(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 7/26/14)
It’s Saturday afternoon and it’s raining. So I’m glad I got my errands our of the way. Yesterday I went to a poetry reading for the first time in a long time. It was at a bookstore and was hosted by Afterword magazine. I took 3 free copies of back issues that were being offered, and also showed up hungry so I ate a lot of the cheese and crackers and pepperoni slices they were offering, alone with some red wine. They didn’t seem to mind though.
I started chatting with John, the editor-in-chief, and his friend, Pat, also a contributor and part of the staff. We talked about my town and Jersey City, and this Lowe’s theater there that shows many classics like Hitchcock and Carrie and movies like that. I don’t know what John’s day job is, but Pat said he was a train conductor. They were both personable and friendly. And it made me feel comfortable to talk with them.
I told Pat how I used to write a lot of poetry, but haven’t written much lately, so I hoped that I would be inspired by coming to a poetry reading and listening to other people’s words. I told him how that usually works to inspire me and it ‘opens the mind.’ He agreed enthusiastically.
We talked how summer is so busy with friends and family events, and how John hoped people would show up to the reading. They plan to have another reading in October, to celebrate the release of the next issue. John has been publishing Afterword since 2008, which I found impressive.
The reading started late, and I found I was the only female there in attendance, with about 8 guys. Most of them read their work. They were good readers and their poems were interesting. And they even started a ‘collaborative’ poem, in which each person passed around a piece of paper with a poem (a few lines) that John had started, so that everyone could add their own couple of lines. That was fun to do and something I’ve never seen done at a reading before.
The poetry had many of the same themes- loneliness, isolation, heartbreak, some humor, human observation, anger, outrage. All in all, I was glad I attended and was exposed to different perspectives and new images. I was glad for the chance to get out of my own head for a while, and realize that everyone feels fucked-up every now and then. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
This afternoon, the library was closed so I sat here on my couch and read the 3 issues of Afterword that I brough home from the reading. It was nice to be immersed in poetry again, in the insights of other people. Reading the issues inspired me to write a poem called ‘Adulthood’ – it’s a few pages back before this entry. It’s a fairly OK poem, nothing great but also not terrible. It feels good to be able to write anything at all.
John read our collaborative poem at the end of the reading, and said it would be published in the next issue. When giving the instructions for the collaborative poem, he said to just write ‘whatever is in your head,’ so that’s what I did. I didn’t want to think about it too much and miss out on the poetry that was being read.
John spoke about the importance of creativity, and how the whole point of the evening was to spark the creativity of those who attended. And I think the reading was successful in that mission. He talked about how we all work our day jobs, but when he gets home, he picks up his pen and expresses himself creatively. He said we should all be creative, just for ourselves, just to add interest to our lives, and make them more fun. And he was right.
He said not to worry about writing for money or publication, or fame and fortune, however great those things may be, but just for the joy of it, to be creative just for creativity’s sake. And I found that I could completely agree, and relate. Even though I usually don’t write or create as often as I’d like to, I still long to do it. To listen to myself and rediscover who I am at this stage of my life.
My mother will be retiring at the end of October. Recently, she started thinking about when she started working at her job and remembered that when my sister and I were little, we used to accompany my dad on Friday nights to pick up my mom from work. He had to drive into midtown Manhattan. She worked a night shift so it was too late and dangerous to take a train home.
She mentioned how funny it is that my sister and I were so little back then and she’s been at her company so long that now we have grown up and are professionals, working our own jobs.
It’s amazing to see how time passes and things change over the years. I started remembering and looking back at those nights we would go to pick her up from work.
It was exciting for us, we would get take-out on Friday nights and then leave a few hours later to ride into the city. It was always adventurous and interesting for our young minds. I always liked looking at the tall buildings and the lights on the bridges. I had nothing on my mind mostly, except maybe the song on the radio.
And things are so funny when you are a kid. I remember waiting in the lobby of my mom’s building one night. We had gotten there a little earlier or something and my sister and I decided to get out of the car and play in the lobby.
We had these little bouncing rubber balls that we would skip along the floor and across to reach the other wall on the far side of the lobby. The lobby was huge and empty. A perfect play area for two little girls.
