Category Archives: Introspection

battling the buts

Confidence. That dirty bastard seems to be poking his giant, mangy head into my life these days. In fact, a lack thereof has always been an issue for me for so many reasons, really. But more specifically, I remember that being a theme in my teachers’ comments on my performance: “you’d do so much better if you had more confidence,” “your biggest issue is confidence,” “have more confidence in your work!” You get the picture. As if my lack of confidence in my body, my social skills, and myself were hard enough to handle back then; now we were throwing my strong suit into the mix.

So, in high school, confidence in everything from my formulas in math class to my paint strokes or color choices in art class was an uphill battle. I thought once I graduated high school, moved away to school, and began living (loosely) on my own, that I would shake most of that off like wreckage from a construction site.

Well, as it happens, I noticed this annoying little habit I’ve developed recently: when I meet someone for the first time, I talk to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, or basically whenever I’m in any slightly uncomfortable social situation, and the topic of my post-grad plans comes up (thus taking any level discomfort and maximizing it by, oh, 1000), I always seem to respond with some vague description of my not-so-vague goals, followed by, “but yeah, I have no idea!” As you can see, I have an issue with my buts (and my butt, for the record).

Or say someone asks what I’m studying at New Paltz. I always respond in a confident voice, “I’m majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Visual Arts,” then wait a few seconds and sheepishly add, “but we’ll see where that takes me I guess,” as though my major/minor combination is so bizarre, or as if majoring in creative writing can be likened to majoring in friendship bracelet making.

In reality, neither one of these circumstances reflect how I really feel; I know exactly what I want to do, and therefore I have a legitimate reason as to why my major/minor combo makes sense. I hoard a lot of solid goals for the future up in my noggin. They change every day, sometimes every hour. But for right now, I’m working towards becoming an interior decorator (with my own business) and/or (eventually) a published young adult author. I figure both careers could be done from home, and neither are full time in regards to being cooped up in a stuffy cubicle with Casual Fridays. When I graduate college, I’d like to work in publishing for a few years (haven’t decided what area of publishing yet) and save up a lot of moolah and eventually get my own apartment. I’ve also started researching decorating and potential online classes I could take. While you don’t need a degree for decorating, I imagine it would probably help to have some kind of experience in decorating-related color theory.

But honestly, I’m not going to outline a long-term life plan – complete with presentation boards and WordArt, of course– every time someone asks me this question.

I’m just tried of being asked the same follow-up questions. Let me demonstrate:

“So you’re going to be an English teacher?”

“Oh, English? Like, English education?”

“Do you want to teach?”

“What grades would you teach?”

Et friggin’ cetera. I am in no way knocking teachers. One of my role models happens to be my eleventh grade English teacher, not to mention several members of my family are teachers and several of my friends at New Paltz are doing education. So obviously, no disrespect. I just don’t see why that has to be where everyone’s minds go when they hear I’m an English major. Sure, I guess it’s the most obvious? The more economically wise decision?  Okay, I’ll give you that. But then, I have to almost guiltily reply, “No…just English. I want to be a writer,” and feel as though I’ve just slaughtered an animal right before their eyes. It makes me feel like my choice is a giant “<” in the face of everyone’s expectations, especially when followed by a furrowed-brow response.

So, after two years of this hogwash, I’ve learned to put up yet another proverbial wall in my life. I find it easier to sound like some lost puppy of a soon-to-be-graduate than to have to explain that, no, I am not planning on becoming a teacher.

Either way, I need to minimize the “buts” in my life (and then maybe I can finally work on the butt). In fact, why don’t we go ahead and erase the preceding commas altogether? They serve no purpose. I need to learn a thing or two about assertion.

I bet we all could use a good detox in that department, whether the “but” is any general nay-saying Negative Nimrod or, if it’s a nagging feeling, a cloud of doubt holding you back from truly embracing all of our nooks and crannies.

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breakfast for the brain

Stop creativity: You are Entering a School Zone?

So my brain has been going through a drought lately. A writer’s drought. It’s like, whenever I get a somewhat interesting thought process going, it just fizzles out like a campfire in a storm. I figured it’s because I’ve been going through a funk these last few weeks, and haven’t really been up to doing anything productive. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been so focused on getting back into a school zone that I’ve sort of put my creative on the backburner, which is completely unfair to the creativity that seeps through my veins on a daily basis. Either way, I’ve been needing a creative pick-me-up, a breakfast for the brain.

