Category Archives: inspiration

Afternoon in the Park

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Whenever I whine to my sister about distractions that seem to constantly be getting in the way of my writing, she says that if I want to really finish my manuscript—which I’ve been talking about and toiling over, for way too long now—I need to work like I’m on a deadline. I have to act as if I’m turning it in for a grade. And sometimes, I need to say no, even if I really want to say yes. Like this past weekend, Memorial Day weekend, the first weekend of beach season…where everyone in New York City gets out of town.

I got on the pale-skin bandwagon at least a decade ago, after years in Florida, striving to achieve a permanent honey brown. These days, I accept my naturally fluorescent-white complexion (that has only become more blinding by living in the north), and have gotten used to the ritual of tanning by way of a bottle. Still, a little Vitamin D will always do a body good, and who doesn’t love a day at the beach? So when my friend invited me to head out with her on Monday, I jumped. But then the scene of me standing on the rooftop, shouting that I have FINALLY FINISHED MY BOOK flashed in my head. And though I really wanted to say yes, I had suck it up and politely decline. Because as much peace as the beach is to me, the hot sun on my skin, the powdery sand the most comfortable bed, it’s a place to shut off and not feel guilty about doing so.

So I’d turned down Robert Moses, but I still needed a plan. Finally seeing sunshine after the long, grey, winter, almost overnight, the trees alive again with lacy leaves, the sky a comforting, chalky blue, I felt like I’d be sinning, staying cooped up inside my apartment, or anywhere inside for that matter. But ‘outside’ in New York City pretty much means a day at the park, and a day at the park—be it Central Park or Prospect Park, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, or even Washington Square Park (though the bravery quotient in the squirrels there has me a little on edge)—means a day of napping in the grass. But then it came to me—Bryant Park. I’ve been there countless times for summer movies, and I tell myself I should visit more during the weekday lunch hour so to maybe find my husband, but I don’t think I’ve really ever given it enough credit. It really is a masterpiece, with the feel more of a classic garden than your typical city park. Aside from its central lawn, that is the only part of it I’ve really ever paid attention to, there’s a bubbling fountain, two grand tree allées, ping pong tables and Pétanque, a carousel, a reading room, and best… for a writer… café tables and chairs lined all along its promenade. So as my friend headed to the beach, I packed my bag…and headed for midtown.

When I arrived at the Bryant Park subway station, it being one I rarely travel through, I was clueless as to which staircase would lead me where, above ground. So I chose the nearest one, and lucky me, I landed in a quiet corner where an empty table was calling my name. I sat down and positioned my chair inward, so that just beyond the sprawling blanket of wild—or at least wild-looking—ivy in front of me, there was the lawn with families picnicking, children skipping, an intermediate yogi repeatedly practicing his headstand and tumbling; and bordering that, the park’s perimeter trees, behind which stands a wall of city buildings. The trees planted in Bryant Park are London plane trees, the same species in one of my favorite places in Paris, the Jardin des Tuileries. They can grow to be 120 feet tall. I sat under one so high I couldn’t see the top of it, I thought it must’ve been at least that. Tiny sparrows played in the shrubs, pigeons pecked at crumbs near my feet, and high above, a covey of others sang songs to one another from tree to tree, and zoomed in flight from lamppost to lamppost, making me jealous, wishing I too could fly. The sun peaked through the canopy of leafy branches, warming the shady ground where a father and son played chess, and two wrinkly, white-haired ladies gossiped with iced teas, and an odd couple walked hand-in-hand. I wrote, alone in my green corner, and in between words, would pick my head up to just watch, in awe of the beauty surrounding me, even despite the city bustling fifty feet away. It was perfect…

