Category Archives: Independence

Day 2 [Late]: Writing Retreat Tweet

While my Sunday was was derailed by baseball, sunshine and house hunting, I did still write (a little). See below for my NPR poetry submission:

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When was the last time you did something for the first time?

It has been a long time since I read a book I enjoyed as much as “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed. For the last year or so, I’ve been on a non-fiction kick, reading about economics, exploring the science of food and diving into the senses of a dog. But even before that, I really don’t recall the last time I connected to a novel as much as I did “Wild”—maybe in high school when I read Megan McCafferty’s series following my sweet Jessica Darling through her teenage trials and triumphs.

wild

Not only is “Wild” well written, but I found many points of connection with Cheryl (the novel’s author and main character). That’s not to say we’ve shared all the same experiences:

  • She struggled with drug addiction
  • She lost her mother at the young age of 23
  • She divorced her sweetheart and best friend
  • She hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, solo no less

But, then there are the similarities:

  • We’re both writers
  • We both grew up without a fathers
  • We were both raised by a magnificent mother
  • We’ve both accomplished things we’d never thought ourselves possible of

But beyond the obvious, easy-to-point-out aspects of our lives that make us similar, there’s just something about Cheryl that makes me feel a connection to her. Maybe that’s what makes her such a talented writer, being able to invoke such an overwhelming emotional connection as I absorb the pages of her writing.

There’s no doubt that Cheryl’s and my life are far from parallel. Our struggles that led us to similar places differ greatly: Physical versus emotional. However, I think we’ve both fought with the other’s struggle. But I’ve found that pain, no matter how inflicted, tends to evoke similar responses in people. There’s the fight or flight response, both on impact and after the pain has struck, once it’s time to actually deal with it.

So, let me get to the point of all this. The reason why I’m bothering to draw all of these comparisons. For the last two-and-a-half years, I’ve been embarking on physical feats I never thought possible of myself. And along the way, I’ve had many people ask me why. A lot of friends and family have given me quizzical looks when I explained to them what my next obstacle to overcome would be. And I’ve come to the realization that most don’t understand. Well, there’s one section in “Wild” that, for me, perfectly explained what I’d been wanting to say:

This—the hardest thing I’d ever done.

I stopped in my tracks when that thought came into my mind, that hiking the PCT was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Immediately, I amended the thought. Watching my mother die and having to live without her, that was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Leaving Paul and destroying our marriage and life as I knew it for the simple and inexplicable reason that I felt I had to—that had been hard as well. But hiking the PCT was hard in a different way. In a way that made the other hardest things the tiniest bit less hard. It was strange but true. And perhaps I’d known it in some way from the very beginning. Perhaps the impulse to purchase the PCT guidebook months before had been a primal grab for a cure, for the thread of my life that had been severed.

I could feel it unspooling behind me—the old thread I’d lost, the new one I was spinning—while I hiked that morning, the snowy peaks of the High Sierras coming into occasional view.

 

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Why I Love ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ And You Should Too

If you’ve started watching Season 2 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix too there’s a good chance you can’t get that catchy-as-hell theme song out of your head. But do you know where this viral little ditty came from?

Unbreakable!

They alive, dammit!

It’s a miracle.

Unbreakable!

They alive, dammit!

Females are strong as Hell.

As a word nerd, I had to find out what it was he was saying. So today, I Googled it and dove further into my obsession with the show.

Simply finding the lyrics proved tougher than I expected, as I stumbled across multiple pieces discussing the origins of the song. Turns out, not surprisingly, the theme song is the product of a monologue written by producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, according to Vanity Fair. See a clip of character Walter Bankston’s full monologue below, from Netflix’s YouTube page:

While I found it surprising that some viewers thought the above was a legit newscast, there was another point in the article that stood out to me. Vanity Fair refers to Ellie Kemper’s character as being not “just a survivor of a horrific experience, but a very famous one[.]” That got me dwelling on how the silly and sometimes dumb Kimmy Schmidt was so much more than just another unrealistic comedic character to watch.

Turns out, Fey and Carlock were asked by NBC if they’d want to write a show for Kemper. As the two (mainly Fey) go on to explain to E! in an interview, they recognized that Kemper has “this kind of sunniness, but also this strength.” And it was with these two traits and the crazy-horrific backstory that Kimmy’s character was born to create a twist on the standard starting over story.

For me, I think that’s what makes this goofy girl and sitcom so lovable – it is relatable and inspiring. Unlike most of us, Kimmy is able to keep a sunny disposition despite tragically losing out on her childhood. So we get to follow her around NYC as she makes her way, and laugh about it with her. Because there seems to be one thing that Kimmy did learn while living inside that bunker: Bad things happen.