Lucky for me, tonight, while at home for Labor Day week, I happened upon a box full of my old writing from high school, mostly from the hundreds of writing workshops I attended during those four years, but also a bunch of free writes and undeveloped short stories. A lot of it surprised me – I didn’t realize how good I was even at age fourteen – but it also really made me miss the good ol’ days. I was so passionate about a lot of things back then. I still am passionate, I guess, but it’s different now. Back then, I used to write all the time: on napkins at Starbucks, or in the margins of my class notes. I used to be known for this passion; my teachers would come to me whenever they heard about a writing workshop or something of the like. But now, I’ve become more passionate about writing to impress my professors, or writing to impress my blog audience, or writing to jumpstart a career, but when it comes to just plain writing, for the bloody hell of it, I can think of 100+ other things to do instead. How sad, that that’s how I treat my life’s fervor – like some old childhood trophy that’s destined to a life of dust-collecting on the back of the highest shelf in the house. I quickly shook off that heavy feeling and realized that that’s the missing piece: excitement. True, honest, raw excitement. And belief, I suppose, in my talent.

Anyway, after that momentary soul searching, I realized how helpful it was that I happened upon this little treasure chest. Like I said, the bulk of this canon-of-sorts was from local teen writers’ workshops: cheap folders full of dozens of unfinished free writes, and useful free writing ideas. Finding a large source of inspiration in the midst of creative drought? Pretty sure you couldn’t write better coincidence even if you tried.

Point is, expect to find some finished (or in some cases, updated) versions of these little gems in the near future. And it’s time for me to rekindle that true excitement and fervor!

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empty juice boxes + other ways to carry on

I feel so empty. Like a juice box that has been squeezed past its limit; all my juice is gone and my straw is just sucking up a loud, slurpy air of nothingness. I try squeezing, flattening, even twisting myself for that one last drop. But there is simply. Nothing. Left.

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So since my last melodramatic post, not much has changed. I was told that these kinds of things happen. People change and not everyone and everything last forever. I can appreciate that statement, since just about every person who has entered my life has just as easily removed him/herself from it. But when did growing up mean giving up? Giving up your friends, your happiness? Am I doomed for absolute loneliness with each day that gets crossed off the calendar? No. Because I was also told that this doesn’t last forever either. I was told I get past this and eventually things become easier. Well yeah, that has the same impact as telling a blind man he’ll see brighter days.

I have to learn to be a bitch. It seems that the bitchy people always get what they want. The girls who lie, pretend, manipulate, cheat, steal…they are happy. Albeit, it’s only a temporary happiness, like when I take a bite out of a Cinnabon, feel completely euphoric for, oh… 10 seconds and then realize I’m about to slip into a food coma. Too much of a good thing never lasts. “They get theirs in the end.” Well, I’ll be marking my calendar for that fateful day.

But really, I’m not really focused on tomorrow; I’m not interested in what happens later on when things “get better.” Do you pop a romantic comedy into the DVD player and skip to the last 10 minutes? I didn’t think so. No, you strap yourself in and board that emotional roller coaster like a champ… you laugh, you cry, sometimes it’s painful to watch. And then at the end, just before the credits roll and they begin that cheesy love song, you feel somewhat at ease with what has just unraveled before you.

I guess it’s a little cliché (and unrealistic) to compare my life to a movie. Okay, point taken. I’m just saying that yeah, I’m sure it’ll all work out. I know I should look to the positives and let everything else just fall into place, blah blah blah. And I’m not dismissing the advice of my mother and boyfriend and everyone else who stuck me with that line. I’m just saying excuse me if I can’t exactly see the positives of this situation just yet. Excuse me if I roll my eyes or pfft at the idea that something good will come out of this shithole of a situation I am in. Because it’s not so much wah wah my friends forgot about me. It’s more like goddammit some of these people turn the other way because some big-haired bitch told them some crap lie about me. Yeah, I went there. I’d be totally fine with knowing that people in this world don’t like me for what I am, because I said or did something totally out of line. But having them stare me down like I just murdered their puppy for no reason, simply because someone told them to? Pardon me, I didn’t realize I stepped back into high school. Was that the homeroom bell? I should grab my brown paper bag lunch and scurry along.

I know I’m just thinking too much. (What the hell else is new?) In the back of my mind I know I should just go with the flow, let all my friends leave me in the dust, and just march forward because in the end, I’ll come out on top. And maybe, ten years from now, if I have a spare second in my busy, precious day, I’ll think about them and either laugh or feel sorry, because they’ll probably still be acting like children at age 30.

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the moment it all changed – when was that exactly?

Bear with me people, I wrote this next post right before falling asleep a few nights ago. Decided not to post it out of fear that it sounded too self-loathing. After editing it, I realize it is still self-loathing. Deal with it.