The sounds of the rubber balls bouncing off the walls and across the floors would echo loudly through the building and we would giggle and then laugh again at ourselves because our laughter would echo even louder through the lobby.
We kept trying to play but be quiet at the same time. And this was totally amusing to us. We were simply being kids, enjoying ourselves, laughing and having a great time. Just because we could, just because we were alive.
It was an unexpected moment to remember and kind of relive just from my mother recalling us picking her up from work as little girls. And now she is retiring soon and we are in our 30s and my sister has a family of her own.
I’m grateful for happy, joyful memories of a carefree childhood. Those are the things people relive with their own kids and anyone who spends time with kids. A child’s thoughts are so simple and refreshing. They have no worries or real concerns. They live just for right now.
“Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?
I tend to ignore my age. I wrote about this in my journal a few weeks ago, a few days after I turned 35. I don’t feel my age or look it. Someone I spoke to recently said she would’ve guessed I was 28, so that’s what I jokingly say my age is.
I don’t think anyone can be defined by the amount of years they’ve spent on earth. I think age and feeling one’s age has more to do with experiences, risks taken, lessons learned and wisdom gained.
I sometimes feel really young, like I’m still 18 or 19 and then there are those days when I feel way older. It’s like a mood thing. When I’m caring well for myself, I feel young and energetic.
When I’m eating the right foods, meditating regularly and exercising, that leads to a whole other perspective. A healthier and happier one. But it’s not always easy to remember to do. I let myself be motivated by how I will feel afterwards. I think how awful it feels after you eat something unhealthy, or forget to meditate or exercise for a long while. And also, when I fail to write.
Writing is something I’ve done consistently since I was about 9 or 10. I started writing poems and stories, then keeping journals. I feel alive and like a younger version of me when I write, especially by hand.
It’s an immediate connection to my identity. I’ve written a lot more lately in my physical journal and thought about posting some of those entries here, but there is some writing that you just feel you have to keep to yourself sometimes.
I still fear getting older, but I try to think of aging as becoming the best version of myself with each birthday that comes. If I’m still here, it means there is something for me to learn in this life, and I look forward to finding out what it is. I look forward to fully realizing myself.
There’s something about turning 35 that makes me want to stop putting up with nonsense, with the bullshit that should be ignored, and just be who I am without apologies. If not now, then when?
Any age is a good age to realize that there is no one else to please, only yourself.
You’re at the airport, your flight is delayed for six more hours, and none of your electronic devices is working. How do you pass the time?
I would hopefully have a physical journal with me, so I could spend the time writing. Airports are not exactly comfortable places for sleeping and there would be little else to do, except maybe people watch.
This sounds like a nightmare for me, since I am such an impatient person. I think I would spend lots of time pacing around, then sitting to meditate. Then finally to write.
I would hope my journal was empty, and I’d have a good number of pens. Trying to write for six hours straight would probably be tough, but I would attempt it.
I would write letters to everyone in my life, and everyone no longer in my life who still resonates in my heart. I’d let out everything I’ve ever wanted to say to everyone I’ve ever known.
I’d probably also write a list of all my favorite possessions, and see if I can get it to be under 100 things. I do this now from time to time, when I let things go and new things come in to my life, so I make sure I’m not stuck in a constant avalanche of new things without discarding some of the old.
Our tastes and lives and bodies and minds are constantly changing. My miserable times usually come from trying to hold on to someone I used to be in the past.
It’s wiser and better to stay in the present, and look towards the future, and realize that the future can be molded by decisions made today. I wish I had my priorities in better order back in college. If I could go back to that time, knowing what I know now, my life would be totally different. I’m getting away from the idea of this prompt. But I think I would write about all this for six hours if I had no other distractions.
I would map out my whole life, decide which decisions I would like to undo and leave behind buried in the past, and plot a course for the future. I never really thought about myself at this age (I am now) when I was younger. I figured the most fun to be had would be in my 20s. But life is what you make of it, and how much you decide to explore it, and explore yourself.
I think it would be lovely to have six free hours to meditate, then write, then meditate some more. Maybe sleep, if I could find a comfortable place. I would write about my dreams, my hopes, my fantasies, my regrets, my wishes.
