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[sic] theme: ambition

I know, I’m a little late to the party re: picking a theme, and for that I apologize. I’ve been kicking the idea for this theme around in my head for a while, and this is the one I keep coming back to. Enjoy!)

Ambition. For a man, it’s usually expected. For a woman, it’s a dirty word. Ambition brings to mind Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place, the titular Gold Digger in Kanye West’s big hit, Anna Wintour, the not-so-secret inspiration for The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly. As if a woman with ambition is either looking to screw a man out of his money and become a trophy or else is a cold, unfeeling bitch. Women we love to hate.

In my life, I have seen ambitious women like my mom overcome obstacles to achieve her goals without the assistance of a man’s money while maintaining her humanity. As a kid, my idiot peers would straight up tell me I’d never amount to anything, sneering at my drawings and laughing at the way I did everything. It took me a long time to calm that negative voice that had been cultivated over the years, and when I fell to major bouts of anxiety and depression, ambition was replaced with survival. Just get by. Just make it through the day.

As I make my way into my 30’s, I’ve really begun to examine my dreams and ambitions. I was too immature and the scars of failure were too fresh in my 20’s to fully embrace my goals. I took rejection so personally I became afraid to try again.

Well, it’s time to try again.

I see women like Rita Moreno and I want to cheer. Ambitious, inspired, talented! As a kid, I was obsessed with I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball gave the boot to expectations and stereotypes to create I Love Lucy, also bringing a successful Latino to television. Boy, was Lucy ambitious! She would get her comeuppance and people would clap and hoot and laugh. She made us all laugh at how far she would go to make her dream come true. My favorite episodes always culminated when she got to be in the show; the Cuban Pete number still brings tears to my eyes. That crazy Lucy. She finally fucking did it. (Of course, she made herself so sick in the attempt that she couldn’t do it after that, but dammit, for that one moment, Lucy stole the show).  Yes, that show is still rife with stereotypes (domineering husband, less svelte sidekick, hot-tempered Latino), but so much of that falls to the wayside for me when I consider how bold it was for its time. Lucy was unapologetic in her ambition, both on the show and in real life. The genius of it was that, while Lucy Ricardo was begging for a little bit of the limelight, Lucille Ball was clearly the one in charge, calling the shots.

So, ambition. What does it mean to you? How do race and gender affect your view of ambition? Do you feel ambitious?

For me, ambition is honoring your dreams, working for what you want, being bold. Ambition doesn’t have to mean putting others down or not being in touch with your emotions. In fact, it’s listening to myself and really doing some soul searching that has gotten me in touch with my ambitions.

Go for it!

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[sic] cycle

Optimist?

Tea and quotes: essential components of my writing process.

I am in this space again. Dark, oppressive. Last month, I wrote fervently. This month, I have eked out a few words here or there, but most of my life has been consumed by other responsibilities and sorting out too many issues. It always goes like this: productivity, crash, frustration, stress, breakthrough, productivity, crash, etc. etc. etc.

The cycle continues.

I know I need to extend those periods of productivity. When I create, I feel alive. I create life in a series of words–images when I’m making collages–that make sense, even if to no one but me.

Spring is coming. I have been preparing by clearing out the old things, the useless and the overtly nostalgic. Skirts I purchased in a market ten years ago that I no longer wear. Broken pencils. Itchy tights.

I’m creating space. I have carved out a little niche for a desk. It has to be small and streamlined, but that’s my aesthetic lately, anyway. Proportion. Controlled volume. Billowing but not swallowing me whole. No clutter.

This morning, I managed to write more than I’ve written in a week. There is a renewed life in my work. Must keep the words living, breathing, moving, but they must be committed to telling the story.

Anyway.

Here are some songs that help me vent my negativity and get back to a better place.

Listen here! Cycles

Pompeii-Bastille: “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”

Violet-Hole: “Go on, take everything! Take everything! I dare you to!”

