Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I just want to work out of a coffee shop for f#%ks sake!

Courtesy of Scott Feldstein
Ok, the crazy is back. Full force. And it's all because I really want to work on my laptop at a coffee shop while listening to moody, melodic folk singers. Is that seriously too much to ask?

I was already dreaming of this and then my mom went ahead and gave me a Starbuck's gift card and that's only fueling my desire. It's like she gave me a few free days of office rent. Yes, I count coffee costs as rent because you have to pay for a coffee in order to use the WiFi and a table. Okay, maybe you don't technically have to, but it's pretty cheap and trashy if you sit there all day, no coffee, with a laptop/fax/copier/scanner/printer set-up whilst screaming BUY, BUY, SELL, SELL on your...cell. Please note that the only thing I know about the stock market is that my Uncle Bob (everybody has one) works in trading and that my boyfriend once explained futures to me and despite that conversation and my 347,862 questions, he's still speaking to me.

To top it all off, I'm in the middle of reading The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and it's like that time I walked by the homeless man in New York and caught myself walking slower and slower because I really liked what he was saying about enjoying life. I almost wanted to yell out in support, but I got a little closer and saw the crazy in his eyes, not my type of crazy, the scary other type where it's possible I'd be skinned and worn as a pretty Christmas jacket. No, but, I really like what this Timothy guy has to say. I suppose I'll finish reading before I go all gangbusters into my four-hour work week that as of right now would leave me in a precarious situation of being fired, broke and preaching on the streets about enjoying life. Wait a second...shit.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My larger carbon footprint has prevented me from toppling over...

I love the environment and stuff, but yes, I fully admit I'm a bit lost when it comes to figuring out what is best and most helpful for our Mother Earth short of walking everywhere barefoot, living in the dark when it's actually dark and eating only what I grow. I'm sure a hardcore environmentalist just read that and fainted. But anyway, I digress. Typical.

So, I know about these carbon footprint things and mine was probably pretty decent for a while. I was a big public transportation girl, but now I've been gifted an amazing gift. My nana's car, an 11-year-old Mecury. I am now driving to work and I must say, this shining beacon of a car has saved me from my latest near fall into the pit of insanity. I don't quite know what a pit of insanity truly is, but I spend a lot of time crawling out of it.

So now that I'm a driver again, I started to think about what a different feeling I have every morning. When I was taking public transportation, I walked around with my shoulders up to my ears, my eyes darting left and right. I had a constant stream of anxious thoughts of the possible delays at every turn and even yelled at a German tourist over his "unattended bags." It actually turned into quite a pleasant encounter, so stop judging. Now in the morning, I spend a good part of my time laughing at talk radio, or singing along with new hits, or old favorites (at the top of my lungs, naturally). I really think this morning singing has lowered my blood pressure and allowed me to ease into my day in a much happier way. A way that has allowed me to calm my impulsivity and save myself from drastic life-altering decisions that I am oh-so-inclined to make.

So a big thank you to the Universe/Karma/Mother Earth (and Nana) for sending me this gift. I know not everyone has the opportunity to pick their commute poison. My next car serenade goes out to you and I promise I'll recycle.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Letters to No One.

I am starting a new feature on my blog that will pop up from time to time called Letters to No One. You know that often repeated advice that if you are mad or upset with someone you should write them a letter to get your feelings out, seal it and put it away? Well, if you don't, it's a thing...trust me. So here, I will write my secret letter, but instead of sealing it, I'll hit publish and float my opinion out there in the world. Let's pretend these people might care. It'll be fun.

A Modern Day Romeo & Juliet
A pair of star-crossed lovers pimp their life

Dear Bristol Palin:
Oh, Bristol, Bristol, Bristol. I have some bad news. You have been punked...by Levi. First of all, let us discuss the fact that you didn't tell your own mother that you were getting engaged because you were scared. Even if your mother is THE pitbull with lipstick, if you are scared to tell her your news, you are not old enough to get married. I think you need to be confident in your adulthood and ability to make your own decisions before you get married. Is Mommy going to call the repair man and make sure your mortgage is paid on time? If this is acceptable to you, well then, we have an even bigger problem.