I would write down my prayers. I would try to recall everything that I’ve ever read that gave me some inspiration or insight. I would probably end up with a fine, completed work. A sort of autobiography.
I guess this is the type of thing writers seek out when they mention dreaming of a secluded cabin in the woods. Every writer’s dream is long stretches of time and days of peace and quiet, disconnected from the world, left alone with his/her own thoughts.
Recording the words of that inner voice is the most pleasurable thing to a writer. It gets us to a euphoric state that we want to constantly return to again and again.
Write for the joy of it. Write off the top of your head, write everything streaming through your consciousness. Write without stopping to think or revise. Write because you are compelled to. Write to make the silence eloquent (I think Anais Nin wrote that).
Write to discover what your thinking, what feelings are flowing through you. Write to empty your mind of clutter so you can have clarity, make way for creativity. Write about anything, write about love, write about rain, write about your parents, your friends, your day, a dream, a wish, something good that happened today. Write about something that confuses you, you may be able to shed some light on it.
Don’t put pressure on yourself when you write, write for pleasure if writing is pleasing to you. Sing to yourself in your writing. Give expression to your soul and deepest self. Be exposed, be real and uninhibited in your writing. Imagine your writing has magic in it, feel the energy of it and the release it brings. Let it make you joyful.
Write to give yourself wings, to journey into your imagination, to explore you own personal world, to create your own world. Create characters, stories, poems, essays, rants, long meandering journal entries. Don’t over-analyze or wonder where you will use or publish a piece of writing, just answer the calling. Make writing your best friend.
The journal is the best listener, welcoming you, accepting you, flaws and all. Fall into it and retreat from the noise of the world. Listen more closely to your own voice for a change, pay attention to your wishes and desires and write them down. Recount your day or fantasize about the day you wish you had. Make a plan to create the rest of your life.
Realize the present moment when you’re writing. Write after meditation. Read a novel, then write your thoughts/reaction/impressions. Write a review of the book you’re reading. Listen to your own words, listen to the feelings flowing through you, explore what they mean, give them a voice. Leave an impression on this world.
Prompt: What bores you?
I am bored by celebrity gossip, by shallow people who have nothing insightful to say. I’m bored by politics, by work when there is little work to do. I’m bored by most television. I’m bored when watching a parade.
I’m bored and disturbed by watching news. I’m bored by remaining stagnant. I’m bored by the same old routine, never venturing out to try new things, see new things, or meet new people.
I’m bored when I have the same old thoughts every day, when I don’t challenge myself to think differently, to act differently, to be more authentically me.
I’m bored in the winter time, when it’s too cold to go out and explore. I’m bored when I’m not reading an interesting book, I’m bored when I can’t think of anything to write about. I’m bored most of the time when grocery shopping.
I’m bored if I ever have to look at Facebook. I’m bored when I look at people and everyone I see is looking down at a phone or an Ipod in their hand. I’m bored when I listen to pop music by the artists on the radio today.
I’m bored by small talk about the weather when I go into the office. But what else is there to talk about with people who you don’t know well? I’m bored with regular nail polish colors, preferring to wear grey or green or blue shades.
I’m bored with long, brown hair and sometimes wish my hair was straight and violet colored. I’m bored with other people taking selfies, thinking that anyone really cares where they are or what they’re doing.
I’m bored when I’m not learning any new information. I’m bored when sitting in a cubicle, in offices that are too brightly lit. I get bored when every day is the same, when I play it too safe, when I forget to live my one and only life.
(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry that was handwritten on 4/26/14)
Prompt: Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality or lack of- for the first time.
This was not the first instance when I considered my faith or spirituality, but I remember really being struck by something that was said at my grandfather’s wake. The priest said to all that were gathered, “You should ask yourself, how sincere are you when you say your prayers? Or, how sincerely do you pray?”
And I realized that a lot of the time, I just pray by reciting the words mentally that I have memorized. I don’t say them with feeling. It’s as if I just think reciting them is enough, that it will create change somehow.