Almost perfect…

About an hour in, at one of my pauses, I noticed a man approaching my table. He was in his early 60s I would guess, dressed nicely, appearing clean. There was nothing about him that alarmed me. I figured he had a question; needed directions, or the time. After all, I am the one people pick out amongst a crowd at the post office to ask if I think their package has enough postage on it. I’m used to strangers. “I noticed you’re writing,” he said. “And I just couldn’t help but admire the magical quality you have, here on this beautiful day, working so peacefully. I used to write poetry and I know, sometimes you can be searching for the perfect word for hours, and it helps to just look into the distance.” Ok. Not what I expected, but he kind of nailed it! It was, in fact, a beautiful day, and the scene to me, did feel magical. “Yeah,” I said. “It’s really perfect.” And then I remembered his mint green pants and his fedora. I’d seen him earlier, walking around with a younger man at his side. Thieves? I reached, nonchalantly, down to my bag that I’d nestled in between my ankles, making sure it was still there; that his chit-chat wasn’t really a way of distracting me while his pick-pocket sidekick got to work. After years in New York, as sad a truth it is, you learn to watch out for this. But my bag was there. All good. “So are you writing poetry?” he asked. “A novel,” I replied. “Wow,” he said back with a bow of his head. “Great that you have a novel in you at your age. You’re not writing the sequel to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ are you?” Seriously? Never mind the fact that I’m pretty sure there’s already a sequel, and maybe even a third volume—Eewww!! Where was he hoping this would go? “No. I’m working on something of my own,” I replied with a disapproving shake of my head. After another two minutes of trying to engage me, he got the hint, offered his best wishes and finally parted.

A while later, a homeless lady came up to me asking for change, and then a toothless man asking to borrow my pen. Ok, fine. Minor distractions. Back to work. Then some time later, a pasty kid with a choppy Mohawk and an array of haphazardly placed tattoos and a pierced septum came up and introduced himself as an image consultant and tried to convince me to take his card. Yeah, thanks but no thanks. I think I’ll stick to the path I’m on…image wise. Soon enough, he noticed my disinterest and walked away and again, I got back to work. Then the man two tables down from me, who had been quiet and keeping to himself the whole afternoon, started rummaging through belongings he had stuffed into a collection of tattered, plastic grocery bags. And then he broke out in a fit of maniacal laughter. And that sent me packing.

I closed my notebook, happy with what I’d accomplished for the day, feeling ok to call it quits. It was six o’clock and I was hungry. I took a look around once more before leaving, and felt thankful—for the beauty surrounding me…and even for some of the crazy. I mean, after all, that’s New York.

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Life Lessons

So here I am sitting down to my blog and once again, it’s a month since the last time I published anything. It’s not that I’ve been lazing the days away, or that my passion for the craft has withered. No! Not in the slightest. The idea for this post actually came to me some time ago. It was that alone, I didn’t think it was substantial enough. You know, I’ve never been a woman of few words, and obviously here, I favor the long-form essay. So, as I often do with early ideas, I put this one to rest for a little bit, and took a step back to let life unfold; to see if something would come to me– in my sleep or in the middle of workweek chaos– that I could add to it, to shape a meatier piece. And after weeks (sure, maybe a few too many), thanks to my open eyes and listening ears, a few things did.

It all started one Saturday a while back, when I took a free class at one of these new all-cycling studios that have popped up across the city. Having never been to one, and wishing I could afford to give up my cut-rate, regular gym membership and join one to be among a higher echelon of the gym-going public, I was pretty psyched for the preview. Well, as I had imagined it would be, it was great— the place was squeaky clean, like teeth after a trip to le dentist; the bikes, brand new, were super smooth to ride; the sound system was booming; the staff was friendly… yada yada.

Then there was the instructor. So, I get it… When it’s your career to work out, you’re going to have an awesome body. Great. Good for you. You deserve it. I mean it. That said, I’m a fan of humility and I never do get why, when you’re sitting on a bike on a platform in front of the class, where everyone can see you anyway (and they’re drooling… either with desire or with jealously), you, the owner of this awesome body, feel the need to flaunt it. Do you really need to get off your bike as we, your average, less-than-hard-bodied students pedal through virtual mud, to dance in front of us in your skimpy bra-top and teensy-tiny shorts like you’re doing a striptease, showing off your washboard abs and your collage of sexy tattoos?

