It’s 2006

and A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is playing through my headphones as I take on the bunny slope at Steamboat mountain during snowboarding school. I feel unstoppable, on top of the world, and invigorated. I am dressed in an all-pink outfit while my braids flap in the wind. The blonde girl you connected with is screaming the lyrics with you during the lunch break as your teacher, “Goose,” looks on mortified, but you can’t help but laugh.

Being in Steamboat again floods all those memories back, but I actually began to reflect on all of this weeks prior when I hear the songs that I used to burn on every CD I could get my hand on. It started with me buying way too much music on my iPod Nano to discovering the world of Limewire and having everything I could have wanted at my fingertips.

And because of that, there is an etherial period from 2003 to 2009 where all the music I sang along to then stricks a chord with me as an adult. I hear the famous note from MCR, the guitar rift from Sugar We’re Goin’ Down, Alex Gaskarth’s strain, and Brendon Urie belt out lyrics, and I can’t help but feel the same as I did when I was singing along as a teenager.

In the past decade, I have funneled into more acoustic singers, moody folk, indie bands, atmospheric instrumentalist, and orchestral ballads. Still, this music lives within some of the best memories and low times. I remember the first time I heard I Write Sins Not Tragedies on the radio, and having the CD blast in the car when I had my license. I remember feeling an immediate bond with and jealousy of my Freshman Year roommate after we exchanged numbers via Facebook, and she told me she was at Warped Tour.

This music brought me friends, connections, boyfriends, and conversation. I dated the boy that thought he was a rockstar and played in a cover band. He played songs that I played over and over in my bedroom as I dreamt of the punk boys and then realized they were better suited in the dreams. The songs brought me inspiration in the past and are nothing but happy memories now.

All of it felt full circle once Remembering Sunday came on shuffle while winding the curves of Olympic National Park in Washington and I watched the massive lakes glisten under the sunshine, and immediately felt like a teenager riding in my car and looping the song over and over just to feel at ease. 

Home

Before I moved to New York, I wrote about the concept of “home” and what it has always meant to me. When you look up the definition of the word home, you find that its a noun, adjective, adverb, and verb—that you can scroll for pages through the various definitions for the word and see how we define this word differently and for many different things, feelings, or actions. Because of its diverse meanings, it’s hard to nail down precisely what home is. I once said:

“I have never known what it will be like to not be able to return to my childhood home and walk inside. I know my parents have desires to find themselves elsewhere as well. There is a chance that soon, my room, which has only ever been my room, will become someone else’s. I took it all in before I left.

I started out my window at the view and saw the branches I used to climb sway slightly with the breeze. I looked around at the emptiness that remained. I pulled my bedroom door behind me and felt it latch shut. I gazed around the shared living areas and stepped outside. I watched out the car window as the garage door descended and closed. I looked back to see the flowers planted in the lawn I ran around and played in with our family dogs.

The trees in the neighborhood whipped past me and blurred into a green haze as I closed my eyes to remember that I was ready—I was prepared to soon establish my own home.”

That was nearly three years ago and so much has clearly changed since there. My parents are more ready than ever to put my childhood home on the market, and obviously, if they do, I will try my best to go home one last time, but right now I am leaving my home in New York, and heading back to my home in Florida.

Even if I have been here for three years, everyone asks, “where are you from?” They aren’t asking what train did I come on, or what borough I live in, or what block I am on, but rather assuming or knowing this isn’t my only home. I have found that no matter how long I have been here, I will always be a part of Naples, as it is a part of me.

Now, as I sit on this charter bus and watch the Manhattan skyline disappear into the distance, I see even more broadly the concept of home can be, and for that, I am forever grateful. Because I did make a home for myself in New York. It lies in my side of the bed or the couch that I always sit in to write. Its the emerald green chairs in my living room, or the gold and aged wood picture frames in my hallway. It’s knowing how my pots and pans are able to be stacked, and home is still huffing and puffing up the stairs in my walk-up.

And although New York every other day feels like my home, it feels good to know I always have a home where my family is — including Naples. 

