an urban lifestyle + travel blog by liz norment.

Category: WORDS

Up in the Air | Words Written on Airplanes.

in WORDS

 

what is it about being on an airplane that makes you want to write? i think it’s the charged and temporary captivity. you’re moving yet nearly immobile, you’re up there, you’re somewhere, you’re a little scared and maybe these will be your last words. maybe they won’t be. maybe they’ll just be words written on airplanes. i’ve compiled some such tales below, snippets from trips, simple plane text. come along with me.

 

Plane Meals.

I always eat everything on the little airplane meal. every fucking bit of it. I use all of the butter on my bread. I pick up and scarf down every single grape. I scrape around the perimeter of the little cup of salad dressing with my finger and make sure u get it all. I eat the dessert right away, I save nothing. This is mine. and then i package it all back up into the little boxes and secure the little flaps and am painfully content with my compact little meal.

Plane Time.

Why do they create a new time zone on the plane? It was 10am in New York and 4am in Hawaii and in 2 hours they served us dinner. The lights were out and they ordered all the shades such tight. We were to be quiet. We were to sleep. Breakfast was served at 2pm Hawaii time, 7pm New York time. Breakfast. Do they know some sort of jet lag equation I don’t know about? Because this feels like forced adult nap time and I do NOT like that.

 

Plane Sky.

the sky here is vast, eternal. its liberation hangs heavy, smothering the landscape. breathing life into rolling hills,flat plains, shallow rivers before settling slowly and heavy between buildings, over rooftops, streets, park benches. it colors I. The gray, the sidewalks and stone with tones of orange and red, altering their natural state to be part of this sunset, this experience. An opening and a closing. A slow drift toward the night. It gently touched my skin, kissed my cheek, penetrated my soul as I stepped off a plane 7 months ago. weary and excited, displaced, it embraced me. It grazed my summer-tanned skin. It lay before my uncertain feet. it filled my heart with light and lightness, a tangible warmth, an intentional deterrent from any former plans. and it will stay with me, additional baggage as I handover my boarding pass and step onto a plane. it will fill in the gap as my soul splits again, leaving behind the jagged ephemera of my being, to hold and be held, to be guarded and used. it will occupy this space.

Just plane sleepy.

The guy behind me is yawning audibly in such a melodic way I don’t even want to listen to music. my headphones are in but the sound is off. he sounds like an adorable little bunny desperate to notify anyone with earshot that he cute but he sleepy.

 

Plane Short Story I haven’t finished.

“I’ll get us fired up,” he said with easy confidence as he rolled away his black suitcase swiftly. Dunkin donuts was supposed to open at 5am, everyday. all they had to do was put the donuts into the case, donuts that had been pre-made in an industrial kitchen in queens, and fill the coffee filters with grinds and turn on the machines. that’s it. those simple activities, by 5am, every morning. Here it was 5:18 and he was waiting in an ever-increasing line with his co-pilot. Not his life partner or partner in crime, his actual co-pilot. The man with whom he’d flown over 700 times, each trusting the other at the helm as himself, knowing the others’ actions and reactions, anxieties and (excitements) before they even occurred. So, he’d get the plane fired up while Jim got the coffees. Fuel for the pilots so they could fly the plane that would take us all out of snowy New York City right to south beach. It see me like a glamorous job, jet setting around the world, seeing the sun rise and set over the horizon in any number of countries each year, appearing and disappearing out of sight through the lens of the windshield as if you were the last person on earth. And that was definitely the draw at first- that freedom, that independence. But now, what kept him in the air, flying from destination to destination, arriving, departing, was the sense of complete control. Of importance, of discipline. The constant routine and processes that were now second nature- they were his refuge, his sanctuary. The buzzing machines and beeping gauges sung like soft, calming hymns as he meticulously prepared for takeoff. Jim would come back with the coffees and maybe some sort of sweet confection that he always hid between them until they were about to taxi down the runway. “Hey-” he’d say, his eyes sparkling mischievously. “There’s a little something else here for ya, maverick.” and playfully punched him in the shoulder. Jim was only 5 years his senior but this was their dynamic- the playful, caring older brother type. And so he played along. It have them a sense of family which was often missing up in the air. Which he felt more than ever now.

