Apr. 10, 2018

      It’s the Thursday after Christmas, although at this point it is basically Friday because it is almost midnight--the perpetual blurred line of days passing. I am reluctant to wake up given the two pre-flight Dramamine I popped after a few Jai-Lai at Tampa International while waiting for my delayed flight due to the weather. Not even because of a snowstorm, but the cold weather's tendency to make things move more slowly. I am completely prepared and simultaneously unprepared for the 12 degree weather we are landing in, spending a solid twenty minutes waiting for my luggage I knew they would ask me to check complimentary at the gate and another twenty minutes for the taxi app ride share back to Brooklyn. The final days of 2017 are treacherously below freezing and the city ices over into the new year.

      I’m sitting in the back office at work at 8pm with only a handful arrivals left, watching some brain candy tv show on my phone, stragically placed against a stapler for the optimal minimal glare without having to hold it. My feet propped up on a filing cabinet, using my Black Friday score scarf as a blanket. The houseman comes to switch out our trash and I pause the episode and swivel in his direction, willing to make small talk with anyone in my current state of frozen boredom. I mention being grateful that it will warm up to 45 degrees next week, and he defies my optimism, “The winter has just started, Leila.”
     My signature full blown eye roll did not express the amount of disdain I had for his statement.

      It’s the last night of the ungodly cold temperatures in the foreseeable future, and I cozy into my bed with some homemade vegetable soup, Wheat Thins topped with Veggie Lite brand vegan swiss cheese, and a bottle of Granly Head Old Vine Zin poured into a copper mug I got drunk enough to take home from the bar on New Year’s Eve on accident. I start feeling an unprecedented amount of emotion and I think back to Marc Maron saying that the modern age has repurposed the word “unprecedented” as a more articulate or possibly more sophisticated way of saying something is “fucked up.” So it’s sometime around 1am and I begin feeling a fucked up amount of emotion. To be as close to exact as possible when describing emotion, I have begun feeling nostalgic for the moment I am having while I am experiencing the moment. There's a German word fernweh that translates best into the sensation of feeling homesickness for a place you have never been before. It is something that I think I experience often, frequently feeling defeated to the idea of being born in the wrong generation. I suppose fernweh is the closest I can get to boiling down this particular emotion as concisely as possible...
     It is strange and unsettling, but I know what is happening (for the most part).

     I always tell people that my move to New York City was the result of a manic episode. And don’t you worry, liberals, this is not mocking mental illness, because as you can tell by my style of writing I tend to suffer from the occasional mildy hypomanic episode. And if I am being honest, it was just that, but also what I needed at the time. I typically proceed to tell people that, despite the circumstances on my move, I will never regret living in New York City in my twenties (even if it wasn’t what it used to be). 
     And in my emotional moment on that Monday night featuring the worst temperatures in the foreseeable future, I am existing in that moment in the future where I am remembering living in Brooklyn in my twenties. I am wondering if I will remember the fleeting moments and the nights of closing down the bar and the nights of getting home at daybreak and all the brand names of the overpriced (but still affordable) wines and vegan cheeses of my history. That’s why I am sad in this moment: will I remember the specifics, and not just the blurred details.


     I step out into the last few hours of daylight around 3:00pm and into what feels like spring weather. In reality, it’s 45 degrees outside; however, after the past few weeks, it is walking out into the world and being able to breathe again. No complaints in sight. I have a conversation with my super outside of the apartment--a conversation that was a little lengthy for one with my building superintendent, but I am chatty and he is a good guy.
     The city is melting, causing black slush on every street corner while the piles of dirty snow along the streets and avenues slowly make an attempt to fade away. I romanticize for summer--or even for the springtime when I can leave my apartment in a dress and jacket and hope for the best as the sunset cools the city air. The trains are all delayed due to the water seeping underground or maybe it is actually from the signal issues like the MTA claims.
     (My personal opinion is the delays are from the amount of sick days the union allots and the amount of overtime they are willing to offer. If being in a union has taught me anything, it is the other members of the union sure know how to work the system. People like to complain the MTA doesn’t know how to function if the weather is bad, but I am convinced trains are slower on rainy days, during blizzards, and on days too cold to justify to leave the apartment or too relatively beautiful to go into work being a result of well deserved sick days being cashed in).
     Who am I to say though?

