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Sunday, A dog shit blood on the sidewalk and I think I saw my first celebrity….

 

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So my first week in the city ended with a free three hour self defense course on Friday evening. I went home a little tipsy (they gave us cider) and happy.  Yes, that seems counterintuitive: a women’s self defense course located in a dojo in one of the many darkened warehouse streets of the city that ended at 10 pm and let us free with alcohol in our veins.  But I promise it wasn’t that weird.  We had plenty of time to digest and eat chips and chat and make friends to walk to the train with and it was exactly what I had wanted to do once I got to New York.  They did warn us that the moves we learned needed to be practiced—they cautioned us against becoming overconfident for having momentarily excelled at maneuvers that needed to become second nature to ever be of use.   But I will say that it was exceptionally empowering to learn about—to understand—my body as a thing of force, rather than a thing to be invaded.  And once having had that sense, it is easier to envision future potentialities without fear.  

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The rest of the week I trained for the host position I’d interviewed for on Tuesday.  I am happy to say I am officially on the schedule now, even if the promised “full time” hours never materialize.  It is good just to know I’ll be getting a paycheck in a few weeks.  I had another interview on Thursday or so, and could not tell them what my availability would be until the other job scheduled me.  The places have similar hours though, so it looks like, if the second still works out, I will mostly be working at night. That leaves daytime for ‘real job’ applications, portfolio work, and room for a publishing internship/job come fall.

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IMG_8584 IMG_8596The weekend also brought Brooklyn Pride Parade and a great night of dancing afterwards.  One of the things I miss most about New College is the ‘Walls’: our school-wide parties on Fridays and Saturdays that centers around dancing and drank. I love dancing, sober and otherwise, and didn’t get to do it much this past year in any public venue.  That feeling of ‘ecstatic wonder’ that the best of New College experience embodies is what we hope to take with us when we graduate.

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 Saturday and Sunday I went in for the rest of training for the brunch shift.  I was posted as a door host (read: one of those idiots standing outside attempting to smile but not too creepily at passerby) and spent the best of the time chatting with my fellow hostess, Kim. This work environment is very communal, at least from what I’ve seen. There are ‘family dinners’ at four and the staff often goes out after work together.  It’s exactly the type of place I wanted to work to start putting out some feelers and setting down roots.  And I don’t know why I can’t seem to cease to be surprised that anywhere you go you can meet people that feel like people you have met before—call it ‘archetypes’ or ‘casting,’ or whatever you will.  But that too is reassuring in a macro sense.

 

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  It was while attempting to smile at passing (mostly hetero) couples invitingly without essentially flirting with just the male counterparts (easier said than done when it proved easier to catch their eyes) and while trying not to make mental/visual comparisons of myself to other images (also beckoning, also trying to sell something) that the dog shat.  A small black spaniel a few steps behind his owner started crouching down and the next thing we knew, there were blood clot splatters literally only in front of our doorstep.  The owner apologized with a hurried “Oh I’m so sorry, we just got back from the vet’s and he’s still having problems” but produced no poop bag, which would have been impractical given the consistency.   I burst out laughing and Kim, horrified, spent the next ten minutes tossing water onto the sidewalk in between unsuspecting passerby.  During that time, I am pretty sure I saw the guy who looks like Andrew Garfield but isn’t (let’s call him a C-lister).  He was tall, dressed smartly, and walked with purpose through the crowd while talking on his Bluetooth with that air of absolute focus…. that most New Yorkers maintain.  But I’m still pretty sure he was a ‘someone.’    

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Welp, That Happened.  (First Monday in the City)

 

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I almost missed my flight leaving Florida.  I cleaned up and organized my room and threw stuff out and burned countless piles of paper days before and up until the last, and I almost didn’t leave.  I said many goodbyes and had two bon voyage parties and kissed my cats several times and thought I’d packed what I could (two big bags and a small carpet bag carry-on) and I almost missed the flight: because of a navigation error and a full parking terminal and a jittery hand scrolling past “add additional bags” on the self-service kiosk and a few extra TSA checkpoints that made no sense.   My mom insisted on taking multiple pictures of stressed-me smiling and a 40-something guy offered freaked-out-me lunch or at least a drink if I didn’t make my flight and they called my name over the intercom as I sprinted, half in my shoes, to Gate 2 for the most final of final boarding calls.  And then I was on, and we waited, and then we were rolling on the tarmac, and Florida finally vomited me out.

 

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Thoughts on Leaving

–Did that airport guy really just ask me my age when my dad asked him where I was to check in for Delta?

— Hell yes, my carry-on carpet-bag fits (I always wanted a carpet bag)

— TSA better not have jacked my stuff

–That Mercury in retrograde ALMOST had me.

