Trade.

Today it begins. The next chapter, the new era, when the past finally becomes a hollow shell unrecognizable to the present.
It is a remembrance of what was. When the city was bright and new and strange. When worth was a game of dollar signs and business suits. When internal understanding came from external gratification.
It is a summation of acquired skills. To be brave. To be strong. To be unique. To be true and real. To be kind. To be thankful for lessons learned and the people who provided them.

It is a forceful push into a new place, a beautiful, violent light transfixed on possiblities.

  

Year 2

About two years ago, give or take a few days or weeks, I carried two suitcases and a duffle bag on a one way trip to this beautiful new life in a city known for pursuit and purpose. Two years ago I made a choice to forget everything I knew to know something different–to remove myself from any comforts and step out to the other side of my little world with no expectations other than to live with my eyes wide. To put into sussinct, blog-shaped words the story of how the person with those suitcases no longer exists would take a lifetime. And at the moment I have no time at all.

All I can say in brevity is this: I have lived here. I have been ripped to shreds here. I have gotten lost here. And I have found my way here. I have fought here. I have loved here. And I will continue to break and lose and gain and fight and love here because I am not done yet.

  

In the midst of yoga.

“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” – Oliver Sacks

You know every once in a while you have one of those weeks that just makes sense. Everything about it forces you to shift perspective for one reason or another until the person you were the week before is gone.

I sat up straight on my yoga mat with the invisible string coming out of my head, as the yogi instructed. He said to clear my mind of all thoughts, blank canvas. This never really works, since forcing my mind to be clear usually invites thoughts to creep in, especially the ones that have been suppressed for very good reason. Those thoughts usually come to the forefront in bright color and high definition.

I tried shaking the nagging, suppressed thoughts in my head, especially one in particular, for nearly the entire session. The thought is inconsequential now, but the feeling of being held hostage by the thought was not.

The instructor had us do the kneel-down-arms-raised-to-a-point-head-back-pose. You know the one. And staring at the window in the ceiling for that brief minute, all I could see was the suppressed thought nagging me out of my focus. It was all consuming. I wanted to start over. I was wasting my time with my eyes searching out the window, feeling nothing. No peace. No zen. Just nagging.

Nine hours later on the train ride home, my brain was finally cleared and the answer finally hit me. The nagging, annoying thought came at me at that exact moment on the yoga mat for a reason. My brain was finally ready to feel it and process it. I was finally ready to let go, to see what is ahead with a clear insight and hope. I held myself back, settled for the ordinary and easy. I got lazy. I suppressed my thoughts and got lazy. Sitting on the train, I refused to be lazy. I made a conscious choice to look ahead with clarity.

My best friend/yoga instructor called it a “yoga breakthrough”. Whatever it was, it opened me up to what was and what could be. And better yet, it made what could be feel so much more achievable.

What could be SHOULD BE on the forefront, not a nagging afterthought in the middle of a yoga pose.

Get out of your way.

Behind the Bestsellers: Hilderbrand, Gladwell and Stine Take the NYU Stage

C.P.:

I wrote this article for my graduate program at NYU. It was a pretty fantastic night. Enjoy! :)

Originally posted on NYU Pub Posts:

(l-r) Moderator Lev Grossman with panelists Malcolm Gladwell, Elin Hilderbrand, and R. L. Stine (l-r) Moderator Lev Grossman with Panelists Malcolm Gladwell, Elin Hilderbrand, and R. L. Stine

Adults clutching worn childhood copies of Goosebumps and Fear Street books mingled with Malcolm Gladwell aficionados and devoted Elin Hilderbrand fans, along with students from the NYU School of Professional Studies M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program, faculty, and alumni from the program and across the school. This was quite the occasion: for the first time in 17 NYU Media Talk panels, authors took the stage to divulge their views on all sorts of literary topics including the value of criticism, the author/agent relationship, and their first paid writing gigs.

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Tiny Houses

This is the year to trim the fat.
When there are far too many projects on the docket, too many things that are considered important, too many excuses to not write a simple blog about the new year, it’s time to make some changes.
I spent an embarrassing amount of time in bed this morning looking through hundred of photos of Tiny Houses; you know those self-sustaining, Eco-friendly, budget conscious dwellings that people somehow find comfortable despite the space constraints. These tiny spaces are much more than houses; they are a conscious choice to live minimally without the added weight of junk. And to live minimally means to really prioritize importance and weed out frivolity.
When family, friends, jobs, relationships, entertainment, gadgets, are all given equal weight, meaning is lost in the undefined; your identity goes away with it.
I spent quite a great deal of last year pretending to have priorities, pretending I knew what I wanted, and that I had it all under control. I pretended that jobs and relationships and friends and school and calls to family were all equal, were all perfectly balanced and happily centered. But comparing jobs to friends is like comparing a new sweater to a deep conversation and a long hug–one always feels better. I convinced myself that a sweater and hug felt the same, that both provided equal satisfaction. I’m done pretending.
I didn’t know what I wanted last year. I didn’t have a clear understanding of what mattered and what I needed. So I let clutter and frivolity take the place of choice; I didn’t know who I wanted to be or where I wanted to go so I let everything else make decisions. Maybe this was out of fear of making the wrong choice, a passive aggressive protection from being honest.
This year I plan to make bold choices, to be honest with myself about what I want, to not let frivolity or stuff get in the way of meaning, and to save up enough money to live in a Tiny House. Have you seen those things?! They’re crazy!

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(www.smallhousebliss.com)

Shake up and out

Most people write because they have something to say. I write when I have nothing to say. I write to keep from going brain dead.

Sometimes when you catch yourself floating around like a nebulous spec of mindless dust, and there’s no anchor attached to your feet, and everything is happening to you, passing through you, all of the buildings make the same shapes in your head and every person on the street looks like the same tired, alone, anamorphic person, you know that is the perfect time to write. Because there is nothing to say, and no anchor holding your feet. And the words become the only real product of the nebulous world.

The words shake you up and out. They are tangible. They exist. When all else feels too unreal, too unknown, the words exist.

So what do you write about, when the world is floating and there is no anchor? Love? Life? What would you say about each? That they exist. That I exist because of them. That you exist because of them. That they are there for others to understand and for others still to be burned by them.

What else do you write about when the world is floating?

What else do you write about?

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(Here is Matisse at the MOMA. For inspiration. Blue Nudes.)

The feeling you get when words hit the page.

My black pen used to be an extension of my left arm. Not blue. Blue ink doesn’t stick as well or stain the pages as deeply as black. You have to press harder to make the words really pop. So I stuck to black.
But in between writing with black ink and growing up, I have found less chances to write more. Loss for words, fear of repetition, lack of inspiration, too much inspiration, so much distraction (mostly distraction). Endless talks of market research and business and viral and SEO and money (oh god the money) and short and attention spans and purpose and VIRAL and MONEY. Writing has lost all flavor. It’s all been said. It’s all been said.
Writing has now been sequestered to short sips of time when no inspiration comes, when empty words are just hitting the page in the right order to make sense, like this very moment. I’ve hit literary rock bottom. So tomorrow I’ll wake up and start over again.