I don’t really put sufficient faith or heart behind the words when I pray. I would do it in almost a sense of obligation, not because I believed prayers would make any difference at all. Sometimes I still pray that way, without really considering the words I’m saying, only what I’m praying for.
I think the greatest and most sincere way that I pray is through gratitude, thinking and saying ‘thank you’ when I feel grateful for ordinary things. I enjoy and savor the feeling of gratitude.
I’m grateful that my senses let me experience the world, that my body works properly and I am able-bodied, that I can take steps to become more physically fit.
I feel grateful that I know where my next meal is coming from, that I have enough money to cover my expenses. I feel grateful for my family members, for my free time, for the beautiful jewelry that I own, for hot water when I bathe and shower, and for my comfortable bed.
I’m grateful for my mind, my experience, my education, and my earning power. I’m grateful that people love me, that I’ve never had to go hungry, that I can choose what I eat. I’m grateful that my parents were always so selfless and loving towards me.
I’m grateful to have extra money to buy people gifts. I’m grateful that each new day is a chance for change to happen. I’m grateful for abundance, for the renewal of spring, for the ability to change my environment, for the ability to dream and imagine.
And I’m grateful that I can write, and express myself in a way that feels most natural to me. I’m grateful for simple choices, a low amount of stress, for sleep. I’m grateful for good, absorbing books.
(Entry below was hand written on 4/20/2014)
Something actually worth writing about happened today. It’s Easter Sunday, so I went to Mass. It was crowded as expected. The priest scolded everyone, saying we should attend Mass every Sunday, as it is only one hour out of the week. I was glad that I went and prayed.
After Mass, I wanted to buy myself some flowers so I walked to ShopRite but it was closed. So I decided to look for someplace open on Broadway. I headed up a side street towards Broadway when I passed by a house.
On the ledge outside of it was an open, black purse. I passed by it, thought it was strange that a purse was just sitting there hanging open for anyone in the street to see and snatch, so I walked back and picked it up.
Looking in the wallet, the address was of the person who lived in the house where the purse was left. I rang the doorbell but no one was home. I looked up the address for the police department online and it was close to where I was.
I went there but all the lights were off and the door was locked. I called them but got an answering machine. I texted my mom, she told me to wait to see if anyone called the cell phone in the purse. There was a missed call. I called the person back but got a voicemail.
I left them a message, and sent texts as well. The purse was a black, Louis Vuitton bag that held this woman’s whole life. She had her cell phone, wallet, train tickets (a big stack), some pay stubs, her keys, photos of children, papers and receipts, a social security card, a hair brush, loose change, her phone charger, a box of tissues, etc
It was full and very heavy. She was lucky no one had taken anything out before I found the purse. So I took it home, waiting for someone to call the cell phone. I went online to check the police department’s number again. I found it and called, this time someone answered.
I said my name and that I found a purse outside of a house that was sitting wide open, and no one was at the residence. The police asked me for the person’s address and I gave it. He said that someone had just reported the purse missing.
He asked me again “You found it?” and I said “yes, I just found it.” He told me an officer had just been sent to the home. I said I would go over to the home and return the purse.
I rushed over, holding this heavy purse, back to that side street. I saw the police car waiting there. When I walked up, I saw a lady, very upset and crying, looking so on edge. I walked up and held up the purse and said “Is this yours?”
The police officer in the car was on the phone with someone and said to them “Oh, never mind.” I guess they were getting ready to trace my call and call me back. The lady saw me, asked “It was you?” and I said yes. And she smiled a huge smile of relief and embraced me tightly for a few moments.
The policeman came out of the car and said “Do you know each other?” And I said no, and explained how I had found the purse while I was walking past the house, and I thought to myself, ‘that doesn’t look right.’ So I went back and picked it up and waited for someone to call the cell phone. I tried the police station but couldn’t find the entrance, it seemed to be closed.
The lady stood with a young man who said “fijate” to her (which sort of means ‘you see?’ in Spanish) while she was crying and so happy. The police asked her to check that everything was inside because someone may have taken something before I found the bag. She checked and saw everything was there and gave me so many thanks and said “God bless you!” with such emotion.