–“Running Late to Airplanes: A Memoir” 

Three hours later, a long interlude in a baggage claims office while I was trying to get online with my phone to access my bank account to pay my Metro PCS bill to access the internet again (those Catch 22’s are forever in style) while listening to some guy with an open bag complaining about his stolen Kindle and a disgruntled Brooklyn hipster saddened by the state of customer service:

“This company is just making it harder for those who have lost their bags to reclaim them…My favorite shirt? What kind of a question is that? They are all my favorite shirts, how’s that for a favorite?…..Well your manager has a manager who has a manager who has a manager, right?”

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Now I’m here, in NYC.   So in a way, this is the year-long-prophesied follow-up to my “Me and I” page.  It’s me, in the future, now, with nothing but the NYC part filled in.

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I’m staying at my best friend’s place until I find a sublet, I’ve already been to two amazing free workshops (gentrification and book-binding) , and I’ve got an interview tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

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#GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS: Can’t Live With Them… Can’t Live Through Them. (But do we want to?)

 

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        I met Lena Dunham at the Sarasota Film Festival when she premiered herfilm Tiny Furniture in 2011.  We talked about Oberlin College, the Canon 7D—a remarkably, reasonably well-priced DSLR camera with HD video qualities—and we took a picture “for the blog.”  I was riding the high of having thoroughly enjoyed a film for which I’d had no expectations.  We had heard more hype around The Myth of the American Sleepover than Tiny Furniture, and surprise surprise… it was indeed a myth.  The film was lackluster, with pretensions to something it was not—a chic retrospect, a nostalgic  Americana style-as-life that did not exist anywhere except in the universe of a Lana del Rey music video. Thankfully, we had decided to go see Dunham’s film afterwards.            

         Tiny Furniture was raw, yet possessed of a cinematic clarity that I hadn’t seen before. The setting was chic: a swanky Chelsea apartment with slick cabinetry and shiny floors.  But on these mirrored surfaces its protagonist appeared before the camera in all her naked honesty, her insecurity and her fumbling.  She was, in what has become a tired and tiresome description of Dunham the actress, not your typical Hollywood beauty. Neither confident in her skin nor so self-conscious as to stay in oversized, bulky clothes, the protagonist/Dunham bared almost all in her underwear. And I loved her for it.  While I hate to reiterate that old sexist type shtick, it is undeniable that cinema as a visual medium will always deal with issues of aesthetics symptomatic of the society from which they have come—the society that has produced a film and the society that receives it. 

      This is was what stuck with me from the film—a beautifully ‘normal’ character, a woman trying to fit in her skin and her society—a person beginning.  Too often these tales of transition neglect to detail the void: the in-betweens of the BIG EVENTS that you could call ‘real life’, due to some (misguided) preference for Narrative Arc and Action.  We watched Aura, an amateur filmmaker, learn to navigate anew in an old space after her return home from college, engage in awkward and degrading sex, laze around her apartment, fight with her spoiled sister, and essentially: fall and pick herself back up again… sort of.  The film took life as its subject matter and re-presented it to us as something worth taking note of—worth filming.  I personally had seen few movies like this before Tiny Furniture premiered…..

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Of Aides-Mémoire and Spring Cleaning

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—Recently—

        I spent the good part of the day going through my desk drawers at home. I sorted through papers, pens, books, posters, scraps and scraps of bits of paper marking events, places, and times that meant something at some point. So many of these things were untouched or barely used. When I was little, I thought these things recorded my life. They had this mystical quality, existing in my room and becoming a part of the environment—a space that was a sign of what I wanted to be. I defined my life by the things I saw around me, the trinkets I’d collected. I did not know the magical transmutability of things used—of journal pages filled with messy writing, of a stationary set emptied, of thank you notes sent, and a mind broadened by the book of puzzles my best friend gave me when I was eight. I preferred instead to leave them in their wrapping, perfect and pristine.  Left for the dust and roaches, until I discovered them again, only to wonder why they had been hidden.

I placed more value in looking at these things, rather than using them as a means to an end. It was a creative stoppage, a gout—a gluttony. I was a little dragon eying my treasures, hoarding shiny plastic toys lying on others people’s stories and daydreams.  I lived so much in stasis, and my body followed my thoughts.