And, as Kemper points out in an interview with E!, Kimmy has the ability to overcome her bad things and not let those experiences define her. Which is what makes this comedy so worth watching. Let yourself be inspired by the pure optimism and strength of a character who may just seem simple at first glance.

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Dear [Baby],

I originally wrote this post about six months ago, but decided to hold off on posting it at this time.


You are precious. Your life has just begun and you have a lifetime of moments ahead of you. And my wish for you is that you get to experience every single one of those seconds. The joyous, the painful, the thrilling, the terrifying, the precious, the bittersweet – all of the good and all of the bad. Take in and savor each and every emotion. Hold on to those memories. Because the adventure ahead is just beginning and you’ll need all that you know, all that you’ve learned to make your journey your own.

When you’re young, the years fly past. Summers seem endless until the snow falls, and before you know it you forget to remember the last browned leave hanging from a tree. And they say that as you get older time seems to move faster with each passing year, but I disagree. I think we stop savoring the moments and truly living each experience that passes us by.

No longer do we whiff the scent of a fresh cut blade of grass as the spring’s rains subside. The first flakes of winter loose their glittery charm. Instead, we’re always ready and waiting for the next big thing – even if it’s happening, right then.

So do grow up, do grow old. But while you do: Live. Experience life.

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Why Not Write?

I don’t know what else to do, so I guess I’ll write…

Should being laid off be that big of a surprise in the corporate world today? I have seen others suffer from downsizing. Hell, I’ve seen my own mother deal with it – she seemed to handle it much more gracefully than I. I even, inexplicably, saw it coming. Still, it hits me like a truck.

Partially for good reason, another part denial and finally pure laziness has allowed me to take “personal” days this week. What do I have to lose? Really, I think I have just been putting off the inevitable – unemployment. But, alas, tomorrow is mere hours away and marks my last day as a Content Specialist with Tribune Media Group. As of 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2013, I am back to where I started. Actually, I think I am even worse of than where I started… at least 10 extra steps back.

Having been fired, and now laid off, I can say that there is a difference and being laid off sucks way more. Not only was I doing my job, but I was doing it right and I was doing it well. So there’s absolutely no solace there. It just plain sucks.

I’m not one to feel sorry for myself. I tend to power through and make myself better from whatever obstacle has attempted to knock me down. But… this one is particularly rough. Maybe I’m just getting worn out, tired of struggling. It’s been an ongoing uphill war, albeit some of those battles have been much more difficult than others, and I’m spent.

So, I’m stuck. I’m tired of hearing, “Any word on the job front?” If there was, trust me, I’d be screaming it throughout the city’s streets. And don’t tell me, “You’ll find something”. Obviously I will, I don’t really have a choice. I have to carry on, but the wait until I find with what is the hardest part.

In a few months’ time, I’ll look back on this and see it as an opportunity. For now, I’m just ready to fast forward to that point.

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It’s Time to Say, “Goodbye.”

The unknown can be terrifying. I have an anxious anger living in the pit of my stomach and the closer Sunday comes, the larger it grows.

At 22 years old, I picked up my life and moved to a Big city – Chicago. Aside from a cousin nearly 15 years older, I had no one I was running to. This was my first stab at true independence, although I hardly had a plan. A job? Well, sort of. Freelance work that I hoped would get me by, along with some savings from my childhood. Never did I doubt that that Big city would unfold my plans once I arrived. And, of course, it would… three years later.

Now, returning to that city again at 25, I know I am, somewhat, established. At least, this time, I have a real job. My apartment’s nicer, neighborhood – more entertaining, circle of friends – much larger. Yet still, I’m terrified.

How have I changed over the course of the past 3 and a half months? Have I changed at all? Will those changes affect my life in any noticeable way? Well, we won’t know until I find out.

The question of return is not even a question in my mind. I have felt doubt from those who love me, but I believe that’s more their concern. Mentally, I know I’m beyond ready. Physically, I can make it through. My body may not be 100%, but that could take many more months; and I am far too impatient to wait any longer. I truly believe, too, that if I waited until I was 100% physically ready, I would no longer be 100% mentally ready. If I’m scared now, I can only imagine what any more time tucked in the safety of suburbia would do for me.

So, I’m going.

No if’s, and’s or but’s – I’m going. I love you, Mom. I respect your opinion, Brother. I’ll miss you, Grams and Papa. Thank you, Everyone. I’m going.