      En route to my first destination of the day I get a text message from the guy I am seeing, “Pretty sure I’m dying. Remember me when I am gone.” I attempt to reassure him it is the fever dreams that are making him feel this way, and offer to bringing him sick supplies: soup, or whiskey. We all have our own remedies. Given we are only three dates in, he justifiably reiterates that he is dying and I cannot see him like this. Fair, I agree, and make a mental note of how he handles illness.
     I think back to my past two and half years in the city and tally the amount of times I have been “under the weather,” as if that phrase makes any sense. I debate the roots of that cliche and conclude it must be a British phrase, and mentally tally feeling so terrible independent of too much alcohol intake: a total of four.  Each of those four times, however, I remember being so sick that I thought I was dying. In fact, I can only trace feeling that terrible to the first few years after my family uprooted our midwestern lifestyle to reside in “sunny Florida,” you know, like they say on airplanes when you're landing in Tampa on Christmas Day morning. 
     I had strep throat to the point of immobility our first few years there, the first year being so feverish I still recall the full blown hallucination conversation I had with one of our family cats, Fluffy. My mind skips a few tracks to the NYC sicknesses I have experienced, specifically the four independent treks I made to the grocery store while the medicine was just setting in for long enough for me to get out of bed and buy everything I felt like I needed. Orange juice, my Florida background pleaded, some ginger ale--something that my dad also brought me (without fail, along with Jolly Ranchers i.e. the childhood version of cough drops) in my pre-adolecent illnesses, soup and some more soup, grapes because I always crave grapes when I am sick, an assortment of Bigelow tea, Wheat Thins to soak up up all the liquids, and Gatorade (for the sake of electrolytes, I suppose). Being sick in New York City is the absolute worst, and I feel for him while also remembering the fact that I refuse to get sick this winter.

     I exit the G train on Metropolitan Ave and walk toward the Tex Mex place Jess and I have decided on. Our plans have gotten rearranged and by the time she arrives our Taco Tuesday orders along with our overzealous choice of chips and gauc and queso are on the table, plus our two happy hour frozen margaritas. I am already two happy hour margaritas on the rocks in.       
     “Are those two glasses from water you had while you were waiting for me?” she asks while I am in the middle of my Christmas family drama recap. In my mouthful of veggie taco she continues her question, “Did you order me a margarita and then drink it because I was running late?”
     The answer to both of these questions are a hard no, and I answer with a wholehearted laugh over The Strokes playing in the otherwise somewhat quiet establishment. Tuesdays have been my Saturdays--since I started working in hotels in NYC for the past year and a half--and I appreciate embracing my Saturday regardless of it falling on a weekday.


Dec. 12, 2017

     Over the course of the past five years, I’ve gotten hooked on few “listicle-esque” websites. I mean, their articles and essays aren’t exclusively listicles, but you know what I am getting at. Those articles with such a misleadingly insightful, clickbait headline that are ultimately just a bunch of nonsense spewed in colloquialisms that are so universally accessible that they keep getting put out into the universe because everybody can relate (!!). Don’t get me wrong, a majority of my reading is not on sites like these, but I will call them an open guilty pleasure, because at one point, I do remember them being quality. And sometimes you do find gems. And, honestly, sometimes you have to take a break from the overthinking and find some comfort in some basic (and I mean that in a multi-layered sense) sentiment about the world we can all agree with on a human level.
     I actually submitted something to one of these websites last summer, and it was denied, with the reason that it was not quite the content they were looking for, but to look into who some of my favorite writers are on that site and send a submission directly through them. It wasn’t a negative response back; however, I refused to let myself mimic another writer’s style intentionally to get published online. 

      I guess I am what you would call “a writer’s writer.” 

      There is a New Yorker article from, like, at least five years ago titled A Writer’s Writer’s Writer, and someone is quoted about explaining what exactly a writer’s writer is. Wait, the student in me can’t quote this person without properly citing, so momentary intermission from the flow to look this up.

