Black tea

It’s easier for me to overthink than it is to clear my mind. It’s easier for me to play on my worst fears rather than be open to good fortune. There aren’t very many remedies I’m willing to try for my anxiety, but if there’s anything that brings me back down to earth it’s a steaming hot cup of black tea (totally didn’t mean to rhyme, I’ve been writing a lot of poems and raps lately¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

The heat from the first sip slides down my throat and lands into my stomach to ease the butterflies at war. The bitterness brings me clarity and I feel my nostrils soaking up the herbs every time I bring the cup up to my face. Coffee could never do for me what black tea does, if anything it just unsettles my nerves. Having tea is like hitting restart, my pulse goes back to normal and my thoughts are a little more centered.

Madeline

Bucket list

When I get overwhelmed I think of what I can do to release the tension inside of me. Two things come to mind; an extreme food fight and being in a room with objects made entirely of glass and breaking everything.

I’m not a violent person, the only physical fights I’ve ever been in were with my cousins as children (what? They had it coming). I’m also very small, so I can’t inflict much damage on anyone unless I undergo some serious martial arts training. I don’t plan on becoming the karate kid, but there’s something so pleasing about releasing all of this frustration I have by smacking someone in the face with a heavy burrito. I’ve thought about this many times, too many if you ask me.

My plan for the food fight would be to buy 100 soft tacos from Taco Bell and launch them like grenades. I’d get some huge slices of pizza, the kind you’d have to zoom your camera out for just to get a picture, and backhand anyone that came my way. This would all take place in a huge open field and there would just be dozens of people flinging food at each other, and at the end, once we’re all covered in a potluck of juices, we can look at one another and feel relieved. It would be like Sparta, minus the weapons and dead people and some added kumbaya.

This food fight isn’t that implausible, I’ve mentioned it to some of my friends and they’re onboard. Not because they’re as delusional as I am, they just love me enough to do it for me. Being in a room with glass objects and breaking all of them might be a little more challenging. Unless of course,  IKEA has a huge sale and I can buy all their discounted glassware. However, I’ve given a lot of thought to this and when I shoot my first music video I’ll make sure to use it as an opportunity to make this happen. If Miley Cyrus can swing on a wrecking ball, I can smash glass against the floor until I’m standing in a sea of crystals. And yes, I realize that I run the risk of cutting myself but that’s what protective suits are for. It’ll be a good music video, trust me.

I’m quiet, I’m always quiet. I mind my business and I try not to take up too much space. I get that these aren’t conventional things to put on a bucket list but what I really want is to release this part of me that I always hush. I’m tired of being small and meek, I need to break out. And to do that, I’d like to break things.

Madeline

 

Does it pay? Say no more.

As my wonderful internship here at Gotham comes to an end, I am beginning my hunt for a big girl job. Well, I’m not ‘beginning’ my hunt; I’ve been applying to jobs since May.

At first, I kept a list of the places I applied to so I could keep track of who I heard back from. Eventually, I had applied to so many jobs that a list was no longer useful. I’d say I’ve applied to 40+ jobs now. Some are part-time, some are full-time. Some are in the writing field, some are in restaurants and shops. As embarrassing as it is to say, I will take any job at this point because I want to be able to buy groceries.

Throughout school, I was always told that finding a job was always about “who you know”. I disagree. I got this internship not because of connections, but because I somehow made myself stand out to the Gotham staff (God bless you, Gotham). Now that I am applying for full-time jobs, I am not having the same luck. Everywhere I am looking requires 15 years of professional writing experience, a PhD, access to a submarine, a recommendation from the Dali Lama himself, at least two Golden Globe nominations, and a pilot’s license. I have never felt so under qualified  or uneducated than I have by simply looking at requirements for jobs.

Even with contacting friends and friends-of-friends that could potentially hook me up with a job,  I am not getting any leads. I know I am not the only person in the world who is feeling the immense pressure and frustration that comes along with applications I know I am more than qualified for.

Fingers crossed that I hear back from someone…anyone…within the next few months. Until then, I will be spending a lot of time looking at job listings. Maybe even tap dancing on the corner of 38th and 8th. I’m sure I could make a few bucks doing that.