Looking at these things, I realized that it is true; they do have a magic quality to them—they reminded me of so much I had forgotten in the past years as my mind filed away memories to make room for new adventures.  But it is a scrappy patchwork; this paraphernalia also gives false witness, imperfect testimony to the events—parties, concerts, classes, friendships—to which they are attached.  I was not always very present or happy at those moments.  The passed notes, the saved invitations, the monogrammed bags—markers of friendships I did not maintain, bits of hope I did not pursue. So much energy wasted in worry and obsession. Compulsions I had allowed to drive me, rather than learning to drive a car when I was at the ripe old age of 16.  Instead, I crossed that stretch of I-95 with my mother every day, complained about not living close enough to people, and slept when depression overcame me. It was a stagnancy that invaded my mind and arrested my reality.

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Of Writer’s BLOGK

 

 

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So lately I have had a bad case of writer’s block, and thus have decided that I need to start literally vomiting onto my keyboard and posting it. As the ghostly forms of my countless, first 3 pages-filled- notebooks in my room continue to haunt my head full of ideas, I realize that no matter what, I must write. And if that means writing hypothetically and hyperbolically about why I can’t be a writer, then so be it. I’d rather re-sign my self to that fate than the unsung one that happily greets countless generations of those self-defeating lazybums who might have been contenders, had they just sat down and written anything, every so often. So to combat the demons of self-criticism and anxiety, I have enacted an exercise in “Why Not?”

Entonces–

REASONS WHY I CAN’T BE A WRITER WITH A COOL BLOG AND SEVERAL AWARD WINNING NOVELS:

1) My macbook isn’t the latest edition.

2) the disc drive doesn’t work.

3) I don’t feel the creative atmosphere seeping through my cerebral cortex. I have to be in the right pensive mood.

4) There’s too many distracting books and wonderful pictures at Barnes and Noble.

5) There aren’t enough distractions at the coffee shop.

6) There just isn’t the right, pervasive literary atmosphere at the coffee shop.

7) My room is too silent.

8) Words in songs interrupt my thought process.

9) Classical music only makes me lonely.

10) I don’t have enough time.

11) If I don’t handwrite everything, it won’t look Tumblr legitimate.

12) I don’t have a typewriter.

13) This prose won’t compare to Kerouac or Wharton or de Beauvoir.

14) Everything I write needs to be edited.

15) I hate multiple drafts.

16) My name doesn’t sound writerly enough.

17) Anything I write will just be a cheap trick compared to the greats (insert names here____)

18) I need to smoke, pensively, with my legs crossed and a really haughty, yet internalized look on my face while I extend elegantly slender fingers to make keyboard magic. My fingers aren’t the right shape for that. Maybe I need nail polish first.

19) Writing would mean being responsible for a piece that I will then feel unsatisfied by until I come back to it weeks later and which I will then hate. I don’t want to burden my conscience with that.

20) Nothing ever comes out right, which is especially annoying when I can feel how I want it to feel and look but cannot get from points A to Z instantaneously.

21) It all will just be sucked from my brain into the ethers of my computer, where doubtless, it will fall into some miscellaneous section of my digital collections where I will forget about it and because, due to technology and the way things are no longer materialized in the same way, no one will probably even read it even if I died because my hardrive will most likely fail before then, or get ruined in a fire, or be stolen by a ring of pillowcase thieves, or be submerged in some freak flood that only goes through my room of the house. And I can’t have that on my conscience.

22) Flights of fantasy are easy as shit, but stringing along a plot from beginning to end is like pulling one’s own wisdom teeth out with a piece of floss and a door handle.

23) It’s doubtless all been written before.

24) Making a commitment to writing every day would doubtless mean—has meant—letting myself down all over again, every day. Holding myself to that commitment would mean, like, following a routine, which would mean words like “method,” and “habit,” and “ritual” and “regular” and “serious” and “realistic” and “disciplined” and those aren’t really in my vocabulary: they taste funny in my mouth and don’t look right on my skin when I look in the mirror and see my body parts as words.  And it would mean missing those moments that one misses when one isn’t paying attention to everything else around one’s self, rather than taking time to be productively internalized. And doesn’t that mean being self-centered? I don’t want to be one of those egotistical pricks who looks like they think the only important thing going on is their own life. And wouldn’t I miss out on all those random little moments that come of being spontaneous? And what if, at the end of all that, all that B+ blood, sweat (from being in the Florida sun for five minutes) and tears (ok, I don’t really cry much anymore so that usually converts instead to grimaces and furrowed brows) what I produce really is absolute shit? It’s not like I will be able to quantify and justify that time at least with a regular paycheck like I can right now with my menial labor service industry job. Having to keep those checks in my balances in my head until the day when they pay off in real life publication form might give me almost as much of a headache as the one I get every day now if I drink less than a medium coffee before 9:30 AM. God forbid I agonize over something that could be as worthy of my worry as a future career.