 

Plane Sadness.
I love you.
Te quiero.
in each of our languages, a confession, a promise. in three words or two, a feeling shared, a joining of our hearts that won’t be broken by time or distance. a beauty in the blending of his culture and mine. a steady embrace. an imploring stare. an impenetrable sadness. a goodbye.

at the terminal gate I look in his eyes, my hand cupped softly around the curve of his jaw. Feeling he warmth of his skin, so familiar. and with hot tears swelling in my eyes, I finally squeeze his arm and walk towards security, knowing that with each step, we will grow farther apart. he watched me from the other side. he gave me our secret wave and an assuring smile. I blew him a kiss and my heart ached. It begged me not to go. when I finally looked back and saw that he was gone my heart waited, waited, inhaled and finally receded back back far beneath to the place it was before. waiting finally for him, until he appears again, until I can run to him, can hold him, can grab his hand and kiss his cheek and show him that despite the time and distance, that I’m his. and he’s mine. that from the other side it will still be I love you, te quiero.

 

Plane Tale from 2009.

9am wednesday. RIC airport. gate 9.
justin is a physical therapist in seattle. and i’ll never forget him.
you know, i don’t think he’ll forget me either. not anytime soon.

his kids are jake, and finley, 5 and 8. his girlfriend, maxi, is in germany. just before we parted ways i gave him a richmond postcard i’d been saving for just such an opportunity, in exchange for a promise to buy an international stamp and send it to her. they met when she tore her ACL. “she had her eye on me for a while… i had no idea.” part of me believed him. he was reading ‘Chicken Soup for the Lover’s Soul’. i was the only one who would verbally make fun of him that day. his simple justification: ‘well, i’m in love.’ they took the most beautiful photo at dawn on charles bridge in Prague. he said i looked czech with my high cheekbones and bright eyes.

it’s funny, now that i think of it. overhearing my response as to why i was going to colorado. ‘i have no idea,’ he laughed and forged a uniquely cliche introduction– ‘what’s your story?’

and here i am, writing his.

 

Plane Pretzels, 2016.

I challenged myself to eat the entire snack mix packette before he returned with my wine. I can do this, I thought, I can eat this entire fucking thing. come on, I encouraged myself as I uncomfortably stuffed dry pretzel rounds into my adult mouth. COME. ON. I demanded, my mouth dry, eyes panicky as i watched his slow and graceful return. NOOOOO. I fumbled with the remains of the snack packette. I tried to act cool with the thick pouches of wet pretzel tucked between my gums and my cheeks. Nooooo. I handed him my debit card. Defeated. He asked me if I wanted a receipt. Do I loom like I’m traveling for business? I’m so full of pretzel I can hardly enter my pin.  No, I smile. Your wine glass is just below your water cup. He smiled flawlessly. I shift my gaze toward the double stacked plastic vessels sitting deep and cozy against the shallow rim of the tray table indentation. Oh! I exclaim. Lovely, I tell him. And as he turns I empty the snack pack into my mouth victoriously. thinking of how much I don’t even want it. Just the sweet and salty victory. The dry mouth of a champion. “Victoryyyyyy” my crumb filled tight lipped solemn and pronounced war cry.

 

<3L.