Farewell, Mona Lisa-The Dillinger Escape Plan: “The echoes of the past speak louder than any voice I hear right now.”

Wish-Nine Inch Nails: “Wish there was something real, wish there was something true. Wish there was something real in this world full of you.”

Safe-Kittie: “In this darkness, troubled waters, lies a flicker of hope’s fire.”

When It Comes-Incubus: “Yes, I feel emphatic about not being static.”

Find My Way-Nine Inch Nails: “I have been to every place, I have been to everywhere. I’m just trying to find my way, oh dear Lord, hear my prayer.”

Malibu-Hole: “Oceans of angels, oceans of stars. Down by the sea is where you drown your scars.”

Bad Blood-Bastille: “If we’re only ever looking back, we will drive ourselves insane.”

Scheisse-Lady Gaga: “I, I wish that I could dance on a single prayer. I, I wish I could be strong without permission, yeah.”

Listen, cry, sing, dance, write, repeat.

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When I Grow Up….

I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do for this theme, and I felt stuck. I couldn’t settle on one thing. I think this is because I’m going through a time of transition and haven’t been able to focus many of the ideas on my head. This song always brings me back to my childhood. It brings to me the hope I had as a kid. We used to spend weekends in the Poconos; the house was surrounded by woods. They were frightening and beautiful, and we used to run through them, breathless and dizzy. When I listen to this song, I feel like I’m running through those woods, looking for deer and magic, breathing in the scents of earth and animal. I would spend so much time in the loft of the house where we would stay and read magazines and books, dreaming of becoming a writer, a fashion designer, a pretty girl.

Even now, a married woman with a steady career, I feel like that child, running, searching for the extraordinary. A fairy, a blessing, a sign. I find myself writing more. Not just fiction, but pouring myself onto the pages of my journal in an attempt to hold on to myself. Writing feels like both the most adult thing to do and the most childlike. When I write, I am running. I am discovering. I am free.

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by | February 17, 2014 · 3:16 pm

the sick foodie’s lament.

Pardon this post, it’s early and I’m running on the fuel of bad dreams and stomach pains. I couldn’t write this before today because I could not stand the thought of food for most of our “foodie” theme. I don’t know why I’m sick. I don’t know what food is causing my pain, but I know something in my diet is off. I am a lover of food. Pasta cloaked in silky sauce or even a slick of butter and olive oil can set my heart atwitter. Pizza is a slice of mozzarella-coated heaven. Pad see ew and coconut rice were once staples of my diet, back when going for Thai food didn’t require a walk of well over a mile. I love treating myself to writer dates where I buy myself a fancy drink and order delicious food while getting as much writing done as possible. I take these dates seriously. Just look at these pictures.

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Foam makes me so happy.

Chicken sandwich

A carnivorous moment: perfectly grilled chicken breast sandwich.

An airy gougere.

Food as muse.

A nectarine bellini with fresh fruit puree. Pretty sure this is what gods drink.

The perfect little round of bread pudding with pumpkin puree.

There is absinthe in this drink. Green fairy inspiration.

Perfectly cooked broccoli rabe tops local mushrooms for an amazing vegetarian treat. Also, those fries are perfect.

I recently tried a gluten free diet because I was told it would cure my stomach, and for two weeks, after the shock of beautiful, pillowy bread and my beloved pasta leaving my system, I actually began to feel so, so much better. The blistering heartburn? Gone without even a single dose of Pepcid or Zantac. I felt free. I became seduced by simpler food: brown rice topped with a heap of sauteed Swiss chard and avocado, lox and rice cakes with hummus, sweet potatoes and lentils.

Mango almond butter smoothies are delicious. You know what’s even better? Solid food. Trust me on this. (I’d still drink that smoothie in a heartbeat, I just want some soft boiled eggs to go with it.)

Then, the stomach bug hit.

