So you want to be a writer

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetSo you want to be a writer, you say? Well, my first piece of advice is to try your best to be anything else. Race car driver, president, astronaut, a race-car driving astronaut, really anything else will do. Try your best at all the other subjects, even though you soon learn you can’t tell the difference between an isosceles triangle and a right triangle to save your life.

Find you neglect your other subjects in favor of spending all your time on your English essays. Your favorite theme is man’s inhumanity to man, so try to work it into every prompt. When your teacher returns your work, covered in so much red ink it probably required the sacrifice of a small animal, the words “off topic” are scrawled across the top. Sink into a dramatic depression for days, until you decide she has no idea what she’s talking about. Continue to write off topic.

In college, try to be an art major. But your favorite part is writing the descriptions beneath the paintings, so you finally change to Creative Writing despite your parents gentle pushes towards business.

In these classes no one is right and no one is wrong. Mostly you just sit in a circle asking “Does this work? Is the metaphor wind of change over done or genius?” No one ever knows. But you are growing prouder of your work. Show it to your roommate occasionally and sometimes even to her boyfriend, an athlete who asks you what the word myriad means.

Try to diversify, but somehow all your characters end up sounding like variations of you: a college girl who has no idea what to do after school. Study abroad your sophomore year and consequently write about it unceasingly until you’re classmates beg you to stop. Still, your final thesis senior years is about an american girl who goes abroad. Decide you need more life experiences.

Date a pakistani guy upon graduation to gain said experiences, and furtively write down everything he says for material. He will make a great character one day. See the breakup as only more material. Unfortunately you will continue to view people this way for approximately the rest of your life.

So write because you have to. Because when you don’t you are a worse person than when you do. And if all else fails, I hear the job of race-car-driving astronaut offers surprisingly good benefits.

 

 

 

Notice

IMG_2048.jpgNotice things.

Notice the men in their dark overcoats and thick scarves, huddled together on the train platform talking on the phone to their wives, mistresses, mothers. Notice the Persian youths who exist in clouds of perfume and hair gel and broken German. And of course you can’t help but notice the Americans– military perhaps, or other wise on long-awaited vacations basking in their romantic visions of Europe at Christmas time. Then there– the unmistakable screech of the street car as it lurches towards you: your life line, connecting everywhere to you and you to everywhere. Board the streetcar and sit between worlds– rich, poor, men, women, black, white, young, old. Public transportation is the great equalizer. Notice how it calms you, lulls you into a sort of fellowship with the other passengers. A fellowship of transience.

Ease in your headphones to drown out your mind. Pretend you’re in a music video. Notice a couple kissing on the doorstep of an apartment in a neighborhood you only ever see in passing through tainted windows. Observe the refugees– unmistakable by the weariness in their brows as they slink down the sidewalk with bags full of groceries with foreign names no German could ever pronounce.

Listen as the man being interviewed on the podcast tells how he became a famous comedy writer. “No,” he says, “I was not the class clown. I was the quiet kid in the back of the class who observed everything the class clown did, wrote it down, and became a famous comedy writer.” Nod. So it is with you. And so it should be with a great deal more people, perhaps. Less lions and more chameleons, noticing the world in all its broken beauty. Less centers of attention and more payers of it. To notice is to cut a thin slice of joy from the meat of life and savor it as long as you can.

So go on…notice. I dare you.

Before the Internet

fullsizeoutput_4bb8Before the internet, you would stand in line for the bathroom and stare off into space without fear of looking pathetic.

Before the internet, you would make a music video to a Brittney Spears song and then leave it on the camcorder for your parents to laugh at when they found it one day in the future, because there was nowhere to post it.

Before the internet, you would move from one city to another and no one at your new school would know anything about your past unless you told them. They would have no idea you used to pee your pants when you laughed too hard or that your best friend had been a Barbie doll named Starlet.

Before the internet, if you had a disagreement with your cousin about the names of the Seven Dwarfs in Snow White, you had to simply agree to disagree, unless one of you happened to have a book on the subject on hand or could run to the library to check one out.

Before the internet, you went to the movies to see Shrek, and no one took your picture unless Mom dusted off the point-and-shoot camera and lugged it to the theater, which she never did.

Before the internet, you would write your best friend Jessica a letter and cross your fingers that she still remembered your inside jokes by the time it arrived.

Before the internet, you spent hours practicing your signature for the back of your library card, only to mess it up horribly in permanent ink and be overcome by deep regret every time you spied it in your velcro wallet.