Natalie

 

Not a foodie

Last night I was watching an episode of Chopped and the theme the chefs had to cook around was wasted food. The contestants were supposed to make dishes out of scraps, stale items, and leftovers. During one of the cameos, the competing chef said that he hated seeing people throw away food because it was disrespectful to the entire process of making food. Not only to the process of cooking but the picking, packaging and handling aspect, and he had a point. Wasting food is a terrible thing to do, but what do you do when you just can’t finish your food?

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with food my entire life, it’s always been difficult for me to finish my plates. That’s why my dad made me drink Ensure’s all the time, and from time to time I still rely on those when I don’t feel like eating. But sometimes, I just really don’t like to eat, and it’s been bothering me for a while. It’s one thing when I just don’t have an appetite, it’s another when I feel hungry and stop eating after taking 2 bites of my food because I lose all desire to eat.

I’ve mentioned my lack of appetite to 2 different doctors, and both of them told me the same thing; that I am in the normal weight range for someone my size. One of the doctor’s, a male, told me to be careful with gaining weight and that I should try to stay where I am. The other one, a female, said that I had gained 6 pounds since my visit one year prior, and told me to try exercising and taking vitamins. Both of them completely ignored my issue, and those 6 pounds came and went depending on how I ate. My problem is not my weight or how I look, it’s how I eat and how that makes me feel physically.

It is incredibly frustrating seeing food and knowing that I’m hungry but feeling like I don’t have the space to fit it. Or wanting to finish it all because it’s so delicious but having to stop because I got full too quickly and could get sick if I push myself. Speaking of sick, occasionally my bad eating habits cause me to feel fatigue and an alarming lack of strength throughout my body. I know some people look at me and think that I’m lucky to be so skinny or envy the fact that I don’t have to try to be, but I’d much rather be able to sit down and enjoy a plate of food like a normal person.

I’ve done plenty of research on eating disorders and so far, I don’t seem to fit any of the descriptions. I don’t have an obsession with being skinny, I don’t binge eat nor have I ever purged, I just don’t always want to eat. And more recently, I can’t eat, even if I am hungry. I feel awful throwing food away all the time, and it’s exasperating having to feel hungry right after I eat because I couldn’t finish my previous meal. I hate the feeling of being mid-chew and wanting to spit the food out because I’m just over it. As of right now, my solution is to try and eat smaller portions more frequently, include more filling foods in my diet, and to drink less while I eat. Maybe one day I’ll correct my appetite and stop being so wasteful.

Madeline

Dear Lorne Michaels…

In school, my Professors always told me that writing was a tough career. I never believed them because I knew it was all I wanted to do. I would make it work one way or another.

At the age of nine, I saw my first Saturday Night Live sketch. The sketch featured Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri dressed as cheerleaders rooting on a chess team. Ferrell and Oteri made fools of themselves, flinging each other around and cheering obscure things, such as: ” Bobby Fisher! Where is he? I don’t know! I don’t know!”. My nine-year-old self was awestruck by the hilarity of the sketch. I soon realized that I wasn’t laughing because of Ferrell and Oteri’s physical comedy; I was laughing at what they were saying.

Soon after my first Saturday Night Live experience, I began writing sketches of my own. I remember sitting in my room for hours, trying to come up with the funniest ideas I could think of. Once I wrote down what I considered to be hysterical, I would round up my friends and siblings to act out my script. I would direct and give “tips” to help them deliver the lines exactly as I imagined.

I continued trying to write comedy throughout my childhood and teenage years. Once I got to college, I began to tell people “I want to write for Saturday Night Live, but since that’s never going to happen, I’m going to major in something else more useful.”

I tried majoring in many different subjects: I tried communications for a while, Graphic Design, and even just English. By the time I reached my Junior year, I decided that writing is all I have ever wanted to do. Why would I give up on my dream just because it may be difficult? I ended up receiving a degree in Creative Writing and began telling others again that my goal is to write for Saturday Night Live.

I am now living in New York City, literally ten blocks from the SNL headquarters. I’m closer to my dream job than ever before, but I am also further from it than I have ever felt. I’ve been applying for writing jobs since the end of April, but I have yet to hear back from anyone. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to make it to SNL, but I think I owe it to my nine-year-old self to try my hardest.

Natalie

Focus

Every day, I must remind myself not to lose focus. The little challenges that present themselves throughout the day build up into an ironclad ball of frustration, causing me to curse everything and lose productivity.

