Laptop: my girlfriend.

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It’s remarkable, the relationship between a human and his technology. Our phones, tablets, and laptops become like friends to us: able to console, entertain, and betray. They can frustrate us, stand us up, and even completely blow us off, and, just like any of our close friends, when betrayal strikes, trust is lost.

I’ve had my laptop since my sophomore year of college – I’ll let you guess how long ago that was; a lady never tells her age – and she has been on quite a few adventures with me. She was there for me during every lecture, through every paper I handed in (late), six seasons of Lost, seven seasons of Boy Meets World, and eight seasons of Doctor Who. She was my companion when I began my journey as a writer, ditching five paragraph essays for quirky poems and short stories and even the odd screenplay. Now, I have a Mac, so I’ve never had the constant fear of my computer crashing, getting sick, or going crazy. She was reliable and unwavering in her loyalty to me.

And then she crashed.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was one spreadsheet too many, but suddenly, my screen froze, I got the pinwheel of death and everything went black. She woke up after a few agonizing minutes, asking if I would like to send crash reports. No. No crash reports, I thought, solemnly. Nothing can make up for this level of betrayal. For, she didn’t crash in the middle of an episode. She didn’t crash while I was about to Complete Check Out on Amazon. She crashed when I was twenty pages in on a Meditative Writing stint I’d been on for two hours.

“What an idiot you are for not saving, if you’re writing for that long!” you may say. Well, I say that, too, but when you’re “meditative writing,” the point is, you’re not thinking about saving your work, getting up to pee, or grabbing a glass of water. You’re thinking about writing. only writing. non-stop writing. stream of consciousness. The only rules in Meditative Writing are 1. Tell the Truth and 2. Don’t Stop Writing. So, she crashed.

If you know anything about Macs, you know that this incident is not the end of the world because, most of the time, the product is saved or recoverable. Yes, it is, but though this was not the end of the world, it was absolutely the end of our relationship. I had no choice but to break up with my laptop after that. The trust was lost. gone. forever. irreparable. We tried to make it work for a few weeks, but the trust couldn’t be built back. I was saving my work every five minutes, thus interrupting my meditation, blocking me.

So I got an iPad.

My laptop is still here. She’s still in the picture, and I use her for my other work. Spreadsheets, bookkeeping, as a DVD player, but that’s it. Nothing more than a booty call.

The Lady at 525 W 25th St

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At building number 525 on street 25 on the west side of Down, a small town in a small county in a small state, there lived a woman with particularly fluffy hair and a particular attitude toward “cleanliness, neatness, and organization!” as the neighbors would hear her snapping aloud often, and often not to anyone they could see.

She always had a frilly ribbon tied in the right side in the tangle of kinky hair, and her stoop was always pristine. The neighborhood boys would sneak up her steps and drop pieces of garbage on it, taking bets on how long until she’d notice. She had a sense for it – like a dog who hears the jingle of his leash before a walk. Out she’d scurry, robe pulled around her, kinky hair askew, ribbon dancing in the wind, mumbling sharply as she’d bend down to pick up the matchbook, the loose bandaid, or the breadcrumb.

“Cleanliness! Neatness! Organization!” she’d snap and slam the door.

Growing Pains

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Life is riddled with little milestones that mark our journey through growing up. Like our first smile, our first step, and first word.
Then there’s our first pubic hair, first kiss, first romp in the sack.
These milestones don’t end with adolescence.
I mean, just the other day, I had my first lift-thigh-fat-to-wipe-vag moment.

Somehow, however, I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for that one…

[ i n d i g o ]

maybe I should eat something

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Ever sit down to write something (completely inspirational) and the second the blank page loads and the cursor blinks at you as if challenging you – daring you – to say something, and suddenly, the only thing you can think of is “hm. maybe I should eat something.”?

I am 36,956 feet in the air, flying somewhere over the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, and I’ve just ordered a cheese plate from a tablet attached to the seat in front of me. A cheese plate and Chex Mix delivered straight to my seat. Oh, and I’m blogging about it. We live in this world of immediacy and convenience and we still have something to complain about.