Before the internet, when someone asked you out, you just had to use your best judgement as to whether or not they were a psychopath and go from there.

Before the internet, you would watch You’ve Got Mail on VHS every summer on repeat at your aunt and uncle’s farm in rural Iowa because you’d already exhausted conversation with all your family members and walked around everywhere and played all the games you knew.

Before the internet, you’d play Detective Agent on CD Rom every Saturday morning until your little brother scratched it beyond repair and your mom forgot where she bought it, and she couldn’t just order another one.

Before the internet, you’d sort of just sit on a park bench and hum a little ditty to yourself that you overheard while in line at Block Buster.

Before the internet, when you visited your grandmother at Christmas, you had to fill her in on everything that had happened during the last year when she asked, but could probably only truthfully recall about 10 percent and had no way of remembering the rest.

Before the internet, you’d spend your playdates creating a newspaper about the Olympics, featuring articles about gymnasts from countries you were pretty sure existed in real life because you’d overheard their names but couldn’t know for certain.

Before the internet, if you missed the newest episode of Veggie Tales on Friday night, oh well. Tough. You’d just cry and go to bed without a Silly Song from Larry.

Before the internet, the only ordering you did was off a menu.

Before the internet, when you broke up with someone, you could easily just assume they led a terrible life without you and leave it at that.

Before the internet, the only stocking you did was following your attractive older cousin around from a safe distance at every family function.

Before the internet, you almost always got lost on family road trips because your dad wanted to take the “Scenic Route” and there was no way of looking up what exactly that entailed.

Before the internet, you couldn’t really do much of anything. And it was lovely.

P.s. This post is an homage to this article from The New Yorker. And the photos are from a recent visit to my cousins’ in Nebraska.fullsizeoutput_4bb9fullsizeoutput_4bbafullsizeoutput_4bbbfullsizeoutput_4bbcfullsizeoutput_4bbefullsizeoutput_4bc0fullsizeoutput_4bc2fullsizeoutput_4bc7

 

Beautiful Poetry

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The other day I stumbled across poet and author Nayyirah Waheed’s work and it is so beautiful I almost wanted to cry. Below are a few of my favorites if you’d like to read:

be easy.
take your time.
you are coming
home.
to yourself.
-“The Becoming/Wings”

there
are
feelings,
you haven’t felt yet.
give them time.
they are almost here.
-“Fresh”

my
mother
was
my first country.
the first place I ever lived.
-“Lands”

i knew you.
before I met you.
i’ve known you my whole life.
-“Nafsi”

all the women.
in me.
are tired.
-Waheed
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What do you think? Are you a fan? I sure am 🙂

P.s. Photos from here

 

 

 

a few good quotes

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“A good soup attracts chairs.” -African proverb

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” -Plautus

Johnny Cash, when asked about his description of paradise: “This morning, with her, having coffee.”

“I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.” -J.D. Salinger

“It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” -The Catcher in the Rye

“RETURNING TO LIFE AFTER BEING DEAD – When I am feeling dreary, annoyed and generally unimpressed by life, I imagine what it would be like to come back to this world for just a day after having been dead. I imagine how sentimental I would feel about the very things I once found stupid, hateful or mundane. Oh, there’s a light switch! I haven’t seen a light switch in so long! I didn’t realize how much I missed light switches! Oh! Oh! And look – the stairs up to our front porch are still completely cracked! Hello cracks! Let me get a good look at you. And there’s my neighbor, standing there, fantastically alive, just the same, still punctuating her sentences with you know what I’m saying? Why did that bother me? It’s so… endearing.” -Amy Krouse Rosenthal

P.s. Photo by Sofie Sund

Five Things

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1. I swear I get asked the question, “What are your plans after graduation?” multiple times a day! I’ve started answering with silly things like “I plan to join the circus” or “Become an astronaut.” I have a few post-grad ideas/leads in the works, but nothing concrete. Any suggestions?

2. How is this blog always SO good? It has been my inspiration for years with no sign of stopping. I once emailed the founder/senior editor, and she emailed back right away with the kindest words of encouragement!

3. Have you heard of the podcast “Pod Save America”? I just discovered it and am enjoying listening to an episode before bed each night.

4. I started my new job as a student worker in Pepperdine’s Human Resources department. It’s a lot of new information and new faces, but I’m really enjoying it thus far. Plus, it’s fun to dress professional every now and again.

5. I started an article club on Tuesday nights with my girlfriends. We discuss an article, eat cookies and bask in each others company. Would you ever consider attending or hosting one?

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P.s. Photos from my other instagram