Thursday, November 10, 2011

on the night of my graduation from social work school and my 24th birthday, i cried like a baby. i laid on my bed next to my confused sister and sobbed. not because i was so happy, not because i would miss school - because i was completely overwhelmed and terrified by people’s expectations of me. i grew up with my family fawning over how “smart” i was. i have always been told to keep working hard in school, to get as much of the best education i could, and i would go far, so i did. i graduated from high school in the top 10 of my class. i went to a good college on full scholarship. i went straight to graduate school, worked hard for two years, and graduated with a good gpa. on the day of my graduation, my loved ones told me how proud they were of me, how i was going to do so much good in the world. while i was grateful for the congratulations and encouragement, i was also petrified. i was graduating into a nearly nonexistent job market. i wasn’t clear on what kind of job i wanted. i took those couple of months off to take care of my mom, then i started applying like mad for any non-profit job i was vaguely qualified for. since july, i’ve been applying, interviewing, reworking my resume, writing cover letter after cover letter... and getting rejected. it’s been discouraging, of course. i’ve cried, i’ve been angry, i’ve snapped at family members who ask for constant updates on my job situation when there are no updates to give. and then i reframed. maybe the full-time do-gooder non-profit job isn’t going to happen for me, at least not right now. so, decided to rewrite my goals. i got a job as a hostess at a restaurant, at which i can oogle celebrities and joke around with my coworkers and have a pretty good time. i moved out of the manhattan neighborhood i never felt quite “me” in anyway, and back to my brooklyn apartment, which i can actually afford! i’m volunteering for some non-profits, i’m enjoying having days off during the week instead of the weekend, i’m spending quality time with my roommates, friends, and boyfriend. and honestly - i’m happy. today i called good old sallie mae to ask about loan deferment. when i explained to the surprisingly helpful and friendly customer service rep that i hadn’t yet found a full time position in my field, and was instead working part-time at a restaurant, his response was “i’m sorry to hear that.” to which i replied, “oh, it’s okay. that’s the way it is right now.” don’t worry about me, sallie mae man. i’m doing alright. i don’t have that dream job - but who does? i’m 24 years old, i’m living in the greatest city in the world, i’m in love, i’m surrounded by amazing friends, i can see the skyline from my rooftop and i’m reading for pleasure again and i am so very happy.
so, to my dad, grandma, the sallie mae man, the alumni associations at my alma maters, and anyone else who may be concerned about my not having achieved that all-important full-time position in my field of choice: don't worry about me. yes, i’m an underemployed and overeducated member of the generation new york magazine described as “coming of age in post-hope america”, but i still feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Friday, July 1, 2011

not what i had planned.

in the months leading up to graduation, i had the same conversation with countless people. it starts with the question, "so, what are your plans after graduation?" and ends with me rambling and sputtering and trying to put together a cohesive answer and typically, failing. i planned to get a job right away, then i planned to apply to be an invisible children roadie. i submitted the application, had one phone interview, and decided i didn't want to do that any more. i planned to volunteer while i looked for a job. then i won tickets to bonnaroo from lelia broussard the day before the festival opened. i planned a ride there with my kate. an hour away, the car broke down and we ended up riding to the festival with an angel of a tow truck driver, JB. the next four days refreshed me, amazed me, and reconnected me to what makes my life so incredible. i could write a whole post about bonnaroo itself but it would include way more feelings and eminem references than anyone would want to read. suffice to say it was just what i needed. we planned to rent a car on the way home. that didn't work. we planned to ride to the beach in north carolina, then we planned to stop in raleigh. we eventually got home, and the night i arrived in brooklyn, my mom fell down her steps and broke her leg in three places. i'd planned on hitting the job hunt hard in new york upon my arrival back, but that plan changed as i left again, this time to my mom's house to take care of her while she recuperates. i've been here for two weeks now, and will be heading home on thursday, if everything goes according to plan. i'll be moving in with a friend in manhattan on august 15, i'll be applying for more jobs and getting hired as soon as i can... if all goes according to plan. but one thing i've learned over the past month is that sometimes absolutely nothing goes according to the plan. more importantly, i've learned that when those plans change, something even better can happen. you can find yourself unexpectedly headed to tennessee to have the time of your life. you can meet an aspiring singer-songwriter at a hotel bar in raleigh, north carolina. you can be amazed by the generosity of strangers-turned-friends. you can make memories to last a lifetime with your best friend. you can be there for your mom when she needs you, and make her laugh when she's hurting. plans change for a reason. so, i'm staying open to the next change in plans, because it's coming whether i want it to or not. i'm even looking forward to it. it's kind of exciting... how's this plan going to change so something better can come through?

