Be True to Yourself

(Entry below was written on 11/5/2010)

When I got home from work today, I had a package for me that I have been eagerly  awaiting: Shannen Doherty’s new book- Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude. I spent the last two hours reading through it because i just couldn’t wait.

I really admire Shannen and couldn’t wait to read her advice on life, being authentic, taking charge in relationships- personal and professional, and expressing personal style in fashion, makeup, clothing, decor and entertaining.

It was a very entertaining book, with lots of pictures from photo shoots, candids, personal and baby photos, and a smattering of interesting personal stories. A lot of what she wrote resonated with me, but then some things haven’t as I am not as far along on my self-reflection journey as she is, at 39 years old.

She seems to have found this simple way of living that has her own personal stamp and personality all over it, and that’s what I strive for in my life. I want my life to be my own, and not dictated by pleasing others or living some role or some lie.

I read through the book way too fast but it did have a lot of solid advice and made a lot of sense. You can see how getting older has made her wiser and more grounded. she is unapologetic about who she is, and I love that.

It wasn’t all seriousness though. she lists some ‘badass’ lipstick and nail polish shades that I can’t wait to check out too! I still regret not going to see her when she was signing copies of her book at Columbus Circle when I could’ve easily gone after work, but I had already bought a copy of the book online by the time I heard about the signing.

I enjoyed this list towards the end of the book (especially #9):

Top 10 Rules to Living the Badass Lifestyle

1. Be True to Yourself.

2. Be Honest with Yourself and Others.

3. Be Brave.

4. Be Adventurous.

5. Be Kind.

6. Be Bold.

7. Be Well-Informed and Well-Educated.

8. Be Self-Motivated.

9. Be Just a Little Bit “Off.”

10. Be Confident!

February 27, 2013. Tags: , , , . books, writing. Leave a comment.

Writer’s Block/Finding a Random Journal

(Entry below was handwritten on 2/7/2013)

I really wanted to write today, so I went to the library after work. I wanted to write in a quiet area, far away from the mountain of dirty dishes in the sink. Once I stepped outside though, I was reminded of why I hate winter so much, and how lucky I feel to have an apartment that’s so warm and cozy.

On my walk to the library, thankfully only a couple of blocks, I felt the wind freeze my nose and mouth and I immediately started shivering. I got there, browsed around for a bit and sat at a desk to write, but I couldn’t focus because of the noise other people were making in the reference room where I was sitting.

It sounded as if there was a Spanish lesson taking place nearby, and two young boys were pushing each other  and laughing at a table in front of me, so I was very distracted. I couldn’t focus on reading the issue of Writer’s Digest that I found there either. There was a book lying on top of the short shelf of books in the middle of the table where I say, but I didn’t pay any mind to it at first.

I got up to use the bathroom and came back to the same table. I opened my journal and stared a while at the pages, knowing I had a small list of writing ideas saved on my phone (in a memo pad app). But I didn’t check the list. I realized I felt very hungry and wanted to be back at my apartment. As I got up to leave, I noticed the book lying across the low shelf in front of me again. It was lying with the cover faced down and the back cover was all colorful stripes.

I realized it might be someone’s journal. Excited, I turned it around and saw that it was in fact, a journal. It had a flap on the front cover (that held the book shut) which had the words “Be Happy” on it in big letters. I was hoping the journal would be full, but it was mostly empty. It was a woman’s journal and she dedicated it to her children in the inside front cover. She wrote that her months of pregnancy with them were the happiest days of her life.

Then there were a few scattered entries. One was a list of names. The only one I recognized was Oprah Winfrey. Other entries mentioned some struggle she has with an adoption going through. I realized this journal was completely irrelevant to my life. I wasn’t supposed to find it by any sort of predestination and it didn’t hold any philosophical or meaningful truths that were meant for me to discover.

So I went to the reference librarian, handed the journal to her, and mentioned that I found it at one of the tables and thought maybe someone forgot it there. She took it from me and just said “Oh” very curiously, and started to look through it, completely ignoring me without even saying ‘thank you.’

