Tag Archives: being more

NaNoWriMo 2015

1 Dec

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

About a month ago (probably around the last time I wrote a post), I went to a pumpkin carving party. It was a girl’s night with apple cider sangria, Hocus Pocus, and a variety of garlic spinach dips. The night was hosted by a girl I met through softball. I don’t know her very well, and I didn’t know her friends at all. As I always do in new social circles, I clammed up. I sat gulping my sangria out of nervousness and listening to the conversations around me. One of the girls there, a 26-year-old bubbly blonde mentioned she was a journalist at a small press magazine. It was inconsequential, but it stuck.

That night, I walked back to the apartment where I cat sit and thought, “Why that girl? Why not me? Why aren’t I a journalist, a writer, a novelist?” The Greek chorus of negativity filled my brain. I’m not good enough. I’m too lazy. I should just give up and stick to animals. But the fact of the matter is that I haven’t tried. I can count on one hand the amount of pieces I have submitted for publication. One smattering of poems to a contest, two or three articles to online publications. That’s it? I put together this blog and revel in the humble amount of readers, likes, comments it receives. But I’ve wanted more.

When I was 7-years-old, I changed schools for the third time. I toured the new classroom in the new town amongst new people feeling overwhelmed and scared. The teacher, Ms. Sperling, tried to cheer me up by showing me the art projects, the crawfish pool full of critters, and the music room stuffed with instruments. But what I remember most is when she showed me the area of the room where students could make “books.” To my childish memory they looked like the books I spent so much of my time with: professional, real, put-together books. In reality, they were stapled together sheets of printer paper with lines on them. But I held those stacks in my tiny, little hands and that was it for me. My future, my dreams were as blank and as limitless as those lines on paper waiting to be filled with something, anything.

So at 29-years-old, I wanted to start then and there. I wanted to get back on that road. So I signed up (for the fourth time) for National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo is an event that has been going on for a long time. It challenges writers to put together a 50,000 word novel within the month of November. I first did it in college with my friend Eric, who is now a writer/editor for Vice Sports. It was something fun to do together. We’d meet up after class in the student union and type away. We kept tabs on each other. It was a silly side project, since we were both deep into the Creative Writing program at our university. Once it was over, it was done, eclipsed by the concerns. The two times I’ve attempted since then, I’ve given up after a day or two. I’d get behind and abandon the concept, citing a lack of time and commitment.

Why not try again? I’ve spent years talking about putting together a novel based on my experiences in veterinary medicine. The crazy clients, the patients that have stolen my heart, the dramatic co-workers. Life, death, love, hate, anger, loss. All there and ripe to be written about. And that’s where I have spent my month. I got behind on my word-count often and would spend my days off trying to catch up. I stopped going out, usually grabbing a quick drink before making an excuse to head home and invest an hour or two in my writing. My mind felt like it was coming alive. I started carrying a notebook with me to jot down ideas. Instead of watching “Gilmore Girls” before bed, I found myself reading volumes of poetry, soaking in the eloquent language and trying to incorporate it into my own. I thought about publishing, writing programs, writing jobs, freelancing. So many options beckoned before me, but I didn’t have time for any of them.

Something in this novel took over me. I had to finish it. I didn’t think it would be great, and I don’t know if I will ever do anything with it. But I had to finish it. It was something that I had a hard time explaining to loved ones. It was a reminder to myself that not only is this a dream, it’s a possibility. I had to reach my hand back in time to that 7-year-old girl within me and let her know that I’m still working on it. It was a way to shut up the chorus in my mind that said maybe being a writer wasn’t feasible, maybe it’s all been talk over these years, maybe it’s time to settle down into some other career.

The novel is done. I finished it yesterday with such an air of satisfaction. Some things came out of my mind that I was proud of. Most of it is fluff that will later be deleted. I don’t know if I’ll pursue editing it into something publishable or break it into short story vignettes that I might start submitting. But I am comforted by Hemingway’s letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald where he said, “I write one page of masterpiece to 91 pages of shit.” So, as long, as my 150 page novel contains at least two good pages, I’m on par with Hemingway, and that’s all any hopeful writer can ask for.

