Tag Archives: Writing

Another Week of Thoughts

Tuesday, May 21

I’m on a real Celine Dion kick today. During “Power of Love,” I thought about how funny it would be if, during a one-night stand, I suddenly started screaming, “‘Cause I’m your laaaaddyyy!” Worth terrorizing a poor fellow over this bit?

Maybe. But I’ve never been into one-night stands.

Wednesday, May 22

I’m laying in bed. A weird clicking noise is keeping me awake. It sounds like it’s coming from inside my nose. Is the pressure changing? Is a storm coming? Am I the canary in the coal mine?

It’s the ceiling fan.

Thursday, May 23

Grace and I won the Writer’s Block competition. Afterward, we kept telling people we didn’t deserve it, that the other team’s sketch was actually better, and that we just won because we had more friends there.

The next day, we realized, fuck that. We deserved it.

Saturday, May 25

A cat bit me today. I put rubbing alcohol on it for a quick disinfect. I wondered why it’s called rubbing alcohol, so I read the directions. Apparently, people use it for massages. Heathens.

The cat bit me while I was dictating notes for the visit. It’s one of my favorite things that’s ever happened:

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Monday, May 27

I’m never drinking again.

Tuesday, May 28

I had a dream last night that a giant red sea creature was trying to kill me by kneeing me in the back with its enormous red balls.

Wednesday, May 29

Went to the CBD store to buy my first bag of gummies.

Have you heard? I’m off alcohol.

I felt wholly unworthy of being in the store, and immediately word vomited on the clerk so I could get out as soon as possible. His voice sounded like his sinuses were at complete capacity. 

I am the canary in the coal mine.

Thursday, May 30

Today is one of those days I am sad for no apparent reason.

Couldn’t sleep, so I started a new book. Something was throwing me off, like I couldn’t quite pay attention to what I was actually reading. A few pages in, I realized what it was: my inner narrator was shouting every word in an old Hollywood accent. 

And here I thought the weed hadn’t kicked in.

Friday, May 31

My mom and I are going to Connecticut today. I’ve been telling everyone we’re going to New Jersey, because I thought we were going to New Jersey.

We are not going to New Jersey.

Our flight from Philly to New Haven was a very tiny plane. When we walked on, I got a glimpse of the cockpit. The co-pilot was looking at Instagram. His index finger was hovering over a picture of a model in an open suit jacket and not much else. I assume he was debating whether or not to double tap. I can’t decide if I appreciate his thoughtfulness, or am terrified of his inability to make quick decisions.

Saturday, June 1

Mom and I are having a retreat in Connecticut. I know where we are now because my mom drew me a map on her napkin at dinner. 

We’ve been kayaking, reading, writing, eating, drinking and talking. I saw snails having sex. When I told my mom, she said had a video she wants to show me.

We watched Moonlight before bed.

I do not think this is the video she meant.

Sunday, June 2

Mom and I took the train to go see Mean Girls on Broadway. I always thought Broadway was a theater. It is a street.

The show was awesome. It’s true, I’m a sucker for musicals. But My Lord and Savior Andrew Lloyd Webber had nothing to do with this show, and still, I was smitten.

On the train back, a passenger next to us popped a bottle of champagne. The cork hit a girl in the head. She’s okay; they gave her a glass for her troubles.

Monday, June 3

My last full day in Connecticut, and I still have no idea how to spell Connecticut. 

The water was too rough to kayak. Do sea gulls ever get sea sick?

Met family I’d never met before. It’s a shame I’m just now meeting them. My mom made dinner and I poured drinks. This is the role I will always assume. 

After dinner, we sat outside and watched the tide come in. I climbed down on the rocks and examined all the nooks and crannies the low tide had left exposed. Lots of snails looking to get laid. 

Tuesday, June 4

On my flight from New Haven to Philadelphia. I opened my pack of Wet Wipes to prepare my hands for snack time. I felt bad about the strong floral smell, until the woman next to me pulled a hard boiled egg out of Target bag.

Had to hurry to the bathroom between flights. I was in a rush, so I left my backpack on while I peed. It was probably one of the most freeing experiences I’ve had in a while. I saved so much time! How have I never thought to do this before?!