My question is, is the complaining something to complain about? Maybe complaining is our opportunity to seek improvement. The more we can complain, the more we can innovate and make better. Now, there are some who wish the world would JUST STOP for at least a second, I know, but while it may seem overwhelming, innovation is human.

Take, for example, the guy who invented the little plastic things on the ends of our shoelaces. Who was he before doing that? Just a guy who said “Man, it’s annoying re-lacing my shoes with these stupid fraying ends. We need to make a thing to help prevent fray-age.” Or the guy who invented the hot cup sleeve or those plastic inserts to stop spillage. Those stemmed from somebody complaining. “Oh, this cup is hot.” and “$#!&, I keep spilling!”

Now, the argument is ” do we really need this stuff?” a watch that is a phone, a tablet, iPod, phone, phone watch, ear buds, earphone speakers, and a kindle? No, maybe not always. Maybe a 12 year old doesn’t need every one of those, or a teenager, or a toddler. But imagine how drastically your workscope, workspace, work place has changed since we’ve been introduced to these devices. The designer has a portable office. The writer, too. The service industry is vastly more convenient and accessible now. Especially now that customers are taking longer with each sale to “Pause for text message,” and “pause for instagram photo,” and “wait I have to tweet that,” and “Hold on, I’m checking in on Four Square.”

The marketing world is forced to think outside the box – outside all the boxes. In a world overstimulated, how do you reach your audience? In a world of Fast Forward and Skip This Ad, how can you be heard? Everyone is screaming to be heard, yet no one is listening.

There’s my complaint. So where’s the innovation?

in the works

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I have quite a few books “in the works”. It’s quite a boastful sentence, that one, but the truth is, “in the works” Just means “in my head.” To be quite frank, it just means “I’ve thought of a cool title and maybe a premise. ”

People ask me what I do for a living, and my favorite thing to tell them is “I’m am writer,” because their head is suddenly filled with fanciful pictures of me sitting in gardens or coffee shops with my laptop – or typewriter because I’m that kind of cool – at book signings, having meetings with agents. Close friends have fantasies about my books becoming the next Harry Potter or Divergent series. When, honestly, I’m sitting on a plane with my wireless keyboard hooked against my iPad, two and a half hours into the flight with absolutely nothing to write. You’d think that being stuck in a one-meter-by-two-meter prison-of-an-airplane-seat is enough to motivate a writer to buckle down and “just write already!” … apparently, that’s not the case.

I’m just forced to watch stupid television on a minuscule screen, stare out the window at turbulent clouds, and try my best to steady my rapid breath – I’m not anxious, I swear. I’m pretty sure there is low oxygen in the cabin. Ok, maybe not – don’t want to panic anybody. (are you panicking??).

Anyway, so what do I do for a living? I fantasize about gardens, coffee shops, quaint little cottages in the meadows, mountain homes overlooking a foggy bluff (I think the word I’m looking for is “chalet”), meditative retreats, and more English breakfast tea than a woman should drink. I fantasize about a healthy, smart pup as a trusty companion, a cat who knows better than to sit on my keyboard (let’s be real – I wouldn’t mind.) and an agent who calls me every few days to be sure I’m doing okay and to ask for the pages I’ve been owing her, long overdue, because…aren’t they always?

I fantasize about a life where I can get rid of my smart phone and go back to my LG flip phone – do away with the e-mails at my fingertips, the incessant need for technological organization. I won’t need to worry about four schedules or syncing my iTunes or having enough storage for the latest update. I’ll have a few important phone numbers memorized, a heavy and comfortable rotary house phone (the phone is rotary, not the house), and an iPad and Apple TV for entertainment. I’ll lock myself away for the weekend and write and write and write, take walks, drink tea, feed the dog, sleep on the daybed, wake up with the sunrise, and not check my phone. not check my emails. not check my calendar.

So, here’s to the four books that are “in the works.”