For days, I could eat nothing at all. When my body did begin craving food again, it was also for simple things, but the pendulum swung the other way. Now, all I could stand to eat were Cup of Noodles and toast. The mere sight of vegetables and rice made me shudder and gag. I drank coconut water and Gatorade to hydrate, ginger ale to soothe. My body is still not where it needs to be. I can often go hours without eating anything. I try to get back on track with this whole Gluten Free thing, but my sensitive stomach is still very discerning. I don’t know which way to go. I have been what my husband calls a “cyclical vegetarian” (mostly vegetarian with brief periods of carnivorous behavior) for years, so I’m usually okay forgoing most meat, though I still eat fish. Lately, however, I want to tuck into a turkey burger covered in feta cheese and a big fat bowl of matzoh ball soup with glorious shreds of chicken and delightfully dense, chewy matzoh balls. I am confused. In the worst part of my illness, I trusted my gut. Now that I’m still experiencing aftershocks, I am trying to follow my intuition to choose what to eat, but it’s difficult. I crave salad, but it actually makes me feel like crap afterwards. I don’t want my body getting used to meat. I felt so bad when I cooked a Thanksgiving turkey, I apologized to the fucking bird as I was cleaning it. And as I was seasoning it. And when I put it in the oven. This is what happens when you’ve been a big girl all your life and advertisements and family and friends and assholes who bully you all tell you different things about what to eat. So much shame in just eating what feels right or good. There must be a reason you eat fried calzones. Merely tasting good is not a good enough answer.

So, I sit here now, not wanting to get up and look in the fridge, not wanting to make myself a cuppa tea (mostly because I’m limited to a selection of black teas and I’m mad at myself for letting my stock go this low), not wanting to think about food. But I must. I know I need food if I’m to find strength again and get back to living a healthy life.

And now I’m kind of craving a calzone. Good going, self.

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[sic] week one: synchronicity (with playlist!)

“Synchronicity weaves like a web when you were meant to be a meal”–Incubus, Smile Lines

I have always loved that part from the song Smile Lines. The surprise of the unexpected, the elation of pieces coming together and the universe aligning with your dreams and desires.

On the other hand, synchronicity can reinforce your deepest fear, as it did when Ashley drew my tarot card for the year: 8 of Swords. Its meaning? Trapped and powerless. I have been grappling with these feelings as the demands of the world have left me exhausted, filling me with a sense of hopelessness. I ache to write more and tell my stories. My characters are suffering. My dreams are suffering. I am suffering. This is not to say there isn’t any good in my life. Lover Man is a constant source of love and support, and my family and friends are wonderful. I still feel isolated and panicked, and no one, no matter how wonderful they are, can reach inside me and change how I’m feeling. No one can magically alter the circumstances that are making me feel trapped and powerless. They can only try to help me through this hopefully brief period of pain.

I had begun work on my vision board for the year 2014 before I was dealt the card that confirmed my sad state, but after the card, it didn’t just seem like a fun thing to do. It was necessary to  put my positive intentions  out there. Ashley, being a good friend who probably didn’t want me to have a nervous breakdown–welcome, panic attacks!–did a more complete reading for me. This is how the cards rolled out:

The course of action.

The course of action.

Wheel of Fortune: destiny, fate, change of course.

The Fool: Innocence, Naivete

Mother of Swords: Experienced, All-Seeing.

The answer is clear: I can get out. I will stumble about. I won’t know all the answers. I may fall and fail, and I will endure growing pains, but I will be okay. Somehow, I will be okay.

The suite of cards is now my desktop background. Lover Man got me some adhesive strips to hang up my vision board since the blue painter’s tape I used at first was not having it.

Naturally, music has been getting me through some of my hardest days. New songs from old favorites like Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam are speaking to me, lifting me up, alternately whispering and screaming at me to keep going, move forward, break free, be authentic, create! Of course, I have also been seeking out songs that provide comfort and allow me to reflect on my issues. Death Cab for Cutie playing at the local cafe as I waited for my cup of coffee enticed me to sit and enjoy five minutes of writing time while warming myself up by their gorgeous fireplace. Songs have kept me warm and sane while trooping through biting cold and snow in the mornings to get to work. (Yes, that would be me chair dancing on the bus. Accept it and move on.)