Okay, so this is beside the point. Here's the real issue and why I'm really concerned. Levi needs you to stay relevant. He was already falling off the radar and slipping into the background of America's pseudo-famous elite. He needed a big move. A drastic one. Perhaps a reunion and marriage with you would work? Now I'm sure that he came back to you crying and professing his love, but I have to tell you, I just don't believe it. I'm also sure he presented the US Weekly idea to you and cited "money for Tripp's future" as the ultimate reason to throw an exclusive reveal right in your mother's face. He wins on both fronts. He wins you from your parents and he wins a nice chunk of change and joint assets upon marriage.

But, I worry about his 5 year plan. I really do. Your engagement reveal, wedding, first year of marriage and perhaps a second child will keep him busy and in the spotlight for a good amount of time, but then when the spotlight begins to fade again, what will he do? Will a divorce tell-all be the next exclusive interview he'll give?

You're young, scared, a little bit lost and want to do your best. I can see that. Him though? I see the dollar signs and camera flashes he sees with every little move he plans out. I don't want you to be left even more confused and brokenhearted down the road. You're a young, precious flower and...okay I'll stop.

Unless of course you're in on this too. Then, more power to you.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So, Perfection is...Ugly?

Marilyn sure had it right when she said, "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

Oh, who am I kidding? I still can't help but strive for the perfection part. I give myself some room for mistakes and refrain from sticking bamboo shoots under my fingernails when I skip a workout (every day for three weeks) or drink one too many at the bar (read: take those sucker restaurateurs for all their worth at happy hour), but typically I expect a lot of myself. So much so that it is often hard to keep up with my personal demands. Demand a lot equals deliver a lot...until I can only go so long until I crash and enter into the dreaded tub-of-cookie-dough-eating, less-than-enthusiastic, Do I have to shower again? sloth phase. It's quite a cycle.

Back in the day, I always tried my hardest and almost always met my expectations. I rarely ever failed as a young Kate and that screwed me big time for when I entered my 20's and started effin' things up left and right. Looking back, I also see I started risking more, hence more opportunities for failure, but at the time, it was beyond confusing to not get it right all the time. I developed my cycle of perfection madness back then and it always ended the same way: the inevitable health crash. I'd work to the brink of my ability, burn myself out, struggle to pull myself back to calm and once I was "safe," I'd get physically ill. Whether a sore throat, fever, migraine, or issues with "el estomago," I'd be a wreck. And when my health wasn't "perfect," it would stress me out even more. HELLO?! How did I not put this all together? Too busy charting out the path to world domination before the age of 25, I suppose. Thankfully I missed that deadline and am starting to mellow the f#@k out.

So where did this all come from? Recently, I read a great article, The Dark Side of Perfectionism Revealed, courtesy of a tweet from @stevepavlina, that made me take a deeper look into my perfection obsession. A look, that combined with other recent epiphanies, might just help me kick the habit away for good.  Bottom line: extreme perfectionism is just not good for your health. Cue the heavenly light and singing of angels. Setting such high goals on a continual basis leaves so many opportunities for life to get in the way of plans, as it so often does, and ruin your perfect record. Funny how in my attempt to get everything right, I just so happened to ignore such a basic, easy, simple, no-I'm-serious-you-didn't-get-that? truth.

There's no doubt I'll still strive for the best - it's part of what makes me, me. But something else that makes me, me is an ability to laugh at those perfectly imperfect moments.

And you know what? I love to laugh.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Unlocking my Identity.

No, seriously. I need to go to the DMV and all my goddamn "important papers" are locked in my big-girl responsible-adult safe to protect them from water, fire and thieves who are too lazy to run away with a 20 pound metal-ish, slightly awkward box. To which I say, F#CK you nature/life cycles/Mother Earth/karma/insert higher power here for making me deal with my current identity crisis in such a literal way.

I woke up this morning, after nearly an hour of searching last night, and first thing I did was grab a flashlight to look around my entire apartment for two small bronze keys on a ring. One, because it was way to early for actual bright light, and two, because I have looked every single possible spot at least twice and now needed to "check the corners." I don't know why I put that in quotes either.

