Category Archives: Thoughts

Hi, how are you?

Are the news channels now talking about something other than the hurricane? If you experienced the hurricane, I hope you’re doing well. If you’re dealing with other issues in life, I also hope you’re doing well. If you’re dealing with issues and dealing with the hurricane, yes. Basically I hope everyone is doing well.

I have six minutes of battery left on the laptop. I got out of bed to write an e-mail to someone I think I did wrong. I don’t like feeling that I did wrong to anyone.

Anyway, with the remaining power, I thought I’d share a video from my new TV series. It’s not really a TV series. It’s only a TV series in my mind.

Dog days

Do you ever stop and think about the things that take up the majority of your time and energy and realize…I don’t care about these things at all? Do you ever think, if I never had to go to that job again or listen to that person or do that chore, I’d be fine. In fact, I’d be more satisfied with life?

Some of those thoughts occurred to me yesterday. Which, in turn, made me think, Okay. Then what do I want to devote my time and energy to?

I’ve been struggling with these sorts of questions for a long time, actually. I mean, I devoted a whole blog to them. And of course doing things you don’t want to do can sometimes have a positive influence. But yesterday I looked around me and I saw very little I feel passionate about. Which was really sobering.

So, I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I’ll do something. All I know is that I want to feel I’ve made a difference. I want to feel I’ve accomplished things that matter to me. I don’t need the whole world to think I’ve done anything worthwhile. I just need to feel that.

This slideshow of search and rescue dogs made me think about all of that, too. It may just be the photographer, but all of these dogs look wisened. Like they’ve seen things and done things. Things they care about.

Life, jobs, money, people: I’m so angry!

A lot of things are making me angry lately.  I don’t mind that.  They say anger can be a really great emotion: you’re angry, you figure why, and you do something about it.

But it’s that last step that I’m having trouble with.  I know the things that are making me angry, and I know why, but I can’t figure out how to effectively channel that into action.  Instead, I’m just left with the anger and the added frustration of feeling like I can’t do anything about it all.

I woke up just now at 4 p.m.  Not from a nap, but from a full’s night’s sleep.  That’s because my job sent me an e-mail giving me three days’ notice that they’d need me to temporarily work the overnight shift.  The full 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

That’s bullshit and I’m angry about it.  But really it’s just another thing in a looooong list of things they’ve done that’s made me realize: They don’t care about me at all.  They smile and say all these vague managerial things: “I’ll bring this up with corporate,” “Protocol,” “Blah blah blah.”

I’ve become terrified of certain managers.  They’re so entrenched in that corporate lingo, and customer service lingo, that I really think they’ve forgotten how to be a decent human being.  How to be a human being at all, really.

I didn’t mean to mention all that…but that is the main thing I’m angry about.  When you’re that angry about your job situation, one thing you can do to channel that anger is look for another job.  Which I’ve done a little bit.  But the one interview I’ve gone on so far?  Made me super angry!

The interview was days ago now.  And I’d been feeling strange about it for days, but I hadn’t been able to sort out all of the reasons why.  When I woke up just now, though, something occurred to me.

My interviewer, at one point, asked me something along the lines of, “So, would you be able to handle it when people are rude to you or disrespectful?  Because you just seem like a very sweet person.”

I wasn’t sure exactly how to answer that question at the time.  I wanted to say, “Well, yeah, I’m a sweet person.  But what does that have to do with being able to handle things?”

And I think that’s just it.  It makes me angry that she implied that a sweet disposition is an indicator of a weak person.  It’s not.  I am a sweet person, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not a strong person, too.

I think what’s really making me angry lately, when it gets down to the core, is realizing how much power and control a job, a boss, a work schedule can have over a person.  My life has been turned upside down because of the job I have right now.  I am a sweet person.  But walking out of work (at 7:30 a.m. because the person relieving me showed up a half hour late even though he lives two blocks away), I said to myself, out loud, “This job is making me an angry person.  It’s making me negative and jaded and it’s making me lose hope in humanity and my life.”

