Tag Archives: life
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I Was a Different Person Then

24 Jun

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Even the Darkest Night Will End

17 Jun

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Strong at the Broken Places

10 Jun

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Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

13 May

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August and Everything After

10 Aug

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It’s August. How did that happen? This summer seems to have flown by. What do I have to show for it? A faded sunburn. An outdoor theatre experience. A few trips out to the boroughs, where it’s much more pleasant to dine al fresco. A writing intensive that resulted in a couple more chapters of my memoir written. But have I lived a life worthy of a new memoir?

Have I seized the day? Have I made it to the Met to see the rooftop installation? Have I stuck my toes into the cold waters of the Atlantic? Have I rode the Wonder Wheel? Have I packed my bags and jetted off to an exotic location? No. It feels like most days I have been bogged down with freelance work. Bogged down with obligations. Bogged down with emotions. Bogged down with rain.

It’s so easy to lose track of time. The older I get, the faster time flies.

In 1993 Counting Crows put out August and Everything After. The album is perhaps the most influential album on my life. My friend lent me the album, and I played it on my walkman over and over and over and over. I remember sitting in the car while my family shopped at a gardening store and just listening to the album on repeat. The melancholy lyrics spoke to my teenaged self. The album got me into the literature of Saul Bellow, who became one of my favorite authors. Years later, a friend in college and I bonded over our adoration of the album. Sometime later, another friend and I went to see the Counting Crows in concert with the Goo Goo Dolls. Years after that, a boyfriend put one of the songs on a mixtape for me. Then years after that, another boyfriend also liked Counting Crows. The years pile up. More memories get made.

And now it’s August and I’m wondering what the “Everything After” is….

 

Trying to Get My Footing

3 Mar

Stephanie Socks

“Are you wearing my socks?” he asked. Upon closer inspection, he laughed: “You’re wearing two different socks.”

Stepping into 2015

5 Jan

I thought it might be worth reposting this as a reminder to myself.

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Last January, I posted these two articles I wrote for Burnside:::

Does God Laugh at Our Resolutions?

Christian New Year’s Resolutions

Reading them a year later, I wish that I had done so sooner and refocused myself.  I really love these two resolutions:::

Resolution:  Walk humbly with God.

Resolution:  Love others.

The notion of walking humbly with God is just so beautiful and peaceful.  When I visited my family over the holidays, we took a few walks together.  There was no agenda.  We simply walked leisurely around the neighborhood, taking in the bright pinks of the flowering trees and the azure sky as we chatted.  The walks were short — under half an hour — but that time we spent meandering cul-de-sacs and admiring palm trees made an impression on me.  It felt meaningful even though our conversations weren’t necessarily any more meaningful than any other conversations we had during our time together.  In New York City, I walk a lot, but I’m usually walking with an agenda — with a predetermined place to go and time to be there by — and am walking on my own against a crowd of strangers.  Walking with someone just to enjoy their company is a much different feeling.

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That was from 2012. A lot has changed since then. My sister moved out of the city, and my mother had a stroke, so we haven’t spent the past two Christmases together. I’ve spent a lot of time walking in the city by myself. But new people have also come into my life, and I’ve spent time walking with them, both literally and figuratively. Most importantly, many of the new people that have come into my life have been helping me in my walk with God.

This week I was reflecting on 2 Peter 1: 3-11:

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,[g] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It seems like a good passage to continually focus on this year.

Friday Links: I Feel Old So You Should Too

6 Dec

In light of my birthday having been this week, here are a bunch of links that will make us all feel old 😉

Buzzfeed’s 48 Things That Will Make You Feel Old (This list makes me feel old because the pop culture references — I have no idea who the guy in number 8 is — are aimed at people younger than me.)

Buzzfeed’s 34 Things That Made You Feel Old in 2012 (A lot of overlap from the previous list, but this one makes me feel old because, yeah, I remember playing Pong before Atari.)

Buzzfeed’s 40 Things That Will Make You Feel Old (Did their marriage really end that long ago?)

Buzzfeed’s Things That Make 90s Girls Feel Old (I used to wear platform sneakers….!)

Buzzfeed’s 21 Questions You Might Have To Answer As The Last Living Members Left Of The 20th Century (Remember life before texting?)

The Best Article Every Day’s 17 Things That Make You Feel Old (Harry Potter is how old?!)

The Daily Caller reports that “Hey Ya” turned 10 this year (I remember listening to this AT WORK)

What a Difference Five Years Make

4 Dec

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

~Lao Tzu

 

While looking for a receipt the other day, I stumbled across one of my old diaries. I knew better than to open it. Every time I clean or dig through my drawers to look for something, I come across a journal, a letter someone had sent me, or a box of old photographs and am quickly derailed. For the next hour or so, I was lost in the pages of my diary, caught in the past and thinking about the future.

I tend to start diaries on my birthday, and this particular one was from five years ago. It was a big birthday for me, both because it was a milestone birthday and because I was on the precipice of a new direction in my life.