I was inspired to reach my goals in art and life before 2013’s end, but I am clinging to motivation now more than ever. Every little spark in my cupped hands.

For our first Kindred playlist of the new year, I decided to create a vision board and merge my art and music inspiration together. Enjoy the playlist, and let’s all take control of our lives in 2014.

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Synchronicity: Listen here! Synchronicity

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[sic] masculine playlist.

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Getting in touch with my masculine side.

Masculinity is a weird concept to me.  I grew up in a household full of women, so the men that appeared and, ultimately, disappeared, became fodder for study. Maybe that’s why the whole “alpha male” thing is so gross in my mind. It’s a shame that men aren’t supposed to emote or bring their feelings to the table. I can’t relate to a man that can’t connect with who he is inside. Society tells us a lot of shit and sells us on lots of bullshit. Gender norms is a big one. Here I present my playlist for masculine. Men who sing about love, boredom, longing, loss, triumph, tragedy, rage, depression, surrender. How could Jeff Buckley’s voice not pierce your soul? Those anguished wails of lost love take me to church! John Frusciante shines as a solo artist, taking the soul he gave to Red Hot Chili Peppers and channeling it into telling tales of his own personal demons. Johnny Cash takes Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt and gives it a new layer of pain and regret. I love Coconut Skins by Damien Rice because it’s a rare upbeat moment in his catalog, a song he claims is about wanting a better life but letting opportunities pass you by but also has a bit of a dirty edge to it. Nothing is more masculine to me than Johnny Flynn, a folk singer who also happens to be a Shakespearean actor, continuing the tradition of men playing women’s roles. The more genderfuck in my Shakespeare, the better. Iron and Wine does flamenco in a whisper. The Avett Brothers and Patrick Wolf pay homage to my two favorite places in the world, Brooklyn and London, respectively. Elliott Smith, the king of lo-fi, evokes so many emotions with quiet grace, while Devendra Banhart lulls me to a dreamlike state. Mumford and Sons get angry, and Beck sings the slow, devastating aftermath. Nirvana brings it home with the perfect mix of sadness, anger and surrender.

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[sic] playlist: the water sustains me.

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I just want to run and dive in.

This picture is from the last time I was at the ocean. It was at a wedding; the air was crisp and perfect. The waves gently lapped against the shore, and I wanted to dive in so badly. I was wearing a navy cotton eyelet dress and shiny patent flats, which I took off to dig my toes into the moist sand. I wonder when I’ll ever be able to go to the ocean again.

I wasn’t going to write about this or bitch about it any more than I have, but to hell with it. I miss the ocean. I feel the swell in my belly and my breast, but I cannot go to the ocean right now. I have solar dermatitis, which is a skin rash that flares up in the sun, and boy, the sun has been one hell of a showy bitch this summer. I have to be outdoors for work, and that is bad enough. The itch is immediate and strong. My skin is deeply tanned but blotchy and bumpy, little white spots peeking through the caramel in a mocking sort of way. Mind you, I am religious about sunscreen, so it’s not for my lack of sun safety. No, the heat and brightness of that big star has overpowered me.

One week, we had continuous clouds and rain every day, and I was actually joyous at times. My skin had stopped crawling for a few days. But now….

I have, of course, made a playlist of all the songs that bring me some sense of cool and calm, that speak to my longing for water. I wish the beach was close enough that I could at least visit after sundown, just go and inhale the clean saline scent, feel it on my skin. I feel so lost without it. Perhaps my love for autumn has manifested itself as a burning hatred for these hot and humid times.

Enjoy while soaking up the sun or, if you’re like me, looking outside your window and wishing your body wasn’t rejecting summer.

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