This was the scene playing out in front of me, and by three quarters of the way in, I was over it and had put the kibosh on the idea that I would yes, trade in my discount gym for this place. (Thank God for my brain, because going through with that would have meant going broke, but somehow I had reasoned that it was ok.) So I was over it, but still, I would ride it out, through the one last song. Our little playboy bunny instructed us to crank up the resistance one more notch, and then another, and I did, and then she said to us [these words that I never would’ve expected]:

“I know it’s hard. But you can do it… Be grateful for the fact that you can do it. Be grateful for having this body, and this mind, and this spirit. Be grateful for having been able to wake up today and come here.”

And at hearing this, I closed my eyes… because however annoyed I’d been with her earlier, at that moment she was right; and she was saying this to us with sincerity. I choked up a little bit. But still there on my bike, I pushed through. And though being grateful is something that I am every day, being there in that room, all of us, grateful together for those few minutes, was bigger and stronger and better feeling to me than being grateful alone ever had been.

So a few days go by, and I’m still on this high after bunny’s words of wisdom, and I come across this article that was published last month on NPR. It’s a piece on the recent disheartening report on the increase in suicide rates among middle-aged Americans. And as I always do when this topic comes up, aside from whatever frustration I have that for some people, this is the answer, I felt really sad. And I wished in my heart that I could help find a way to change this reality. I don’t know how to do that of course. Would positive words or thoughts that I have to share sink in to someone flirting with the idea of taking their own life? I kind of think not.

But a few days after reading the article, I happened, coincidentally, to arrive at a page in the book I’m reading, that really felt fitting as I waited to find the last piece to this post. And whether it sinks in or makes any sort of difference, I share it here…from Tinkers by Paul Harding:

“Your cold mornings are filled with the heartache about the fact that although we are not at ease in this world, it is all we have, that it is ours but that it is full of strife, so that all we can call our own is strife; but even that is better than nothing at all, isn’t it? And as you split frost-laced wood with numb hands, rejoice that your uncertainty is God’s will and His grace toward you and that that is beautiful, and part of greater certainty… And as the ax bites into the wood, be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. And when you resent the ache in your heart, remember: You will be dead and buried soon enough.”

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…Inspired

My wish list of things I’ll never have. That’s where I left off last time. In the weeks since, I painted a wall in my new apartment. Just one wall, but really, it’s enough. The color is called Wild Pink. It rocks my world. I actually had an epiphany while standing on the ladder rolling the paint onto the plain white wall that my place came with—a way out of a writing rut I’ve been in. I was inspired I suppose. Inspired by this minor change of scenery. Inspired, thanks to thirty-dollar can of paint.

A few weeks ago I came across a website called “An Afternoon With…” about people and their spaces. Of course they are not just any people. They’re a carefully selected group of artists and creatives, so most of them live in really awesome places. Or they live in places that were once nothing special that they have turned into awesome places. A scroll through the photographs is a feast for the eyes…and for the imagination. “Ah!” I think, as I drool. “I want to live like you.”

Yes, as I said in my last post, I would love to one day have a home with luxury plumbing fixtures and a piece of Bauhaus furniture from an auction catalog. For now, I’ll settle for things that fit within my means and I will make my home awesome. And instead of seeing this as a daunting task that I cannot conquer, I will remember that yes, I can do this! Of course I can! I went to school for this! I know what I like and I have good sense about how to put all of it together! And, I live in New York City—where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure—literally. One of my favorite things is a cubby shelf I found on the sidewalk in Soho a decade ago—a secondhand piece from a school or a studio or something, with graffiti and carvings on it. I’ve since acquired some nicer things, but this guy still holds a place in my heart…it is now home to my shoe collection and residing in my entry/mudroom.

So, as I approach the six-month mark I will make a new list. Not of the things I want but cannot realistically attain, but of the things that I have or can find or make, that will brighten my world—the 550 square foot apartment I call home. Not a mansion. No guest bedroom, no reclaimed wood plank floors or marble clad bathroom, but certainly one happy little dwelling place.

Photos to come….

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My Happy Dwelling Place

It’s nuts to me that I’ve been living in my new apartment for five months already.

