot of sad.

But then it hit me and I needed to just have at it, put down my weaponry and wave the white flag of defeat, at least for today. I cried. A lot. Wept and curled into myself and what do you know? I feel better having cried and felt.

But it scares me because I know it's not enough. That was a nice little start. But what if I gave in fully? Where would I be then? I remember my first week at the ranch attempting to hold back tears during a horrendous workout that made me all too aware of my many inadequacies. To no avail, one tear trickled down my cheek anyway while I tried to somehow pull it back up with my mind so no one would see, especially Bob. He saw. And pulled me aside after the workout.

He asked me who I was being strong for.

Everyone, I replied.

He asked why. That was weird, I thought.

Because I have to be.

He probed further and asked why I wouldn't just let myself cry. Let myself cry if I needed to cry.

I am afraid if I start I'll never stop. I'll fall apart.

He said maybe I needed to fall apart.

And I know that maybe I need to again. Maybe in order to get stronger, I just have to embrace the struggle, the sadness, the twists of life, but still, I find myself clinging to my old ways. It's beyond me why I think I can never be sad, nor show it, like that's somehow a weakness, undesirable trait, or flaw.

I know it's human. And I know my pep is something I can always count on. But sometimes, you just have to cry. And not pretend you're okay.

But with that being said,

Cheers to being alive.

Very alive indeed.

I swoon for you

Let me bring you back to Saturday. What a decadent adventure Saturday was. I spent almost the entire day in Brooklyn, my heart's happy place. I took the train in from Melbourne, New Jersey. And instead of riding straight out to Brooklyn from NY Penn Station, I decided to partake of Manhattan a bit first. Also I had an ulterior motive. I all of a sudden hated the dress I was wearing and felt not at all New York savvy and needed to make my way to the nearest H&M for a little fashion emergency.
Honestly, if I don't feel good in my clothes it can ruin my whole day and there would be none of that. And a little foreshadowing here, I had a very posh dinner that I could not be looking schlepp-y for.
On my leisurely stroll away from the train station I happened upon the Flat Iron Building, which I have seen dozens of times in photographs and have always wanted to see myself in NY but had not.
I felt like a kid who just spotted a toy store, as my pace quickened and my pulse started to ratchet up, while my neck craned to get a better look. I resisted the urge to point and look around, like, do you guys see this? Do you know this is here? How can you blithely go about texting when there is a piece of architectural genius towering over you?
I got up close and began to take pictures and just stare. It doesn't always hit me that I am actually in New York now. I mean even when I am, like at that moment, roving the city, I still feel a little like a guest. Especially when I have to pull out my stinkin' subway map which boldly declares that yes, I am still finding my way. It pains me to do this. I feel like with my innate directional skills--you may doubt them as my many references to getting lost as of late, but they're there--I should have the entire subway system down pat by now.
Plus I hate that I am marching along, head held high seeming to fit in and then as soon as the map comes out, even when I try to be sly about it, it unfolds so large and conspicuously the New Yorkers, think, oh tourist, this city doesn't belong to her. Or at least this is what I think is happening. They probably are giving me no regard whatsoever. But I still feel compelled to pull out an old wooden milk crate, tap it with a cane and a flourish, hop up and say,

"Attention New Yorkers: I do belong here. And this city belongs to me too. I don't technically need this subway map but I feel it's a proper precaution as I tend to be overly dramatic and if I didn't have it as a slight crutch I may assume I'd end up with the bodies in the Meadowlands, courtesy of the Mob. That's what I'd assume without this map. So please excuse and don't judge while I peruse. Thank you, kind sirs."