 

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A Week of Thoughts

Last week, I challenged myself to write at least once per day. Something I thought, something I did, etc. The goal is to keep me writing, even when I’m not feeling inspired. And also to put less pressure on myself to turn every little thought into something “perfect.” For that reason, these are *mostly* unedited.

Game of Thrones spoilers below, btw.

Friday, May 10

There was a very pregnant woman in my yoga/barre class today. I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if she went into labor. We’d probably get to leave, which I wouldn’t hate. Would I know how to help?

Sometimes, when I’m walking the dogs, I’ll quiz myself: “If you’re stabbed here, where would the tourniquet go?” The answer is always above the wound (I think?) but I like to be prepared. I don’t know why I’m scared this will happen but I think about it a lot.

For this reason, I think I would offer the woman a tourniquet. Idk if it would go above or below her belly, though.

Saturday, May 11

I love making bartenders laugh.

This did not happen for me tonight.

Sunday, May 12

Up all night after Game of Thrones. I am mourning the loss of who I thought Daenerys would be written to be. How could this happen? Thank God Jorah wasn’t around to see this.

Monday, May 13

I’ve been listening to GoT recap podcasts all day. I feel a little better knowing some people liked the episode. I’m happy for them.

To me, the writing felt like a betrayal. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been paying attention. I knew Daenerys was likely headed this way. But they rushed it. And now, this incredibly complex, beloved (and, yes, flawed) character has been watered down to Scorned Woman #1.

I stopped listening to recaps after one dude said Dany went mad because she didn’t get “that dick” from Jon. Typical woman!

Typical man to think “that dick” is worth it.

Tuesday, May 14

I walked by a middle school on my way to morning coffee. I couldn’t make eye contact with any of the kids because I was scared they’d make fun of me.

I wonder how much blood someone from the Middle Ages would lose if they flossed for the first time.

James turns four tomorrow. His kennel name was Arthur. I hate the name Arthur because it reminds me of Arthur the Aardvark, which reminds me of the flu because I had the flu one time when I watched an episode.

I have the same issue with scallops.

Wednesday, May 15

I went to the pet store to get James a special pâté cake. I spent too long in the cat food aisle trying to decide between beef, chicken or fish. Beef seemed off-brand. Chicken seemed safe, until I remembered an episode of Below Deck where a very drunk rich woman was offended at being served chicken on a yacht. This was the first time I’d heard of chicken having a bad rap with the rich.

In the end, I settled on surf and turf. We’re middle class.

Thursday, May 16

In yoga, I always want to peek to see who doesn’t want hands-on adjustments.

Sometimes, I purposely look like I’m struggling so they’ll come over and touch me.

Friday, May 17

Watched Drew perform with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus tonight. It gave me chills. I am so proud of him. It felt good to support him, especially since he’s been so supportive my comedy shows.

Had an asthma attack/allergic reaction to something at the bar afterwards so had to leave.

How supportive.

Saturday, May 18

Someone asked me out tonight. It caught me off-guard and I said, “No, I’m sorry. I don’t date.”

I don’t feel good about it.

Sunday, May 19

Minutes after finishing GoT: Heartbroken. Relieved. Resigned. Everyone’s going to die from breathing in that ash, anyway. 

I refuse to say more than that. The hurt is too raw right now.

RIP GoT.

 

Anything but write

I’ll do anything but write.

I’ll clean my room, brush the cats, reorganize my closets.

I’ll do anything but write. Because writing is terrifying.

Of course, I love to write. It’s why I moved to Chicago. But in doing so, I put something out into the universe that I can’t take back. I went after a fantasy of mine that’s never seen the light of day. Something that, until recently, lived as a picture-perfect daydream in the back of my mind. What’s going to happen when I drag it out? When I tear it from its safe place and say, “Here, World, is my most precious dream. Please discuss.”

That’s why, today, I’ll do anything but write. I’ll get a flu shot, I’ll buy some running shoes, I’ll stare at my cats — anything and everything to put off what’s most important.

My sketches need rewrites. My blog needs an update. But my face needs a fucking dermatologist. And that’s something I can tackle in a phone call.

 

Tonight!, I tell myself. Tonight, we write! But first, isn’t it Harry Potter weekend? And shouldn’t I watch something happy — just for a minute! — to get myself out of this crotchety headspace?

I turn on ABC Family and trick myself into forgetting how Harry gets Slughorn’s memory juice. Then, I genuinely forget who dies at the end of the series (everyone), and, 30 minutes later, find myself balls deep in a Harry Potter internet wormhole.