As I walked around on my vision quest, I couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of the timing. I'm at the height of my every seven to nine month cycle of extreme life questioning and yes, even, soul searching. Luckily for me, this time around it only involves my career and certain interpersonal relationships, or lack thereof, of the acquaintance/casual friend variety. Read: my inner Sally Field is screaming, "Do they like me? Does anybody really like me???" Thankfully this doesn't apply to my family, bf and close friends - they are very familiar with my brand of crazy and love me just the same. But, still, a girl, especially a TOUGH BIATCH, okay fine, big empathetic softy like me, has to wonder why my kindergarten friend-making skills are not up to par as of late.  All this going through my head. All because I lost a pair of keys.

I wish I could wrap this up by telling you I found the elusive Holy Grail and life truths revealed themselves, but I'm still keyless. With any luck, when I find those keys, a light will shine down, angels will sing and I'll find my way. Or maybe, I'll just be able to finally register my car and get my new license. And that would be pretty great too.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

You are extraordinarily special. Just like everybody else.

Being the typical Gen Y’er filled to the brim with pop culture references and propensity for extreme multi-tasking, I learned early on that I could be anything, do anything and go anywhere in the world simply because, I was me. That’s right. Just because I was myself and offered the world my presence on a daily basis, I was taught I was special and that there was no one else in the world quite like me. Movie after movie. TV show after TV show. Fable after…you get it. It was like the burgeoning child entertainment industry banded together to make me feel so great so that I couldn’t look away from the next half-hour program, or resist playing a favorite VHS (in your face, BETA!) until the tape wore thin. This world of programming didn’t ignore that in life, problems happen. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they are big — sometimes so big they are worthy of a “very special” episode. But, no matter what, each problem was easily wrapped up in 30 minutes, a to-be-continued episode or within a three-act structure showing us the world was once again ours to storm and conquer.

Being the naive, innocent, idealist I was (and, yes, still am), I believed it. Yes, right up until my first real-world exciting opportunity in the form of the ever-coveted New York City television network production internship. It was thrilling. It was my first step in my soon-to-be wildly successful, fame-tinged, money-out-my-Laubotin heels career. During our orientation, I met scores of people. People just like…me. Dozens of young women and men going out there to claim their right to be anything, do anything and go anywhere. Yes, me and all of the unique, special people exactly like me. The numbers of career dopplegangers multiplied as I moved through college and into the real world. As time went on I realized getting that dream job was not going to be as easy as I thought. And then when I landed my dream job(s) over and over and over again they were not really the dreams I imagined. Damn it, childhood entertainment programs, this is not what you led me to believe. It's a rough day when you first realize your life may not be everything you planned.

This realization sent me into a bit of a rut. What's the point? What if I'm not good enough? I can't deal...oh shut up. I seriously couldn't believe what I was hearing. Yes, hearing. I talk to myself...roughly every three seconds. These negative thoughts crept in and once they get in they are annoying little f#cks to get out. Woe is me.

And that's when my crushing, heart-breaking lesson came in handy (that phrase sounds so perverse). But, seriously it did. I'm just like everybody else. Everyone gets moments of negativity. Everyone feels overwhelmed from time to time. Everyone struggles. And, everybody hurts...sometimes. R.E.M. in the house. I could either wallow in my self-pity and do nothing, or get a frackin' grip and make things happen. Yeah, your novel might take years to write. But, ready for another cliche in your face? Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. So keep on moving. Keep on working. Keep on keeping on. This is your life you are wasting by spending time...worrying about wasting your life.

And you know what else? Yes, everyone is special, even if there are many other wonderful people just like you. Now let's all hug and encourage each others dreams. Mister Rogers is smiling down upon us.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Imposter Syndrome

Be brave enough to admit who you really are.

I am a writer. Go ahead, say it out loud, it feels nice, if not a little uncertain.

I have been gearing up to start my writing career for over a year now. I’ve read hundreds of articles, started many idea journals and have spent countless hours in bookstores carefully inspecting every hardcover and paperback that assures to unlock the secret of writing success. All of this preparation and yet, this is my first official article since my decision to be a writer.

