Friday, October 29, 2010

Fake it 'Til You Make it

 So I am writing this post from my Blackberry while sitting in an empty classroom in a Brooklyn elementary school. That's basically my way of saying spelling, grammar, and punctuation don't count on this one.

I am tired. Exhausted. As a matter of fact, if I weren't writing this right now I would probably be curled up on top of a cluster of little desks asleep. My internship is frustrating, chaotic, and well a bit of a hassle I run from classroom to classroom pretending like I know how to hook up smartboards and present information about foreign countries that I barely know about. The teachers are so nice, but they expect me to be some technological worldly guru that I am not.

So why on earth do I come back each week when the night before I have to treck into the city feels like the night before getting a root canal? Well. I guess as much as I hate it, I love it. I love coming to see all of the kids. They get excited when I come in the room even though I have no clue what I'm doing. I love meeting with the teachers on their breaks and talking "teacher talk" with them, and I'm pretty sure they have no idea I'm not plugging things in in the right places while I'm sitting there mumbling and fumbling with a mess of cords . I love to put on my nice boots and a pretty sweater and pretend like I'm going to a real job, I'm pretty sure I have my 7am self fooled into thinking I do.

My dad has this big important job with a company called wakefern. He is well respected, well liked, and he knows what he is doing. He's good at what he does and he is so passionate about it. When he starts to talk about his job you can see a fire glowing in his eyes, his whole face lights up and he starts flailing his hands all over the place. He wasn't always at the top though. He started by working in a fish market when he was 17 and worked his way up. He works with Ivy League grads and he barely got through high school. But he is sharp. He is smart. And he is good at what he does. He always ays how he doesn't really fit with all the college grads he works with, but he's got this saying that defines how he got there. "Fake it til you make it. " Work hard and act like you know exactly what you're doing, go with it, learn from experiences, and you'll get there.

I guess that's what I'm doing here in this empty classroom. I know I've got the fire in my eyes too, but for now I have no choice but to fake it. Fake it til I make it. Make it as a teacher. Make it as an adult. Make it as a person. Isn't that what we're all doing anyway? Don't we all fake it every day? Don't we all pretend like we are in total control of our daily lives, when really we have no clue what the next week or day or second will bring.

Now, I'm not saying that this whole notion of faking it is bad. I mean, yes I'm sure we'd all be happy if we were better at living. But what fun would that be? There would be no suprises in life; no growth or struggle. And all that passion we feel would be non-existant because we tend to be passionate about things that we need to work at. And is it really all that bad if we fake it a bit? I think not.
So go ahead, hold your head up high and strut your stuff-even if you have no clue where you're going. We'll never know. Fake it til you make it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Favorite Song is Unwritten

"There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one." 
~Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

I have this thing that I do when it comes to music. I will spend two or three days obsessing over my iTunes library. I sit around and download, and delete, and arrange, until I have come up with several masterpiece playlists that I listen to for months and months. After I have settled on a mood or a theme, nailed the perfect flow of songs, listened to the end of each song run into the beginning of the next to be sure they are a good fit, and after I have comprised the perfect title for my playlist, one that defines the moment it was created, I get to my favorite part. I pop a CD into my disk drive and listen to it swirl and whirl while my computer works its magic painting stripes of sound on the disk. Then I jump in my car and drive around listening to the most recent soundtrack to my life, driving to absolutely nowhere and everywhere all at the same time. 

Hey Na Na- Katie Herzig
More Than Fine- Switchfoot
Inside These Lines- Trent Dabb

My music binges come at times of intense change or excitement; I get this overwhelming urge to spruce up what I am listening to day in and day out. Suddenly every scratched up CD floating around in my car just won't do the trick. Usually I find comfort in the fact that I can confidently sing out the first line of the next track in the three seconds of silence after the pervious song ends; but then there are times when I crave something new, something unexpected. Sometimes I am up for the challenge and frustrations of not knowing every word in every song. Sometimes I like to think about how someday in the future this new mix will be as comfortable and worn in as all of the others strewn about, but for now it is shiny and new and mysterious. 