Nothing gives me more anxiety than money issues. This summer has been riddled with nothing but financial burdens. I have 99 problems, and $99 might solve 2 of them (sorry, I had to).

Technically I still live at home but I stopped relying on my parents for financial help when I was 15, so I’m on my own for most things. This would be the first summer since I was a kid that I haven’t had an income, and it’s making me nervous. I took this summer as an opportunity to pursue the things that make me happy – I know that sounds dumb. Or maybe it doesn’t, all I know as that most of the adults I’ve met have tried unfathomably hard to burst that bubble. I’m pretty cynical, so I know it’s not realistic to “do what you love” for the rest of your life, but I’m not cynical enough to ignore my desires just to conform to what everyone says I should be doing.

I figured it wouldn’t kill me to spend the summer working on creative endeavors. I worked customer service jobs while juggling school for years, and I needed a break from the stress that comes with the service industry. I decided I would recuse myself from that constant hustle and bustle and focus only on the creative elements that I want to pursue. That’s why I took on this internship, and a fiction writing class, and even voice lessons. I keep telling myself that I have less to lose by working at these things right now than ignoring them and wondering ‘what if’ later on. If nothing comes from these pursuits and I realize that they’re only hobbies, then so be it. I have plenty of experience in the service industry and can finesse a job and I have my degree which can get me started as a paralegal at the very least. So I shouldn’t freak out all the time, right?

Well, I freak out about this every day. Maybe every hour. Maybe every half hour. Maybe literally every second of the day. There are 2 fears I have that keep me from getting out of my head; one is failure (shocker), and the other is the fact that I’ve been looking for my ‘thing’ since I was a kid. I feel as though everyone I knew growing up had that one thing that they were just good at, even if it was just a hobby, and I think mine might be writing. That’s why I’m enduring the struggle, that’s why I’m walking this path even though I have no idea where it may lead. Am I trying to be a best-selling novelist or a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist? I don’t know. I haven’t found my niche yet. Do I want to work on making music? Maybe, I’ve always daydreamed about it. How pragmatic is it to go after your daydreams? I don’t know! I KNOW NOTHING.

Every day is an uphill battle to carry on. I keep writing stories and working on my poetry, both of which are getting better (in my opinion, and I’m undoubtedly my own worst critic). I practice my voice exercises daily, and the other day I actually heard a difference when I sang. Every day I try to find ways to make something happen out of nothing when I should just keep trying to improve and let things happen as they should. But when my financial future is on the line, it’s hard not to freak out. I would just like some degree of control over my life, and that was easy when I was in school. Now, I don’t even know where I’ll be in October, and that is deeply unsettling.

Some days are easier than others. Yesterday, for example, was not a good day. I had an entire crisis about my future while I was sitting in the office. I wanted to give everything up and I hated myself for always wanting to go for the impossible. Days like yesterday I feel uninspired and am incredibly self-loathing. Today, I am more focused. I am reminding myself of the gut feeling that is driving me to do what I do. I’m not delusional, I would never go after something if I didn’t think there was even a 3% chance I could do it. The odds of success are slim, but that just means I have to work harder, right? There are a million people after the same things I am, but what sets us apart? Failure is guaranteed, there is no way around that. What I do with that failure is what will set me apart from everyone else.

The next time I have another crisis, someone please point me to this post so I can shut up.

Madeline

Table for one, please.

I’ve been in New York City for 58 days now. 58 days of the constant aroma of garbage, overcrowded subways, and far too many overpriced coffees. It has also been 58 days of not making a single friend. I don’t mean a “single friend” as in a friend that’s not in a relationship, I mean I haven’t made any friends. I’ve made acquaintances, sure. People that don’t remember my name and I don’t remember theirs, but we say hi to each other on the elevator and in the halls because it would be uncomfortable if we didn’t.

When it comes to making friends, I have never been exceptionally talented. I would like to think that I am approachable and friendly, but I’m also terribly awkward. Maybe this has something to do with my lack of friends? Maybe they’re meeting me but I’m too unbearable to be around. See, this is what being lonely does to me. I overthink everything and start to believe the reason I don’t have any friends is because I’m unlikeable. I guess this could be true. Maybe I smell bad or I talk too quietly or I’m too scatter brained or I’m too quirky. Maybe it’s a combination of all these things. This loneliness and lack of friendship has taken a huge toll on me.