I thought that was a bit rude and thought that maybe I should’ve kept the journal for myself, tore out the pages that were written on, and just use it as a spare journal for myself. But then I figured, someone may come in looking for it and I didn’t want to steal it from its owner.

February 21, 2013. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.

Dizzy Dolls

(Entry below was written on April 29, 2010)

I just got back from a Bust Magazine-sponsored spoken word poetry event held at the Strand bookstore in NYC. I debated back and forth about going since I had no one to go with, but decided to anyway and I’m so glad I did.

Not only did I get to break my routine, introduce some fresh images to my mind and spend a nice spring evening outdoors walking around, I also found out about 4 great female poets who performed tonight. The reading lasted an hour, but it was great and really entertaining. and most importantly reminded me of the power and magic and beauty of poetry- spoken or written.

The poets who performed were Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, (BUST writer and author of Everything is Everything) Patricia Smith (Blood Dazzler), Amber Tamblyn (Bang Ditto) and Rachel McKibbens (Pink Elephant). They were all great, with unique voices, but the overall standout had to be Patricia Smith. She literally had me breathless. What a completely riveting, engrossing, moving performance she did of her work.

The room was filled with people and everyone fell absolutely silent as she spoke, hanging on her every syllable. Listening to her and the raw emotion in her poetry really made me want to cry. She wrung every emotion out of me, and I bought a copy of her book, Blood Dazzler.

This woman is amazing. I cannot stress that enough. She read with this confidence and conviction, a grace and elegance that I have never see anyone display when reading their poetry. I would recommend to anyone to see her read her poetry if you have the opportunity. There are not enough words to describe it.

I made the unfortunate decision of buying a frozen mocha drink before the show started and had to bolt to the bathroom the minute the reading was over, and in so doing I missed out on my chance to buy the poetry collection, Bang Ditto by Amber Tamblyn. Apparently they flew off the shelves and ran out before I had a chance to go back to the cart and grab a copy, and she also ran out of the copies she was signing up at the front desk.

When i finally got up there and grabbed some free copies of Bust Magazine (I love free stuff) I heard someone mention that they spoke to management and they said Amber’s book was all sold out. So me and a couple of other unfortunate people were left to order our copies online , which would of course not be signed by Amber.

I really miss poetry readings and I’m so glad that this one was so inspirational and such a delight. I wish I had the courage to perform poetry the way those women did.

‘Dizzy dolls’ was a phrase that stuck out to me from one of the poems read, I can’t remember which one.

February 18, 2013. Tags: , , , , , . books, writing. Leave a comment.

Fan Letter to J.K. Rowling

I wrote the letter below in my journal on 2/21/12 at 12:19am. I printed it out and sent it to J.K. Rowling. A few weeks later I received a letter in response from her publisher, along with a glossy photograph of J.K. Rowling.

Dear J.K. Rowling,

After having watched a movie about your life on television, I see a lot of myself in you. From a young age, maybe 10 years old, all I have ever wanted to do, been called to do and felt compelled to do was write. It was, and is, the only thing that feels natural to me, that I feel I have a real talent for.

I majored in English and earned a B.A., hoping to get into the publishing business and become an editor, but that’s because I didn’t really believe that it was possible to earn a living solely from writing. I have read all the Harry Potter books and I can tell that you truly and sincerely love to write. You have been blessed with an amazing imagination and a way with words that is just unparalleled, thought you have probably been told this so many times before.

Writing is the only work that really makes me happy. I wish I could write fiction like you, but mostly I enjoy poetry, creative nonfiction, personal essay, and journal writing. Like you, I was always at the top of my class in school, and expected to go really far in life, to excel. But I have been stalled. I have had stressful, unfulfilling jobs since college.

I’m only 32 years old, but I fear getting older and feeling like a failure all my life. I fear feeling like some drifter who doesn’t really belong anywhere. I tried to take a leave of absence from work but it did not alleviate the anxiety. Mostly, I feel like I’ve lost my identity and sense of self because I buried it so deeply below this fake, professional image that I live out every day in my awful job.

I wish I could be like you and be free to enjoy life and live it the way it was meant to be lived, as a human being, not a slave. Not as someone who just lives for the weekend and then barely enjoys the weekend because she’s worried about dealing with Monday morning.

