Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am Sam...Sam I am...I am a writer...A writer I am

When I was four years old, I limped on a sprained ankle to a microphone, at my pre-school graduation, and announced to every classmate, parent, grandparent, and stranger in the room that I wanted to be the first female president of the United States.

When I was seven years old, I walked up to my second grade teacher and told her I wanted to be just like her: a caring, considerate, wonderful, top-of-the-line second grade teacher.

When I was thirteen years old, I told my parents that I was going to be on the U.S. National Softball team, and that I would play in the 2012 Olympics. ---Even if I was on the U.S. National Softball team, I wouldn't be playing in the 2012 Olympics because it's no longer an Olympic Sport--just wasn't in my cards.
When I was seventeen years old, I told the college admissions counselors in a number of applications that I wanted to be a sports journalist and Major League Baseball commentator.

And now, at twenty-two years old: I am not the first female president of the country (though I guess there is still time for that--and a chance if Palin were my contender in twenty years), I am not on the path to be a second grade teacher, I haven't touched a softball in three years, and I am certainly not commentating for ESPN or Major League Baseball.


I am a writer.

A few weeks ago, at a Superbowl party that my friend was asked to play the half-time show at, I met several creative minds. We introduced ourselves, we shook hands, and we gave the run-down on our creative niche.

"I am a singer," the one told me.

"I am trying to be an actress."

"No," I said.

"Excuse me?"

"You aren't TRYING to be an ARE an actress."

It is only recently that I have discovered that the more we TRY to be something, the less we become that. The more I TRY to be a writer...the less of a writer I am...the less motivation I have...the less I produce...and the less I am heard.

I am not trying to be a writer.

I live in New York City, sleep in an artist loft, and produce new material every day.

I am not trying to be a writer.

Ladies and gentlemen...

I AM a writer.

Now...who is hiring?!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Don't worry--the feeling is mutual

They are a couple They sit across from me, their legs each crossed over their other one, their hands on their own laps, and their scarves wrapped tightly around their necks to avoid the winter dangers of cold, frost bite, and New York City wind. But their scarves cannot hide them or protect them from a cold heart—one that doesn’t understand their ways—doesn’t understand why they might want to be together—doesn’t understand what they are feeling for one another—doesn’t understand what love truly is.

He sits one row of seats down from them with a baseball cap and an oversized coat. His headphones hang around his neck, and he is thin. He mutters under his breath about the two men sitting across from me. His voice grows louder about how God has created life and the way we are supposed to live it. He is colder than the brisk air that is outside. A tear begins to fall away from my eye.

Cut to two subway rides earlier in the day.

She is in a rush. She is wearing ugg boots, a black jacket, and a bitter taste on a day that should highlight all the love in the world. An f-bomb flies out of her mouth that probably shouldn’t echo down the subway steps but it does. No-not that f-bomb. Another F-bomb—one that carries much more offense, at this point, one that would probably sting the two men who later sat across from me later in the day, more painfully than a bee who has just sharpened up.


I hear her yell. But I don’t see who she is yelling at. Too short, and the steps are too packed, I assume she is yelling at two men who are either holding hands, getting in her way, or who may be dressed in your less than stereotypical male way.

It is the first time, in New York City, I have witnessed such hate—such coldness—such awfulness twice in one day. It is the first time that I have ever truly wanted to yell at a stranger, slap them across their face, and knock some sense back into them.

Everyone has their preferences.

Everyone has their choice for love.

It is not up to us to decide who can love who and who will love who and who is supposed to love who. We are just supposed to love—and have enough of that love to go around for everyone who matters—everyone who needs love—and everything that deserves…love. We may not agree—and it may not be the way we choose our lives, but that doesn’t mean that our way has to be the way that someone else chooses to live theirs.

I often hear this saying thrown around.

“When did you decide to tell your parents you were straight?”

You probably never had to decide, because it’s always been the “accepted” form of living. You probably never had to say, “Hey Mom—I’m straight—hope you are okay with that.” “Hey Dad—Your baby boy grew up loving women…Is that okay?!”

But you DID have to decide how you treated other people your whole life. You DID have to decide what to say in public—and what to keep to yourself. You DID decide to judge.

And in my judgment—the haters, the ones who yell the harsh obscenities at the ones that live a life unlike their own—you need to be loved right now—to be loved for all the hate you have within you—to cure that hate—so you to can see that love can exist in every shape and form—between every gender—between man and woman—man and man—woman and woman—between a lover and a hater…You may not want to live your life like the gay man or woman sitting a cart seat away from you on the train—and you may not want to live your life like the men holding hands walking slowly in front of you on Valentine’s Day…but I can assure you, no one wants to live a life like you—full of hatred and misunderstanding.

At least the feeling is mutual.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What are you doing this Valentine's day...and every day? 21 Suggestions

1. Write a letter. Handwritten. Sure it says you may not love the earth for the tree killed for that sheet of paper—but handwritten letters are the most wonderful thing to receive in the mail---ever.