*

At the risk of getting all existential right before bed, I can’t help but pose the question that’s been on my mind the last few days: When/how did I become this person I am now?

Allow me to elaborate:

In high school I was a little bit of everything. I was smart – getting A’s in all of my classes. I took calculus in 10th grade for Christ’s sake. By today’s standards, you’d think that qualified me for four years of ostracism, but despite my good grades (and my pride that came with them), people liked me. For starters, I had a best friend, the same best friend from the start of middle school all through high school (and some of college). In high school, we did everything together, and in the rare times when we weren’t there to delight in each other’s success or grieve in each other’s defeat, we told each other everything. From there, I had a small group of friends to fill my weekends with activity and adventure. And then I had what I could only refer to as “marginal” friends. Sounds harsh, but really, what I mean is that aside from my group of close-knit friends, I had various other people whom I talked to in/before/after class. I was close enough to befriend each of them on Facebook, but only a select few did I see on the weekends. It was a mutual and unspoken understanding. My weekends were booked up weeks in advance, and although this probably was not a reality, I felt popular, surrounded by love. Sure I wasn’t a cheerleader or beauty queen, but people enjoyed talking to me, laughed at my jokes, appreciated my company.

Point is, I talked to everyone. I was highly intelligent. I bore the gift of creative talents, such as painting and writing. I was a walking smorgasbord.

And if I could, I would love to pinpoint the exact moment when all of that changed. Instead of going out every weekend (and weeknight, for that matter), I’ve recently been couch-bound on the computer or in front of the television every night. When instead of getting text messages or phone calls out of the blue, I now sit by my phone pathetically awaiting hours-overdue text message responses. When my inbox remains empty, I wonder what I did wrong. Whereas I once was “popular” I am now unnoticed and paranoid.

Until recently, I was under the false impression that social interaction was supposed to get progressively more bearable as you got older. Sure, as an adult you worry about careers and money and taxes, so life itself isn’t “easier,” but in the midst of all that chaos, I thought, one needn’t worry about asinine drama and foolish text message misunderstandings. I thought high school was the time in one’s life set aside for angst and feeling left out or misunderstood. But now, as a 21 year old with a squeaky-clean social track record, I feel as though my prime has passed. This cycle is working in reverse for me.

When in the hell did this happen? When did I become a “friend” (notice the quotes), someone that people sacrifice in the name of fun? When people have to cut down the guest list, or have a choice of inviting me or someone else, why am I suddenly the person to get cut out of the equation, if I’m even lucky to be considered in the first place? Most days I feel restless, like there’s something I should be doing but can’t. I walk around a mall and instead of getting shopping fever, I mourn the loss of my former life as a somebody.

I know that college had something to do with it. We all dispersed, creating our own place in a new world. Coming back home after that is hard. But it seems as though everyone else pretty much stayed in touch, kept things as they were, minus me. I’m sure that’s partially my fault; I’m sure I left a few texts unanswered myself, a few parties ignored. But can it really all be my fault? Doubtful. It’s one thing when the aforementioned “marginals” – people whom I can easily convince myself I don’t care about – exclude me from this world, but to have some of my oldest and closest friends – people I thought I could count on – cast me aside is a feeling too painful to ignore.

I should be happy with my life, and I suppose some days I am. I have an increasingly close relationship with my family, a boyfriend who – for some crazy reason – loves me and is not afraid to show it, and I just recently found out that my internship seems to be turning out a job for me when I graduate. Then why can’t I have it all? When did everyone decide I wasn’t good enough for them?

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a rebirth, of sorts

I feel like a negligent parent. This blog has now been in existence for well over a month and I have barely written a damn thing. Without sounding like I just make excuses for myself all over the place, I believe the reason I haven’t fully pursued my new goal of becoming an accomplished blogger is because, quite frankly, I didn’t know how to blog. Sure, I know how to push my fingers against the keys to make letters, then words, then sentences, then perhaps even a thought here and there. But I was unaware of what it took to maintain a blog – a little corner of the cyber world that I could call my own. I had unrealistic goals, such as trying to include as little details of my daily life as possible. Yeah, okay, Self. I’m pretty sure 98.643% of what I write about derives from my daily life, the mundane details of my mundane little existence. I thought that if I wrote about my experiences at work, or on the bus to work, or at the gym, this blog would qualify to rank with my high school LiveJournal (Love LJ, don’t get me wrong here). What I didn’t consider was how interesting I can make things – like the faint but ever-present smell of urine on 5th Avenue or the self-proclaimed “drunken fool” on my afternoon commutes – amusing, or even relevant. Clearly, with a limiting rule such as “omit all daily activity,” this corner of cyber world was headed nowhere fast.