My process of settling has been slow, but so far the adjustment has been great. This is true, first because it is a place of my own after too long a time spent being a nomad, and second, because it is so satisfying to really take the time and make a house—or…a 550 square foot, partially subterranean apartment—a home. I know—most people, after five month’s time, would have everything in place and every detail sorted out. Those of you who know me, understand why this is not the case here. I’m particular to the point of being borderline irrational about everything in my life—from the décor in the office I work in, to the brand of jeans the guy I might be dating is wearing. So why would I not be just as particular about every individual thing I put inside my home in order to make it a happy dwelling place? In my last real apartment it took me sixth months to find the right chairs for my marble-top kitchen table that is the most beautiful piece of furniture I have ever owned and because so, happens to be one of my most prized possessions. Likewise here in this place, it’s taking some time to find just the right pieces.

In my defense, this is the first time my apartment actually includes a living room, thus, there is a lot more furniture to be found. So far I have the sofa, which arrived a few weeks ago, and not only made it safely through the window and into my living room, but also, looks as good in the space as I had imagined it would and is a rather cozy piece to curl up on when I actually allow myself to be lazy. The new blinds are up, the jute rug is down, and the armoire to hide my part-time guilty pleasure of TV watching, arrives in two weeks.

I have a ways to go.

The reality of the situation is that for the past nearly ten years, I’ve been living in a dream world. Let me clarify. For the past nearly ten years, I have been working in the high-end/luxury/(unrealistic for most of us) field of architecture and interior design. This is a world in a galaxy far, far away from Home Depot, Lowes and Do-It-Yourself/Design on a Dime. This is a world where a new sofa costs fourteen thousand dollars and if you want to reupholster an old one, the textile for it costs $300 per yard. This is no joke.

At my last job, my friend/desk-mate and I found it sickly humorous that we spent our days designing bathrooms for which we would specify bathtubs that cost forty-thousand dollars and faucets that cost two-thousand, while in our own homes, our bathrooms were literally falling apart. I had the pleasure of discovering one day that my ceiling had collapsed into my bathtub and he, that his sink had fallen off the wall, and into his boyfriend’s lap no less. For months he was haunted by nightmares of his toilet falling through the floor below him (with him on it of course).

Ah how the middle-class live.

Even funnier to us than these domestic mishaps however, was that over time, we became comfortable with the idea of a ten-thousand dollar table or a twelve-thousand dollar pair of chairs. And so the crazy truth still today, is that regardless of what my bank account says I can afford, I dream big. These luxuries, even though I’ve only ever bought them for other people (who happen to fall within the mega-wealthy bracket), have become a norm for me. Because as much as no one is deliberately brainwashing me, I am in a way brainwashed–that this is the standard, and that I of course have to have these things too. My wish list includes line item after line item of things I cannot and likely will not EVER have.

Case in point…

First night here in the apartment. After a long day of lugging boxes, climbing up and down steps, in and out of doorways and feeling like I was about to keel over, I treated myself to a bubble bath. It was a slice of heaven there in the steaming water as I relaxed my weary bones and felt thankful to simply be home. And then, amidst this humble moment, I had the most ridiculous thought. I was extending my foot to turn off the tap, exhaling a breath of relief as the words just fell out of my mouth. “I do love this place,” I said to myself. “Now if only these tub fittings were Lefroy Brooks…”

Above: Lefroy Brooks MH 1270 Mackintosh Wall Mounted Three Hole Bath Mixer, Approx. $2400

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Best of the Week…

Again, it’s weeks since I’ve posted.

It’s writer’s block.

I know, I know, I’ve used this excuse before. But it really is a thing. I have a list at home of all my blog ideas and it’s plenty long. It’s that I just haven’t been feeling motivated to form any of those early thoughts into anything compelling, or even mildly entertaining. So I’m going to go with simple and leave it at that.

This is a list of the best/most inspiring/most entertaining things that I saw or heard last week.

1. These great words… on the garage door of a storefront on 14th Street. Written for whom? I don’t know. Perhaps for anyone passing by who needs them. I like the reminder.

Just one of the reasons I love New York.

