Tag Archives: writing

You Could Try

23 May

I knew May was going to be difficult. I signed up to cover extra shifts at work, agreed to attend a vet tech seminar, made cat sitting arrangements, scheduled my first semester final exam for the first week of June, booked a 24-hour jaunt to Boston to visit my Mom and sister. But this is something I tend to do, overbook myself.

I hate that writing falls by the wayside. It’s always on my mind. I’ve written dozens of posts in my head, come home and fallen asleep doing the New York Times crossword instead. I’ve also plotted new careers as a journalist, a travel writer, a hippy poet. But instead of working toward these things, I’ve fallen prey to some bad habits. I waste a lot of time playing games on my phone, making myself feel jealous and upset by refreshing the facebook window too often and watching youtube videos instead of setting aside distractions and getting to the business of writing.

So at the moment, this is what I have to offer, this youtube video of an adorable pug. I’ve watched it endlessly and shown it to a bunch of friends who don’t seem to get as much joy out of it as me. But the thing about it that gets me is the shift in the dog’s expression when his owner suggests that he could try. Sure, he licks everything and chases the big kitty, but he could TRY to be a better dog.

I guess watching enough silly animal videos online can somehow become an existential experience. Because I have bad habits, I’m not completely where I want to be. But each new day is an opportunity to face those things down and try to be better.

I’m ready to try and be better. And that’s all I can do.

#hopeless

12 Apr

tumblr_inline_mkx7ziRwCA1r79k32 Let’s talk about Twitter for a moment. It confuses me. I don’t understand it. I find it to be a constant source of Internet frustration for me.

When it first came on the scene, I stuck my English major nose up in the air and thought that its short-form expression would never last. Now it’s kind of a big deal. It’s everywhere, and I still just don’t get it.

A good friend of mine helped me sign up a couple of months ago and was patient enough to answer a bunch of questions. But it still confuses me, and I have yet to tweet anything. I’ve thought long and hard about what to tweet, what to say, and I’m at a complete loss.

I occasionally look at the Twitter app on my phone and read what other people have tweeted, but I still don’t get it. Are people having conversations with one another? What’s with ReTweeting? The tagging, the hashtagging, the mentionings, the back and forth! I’m soooo confused.

I feel as an aspiring writer I should get more comfortable with the format as it is important for self-promotion. But Internet self-promotion is something I have never been able to master. Most of my friends become shocked to find out that I have a blog as I never promote it on facebook. I just have it humbly listed under my websites on my about page, and it is my status on gchat. That’s it. I’m not comfortable with self-promotion, but I know it’s only hurting me in the long run. I really should get over that.

I digress! Twitter! Help me! What should I tweet? How do I do it? What should I know? Can anyone out there in the Internets help a girl out?!

Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran

10 Apr

whywewriteI found out about this book from the ever amazing Brain Pickings website which is a great place to find inspiration and guidance in leading a creative life.

The book (despite consisting of 20 author interviews) is short and quick to get through. I read it in two days on subway trips to bars on a Saturday night and to softball games on a Sunday evening. But the advice and the guidance within is invaluable.

What I admired about this book is while I’ve read similar amalgamations of writerly advice, this isn’t just one type of author. You have some very commercially successful mystery thriller writers, some nonfiction writers, some indie writers, a little bit of everything. And for being a book about creativity, it’s also down-to-Earth. The authors talk about their literal journey to where they are now. The logistics of paying the bills, getting published, finding time to write, changing careers.

What struck me was despite how vastly different they all are in every sense, they all kind of said the same thing. Write for yourself, work really hard, don’t give up when someone doesn’t like your stuff, work hard, write about what inspires you, work even harder.

It includes some authors that I already know and respect like Michael Lewis and others that I’ve never heard of. All of their stories were valuable though, and I recommend this book to anyone who desires a writerly life.

What about writing?

4 Feb
image

This Dog loves me

This is a conversation I’ve had in a variety of ways and shapes over the last couple of months with a number of friends and family.

I was at a friend’s birthday party and another friend was telling me about a hip-hop karaoke event that he’d attended and asked me why I wasn’t there as karaoke is one of my most beloved past times.