Then I would hop down and take a gracious bow. I feel I should probably have a cape for the bow as well, for full effect, but then I'd just look like a magician and no one would take me seriously at all.
Since I took a detour there with that little pretend picture, let's fast forward to Brooklyn in my new light blue, folksy dress, $15 on sale, paired with a cream United Colors of Benetton scarf that I'd had the good foresight to bring.
I had a date in Cobble Hill that night and needed to look my best. My hair had proper jungle qualities to it, that is to say, frizzy but not too frizzy, and I brought my teaser comb to amp it up when it started to look wilted, which was every hour or so. I love when I have jungle hair. I don't know that anyone else loves it as much as I do, but that's all that matters, no?
Anyhow, as any girl knows, you need to look prime for a date. So when I was haphazardly trying to take a photo and hold my coffee, big mistake, the coffee tipped onto my new dress. I resisted the urge to scream in the middle of the street. My new dress! My designer scarf! Drats! Double drats!
Thankfully the scarf didn't really take the worst hit with the coffee so it covered the spot on the dress, but if I know anything about coffee, I know that it stains right fierce so I made my way to the nearest pharmacy for a Tide Stick. But after much perusing of beautiful Cobble Hill, patisseries, bookstores, churches, I found my dress to be a little wrinkled and that was simply unacceptable. After trying pharmacy after pharmacy for a wrinkle reducing spray, I became obsessive in locating this mysterious magical spray that I all of a sudden had to have to avoid looking like I'd been trampled by a stampede of wild boar.
I knew there was a Target quite a ways off and had an hour and a half before my dinner plans. I had to have the spray. So I walked the fourteen or so blocks, there and back to buy the $8 spray which I'm not even sure did anything, but soothed me mentally. But now I was a bit disheveled, had a light coffee stain hiding under my scarf, my hair was a little more jungle than I liked at this point, and my dress was still markedly wrinkled. And I had a headache.
I was not going to be cranky though. It is not every day you get to attend an unveiling of a restaurant for, wait for it... Kitchen Nightmares! Yeah, my date was with Gordon Ramsay! Okay, to clarify, my date actually was with a girl friend, to attend the relaunch of Mama Maria's in Brooklyn. But it was for Kitchen Nightmares and one Mr. Ramsay would be in attendance. So is it any wonder I was a spazz-case McGillicuddy about my appearance all day? No. No wonder.
By the time we made our way into the hip little downtown restaurant, my anxiousness had settled down and I was ready for some Italian pizza and celebrity spottings! I was satisfied on both counts.
I tried the Garden Bianca. It had zucchini, garlic confit, ricotta and goat cheese. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! My friend got the Margherita pizza. We swapped a couple slices, so we both got to try each. I am not kidding, the sauce on the Margherita pizza was the most exquisite sauce I have ever tasted. And I hate sauce on pizza and always scrape it off, so this is some feat, that I wanted to pour it into a cup and drink it.
Also the twinkly lights strung across the restaurant gave me such a warm and fuzzy I'm in Italy feeling. There's nothing better than when cozy ambiance marries savory food. The perfect dining experience if I do say so.
And on the way out, I passed right by Mr. Ramsay who touched my shoulder and said, "ladies."
So I felt compelled to touch him back. Didn't want to be rude. I touched his shoulder and squeezed, I couldn't help myself, the only thing more delicious than that pizza was this man's muscular shoulder that I was touching. "Big fan," I beamed, then let go, begrudgingly and waltzed out.

Oh what a night!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Get lost in Beauty

I woke up this morning, much like I wake up every morning: my voice crackly and hoarse as I came alive, my hair a riotous mane of tangles standing on top of itself--bangs piled high in tufts all around my head, think a blonde mushroom.
In fact, side note, my hair is so troubling in the morning that I often braid it before bed to try and tame it, to no avail. And I recently told a friend about this taming tactic, and how it still is an explosive mess. His response:
"I guess that means you can't be tamed." Bingo. If my hair is a metaphor for my life, then I love it. Bring it on jungle woman. Bring. It. On.
Anyway, digression. Back to the story.
The first thing I do in the a.m., like always, before I can think or blink is stumble toward the coffee machine. Coffee, coffee, coffee and then I can be.
I grabbed my Vanilla Creme Brulee, black, already made--God love Jen(my new housemate, or rather I'm hers)--a banana, and a petite chocolate granola square and settled in near my laptop for my new morning ritual of perusing the world wide web for jobs and things of note and flipping through my books and daily devotional.
In a matter of minutes, it became wildly apparent to me that today was a day for beauty. Painful, riotous, overwhelming beauty. I mean, right from the start there were so many striking words, songs, conversations, people, vying for my attention and flitting through my brain that I felt like I was in a beauty tidal wave, twisting and turning with no real desire to reach the surface.

Here is a compilation of all the ways in which I was bowled over today:

This picture. This perfect freaking picture. I loved it, sir.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:

-Rudyard Kipling
One of my favorite poems and most randomly a part of this verse popped into my head, so I searched and found.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly.
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.