2. These beautiful boots on the feet of a man across from me on the train, in these (hopefully) last days of chilly weather.

Another reason why I love New York—ah, the fashion!

3. This gorgeous springtime sight I caught while out getting lunch on Friday. Yes, I knew my nose felt a little itchy. Blossoms have arrived!

4.   And again against the black night’s sky.

5.  And lastly, this great conversation I had on the phone with the Crate & Barrel rep the other day, solidifying the details of my sofa delivery this weekend.

Me: “So I spoke with someone the other day and wanted to be sure everything was ok. The sofa needs to come through the window and the last rep I talked to said she had to run it by her supervisor.”

Rep: “Ah. I see. Mind if I put you on hold?”

Me: “That’s fine.”

(I twiddle my thumbs for two minutes while she investigates.)

Rep: “Ok. It looks like we’re all set for delivery on Saturday. You just need to be sure to sign the release for any damages.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Rep: “Well in case anything gets damaged while they’re moving it in through the window.”

Me:” Uh huh. Well, I would hope they will take care to try and not damage anything…”

Rep: “Well sure. But just in case.”

Meanwhile I’m thinking, could this woman be any more nonchalant?

Me: “Ok. Fine. So then this means that they are ok with moving it in through the window?”

Rep: “It looks like it. You might have to wait and see.”

Wait and see?

Me: “And if they decide they can’t do it once they get there?”

Rep: “Well then maybe you have someone help you move it in. Your boyfriend or something.”

Me: [Pause] Then silently, “Uh yeah, maybe that would work if I had a boyfriend.”

Silence ensues.

Rep: “Uh.. Oh. I’m—sorry. I just…”

Me: an awkward laugh…

Rep: “Uh. I’m sorry. I apologize for assuming…”

Me: “Yeah…[long pause] No problem.”

Ah, To Be Freshly Pressed

If I could have a super power, it would be one that would allow for me to insert extra hours into the day, so that whenever I was feeling that the standard 24 were not sufficient for me to get done what I wanted to get done, I’d have a solution. Of course there would have to be a limit as to how often I could use the power, otherwise the calendar would never move.

I don’t blog enough. I’m aware of that. I’m envious of those who find time to post daily and wish I could be better at that (hence my wish for the super power). But beyond the ‘how often’ with blogging, there is an issue of the ‘what’. What is it that people want to read? What exactly will get me the attention I want, or really the attention that I need so that people will know my name when it’s time my book comes out? The other day my inbox went from having 20 unread messages in it to having 16,284. It seems unreal, I know. But have you heard of Nerdy Apple Bottom?

A few weeks ago I started a daily ritual of logging onto wordpress during lunch to look at the Freshly Pressed page where a sample of the day’s most noteworthy blog posts are in the spotlight. Sure, it might be a better use of my time if I were drafting my own new posts but, a) I’m reading some really good writing, some of which is written by my competition and b) I’m feeling extra motivated, wanting very badly to be amongst the lucky ones on Freshly Pressed. (Thank you Freshly Pressed for lighting a match under my ass.)

So the inbox explosion—it happened the other day after logging on [to Freshly Pressed] and seeing a post titled, “My Son Is Gay.”” Hmm,” I wondered, “I’ll have to see what that’s about.” So I clicked on it. It was an essay written by a mother whose little boy wanted to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. Instead of telling you the whole story, I’ll let you click on the link above. What I will say was that reading it, the hair on my arms stood up, it was so emotional. And when I was finished, there was no way I could leave this woman’s blog without thanking her. So I clicked on the comment link, wrote her a little note and went to hit “send”. But before actually doing that, I checked a little box that asked if I wanted to see others’ comments as they were posted. “Sure,” I thought, figuring it would be interesting to see what others had to say. That’s where I made my mistake…

…because I never imagined 37,000 comments. Who can read 37,000 comments? Certainly not I. But the email alerts kept coming. And not one or two. Hundreds…thousands…by the minute, continuously rolling in, like the oil from the BP rig that kept spewing this past summer, day after day after day. Thankfully, before all 37,000 of the comments reached me, I was able to redirect any incoming ones to my recycle bin. But as for the 16,000 that did make it to my inbox, I’m still working on deleting them… a chunk at a time in fear my computer might spontaneously combust.