 

 

 

 

Film from a Rainy Day on the UWS

Today, I took the morning to focus on learning new skills, and before I head on some trips, I wanted to learn more about analog photography and my camera. Last time I shot, there was clearly an issue with light leaks, the back door coming open accidentally, or a problem with the camera. The photography man suggested I take a cheap roll out and shoot it to see if its the seal that has an issue or something else. This is the product of the test, and I think they all turned out great regardless of the little imperfections that come with shooting analog. Enjoy!

 

Highs & Lows

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Before heading into 2020, I had high expectations for myself and what is to come this year. I laid out exactly what I wanted to accomplish this year, and during what month I felt I would be capable of completing it by. I spoke a little bit about this in New Year, New York, but as we near the last week of January, I am entering the reflection stage of how my new resolutions are panning out. I know I want to write something monthly that showcases the highs and lows of each month, but at this point, I am not sure how I can measure it all independently of any extraneous details. Details such as how my income and financial insecurities this month impacts my social life, and travels, whereas how a job and a regulated schedule impacts the exact same entities in different ways (one I don’t have enough money, the other is I don’t have enough time)

In a few months, would I say this month was the best or worst so far? I don’t think it is possible to really measure these highs and lows except for recognizing my input and what the output was of the year. While I think about this, I can’t stop thinking about high and low tides and how they can affect a sailing ship, just as much as a weathering storm. And while I crave another vacation, enjoy a photo from one this summer during low tide.

This month has been a month of learning for me. I am learning how to conduct professional relationships with freelance projects. I am learning new skills, and I am learning how to construct a routine that works for me — and that is simultaneously a  high and low. As I continue to work out the kinks, I find myself still searching for the means to get myself into a routine. I think not having a steady job limits the opportunities I have when it comes to feeling regulated. This week, the last week, I sat and outlined everything I want to do before the end, so we will see how well I can manifest a routine without a job.

This month, I celebrated my birthday, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I traveled upstate with my partner and explored a new city as well as explore more of New York City. I looked back on relationship anniversaries and reflected on personal growth and favorite trips from the past. These were all incredible highs for this month, but it was coupled with some real feelings of insecurity and worry.

Some other memories from this month, I finished Little Women and went to see the film (reviews to come!). I watched an excellent dog for two months and learned the great and not so great parts of having a dog in New York City. And while I learn how to sail this ship into 2020, I am excited to continue to grow this blog until I can input exactly what I can to gain an output of what I always wanted. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see this linked with my Instagram page.

Twenty-Five//25

Today is my twenty-fifth birthday, so I thought it would be nice to reflect on the past year of being twenty-four. I started the year at dinner with my partner, and we sat next to a very drunk but kind man at the Benihana table. He was a bit crass and overbearing, leaving little time for my boyfriend and me to enjoy the evening, but we maintained our composure until we could word vomit all over Central Park as we debriefed over the entire experience that left our mouths agape.

He didn’t like that I said I “liked” my boyfriend after he spent the previous 45 min complimenting him. He didn’t like that I didn’t want to drink sake bombs, and he definitely did not like that his “sake mule” wasn’t served in a copper mug. Still, I tried to eat my free chicken and shrimp meal in peace as I vowed to never return to the midtown location in the fear that we would ever see him again (he and his partner visit the location “weekly”) 

Hopefully, that dinner wouldn’t become an omen for what 24 would bring me, and well, now being 25, I know there is some truth to that, but for the most part, the year was full of successes. 

At 24, I drove across the country with my boyfriend, who, of course I love, George from Benihana. I graduated from my Masters at New York University and finished a novel. I learned from new jobs in writing, publishing, and editing. I traveled around the East Coast and West, discovering new towns to fall in love with. I started baking more and found a passion for blogging my intimate thoughts. I reminisced over a forgotten love, celebrated love, and found love tucked into the crack of my life during times when it was hard to see the positives.

There was a lot more to enjoy and relive, like having my whole family visit me in New York, numerous times. Reconnecting with friends all over the world in person, over the phone, or on direct messaging platforms, and making new friendships. I am thankful for these people the most because they are going to make 25 what it is –– a year of persistence. This year I aim to maintain my relationships, further my career, and my self by doing everything I can to stand back up.