 

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30 Before 30

29 Sep
Don't entirely remember this picture from our bday celebration.

Don’t entirely remember this picture from our bday celebration.

It’s a bit unnerving to see the number 30 as the title of this post and looming ahead of me. But I remember being 26 and talking to my amazing co-worker, Kristina, when she was turning 30. She told me how excited and happy she was about life, her career, and dating. She told me that at that age, she knew what she wanted out of life and had a confidence to go after it that made things so much easier. But me, at that timid, mid-twenties age, I doubted what she told me and looked at my future with anxiety and fear.

But she was so right. And I leave 28 for 29 feeling the happiest and most secure of my life. This last year brought a lot of things that have done wonders for me. I got serious about kickboxing; I buckled down about school and finished my tech degree; I started listening to podcasts by Tara Brach about Buddhism. I went on adventures big and small. From riding horses through the New Mexican desert to stand-up paddle boarding in Maine to learning the Lindy Hop in Lincoln Center. I had an awesome year, and I see no reason why the next one won’t likewise be fantastic. I managed 10 last year, so here’s hoping I can expand that a bit.

THE STANDARDS

  1. Visit a new state 15 down, 35 to go.
  2. Visit a new country 12 down, 183 to go.
  3. Visit a new baseball stadium 7 down, 23 to go.
  4. Read “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion I have writerly friends who worship at the feet of Didion, yet I haven’t read a single book by her.
  5. Watch “The African Queen” I’ve added watching a classic movie to the standards.
  6. Make an Indian meal I order in Indian food quite a bit, and one of the new receptionists at work (who is Indian) likes to tease me that it’s a waste of money, and I could make it just as good at home. Challenge accepted.
  7. Eat a Ramen Burger There’s a place in NYC that serves a burger between two grilled ramen noodle loaves. I’m in.
  8. Visit One World Observatory 

THE LEFTOVERS

  1. Take a Sailing Lesson
  2. Go Scuba Diving I WILL NOT GIVE UP ON THIS.
  3. Go to a Gun Range
  4. Do a Juice Cleanse
  5. Visit a Whiskey Distillery
  6. Go to a Live Taping
  7. Ride a Mechanical Bull
  8. Take a trapeze class
  9. Go to a Monster Truck Show
  10. Sing at Live Band Karaoke I went on a first date a couple of months ago to a live band, rock and roll karaoke. It was amazing, and I regret not getting up and doing it. No chemistry with the guy. But SO MUCH chemistry with Arlene’s Grocery. Proof that dating can be rewarding.
  11. Go Sky Diving
  12. Learn to Play the Ukulele 
  13. Do a Knitting Donation Project

THE NEW CLASS

  1. Go Cross Country Skiing It sounds so New England to me.
  2. Compete in a Crossword Competition I am a nerd. I do the New York Times crossword every day and time myself. I think I’m ready to take my skills on the road.
  3. Take a Flamenco Dance lesson The fan! The little finger things! The stomping!
  4. Go Windsurfing When I was in Canada, I saw a couple of windsurfers on Georgian Bay. It looks terrifying and kind of cool.
  5. Get my aura photographed Sounds like bullshit, but I’m a sucker for these things.
  6. Go on a Ghost Tour I recently signed up for the New York Obscura Society, and they often have graveyard events.
  7. Go parasailing I can’t believe I’ve made it this far into my life without doing this!
  8. Run a 5K My boyfriend is deferring his NYC marathon eligibility to next year and wants me to train with him. But I don’t run. I hate running. I only run when I’m being chased. But he has convinced me that there are some fun 5Ks out there, and he seems to believe I am capable.
  9. Do an Escape the Room There are so many different kinds of these in New York. Ones with zombies. Ones for groups. Ones for couples. Basically they lock you in a room for an hour or two with a variety of puzzles that leads to the key to get out. I love puzzles! See #23 for proof.