Eyes- Rogue Wave
Something Beautiful- Needtobreathe
Together with the Sundown-Stephen Jerzak

If you are a music enthusiast of any sort and you have yet to pick up Love is a Mix Tape, you really should invest. Rob Sheffield tells the story of his life, his love and loss and how music got him through it. It is heart-wrenching, but so incredibly relatable for anyone who knows the feeling of that memory rushing back when a certain song comes through the speakers. Tucked away in the pocket of my Jeep door is a CD that I can't bare to play. It is in it's case with a paper clip taped to the front, the words "Indie Mix" scribbled in a boys handwriting next to it. I was standing in a foot of snow saying goodbye before four long months apart when he handed it to me. It played in my car on repeat until the daffodils sprung up from the earth; I knew every word. Spring gave way to summer and my winter romance didn't quite result in seeing fireworks in each-others eyes on the fourth of July. I know that if I play that CD I will still be able to feel my glove covered hands gripping the steering wheel as I drove home on that snowy night; and so it sits untouched among other mix tape memories in my Jeep. 

You Me and the Mountain- Maps and Atlases
Live Like We're Alive- Nevertheless
A Little Opera Goes a Long Way- Sky Sailing

The CDs piled up next to my emergency brake chronicle my music life from age twelve or thirteen to now. There is Britney Spears sitting next to The Beatles, who canoodle with Spoon and The Shins. There are mix tapes piled up with titles reflecting college memories like "Stuff as much cheese in your pockets as you can and run!" And then there are some with little notes and hearts scribbled on them from flings past and friends. When I drive around, preferable with sunglasses on and roof off, I can literally relive my teen and twentysomething years through my speakers; and when I add a new and exciting mix-tape to the stack, I add yet another chapter to my life. 

They Bring Me to You- Joshua Radin
Slowly- Coconut Records
Pick Me Up- Matt Hires

Today the itch set in and I have been taking  frequent breaks from my day to listen to a song, googling it's lyrics as it plays. I've had a playlist opened up in my iTunes, waiting to be flowed and titled and swirled and whirled around in my disk drive. The songs on the list are crisp and colorful like autumn. They are filled with feelings of flitting love juxtaposed with feelings of independence, just how I feel. The songs go from upbeat and exciting, to a mellow tone, to loud and harsh, back down to smooth and easy to listen to, and finally fun and carefree at the end. The perfect circle of a days or weeks or months emotions. And now all I can think about is driving around listening to this heavenly season of mine play itself out on my jeep stereo. 

thank you Miss B, for the image
"Our lives were just beginning, our favorite moment was right now, 
our favorite songs were unwritten." 
~Love is a Mix Tape

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Anything List

After I read my last post again, I started to fall more in love with the concept of an anything list. Essentially, it is a bucket list with a spin, a things to do in a lifetime list with a twist. But you must admit calling it an anything list makes it feel pretty magical. The thought of looking at this big list of "I can do anything" and then choosing the "something that will make me happy right now" feels way more promising and fulfilling than compiling a list of things I want to accomplish before I, well, die. It won't be disappointing if one of the anythings doesn't occur in my life, it just simply means it wasn't ever the something that I needed.  And that feels infinitely better to me than the thought of seeing a list with more items than check marks on it for most of my life.

So here is this idea, my Anything List. It is, like me and this blog, a work in progress. It is a living document that can forever evolve with me and my life. What it is today may not be what it is tomorrow, and what it is tomorrow may not be what it is next week. However, it is deeply personal and putting it all out there on Sneezeweed feels too invasive. I love my readers, and trust in your confidence, but if you know me well you know that deeply personal thoughts are not easy for me to share. But here are a few, not the whole list but not none of it either.

-California Bungalow
-Tennessee Apartment
-Brooklyn Loft
      (that much was easy!)
-Skydive at the Ranch
-Buy a big ugly van, paint it beautiful colors, and drive it to the pacific
-Ride in a helicopter
-Learn how to keep a vegetable garden, grow said garden, and preserve the summer crops to eat all     winter long.
-Be vegetarian
-Climb over the top of a bridge
-Move to a foreign country
-Learn to rock climb
-Have butcher block counter-tops, and chairs that don't match around the dining room table.
-Go on a yoga retreat

and oh yes, how could I forget...
-Live on a farm
-Travel the world

I have become so inspired by this idea that I added it to my pages! I can add and update anytime, and you can glance over too. I'd love to hear what's on your bucket list with a spin, your things to do in a lifetime list with a twist, your Anything List.