Here’s to twenty-five!

A Lick of Golden Sunlight

It’s the way shimmering golden flecks dance on the world around you––the reflection of light, illuminating the spot you stand upon. Have you seen the way the sun shines down upon you? 

It’s a harmony of chords, being plucked and strummed delicately like a song you never knew you had waited your entire life to hear. A song that speaks the soft truths that resonate with feelings you’ve never spoken out loud, but are nonetheless surprised to hear. And I hear you. 

It’s home. It’s a glowing ember that survives the night and leaves a trail of heat even as the sunrise drenches it in the morning light. It’s the soft fleece that covers your shivering body until the warmth returns to your fingers and toes. It’s delicate, but it is a haven. 

I can feel it on my lips—smooth, tender, and soft. It’s like waiting for a piece of milk chocolate to melt in your mouth. It’s the silky notes of creamy flavors that soak into every tastebud. The feelings blend and are never fleeting.  

I can see it grow like a tendril sprouting from the fertile soil that was turned over for the new season. My feet fumble through the rocky surfaces, but they always carry me back to these moments. 

I heard a song yesterday evening that could only be described as a lick of golden sunlight filling my mind with nothing but inspiration. Her voice is light and airy, floating into my consciousness, bringing tears to my eyes. It’s so different from any other song I had ever felt emotionally attached to. It’s so essential for me to make that distinction. This is so different, and that is the best thing I discovered this week. 

I heard the song and felt my fingers itching for my keyboard and pen. I found myself getting lost in the curves of my handwriting, and the rhythmic sound of my typing. For once, I remember what I cherish and how I love to express those feelings through prose. Those impressions are the most powerful, brooding, and intense emotions to capture––like the gaze of a barn cat enjoying the sunlight on a warm winter day, the image is unforgettable.

Living in a World With Octobers

As the temperatures drop into the low sixties, and New Yorkers and tourists alike step out on the streets in light sweaters and zipped up jacket, I step out and feel overcome by the gratitude of living in a world where there are Octobers. And this October will be mine.

When I think back to October 2018, I see a smitten young girl trying her best to navigate toxic friendships, a new 9-5 job, a budding relationship, evening classes, and autumn activities. When the 20th rolled around, I wondered where all the days went and felt like I hadn’t spent my days loving everything that is to come with the changing of seasons.

I was struggling, at times to stay afloat in my creatively, demanding job while I was drowning under readings, research assignments, essays, and thesis pitches. It wasn’t until the second or third week in October when I even considered what I was going to be for Halloween, now that I had someone to finally have a couple’s costume with.

I felt stress more than I ever felt gratitude for my favorite time of the year, last year. So, this past week, I decided this October was going to be different. Sure my part-time job (oh yeah, I finally nailed down a job in a publishing house!) and my freelance editing gig is leaving me less financially stable compared to last year, but I am finding a way to do everything that I want to do to enjoy October.

I’ve applied my berry, matte lipstick, cooked pumpkin-rich treat, cracked out the autumnal decor, and enjoyed a few Halloween themed books, movies, and television shows–-and yes, it is only October 2nd. 

I have bought up all the seasonal beers, snacks, and treats. I have looked up all the spooky sights the City has to offer. I have lit candles to throw scents of fresh apples, spicy pumpkins, decadent desserts, and musky woods. And I have done all of this because I want to thoroughly enjoy my favorite time of the year.

I stressed most of the summer, and I don’t need to bring those feelings of self-doubt, fear, and anxiety into the autumn because I want to look forward to my events.

As of the 2nd, I am planning for road trips spent leaf-peeping, afternoons spent apple picking, evenings spent at haunted houses, and nights spent cozied under a blanket scaring my sock off during silly horror movies.

Do you have a time that makes you feel utterly at peace?

Are We Really Listening?

Earlier this week I received, the advanced reader copy of Kate Murphy’s novel, You’re Not Listening, set to release January 7, 2020, and was immediately struck by the contents of the story. The Houston, Texas-based reporter who in the past has written for The New York Times and The Economist, shows within the first few pages just how convincing and exquisite her story-telling skills are.