Monday, May 30, 2011

thank you.

i am writing out thank you notes to friends and family for gradubirthday gifts, and just feeling so absolutely full of gratitude for the support and love i have in my life that i want to write a thank you note to everyone i know. i graduated with my master's degree in social work on my birthday last week and honestly, whether i've properly expressed it or not, if you have been in any way a part of my life, i have you to thank. so here goes...
thank you for the hugs. thank you to anyone who's made me laugh. thank you for playing music that sustains me and inspires me. thank you to my invisible children family, including my rescue family, the roadies i've had the pleasure of hosting at my apartment and those who initially invited me into this story via screenings - you have changed my life forever. thank you to my classmates and faculty at NYU and SHU for inspiring me and supporting me and challenging me. thank you to everyone who's touched my life through my internships - supervisors, colleagues and most importantly, clients. i will never forget you.
thank you to anyone who's sat with me while i ugly cried - it's a short list and i love you. thank you to all of you who've shared the nights out around new york city or on my balcony - we have fun and it's so necessary. thank you for comfort food sundays (we'll have another one soon!). thank you for dealing with me when i had hard days and being patient with me and loving me through them. thank you for believing in me. thank you to anyone who's challenged me and made me grow. thank you for letting me share my passions with you - i know sometimes it's not what you expected when we're at out a bar and you ask what the whistle's about and i go on about war in the congo.
thank you, all of you, for being in my life in any way at all. and thank you for reading this attempt at articulating gratitude for this immense amount of love i feel.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"it's only the ocean and you."

by the end of last week, the combination of hearing about the devastation on japan and some personal junk i was going through had me wiped out. i felt overwhelmed and confused, just in some kind of funk. i knew what i needed - the ocean. throughout my adolescence, i spent every summer living at the beach. my summer job was at a shop three blocks from the ocean with a super chill boss who was fine with me hitting the beach in the morning, brushing the sand off my feet and rolling straight into work. early mornings on the beach are the best, not many people are out yet, mostly people walking their dogs. i'd grab a coffee and walk along the waves, or have a seat and read for a while, and it was so incredibly peaceful. beach days with my brother and sister and cousins always included hours spent out in the waves. i love the rhythm of the ocean, and how i can lean back into the waves and just ride up and over them.
until sunday, i hadn't checked out any of the nyc beaches since moving here. so i took my emotionally-funked self and a book, bundled up, rode the a train out to rockaway beach and instantly fell in love. the only people on the beach in winter are surfers and a handful of people walking. the quiet, in contrast with the city so closeby, is beautiful. i walked for a bit, then just sat right in the sand, shoes off, and felt instantly calmer. i watched the waves, and thought about how the ocean, capable of that terrible damage on the other side of the world, here was providing me with the serenity i craved.
i don't know what it is, really, about the ocean, but it's one of the things i can rely on as a reset button for me, emotionally. it can calm me down and remind me who i am, and assure me that everything is going to be alright. just as the tide will keep rising and falling, so will life. the same waves that can be turbulent and destructive one moment are followed by those that are beautiful, rhythmic, and steady.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

she-woman-lady-power day!

it's international women's day! also called feminist coming out day! newsflash: i'm a feminist. also, my name is lindsay. i think i'm pretty "out" as a feminist, so here is a list of ways i've come up with to celebrate international women's day.

- contact your senators and ask them to vote no on legislation that would cut funding to planned parenthood, which provides millions of women with necessary and life-saving reproductive health.

- call out sexism. look for it, listen for it. it's pervasive and it continues if we all keep quiet about it. it wears a lot of different costumes, sometimes known as victim blaming, catcalling, or "just joking."

- listen to some of your favorite she-woman-lady-power anthems. maybe a little missy higgins' "steer", sara bareilles' "fairytale", or if you feel like shaking your ass (um, always?) of course, christina aguilera's "can't hold us down". or there's always any ani difranco song, ever. (feminist confession: i don't listen to ani difranco. i know, i know.)

- unapologetically rock a short skirt.

- unapologetically rock an androgynous suit.

- tell your favorite women how awesome they are.

- buy or borrow a feminist book. "yes means yes: visions of female sexual empowerment and a world without rape", essays compiled by jaclyn friedman and jessica valenti, changed my life for real. you can totally borrow it.