Of course I wish I had the time to read each and every reply in support of the anonymous mother writer. And I congratulate any blogger who can garner such a wealth of attention. Now, for brainstorming!

Should I ever make it to a point where my readership hits the quadruple digits and every one of my visitors takes time to comment, I promise, I will somehow find the time to read every one… even if I do have to fit it into my 24-hour day.

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My Favorite Things – No.1

I read, the other day, on a fellow blogger’s post, a comment about struggling sometimes to find inspiration to write something good and solid. I know the feeling. So in thinking about how I could solve this roadblock when I find it standing in my way, I remembered what someone once told me: to write about anything. And then I suppose if my audience finds it dull, well then ok. At least I’m writing. So my idea, along with writing about anything, is that whenever something comes along that really makes my day, I’ll share it here. I’ll call these things “My Favorite Things Today”.

Here goes…

1) I was on the subway this afternoon and noticed at one point, standing near one set of doors, a young father and his son who looked to be about five years old. Now I think most kids are cute, but this one was topping the charts. He was a little Mexican boy I guessed, with dark tan skin, and a head of jet-black, chunky hair in a just less than perfect bowl cut. He had on a pair of blue jeans that I guessed were hand-me-downs because the waste of them was folded over his belt so that he wasn’t tripping on them. Over his t-shirt he had on a jean jacket that again was a little too big, so he was more or less wearing a denim suit. At first I thought he was just leaning up against his dad, but then when I looked again I realized the dad was holding him under his armpits. As in holding him up. The child was standing, fast asleep. His chunky-hair head would be upright one second and then suddenly fall to swing like a pendulum. And his little legs kept buckling at the knees. The kid was out. I looked at the dad with a sympathetic smile and took a scan of our surroundings to see what could be done. A pair of girls in seats in front of me were gathering their things, as if to be getting off. So when the train stopped, I ushered the dad over trying to save the empty spots for him and his son. Of course some oblivious woman sat herself down, so only the boy could sit. Better than nothing, I supposed. At least the buckling knees would no longer be an issue. But the head. His poor little tired head. Of course, there he sat and there the head fell. And then his body fell, and next thing he was leaning up against the girl next to him. She was in a semi-trance, in deep meditation it seemed, listening to her ipod, with her eyes (lined in yellow pencil) closed. I waited to see what would transpire, hoping she would let him stay leaning on her. She woke up and shuffled, and the dad, obviously not wanting to bother anyone, once again moved the boy, still sound asleep, to position him upright. And then the whole thing started again.

2) I was on the phone with my friend today and as usual,  after checking in about work and my newest living situation, she asked about my dating life. We got to talking and I mentioned to her that I had met someone several weeks before that I really liked but that he unfortunately has a girlfriend. I said to her, “Why does that always happen to me? I finally find one I like and he’s taken.” And her response was: “Well because there are too many stupid relationships in this city. So if they would all end and everyone get down to business, all the right people could be with eachother.”

I shook my head and thought, “Well, yes, that just about sums it up.”

And lastly…

3) My bag hunt. I am in desperate need of a new one for fall, as the one I am currently carrying I think, after two seasons, finally needs to be retired. But since all the ones I’ve seen and loved are over 300 bucks and I would feel really bad spending that kind of money – even though I so want to—I have decided that I might just make do with a simple canvas tote. So I left the lovely Olivia Harris one on the shelf at Bloomingdales and hit the street to find some basics. I went to Uniqlo. They’re good with basics. But I wasn’t even sure they sell bags, so I went up to a sales guy and said, “Hi. I’m looking for bags. Do you have bags anywhere? Or purses?” And his reply to me? “We have man purses…”

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Eat Pray Love

It’s always been a rule of mine, when I see that a book is being made into a movie, that I must read the book before seeing it played out for me on film. So since last summer when I was gallivanting down Smith Street in Brooklyn and got word that Julia Roberts was down the block (filming Eat Pray Love), I moved finishing the story’s written version into a top spot on my to-do list. I missed the boat when the whole craze began, having received it while my head was in and out of three other bestsellers, and then, always having another more important one to get through before I could commit to it. I guess I didn’t believe it was really so good, as everyone was saying. 