I’m not someone who has lots of friends or always has plans, but I typically have at least one or two friends wherever I go. Being alone has made me more self-conscious and sadder than I have been in a while. Since in New York, I have eaten every meal alone. I go to bookstores alone and I ride the subway and train alone. I visit tourist attractions and listen to live music alone. I go to bars and comedy clubs by myself, which isn’t the best idea, but I don’t want to miss out on what the city has to offer just because I don’t have anyone to go with. As much as my involuntary isolation has drained me, it does have a few positives.

I feel like doing everything by myself has made me grow up more. I’m not afraid to talk to strangers*, I don’t care if I need to ask someone around me how to get somewhere or find something, going to the laundromat with a book is just as good as going and sitting with a friend, and you can laugh at jokes in comedy clubs without having to explain them to a friend when they don’t understand.

*IF YOU ARE A CHILD** AND YOU ARE READING THIS, TALKING TO STRANGERS IS BAD. **WHY ARE YOU READING THIS? HOW DID YOU FIND THIS BLOG? WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS?

58 days have passed, and I have 22 days left. Will I make a friend in the next 22 days? It’s hard to say. The only thing I’m certain about is the experiences I’ve had and the memories I’ve made this summer far surpass any friendship I could have imagined.

Natalie

Regular annoyances.

Normally I reserve my deeper thoughts for this blog, but not today. Today, I wanna talk about the things that piss me off. It may or may not veer into the deeper end of things, but we’ll see. Here goes:

This city pisses me off. There are still dozens of places in New York City I have yet to visit, but I have been to each of the 5 boroughs enough times in my life to know that I don’t particularly enjoy any of them. I know everyone says NYC is one of the best places in the world, but I just don’t think it’s that great. I can tolerate it, but at the end of the day I need to go back home to Jersey. The best thing this city has to offer, in my opinion, is an abundance of opportunities that can’t always be found elsewhere. What bothers me the most about NYC, aside from the dense population and constant smell of urine and filth and pollution and the inauthentic cultures that have taken over, is how impersonal people are.

Let me elaborate. Say for example, you’re in the back of a crowded elevator and need to reach the buttons. The polite and correct thing to do would be to say excuse me to the people in front of you, and then reach for your desired floor. The incorrect and insolent thing to do would be to disregard everyone’s personal space and reach over abruptly without acknowledging the beings in front of you. I’m not saying that this couldn’t happen elsewhere, but instances like this are common occurrences in New York. No one holds the door open for you, ever, no one says excuse me, you hardly ever hear anyone say please, and there’s no patience around here. Everyone here is so detached that decency cannot be given a second thought. By no means do I think that people from Jersey are any more pleasant, we’re pretty big dick heads to be honest. But I guess it’s different cause it’s home.

Here’s another thing that pisses me off. People that try to mess with me to be funny. The other day I was entering an apartment complex and as I was walking in, I opened the door for a FedEx delivery driver who was pushing a large cart full of packages. When I went up to the man at the front desk to tell him who I was there to see, he cut me off and said: “Ma’am, I have to ask you to please not open the door for delivery people, it makes my job harder”. Immediately I started apologizing. What if the place had some sort of security policy I was violating?  Then he starts laughing and says, “just kidding. Who are you here to see?”. I couldn’t believe it. Why on Earth was that necessary? Did he just want to make me nervous? Was he trying to be funny? If that’s the case then I can think of 1000 knock-knock jokes that would have been better than that.

People do things like this to me all the time. The other day when I was at Port Authority trying to buy a ticket home, I handed the teller the $6 that the ticket costs and he said the price changed to $20. I started laughing and he kept staring at me with a straight face and would not budge. I said “Since when? How is it $20 for a ticket to Jersey”. He said “we changed it yesterday” so I asked for my money back. Then, he handed me my ticket. I wanted to punch the guy right through the glass. It was 5’oclock, one of the busiest times of the day at Port Authority and I had a bus to catch. Why the actual f**k was that necessary? Just give me my damn ticket! I’m not making your job harder, so don’t make my life harder. Am I supposed to see the humor in that?  Is it because I’m a young woman? Do I scream naivety?