To Write, To Work, To Somehow Do Both

28 Jul

My mother told me that quote when I was a teenager getting ready to head off to Seattle, to an unknown future. The only thing I knew as I entered the University of Washington was that I was going to write. And I lived by those words and still do.

But four years later, I was left with a quandary that I still haven’t been able to solve. My fellow creative writing graduates fell into one of two categories. One, they got a job and started paying off their student loan debt. (That’s my category.) Two, they applied to MFA programs to continue on in creative writing academia. Seven years later, I’m not sure which is the better option, and I bounce back and forth every couple of days as to whether I want to apply to an MFA program or whether I want to continue working as a vet tech while writing on the side.

The pro of doing an MFA program for me is the time allotted to write. MFA programs are typically completely funded and give writers a one or two year window to just write, to talk about writing, to edit and craft and read on some isolated college campus, hobnobbing with established writers and other prospective writers. It sounds like paradise.

The pro of working a normal job comes from the inspiration it provides. A lot of the writing I’ve read that comes out of MFA programs doesn’t resonate with me. The skill of composition is there, the ability to create a well-crafted story is there, but it’s stilted, contrived. So, often, the main characters are writers, struggling through academia. Or the fictional characters don’t feel real; I’m assuming because they came from the writer’s imagination. This is where experience helps so much. I have so many stories I have collected in the last 7 years that I want to tell. My solo drive from Seattle to Reno, fraught with confusion at what my future held. Working at a hospital in Northern Nevada, seeing some of the craziest hillbillies in existence. Moving to New York and starting a new life with no money, no friends, no direction. Working at an Upper East Side vet clinic where I get to meet strange characters and see dramas unfold between co-workers, clients, pets and their owners every day. If I had spent the last seven years focused on writing, I don’t think it is possible to have come up with characters and situations as rich as these.

But the con of working is the catch-22 of the whole problem. I’m tired. All day at the clinic, my mind is running on eight cylinders thinking of the stories I want to write, the novel I want to put together of this strange microcosm of New York City. I come home and collapse. I opt to kickbox or cook a new dish or just watch the newly released Season 4 of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” I look over at my beautiful new laptop, sitting shiny and lonely on my desk, and I can’t do it. Can’t is wrong. Won’t. I won’t do it. Here I sit on a Tuesday night at the end of my weekly string of three days off, and this is the only writing I’ll have to show for it. I kick myself. I kick myself every week.

Where did that time go? I drank. I played softball. I drank. I grocery shopped. I kickboxed (subsequently regretted the drinking). I bought Microsoft Word for Macs, thinking that getting a better word processor on my laptop will flip the magic switch in my brain and make me write. I watched Anthony Bourdain and read “Outlander.” I played a stupid game on my cell phone. I did laundry. I finally got that ink stain off my desk. I called and emailed vet clinics about setting up an externship. I made this delicious mixture of heaven.

But I didn’t write. But the question then becomes, if I didn’t have work to tire and stress and drain me emotionally, would anything really be different? Is it possible to balance it all? Do I even have it in me?

Conversations with Maya Angelou Edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot

8 Jun

mayaWhat an incredible woman. My associations with Maya Angelou where formulated in high school when, like so many others of my generation, I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I remember liking it, but like so many books forced upon me in high school, I don’t remember too much about it, or her, other than the basics. She was raised in the South during segregation, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and she had her son at the age of 16. She went on to become a symbol of Black female strength and was even named Poet Laureate during the Clinton Administration, becoming the first poet since Robert Frost to read at the presidential inauguration.

A+ for that book report. But reading these interviews about Maya Angelou made me want to re-read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and perhaps to go back and read all those other books I rushed through in high school so I could finish my Calculus homework.

I knew she was a poet and an author. I did not know that she was a playwright, a screenwriter, a director, an actress, and a dancer. That she had been nominated for Tonys and was the first black woman to write and direct her own film. She worked along Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement. Fluent in seven languages, she also was a master at cooking regional African cuisines that she learned while teaching in Ghana. All this from a woman who never went to college, who worked as a madam and a stripper. She seemed to always push forward, pick herself up and accept any challenge presented to her.