I know!  It’s dramatic.  But it’s absolutely how I feel.  I don’t want to lose my idealism and optimism.  I’m a romantic and a dreamer and I firmly believe that you should do what you’re passionate about in life–because that’s when you’ll be at your best.  I’ve been trying so hard to follow what I’m passionate about in life, but sometimes it’s not that easy.  Sometimes finding direction and knowing what the right steps are to take is the most difficult thing.  The signs just don’t come.

So you take a job you’re not excited about because you have to pay the bills, you have to feed yourself.

Anyway, I am angry.  But as of right now I’m still hopeful.  Even though I don’t have a clue what should be done.

August ‘Everlasting’

It’s not often that you pick up a book and the first paragraph speaks to your situation in time and space so exactly that it makes you take pause and say, “Wow. Yeah.” That’s what happened this afternoon when I opened ‘Tuck Everlasting’ and read this:

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.

Isn’t that amazing? So beautiful and poetic and then it throws that provocative bit in at the end, so completely reeling you in. Somehow I never read this book up until now. And now I find myself with eight-hour shifts of work with very little to do. Which is nice.

That opening paragraph makes me wish I wasn’t in this crowded, urban place. Makes me wish I didn’t have the luxury of escaping into my apartment and turning on the A/C. That’s not the August that Natalie Babbitt is writing about.

The Woodstock of Poetry!

Because I now believe in poetry and all of its possibilities and because I spent many years being oblivious to poetry, I’ve created a new website!  My ultimate, ultimate goal is for people far and wide to say, “Poetry is fun,” “poetry is relevant,” and “poetry is pop.”  Because even if all of it’s not, there’s plenty of it that is.  Like this (to give an extreme example).

If you’ve ever been saddened by having to dissect a dense, ancient poem in school, PoetryStock.com aims to make you happy again!

If you’ve ever wanted to write a series of haikus about the pH level of shampoo (or something), PoetryStock.com wants to hear them!

If you’re up to this challenge that Nietzsche poses — “A subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation” — PoetryStock.com will smile.

And he will, too.

There are plenty of places to post your poems on the internet, but Poetry Stock is different because there will be an annual poetry celebration connected to it. Also, there will be a podcast that gives poets a chance to read a poem they’ve posted on the site and talk about it (or whatever they want) for a few minutes.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing this month. Lately it’s always something other than this blog…but I love this blog. This blog was the first real outlet I ever had to express my thoughts and try to craft them into something people would enjoy. So I’ll always be grateful to this blog. And even if I don’t always put regular blog posts on it, I’ll at least let it know what I’m up to.

P.S. This child is smarter than I’ll ever be:

A young writer

I recently got a rejection e-mail from a magazine.  It was a very nice rejection letter.  It didn’t sting all that bad because I recently had my first ACCEPTANCE email from a magazine.  I first saw it on my cell phone while crossing a street.  A huge smile came over my face and I said, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.”  Then I got hit by a car.

Not really.  But back to the rejection email.  The following sentences struck me: “We are impressed with the fresh, appealing voice of these poems, especially since you’re such a young writer! We wish you lots of luck with your work, and hope to hear from you in the future.”

First, it’s incredibly nice of them to write such personalized sentences.  That rarely happens.  And I really do appreciate them taking the time to say what they did.  But…

I’m disappointed in the huge role that age plays in their message.  I’m disappointed in their implication that age and good writing go hand in hand.  You know?  That’s a bummer.  Sure, it stands to reason that the longer you’ve been alive the more time you’ve had to practice and hone your craft.   And if I read between the lines then they’re probably implying that although fresh and appealing, the poems can stand to be honed.  Which is perfectly acceptable.

But I can’t help feeling like it was a folly on my part to have given this magazine clues about my relatively young age.  The truth is, I’ll never know how much my age factored in to their decision.  Again, maybe it wasn’t a real factor at all.  Maybe it was only an afterthought.  A thought after they’d already decided to pass on the work.