[ i n d i g o ]

The Diary of a FanGirl

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Doctor Who World Tour NYC
(Spoiler free)

#DWWorldTour #doctorwho

I had an amazing day today, hanging out on 54th st with about 1400(??) Whovians. (A Whovian is a special Breed of loyal fans of the BBC longtime hit, Doctor Who.) For ten hours, we were standing, sitting, shifting and dancing in line, climbing the barricades, banging out the time lord drum beat on anything we could hit, singing the theme song, laughing, playing, quoting, trivia’ing, screaming and crying.

Now, you may be asking “ten hours?? WHY?!” With all of the exclamation points and question marks and, probably, about fourteen emojis…. “Why ten hours? Why Doctor Who? Why why why singing-dancing-drumming-etc-etc-and so-on?!” Well – and i promise to keep this short – Doctor Who is an adventure that has been on the air since 1963 (yes, before Star Trek), and it is the story of an outsider who disagreed with the laws of his species, stole a spaceship that travels through time and space, and ran away to explore the universes. (Whew. Told you: short.) (oh, wait, there’s more)

“This is one corner of one country, in one continent, on one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy, that’s a corner of a universe, that is forever shrinking and creating and destroying, and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And there is so much–so much to see. Because it goes fast. I’m not running away. I’m running to them. Before they flare and fade forever” (The Doctor, s7e3 “The Power of Three”).

It just so happens that this man — this alien — this Time Lord is a quirky, goofy, maladjusted, socially inept, absolutely brilliant Leader-Genius-Hero who stumbles upon distress and imminent doom everywhere he goes, and, thus, despite his eternal vacation intentions, he ends up traveling around and saving worlds, which, frankly, is fitting because he is called The Doctor.

He, like so many of our favorite and most idolized heroes, is plagued with tragedy, steeped in regret and doubt, and trying his absolute damnedest to live up to the promise he made to himself, the promise that lies in his name, and he doesn’t always succeed.

“When you began all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you’d become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name. ‘Doctor’: the word for healer and wiseman throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word become? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word ‘Doctor’ means Mighty Warrior’. How far you’ve come. And now they’ve taken a child – the child of your best friends – and they’re going to turn her into a weapon just to bring you down. And all of this, my love, in fear of you” (Doctor Who, s6e7: “A Good Man Goes To War”).

Now, “why,” you ask? Because who wouldn’t find her personal hero in an adventurous, quirky genius who is resolute in his beliefs? He is a man who demands justice where it lacks, finds beauty where it may seem impossible, and stands tall and brave against adversity.

SO, after nearly twelve months of anticipation, the premiere episode of series 8 was screening at The Ziegfeld Theatre in Midtown Manhattan, hosted by Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist), and attended by the actors who play The Doctor and his human companion, and the show runner and head writer, Steven Moffat, himself. The genius behind the laptop. So, Whovians united on 54th St. and waited ten hours, hoping to catch a glimpse, and watch the Series Eight premiere episode, “Deep Breath.”

So: we dance. We sing. We recite whole monologues and reenact episodes. We drum the beat of the Time Lord’s hearts (yes: plural).

Then, after what seems like a eternity, an old fashioned taxi rolled up and Mr Capaldi, Ms Coleman, and Mr Steven Moffat emerged, and the already-palpable crowd absolutely erupted.

Being at the apex of such passionate enthusiasm is a rush of energy that overwhelms you in a wave, enveloping you completely, the way a blanket hugs during a Christmas movie, or a pillow comforts during a horror flick. It’s, well….it’s home.

And then we watched the episode.

💞

Wholly and Completely Me

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Sitting in this cafe, reading a book that’s giving me insight into Life After 30, while the radio argues with the literature, giving me a tour of the Best Hits From My Adolescence. With each song, I’m transported back to different – very distinct – eras if my life.

Maroon 5, and I’m 14, beautiful and naive, sneaking out the window of my second-story window, getting ready to jump to the lawn below and run down the street to meet my friends, all of whom were three years my senior. Smoking cigarettes, talking about high school parties, and whisking away on an adventure to the SF beach.