The year leading up to it, I had spent an embarrassingly long time getting over a break up. I had also been quite ill for a long time, which made commuting from New Jersey excruciating. These two circumstances made me think a lot about where I was spending my time and where I wanted my life to go. I quit a bunch of low-paying freelance writing gigs and moved into Manhattan about three months before my milestone birthday.

That next year was one full of adventure and changes. What had seemed like a monumental move into the city turned out to be more of a convenience than a lifestyle change, since I’d been commuting for so many years from northern New Jersey and so much of my life was already there. Still, once I was there, I knew I could never go back to Jersey. My family had moved from New Jersey to Greece, and much of my vacation time up to then had been spent traveling to Greece to see them. Traveling is so fundamental to who I am that I decided that year instead to go to South Korea and Japan. That summer I also went to Minneapolis and reconnected with family, which made me understand myself better.

It was that year that I also recommitted myself to writing. It’s not that I had ever stopped writing. Far from it. I was always writing and even getting published in little publications here and there. But the writing wasn’t me. It wasn’t authentic to my voice. I decided to start writing for myself again. I began carving time out to write personal essays about growing up Greek American. I began reading the Beats again. I joined a writers group, where I learned the term MFA.

Then, right before my next birthday, I lost my job. I went to Florida for Christmas to escape and regroup. Being there was hard. It was the first year I’d been back to my grandmother’s place since she’d died when I was in college. Upon my father’s recommendation, I applied to only the best MFA programs (“anything less won’t be worth it”). While I wasn’t confident that I’d get in anywhere, I also didn’t realize just how difficult it is to get into the programs. I applied quickly to whichever programs were still accepting admissions and only later read how writers agonize over which essay to send and whom to get recommendations from. I ended up getting into the top creative nonfiction program in New York City. I also was rehired by my old company.

I often feel like one of those cartoon characters that’s running in place. You see the little puffs of clouds materializing under the feet, but they never seem to get anywhere. When you’re young, there are clear markers of time passing. You graduate from high school and then college. You get your first job. You rent your first apartment. And if you’re me, you go through a gazillion hairstyles. As you get older, there are fewer markers along life’s journey, and wildly changing your hair seems perhaps best left to young people and celebrities. Still, as someone who likes stability, I worry that I am too easily prone to falling into ruts.

Reading through my diary, I realized, though, how far I have come. I realized that change doesn’t always happen overnight, that many of the best accomplishments in life take time. However, the little choices we make today matter. They put us on a path.

Today is my birthday, and many of the dreams I wrote about five years ago have come true. The funny thing with dreams, though, is that they don’t always happen the way you think they will and they don’t happen without a few tears being shed. This past year has been another one full of change. I haven’t always embraced it. It’s been difficult and emotional. Great things have happened, but I’ve also faced challenging and sad circumstances.

I find myself again at a crossroads.

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!

David Amram On Contributing Our Gifts

3 Dec

It was musician David Amram’s birthday last month, and he left the most inspiring message in the comments section on my blog. Since a lot of readers don’t go back and reread the comments on blogs, I want to draw attention to what he said because its worth paying attention to. It’s worth really meditating on. You can read his entire comment here, but I’ll highlight a few things in particular.

On what we should be doing with our time here on earth:

I am still searching for some wisdom, and recently realized that when you get as close to Methusala City as I am, and try to figure out what it all means, you realize that the most important thing for us to do in this life is to make SOME kind of contribution while we are here.

On our gifts:

And we all have something worth sharing with others, but often our dreams appear to be hopeless to experts who themselves have often given up hope.

[…] We are all born with gifts.

On persevering:

I hope my efforts will inspire young kids to hang in there FOR LIFE, especially when they are told by their career councilors that they should give up before they have had a chance to even get started.

On taking action:

So when young kids come to me and say “I wish i had been around when knew and worked with all these fantastic people. i wish i had lived during that time”, i always tell them what Charlie Parker told me in my basement apartment in 1952 in Washington D.C. when i asked him what it was like to have his song “Now’s the Time” (which he had composed seven years earlier in 1945)

“It’s just the way it should ” he said. “Now was and will always be the time because Now is the RIGHT time!”

My own birthday is coming up, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve done with my life and what I want to do with my life. I’ve been thinking about how I spend my time and what my goals and dreams are. Sometimes dreams feel impossibly unobtainable. Sometimes they feel like work. Work gets a bad rap. So does dreaming, for that matter. I think, though, that it’s essential to dream, and it’s crucial to work towards those dreams.

As David said, “We are all born with gifts.” Therefore I believe it is our responsibility to contribute them.

I think we often wait for a reason to change or start something new. After the holidays, we’ll exercise. At the New Year, we’ll make our resolutions. Next November, we’ll write our novel. In a different season of our lives, we’ll make time to volunteer more. And then when we fail to meet our own expectations, we wait for the next big marker to begin again. Every minute of every day is a gift. We have the chance to become who we want to be TODAY. We can start using our gifts RIGHT NOW. Sure, over time, our gifts will be honed that much more and we might look back and cringe at our past efforts, but without those past efforts we won’t get to where we need to be.

“Now’s the time.”

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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!