Why a Writer Writes: 2: History

Charly:

Thinking of this post I wrote three years ago, going through the memories of this day, especially now that I am living in New York City. Thought I’d share it here again.

Originally posted on Charly Writes:

On September 12th, 2001, I sat in the backseat of the car. My mother and grandmother sat up front. In the trunk was everything we could fit and everything I would need for my first few days back at boarding school. We couldn’t fit everything. We weren’t supposed to be driving this car. This car was my dad’s, loaned to us for the day in order to get me up to New Hampshire. We were supposed to be driving my grandparents’ minivan.

But that car was stuck in lower Manhattan.

On September 11th, 2001, my mom, grandmother and I got up early and drove to Brooklyn. I had a dentist’s appointment. I was hoping that today would be the day I got my braces off. I was excited. Later that day, we would drive up to NH, I would see my friends, start my sophomore year of high school and…

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balancing wagons

throughout my years of blogging, i’ve probably written a number of posts with the “falling off the wagon” theme. i’ve fallen off the yoga wagon, the vegan wagon, the vegetarian wagon, the running wagon, the healthy wagon, the writing wagon, the social wagon, the dating wagon, the loving life wagon, the reading wagon, the 365grateful wagon, the 365 days of writing wagon, the i’ll practice spanish every day wagon, the i’ll take the pup on long walks every day wagon, etc.

there are so many freaking wagons to jump on to…and to fall off of.

as you can imagine, august, being the crazy month it was for me, caused me to fall off many of the above wagons. i arrived in new york city in one piece, but it was a slightly lost and confused one piece.

it seems to me that you are on one or several wagons for a period of time — feeling good. doing great. — and then there is a bump in the road.

that bump could lead to you tumbling off one of the wagons. or it could lead you down another path…which may still cause you to fall off a wagon, but perhaps you fall onto another.

why am i still discussing wagons?

because this weekend was the first weekend in a while when i felt like i had regained my footing on several wagons. for the past few months, i’ve felt a little wagon-less or wagon-f’ed up. i haven’t felt like myself physically, mentally or emotionally. i’ve gained weight, my asthma has been worse, i’ve been quick to get annoyed and feel anxious, i’ve been even more antisocial than normal, my diet has been atrocious….and since the move, i’ve had this overwhelming urge to get my sh*t together. and i’ve been trying.

and this weekend it felt the hard work paying off. i practiced yoga, i went for a run (i’ve been running steadily now for two weeks. woohoo!), i was social–out at theater events two nights in a row, i did laundry, i wrote a bit of my play…

and right now, sitting here, writing this, i am feeling better. i feel like i am finding my groove again. i feel like i am moving at the right speed. i feel like the wagons aren’t tumbling out of control, but, instead, are finding a rhythm.

and that is all i can really ask for. i’m reevaluating what is good for me, what is not, what feels right, what doesn’t…so all i can really ask for is rhythm and balance…since the wagons below may continue to change and rock side-to-side.

settling in september

well, i did it!

i survived august.

i was worried there for a bit of time.

night street

i started a new job. i went on an artist’s retreat. i started a new play. i sat by bonfires and listened to ghost stories. i got rejected from two writing opportunities. i packed up my apartment. i moved to new york. i freaked out about the dog refusing to drink water in our new apartment. i went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. i unpacked. i got rejected from two more writing opportunities. i definitely messed up a muscle when trying to hang curtains. i went back to work. i joined a gym. i went to said gym and started running again. i found a dogwalker. i celebrated when the dog finally started drinking water again. i got rejected from another writing opportunity. i ran along the hudson for the first time. i celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday. i accidentally ate a food with hazelnuts and didn’t die despite being allergic. i went back to philly to get rid of junk and old furniture, and clean my rental apartment. i saw ghostbusters in the movie theater. i started planning for my reading this friday.

west village

i just wasn’t sure everything would get done and happen the way it needed to.

but, in the end, it did.

and now it is september…

i am writing this from an old comfy chair in my new apartment in my new city with the old pup at my feet and the old boyfriend opposite me on the couch. there is so much familiar about this scene and yet so much new.

we live in new york city now. and me, the pup, and the boyfriend all live together.

running along the hudson

we are finding our balance, our footing, our ways of being together.

we are creating a new home. and after a crazy august, i know we are all just happy to be home, to relax, and to settle in.

sunset

see you in september

nyc

my arms are shaking because i just carried 40 boxes and moving supplies up to my 3rd floor apartment.

why, you ask….ah, well, because i will be spending the next 2.5 days packing.

by august 25th, i will be (sorta) settled into my new apartment in nyc. this is a good two or three weeks earlier than expected.

before august 25th, i will be packing, starting a new job in NYC, exploring my writing during a retreat in Pennsylvania, moving to NYC, and trying not to hyperventilate…oh and doing a juice cleanse.

between now and august 25th, i will probably spend 5 or 6 nights in my philly apartment. this is why i need to be 90% packed by this sunday night.

ha.

haha.

hahahaha.

you see…my original plan was to have a quiet, transitional august…but that plan got thrown out the window this week….for all good things…but…the plan before was so…quiet, calm…filled with lunch goodbyes and yoga classes…oops.

this is why i’ve decided to officially take a break from the blog until september. catch me on charly writes or on instagram.

happy august peeps! i’ll be back in september…with a new perspective.

my online displays of affection

a favorite of mine. the boyfriend and i back in 2007.

a favorite of mine. the boyfriend and i back in 2007.

i caught the boyfriend staring at his facebook profile one day.