- stop making charlie sheen jokes. stop talking about charlie sheen. stop listening to, watching, reading coverage of charlie sheen. don't even say his name unless you're pointing out his horrendous history of perpetrating violence against women. and for the love of all things good, don't watch 2 and a half men, ever.

- read feministing. just do it.

- join women for women international at one of their "meet me on the bridge" events.

happy she-woman-lady-power day! how are you celebrating?

you and me and james franco.

i’ve said to several friends over the course of my being in graduate school - “if there’s one thing i’ve learned from social work school, it’s that everyone is fucked up.” it’s true! we learned to categorize people’s fuckedupedness and we call these categories diagnoses because they make us feel like we understand them and make them somehow separate from us, but really? we’re all damaged, crazy, messy, and none of us make sense.
some people i love are going through some shitty times right now. i’m going through some shitty times right now. it’s tempting, when a loved one tells me that they’re feeling fucked up or when i’m feeling it, to be all “no! don’t feel that way! let’s cheer up!” but i’m not gonna do that. hey, people out there, that i love dearly and think the absolute world of - you are totally fucked up. we all are! isn’t that wild? telling you “oh no, you’re not fucked up!” will only make you feel more so because now you feel like something i’m telling you you’re not. i totally validate your feelings of fuckedupedness. there’s comfort possible in knowing we all feel that way, though, right? this is being human. i think a lot about what it means to be human and i think feeling completely fucked up is a big part of it.
another big thing i’ve learned over the last couple of years, through a combination of social work school and my addiction to self-improvement books and blogs, it’s the importance of being whatever you are whenever you are it. if you’re sad? be sad. feel it out. see what it feels like to be sad. listen to damien rice and cry like a baby. angry? be angry! stomp around or yell or do whatever angry makes you feel like doing. i’m not very good at letting myself be angry, but listening to a lot of eminem is helping me get better at it. if you’re happy, hell yeah! shake your ass and WORK that happy. whatever it is that you are, right in the moment wherever you are - be it, honor it, and know that it is temporary.
so, right now you feel messy, complicated, out of sorts, disorganized, fucked up. (am i saying fuck too much? is my blog gonna get an “adult content” warning? that’d be kinda legit. i’m learning a lot from eminem.) you are feeling that way because you are. so am i. so is that person you think has got it all together. even james franco. he’s got like a dozen master’s degrees and oscar nominations and is attending 5 schools at once or something but come on, you saw the oscars - totally fucked up! like you and me and everyone. so to you, to me, and to james franco - i acknowledge your fuckedupedness and i love you anyway. i’ll love you until you’re feeling alright again, because you will feel alright again. you’ll even feel happy again! and then we will work that happy like a tyra banks smize, girlfriend.

Monday, February 7, 2011

on unapologetic authenticity and why i give a damn.

"Life will devastate you if you get close enough to it. Get closer. In the cosmic fabric, your pain is mine is yours is mine... When we can share this unified space we know how to be of better service to one another - because we can better empathize.” - Danielle LaPorte

since september, i've been interning at an incredible organization that offers trauma-focused therapy to survivors of violent crime. the fiercely amazing superwomen i work alongside told me when i started that eventually this work would affect me via vicarious trauma. people who are exposed to others' traumatic experiences often begin experiencing post-traumatic symptoms of their own. i'm not doing a lot of work directly with clients, so i thought i'd be fine. during the past week or so, i was proven wrong. i've had trouble sleeping, i've felt like nothing in the world is okay and there's nothing i or anyone can do about it. there have been days when i've had zero motivation for doing anything at all. if you're one of the friends who caught me at a particularly bad time during which i basically told you "i'm in a pissy mood and don't wanna talk about it, and don't try to cheer me up, either"... thank you for loving me anyway. but - i won't say i'm sorry. because something that has been proven to me more and more in recent weeks is the value of authenticity. we are, as a society, i think, afraid of being unapologetically authentic. we are afraid of living with intention and truth. we try to be impenetrable. it makes sense - who wants to get up close and personal with how we, and others, really feel and want? human emotion and desire, left unchecked, are unwieldy and intense and just kind of scary. keeping your guard up is safer. in this effort to stay safe and walled up, it's become uncool to give a damn. the admission that you care about something - or someone - is an admission of weakness. it's an admission that your wall has been penetrated and, sound the alarm, you give a damn! letting things matter is dangerous. why would we do it?