Your story was so inspiring to me because it shows that writing matters. And even if your books never made any money, you wanted to finish your first book just for yourself, just for the joy it brought you. I know my writing will probably never make me rich or even support me, but I am reminded that writing, even if just for myself, is still important, meaningful and fulfilling.

It helps me realize that I do exist and have a voice, and can express myself creatively. That is a real gift. I don’t really know how to keep going along in the real world since I want to quit my day job every day, but maybe a miracle will happen for me like it did for you. Maybe suddenly I will be blessed with the realization of what I should do with my life.

I wish you all the continued blessings you could ever hope for, and the gift of words and inspiration for the rest of your days.  Be blessed and keep writing,

Sincerely,
Karen

February 18, 2013. Tags: , , , , . writing. 1 comment.

Unexpected Connections

(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 4/1/2012)

The other day at the doctor’s office, the receptionist was verifying my address and phone number to check if anything changed. When she read my cell phone number, she said she had the same exact phone number at a previous job. She looked confused and a bit stunned.

I told her she should play those numbers in the lottery since she kept seeing them. She said she had that phone number back when she worked at St. Vincent’s. And then she quietly said, “I loved working at St. Vincent’s”

It’s so weird how some people suddenly feel an immediate rapport with a stranger, as if they were a friend. Maybe she could sense that I am a kind person who has sympathy for almost everyone. We are all going through the same things as we experience this human condition. We are all a little lost and struggling, and sometimes just need another human being to acknowledge us, or listen to us.

Last week when I was at a coffee shop, I was standing and staring out the window waiting for my boyfriend who was in the restroom. As I started out at the traffic going by, a short woman with big, dark, curly hair was passing by on the sidewalk in front of me. We made eye contact and she smiled at me. It was just a small smile but was so sincere and genuine. I smiled back and immediately felt better, because we were two separate people who acknowledged each other’s presence. And when that happens with a stranger, it’s somehow even more comforting.

A little later I saw a man walking behind her who must have been with her. He stared straight ahead, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. I used to go around staring at the ground all the time because I was shy, but now I make more of an effort to look at people, observe others, and see what I can learn.

I was walking to the train station yesterday, holding some flowers that my coworkers had thoughtfully given me, and a street vendor called out ‘nice flowers!’ with such enthusiasm, as I was passing by. I turned to him and smiled, saying ‘thank you’ and he was positively beaming. I don’t think he realized that i heard him.

February 11, 2013. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.

Happy Writing Memories

(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry hand written on 6/24/2012)

So this morning I slept way too much, got up and watched ‘In Search of Halston’ on Netflix, which was pretty entertaining because it talked about the fashion and nightlife of the 70s. Then I showered, washed my dishes, took out the garbage, and went out to the grocery store for some items I will need for lunch this week.

Then I got back here and had a nice meditation and now I am sitting at my kitchen table (which I don’t use hardly enough) and facing the window looking out at trees over my neighbor’s yards, and their rooftops just beyond my fire escape. It’s cloudy, the birds are chirping and there is a soft breeze coming through the window, and I am writing. It hardly gets any better than this.

To me, there is no such thing as ‘too quiet.’ Yesterday, I— and I were talking about the freedom that comes with adulthood and how great it can be, being able to do whatever you want to. He talked about the freedom to eat ice cream for dinner. I said how I loved the fact that if I couldn’t sleep, I could get up at 2am, have a snack and go online for a while, maybe post something to my blog. That kind of stuff is pretty great. To realize that you have freedom, options and choices, every day of you life is pretty amazing.

And then when you start working, you have money to play around with too. You can finally eat whatever you want to, dress however you want to, travel to new places, live in whatever town you desire, choose to have or not have certain things- like a couch or a bookcase, a TV or a car. You can choose to spend the day in isolation, or you can reach out and meet others and interact with the world.

Sitting here on my kitchen table and writing is so different and such an uncommon thing to do that it almost feels like being in a whole new apartment altogether, which is really good. It’s good to change my perspective every now and then, and get back to writing which makes me feel important. It makes me feel like I can finally have my say, and even if no one is listening, at least I’m listening to myself.