“what’s going on?” i asked.
he looked back at me and shrugged. “are we that annoying couple?”
“what?”
“are we that annoyingly cute couple on facebook?” he trailed off.

i thought about it. “i mean, maybe. probably…if you consider us cute…”

this conversation was about three weeks ago after our vacation. it seems that a lot of us go on vacations and then post a lot of pictures of our glorious vacation. this is one of the many issues that we associate with facebook nowadays. in photos, status updates, videos, and more we show each other how glorious life is. if you look at the pitcures, you’d think that all we did while we were on vacation was be cute with each other…and our phones. i posted two, i’d like to think, cute photos of us on vacation. we made them our profile pictures. our newsfeeds are filled with photos of us, status updates including us, etc.

i get his worry.

ever since our first conversation about this, which was probably months ago, i’ve been thinking about it. every time i post a picture or a status to facebook or instagram…i think about it. of course, there are reasons to think about it. facebook is the land of ex-lovers, family, that random person you hooked up with… our photos are being shared with friends, but also potential employers, old students, and more. while every photo i’ve posted would, i think, fall into the category of “appropriate” (whatever that means), we are often forced to think about the varying degrees of “appropriate”, the feelings of others, how much we want to share with strangers… and all those thoughts usually form one particular question in our minds: are we sharing too much?

in this particular case, the question gets more specific: are we that annoying couple? better yet, am i that annoying woman/girlfriend who posts all the pictures? is my online display of affection bad?

um, maybe.

but, honestly, i’m not sure i care…

you see, i love my boyfriend. i love him dearly. i loved him for the two years, two months, and twenty days we dated the first time (no no no, i did not keep count when we dated, okay…jeez…i calculated it a few weeks ago…). i loved him when we broke up. i loved him when i hated him. i loved him when i said i couldn’t talk to him. i loved him for the year and a half we didn’t speak. i loved him when we became friends again. i loved him when he asked if we could try this love thing again.

i loved him when he asked if it was too early for him to say “i love you”.

i loved him as i answered something along the lines of “of course not because, duh, i love you. i’ve loved you for seven years.”

and that is sappy. it is so fucking sappy. it is. but it wasn’t always sappy.

there was a time when the amount of love i felt for him was, well, just sad. when i was the girl who couldn’t get over this guy she dated in college and was frustrated by it and angry about it. i would have done anything to not love him. even when the love began to shift and, well, hibernate, even when i fell in love with others, it was still there. this sad, nagging love that would never go away.

“he is just always going to be there, isn’t he?” i asked my mom one day, probably a little less than two years ago. at this point, the boyfriend (well, he was the ex boyfriend then) and i were friends. we were in other relationships with people we loved and respected.
“what do you mean?” she asked.
“the feelings won’t go away, will they? they’ll just change…”

at this point, my mother explained, as she had many times over the four and a half years we weren’t together, that she thought that we, ex-boy and i, would get back together. someday. that is also the point that i had to exercise restraint and not yell at my mother for saying something that OBVIOUSLY was never going to happen (okay, fine, i yelled…). needless to say, she has said “i told you so” a number of times this past (almost) year.

ANYWAY all this love i had wrapped up inside is now out and open…and it wants to be free. it wants to dance. it wants to shout from the rooftops. it wants to be shared. it can’t contain itself.

it is annoying.
it is cute (hopefully).
but most importantly, it is thriving.

believe me, i don’t want to rub my love in others’ faces. i just want to be able to love my boyfriend. happily, sappily, and, sometimes, publicly. in any fashion that is healthy and appropriate.

…because, well, there were a lot of years when i couldn’t and it feels nice to post a picture that shows just how much i care for him and how much fun and happiness we share.

we don’t know what the future holds. i’m happy to be able to share the love, a glimpse of our love. i’m happy to be that annoying couple.

so is my level of online display of affection too high? maybe.

but, to be fair, my online display of affection for my pup, george, is probably a lot higher so…

george

being quiet

the view from my favorite spot in boston. along the charles river. where i often sat in silence.

the view from my favorite spot in boston. along the charles river. where i often sat in silence.

i’m not sure when it happened, but at some point growing up something shifted in me and i got, well, quiet.

i’ve never been the loudest voice in the room and i’ve always been someone more prone to listening than sharing (hello, INFJ), but somewhere along the line this predilection for quiet became a bit more insidious. i learned it was safer to, well, just shut the fuck up. this is, in part, because i don’t like confrontation. i will do almost anything to avoid a potential blow-up. i learned that when i voiced an unpopular opinion or just a plain opinion that i was often greeted with a strong, often defensive response. i learned that many people viewed themselves as knowing more than me. i learned that my voice was one that people could talk over and ignore. (i also learned that race and gender can play a huge part in all of this…)

so i got quiet. which, in turn, made this predicament worse: people can talk over you as much as they’d like when you aren’t speaking.