“I just got my biology text book in the mail, so I’ve been all study, all the time,” I told him.
“Oh, so this is for vet school.”
“Well, no, it’s for vet tech school. I don’t think vet school was ever for me. I’m thinking maybe going into animal behavior or zoology one day.”
A concerned look sweeps across his face.
“But what about writing?”

Well, what about writing? I ask myself that question every day. I have Mondays off of work, so I spent my entire day poring over a Biology text book. I occasionally took breaks to cook, take a walk, read, and write. I also took some time to research possible careers in animal behavior and/or zoology. It’s all interesting. I know I could do it. But it all feels like such a farce. Like who am I kidding with this shit? I feel like a square peg, shoving myself into a round hole and hoping no one notices that my edges don’t quite match up.

I’m quite ashamed of my job history. It’s something I joke about, because it is funny. But in a greater sense, it shows how little commitment I have. It’s not just the job history, it’s the things I’ve pursued. Three years ago, I thought I was going to go back to school to be a teacher. I studied an LSAT book for a couple of weeks. I took a graphic designing class. I bought an introduction to linguistics book. Nothing fits.

While I know that a lot of people my age are at a loss as to what they want to do, I don’t want to be among them. My friend who had the birthday on Saturday is my age, and she has a successful career, a stunning apartment, a graduate degree. I suppose I thought things would fall into place for me by now.

But what about writing? It’s all I’ve really wanted to do. I just don’t know how to swallow my pride, my fear and do it. I simply don’t know how.

 

 

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

7 Sep

I get a weekly email from a website called brainpickings.org. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the site, but every Sunday an email with the best articles of the week arrives in my inbox. I like to sip coffee on my Sunday mornings and peruse it. The woman who curates it is always fascinated by learning, creating, the universe, science, literature, life. It’s a weekly email I’d recommend to anyone.

I’ve taken a lot of her book recommendations, and this one is by far and away my favorite that I’ve read. “Dear Sugar” was an advice column on the website “The Rumpus.” But it isn’t your average advice column. Mainly because instead of giving advice in some cheesy, overdone way, she usually tells a story from her life that relates, how it changed her, what she learned, what her advicee should take away.

So many times when reading this book, she took my breath away at the simplicity of her logic. One early advice letter basically just asked her “What the fuck?” over and over again. To which she wrote a very eloquent letter about the abuse she experienced as a child and how she spent her adulthood asking that very same question to herself on repeat. She concludes the letter.

“Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it.”

I devoured this book. I’ve lately taken to writing in my books: starring favorite passages, underlining fun turns of phrases, adding my thoughts in the margin. In college, they called this “active reading.” Thanks Bachelor’s Degree! But I didn’t write in this book at all. Why? Because I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to take the time to find a pen. I wanted to get to the next page. This book is pure beauty.

The book concludes with one of my favorite letters. A 22-year-old fan asks Sugar what she would go back in time and tell the 20-something Sugar about life. My favorite quote:

“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether or not you should shave your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”

It’s eerie when you read something, and it’s like the writer’s all of a sudden looking out at you from between the lines and seeing a part of you and not just seeing a part of you, but telling you what that part is, what it could be, what you should let it become.

Tricks

5 Sep

I have spoken here before about the sage advice of Dr. G. He’s just my favorite. Today I assisted him in a spay while he regaled me with stories of him traveling around the world to do a rare procedure known as a PU for various wealthy people’s pets. During the spay/story time, a receptionist interrupted to let him know that a client was on the phone about her dog’s persistent diarrhea.

“Jesus,” Dr. G muttered. “Tell her to wipe the dog’s ass, and leave me the fuck alone.”

Classic.

Recently, I found a book that the office manager started of Dr. G-isms. It’s a gold mine. You’ve got the traditional phrases that we hear all the time, like, “I should have been a mortician.” And you’ve got your situational quotes. In reference to expensive makeup: “It’s all just horse piss. Why don’t you buy a gallon of horse piss and put that on your face?”

But there’s one that I found in there that I simply can’t stop thinking about. I think it’s pure genius.

“You can’t just be a whore. You’ve got to be a whore with tricks.”