Okay, so it’s settled. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I can admit failure. It’s just that I also have so many thoughts up in my noggin – that things works overtime all the time. And I was going about this all wrong. Not just what I wanted to write about. But how I was approaching it. I’d cuddle up in bed with my laptop after a long day of work/commuting/exercising/self-analysis and BAM! I was asleep in 5 minutes. Or, I’d be too engrossed with syndication (more specifically, Roseanne and Golden Girls) to want to think about my own life. Some people might call this behavior lazy. They would be 100% correct.

Well now that I’ve finally owned up to my laziness and pleaded my case, I suppose I should move this baby along. Perhaps start it off with the basics – the 4 W’s. Call me old-fashioned (or lame) but I find this always works when I’m at a loss for words.

Who: The name is Liz. I’m not going to bore you with a laundry list of likes, dislikes, and favorites. I am 21 years old majoring in English (Creative Writing) and minoring in Art Studio and Jewish Studies You weren’t expecting the last one, I know. I’m a non-practicing Jew but I’d to feel Jew-y somehow. I love to paint. And photograph the world. And create things in general. Huge fan of music. And food. And sleep. My goals? I have many, some yet to be discovered, but for now I’ll offer up my long-term goals. I’d like to decorate. Create. Until now, it seemed definite that my decoration dreams were those of an interior nature, but because of my aforementioned New York-style brain (never sleeps. get it? no? moving on…), I have started to consider other options. One example: a career in party decor. Centerpieces. Sounds lame on paper, but I spend all my time (and money) in Michael’s anyway. And I’m always the first to steal the centerpieces at a party. It seems logical. In addition to spending all my days drowning in ribbon and silk flowers, or paint chips and fabric samples, I’d love to write. Reword: I’d love to become an author. Get published, have my writing mean something to someone other than myself and my writing professors. As mentioned in my last and long-lost blog entry, that’s why I started this thing (see: Why).

What: I want to say everything. I want to tell everyone what I’m feeling, what I’ve been through, and how it’s all affected me, while keeping in mind both the elements of eloquence and realism. I want to finally be honest, as opposed to biting my tongue and reading half-truths off of cue cards. I don’t think there is enough honestly in this world, or at least my world. Think of it as a therapy session, minus the comfy chair. And the confidentiality, I guess.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the boundaries of what’s appropriate for a public forum and what’s not. However, I have spent most of my adolescent-adult life hiding how I really feel, in fear of the reactions of others. And as a result, I let people rule my life. And as a result of that, I guess, I have fair-weather self-image and lack of confidence to boot. A frustrating and unrelenting cycle: I let people walk all over me, so I never feel that I deserve what I want, so I let people walk all over me. Quick, someone please tell me if the chicken or the egg came first because my head is spinning! But seriously. What I’m getting at is that I need somewhere to release all this bottled-up bullshit. The fact that I still even have to deal with petty nonsense is bad enough. But if I can’t find a place in this world for my side of each story, then I may just have a stroke before I’m 30. And I figure if I can channel this passion into writing, I may just come up with something potentially prize-winning or best-selling.

Where: Here?

When: I’d like to contribute to my little nook of the world every day. HA! Who am I kidding? I spent an entire month a slave to syndication; I’d be lucky if I can conjure up a brilliant thought once a week. But I’ll push myself, for now, to write three times a week. Hopefully my life will get more fascinating as time goes on, thus causing an increase in updates. I have an on-off relationship with reading, so I’ll be throwing in my two cents in that department every now and again.

Why: I guess I sort of covered this category with, oh I don’t know, this entire post, but going back to what I was saying in Who, I decided to start this as a way to jump-start my writing career. I haven’t sorted through the details yet, like how I’m going to gain enough readership to achieve relevance in this world, but for now it doesn’t matter. I’m using this blog as a cathartic release. It’s about time I take life by the balls and run with it and stop whining (internally) about the fallen state of my life. Or my social life, to be more specific. I’d love to say that “I don’t give a shit about all a y’all!!!!!!” like some crazy person. I’ll admit, I tried it. But it doesn’t work. Thus, this blog. I can’t keep running from how I feel, but I can make life a little more bearable.

So in conclusion, I apologize to the blogging world for my negligence to my non-existent (for now) readers. I hope everyone who reads henceforth enjoys listening to my honest and hopefully enjoyable and occasionally humorous rants. Oh, and we can’t forget humor. Because no matter how intense and mind-numbingly unbearable life gets, I always try to smile through it. Even if it’s just a happy face on my Post-Its.

Until next time,
xx

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