We all can do anything that we want to, we just need to settle on one happy something at a time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking for the New Normal

Life lately has been fairly mellow, pretty regular, a most enjoyable normal. I have spent time working, applying, visiting, and taking in the Catskills (yes! I did make it up to my mountain town for a bit!). Among  all of the hustle and bustle of ordinary life, I have been trying to figure out what it is I would like my new normal to be. I am happy where I am, but I could be happier. I love my family and I love spending time with them, but I crave my independence and privacy again. I can't complain about spending my time cuddling a sweet little infant, but I crave a job where my impact is greater, and my days are a bit shorter. I love going to school, but I crave the time I need to immerse myself in it. I am looking for that rewarding job, a balance between work and play, and a little-well- quiet time.

Life has been a comfortable normal for a while now, and normal is a wonderful thing to have. But I am beyond ready for my normal to change, to shift into a different place. The sneezeweed is blooming this time of year you know.

Upon graduating from college the feeling that I can do anything, for the first time ever, was seriously daunting. Anything is an impossibly powerful word that I didn't quite know how to take on. So I did what I do best, I dreamt big. I thought maybe I will find my new normal in an exotic place. Maybe my new normal will take me to other oceans, other cities, other passions. Maybe my new normal would be a Brooklyn loft and late night subway rides. Maybe my new normal would be a California bungalow and an Americorps project. Maybe my new normal would be an apartment in a soul-filled Tennessean city and afternoons listening to the blues and eating barbecue. I felt like a child who dreams about being a farmer, a doctor, and a world traveler at once (which was exactly what I was convinced I would be, thank you very much), but this time it was real, and right in front of me. So I did the other thing that I do best, I procrastinated. I told myself that things were a just fine normal the way they are. That the right normal would find me. And well, that didn't work too well. I was so overwhelmed with the feeling that I needed to do it all right now, that now was the only time in my life that I would get the chance to live in these places and have these experiences. So I chose not to choose, and just keep on dreaming.

Parents telling their little children "you can be anything when you grow up" is a wonderfully important and powerful part of childhood, but I think kids miss the memo: at some point, you have to boil anything down to something. Just like you can't have farmer, doctor, and traveler at the exact same moment without going insane, you also can't have Brooklyn loft, California bungalow, and Tennessee apartment at once either. But like I said, I am good at dreaming big. So in all of my efforts to decide what my new normal should be, my effort to boil the anything into a something failed miserably. So I fell back into the question that perhaps should be the ultimate fall back question: what will make me most happy, right now? And you know what, my answer surprised me. Right now, I don't want the loft or the bungalow or the apartment. Sure, I'd love to have all of these someday but that day isn't today. Today I want the Catskills. I decided that while at some point in my life I would love to experience life in all of these faraway places, its okay if that time isn't now. I will get there. But now, I feel like my time isn't done here, in New York. I feel like I want to make my way back up to the mountains I love and explore the life that I could have there.

Now that I finally have my something figured out, I just need to figure out how to get there. And I am working on it. It may not happen right now, or tomorrow, or even this year. I still need to find the job, the home, the life i'll have there. But at least I am not thinking anything anymore. I've got my whole life for anything, right now I just need to get to my something of the moment. And what a beautiful something it is.

Please don't get me wrong, I have not given up on dreaming. The loft, the bungalow, and the apartment are all still swirling around in my mind. And while I have given up on being a doctor- farmer and traveler are still very much on my anything list.

Once a dreamy sneezeweed, always a dreamy sneezeweed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Magical Mountains..

I hope that you've noticed, summer has officially melted away into autumn. Jeans and scarves have been pulled from the back of the closet to replace tank tops and flip flops. The days of sunshine leaving a dewy glow on warm cheeks have been taken over by wind blown rosy circles left in their place. And I have to tell you, I've been avoiding writing this post all weekend, because seeing pumpkins sitting on porch steps and slipping my feet into woolen socks makes me long to be in a place where I am not.

Living on this beautiful island ensures that summers are filled with days on the beach and nights surrounding fires with friends. Living here means you find comfort in seeing the thin layer of sand covering your car mats and knowing the smell of low tide from a mile away. Summers on the island are magical, and  this summer in particular proved to be filled with the easy living you would expect from such a place. But for me, when the warm air gives way to the cool breezes and the leaves begin to turn to such a brilliant gold you would swear someone climbed each tree and painted them themselves, this island gives all of its magic to the mountains and thats all I've been able to think about for the past few days.