“It’s the definition of obscurity…” 

“...someone who lives at or below the poverty line.”

     It’s Deborah Treisman who says this, who is a fiction editor (so says the article).
The article ends with a sentiment about a writer being a reader who can’t control themselves. That also might be a direct quote, but it’s 3am during finals week and I paraphrased, so I can live with that.


   I never made the decision that I loved writing--hell, I never even made the decision that I wanted to write at all or better myself as a writer. It was always just something that seemed like the  thing, you know? There’s always that thing that gets people oh-so in the zone. It’s why people love video games and why people love fantasy teams. It takes them out of their head and into something exciting they have to figure out. It is not just about the thrill from beating a level or winning in a week, but the whole emotional roller coaster involved.
      There’s the adrenaline, the competition, the disappointment that sometimes turns into a flash of anger. You know you’ve seen people throw the controller down after losing all their lives at an end of a level and having to go back to the beginning. Or that face when they’re checking their fantasy scores and they shake their head, locking their phone and setting it down with as much force as they can to get the anger out, but not enough to break their screen.
      There’s that element of “the comeback,” when all hope is lost, but then--suddenly--some sort of a “miracle” happens and everything has magically worked out in their favor.

     "I need a miracle, every day,” a line from a Grateful Dead song that is something we all are always feeling. Maybe we’d refer to it as a “win,” and not a miracle, but sometimes it is the smallest part of your day that feels like the biggest win.
      Like when you’re running late for work, but you need a coffee, and for the first time ever there is not a line at your coffee shop. Or when you have had the longest day at work, but hit every green light on the way home or catch your train perfectly and it runs without any delays. Or when you get to a bar and you realize it’s still Happy Hour for another thirty minutes.
      I mean, I am clearly one for rallying for the “minor-victories.” The mini-victories are the events in day that balance out the routine, the mundane, and the all around bullshit.

      Now that we have thoroughly exhausted the topic of why life is really about the little things, let’s revisit the whole idea that everyone needs a thing that gets them out of their own head and lets them surf through a whirlwind of emotions as a means of catharsis also known as “unwinding.”
      For me, I am trapped in the complexity of leaning more toward the “free-spirited” or *ahem* “granola girl” end of the spectrum, but have a unexpectedly difficult time allowing things to let me “unwind.” Maybe it’s because I am stubborn or maybe it is because it takes a lot of energy to break my perpetual flash flood of thoughts. Whatever it is, the thing for me that has always gotten me out of my own head since I can really remember has been writing. 

      Oh, we’re all noting the irony of the only way of breaking away is through flowing all of the clutter going on in my mind by typing some words onto a blank word document or putting a (very likely magenta or turquoise pen) onto some creamy color pages lined in forest green with the edges a faint gold that only stands out when you close the notebook and see the solid gold cluster of leaves between the purple moleskine covers. Bookends? I know that’s not what bookends are, but I wanted to put that thought out into the universe. Anyway, you can sarcastically appreciate the irony of writing being that thing for me, especially if you made it this far.


      Because I believe in cyclicity, I will take you all who have made it through the ramble aside that happened between the initial page break and the second (and final one) to the original point my abstract in-between was attempting to make. I don’t want to say these “listicle websites” are…*choosing proper diction way too carefully* umm...the enemy (?!), necessarily (must add the caveat), because they do exactly what they are intending to do. Maybe I don’t have the right voice for my generation, and I would add evidence for this at the fact that I am listening to The Band as I writing this at a time that, by general definition, of a “bedtime” is way past any bedtime.
      I am completely okay with that because we are all behind or ahead of our times, depending of which side of the “times” you’re looking at it from. I do think, though, that the point of writing is to get it all out. I mean, and then edit it later of course so you don’t sound like a total fool. But it doesn’t have to be the cookie-cutter that (again with the unintentional irony) is trying to have some edge to it in blurb form that has a read time of under two minutes. Sometimes maybe you’re reader wants to be taken through it too. Or maybe only other writer’s do, because, like that article said, a writer is, after all, a reader who can’t seem to control themselves.

      Like I said, I believe in cyclicity.