I did the same thing last month, only with Straight Outta Compton.

I’ll do anything but write, because being creative is uncomfortable. “What if I suck? I probably suck. And if I suck, what’s the point?”

I do my best to ride out these thoughts. I imagine what my old therapist would say. “Who cares if you suck? You’re taking classes to get better.”

She’s right. Of course she’s right. So, in an effort to quash my inner demons, I gave myself a goal: I’ll write for an hour, and then I’ll stop. I’ll blog about something (anything!) for 60 minutes, and then I’ll publish it without obsessively editing it for weeks.

So, my hour is up. Dog walking calls. Which means by the time you read this, I’ve already picked up some poop.

 

A Freelance Writer’s Style Guide

After making strides as a beauty blogger, I’ve decided to try my hand at fashion blogging. It’s a logical move for me. People always ask about my wardrobe. In fact just last week, my roommate opened my closet and said, “Jo, where are all your clothes?”

I’ve decided to launch my fashion empire with this: Dressing for Success: A Freelance Writer’s Style Guide. But before I show you what a successful freelance writer wears, I’ll tell you what she does:

I start my day the way any go-getter would: at 9:30 a.m., with a cup of coffee, a protein shake and 1-2 episodes of Jersey Shore.

Once I’m good and caffeinated, I open my laptop and get to work. I respond to emails, apply for jobs, work on freelance projects and harass people for more of them.

I check the clock. It’s nearly lunch time. I break from work and dedicate the next 45 minutes or so to my studies. Last week, I taught myself how to French braid. Yesterday, I researched Jersey Shore: Where Are They Now? Today, I read up on sporadic incontinence in cats.

Around 2:00, it’s time for lunch. I make a beautiful spread. As I eat, I pretend the cats are my coworkers and the kitchen is my canteen.

After lunch, I consider showering. I decide against it. Dirty hair is easier to French braid, anyways. So I wash my face and brush my teeth as a make-good to the hygiene gods. I change out of my day wear and into my active wear. Sometimes, I go for a walk. Sometimes, I go for a run. The variety is, without a doubt, overwhelming.

And with that, I present my day-wear or, as I call it, My 4-Point Uniform for Freelance Success!

 

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Lounge pants (from my sister), “virgin” t-shirt (from my mom), open toe Ugg boots (from high school), and an oversized cat sweatshirt (custom-made).

You’ll notice I like to mix patterns and textures. My lounge pants are a fine, silky blend, whereas my sweater is a mix of felt, cotton and googly eyes.

I also employ a mix of blues and greens. I find that cooler hues make my four-day-old hair pop in a way warmer colors can’t.

Finally, on my feet, I don a trade secret we in the industry have kept hush for years. They’re called Uggs (but you didn’t hear it from me 😉 !) Everyone styles them differently – over the pants, under the pants, rolled and then pulled over the pants – but I find them most comfortable with a little hole just above the left big toe.

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Toe flow.

Coffee Shop Invasion

Today I tried to be one of those cool people you see in coffee shops. The ones wearing those ridiculously large lawn-mowing headphones, sitting in a corner working furiously on something you assume is their latest short story or screenplay.

I’ve always thought these people seemed hip and successful. So this afternoon, I decided I was ready to join their ranks. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped.

To start, it takes me 10 minutes to park before I’m even able to set foot in the coffee shop. This aggravates me. But I try to let it go and tell myself I’m just not meant for menial tasks like driving or parking. I belong in a big city. A bustling financial district with a Light Rail, or whatever.

I arrive at the shop, put my stuff down and walk to the counter to order my drink. I get my usual — a medium dry cappuccino — and settle into a brightly lit corner that I hope will give me a second-hand tan.

Joan's judging eyes follow me wherever I go.

Joan’s judging eyes follow me wherever I go.

The table next to me is occupied by an aforementioned Headphone Wearer, who I’ve decided to name Karen. I crack open my MacBook Air (already pleased with the impression I’m making), and wander around in search of a nearby plug. I find one, plug in, and start unfurling my power cord like I’m laying a bomb or a booby-trap that leads back to my table. Karen looks up several times as I do this. It’s clear she finds me irritating. In this moment, I feel uncomfortably like my dad. He’s always very annoying when people are trying to concentrate on something other than him. He’s chipper. Bouncy and distracting, like a toddler who hasn’t quite come to grips with his body mass or movements.