silence hasn’t always meant literal silence. it has meant saying “i’m fine” when i am not fine. it has meant following up with a question so that someone else has to talk more than me. it has meant not challenging an opinion i thought was ridiculous. it has meant nodding and smiling when all i wanted to do was yell and scream.

this worked out great until people could start reading my face. suddenly people were saying things to me like, “i know you are thinking something else…i can see it on your face”. i then had to get trickier with my silence, hiding it in plain sight–which didn’t/doesn’t always work.

it is not that i’ve enjoyed being silent. in fact, i find it frustrating. i find it enraging. i get so fed up that i open my mouth to speak sometimes–sharing my thoughts, my beliefs–and, unfortunately, i have sometimes been pushed back into my little silence cave. i put up the good fight until finally i see that i don’t have the stamina. i don’t have the endurance. sometimes it is me who pushes myself back in the cave, almost embarrassed by my attempt, and sometimes it is others, whether they mean to or not. i nod and smile and return to the world within my mind.

but often my voice does find a way out. in writing. in her book, talking back: thinking feminist, thinking black, bell hooks writes: “for me, poetry was the place for the secret voice, for all that could not be directly stated or named, for all that would be denied expression” (11). as a college student, i underlined this line a million times. because, yeah, poetry was the same for me. but this usually happens after the initial turn to silence. and i am thinking about the moment i go from engaged to silent.

as a yoga practitioner, i enjoy silence. i enjoy cultivating it. when we sit and breathe in silence and urge our minds to rest, to become quiet as well, it is a different version of silence–one that is harder to reach.

many times, i find myself yearning for the type of silence that comes from meditation when i get quiet in everyday situations. it is as though my brain hasn’t figured out the difference yet.

one stems from an urge to connect to self.

another stems from fear, frustration, and a yearning for safety.

when i feel that urge to shut up, i often feel the urge to find my yoga mat or meditation cushion. i don’t often make it there though. so i am wondering if there is something to be done here. can my personal practices of yoga, meditation, and writing bring me out of the hiding? can they support my voice? can they overrule the self-doubt? can practicing them regularly help me step out of silence regularly?

i don’t really have any answers. i’m just taking a few moments to study myself and to see what i find.

speed & distance

lovely photo captured by noah hudson

lovely photo captured by noah hudson

 

lately, i’ve had the urge to slow down.

maybe it is because things are picking up necessarily. there is a move, a retreat, a vacation, a job search, a cohabitation. things are changing. often for the better. everything feels like it is moving super fast. how is it almost the end of july?

i sometimes want to shout at the world and say “HOLD ON A SECOND. GIVE ME A MINUTE.”

let me collect my thoughts and breath…

but the world doesn’t work like that.

of course there are things we, i, do to slow down. yoga and meditation are, obviously, two of my go-tos. i didn’t feel like it, but yesterday i dragged my butt to a yoga class and was the better for it. but if i am honest, i have to say that sometimes they don’t work. or sometimes it is 9pm on a sunday and you don’t feel like getting on your mat (of course, there is an argument to be made that this is exactly when you should get on your mat…i would be the one to make that argument, in fact…oops).

so sometimes you have to find something else.

tonight i found my favorite cafe.

it has been sometime since i grabbed my computer and walked over to sit in my favorite cafe, but as soon as i pulled my computer out and took the first sip of my decaf lavender latte, i felt a calm come over me. i smiled to myself because last week i witnessed a similar moment. my boyfriend and i were visiting san francisco (where he lived for three years) and we went to his dojo and then his favorite ramen place. he ordered a beer and it came in a nice frosty glass. he took a sip, closed his eyes, and said, ‘i’m home’. and, well, he looked at home, at peace.

i feel the same way sitting in this cafe, taking a sip of my latte.

which got me thinking…

walking over here i felt frantic. i felt lost. i wanted everything to just slow the fuck down…but it took approximately three seconds for me to calm down in the cafe.

why?

sitting here in the cafe, typing away at this post, i feel at home. i feel like, well, myself. and i realized that in my frantic state moments before, i felt incredibly lost. i felt incredibly alone.

i thought i felt that way in respect to other people.

but really i think i felt that way in respect to myself.

i get frantic. i get lost. i want everything to slow down when i feel a million miles away from myself.

and feeling distanced from myself, makes me feel distant from (and makes me push away) the ones–be it people or passions–i love.

i think my urge to slow down is fueled by a need to connect to myself a little bit more, to get quiet and listen to my inner voice, to go a little deeper.

i think my urge to slow down is fueled by the fact that i feel on the edge of something wonderful, of something exciting, and i want to make sure i am connected with myself and don’t fuck it up.

i think my urge to slow down is fueled by a need to just breathe and trust and let everything else wash over me.

and sometimes i can feel the slowing on my mat

and sometimes it takes sitting in a cafe, sipping on my latte, taking a deep breath

coffee