-Paul McCartney
I was running down the stairs and my mind began to sing this song. Out of nowhere.

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't sit still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

-Robert Service
I found an old business card in my camera case with parts of this poem scrawled on it in my handwriting. This is only a part of the poem. Do read the rest of both these poems.

"I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you."
I read this in my daily devotional and my body shook a little with my exuberance. My dad used to come into my room and say this prayer to my brother, sister and I every night when we were little. Reading it after such a long time, made me unspeakably happy.

I got incredibly lost on the way into the city today, but on my detour jostling on the train far off from New York, I witnessed a most wide and breathtaking river. Rivers never cease to amaze me. If getting lost provided me that one extra view, that I might not have seen otherwise in my life, it was worth it. Beauty is never wasted. That and I always get to a point of hilarity with my mishaps where I find sheer delight in the ridiculousness of the situations I find myself in. Like the fact that at one point today I contemplated that I might be murdered. It was a very brief moment. But I did it. I went there.

And then... I found a place that topped the mermaid apartment. In Park Slope, Brooklyn. We're talking first string here. I tried not to dance and or yelp with euphoria as the owner, sweet, sweet darling that she was, showed me room after room that literally wooed me with their complete Cassandra-esque perfection.

Clawfoot tub. Check.
Built-in wall bookshelf. Check, check.
My own dressing room, with old-fashioned wood sliding doors. Yeah, not kidding.

After we sat down in the dining room she asked if I had any questions. I did.

"When can I move in?"

She slid the paperwork over.
And I wait a week to find out.

Instantly I went into prayer mode upon exiting the brownstone. Um, yes it is my dream apartment. I walked down the steps and let out a nervous sigh. I wanted it too much. And I know what happens when I want something so much it scares me to my bitter bones. It could either go unbelievably well, or I'm crushed. I felt my high starting to wilt as I boarded the subway to make my way back to New Jersey. But as the night wore down and I met up with a friend where we cheers-ed to Park Slope and giggled our way through dinner, I felt my hope bubbling up to the surface again. And then I remembered some beautiful words I heard the other day.

There is no such thing as false hope. Hope is the one constant that everyone needs. So hopeful I shall remain. And if nothing else, I had a beautiful day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stay young, Go dancing

Adventures have been abounding, sirs, okay and madams but I'm real keen on the word sir. Hence why I have been off the radar for a few days--I should never be too busy to write--but alas I have been taking loads of mental notes just for you.

I have a couple leads on apartments, but have taken a brief hiatus on looking and have instead thrown all my energy into the job world. I mean, I need an income-- that's pretty significant. Here is what I have interviews for thus far:

A dog walker
A ballet instructor

Okay, in all fairness I have always wanted to be a dog walker. It is a bit of a footloose and fancy-free job that I feel I would be quite adept at. So the ballet instructor part though... Yeah, ahem, I am not proficient in ballet. I took one class, though I do feel I was the star performer, I am in no way fit to teach, however I indicated this on my application, that I could learn. And apparently they still considered me! But I was told to come prepared with a two minute routine. And here is when I nearly vomited in my mouth and instantly started picturing that episode of I Love Lucy, where she tries to learn ballet and looks like an uncoordinated floppy fish as her body convulses trying to keep up with the tempo.

That would be me. Two whole minutes of performance! I would just be hopping up and down on my toes and waving my arms like a complete buffoon! How embarrassing. A part of me still contemplated going, as wouldn't that make for some hilarious tales... But I don't think I can stand to be that mortified, trying to impress a NYC dance instructor with my non-skill and lack of rhythm. It doesn't help that my trainer from home told me on a regular basis that it was imperative that I get rhythm before moving to NY and was rather exasperated with me every time I attempted some form of it in my exercise routine. Cue floppy fish.

I don't have it! And my sweet friends in college pointed out that I was the prime candidate for tripping the light fantastic. So is it any wonder I am self-conscious about my dancing skills? Although I will admit, for ballet you need poise and grace and I for one think I am the epitome of those two things. Sort of.

And speaking of dance, I may not burst into a routine on the subway, though a part of me is sorely tempted and as soon as I purchase my tambourine I am going to-- don't think I won't! But I had this weird epiphany the other day. I have always been wildly aware of my awkwardness and before, I suffocated it... don't dare let the world know I am a clutzy kook. Now, however, I embrace my eccentricities!