It touched my heart to see all the gratitude in her eyes. The policeman thanked me and said I did a good job. I said it was my pleasure, when he shook my hand. And I shook hands with the lady, and her family members as well, who thanked me many times.
I told her not to worry, to relax, that everything was OK, and told her to be careful about not carrying around her social security number. I said ‘don’t worry’ again, and walked away. I guess she was lucky that I was in the right place at the right time.
If my mom hadn’t pushed me to attend Mass, I probably wouldn’t have gone, and wouldn’t have had the chance to do this good deed for this woman. It gave me a great feeling to do something so positive, it kept me smiling for the rest of the afternoon.
I returned someone’s peace of mind, and that feels really amazing. It made me remember that it’s possible for me to be a force of positivity and kindness in the world, and have an effect on it, in a good way.
(Entry below was handwritten on 3/25/2014)
On weekends there is too much time. I sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast, go out for coffee and a lottery ticket, run errands, go to the library or a store to pick up a few things.
I while the day away, procrastinating. On workdays, I’m stuck at my laptop. Sometimes work is really slow (like today) and there is nothing to do but sit around and wait for more work to come in.
Today was so slow that I had time to write a blog post. It bothers me that half of my writing is in physical journals, and the other half is online. I wish my story was contained all together in these pages.
The funny thing is, if I have to be up at a certain time, and clocked in and ready to work, I just have the urge to write, more than anything else. Sometimes I long to catch up on reading too.
But I’m awake and caffeinated and sitting at a computer screen, ready to go. And if I could manage to do that on the weekends, have some discipline and get up early to start my day and write, I think I’d have a lot more clarity and creativity in my life.
I would stop the daily world from intruding on my thoughts before I had the chance to get them down on paper.
Clearing out the old thoughts, the old clutter that crowds the head, is the best and fastest way to make room for new thoughts, and access the creativity that lies beneath the minutia of the day-to-day.
I find myself suddenly so curious about other people- so fascinated by others and the world and what I’m really doing here. I know I’m here to learn lessons, have experiences.
And it’s a nice feeling to have myself back, to be in control of my mind again and know that I am really free.
Only I can say which path I will choose to follow. I could change everything about my life tomorrow if I chose to, and no one could stop me. Because no one tells me what to do.
I can do as little or as much as my heart desires. I can choose to disappear for a while, or stay put. I could choose to speak, and know I will have confidence behind my words.
Or I can choose to remain silent and observe. I can choose to expand my knowledge, to research a variety of subjects that interest me at my leisure.
I can choose to discard old things, old ideas I’ve had, old identities, old interests. I can choose to go forth and have an adventure, to push myself physically, to find a silent retreat mentally.
I can choose to consider the possibility that I can be trained for any job. That I could earn more money to take care of myself, my future, and help my family. I can choose to believe that there truly are no limits to who I am, or who I can be.
Prompt: Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . . home. . . soil. . . rain.
Home is where the heart is. Home is my family, a home-cooked meal, sitting around a table together, taking pictures together, hugging. Home is coming to a place where everyone loves you and accepts you no matter what. Home is unconditional love.
Home is where you feel most natural, most comfortable, most at ease and most precious. Home is where you can always go to replenish yourself. Home is your sanctuary, you save haven, you shelter from the storms of life. Home is the place you can always go back to and be welcomed with open arms.
Soil. Nothing comes to mind at first when I think of soil. I think of gardening, of planting, of new life, of playing outdoors. Soil is where plants and flowers originate. Soil can be fertile or barren.
Soil can be uprooted, can contain insects, can be soft, muddy, slippery. My mother once said she had the urge to eat soil. It was appetizing to her. A living thing can grow through soil, and be consumed. Gardens can be planted in soil, bringing beauty and joy.
Rain. First thing that comes to mind is the Madonna song by that name. The imagery that comes up is the video for that song. Rain is fun to observe. Rain replenishes. Rain can be fun to play in if you don’t have much self-consciousness.
Rain is what we are protected from as children, so that we don’t catch colds. Rain can be a blessing or a curse. It can be nourishing for crops and farmers. But rain is also destructive when floods occur. I enjoy rainy days for the most part. And the song “Only Happy When it Rains” by Garbage is one of my favorite songs of all time.