2. Carve a heart into a tree and then have a picnic next to it.

3. Send a squillo—In Florence that means to dial someone’s phone and hang up after a ring or too. It really means “I am thinking of you”

4. Create a scavenger hunt with puzzle pieces…each puzzle piece the person finds along the way can be used at the end to create a personally made puzzle.

5. Make a mix-tape of all the songs that make you think of the person and give it to them…(Side note on this one—remember just because you think of the person when you hear these songs, doesn’t mean they think of you… haha just kidding J )

6. Send a shoutout over the radio by dedicating a song to the person…D-E-L-I-L-A-H

7. Send a messenger by horse—like the middle ages-- with a very important message to the doorstep of the person. It could be as simple as a sheet of paper that says “I Love You”

8. Have warm blankets and the fireplace heated up before she even arrives so that she doesn’t have to shiver an ounce

9. Shape whatever you cook for dinner in a heart shape

10. Send flowers on a day that isn’t a holiday.

11. Recreate the first night you met (if it was a good night)

12. Play card game of war but rig the game so that one of the heart cards that the person puts down says “I love you.”

13. For Valentine’s Day (If you believe in that sort of thing) Put all the hearts from several deck of cards as a path from the front door to a the rest of the cards placed strategically to say “Thinking of you,” “I Love you,” “Or Be Mine”

14. Leave a post-it note on the Mirror in the morning for your significant other that tells them how beautiful they look

15. No matter how corny it gets, or sounds, pull “A Walk to Remember” and buy your significant other a star…then go gaze at it.

16. When they wake up the morning after a long day at work, have breakfast waiting for them—eggs in a shape of a heart… maybe?

17. Save all the receipts/movie tickets/things from events you do together and create a collage of them that spell out “Love”

18. Take photos of words on billboards that make you think of the person and collage them together.

19. If they receive a newspaper every morning, write a note in chalk underneath there where they pick up the paper on the ground that says love you. (Make sure you sign it—or your girly girl might think the paper boy has a thing for her).

20. Take pictures of the most stunning things in the world---most beautiful things—or cut them out of magazines---and put them into a book. On the first page write: These are the most beautiful things in the world. And On the last page, write: But none of them compares to you.

21. Hold their hand and simply say.: I . Love . You

Friday, February 11, 2011

If fate isn't completely in your hands--then who is adjusting it for you?

“A bunch of people got out of the car and just ran up to his car and shot it up. I was supposed to be in that car, but my brother made me go with him instead.”

Tears flooded my eyes as Anthony Mackie described a time in his life when someone else altered his destiny—when someone else adjusted what could have been his plan…when someone else saved his life. Mackie, who plays Harry, one of the main characters in the soon-to-be-released Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon, attended the free pre-screening last night at the Lincoln Center, and stayed after to do a Q and A that really made me think…what is fate? Who controls it? And who altars us on a consistent basis?

The film, which focuses on the idea that there is a team of people hiding in our closets, sitting across tables at the library from us, and in cooking in the kitchens of restaurants readjusting our plans each day, putting us back on track, and making sure that chance doesn’t throw the world completely out of wack, that one person doesn’t send the world into an endless black hole. In the movie, the team appears to be the people who control who you are supposed to meet, when you will die, and what your future career will be.

But Mackie was asked an interesting question following the film.

“Who is your adjustment bureau?”

That’s when Mackie told his heartbreaking story—the one that gave his answer—“My brother.”

His story is similar to another one I know of. A story where I should have been in a car that got into a pretty awful accident when I was a junior in high school. The day after my junior prom I was supposed to ride in the car to an amusement park with a friend. We were going to be late to meet our friends because we had been stuck taking the SAT’s while they were going on every rollercoaster in the park. I decided that my motion sickness issue wasn’t going to magically go away that day and told my friend to go onto the park without me. That night, he got into a bad car accident where his car spun off the highway. He was okay, but his car wasn’t. Who knows what would have happened had I been in one of the passenger seats.

And that’s when my mind really started going.

I began thinking about all the times my life could have gone another way—all the times I could have made one decision, but, instead, made another. I started thinking about the people that matter. I started thinking about what my life has become and who has adjusted it—who has made it what it is.

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. In fact, I am a strong believer that there isn’t a team of people hiding in our closets, our libraries, our kitchens with a book that has a written plan in it. I believe that we often make decisions that create an illusion that something did indeed happen for a reason.

But I do believe that there are people that matter—that mean something—that say things—that treat us in a certain way—that adjust our lives to occur in a certain pattern—in a certain line—in a certain arc like that of a character in a movie or a book.

For me, those people are my family and my friends...all the people who have had a positive effect on me—all the people who have shown me a road to take that I may not have taken otherwise—all the people who showed me that going to Italy meant a great deal—and that coming home meant even more. All those people who reminded me that going through hard times has to happen to recognize good times. My adjustment bureau is in all those people who have ever lended me a hand—or their heart.

Who is your adjustment bureau?

Monday, February 7, 2011

And so I'll slip you into my heart like a Babe Ruth card into an album...

My baseball cards are in mint condition. They went straight from their aluminum packaging, years ago, into a safe plastic case. They are arranged by team, filling pages and pages of binders and binders that I refer back to when I am at a loss for a statistic. I am careful not to crease them, not to destroy them. They are timeless.