So with that said, epiphany explanation-- I was riding the rail, listening to a particularly buoyant song and i could feel my head start to bob and my thighs start to sashay. A small voice deep inside became alarmed and alerted me to the fact that I may look like a goon jiving to my music on the subway. People could take note. They might know I have no rhythm or skill. But alas, I did not care! I smothered the voice and went right on ahead with my musical expression. One guy stared. I kept bobbing. I am a New Yorker now. I do what I want.

And I dare say I may be finding rhythm! Or maybe it's just confidence... But I think that may be one better!

I had so many places I wanted to go with this blog today and I had no idea it would go here, but I like where I ended up, so more stories later? Maybe tomorrow morning we meet, same time? Cup of coffee?

Yes, yes I think I'd like that.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I know this much is true

I spent last year's birthday, my golden, in New York City. I was with my mom and sister apartment hunting, but on my birthday I did all things epic New York, including dancing on the big piano in F.A.O Schwarz, breakfast at Tiffany's, dessert at Serendipity's. I wanted the day to always stand out in my mind. I mean, every year I am a birthday toot, for sure, but turning twenty-five on the 25th in my city felt somehow much more important and significant.
I remember saying to myself, and probably my fam that this was my year. This is it, I reaffirmed multiple times. This year will be different. It will be different in life, in love, career, pursuit of happiness--different.

I was right.
I did a lot that I am particularly proud of this year: Changed my life in a most profound way, found the me that was lost somewhere in the depths of a very turbulent sea, realized I was strong, much stronger than I ever comprehended, fell in love, and moved to New York City. All of this in a year's time. Turning twenty-six this year, I wanted far less in the way of a birthday spectacle, which is saying something.
And I think I might have had an even more perfect birthday than my New York birthday, because I felt so serene and satisfied having gotten my wishes from the previous year. But of course going forward, being a dreamer and a doer, I made more wishes on my twenty-six candles. I can't tell you my big wish, because I am superstitious and then well, it might not come true, but I can tell you my aim for this year--my year ahead in New York.

I know this much is true:

I want to feel strong. I cannot tell you how many times I felt overwhelmed and terrified during workouts this past year, but after the worst of 'em I felt strong. And let me tell you somethin--that is one of the best feelings I have come to know.

Along those lines, I want to become somewhat of a CrossFit princess. Gosh, CrossFit does something to me. It goes along with that feeling strong business, but more than that I want to challenge myself. I want to dead lift and squat and get some sick muscles. I just do.

I want to see a lot of live music. This is a priority and will not be considered a luxury by me anymore. It does something to my soul and makes me forget about stress and bills and overeating and my still somewhat flawed body image issues. There aren't many things that can make me forget all that, so I am grasping onto this one with ardor.

I need to go after my writing with a wild and unrestrained passion the likes of which I haven't pursued it before. This past year I unleashed that fervor on my body and while that is still a battle I am fighting and will continue to fight, I need to also consider that yes I deserved to figure out how to love myself, but I also deserve to do what makes my heart sing. And that would be getting a paycheck for my words. I am making that happen this year. It is no longer out of the realm of possibility.

And I think it goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway, I want to explore the shit out of NYC. I want to know intimately alleyways and blues clubs, bookstores and coffeeshops, avenues and architecture, museums and parks--in short, I want to make love to this city. And I want to adventure like mad. Boston, Maine, DC, Alaska, maybe a lil jaunt to Scotland or something. I don't know, but as my late gramps would say, you bet your boots, adventure-ing I will be.

And I want a dog. I think this is the year of the dog. Humphrey? Are you ready for my love?

Hmmm. Perhaps, perhaps.

At any rate, if last year's birthday vehemence and belief of greatness set the tone for what was to come and it far surpassed my wildest expectations then this year should be just grand grandiosity.

Right? Right!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope

I survived my first day in New York... in case you were worried. It was a bit roller coaster-esque with me having numerous internal freak-outs, to the point where I probably exhausted all my last reserves and eventually passed out in a cab ride into Manhattan--note I absolutely cannot afford cabs, I am no Carrie Bradshaw--yet, but seeing as I packed six heaping bags of pure essentials, the subway was ruled out. Apparently it alarmed the cab driver as he immediately asked,

"Ma'am, ma'am, are you all right?"