What fascinates me about Murphy’s book is that even during the increasingly unavoidable loneliness of today’s digital age, she’s found a way to combat isolation. In this book, Murphy addresses the epidemic through a profoundly personal style of teaching us to be better listeners and connecting with everyone around us. In a way, she urges us to stop talking and start listening.

I have been thinking a lot about this topic, and I want to motivate my readers to get their hands on the book come the new year because I think many of us can use it as a tool for our upcoming New Year resolutions in 2020. Ever since reading the first few chapters, I have changed the way I listen to the people around me. I have become conscious of my subtle cues, and have noticed times where I really am just not listening.

I say that with sadness because no one should feel ignored, and I should know better as I have been in the situation being ignored. It’s disheartening to be on the phone with a friend and hear the radio silence behind every “mhmm” and “yeah” that they mutter out as they go through the motions and “pretend to listen.” Your confidence can be crushed when you are catching up with a friend for drinks, and they keep checking their phone in the middle of your story about what you’ve been up to since you last saw them.

As a psychology student, I have always realized how widely essential listening can be for yourself and the relationships you forge in the future, and I regret to say I’ve ever fallen short when it came to listening to everything someone said. One thing Murphy pointed out is if we are actually listening, there is no need for the subtle cues that show that we are listening. We don’t need to interject with mindless mumbles, but rather when they are done with their point, we should be able to briefly summarize what the person may have said and then add our thoughts and point of view to continue the conversation.

It could be jarring at first, but after reading that chapter of her book, you come to realize just how often you nod your head and interject in addition to how often you may lose your focus on just merely listening when you are going through the motions of proving you are “listening.”

Maybe teachers have always tried to make us good listeners. Perhaps they know what they are saying when they tell us to put our hands down until they are done speaking.

It was in middle school when I heard a teacher interject, “you aren’t listening when you have your hand up, and you’ll have more questions later because of it.” Which is wildly accurate, in school and in life outside of the classroom.

Someone may have said something, and then you replay their statement over and over in your head because you have a question about what they may have said, or you might be formulating a response and all the while you never hear the rest of their story.

There is so much we can learn from just listening, and being an active listener versus a passive listener. Although my friends had always deemed me as a great listener when it came to heading their insecurities and struggles because I would typically ask thought-provoking questions in response to their statements, I know there is more I can do to prove I am a good listener. I have Kate Murphy to thank since she was the one who reminded me just how important it is to really listen to your friends.

How many of my readers have felt ignored or lonely because they feel like there is no one out there to listen to them? Has there ever been a moment where you felt like you couldn’t be your complete, authentic self because you thought, “what’s the point in wasting my breath, they aren’t even listening?” I want you to know you aren’t alone, but that there is so much we can learn by being listeners, and the more that we can do to inspire others to listen, the more we can change the way our future develops.

Excitement with August

Let’s go back to August 1997. I’m two, strawberry-blonde, and sporting baby tooth smile. I’m headed off to pre-school this year, the first time that I can remember being away from my home and family for more than a few hours. I’m enrolled in Miss. Robbin’s class at The Caring Place, or under its new name, the Village School.

I don’t remember my first day past vaguely gripping my mother’s legs until a strange woman coaxed me into this colorful room full of chairs that were my size and children that were my age. However, as my mother recalls, I kinda waltzed in, established myself as a classmate, and became the one everyone wanted to play with.   58639045142__3F178EB1-314C-4507-BB84-67B634579505

Eventually, I got used to the routine of mid-afternoon naps with other kids, Spanish and English lessons, and recess. When I think back to my time at The Caring Place, I have a few very distinct memories. I remember our Halloween party, scooter/bike day, and our aquarium themed performance. I remember going to the big school next door, Sea Gate Elementary School, and playing on their playground which had my favorite recess activity––the swings. I remember the second year of pre-school better than the first. I’m not sure if it was Miss. Misty’s doing (my second pre-school teacher) or whether my mind and memory were developing more, but she threw a wild St. Patrick’s Day party that will always stay with me. Picture your teacher trashing your classroom with chairs thrown about the room, tables upside down, and glitter everywhere as the students are tasked with making “leprechaun traps” that were made out of decorated shoe boxes propped up with sticks as lucky charms were strewn about underneath. 