Blink 182, and I’m 11, lying about the explicitly of the lyrics, standing in line for their album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, singing the vulgar songs with pride, top of my lungs, with my friend Tara Covert – a wonderful friendship that ended terribly. Some house mix I can’t, for the life of me, recall the name of, and I’m 15, surrounded by cheerleaders, practicing our routine, cursing, panting, frustrated, and hurting, but in it together. Another alliance I never thought I’d find solace in. Nobody – NOBODY – who knew me growing up would ever have pegged ME as a cheerleader. Especially now that I say it was some of e best tImes of my life. And hardest, but what isn’t hard she. You’re surrounded by teenage girls?

What strikes me most about this is how sad it makes me. This music strongly evokes such happy memories, but it fills me with a deep-rooted sadness that echoes throughout the pits of my everything. It calls upon my tears and wrenches my heart, makes me ache with longing.

I long for the days when I had all the confidence and none of the cares. I was so sure of myself. I knew who I was, loved who I was, and damn you, if you didn’t. What changed?

The pressure on myself didn’t change. The pressure others put on me has changed. Before, everyone minded their own business. Now, everyone feels like its their place to tell me how I should act, dress, live, love, breathe… Which is funny to me because I have never been without purpose, drive, or focus. I have always known exactly where I wanted to be and how I wanted to get there, and if I ever needed help, I asked for it. So, I don’t understand why, suddenly it’s everyone’s business to butt in. I don’t understand why anyone thinks that I no longer have that, that I’ve lost it somewhere along the way. I’m too polite to tell everyone to butt out and leave some alone, and I find myself nodding, smiling emptily, saying “yes, of course, you’re right, I will.” When the truth is, “no, shut up, you know nothing, butt out, I’m fine.”

I’m scared, I’m lonely, I’m tired, I’m depressed, I’m anxious, I’m vulnerable. But I’m also 26 in a month. Working where I want to work, with whom I want to work. I eat well, I live with my cats, I’m curious, adventurous, and ambitious. I have 25 different dreams, and I’m pursuing all of the at once, and succeeding. I have friends who care about me; I even have non-friends who care about me. I have community, passion, and vision. So next time any of you, for a second, think that you need to weigh in your opinions about. Y life, take a step back first. Accept my gratitude, and kindly butt out.

I hold no sincere apologies for who I am,I never have and I absolutely never ever will. I love me. And if you don’t, to hell with you.

[ You Gotta Be Tough if You’re Gonna Be Stupid ] & other shit my mom rubbed off on me

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As I sit down to write this, I know the exact expression that will come on my mother’s face when she realizes that this is a Mothers’ Day post for her. I know the look so well – not just from witnessing it for so many Mothers’ Days, but also because I now sport the same look. The expression that pulls our lips in a straight line, tugging on our chin slightly, eyelids settled comfortably between high cheekbone and furrowed brow, as our eyelashes have the fun job of holding up that heavy brow, which gives her and my eyes the depth and distinction of a creative philosopher (if I do say so, myself.)

This look. This look of modesty and gratitude with a dash of an eye-roll: this is the look on my mother’s face. A slight shake of her head, a salty chuckle that loops from the bottom of her chest and up through her nose, she’ll smile that flat-lipped, curled-corners smile that reaches the depth of her eyes, and she’ll think how absolutely ridiculous this silly holiday is, surprised at how the sentiment, nonetheless reaches that spot in the chest where it burns in a knot in her throat and prickles the space behind her eyes.

I know this, as I know all the things I do about my mother because, despite the familial mantra that I am the most oblivious human EVER, I have learned a few things over the years, including learning how to look up from my own reflection every once in a while and watch those around me.