These interviews with her felt like How to Live Life 101. So much zest for living, always striving to write better, and looking for ways to influence and improve the world around her. So many gems to quote, like…

“What do you mean, do I consider myself a feminist? I am a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”

or

“I want to know more- not intellectually- to know more so I can be a better human being, to be an honest, courageous, funny and loving human being. That’s what I want to be – and I blow it 86 times a day. My hope is to cut it down to 70.”

This book spans her thoughts on racism in America, the plight of white women vs. the plight of black women, motherhood, creativity, how to write, travel, and how to be happy. From page 1 to page 240, I was gripped by her unwavering love of life.

“Living life fully, fiercely, devotedly, makes you much more able to accept other people who are doing the same. All we’re trying to do is to get from birth to death. And you can’t fail. Even if you only live five minutes, you have succeeded…But it seems to me that life loves the liver.”

Phenomenal woman, indeed.

Finding Poetry

2 Jun

dbe6d2bb3075163bec3e0b5ed74935af

New Year’s Resolution #5 this year (right after “Drink Less”) was “Find My Poetry.” By that I didn’t mean write more poetry, read more poetry, or even go to more poetry events, although all those are lacking in my life. I meant to find the poetry that used to infuse my life, that used to be the core of who I was. Six years ago, it meant everything to me, and somewhere along the way I lost it.

As with most resolutions, I started out strong. I volunteered at the Poetry Project‘s annual New Year’s Day Reading Marathon. After serving chilli to the masses for a couple of hours, chatting with poets, volunteers, fellow verse enthusiasts, I was allowed free admission to the reading. The Poetry Project is housed in a church in the Lower East Side and this reading took place in the nave. Some of the poems were beautiful, some were hilarious, some were stirring. More than anything it felt good to be hearing it again.

As I was leaving to go feed a pug in Midtown, I ran into an old friend/writing partner. I recognized his shock of white hair, and we hugged, whispering together. We used to get together once a week in Seattle to read poetry and write it, to drink whiskey and talk about our futures. He’s currently getting his MFA in Alabama. He was in town to spend time with his boyfriend who lives in Brooklyn.

“Oh, I knew Chrissy Wilson would be here!” he said to me. “I’ll be moving here in June. Let’s have poetry dates again.”

We were shushed by people around us, so I agreed, hugged him, and left. Six months later, it’s June. He emailed me that he’ll be here in a couple of weeks. But I haven’t done a single thing to find my poetry since that blustery New Years day. Time has done nothing but slip through my fingers.

But the other night, I was reading an interview with Cheryl Strayed where she mentioned one of her favorite Emily Dickinson quotes, the one in the art above: “If your Nerve, deny you-/Go above your Nerve.” And I couldn’t get it out of my head. I couldn’t get Emily Dickinson out of my head. I found myself pulling my dusty Parini Poetry Anthology (which could also function as a bludgeoning weapon) off the shelf and started reading the poems of hers I found there. And not just her. I felt as though I was looking through an old yearbook as I sighed over the names of poets long forgotten. Marianne Moore, Robert Frost, Louise Gluck, Theodore Roethke. I read Anthony Hecht’s “The Dover Bitch” over and over again, feeling just as enamored with its perfection as I did when I first read it for a class in 2007.

“…To have been brought
All the way down from London, and then be addressed
As a sort of mournful cosmic last resort
Is really tough on a girl…”

Then I moved on to my old notebooks. The ones I carried with me everywhere. Full of mini-poems, thoughts, quotes, drawings. Nothing spectacular, just the things I heard and saw that stirred something in me, that felt destined to become a poem or a story or anything.

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This page with lyrics from a Gwen Stefani song, from a Blur song, a quote from the beginning of an episode of Planet Earth, a drawing of my legs in capri jeans. The notebook was full of nonsense like this. Recipes, directions, notes to self, doodles, schedules. It reminded me what I was missing when I lost my poetry. It’s about the observation, the curiosity of life, the ability to try and turn things askew and look at them in a new way. This isn’t to say I’ve found my poetry but those old notebooks that are full of embarrassing things and a couple of poignant things reminded me to observe and to note. That is the purpose of writing after all. Not to just publish or write successful how-tos. It’s to be a correspondent to the unique experience we each have.