However, 1997 was technically my first “back-to-school” season, so here I am in 2019 realizing I won’t be going back-to-school this 2019-2020 school year and I won’t again for the foreseeable future.

 

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My first “school photo”

 

That thought, feeling, the idea is strange. Not being a student is foreign to me in all sense of the word. I hit the month of August and the first thing I think about is going back to school, hell even my partner brought up that he received his tuition bill yesterday. Even when I graduated early from my undergrad, and lived at home for a fraction of the 2016-2017 school year, that Fall I was taking courses at the local education center and applying to grad school.

I think the “strange” realization ruminated in my mind somewhere between May and July. It was the May when I graduated and had the first thought of “it’s over.” That then manifested in my subconscious until my inbox received it’s first “back-to-school email” of the 2019 season in July —it was then that I realized just how strange it is to be done.

Most people can’t wait to be done with school, and I feel that on lots of different levels too, but at the same time, I love it. I love going and learning more about the subjects I find interesting and being in a classroom with my peers. I love the consistency of a schedule and packing my backpack with books, notebooks, freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, and Sharpie fine point, felt pens. I didn’t love the tests and the books I was forced to read. I didn’t love the six am wake up calls and final papers. There were the downfalls that came with “I don’t want to get up” that every student experiences, but at the end of the year, when summer came, I was always excited for August. Always until now. 

When I first started applying to jobs after my graduation, I saw an ad for a masters program that was offered online for mental health counseling. I was job hunting for all of 2 minutes before I saw the ad and considered going back to school for yet another degree. In my mind, my “forever-student” mentality is the reason I am facing a crippling amount of debt. I think this “strange” feeling stems from being worried about not being as successful as I aspire to be, but it also glosses over what it is I owe because of school.

It is coming down to understanding how attending school became my crutch but manifesting the fear into subconsciously putting off getting a job does nothing for where I want to be in the future. Because when it comes down to it, I’m scared to not be in school because I don’t know what is to come when I am no longer “a student.” 

It’s August, the 2nd of August to be exact, and as I apply to more jobs that I can’t fathom doing means I am missing the idea of going back to school in the coming weeks. As I interview for jobs I start missing the tests, final papers, and book reports. I miss picking out my first-day outfit and going to Target with my mom for new school supplies.

I want to have the structure and rigidity of a “classroom” and “schedule” in my next life after school but I can’t seem to find the right match. All of this stress of finding work is making me miss my yearly “first-day” photos at the front door. I feel like there is so much more to learn from the world, but I worry about the jobs I am applying to what teach me what I want and need to learn. I am looking for the balance, but I haven’t found it yet, and I am nervous I won’t find it. So happy August everyone, I know good things will come, so I am trying to be as patient as I was in middle school when I was “so over these first day photos.”

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My first, first-day photo

 

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My last, first-day photo. 

 

 

The Day I Saw You Again

This was written before I moved. It has not been edited to fit the current day. This is written in past tense, however, this was written with the future in mind. If it has been posted, that means it all holds true months later —this is what I anticipated so long ago.

You opened my eyes to something I feel we both overlooked, and I want to show you it somehow. By knowing myself, I know it has taken an incredible amount of patience to get to this day, and I was doubtful that this post would ever see the light of day.

I wonder what has happened these few months. I wonder what you have thought each afternoon we spent separated. I wonder if another woman has caught your attention and distracted you from what you initially told me; I wonder if any man did the same to me in New York. If you are reading this though, maybe my eyes haven’t strayed far, and if yours have, I want you to know that is okay.

Today must be the day I finally had the courage to post it. Today must be the day I planned to see you again. I won’t tell you this all in person, but I must have given you the URL because today must be the day I finally stood in front of you again.