There are two truths that have remained constant throughout our relationship: she never makes a promise she cannot keep, and she will not lie to me. Simple, yet hollow rules, right? Easy to recite, impossible to fulfill? I can only imagine the daily struggle to uphold her commitment to me through the years. Especially in sixth grade, when I asked her if I had a good singing voice after a girl in choir told me to stop singing because I was flat. (“Do you think you can sing, sweetheart?” [yes] “Well, that’s all that matters.”) Or, in third grade, when I asked if she believes in Santa Claus (“I believe in magic.”) Definitely that one time in second grade when I came home crying, asking her why I didn’t have any friends – was there something wrong with me? The harder truths to swallow, though, came later with “nobody’s going to like you if you stink,” and “you have to learn to play softball; they don’t let girls play baseball after sixth grade,” and, one of the more devastating (and common): “oh, honey, he’s gay.”

The lesson behind not making promises that cannot be kept is that a promise is intrinsically deceptive. A promise, when made, is a most sacred contract in which the inner-most hopes of a child are delicately enshrined in a gift bag of high expectations and sparkling dreams, locked upon a divine pedestal, dangerously teetering, threatening to topple over the edge, plummeting into the realm of broken hearts and binding disappointment, desecrating that cherished bond of trust.
Instead, my mother taught me to make commitments. Commitments exist within the walls of this reality, with an understanding that Life (capital-L) may interfere, at which point the terms may be renegotiated.

It was paramount that our relationship have a foundation of honesty, for, when Life (capital-L) finally happens for real, and her words are needed, she knew that only the most supportive love is cultivated through honesty, acceptance, vulnerability, and forgiveness, the sanctity of the relationship untarnished by deception. A practice I try to bring into all of my meaningful relationships.

There are all those cliché sentiments that will make their rounds today – here’s to the woman who clothes me, bathed me, fed me, loved me, who supported me through thick and thin, who was a shoulder on which to cry, an embrace in which to feel safe from all evils, a sound board, a therapist, a coach, and a best friend. Why, yes, all of those things, but so much more. So much more that the average Jane may not be able to put it into words. In fact, she’d probably say “There aren’t even words to describe how wonderful, beautiful, generous, bla blahblah my mom is,” but there are words, by George! And I’m going to finally do what my parents have been begging me to do since I first vocalized. “Use your words, Samantha.” Well, you asked for it.

I’ve been blessed with a unique gift for verbose over-explanation, one I’ve been honing since I was about six years old at camp, writing letters to my mom and dad, toying with all of the adjectives I could grasp, stringing them together in a line, stretching and twirling them, twisting them into oxymoronic pairs: “beautifully nasty,” and “awfully, terribly, disgustingly sweet.” My mom would chuckle at these, calling them quirky and charming, showing them with family and friends, sharing in the amusement.
I was mainly describing my nasty bunkmate – a girl who went out of her way to find the perfect, vicious cocktail of biting remarks to cut me deeply right where it hurt me the most, then twist. I wrote a myriad of letters describing the torturous interactions with this girl, my misery, my pain, my wounds, wanting my mom to call her names and put her in her place and make her cry, wanting to make her hurt the way she made me hurt.

It was my experience up to this point, in my eighth year of life, when sharing these types of experiences with my mom, to receive encouragement and retribution by way of satisfying generalizations like, “what a horrid thing to do!” or “girls can be so nasty,” the last word usually spit with a snarl and followed up with a gesture of comfort. But this time was different.

This time, much to my confusion, my mom asked me a slew of questions about this venomous girl. She asked me how old she is (seven years old), how long she’d been going to camp (three years), how much mail she’d get (none, I learned after a few days of investigating.)
That changed immediately. Letters addressed to her in my mom’s handwriting, stamped with our stamps, return-labeled with our return labels came almost every day, followed by care packages meticulously assembled, filled with goodies, snacks, toys, and puzzles – all catered to her!

After a few weeks of this, feeling a bit lost and neglected, I opened a letter from my mom a counselor tossed on the foot of my bed. My mom explained to me that Colleen was mean to me, not because of anything I did to her nor because of who I am, but because of parts of her life over which I had absolutely no influence or control. Colleen was a neglected child who felt desperately lonely and unloved. She was drowning in her own misery, powerless and chaotic, and she was just grasping for any semblance of control and power, and that manifested itself by preying on others’ insecurities and fears, and I noticed per my mother’s request that once my mother started taking an interest in her life through her letters, Colleen had back off antagonizing my bunkmates.