I said that I hadn’t found my poetry, but on second thought, maybe I have.

Stitch Fix

4 Apr

Shopping, to me, is a dreaded, stressful experience. I don’t know what I want, and I feel overwhelmed by choices. But I can’t help but look at the girls around me that are my age. They have these stylish outfits that seem well thought out yet simple. They have nice purses, and their hair falls just right, either straight or in perfect waves. How do they do this?! I don’t have the time or the patience to pull myself together. On top of that, I’ve chosen a career in which I get to wear scrubs. So my style has gotten increasingly lazy over the years.

However, back in October I found Stitch Fix. It’s a personal shopping service for women. I signed up for the every other month deal, and I filled out a lengthy profile that went over everything from my size, what I like to show off, different styles I like, and how much money I’m willing to spend. So every other month, a personal stylist sends me five pieces that they think I will like.

This month's box. The stylist sends these cards showing fashion-incompetent me how to wear each piece.

This month’s box. The stylist sends these cards showing fashion-incompetent me how to wear each piece.

I am only charged a $20 styling fee. I send back whatever I don’t like, and I keep the pieces that work. They charge my credit card for what I keep (deducting the styling fee), and I have new pieces of clothing.

This has been AMAZING for someone like me. I’ve been able to build up a better wardrobe. With each box, I write a review back to my stylist of why I did or did not like certain pieces. So each box (in theory) gets better than the one before. With my most recent box, I ended up keeping all five items which resulted in a 25% discount off the whole thing. IMG_2506

This for instance shows the leopard print infinity scarf, the black sweater and the army green skinny jeans. I never thought I’d like anything leopard print, but I gave it a shot and was immediately enamored. I had no idea it would go so well with my plethora of black clothes. The black sweater was simple, but it has beautiful detailing and an almost sheer, lace quality to it. Pants that aren’t jeans? A revelation. I also have a pair of burgundy skinny jeans from a previous box.

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I also like that each piece comes from independent clothing companies. So I’m not throwing my money to Gap and Urban Outfitters anymore. The striped blouse is from Fate. The jacket that I plan to wear every glorious day of Spring is from Latte. And the skinny jeans in the picture are Mavi and are from a previous Stitch Fix box. They fit like a second skin.

I debated whether I should mention that this is not a sponsored post, because HA! this is nowhere near being anything close to a fashion blog. I just can’t help preaching the good word of Stitch Fix to the likewise fashion-illiterate people out there. It’s honestly been the easiest means of looking put-together I have ever found.

Feel free to use my referral code.

For men, I think there’s a male version of it called Trunk Club. But all of my guy friends who have looked into it have told me that it’s dreadfully expensive.

Cat-lovin, baseball-watchin, hot dog-eatin

3 Oct
Will and Kate

Will and Kate

I updated my profile picture on Facebook on Wednesday. I posted a picture of me with my sister’s cat, Miles. A friend of mine from Seattle commented about how amazing it is I’ve done an “about face” from hating cats to loving them. I’ve heard similar comments from my co-workers. It doesn’t bother me. Why would it? It’s the truth. But it felt like a weird thing to bring up.

I never hated cats. I’ve just always been a dog person. Still am. I think when I was younger, cats freaked me out. Those sinewy bodies, their fickle affection, the claws, the hissing, the claws, the claws, the claws. But I have found cats to be an acquired taste, like whiskey and coffee. After getting to know more about cats and spending time around some exceptional ones, I learned about the joys of holding a cat while it purrs, how excited they get when you scratch their lower back or under the chin, their exceptional personalities. I love them. And due to my job, they are a huge part of my life now.

So what’s the big deal? I changed my mind.

It’s not just the cats thing though. It’s comments like: “I can’t believe you love baseball, despite having been a moody, artsy teenager” or “I can’t believe you play sports in spite of your lifelong ineptitude” or “How can you love hot dogs so much when you used to be a vegetarian for eight years.”