Anyway, that’s all that’s on my mind.  In conclusion, poetry is great.  I especially like when it’s not boring and it’s not maddeningly abstract.  Here are a couple lines from a poet I’ve been reading lately named Marge Piercy.  It’s a rare thing, and such a cool thing, when a poem can make you stop and think.  Rarer and cooler, still, when a poem makes you think about something in a new, more illuminated light.

I cast myself on you, closing

my eyes as I leap and then opening them wide

as I land.  Love is plunging into darkness toward

something that may exist.

Landscaping is expensive

It’s easy to watch this commercial without even noticing the bushes and shrubs magically being groomed while these attractive, active, young women go about their happy, privileged lives:

I’m not against the thing.  The thing itself looks convenient enough.  It’s just the fact that the commercial goes so far out of its way to just come out and say it: “This lets you trim and shave your pubic hair.”

Instead you have to see those bushes and realize that those are a metaphor forwell, bushes.

You know what does make me skeptical?  This commercial implies that the un-groomed bushes are somehow less nice or less worthy.  Before and after shots, and the after is always preferable.  Always more beautiful.

I say, do whatever you want with your bushes.  Don’t let Schick and it’s silly advertisements influence how you landscape.  There’re just a bunch of men behind them, I’m sure.  Don’t let a bunch of men tell you that you’ve gotta fork out $12 if you, too, want to be attractive and active and happy.

Brother, can you spare some small stuff?

Small moments make me happy.  Like the other day when it was 4pm and I hadn’t left the house yet, so decided to walk to the corner to put a Netflix in the mailbox.  Just to get out.  Just to be able to say, “Yeah, I got out today.”  And on the way back, I saw a man drop a one dollar bill, so I said, “You dropped a dollar!”  As he picked it up, he said, “Oh, I appreciate that.  That’s gonna be my lucky lottery dollar.”  And I thought, wow.  If I hadn’t left the house, that man would have lost that dollar forever.  Someone else would be in possession of that dollar.  Thank God I exist.  Thank God I make such an impact on the world.

Small moments make me incredibly sad, too.  Friday night I saw a one-man performance in Brooklyn.  It was really good.  It’s about AIDS and being about the same age as AIDS and it’s profound and funny and deeply personal and contemplative.  I greatly enjoyed being in the audience.  The show wasn’t even the thing that made me incredibly sad, though.  It was when I got lost in Brooklyn after the show.  I hate having to ask for directions.  I hate not doing it all on my own.   But finally I saw a woman who looked like she wouldn’t judge me for needing directions at 10pm in Brooklyn, but when I said Excuse me, she just looked at me and shook her head and kept walking.  So I called after her, in this sad, little girl voice, “Do you know where the closest subway is?”  She didn’t pause, she didn’t call back, she didn’t do anything.  She’s so jaded by life and the city and life in this city that it’s safe for her to assume that everyone wants to harm her or take her money.  She can no longer be bothered.  I can’t really blame her.  But it still made me cry.  (Though maybe it was also a delayed release of emotion about the AIDS epidemic.)

I guess the thing about small things is who’s to say they’re small.  Who’s to say that small things are not sometimes the biggest things.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t cry over spilt milk.  I don’t know.  In my experience, if I’m crying after spilling the milk, it’s usually because that small tragedy brings into focus all the bigger tragedies I’m dealing (or not dealing) with.  Sometimes the biggest stuff is too big to wrap our heads around.  You need to lose a dollar to even realize…fuck.  If I don’t get a job soon I’m going to have to beg on the streets.  You need to have one small shot of liquor too many to realize I have a big problem. 

What am I getting at.  Mmmh.  You know, someone wise probably said, “Life is nothing but small things.”  Or, “Sweat only in moderation.”  I saw men on the street make a cardboard sign that said, “We want money for beer.”  I saw a man in the subway holding a sign that said, “Unemployed college grad, cum laude, #Not Winning.”  And I thought, you referenced a Charlie Sheen catch phrase and Twitter hash tags on your cardboard sign.  That’s an odd choice for a cardboard sign.