The other day on television I was watching a show where a stylist was giving advice to a tv news personality about what kind of clothes to wear while travelling. The conversation turned to handbags and the pretty, blonde stylist said she favored a particular handbag because it was big and roomy enough to hold everything she needed. She rattled off her list of needs and then said, ‘and my diary, I still keep one.’ And the tv correspondent replied, ‘Aw, how cute are you?’

I want to be that kind of writer again. Someone for whom writing is so fun and so important that he/she carries a small journal around everywhere they go. Instead I tend to carry around lots of pens and no journal. I know that has to change. Somehow I know, and have always known, that writing is my best and favorite form of self-expression. And I have to continue to give it great importance in my life. I want my writing, and good deeds towards others (like the homeless and the hungry) to be what I am remembered for after I die.

And it’s great to realize that I still have time. I can continue to write, to submit poetry for publication, to perhaps work on a longer work down the road, and work on other creative expressions like taking photographs or art journaling. I may never make millions, but living a simple life in which I am true to who I am is what I strive for. I am OK with that as a legacy.

I remember once when I lived in Hoboken, sitting at my small kitchen counter in my studio apartment and writing in my journal. I did 10 pages of freewriting and I felt immensely better for it. That was a great writing memory. As was the time many years ago (I must have been in high school) when my sister brought me along to her nail salon. As she was getting her nails done, I was sitting on the couch in the waiting area reading poetry. I read a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay that inspired me to write ‘Create the Morning’ which is one of my favorites of the poems I have written.

And it was published on the first page of one of the issues of the literary magazine produced at my college years later. I was proud of myself and really happy. I asked my sister to always take me along with her whenever she did her nails, because I became so inspired while writing there in the salon. I don’t think my family could ever understand why I would get excited over something like writing, but it was just in my blood all the time.

It was an amazing rush when I could unburden my mind and my heart, and out would come a poem or an essay where I would get the imagery and the phrasing just right. There was little else that could bring me that profound feeling of joy, satisfaction and fulfillment.

Next month, I will be turning 33. In the past, I would see that age as an end to something. And it sort of is, but it is also the beginning of something else. It’s the beginning of me really owning my life as my own, the beginning of being truly happy with who I am and who I’ve grown to be, and the continuation of my living my life, being more and more true to myself.

February 6, 2013. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.

50 Things I love to Do

Prompt: 50 things I love to do

My Response:

1. Write poetry
2. Read books
3. Listen to others
4. Relax
5. Sleep
6. Meditate
7. Take a hot bath
8. Watch movies
9. Read online articles
10. Visit thrift stores and flea markets
11. Look at babies
12. Redefine myself
13. Shop for clothes
14. Shop for jewelry
15. Spend time alone
16. Ride my bike
17. Listen to music
18. Discover new music
19. Drink wine
20. Write in my journal
21. Declutter
22. Play lottery scratch off games
23. Clear digital clutter
24. Write email
25. Watch Storage Wars
26. Reading about dumpster diving and trash art
27. Watch old Daria and Charmed episodes
28. Watch Futurama
29. Eat chicken fried rice
30. Eat my mom’s cooking
31. Discover new authors
32. Go for a walk
33. People watch
34. Drink coffee
35. Chocolate!
36. Look at pictures
37. Work on personal projects
38. Sleep in
39. Break my routine
40. Travel to new places
41. Eat light
42. Proofread documents
43. Random acts of kindness
44. Turn in early- go to bed
45. Experience quiet
46. Exercise (when I finally get motivated to start)
47. Read fashion blogs
48. Read fashion magazines
49. Get hand me downs
50. Use unwanted gifts in creative ways

February 4, 2013. Tags: , , , . writing. Leave a comment.