BECAUSE I CHANGED MY MIND.

And thank God, because I live for the Mariner’s, weekly softball or soccer. I didn’t pursue a career as a poet, and I couldn’t be more happy and fulfilled right now saving furry lives on a weekly basis. I guess what bothers me about these statements from other people is they make me think they’re saying, “THIS isn’t who you are. THAT way you felt years ago is who you are.” Or maybe they’re saying who I was and what I believed so long ago wasn’t who I really am. But I think it’s all me.

I’m an evolving piece of work. I love that at the age of 28, I feel like I’ve lived a couple of varied lives. The moody, punk-obsessed teenager moping in suburbia. The aspiring poet/barista/student living on her own for the first time in Seattle. The Mariner employee who made the decision to stop being scared to speak up and try new things and stand up for herself. The ingenue in New York who had NO sense of who she was or where her life would go, desperately clinging to a failing relationship and floundering through heartbreak. Now a softball playing, karaoke singing, boxing veterinary technician.

I hope to God that when I’m 38 I’m not in the same place doing the same thing with the same interests. Sure, I’d love to keep some of them around. After all, I’ve held on to a number of passions and friends from my past lifetimes and been a happier, better person for it. But my mind is open to the world around me. I’m willing to be convinced, to adapt, be willing to say, “I was wrong about that.” I’m stubborn, and it’s been hard for me to do in the past. But adaptability and an open mind are two of the things I aspire to most in my life.

Risk Averse

2 Sep
Burning of the Witches Festival, Prague, 2007

Burning of the Witches Festival, Prague, 2007

About two weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine who has a knack for popping in and out of my life. We fomented our friendship in Prague and for a while when I was new to New York, he was living in Brooklyn.

I admire him a lot. He can lean towards the hipster side of things, but he leads a life that I envy in a lot of ways. After college, he cultivated his bartending skills. He spends a couple of months in one place, living a meager existence while squirreling away as much money as possible, working at as many bars that will take him. Then he heads somewhere new to him with one tiny backpack and wanders wherever he wants to go, until he has barely enough money to fly him back to the states where he can crash on someone’s couch until he finds a bartending gig that will start the cycle over again.

During desperate times in my life, I’ve thought of his travels and adventures and thought that’s exactly what I should do. But for better or worse, I like my things. I like my life. I like the friendships that I’ve established and the career (however humble it may be) that I’ve built. So I stay. I settle for the vacations here and there and go about my daily routine.

Back to our dinner. We went to a Himalayan restaurant near my apartment, and we caught up. I heard about his upcoming travel plans which include train hopping and road tripping across the country and then booking a flight for Southeast Asia where he’ll ramble at will. I asked him for Central American travel advice. I want to go to Costa Rica, or Nicaragua, or Ecuador. Anywhere new! But I can’t find a travel companion, and I’m nervous about going alone.

“Well, that’s because you are risk averse,” he told me.
“RISK AVERSE!? That’s not true.”
“It’s absolutely true.”
“I took a boxing class today for the first time!”
“That’s spontaneous, not risky. You’re spontaneous and brave. But you are risk averse.”

I spent the rest of the night making him regret he ever said that. I somehow found a way to repeatedly circle the conversation back to “risk averse” and how I could not be risk averse, what are the steps I could take. He couldn’t give me a real answer on it and resorted to teasing me for trying to plan out how to be less “risk averse.” They Type A in me just can’t hide.

Risk averse. I have spent the last two weeks walking around thinking about that. It pops up in my head like a catchy pop song. I’ll be buying a salad for lunch and as I order, I think, “risk averse?!” Part of me wants to say I’m not. I’ve taken risks, tis true. Staying in New York after a devastating break-up. Risky. Battling evil cats at work. Risky. Drinking whiskey after beer. Risky.

But another part of me wants to be mature enough to take it as constructive criticism. I tried to think about how he must see my life and my choices. While I know he respects them, they could seem risk averse. Some of them are. I see the choices in my life that have been the easiest path or the path of least risk of pain. And while I don’t believe that I am one to be labeled as risk averse, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that he got that annoying phrase stuck in my head. My life could use a few more risks, a few more hasty decisions.