All powered up and ready to go, I sit down and try to think of something to write about. Five minutes pass. Suddenly, I am painfully aware of how hot the sunlight feels on my delicate winter flesh. I cannot work under these circumstances, I tell myself. Especially considering the mole-removal I endured not seven days ago. So I stand on a chair and attempt to lower the blinds. The opposite happens, and somehow, the blinds open even further, showering Karen and myself with scalding UV rays from above. I hurry to reverse my actions, but it’s too late. The blinds are stuck ajar and I haven’t the upper body strength to pull them back down. It is clear that Karen hates me.

Defeated, I sit back down in my chair. At this point, I realize that I’ve nearly finished my coffee. What happens once it’s gone? Do I just sit here with an empty cup? Do I order another? What would Karen do?

I put this worry aside and begin to look for an acceptable Pandora station to enjoy. Do I go for my usual station — Kanye and Jay Z’s Watch the Throne? Or do I pick something a little more muted, more coffee-shop-esque? I feel Karen’s eyes burrowing into my screen and find myself wondering if she’s ever seen Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Things aren’t going as expected. I haven’t written a single word, I’ve formed a tumultuous relationship with this complete stranger Karen (if that’s even her real name), and my skin is feeling oddly flushed. Am I getting burned? Is my anti-aging cream negatively reacting to the window-filtered sunlight?

I decide to move. A change of scene will help me focus, surely. I pack up my station, wander over to a shady corner and start the whole process again. This time, I put on my glasses as if to say, “it’s go time, folks.”

I’ve now been in the coffee shop for 45 minutes. And I don’t have a word to show. So I write a blog post about being in a coffee shop.

27

A year ago, I published a blog post about turning 26. It was one of my more serious posts, as it was the first time I’d ever opened up about having an anxiety disorder. **Cue the line of eligible bachelors**

Since writing that post, I’ve done a lot of work on my anxiety. I’m by no means cured, but I’ve definitely become more lax about sharing drinks with people. I even ate a fish taco off a hotel floor, which, by anyone’s standards, is downright irresponsible. A death wish, some might say. (Full disclosure: I spent the next day googling variations of: “Do microwaves kill herpes?”)

Since writing that post, I’ve been working on myself. Working on the ability to speak my mind, the ability to let things go, and the ability to get up and talk to people, even when I feel like they hate me.

But perhaps one of the hardest things I’m working on is learning how to value and appreciate myself. I spent a good part of last year thinking, “What the hell is wrong with me? What do they have that I don’t? Am I not ____ enough?” I leave this blank because, depending on the day, I’d fill in any number of descriptors. Spontaneous enough, confident enough, cool enough, pretty enough, funny enough, bold enough, open enough, creative enough. I didn’t feel enough. Period. I felt like an inconvenience in someone’s day, an intruder in their “group.” And while these fears have always lived in the back of my mind, I suddenly found them catapulted to the forefront. It felt like everything I’d feared about myself – my lowest, most self-hating thoughts – were proved true. And that felt terrible.

But today, more than a year later, I’m able to ask myself why. Why does someone else get to dictate how I feel about myself? Why do they get all the power? All of my power?

I’m also starting to realize that people come and go. Friends, boyfriends, lovahs, even husbands – they come and go. There’s only one person I can count on spending the rest of my life with. And that’s me. So isn’t it about time I came to peace with myself? Wouldn’t it make sense to start learning how to love myself? How to feel whole with myself, by myself?

This has been my focus. Which is why I nearly lost my mind when I came across the following:

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If she’s hot and single, she’s crazy.

???

Now to be clear, I’m not saying I’m hot. I’m saying, as a single woman, “What the fuck?”

This meme hit me so hard because it is, quite specifically, the very thought I spent months beating myself up over. The fact that I am 27 and single baffles people, from my dentist to my relatives. I take this meme — even if it was made in jest — to mean there are those who view my singleness as an abnormality, like my childhood snaggletooth. I take it to mean that men must look at me and say, “Oh, she’s single? Well, what’s wrong with her then?”

Why does something have to be wrong with me? There are so many reasons why a woman would be single — why do we automatically assume that she’s a compulsive car keyer?