A few other things that really grind my gears, people who sit on the outside seat in buses but do not get up when someone needs to sit in the window seat. Instead, they scoot their legs to the side as if that’s enough space for a person to unobtrusively take their seat. People who don’t smile back when you smile at them, that’s just rude. And when my boyfriend doesn’t refill the ice trays. I had to put room temperature water in my Swell bottle this morning because he went through all of the ice. I always refill it.

Ok, now I’m just complaining, but come on, it’s annoying.

I think that’s about all that I can think of right now. I can probably make up a novel-length list of all the things that piss me off, but these are just the things that have been on my mind today. Mostly because a majority of these occur much too often for my taste. I actually feel much better now. And, there’s a baby in the office now so there’s quite a jolly energy in the air. Deep thoughts avoided, regularly scheduled existentialism will resume next week.

Madeline

 

 

When by Walden

At long last, my friend Lauren and I took our 3-month-overdue trip to Walden Pond. In April, we didn’t even know whether we were driving, taking the train, or good ol’ hitching a ride (probably not)–all we knew was, we were getting there one way or another.

Why we wanted to go, you ask? Before I ever met Lauren, in different regions, without knowing either of us ever existed, we read Henry David Thoreau’s essay on the pond. And the first time we met, the essay was what sparked our friendship. So, it was only right we took the trip.

I expected everything about the pond to be like the book. Foolish? Just a bit. I imagined smoke blowing through the chimney of the quaint little cabin, facing the pond. The pond, empty with one canoe waiting for me. Man, was I in for a surprise.

The pond that I read about had become a beach. People with beach towels, ice boxes, and frisbees had crowded. And the room that was left on the front side of the pond was filled with pretentious fishermen who brought 11-foot rods to fish a pond. 11-foot!! That’s the size used to fish off the shore!

Once we finished being disgusted at the people who had transformed the pond, Lauren and I went off the trail and jumped into the pond where the shore was only big enough for two people. We swam, read our favorite passages from the essay, and embraced the pond the only way we knew how to. But there they were again, the crowd had found us and one-by-one they were crowding our little shore. So, without blinking an eye, we left.

Although the little time spent in the pond was very memorable, it’s where the next trail led us to is what I will remember the most.

Since we were tired of the damn people, we went off trail once again to go astray. Not even a moment in and I started to hear a clunking sound with a rhythm. Seconds later, the sound multiplied. And we finally got to put a picture to the clunking, when three park rangers, on their almost 7 or 8-foot horses, rode past us. We thought we would be in trouble for going off trail, but they just gave us a nod and went on their way.

We kept walking, not knowing we were near train tracks, and saw an old-fashioned train speeding by us. I knew where we were going to next. The tracks! We decided that we’ll walk the tracks as long as we keep a watch for trains and just like that, we took our sauntering to the train tracks as we basked under the sun. We walked for nearly 40 minutes; but, honestly, we lost track of time, thanks to our conversations about dogs being fluffy, not fat.

The sky was clear, I had good company and, most importantly, it was just the two of us. For a moment, I thought I was in Stand By Me, all that was missing was a dead body, right? (no we never found a dead body).

All was going great until we began feeling the tracks vibrating. We should’ve gotten off then and there, but I wanted to keep walking until we could see the train or hear its horn. And we heard it alright. The sound of the horn sounded like an angry elder yelling at us for being stupid. But I seemed to listen to the yelling and got out of the way.

After the train passed, we left the tracks and got on the path of the outskirts of the trail which eventually led us to the car. I never did say goodbye to Walden. But by then, I figured, what I came expecting from the pond was what I discovered on the train tracks.

– Elisha Asif

 

thoughts thoughts thoughts

Some food for thought:

Perhaps it is better to be in flux than to be in balance. A balance can be thrown off by the slightest of weight, causing it to wobble and tilt too much to one side or the other. Too much of anything can’t be a good thing.

To be in flux would mean to let all components enmesh with one another, to let things flow seamlessly and integrate with any oncoming objects. Instead of restraining two parts and making them become equal, let them fuse and take their natural course. Not everything can be under constant control.

The heart and the mind are not mutually exclusive entities; they feed off of one another and are in habitual communication. They are not always equal in strength; at times the heart can overpower the mind and vice versa. To balance these two would mean to restrain one and have another grow beyond its means. This is disturbing the innate characteristics of the two, which then leads to internal conflict. If the heart is trying to be one thing and the mind is trying to be another, they cannot just simply be.

Just be. Remain in flux, things will flow as they should.

Madeline