He left for Chicago yesterday morning. I have no idea when our paths will cross again. But when they do, I can’t wait to enumerate to him the ways in which my life in the interim has NOT been risk averse. Knowing me, I’ll probably have an outline.

School Daze

5 Mar

HPIM3464 On Tuesday I went to a lecture at the ASPCA about Animal Cruelty laws and the veterinarian’s role in prosecution.

As I sat there watching the PowerPoint presentation, taking notes on my handouts on body conditioning score, and New York State laws, I felt at home. Not in that building, but in that role, as student.

I miss being in school. From kindergarten on, I loved school. I didn’t talk about it much, because it was not a popular opinion as a child, but I adored it. I got so excited when September came around. All the new notebooks and binders, the list of classes. I loved sitting at my desk and spreading out my things, getting ready to learn something new. College was the best, because it wasn’t formulaic teaching. I took classes in Architecture, Japanese History, Horror Literature, Advanced Spanish, Animal Behavior. I had enough credits to graduate early, and I went to my adviser and begged her to let me stay an extra semester. She told me I was insane, and I had to enter the real world.

The real world is rough. I’ve spent the last couple of years dreaming endlessly of returning to school. I just never could settle on what for. Technically, I am back in school with my veterinary technician program. I love it. I don’t meditate or work out, because to me, studying is my zen. I understand that you might be rereading that sentence in horror and confusion. I know I’m strange. But I feel such bliss when I turn off my phone, close my computer, and read through a text book, highlighting, taking notes. At the end of the hour I have allotted myself, I often crave more, but force myself to step away.

But these online courses aren’t enough for me. I want to walk through the regal and solemn halls of a university and sit once again in a classroom, becoming an expert in a million different fields. Is there a job where one can be an ever-learning student of life? I’m already a student at the University of Books, but I need MORE.

This is the year. I’m going to figure it out. Where I want to lend my talents to the world, what career can keep my thirsty mind studying and learning. I’m going to find it, apply to it, and in fall 2015 be back in a classroom where I belong.

Start Your Engines…

25 Feb

RuPaul”s Drag Race Season 6 – Trailer from Eduardo Roza on Vimeo.

A couple of years ago, I was spending a lazy Friday night at my friend Brian’s apartment on the Upper West Side. We were drinking Gin and Tonics and catching up on “30 Rock” on Netflix. Once we were Liz Lemoned out, he suggested we watch old episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“It’s so campy and cheap and ridiculous, you’re going to love it!”

I was reluctant. I was skeptical. Brian is gay. I’m not. It wasn’t my culture, and drag queens had never interested me. Two episodes in, the show was growing on me. First, it’s hilarious. Queens insult (“read”) each other with quick-witted, smart one-liners. The competitions they were put in were over-the-top camp. Photo shoots in a wind tunnel that pulled their wigs off, getting thrown in a dunk tank. The tongue in cheek humor is unparalleled. The winner is whoever displays the most “cunning, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.” Think about that acronym.

So I became hooked. To this day, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is the only show that I look forward to, make sure to watch on a weekly basis. I’ve even gone to events in the city that feature some of the past and present queens. Over the years, I’ve begun to see the show as more than outrageous fashion and campy attitudes. Beneath all the glitter, the show has a distinct message about being yourself, and to me, it’s taught me a lot about being a woman.

Despite our equality strides, women are still not portrayed as powerful as often as they should be. When they are, it’s with a frumpy bitch overtone (see Hillary Clinton). Men dressing as women has traditionally been seen as humiliating, weak. What the drag queens do is elevate the ideals of womanhood. They are smart, creative, and tough. They are beautiful and commanding. The queens that win are the ones with the strongest personalities. Last year was Jinkx Monsoon with her vaudeville humor and flapper glamor. The year before that was Sharon Needles who has a gothic appearance and a penchant for using fake blood in her outfits. But these lady boys aren’t laughed at for dressing up as women, they are respected and admired.

We should all be that proud to be ourselves.