The night you ended everything I felt shattered. The way I see it, a heart that breaks has been loved, and I am thankful for that. You broke me though. I faltered, I cried, I doubted myself, I crumbled, and all that was because of me. I am confident in that, but I wasn’t prepared for what us would do to me; how missing you would hurt.

Ever since I met you, I watched you. I watched you like I did tonight. I drew up my own observations and concluded my opinions of you. To put it plainly, I have seen some breathtaking sights in my lifetime, but when you were in my gaze I was mesmerized.

I saw how you saw yourself. You contorted to change your reflection. I would see it in the photos you sent me—in your body language. I would watch you in the mirror and see how you weren’t pleased with your reflection in all aspects of the metaphor. I knew we didn’t see the same person. 

One afternoon while you watched the Office, I laid looking up at you. You held your hand up and tried to cover up my stare, and I smiled. I smiled because I saw at that moment how satisfied I could just be laying there and looking at the man I adored.

You put your hand down and looked me in the eyes. You brought up the little brown specks in my green eyes. My eyes shifted back and forth between both of your eyes because of the intensity of your gaze. I knew how close you were looking after you said that and it solidified how seen I always felt when you looked at me.

I saw how you viewed your flaws through observing you. The fear that drove you, I felt. When you were nervous, so was I. It was consuming, but I was stronger than it could have ever been. I was strong enough to hear your words today, the day I’m writing in August, and see a flaw once more.

You put me first—you dropped something and put me first. I saw how when you looked at yourself, you saw a man that never would, but I want you to remember you did. You once told me you could never put me first like you hoped, but you did. You did in the way I could have never expected you would. So try and believe in yourself*

I am sure seeing me made you anxious. I am not sure what I did or how it happened, but I will tell you I was just as anxious. This evening was planned carefully. Most nights leading up to it I am sure I thought about calling it off.

I needed to see for myself if I still saw what I always did. When you played, your gaze made me nervous. I watched you watch me and I was blown away every time you looked at me in the crowd. Even if music was what you wanted first, at that moment I always felt like the only one in the room.

I will not, and cannot change the way you view yourself. I worked hard every day we were apart to see my own reflection in a better light. You may have helped me feel comfortable with myself, but only I could get me to where I wanted to be fully. You may not see yourself the way I did. I do not expect you to, but I hope you do soon.

Regardless of what happened tonight, don’t feel upset about the future. I have seen what I wanted. There is always a chance I see you again, but know I didn’t do tonight to spite you. I don’t want you to look at it as a woman you lost. I don’t want you to feel anxious, soon I will disappear if I am meant to.

Maybe I’ll be your most beautiful regret, but I will always be the one that wishes you the best no matter where life takes me. Maybe in years, we will find ourselves intertwined again, maybe we won’t. Maybe you will move on and find someone else, maybe you already have. Maybe I will go through with what I have planned all along, maybe I will drop it after tonight.

I feared our end, and when it happened I noticed everything was okay. I smiled every time I was reminded of you once I got through the pain of it all. It may be hard to understand, and I know I will never be able to explain it fully. Just know with what I can put to words, don’t worry about me. I saw you, I got to see what I missed every day since I first saw you.

In Kindergarten I toured the entirety of my new school. I would have seen some spectacular things, however, the drums were what I attempted to draw. I have always noticed that they caught my attention from then on, so thank you for sitting behind them for me to see 15 years, 10 months, and 30 days later. I know you because of them, so I would never want to come between the two of you, they should remain first.

Thank you for brightening my smile at least one more time.

*The edits: We’ve changed, I have changed since I wrote this. I wrote this when I still allowed contact, then I did everything I could to strip contact. It hurt to see you move on so quickly. I wrote this when I had no idea of a pain like that. Sure I was upset when I wrote this before I moved, but not like I was these past four months while life hit me.

Our mutual friend will bring us together, but us isn’t what it used to beIt cant be anymore and I understand that, but changes in my life needed to happen to make tonight possible. I came tonight to let go of the anger, to remember what it is like to be at peace with someone I care so deeply about but to let go. I hope I show you that everything is okay, that I will be okay, and I endlessly wish you the life you deserve.

Time to let go of the anxiety, everything will be okay.