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.