I don’t think I’ll make a point.  Maybe I already made one.  I’m not sure.  But the library closes in 30 minutes and I need to apply for some jobs before then…

Tell me I don’t have to have sex out there.

A group of boys, who look no older than fourteen, talk on a crowded New York City subway car—loud—about bitches, and fucking, and fucking bitches.  They carry tennis racquets in zipped cases.  I assume they’re teammates.  The loudest and youngest looking one says, “I could’ve fucked two bitches the same night.  I had them both at my place.  But I didn’t, because one of the bitches was on her period.”

I look around, wanting to see if anyone else’s ears have unwittingly become victim to this conversation.  Some people have headphones on.  Some people might not know English.  I make eye contact with one woman, but her neutral expression doesn’t change.  If anything, she seems to communicate, “Are you really upset?  Are you really surprised or offended?”  Yes.  I am!  I’m upset that these boys boast and talk about female peers that way as if it’s okay.  Or, knowing it’s not okay, making it more appealing.  I don’t care if they’re insecure pubescent boys just making things up or repeating overheard things.  I’m upset that I sit with my book open on my lap, not reading it, listening to them instead, saying nothing.  If girls they have sexual feelings for (if not romantic) are called bitches, what would they call me—some 24-year-old girl scolding them?  Surely they wouldn’t politely apologize.  How would that boost their apparent status as big, sex-havin’ men?

Yesterday was one of distasteful sex-related happenings that made me question the world and the people in it.  Everyone’s entitled to say what they want, do and think what they want.  But that freedom can seriously hurt others.  It can make you think, Man.  This is how so many people approach sex, this is how the media makes sex out to be?  I don’t want any part of that. It’s scary.  Who really wants to be the subject of a nonchalant recap between buddies—“Yeah, I fucked her.  It was all right.”   

When I woke up late yesterday morning I had a notification that I’d received a Facebook message just after 8 a.m.  It started, “Hi, how’ve u been?”  But the sender’s name was one I didn’t recognize, so I assumed it was a spam message.  Someone trying to get me to attend an event, or buy a product, or support some cause.  Turned out to be something very different.  The message was from someone I did vaguely know—a security guard of all things.  You know.  Someone whose job is to make you feel more secure.  I’d forgotten that this man and I were connected on Facebook at all.  He guards a building I used to regularly enter and was someone I would say hello to and small talk with occasionally.  I stopped the small talk, though, after we bonded about our mutual interest in making music and he invited me to see the recording studio he uses—inside of his apartment. 

I hadn’t thought about this person or heard from this person, and then, all of a sudden, a message.  It’s pretty crude stuff and the only reason I’m sharing it is to make a point.  Skip it if you don’t want some graphic imagery in your head.

Hi, how’ve u been?  I don’t mean to be forward, but seriously I’ll like you to know that it’ll be a pleasure to munch on your shaven apple pie haven. If you give me a chance I promise I’ll lick and suck every drop of crease all around and inside of it like no one has ever done b4.

Now am guessing u might have a boyfriend and since I wouldn’t want to be that guy that comes between you two, for the fact that I wouldn’t want the same to happen between me and my girl, that is why I have requested for this alone and nothing else.

However if ever you turn the opposite cheek to this once in a lifetime opportunity, I’ll also like you to know that I will hold no grudge against you and I will still cherish the moments of friendship we shared at [omitted]. Take care and bye for now.

[Name omitted.]

P.S.. Let me be that very private guy in your life that turns u into that glowing mature woman every girl wants to be like…

How kind of him to not hold a grudge against me if I turn down his “once in a lifetime” proposal.  How unselfish, too, to consider my boyfriend (and his girlfriend) in this arrangement!  And how opposite of presumptuous of him to suppose how I groom my “apple pie haven” or that I need to be transformed from a girl into a “glowing mature woman.” 