Don't people do worse things in cabs out here? My face was rather flushed, I will admit, probably from all my dips and dives of emotion, so maybe he assumed I'd died. Nope, sir, still very much alive, though you keep driving like you are and it is questionable whether I live to see tomorrow, I thought, as I buckled up.

I realized, for all my saying I am ready to struggle, New York and struggle go hand in hand, it's the starving artist's way, I was a bit miffed with my first interaction with a somewhat brusque New York landlord telling me the what's what of renting here in the big apple. Okay, okay, I get it, New York is no Marquette, MI. Noted. For all my independent ferocity, I didn't like his insinuating I couldn't hack it on my own.
I know on my own, sir. Puh-lease. You don't scare me.
K, you actually do scare me, hence why I am not renting from you.

But after the initial panic of okay, this is definitely, for serious, big girl time, I bucked up and feverishly attacked my NY game plan. I did look at an apartment, which was a dream. Oh gosh. Everything I have envisioned a New York apartment to be and then some. It even had pink mermaids etched onto the bathtub sliding doors. The booking agent who was showing me the apartment said the landlord would remove them, but upon seeing my hand whip to my chest and my jaw drop in horror at the idea, she backtracked and told me if I liked them they could stay. Of course the mermaids stay!
And outdated 50's style appliances? Yes and my heart be still.
Hardwood floors? Mmhmm.
Wood paneled cupboards circa 1972? Yup.

It was love at first sight! Right by Ditmars Blvd and handily by my favorite restaurant in Astoria. So, in short, needs to be mine. But like any great love story, a dragon needs to be slain first, before you get your one and only. Of course it wasn't as easy as I'll take it, where do I sign? No, no. While I would have welcomed that, it was not what I anticipated, so when I was told about the extra $1850 to pay Ms. Booking Agent and the fact that because I am jobless I WILL need a cosigner, I merely nodded, while plotting my next move.

Two somewhat major league problems, but as if I haven't tackled worse? No worries, no fretting, I got this. Or if I don't, I find another magical mermaid apartment. I am resilient. Though, I really fancy myself in that one. I have already pictured myself hosting dinner parties there. My aprons would so match the kitchen!

Other noteworthies: I made my first new, New York friend! And went out for coffee. Yes, of course I had time for that. Coffee and friendship, duh--of utmost import. And I had a most sensational lunch special at Ovelia, all by my hip self. I sat next to the the open patio so I could feel the New York breeze on my face and bask in the sunshine. I wrote and relaxed after my apartment viewing high. It was perfect. And they had a delightful mess-up and gave me fries instead of a side salad, and lack-of-self-control me, made the mistake of trying one before saying anything and oh boy--there was no going back. Hands down, best french fry I have ever tasted. They didn't even need ketchup, people. Oy!

And after my coffee date with my lovely curly-haired comrade, I waited outside near Times Square for my other friend that I will be bunking with to fetch me. As distracted as I was all day by tackling my to-do's, I was struck over and over again by New York splendor and again it hit me. I looked at the sky in front of me not thinking at all, and upon seeing rows of looming buildings, lights and action, I was breathless. You are here. Really here. And don't for a second diminish how profound that is, my inner fighter thought.

So, here I am.

Day two. Brooklyn. Look out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I have arrived

I am here! On New York Soil! Oh the emotion! I have blamed my mom a lot this past week for her part in making me such a dramatic, emotionally overwrought individual. It's all on her that I still want to weep.

So, I would be a complete liar if I said I landed and did a jolly jig in the airport. Do not get me wrong, when my bleary eyes opened to twinkling lights and I saw old familiar La Guardia, a part of me felt like sighing a deep sigh, home, at last. The other part freaked the flip out. Even though I should note that I was definitely destined for NY, as when the cabby started issuing profanities about my drop-off point, I got giddy and thought, ooh the true New York experience. Then as I waited for my friend to let me into his apartment, I saw a drunken lad peeing on the street. Welcome to New York! I couldn't help but be a little thrilled by this as well. New York censors itself for no one.
But as I fell asleep on my friend's air mattress in Queens, clutching my stuffed giraffe, Lula--don't judge me--I continued to fret. It was a nice little war going on inside me. Holy hot euphoria, my insides rioted as they took in the NY apartment I was now bunking in and the feeling of finally having made it here, but then the other part, jubilee'd, oh man, what have you done, you crazed vagabond, go home, go home, go home--too big, too much, too scary--you're insane and this is too much.
I finally squelched the rampant crazed fear, picture a child that has been left to her own devices and is covered in chocolate, half-dressed, filthy with a tangled mane, running around like a lunatic, waiting for an adult to reign her in. That is what my fear looks like. So rational Cassandra, adult mom Cassandra, threw a potato sack over demented unrestrained child Cassandra, or the fear, or both and calmly put in headphones, clicked on skinny love and drifted off to sleep.