And finally, here I am, twenty pages from finishing, just about ready to cross it off my list as completed. So why am I not reading it now? Well, a) this blog, which I will deny having ever abandoned, is desperately begging for my attention and b) I might just be trying to hang on so that my time sharing in this stranger’s wonderful journey might never end. Just as unexpectedly as they say true love comes, I have fallen in love with this book.

And so I was late to join the party. It doesn’t matter really. It seems everyone still has something to say about it. ‘Love the book, hate the movie.’ ‘Love the movie, hate the book.’ ‘Love both, hate both, or frankly, not really interested in either.’ Beyond all of those comments I might hear throughout a day, apparently this journey-turned-story-turned-fountain of success for one lucky lady has generated both a ton of buzz and a lot of criticism. But I’ve stayed out of the debates. Not that I’ve been hiding from them. More like I’ve been living underground these past few months, with little exposure to the Eat Pray Love rage, to the forums in cyberspace, or even knowledge that they exist. It’s been just little me, wrapped up in this woman Elizabeth’s travels to Italy and India and Indonesia, all throughout, feeling as if I were right there with her.

One morning this past weekend, I went to brunch by myself to satisfy a craving for lemon ricotta pancakes and a mimosa. Sounds horrible I know, brunch alone in New York. But when you have something good to read, who cares if you’re alone. So it was just me and my book, and the girl next to me asks, as her friend gets up to go to the restroom, “What are you reading?” I showed it to her and she nodded. “Ah!”

“Have you read it?” I asked her. “Or seen the movie?”

“Neither,” she replied, and then proceeded to ask me my thoughts on the subject, because suddenly it’s no longer just a book or a movie, but a ‘thing’. Didn’t I think anyone could manage to spit out a bestseller if they were paid 230-something dollars in advance? she asked. And was it really all true? And wasn’t Elizabeth Gilbert supposed to be a bitch in real life?

It didn’t take me long to respond because I’ve been thinking this all along…on the subway while I try to read as many pages as I can fit in before the doors open and close and I miss my stop, and in line in the grocery store, impatient waiting, relying on it to help me pass the time. And the answer is that really, I don’t care about any of those things. So what if Elizabeth Gilbert’s motivation was money? So what if she embellished to keep our attention. That’s what good writers do! And so what if she is really a bitch (and again, you might say I’m naïve, but I really doubt that part is true). Whatever anyone has to say about it, plain and simple, the book has touched me. It’s made my eyes water and more than once, it’s had me choking for breath. It’s made the hair on my arms stand straight, and it’s made me want to toss up everything and move to an Ashram for a few months of nothing but prayer.

I realize that it’s easy for me to relate to a lot of what this Elizabeth lady has written, because I have always been a person of faith. It has never been strange for me to get down on my knees and lift my hands to heaven in a prayer. But because I know not everyone feels the same way I do when it comes to faith, or belief in a higher power, I say fine, hate the book if you want to. But let me and the others who want to love it, love it.

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Furniture Co

Once upon a time on the corner of Greenwich and Jane, there was a beautiful place called Furniture Co. It was New York City, 1999 and I was looking for my first real job, fresh out of college, eager for this new phase of my life to begin. Naïve, or perhaps more accurately, not yet really knowing myself, I figured the pursuit would take three months. Ha! Me, ‘Miss Particular’, find my first job in a matter of three months? The first job, that I had started illustrating in grade school, while picking up pieces of a business woman’s life from characters like Elizabeth Perkins’s Susan in ‘Big’ and Diane Keaton’s J.C. Wiatt in ‘Baby Boom’? I didn’t necessarily want to go the corporate route those ladies went, but I knew exactly the kind of place I wanted to be. Or at least I knew I’d recognize it when I had found it.