now, stay with me, and trust that i'm being a little scattered with my pronouns here but when i'm saying "you" or "we" or "people" or "society" i absolutely include "i". i have walls up. i don't go around scattering my emotions all willy-nilly. expressing my authentic feelings makes me feel vulnerable and, quite frankly, scared shitless. but, as i'm learning, it is worth it. we have this incredible, divine, precious opportunity as human beings to embrace the full spectrum of our lived experience and this includes those uncomfortable feelings like fear and outrage and anxiety and those indescribable feelings that happen when you want something but you can't name it. the human experience can be pretty ugly. however, it also includes that feeling when you hear a song that makes your heart stop. it includes the feeling of first kisses, the feeling of dancing until you can't feel your legs, the feeling of hugs from your grandma and scoring a goal and getting a standing ovation and that day when the winter weather finally breaks and you swear life has never felt this good.

if we just keep on denying that we give a damn, this spectrum is no longer available to us. we have the ability to care, to let people in, to let things get us riled up, to feel things we can't name, and it would be an injustice not to embrace that opportunity. so, yeah, sometimes you'll express your authentic truth and people won't be able to take it. but is that reason to apologize, to recant, to build the walls back up? i don't think so. respecting someone enough to trust them with your most whole, authentic self is an honor. think about those timeless songs, movies, stories - are they about being all "hey i think you're kind of okay or whatever but i'm not into taking risks", "i dig the idea of social change but don't really want to cause a ruckus", "we can win this game if ya'll want to but, eh, whatever." hell no. that's not life. good songs, movies, stories, and lives are steeped in unapologetic intensity. "i fell into the burning ring of fire", "i have a dream", "i'm a winner, i'm going to win."

so, i'm doing my best to live with intention and authenticity. and don't expect me to apologize, because i think you deserve better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

adventurous thursday.

last thursday, i had a little adventure. i had the day off because classes haven't started yet, so i decided to give blood. i love giving blood for the kind of selfish reason that i just get a kick out of the idea that there are other people out there in the world with my blood coursing through their veins. it kind of blows my mind. so, i went to new york blood center, and while i was waiting, a nurse asked if i'd like to give platelets instead of whole blood. the procedure is longer, and i had time, so i said yes. everything went fine, two hours later i left the donation center after eating shortbread cookies and drinking an apple juice (like snacktime in kindergarten!), feeling great. i was waiting for a train when i started to feel faint. i went upstairs, knowing that there was a police precinct in the station, and almost made it there when i passed out. i woke up when i hit the floor, to see a bunch of teenage kids running toward me asking if i was okay. i got up and walked into the precinct, tried to explain to the cops what was wrong, but passed out again. this time i woke up when a cop lifted me up and sat me next to him on a bench. another cop bought me a gatorade and they called EMS. in the ambulance, the EMTs and i talked about jersey shore and graduate school while they ran an IV. i spent about four hours in the emergency room getting more fluid through IV, having a bunch of tests run, and laughing with the staff. oh, and of course tweeting the funny moments (you'd be surprised how hilarious an ER can be!) so my friends knew i was alright. i'm fine now, aside from a skinned knee and some marks from the EKG that just will not go away. so here's a gratitude list of everyone i'm thankful to for making my adventurous thursday go as well as it could have:
-to the NYPD precinct at hoyt-schermerhorn station: thank you for taking care of me, for following me all the way out to the ambulance, for giving me gatorade, for your genuine concern and just for being so nice to me.
-to the EMTs who took me to the ER: thank you for being gentle when you carried me up the stairs, for laughing at my silly jokes, for joking back, and for being just plain awesome.
-to the staff at long island college hospital's emergency room: from the man who took all my insurance information and told me about his math degree from yale, to the physician's assistant who laughed at my answer to your boring questions ("how old are you?" "23." "do you smoke?" "no." "do you drink?" "...i'm 23."), to the nurse who greeted me with "so i hear you were trying to be a good person, and this happened?" honestly, everyone i interacted with during my stay was so nice and sympathetic and helpful. you guys do such hard work, and you do it well. bravo.
-to the staff at new york blood center: thank you for being awesome during my donation, for offering to pay my medical expenses when i followed up with you, for calling me yesterday to see how i was feeling... despite how this donation went awry, i will be back! i'll drink more water beforehand next time, promise.
-to all of my friends and family who've expressed concern, asked if i needed anything, or listened to me tell this story, thank you for being amazing as always.