I guess I have taken it for granted for the past few years. When the summer shuts it doors and autumn turns its sign to "welcome!" I usually move back up to the Catskills for another year of exams and presentations. But this year is different, and I didn't realize just how much my little mountain town had become home. On days like today- sunny skies, cool breeze, crunching leaves- all I can think about is wandering around my mountain town. I would buy a card for a friend in the art supply store, head over to the coffee shop to fill it out, window shop on my way down to the post office, detour into the marketplace to get Levi his favorite treats, and then head up to the mountain with nothing but a bag of trail mix and a bottle of water for the afternoon. On my way home I would stop at the farm-stand for some apples and fresh flowers, pick up dinner at my favorite diner where I would chat with the waitresses, grab my pup and a blanket, and then head down to the local park to watch sweet children run and play while day turned into evening. When the chill in the air became too much to bare anymore I would head home for a night of lounging with friend,s popping popcorn and watching movies. And sure, this may seem impossible to do when there is homework to be done, a job to go to, and groceries to be bought; but the truth is it was so far from impossible. This is what an autumn day is to me. This is where I belong now. And it wasn't until the summers close that I realized my magical island really isn't home anymore.

Maybe the most frustrating part of all of this is that so few people really understand. When I try to explain why I just want to go back to my mountain town most people brush it off. "Oh, you just miss college life. You just aren't feeling ready for the 'real world.' You just need to get over it." But here is the thing of it. I don't miss college life. I don't really miss going out four nights a week to the local bar. I don't really miss staying up late cramming for exams. I don't really miss looking at an ever growing pile of dirty dishes that no one wants to do. And I don't really miss living in a house where the heat doesn't go above 65 in the middle of winter. I don't miss college life. What I do miss is the rest of the life I created for myself there. I miss teaching ballet to little tots on Saturday mornings. I miss baking apple muffins in the afternoon. I miss shopping at the local health food store. I miss going to open mic night and kicking off my shoes at the local coffee shop. I miss the things that I had to give up because college life came to an end.

When I was living in my mountain town I created a life for myself. I started to grow and change and define who I was. All I have been able to think about since I left is when I will get to go back, for good. And unless the answer is "today," then it is too far off. Maybe you can identify, maybe you can't. But I have to tell you, the crisp autumn air has just arrived, and I don't know how I will ever make it through this season without the magic of the Catskills.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just a Teaser

Just popping in with a little teaser post so you don't think I forgot about you all!

I found this wonderful campaign called "The Kind-Hearted Blogger Campaign" that was created by a blogger who had some bad experiences with blogger bullies. She asks bloggers to take a pledge to inspire and not compete with, speak freely but not offend, and to make an effort to show kindness to fellow bloggers. Check it out! Make the pledge, add the button to your blog, and she will add your blog to her list of participants.

More later!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


So I have decided to add a new dimension to my blog by hosting guest bloggers! I would like for guest bloggers to offer alternative perspectives on topics that I have written about (losing touch with friends, adventuring to new places, hunting for jobs, finding companionship, etc.). 

Here is how it will work: 
-You review my blog and decide which one of my posts you would like to respond to. 
-Post the title of it here in the comments section of this entry, along with a link to your blog (i'll check yours out too!), and your idea for a response.
-I'll reply "sweet" "awesome!" "go on,write away!"
-Once you've written your response, you can e-mail it to me (i'll give you my e-mail address), ill review it and post it to my blog with the title being "Guest Blogger: (your name and/or blog title here)" I will also be sure to link your blog at the end of your entry so my readers can check your blog out!
-While I reserve the right to deny publishing a post on my blog after reading it, I am open to posting entries that contradict my own views as long as they are written in a knowledgeable and respectful way. 
-You are welcome to Guest Blog once, or several times! I would love to develop ongoing relationships with fellow bloggers!
-If I get super lucky and there is an abundance of fellow bloggers who would like to serve as a guest blogger on my blog, it may take some time for me to get your response up as I do not want to post too many at a time, but don't worry! Your hard work will appear on my blog, I am prepared to post one-three guest entries a week. 

The requirements:
-Must be a twentysomething blogger who is looking to connect with other twentysomething bloggers in a positive way OR must be responding to my entry with some sort of "wisdom" from having once been a twentysomething.
-Must include a link to the entry from my blog that you are responding to, in your response.
-Because I will be promoting your blog through mine, it would be lovely if you would do the same by informing your readers that you have a guest entry running on my blog in one of your own posts. Not only will your readers see my blog, but also the hard work you put into your guest entry!

I hope you're up for the challenge!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Year of True Love

When I walk in the door after a long day of traipsing around Brooklyn, the first thing I see is my little pup clawing at my feet. His whole body curls in half and he wags his tail so hard that it hits him in the face, and he can't walk straight. He's my little Snoopy, my wiggle, my little dog, my pooch, he's my pup. And I love to see his little face when I walk in the door. 