So, there I was: eight years old, sitting at the edge of my cot, staring into the space between reality and imagination – where deep thoughts and epiphanies lie – contemplating this whole Colleen situation, which lay spread open on the floor of my brain, wondering about this world and how I relate to it. I found myself facing this existential dilemma whether to continue reacting emotionally and personally, or, when confronted with this type, to reach further, look deeper, and explore the truth hiding within.

This was the earliest version of what I now know as “the two-percent truth.” My mother always says, “there is two-percent truth in absolutely everything.” My mother heard all of my horror stories about this girl, and, instead of hulking out to protect and defend her threatened cub, she recognized and addressed the aching, lonely heart that plagued my bully.

I guess a simple word for what I learned that summer at Camp Lohikan would be “compassion.” Compassion, patience, generosity, tolerance. All traits learned from both my parents. Add vulnerability and honesty into the mix, and we’ve got the secret recipe for Living Fully in Yourself. In that fabulously awkward stage of pre-pubescent-meets-adolescent, I finally found the strength within to grab a hold of my confidence and plant it firmly within me. By giving it an unwavering foundation, it was able to bloom and spread up my trunk and out through my links to my fingertips and toes. I got in touch with my inself, my outself, my higher being, and my lower self. I learned where I stood in the universe, spent time exploring my energy – what gives strengthens it, what scares it, how far it reaches, how connected it is now, and how connected it wants to be. I learned where, how, and whom I want to be within the cosmos, and, through this exploration and discovery, I gained a much greater, clearer sense of respect and love for myself. As most 14 year olds, I completely understood the universe, I understood life, and I understood what it was all about. I had all the answers. So, naturally, I wore outrageous colors, painted my nails black, dyed my hair pink with Red-Enhancing Shampoo, hooked chains around my hips, and went out for the cheerleading squad.

During this delicious phase of my life, my mom commented almost every day on how much she loves how I’m comfortable in my skin, how I stand up to bullies, speak out against injustices, speak up about what I believe in, how smart I am, how beautifully I write, how bold and strong I am. “You’re the bravest person I know,” she would say to me at least three times a week, a phrase I etched close to my heart and look at still to this day whenever I’m feeling less-than-that. These sentiments always supported with swelling pride – though she’d never use the word “pride” – gleaming usually in the quality of her voice, or the twinkle in her eye, or the way her smile would tug the outside corners of her eyebrows toward the corners of her mouth.

What fascinated me the most about this was how incredulous and awe-struck she’d be on each of these occasions. It was as if she was floored – nailed to the floor to keep herself from floating away with elated admiration. This is fascinating to me because where did she think it came from? I don’t think I ever expressed this to her in the moment, maybe because I didn’t have the capability to properly express the idea at the time, but everything I am, I learned from her. Everything I know, I know from her. I found my strength in her, my confidence. I was always watching. Sitting in the back of the car, in the next room, on the floor of her office, at the dinner table with all her friends. I listened. I listened to everything. I listened to everyone. Her music, her radio stations. I read her books, asked her questions, learned her processes, her practices, her vocabulary, her way of being in the world. Living Fully in Yourself.

She taught me how to cry, “Open your chest up toward the heavens and cry to the skies. It will be a fuller, more satisfying experience. Release yourself fully into the universe.”
She taught me how to connect to the universe, “You get back what you put out. Ask and the universe will provide. Put it out there.”
She taught me how to succeed by teaching me how to embrace failure, natural and inevitable failure.
She taught me how to be brave, “Embrace your fear. If you acknowledge your fear, listen to it, let it be heard, address it, and let it go.”
She taught me how to forgive, “How can you expect him to forgive you if you won’t forgive yourself?”
She taught me to dine with the queen and throw an elegant dinner party.
She taught me how to survive with the secrets to life: “You gotta be tough if you’re gonna be stupid,” and “It’s always easy when you know the answers,” and “this, too, shall pass.”