To me, this is such a good philosophy to life. Dr. G is one of the best veterinarians and the best surgeons in the country. But that’s not the only trick up his sleeve. He loves to cook and cook very gourmet meals. He’s an obsessive Yankees fan. He loves fish. Yep, fish. He has bowls of them in his office that he takes care of every day. He goes to special fish stores and gives them special fish food. Every year, he takes a week to volunteer at a camp in Colorado for terminally sick kids. He has whole other aspects to him besides being a sharp-tongued surgeon.

I guess this is something that has bothered me. My life has been at the vet office the last month or so. I spend all my time there. I’m looking into vet schools, looking into other volunteer options for animals. It’s become all consuming, and that’s not healthy.

I don’t want to just be a veterinarian. I want to be a writer too. I want to write novels (crappy or amazing, I don’t care), I want to see all the baseball stadiums in the country. I want to be a coffee snob all through Western Europe, then a beer snob through all of Eastern Europe. I want to play soccer AND softball. I want so much more out of life that I think I’ve even realized.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in something that seems bigger than yourself: a relationship, a job, even a hobby or a passion. But none of it is bigger than yourself is what I’m starting to realize. I’m not just a whore. I’ve got tricks.

NY Writer’s Coalition

3 Jun

About a year ago, when I was at the Brooklyn Book Festival, I ended up signing up for a bevy of email lists for different writing groups in New York. I want so badly to live a more writerly existence, but I simply haven’t figured out a way to balance writing with making a living, cooking dinner, traveling, hanging out with friends. So I sign up for a bunch of things hoping something will shine the light on how to write a novel whilst having a full life.

One of the groups I ended up signing up for is the New York Writers Coalition. It’s a pretty neat organization that sponsors different writing events and uses their resources to bring creative writing lessons to communities that can benefit from the outlet.

I have admittedly not been very active with them, but I recently saw their newest event, a write-a-thon, and decided to sign up. Ira Glass is going to give a motivational speech, and I have an unbelievable nerd crush on him.

I’m supposed to fund raise for this, but fundraising makes me so utterly uncomfortable. I hate asking people to give me their money, especially when I somehow end up getting to do something cool because of the donation, like hang out with Ira Glass. But it is a good cause, and I figured posting something on here would be less irritating than sending out some sort of a mass email. I plan on donating a good amount when it is closer to the actual write-a-thon date.

So if you are interested in helping a good cause or even signing up yourself if you live in the New York area, here is the site. I appreciate anything you can put towards the cause!

I quit

15 May

I quit my job.

It still feels shocking to say it or write it, but on Monday, I put in my two week notice and breathed easy for the first time in weeks.

It was such a hard decision, because in a lot of ways, I loved my job. I loved working with animals, training to be a technician, being respected as a good employee.

But in so many ways, I was absolutely miserable. I didn’t like working reception, and I desperately wanted to move to the technician job. Unfortunately my office manager put her foot down, screamed at anyone who wanted to help me, gave me the silent treatment and demanded that I stay in reception. I was apparently too good an employee to lose. I tried everything. I tried reasoning with the practice owners, I tried compromising my schedule, I tried working extra days. I tried demanding the raise I’ve been promised over and over again. It was like I was talking to walls.

Then I got sick. Really sick. I was fainting in strange places, losing vision, feeling numb in my extremities. I was sick to my stomach, and I finally went to a doctor. After a bunch of tests and a lengthy medical history interview, the doctor essentially told me that I was killing myself with stress, and that I needed to cut something out and focus on taking care of myself. I knew what was wrong.

I was miserable Monday through Thursday working at the reception desk. I was angry, frustrated. I could feel tension in my neck and shoulders when I left the office. My only salvation was working as a technician on Fridays. But by the time Friday rolled around I was suffering from exhaustion. I hated my job. I hated the clinic. I was miserable.

So I quit. I’m terrified about what lies ahead, but I’m also so relieved. I’d rather be dead broke and happy, then sorta broke and miserable. Not a huge difference there anyways. I’ve jumped from job to job my whole life without ever taking the time to really look for something that I want to do, that means something to me. I’ve always hired on to whatever place has taken me. And if you’ve heard the stories of my job history, sometimes it worked out well, sometimes it was a nightmare.

I feel free. In two weeks, I can move anywhere in the world. I can spend my days writing. I can actually take a moment to breathe and think about what I want to do.

I’ll find something else. I’ll find something better. After all, it has never been a problem before.