On Sunday it will be one year since I first saw this little face through the chain link fence in the back of the shelter where he was waiting for me. But I guess to fully understand how Levi ended up with me, I'll have to start even before that day. One year ago I was in college, I was loving life in my little mountain town, living with friends in a quaint old house. It was our senior year and we were all in such a good place. We had been living together for three years; we meandered our way through several dorms, homes, and other roommates together until we narrowed our group down to a solid five. Four of the best friends I have ever had. Five girls who had become family, five sisters who could get through it all. Knowing that we had only one more year with one another, I started feeling like we needed something to tie us all together. I started to feel like if we had a companion in our final year, life would be that much more sweet, so I started poking around the internet to find the perfect pup. After I was sure that there was a dog out there for us, I ran the idea by my roommates. And while they were a bit more hesitant than I was, we agreed to head to a local shelter the next day. 

can you tell who is a bit hesitant?
The next morning I woke up like a child on Christmas, sat in the living room and anxiously awaited the rest of the house to rustle. As soon as everyone was awake my shoes were on and two of us were out the door, the others waiting at home for the phone calls and photos about who we found. 

When we arrived at the shelter, an old barn down a long dirt road, we were a bit skeptical. We went in anyway. After filling the woman behind the counter in on what we were looking for (a small, friendly pup)she had her coworker lead us through rows of huge dogs with deep barks, behind big cage doors, to an outdoor area with five or six dogs roaming freely. There were several dogs cowering in the back, and three right up by the fence-one of which was my Levi. He and his brother were the only two perched up scraping their paws against the chain-link, whimpering as to say "oh please! choose me! choose me!" And so we did. The two dogs were let out for us to play with and I immediately scooped up my Levi. 

I have to admit, we all thought that Levi's brother was the better pick of the two, but my heart had already fallen in love with the one in my arms- and luckily a last minute decision had us walking out with Levi and not his brother. 
*a side-note: I almost left with both Levi and his brother; while filling out the paperwork I couldn't bare the thought of leaving the other pup behind. But, thankfully, just as I was about to propose the idea to my roommates a little boy and his dad came walking into the office with the other Snoopy, smiling just as big as we were. 

Levi is a four(ish)-year-old Chihuahua, Beagle, Daschund mix. That is the best guess anyway, and he was removed from a home that had fourteen dogs inside. There was Levi, his mother, and five or six brothers and sisters, as well as some other dogs. He was living in filthy conditions, his ribs poked out of the sides of his little body, and he shook and cowered from the slightest abrupt movement. Levi was a little puppy mess, but we gave him a second chance at life; and boy is it a great one.

Over the last year Levi and I have celebrated...

we have climbed mountains, braved waters, and strolled beaches...

Levi has even been the proud recipient of the "most obedient" award at a local pup parade...

Levi and I have spent days adventuring, evenings playing, and we see eye-to-eye on almost everything...

Levi and I even graduated college together...

and to be truthful, I don't know how I would have survived the transition from "college student" to "unemployed young adult" without him. 

Levi has come a long way from his shaky, skinny self that he was one year ago. His rib-baring sides have filled out, his skittish tendencies have been replaced with a wagging tail and a hardy bark, and his heart is filled with the biggest love I have ever known. 

Everyday that I walk in the door, tired and sluggish, my little wiggle pops out from the hall and greets me like no one else can. A dogs love is unconditional, and incomparable.

I like to think that Levi and I saved one another. We were meant to get each-other through difficult times and to enjoy each-others company on sunshine filled days. When someone comes up to him too abruptly, wanting to pet and love on the cutest little pup, he sticks right close to my legs so I can warn them he is "shy." And when I am feeling low he knows just the right place to nuzzle up on my chest to make me giggle. We both love to curl up on cool sheets under the warm sun in our local park, and to hike the beautiful mountains on lovely days. 

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and on Sunday we will not only be celebrating one fantastic year with Levi- but we will also be celebrating for all shelter dogs who were lucky enough to get a second chance, a loving home, and a dear companion, as well as wishing and hoping for those who are still waiting

And oh, what a wonderful year it has been. 

(In honor of  Adopt a Shelter Dog month, please feel free to share this post, or any of the links attached to it, with anyone who may be ready to embark on a shelter adoption of their own!)