So my search began, days passed, weeks passed, the three-month mark passed and I was still without. That of course was a result of my own doing. (Thanks to the ‘Miss Particular’ thing). The way it went, I would be sitting in an interview thinking, “No way am I working here!”, smiling to hide my objections about a place— at one, the dingy office, at another, the barking co-workers. So one afternoon, when I suppose it had been decided that I deserved to finally get my break, I walked up to the storefront at 818 Greenwich Street, and into this modern furniture store aptly named Furniture Co. Inside, it looked more to me like an art gallery. At the same time, it looked very much like a place I would have liked to live. There were white walls, a rich, brown, wide-plank Walnut floor, and in careful arrangements, the most beautifully simple furniture I’d ever laid eyes on—a red chair, a yellow chair, a teak bench, a maple table. And then the special objects to soften the modern—a giant Akari light glowing like a full moon made out of paper, an elegant glass vase, a collection of grey-blue ceramic bowls, each object more beautiful than the next. It was one of those ‘choir of angels singing’ moments. With my jaw dropped to the floor, I thought, “Where have you been all my life?” I had finally found my place. *If you were a fan of Sex in the City and saw the episode when Carrie met Aidan in his furniture store, you know this place. Yes, that was Furniture Co. And yes! I got to be there with Sarah Jessica and John Corbett the day they filmed the episode. That was, indeed, an exciting bite of my New York life for sure, but in truth, only a momentary glimmer next to what this company was to me.

Furniture Co was the dream-come-reality of a designer I had the privilege of meeting very young in my working life. He was my boss, my unofficial teacher and mentor, and the molder of my design mind. I think David was born an artist and a creator, with a design sensibility like no one else I’ve ever known. To this day, he’s one of my favorite people on this earth and I often wonder if I’ve thanked him enough. How was I the lucky one,who after stumbling upon this place, worked my way up to a spot on the design team of such a talented artist and had a regular glimpse into his creative brain? Sounds crazy, I’m sure, as this was in fact work. But it was so much more than just any old job. Like a perfect mate or a perfect house that brings a smile to your face and peace to your mind, this place was my perfect match, a jigsaw puzzle piece, that fit with me so exactly. Me, the little girl who had always wanted to be an artist. The teenager who dreamed of being an interior designer. The picky girl who spent forever looking for just the right first job. Here it was! And how much better than I had ever imagined.

I remember the early days, being in awe at the opening parties, standing among these artists and their work, wondering how it was I got to be there, thinking how I had never before seen such beautiful things in my entire life—once, giant, hand-hammered sterling silver vases made by a pretty, young jeweler from London, another time a show of baskets woven by a collection of artists from all over the world, from as close as upstate New York to as far away as Japan and the Isle of Skye, and another time pottery by a man who lived in a farmhouse in the quiet English countryside.

I was thinking about Furniture Co a lot recently as I revisited the job search and re-visited my resume, subsequently traveling down the various memory lanes of my past. I think if the company was still in existence I would probably be there today. But I know all good things eventually must end. And as I write this, I wonder if any words I could choose would ever accurately convey what a truly special place it was. It was special to me, of course, but I think that anyone who knew it or was a part of it, felt it just as special. But since most of you who will read this never did know it and never will, I suppose this is simply an homage that I am finally getting around to writing.

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Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off

Yet again, another long absence.

No, I haven’t forgotten about my blog (that I have so many times in the past promised to post more regularly to.) I’ve been consciously distant. Angry in a way…I suppose… at writing, despite it always having been a catharsis for me.

After months of work on applications, draft after draft of my writing samples and weeks opening my mailbox in anticipation of those letters, I have my answer. No grad school for me… this time around anyway.

There were certainly tears in accepting these rejections; at accepting that plan A was out the window and the yet-to-be fully formed plan B was the way I’d need to go. But thanks to the encouragement of friends, I’m looking for a bright side, thinking positively, remembering that I have never been a quitter and now is surely not the time to start.

Spring has arrived yet again. The trees have their leaves and the flower stalls are overflowing with sweet-smelling, candy-colored petals. This beauty inspires me, so I shall begin again.

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