And now, here I sit in Astoria, after having walked with my friend a ways so he could go to work and I could find the nearest coffee establishment. Priorities, man, priorities. The war was raging again, this morning, but the excitement is winning out now. And of course, there's still that overwhelming urge to cry looking at New York, who remains blissfully unaware of how much I love her. Oh I will show you, dear. I will show you.

Now what? I gotta get me an apartment and some employment kids! Let's do this thing. Good thing I work incredibly well under heinous pressure. And so it begins...

P.S. The adorable old men sitting across from me in Starbucks (also don't judge me I have a gift card and they have wireless) are speaking Italian. I think. Either way, it's a language that's poetic, they're using a lot of quality hand gestures and it's slaying me right nice!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm a comin

3 days til New York. Countdown commence!

I am definitely in a better head space than I have been for the last week, being a crying mess. I can appreciate that I am an incredibly emotional being who notes the importance of feeling what I need to feel, but man I was starting to fret over when my normal heady pining for my beloved city would drown out those incessant tears. Don't get me wrong folks, still crying every day, because that's just a given, but I am starting to get the itch to be back in my true love's embrace. For starters I have been garage sale-ing something fierce and let me tell you, my apartment in NY, should I not end up a bag lady on the street, is going to be a bohemian dream. And secondly, my thoughts have begun to wander back to all that I find true and good about my soul mate:

I keep picturing picnics in Bryant Park
Subway rides
Oh my friend has already asked me if in a few weeks I would like to do dinner in Cobble Hill. Um, could that sound more New York posh?! I think not.
Coffee in Brooklyn
Sweating profusely in Central Park
Serendipity's... not that I will be able to afford it for probably a year, but I will walk by and peak in the window and have filthy thoughts about that frozen hot chocolate.
Hand-squeezed lemonade in Little Italy
Getting lost and found on many a New York street
The Strand-yes!

Okay, I could go on forever, baby. But I won't tease you with all the stories of my budding romance. Don't want you to feel jealous. Anyway, I have a Bon Voyage party to attend. Hoorah!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Young and Penniless

So yesterday as I prepared for a day of drunken (refer to my previous post if you think I'm a boozer) adventure-- yes, I had a Shins concert to attend, girlfriends to mingle with and a sleepover to be had. Drunk on it all, including champagne and cheap shoddy beer? Yes, that was the ticket. Especially for my ever-mounting blues. I cried the whole drive out to Royal Oak to see my friend, while masochistically listening to every achy breaky song I could find on my Ipod--of course. And God love her, when I explained my irrational tears and fears she pulled out the champagne and we cheers-ed to being strong.
A very worthy cheer. Cheers to that indeed.

Why the fuck am I bluesy might you ask? Well, the thing is, I am moving to New York City in less than a week now. Right. No reason for the blues. None. This is epic. Huge. My life dream. I have been prepping for this since I was fourteen. I mean, every fiber, neuron, innard, and string of my soul wants this... however, with big dreams comes big change and even bigger fear. I read somewhere that if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough. Guess what? I am terrified out of my ever-loving wits about this move. So turns out I am a colossal dreamer. Yeah, fun fact I am sure none of you were aware of. New York is everything I want and then some. It is where I need to be and have to attempt to do this annoying thing called growing up, or becoming an adult... err--okay I do want to be an adult, sorta. Okay not at all. Adulthood blows. The only perk of being an adult is getting your own set of wheels and having sleepovers wherever you please without your parents permission, best thing ever in fact. Okay and wine. And I suppose getting a puppy if the yen so strikes you. Okay, adulthood is not so bad, especially for someone like me who is determined to live like Peter Pan in a perpetual state of childhood. Except for balancing your checking account--yep I was overdrawn yesterday. And fielding phone calls from Sallie Mae--sorry guys, still broke. No-can-do-sy. Call back in a month when I have sold my soul for an apartment in NY and maybe there will be an overage and I can pay you then. Fingers crossed!