Maybe she likes being independent. Maybe she’s focused on other things. Maybe she’s just having fun. Maybe she doesn’t feel like doting on anyone, save her cats, friends and family. Yeah, maybe she got her ass dumped. But maybe he was unfaithful.

Maybe she’s just not into you, brah.

Why does a girl need to be spoken for in order for others to believe she’s cool? Why is a woman seen as worthy, valuable, “a catch,” or sane only when a man deems her fit for marriage? 

I realize this post might have crossed the line (several lines, really) from thoughtful to impassioned. And if you thought you were getting into another post about cats or germs, my sincerest apologizes, as I’ve certainly led you astray. To be clear, I’m not making sweeping judgments about men or any other group of people, and I’m certainly not trying to brand myself as a wronged woman in pursuit of justice. I love being single. I also loved being a relationship, when it was healthy. There’s nothing wrong with being in or out of a relationship, as long as you’re happy.

Happy is what I’m focused on. Not who makes me happy. Just being happy. Period. And if THAT’S what makes me crazy, cool. At least it’s not my cats.

Waiting for inspiration

Blogging used to come easy to me. Looking back, it seems like every day, I was struck with something that I just had to write about. Something that I couldn’t wait to jot down and roll with. I had such a constant stream of thoughts, ideas and blasphemous remarks from my dad that, for a time, I considered hooking a tape recorder to my belt. I still get a little excited at the thought of it, particularly because it would allow me to start using the phrase “Captain’s Log” in earnest (a Battlestar Galactica pipe dream, I suppose).

But in all seriousness, those are the days that haunt me every time I sit down to write another blog post. What if I’m a burned out blogger? A poser? What if I’ve peaked? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, just look at my athletic career. Or my modeling career.

Here I am modeling the Dark Lord's spring collection, "He Who Must Not Be Drab." My career plummeted shortly after this photo surfaced.

Here I am modeling the Dark Lord’s spring collection, “He Who Must Not Be Drab.” My career plummeted shortly after this photo was released.

I’m sometimes so afraid that I’ll never come up with a “big idea” or a good story that I stop myself before I can even get started.

So here’s my attempt to change that. Which means I’m going to stop waiting for inspiration to strike and just write. I’m going to journal like the moody, LTD2-coveting child I once was and give a mere update on my life as of late. Brace yourselves, it’s riveting.

1. I’ve studied up on animal behavior. My exact Google search was: “How to tell my cat I love her.” I’m a firm believer in open communication – it can make or break a relationship. That said, I want to establish an ongoing dialogue with Joan, something that helps us communicate our immediate feelings or frustrations and navigate any future issues that may arise, like the introduction of a new father figure.

As you can see, she’s already very communicative. Particularly when it comes to feelings of disdain and superiority.

As you can see, she’s already very communicative. Particularly when it comes to emoting disdain and/or superiority.

Now, I’ve always been wary of verbally communicating with cats (you never know if you might be saying something disrespectful), so I’ve focused on deciphering body behavior and subtle social cues. My studies are far from finished, but I hope to draft myself a Doctorate Degree sometime in the near future.

2. Equally damning to my love life, I threw a birthday party for the above-mentioned cat. But from what I understand, my parents have already spent a significant amount of time renegotiating my dowry, so I’ll skimp on the incriminating details. Message me if you’re interested. And in the meantime, here’s a video of Joan’s fetching skills which, I must say, I’m incredibly proud of:

3. I’ve tried to hit on people for the first time in years. In college, my friends used to call me creepy. I denied it, of course. Quite vehemently. The way I saw it, I was proactive. Aggressively, disconcertingly proactive. But the day one of my pursuits addressed me via text message as “Hey creepy,” I decided it was time to throw in the towel and embrace the tactless romantic I was born to be.

Needless to say, my “game” has always been a little rough around the edges. And having been out of the game for a while, it’s safe to say it’s gotten worse. Just the other weekend, I hit on someone by broaching the scintillating topic of Meth Mouth. I asked someone out via LinkedIn (not my fault entirely), hid in the woods from a Tinder match and have since completed a few more cringeworthy actions that, for the time being, I’m unable to disclose. The wounds are too fresh.

So there you have it. My life as of late. A Captain’s Log, if you will. My hope is that this has somewhat alleviated my blogging block, but only time will tell.