Granted I probably shouldn’t have even allowed myself to be connected online to this semi-stranger.  My mistake.  I can be naive.  It just wouldn’t occur to me that people might take the time to craft such a message. I would never think of this as everyday, normal fare for a man to send a woman at 8 a.m. on a Monday. 

I’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies in my day, which, admittedly, have probably given me some skewed ideas about heterosexual sex and relationships.  But after watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ride off into the sunset, or Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, I’ve never approached a male love interest and said, “Hey, how’ve you been?  Will you meet me on top of the Empire State Building and kiss me long and passionately and marry me and raise my babies?”  Maybe some people do hold those expectations.  And maybe some people develop their own expectations after regularly watching certain porn, listening to certain music, or talking to certain people.  Just like kids playing violent video games makes them more likely to shoot people, right…?  It’s more than possible that a person would predominantly see inappropriate or unhealthy social and sexual behaviors and use those cues in their own life.  Because inappropriate and unhealthy can be relative concepts.

I told a male friend of mine about the Facebook message.  He advised me to use the block function, but to first send the guy a picture of STD-ridden female genitalia.  “Speaking of which,” he said, “there’s a guy I know who’s HIV positive.”  He went on to say that the person, before settling down with a partner, claimed to regularly have unprotected sex without broaching the subject of any risk.  And apparently, if questioned, would outright lie. 

There’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally after Harry and Sally have sex with each other for the first time.  Neither are satisfied with how it went.  They individually call their best friends, Jess and Marie, who pick up their individual phones from the nightstands of the bed they share as a couple.  Jess listens to Harry.  Marie listens to Sally.  When they hang up, after hearing their friends’ most recent dating disappointments, Marie turns to Jess and says, exhaustedly, “Tell me I never have to be out there again.”  Jess looks her in the eye and firmly responds, “You never have to be out there again.” 

Yesterday, after the things I was told and the things I overheard and the things proposed to me, I felt similarly exhausted.  Out there felt like a scary place.  A place that will compromise physical and emotional health.  A place where women are just vaginas and men are cads.  A place where very few ride off into the sunset.

Library Finds. Library Fines.

I paid off a collection of library fines this evening that totaled $15.75.  A lot when you consider that libraries, by design, are meant to be free.  But not a lot when you consider just 1 hardcover book can run you upwards of twenty-five bucks.  That $15.75 comes from a total of 13 different books.  Thought I’d share some of the highlights from the list. 

The smallest fine came to twenty-five cents.  That because I neglected to return The World According to Mister Rogers.  I have no regrets about this fine or this book.  I borrowed it to complete research on the one-man play I was writing about Mister Rogers.  I’ve since sold the two year rights to that play and they paid me more than a quarter, so I came out in the black.

The highest fine is also my most recent one.  $2.25 for an overdue copy of The Best American Essays: 2010.  I actually called to refute this fine because I thought that I had returned the book.  I spent about fifteen minutes looking for it in my apartment, purses, shelves–nothing.  Then, several days later, I found the book inside of a bookbag I hadn’t used in awhile. 

Most unfortunate fine: 75 cents for a book titled The Hidden Power of Dreams.  I don’t think I read more than three pages of this book.  I picked it up because I saw the spine and said to myself, “Yes, I do think there is hidden power in dreams.  I will read this and affirm that thought.”

The receipt the library gave me after I paid is almost 19 inches long.  I was worried that the guy at the circulation desk would tsk me.  Tell me I’m a lazy, irresponsible person for accumulating fines I could have easily avoided, as well as keeping materials from other library patrons in doing so.  But I don’t care.  I look at this long receipt and I feel a distinct sense of pride.  To me the receipt and the fines say–You read.  You’re literate.  You like ideas and information and the written word.  You like them so much, you hoard them.  You carry them around with you everywhere and you know you have to return them at some point, but not today.  Or, maybe it is today, but what can ya do?

I hope the NYPL appreciates my money.  I could use that money, but I know they can, too.