Guess it’s time to go back to those mental gymnastics I was doing over all the body dysmorphic vaults I set up in my head anew every day, and refueling those minute anxieties I have about over-charging people and accidentally poisoning them with either my exposed skin molecules when I wrap up a brownie for them, or with the plastic gloves I wear while getting paid  $8 an hour to make multiple $7.41 juices in the space of ten minutes.

Yeah that math definitely checks out and adds up to success. Keep doing what you’re doing, Sandy. But please, write it down—the most value any of this will have will be for the stories, I can guarantee you that.

11 Life Hacks For The Emotionally Struggling 20-Something

Best thought catalog goes to @BriannaWiest

Thought Catalog

Everybody I know is either in or needs to be in therapy. The common theme among them is that they self-sabotage, and I think we all do, it’s just that not all of us have the discipline to address it. I’m not one to pass judgment on this because I am guilty of it probably more than anyone, but I was able to figure some things out on the journey back from that place. I don’t know your situation. I don’t know what will help you. All I know is that these are the things I learned to hone in on every day and of which have brought me unprecedented happiness. By this I do not mean a sustained state of joy. I mean contentment; the ability to flow through emotions and the ins-and-outs and disappointments and numbing routines of everyday life; how to transcend them. How to garner your…

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Homeward Stuck: The first three weeks back in town, a quick rundown.

 

 

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On the first week, I slept in until one, thought of calling to hang out with a few people, went back to bed.  My mom was still driving to her work, so I was home alone for many a daytime sans a car, or renewed license for that matter. Ate, slept, thought of cleaning my room. Did my laundry.  Was relieved to be away. And God saw that it was good, and smiled.

 

On the second week, I also slept, but started making mentions to my mother of getting a job, needing a space away from the house to make my own. “Oh hun, take it easy, you just got home, give yourself some time” she said, in an almost direct quote. I visited a lot with family and almost family: went to the beach with my adopted grandmother’s husband, Bob, for the Sunday walk with the dog, slept over at my cousins’ house quite a bit, generally enjoyed myself. Snapchatted with friends, didn’t really miss anybody. Went in to the Tabuleh Café which had a small sign in the door that said “in need of server”, met the main waitress, Cheryl, whom my mother knew, and asked for an application, which they did not have, but did get a quick interview with the owner, Mike, on the spot; he said to bring in my resume and he’d see what he could do.  I connected again with old family friends who had moved back home from the Azores, continually checked craiglist, even went so far as to text someone who wanted potential candidates for an easy money editing job to do so, never got an answer.  .  I was happy to disappear/hibernate for a while.  I slowly sunk back, settled back into place in Stuart.  And God saw that it was good.

On the third week, my mom got pissed.

 She started complaining about me not having a job and not having applied anywhere yet.  And I realized that it was three weeks into summer and that I was out of the running in any competition against those hardworking veterans of the summer job, “the high schoolers,” because hell, they had all already begun working, and I was probably already out of the running.  So that Friday, we sat down and my mother helped me renovate my resume. And I will not lie; I doubted. I doubted very much that there was anything I needed to do to refurbish it (update a little, but how does one fix a resume?) until she we sat down and plunked around and she asked me questions about dates and durations and added ellipses and fancied up my formatting. Two hours later, there was a beautiful resume! and God saw that it was good and we drove around handing in copies to various businesses around town which I, having just lived most of the last four years in Sarasota, had never frequented, to which I had no direct contacts, and for which I had nothing but two months of farmer’s market Saturdays selling vegetables to qualify as “retail” experience. I also spent a memorable morning at Einstein Bros looking up internships and realizing just how badly I wanted to get back to Europe. This was a seed which would be sown later.

 

During the next few days, I continued to check Craigslist, picked up an application for Surf Central, took it to the car to fill out, promptly f*cked it up and didn’t go back in to pick up another copy until the next day or so, filled it out while my mom was washing the car, messed it up again with large scratches-outs over some of the words, turned it in anyway, awkwardly introduced myself to the bartender at Terra Firmata, pretended “new girl knows nobody, help a cutie out” syndrome, gave resume to the bartender, began and did not finish an application to Fresh Market online, and finally, went in to Planet Ozone, the first green gas station in the country where lies the Tabuleh Café at the back of this curious place which is more of a mini Whole Foods than a gas station, and finally gave Mike my resume, two weeks after that initial interview. Two weeks later, I figured they had already hired someone, so it was with a mix of trepidation and resignation that I handed my resume over to Mike as he stood at the cash register.

 

And Mike looked at it, sighed, then said: “Come in tomorrow at eleven and we’ll see how ya do.”  And God saw that it was good, and I smiled, because I was employed.  Just like that.

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On the fourth week, KBG came to visit!