Why do I want to write? This is a question I have asked myself on many occasions when I’m frustrated over the fact that, well, I haven’t actually written a thing. For starters, I love paper. Stationary, buck slips, greeting cards, photo albums and of course, the most beautiful: a newly bound, crisp novel. When I walk into a bookstore I feel calm. I lose all sense of time and feel my typically tense shoulders relax and lower. I take deeper breaths when I’m surrounded by tall shelves and beautiful display tables of recently discounted paperbacks. I can’t get enough of the smell of freshly printed paper and cherish the moment when I find the right book for me. I’m often hesitant about diving in and creasing the perfect binding because, to me, a new book is beautiful and so full of possibility.

Clearly any career counselor would tell me that this passion for paper and reading would almost demand that I write for my profession. I’ve demanded it of myself as well, but something has always held me back. Now I have discovered that “something.” I am afraid of being an imposter. I hold works of writing up to the highest standard and treasure the art of a well-crafted piece of fiction, a beautifully told memoir or a non-fiction biography.

So, what if I don’t measure up?

During one of my feel-good writing escapades, I attended a three-hour seminar on how to write your first memoir with author, Sue Shapiro. I thought a little inspirational speech would propel me into the career of my dreams, and help me realize my potential. While sitting in the audience, I enjoyed the class so much and experienced such excitement over writing that I could barely keep my legs from shaking. I felt motivated, if not completely compelled to run to my laptop and start writing my story. That is, until the question and answer session of the evening.

“Hi, Sue. I’m such a fan! I’m currently working on my second memoir and wanted to ask you how you deal with the pressures ofalienating your friends and family through your writing?”

Wait. One. Second. I have to alienate my family and friends in order to write? My excitement turned to dread and a realization that I would never want to jeopardize any of my most trustworthy relationships. Why it didn’t occur to me at that time that this was the opinion of just one audience member? I do not know. Or do I? Of course, it was yet another excuse that held me back from my fear of being a person that perhaps I was not meant or destined to be in this world. I braced myself and listened to the rest of the questions and answers hearing multiple times about all of the accomplishments of the room full of writers in the audience. Could they tell? Could they sense that I was not really one of them?

As the session ended, the moderator encouraged us to purchase one of Sue’s books in the hallway for her to sign. Well, sure, why not? She was a pretty cool woman and I had a feeling I would like her writing based on her self-deprecating, yet oddly optimistic sense of humor; quite similar to mine, in fact.

I made my purchase, The Five Men Who Broke My Heart, and walked over to the crowded table where writers continued to praise themselves and their literary accomplishments. People, this woman is here to promote her writing, not to help the world discover yours. I was feeling a little bit better at this point; at least I wasn’t desperate…yet. I walked closer to Sue, admiring her more than ever. This woman was actually doing what she loves and lives for; all the while I was wasting 40 hours per week creating excel spreadsheets and tracking other co-workers creative endeavors at my media project coordinator “career.” I was next in line and was embarrassed to realize my hand had formed a sweat imprint on the first page of what had moments before been a pristine paperback.

Sue looked up and caught my eye. “Imposter. Imposter!” she yelled, if only in my mind. In actuality she looked at me genuinely in the eye and smiled. I smiled back, much more at ease until she asked the dreaded question, “So, are you a writer?”

I did the equivalent of a face plant with how I stumbled over my words. As I struggled with what to say, my mind wandered to the moment in A Christmas Story when Ralphie could barely tell Santa his need for his most desired present, the Red Ryder BB gun. Should I just shout out “football” to Sue and be on my way? Or would that leave me wanting to crawl my way back up the slide to say what I really meant? I want to be a writer and I plan to be a writer, but does that give me the right to say that I am?

So I did my best, “Well, I’m starting to write and I aspire to be a writer.”

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she told me with confidence and signed the inside cover with flair. Not too bad. Must have pulled it off okay, or maybe she was just used to dealing with whack jobs having existential meltdowns like me. She handed me my newly purchased book and I walked away. I opened it up to look at her signature and was surprised to see a little more.

“To Kate, A fellow writer. Good luck & good karma. –Sue”

While I’m sure this phrase has made its way into many books she has signed, looking back, it was just the boost I needed. I mean, if a real, live, professional writer couldn’t tell I was an imposter; maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t one after all.

Note: I wrote this article years ago, but felt it was appropriate to kick things off on this blog. I hope you enjoyed my first "official" piece as a writer.