It has been a while since we last talked. My prior blog, Aaaaaaaaaawsnap, ran it's course and I needed an extended break to regroup, recover and find my perspective. About six months ago I began to feel the old creative rumblings. I began by sharing my observations on Instagram via giving human thoughts to the dogs I encountered on the streets of New York. At that time, it felt like a manageable way to try out my voice again. Once I began to regain confidence, I began updated my existing beauty blog. I thought that would be satifying but I quickly realized writing about beauty and wellness didn't quite scratch my creative itch (itch - I despise that word along with 'plug'). At that point, I decided to begin a secondary blog on my website (worepaint) so there would be a place to put my thoughts.
I sat down many times to begin but didn't have anything much to say. "But your old blog was about nothing!" I hear you say. It was, it was. But, it was also about finding something amongst nothing and I hadn't yet found that.
I majored in non-fiction writing, which is a fancy way of saying I spent four years learning to write essays and memoirs and immersive, long-form articles. I may be the only person on the planet to choose to write my junior year thesis about an interpreter for the hearing impaired. Think about it - not a lot of dialogue there. It was either genius or complete stupidity; I'm still not sure which.
One of the many pieces of critique I received consistently was it took about a page or so for me to "clear my throat" and begin to dig into the heart of the message. And, true to form, I am sure this blog will follow a similar trajectory, which is to say stick with me. It may take me a while but I'm present, ready and excited to begin writing again.
In a nod to all things old and new, I wanted to list the things that made me happy, content, energized, angry, proud, sorrowful, etc in 2017.
- My pride in my gender grew exponentially. We marched. We posted. We tweeted. We donated. We organized. We ranted. We stood in solidarity with one another. We sobbed with empathy. We held one another with fortitude. My belief has always been only we understood the exaltation and sorrow that comes with being a woman. Perhaps this is still true, but this year women stood up and told men (and the world) the reckoning was long overdue. And they may not understand but, damn it, they're going to have to listen. I am proud of and humbled by the women who gave this movement a voice. But, I am also proud of the women who have not shared their story because their silence doesn't mean they're lesser than. We choose to heal in different ways and we are all survivors, hashtag or not.
- Women get shit done. I watched my friends grow their own businesses despite an administration hell-bent on embracing the bottom line of big business and a perverbial flipping the bird to the middle and lower classes that move the needle of our country. Check out Sunday Forever and Nourished.
- I regained my independence. For years I lived alone in a West Village Studio and loved it. Then, a shift happened and I couldn't stand being alone any longer. I moved in with a friend and became dependent on the idea that there was always someone down the hallway in case of emergency. The thing is, I didn't need that crutch. I never did. In April, life handed me a gift in the form of a new apartment of my own. The day I moved in I looked around, exhaled a two-year old sigh and felt like my old self again. I've spent the last 6 months creating a space I love and haven't looked backwards since. (And, if I'm being honest, my friend was a better "acquaintance" than roommate - the things we learn about people).
- My friend and I kept up our Friend-cation tradition and met in Portugal, a trip that was (for me) three years overdue. If nothing else except time spent with an old friend and this photo happened, it would have been worth it.
- I completed my first 40 Day program, along with approximately 55 others, and it reaffirmed how vital the practice and community is to my wellness. I am thankful everyday for this epiphany. Most days I can't wait to get on my mat but when I don't want to practice and hold myself accountable for showing up and taking class, I have never once regretted it. The daily hour of asana has done wonders for my brain and for my soul.
- I watched my parents age and it broke my heart. It also opened up a place within me I've never known existed. I stopped being frustrated with some of their limitations and started realizing there would come a time I would give anything to hear them ask me the same question 12 times in a row. I tried, and am still trying, to make peace with this natural fact of life. People get old. Loved ones will be gone one day. Instead, I vowed to focus on all of the everyday, ordinary beautiful things life has to offer. I relinquished the idea I can control any of this and began to embrace the notion that people can live eternally in my memories and in my soul. It sounds incredibly cliche and new age-y but it helps.
- While I can never wholly understand the plight of ethnic, racial and religious minorities in the United States, I continued to see - no - feel the pain people have been subjected to since as far back as our memory, stories and histories can carry us. I wasn't someone who woke up this year and realized a deep division existed. I had always recognized it mostly veiled or disguised as something else, but it was always there. I had a renewed or reinforced realization when placing myself smack-dab in the middle of a Facebook post in which someone expressed disgust at NFL players desecrating our nation's symbols when deciding to take a knee during the National Anthem. I knew what I was getting into when I commented I hadn't heard this particular person express outrage when (a week prior) white nationalists in Charlottesville wrapped themselves in American flags while chanting, "Jews will not replace us." I spent the next four hours trying to explain the validity of the BLM movement and the radical notion that the BLM movement and Blue Lives Matter movement can coexist. I also tried to explain protest of our nation's symbols was a freedom that, when exercised, did not also signal disrespect to our troops. When seeing the ugly, ignorant comments made by people who, not too long ago, were immigrants themselves or descendants of immigrants also mercilessly discriminated against, I felt breathless as I read their rants built on blind hate and irrational fears. I was fighting a losing battle (and a pointless one - who can really change anything via Facebook comments?). I turned off my phone and walked the streets of my neighborhood with tears in my eyes. Everyday, every.single.day, people deal with far worse hatred and it is exhausting and demoralizing. I lost hope for a few hours that afternoon. I got some sleep and woke up the next morning and tried all over again. I still don't completely know other people's plight but I try to look outside my own eyes.
- I finally visited Fallingwater. I planned a road trip with my dad and mom while visiting them this summer and it was worth the 7 hour round-trip drive. It's so powerful for me to see the truly awesome that exists in our own backyards. It is also frighteningly beautiful to see the sheer genius and madness humans can possess all at once.
Lastly, I want to share a story with you I've been holding onto since October. It is directly linked to Robert Montgomery's public art project, Words in the City at Night. One of my favorite pieces is located in East Sussex.
My maternal grandparents played a very important role in my life. My papa was larger-than-life and when he passed away, I was 5 years old. The loss devastated me and I still talk about my limited memories of him. At the holidays, my mom sometimes roasts chestnuts on the fire in memory of his love of the tradition. His wife - my grandmother was a little different and she and I had a loving but sometimes contentious relationship. Nevertheless, she passed away 6 years ago and I still can't bring myself to delete her number from my phone.
I spent a day alone in Porto and passed the time with my usual long walks, this particular one through the city's endless nooks and crannies. As I approached the train station on this particular day, I passed a man roasting chestnuts and selling them to passersby. I smiled and thought of my papa and continued towards the Douro river. Later that afternoon I was starving and found a tiny alleyway restaurant with two tables set up outside. I took a seat and began to pantomime/English-ese my order to the waitress. While trying to communicate the special of the day to me, she was reduced to these awkward cow moos with a simultaneous stomach pat "TRIPE?!!" I screamed. She jumped up and nodded and said, "You want?" NO FUCKING WAY DID I WANT TO EAT THE LINING OF A COW'S STOMACH, which I communicated with an emphatic stop sign gesture (surprisingly universal). The thing is, tripe was my grandmother's favorite dish. She could never find it on the menu and was ecstatic each time it was offered. That day I felt the ghosts of both of them in me and it rendered me speechless.
Thank you for making it this far. Thank you for the texts or the live conversations reminding me to write again. Thank you for your patience and for your compassion.
And, to you, a wonderful 2018!