When it comes to friends, I tend to be one of HDTV’s Ultimate Hoarders. I tend to fill my life like an album full of baseball cards…I collect friends—all different types: Big, small, street-smart, book-smart, sport-smart, delicate, tough, fragile, strong—each one just as important as the last one.

Like baseball cards I carefully slip each one in to my heart like I would my Darren Daultons and Babe Ruths into protective coverings so that I don’t lose them, so that they don’t get hurt so that they don’t stray. I am careful not to hurt them—not to bend their words, fold their time in half, not to write on them with something I can’t take back. Like baseball cards, I assign value to them—not monetary—but love--and with the exception of my very best friends and a few others who have graced my heart, the love value statistic (LV for short) always comes out about equal: but I love them each in different ways. Like baseball players, some friends are better at hitting away and making big moves…others are better at making sacrifices, and some are better at pitching me words of encouragement. Each one has a different significant quality…each one of them, I want to believe, belongs on my team.

A good friend recently wrote about a time that she was collecting rocks with a young girl. They couldn’t keep all the rocks that they collected…and they had to leave some behind—the way we have to leave people behind—the way we have to let go of some in order to let others, others fit. But I don’t want to give up any rocks. I want to fill my garden with all the rocks in the world. I want to fill my baseball field with as many players as I can. If I build it—they will come (right Kevin Costner?! Field of Dreams).

But the truth is…you just can’t build a team of thousands. They would all run in to one another trying to catch the ball. They would drop fly balls because they didn’t know who called for it…and no one would ever get to bat more than once in a game—in a week—maybe even in a few months. The game wouldn’t go on—and it would ultimately hurt the team.

Even when collecting baseball cards, you start running out of pages—you start having to replace books, and you start having to give them away to make room for new ones. Even when collecting baseball cards, you can’t spend the same amount of time each day researching the statistics on the back…keeping up with how their skills and stats have changed. You have a collection of thousands of baseball cards, and you can’t keep up with them all. Time just doesn’t allow.

Slowly, I am learning to sort my baseball cards out, to take them out of their casings, and put them in new ones---solid, protected, unbreakable cases, ones that can be stored in a shoebox, that I can bury---hide—in a safe place---where they’ll go unbent, unfolded, untouched. Where they’ll stay safe even when I can’t tend to them…Where I know I can find them if I need them…where they’ll always be reserves on the team that I can invite out for a game a day, a week, a month down the road. Where they’ll always be on my team—where they’ll always have a space in my heart even if not on the clock.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frolicking in Fields of Farewells

L-O-V-E…Four letters. Four simple letters. Two consonants. two vowels. Four letters. I’ve learned a lot about love these past 6 months. I’ve learned a lot about love for people, for words, for places, for things, for memories, for food, for coffee, for myself. I’ve learned that leaving means realizing how much love you carry for a person, a place, or things. And I’ve learned that leaving also means opening your heart to be filled with more love for places, people, and things, even when you have to say goodbye to people, places, and things—even when you have to start leaving people, places, and things behind.

I’ve learned from good friends, that we can’t hold everyone we meet in our hands—or in our lifestyle. We can just keep them in our hearts—bury them deep within the vessels and hope our constant breathing keeps them breathing too…keeps them alive in at least some part of us.

I’ve learned that we can’t expect everyone to stay—and we can’t expect ourselves to stay. I’ve learned that some people do truly come into our lives for a short period of time to leave a mark and then leave very quickly. Some places are meant to feel our weight, take us in, wrap their arms around us like a big teddy bear, and hold us until we are ready to move on. Some things are meant to just have one short conversation with us—one chance to forever impact us—making them a part of us forever—making us a part of them forever.

I’ve learned that goodbyes are never easy…that they come at times that are both unexpected and expected…that they drive us to tears and that they make us worry about the future…that they complicate things—that they mean letting go of one thing in order to be greeted by something new, something completely different, something wonderful. And then soon later, another goodbye will take place. And you’ll move on—just like you did the last time—with tears in your mind—and love in your heart.

You can say goodbye, or see you later, in Italian, in a number of ways…Ciao, Arrivederci, A Presto, A Dopo, Buon giornata…You can wave, kiss on the cheek two times, or give one giant hug. Saying “goodbye” is never easy, and as I boarded my plane home from Rome just two days ago, I said goodbye to a number of things…to a number of people…to a number of places…to a number of cobblestones traveled…to a number of cappuccino drank…to a three month period of time lived in pure joy—I said goodbye to Italy, in every way shape and form. I gave her two kisses on the cheek, said a presto (see you soon), and gave her one giant hug, before waving goodbye from the emergency exit seat 30,000 feet above.

And then with tears in my eyes… I thought, “Hello…--Hello memories, hello good times traveling around the north, hello new inspirations, hello old friends, hello new friends, hello New York City, hello bright lights, red carpets, big dreams, hello reminders of the past, hello opportunity, hello accepting goodbye…hello to the next one.

.Hello life.