So okay, that was quite a tangent, but it encompassed a lot of my key points. That I am terrified to put myself out there in a big, big way again. That I am doing it with virtually no dollars. Seriously, I am selling my car and going. And I haven't even gotten any money from it yet, but the ticket is still booked, so I am going to totally pull a Madonna and show up in NYC, young, fabulous and definitely penniless and call me crazy but it's what I need to do. Am I scared of failing? A lot, but I hate that word, I prefer to think of it as faltering and I am more than prepared to embrace the enormous struggle that will await me there, but, deep down, I know I've got this. I do.

So again, why the blues? Besides my dismal checking account balance, eh I gave up on seeing anything more than cents in there a long time ago, and taking a huge leap of faith on my wildest dream, it's this: I love the people I am surrounded by here, namely my more than incredible family, and stellar friends. My heart is weeping a sad, sad refrain at the thought of not being near them for... a long while. So, hmm. I hate to end on that Debbie Downer note, as leaving isn't permanent, my home will always be my home and in regards to not seeing all my beloveds, I'd like to quote one of my favorite men,

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear.

oh e.e. you slay me. and in an ode to you i will not capitalize this sentence. you said it sir, you said it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

get drunk

I happened upon a favorite poem of mine the other day and was struck by how much the words resonated with me still. Here, you should read it to understand:

get drunk

One should always be drunk. That’s the great thing; the only question. Not to feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and bowing you to the earth, you should be drunk without respite.

Drunk with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please. But get drunk.

And if sometimes you should happen to awake, on the stairs of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the dreary solitude of your own room, and find that your drunkenness is ebbing or has vanished, ask the wind and the wave, ask star, bird, or clock, ask everything that flies, everything that moans, everything that flows, everything that sings, everything that speaks, ask them the time; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird and the clock will all reply: ‘It is Time to get drunk! If you are not to be the martyred slaves of Time, be perpetually drunk! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you please.’
-charles baudelaire

Yes. A colossal and resounding yes to all of the above. Of course after my birthday I am okay not getting drunk on wine for awhile, but drunk on poetry and virtue-Charles, Charles, you wise man, yes. I also would like to share my other drunken notables from the past week. I was off adventuring-so drunk on adventure, was I? Duh. Topsy-turvy drunk in fact. Whilst in the U.P. climbing waterfalls and discovering paths I didn't even know existed--so many metaphors there, just take it in--I felt this overwhelming sense of perfection. That is the only word.

Perfect jams
The Head and the Heart
Eddie Vedder
(to name a few)

Perfect people
The whole Sturos Clan
Ryan-my adventure counterpart

We even had perfect weather!, but I digress. Let me just tell you, besides being drunk on good company, music, waterfalls, the yoop, photography, the sky and stars, Superior, game nights, quotes, I was positively intoxicated with how good it felt to be so drunk on living. Ugh. Yes. Ugh. Charles you are right! We should always be drunk.

On the very first night of camping at this spot I had passed a million times and always wanted to stop at, I woke up in the middle of the night in a state of pure unadulterated euphoria. I was wracked with it. I laid in the tent for a long, long time, not moving, hardly breathing I think, just feeling something profound. Then I got up to go to the bathroom thinking seeing the surrounding outdoors at night sounded lovely. The walk back to the tent in the middle of the night, engulfed by silence other than a light crackling of dying-down logs on forgotten fires and the vast northern sky, I felt my steps slowing and my brain churning with frenetic passion. Take it all in, take it all in, it was yooping. Then like any good drunkard on a high, I started to slip a little, drunkenness doesn't last after all. Ohh life, you're too beautiful, I want you too much, all the time, everything. Stars and northern sky, fires and tents, adventure and longing, music and passion, writing and the big city, love and splendor. My soul wanted to stay drunk. It was swinging its fist with fervency noting that drunk is the way to be.

So drunk I remained--with wanderlust and poetic delight for the entirety of vacation. Of course this led to a horrible adventure hangover once I was back to reality... but like Charles so nicely pointed out, if you find the drunkenness ebbing, um you should probably just get drunk again.
So here's to another week of getting drunk on adventure!

My new aim: to always be drunk on adventure.
Join me?