10 Good Books

Prompt: 10 good books that I have read are…

1. Aura, by Carlos Fuentes

2. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

3. The Davinci Code, by Dan Brown

4. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown

5. Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston

6.  The Joy of Less, by Francine Jay

7. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert

8. The Way to Love: Meditations for Life, by Anthony De Mello

9. Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser

10. An Extraordinary Theory of Objects by Stephanie LaCava

11. (bonus) Writing down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

February 3, 2013. Tags: , , . books, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Review of Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen

I just finished reading the memoir, Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen. It was a thought-provoking, and profoundly sad book. I tend to read memoirs written by people whose lives are completely opposite from mine, just to get a glimpse at another reality. It’s interesting to see what different people struggle with as they come of age.

I remember being entertained and intrigued by the memoirs of Marilyn Manson and Jenna Jameson for this reason. Getting a look into a whole different life that in no way resembles my own is immensely fascinating to me. Being that I was a goodie-two-shoes for most of my teenage years, never drinking, smoking or doing any drugs of any kind.

In Loose Girl, we first meet Kerry as a young girl who is just becoming aware of growing up, her body changing, and the power she learns to use to get what she wants, which is always love. It’s a desperation that you can really feel in her descriptions of her emotions and thoughts at that time as a preteen, a teenager, and then a young woman.

Her writing is very visual and descriptive. It immediately pulls you in and I found it hard to put the book down. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the book, wondering in which direction her story would go and how she would resolve all these unhealthy issues and addiction to men.

It’s a sad story of a broken family and a lack of communication. Being the youngest in my family as well, with an older sister as she has, I could relate to it but only for those reasons. I had always wanted to please my family and my sister was like a second mother. My parents are still married. Cohen’s got divorced and when her mother left to further her education, Kerry felt  understandably abandoned.

Her father was not sure how to parent two teenage girls, often leaving them (the author and her older sister) with no boundaries.  I was lucky that my parents never put their own needs before mine, and gave me love, appreciation, and constant attention. I guess that’s why I grew up more securely, not willing to give myself away to just anybody.

But Cohen searches for love in all the wrong places, wondering why her willingness to be with guys made her unlovable and made her look desperate. I understand having sexual curiosity and urgings, but she acts on those curiosities at an age where she has barely learned who she actually is. And it only serves to mess her up more. To me, it sounded a lot like an addiction, chasing a high that she hoped would lead to real love, but rarely did.

I was impressed with her ability to take the advice of her therapists and turn her life around by doing things for herself, focusing on writing, joining workshops, starting an exercise (running) habit. Through her writing especially, she came to know herself and got a similar thrill like the one she got from male attention and affection. That part was very enjoyable to read.

In reading this book I realize how lucky I am to have had the childhood I had, and that I learned to value myself and my body. I think if I had gone through all her trials and slept with so many men that I would get to my current age and not feel quite like a human being. But thankfully, she is still alive and wrote this book as a sort of cautionary tale. And I can appreciate that. When you create art from something dark and painful in the past, other people can see it and understand it and relate sometimes, and that’s valuable and admirable.

February 1, 2013. Tags: , , , . books, writing. Leave a comment.

Alphabetized Advice Writing Prompt

Prompt:  ABCs. Can you give people 26 pieces of advice? Each piece starting with a letter from the alphabet?

My Response:

A.
Accept yourself  as you are

B.
Be bold once in a while

C.
Cry if you have to

D.
Demand only the best for yourself

E.
Ease into new situations

F.
Forget the past

G.
Gratitude should be your dominant feeling

H.
Help others and be kind, it helps you too

I.
Internalize positivity

J.
Journey to new places each year

K.
Keep close family around you for support

L.
lose control sometimes, drop the facade

M.
Mind your business, don’t gossip

N.
Never doubt yourself or your own abilities

O.
Own up to your mistakes and correct them

P.
Play, do creative or sporty things that make you happy

Q.
Quiet practice stillness for a few minutes

R.
Reach inside yourself for strength, reach out to others when you need to

S.
Set your sights on future goals and dreams

T.
Try new things, don’t be set in your ways

U.
Understand that things are not always about you

V.
Vent through journaling, talking, painting, singing

W.
Workout whenever you need to relieve stress or are feeling sluggish

X.
Don’t be Xenophobic (look it up)

Y.
Yearn to discover the unknown

Z.
Have Zeal for whatever you feel is your passion in life

February 1, 2013. Tags: , , , . writing. Leave a comment.