jay rinsky of little cinema

Profile of a Hustler | Jay Rinsky of Little Cinema

in CULTURE, WORDS
as creatives and residents in this sprawling metropolis, it’s easy to get so engulfed in your own project that you hardly come up for air. but we need to remember that on this island, we are not islands. which is of course is why we live here. we suffer through relentless winters and astronomically high rent prices and, you know, the rat thing… and this is why we do it. in this city we are surrounded by creators, dreamers, thinkers, mover, shakers, hustlers. you can practically breathe in the creative energy as soon as you walk out of your cramped 5-floor walk-up.
jay rinsky is at the pulse of all of the creativity, inspiration, and talent that paints the perfect picture of artistic collaboration in new york. i was reminded of the beauty that comes from this vital practice as i sat in the dining car of an amtrak train, heading east. i had set up a phone interview with jay and he had been almost suspiciously nonchalant about the time. the past 3 days had taken him from alaska to seattle and back to new york. “call me whenever, no need to worry about time,” he said. even this stressed me out. what?? giving him a ring from the train, i fully expected him not to answer. “hey liz! sure i can talk now…”
the next 45 minutes unfolded into the most inspiring and entertaining interview i’ve ever conducted.
jay rinsky is a modern renaissance man for a generation of hustlers. he’s the founder and creator of little cinema, an immersive cinematic experience that combines film, theater, live music, and audience interaction to bring a film off of the screen and make it into a living, breathing thing. familiar stories explode with life and give the audience, and the performers and creators involved a completely new perspective and feeling about what can often be a one-dimensional art form.
jay’s entire life seems to exist within the combustible ether of spontaneity, something that was palpable as soon as he answered the phone. “you were just in alaska?” “yes. i was on a 2-week artist residency on a 100-year old tug boat with a crew of 6 other artists, none of whom had any experience with boats. i made us all life aquatic costumes using materials i kind of patched together from amazon. we were out there for 8 days, and part of the project was a one-shot documentary film shot with a super 8 camera, which means there’s one scene, one shoot, no edits. once it develops, that’s your story. we had no idea what the film would be about and were filming as we were going through glaciers, and ended up running into a giant iceberg. so we parked next to it and chipped ice off of the iceberg and made cocktails from it and that’s what the film ended up being about, finding ice to make the perfect cocktail.”
what??
and this was my introduction to jay rinsky. as i barreled up the east coast on an amtrak train, i was taken on a journey through his creative psyche and could barely hold on.
my conversation with Jay is below. keep reading.
yep. this is the 100-year old tug boat.
Brooklyn, I’m Trying what is your artistic background?
Jay Rinsky i’m mixed bag of many things. I was born in new york, grew up in israel and spent most adulthood in austrailia. I’ve been back in new york for three and a half years as a video dj and artist. i use old dj turntables to mix both sound and picture and apply dj techniques to videos, and little cinema is the culmination of these two creations through movies. through my work i’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a 40-piece orchestra, i’ve performed at the israeli opera with an orchestra where we custom built a huge video screen. on my own video shows, i create a fusion of a dance party and video party, so it all combines film and other content into video art that stands on its own two feet.
BiT how was little cinema born?
JR i was working on a project that was very tedious in the editing room. it got me a bit lonely, and made me want to collaborate with other artists. i noticed that there’s not much going on in terms of live action and screen and interaction bw two, doesn’t make sense. i knew that my skill set could lend itself to a dialogue with other artists and performers to meet and use.
BiT how did you take this from idea into an actual performance?
JR I took a chance and pitched this idea briefly to House of Yes before they opened up. The first show was a collaboration with Anya and Kae, who are the founders and performers at House of Yes. They brought together whole other elements that i wasn’t experienced in before, including theater and circus and costume and put it all together in front of screen. I was in charge of that mixing in and looping video live, and thus somehow Little Cinema was born in that way, by accident.
 
BiT what was it like to see that first show come to life?
JR The first show was a tribute to david bowie, and we performed it the day after he died. we put it all together in 24 hours.
BiT it seems that the shows gain energy from this spontaneous creativity.
JR they do! we approach the whole thing with the goal of keeping artistic integrity present and personally having fun. the ground rules include fearless creativity, try something new every show, incorporate anyone who wants to be involved in this project, and to create and perform shows relentlessly. our first year we produced a new show almost every week, sometimes multiple, 33 unique show in about 18 months. this project has grown and developed to 1-2 performances that combine live action and interaction that is happening every 5 minutes and taking place in all forms; multi-sensory experience of sight, smell and sound; performers, projector screens, anything we can do or get or hands on.
BiT what challenges have you faced along the way?
JR (laughing) every single show is a challenge because we have no idea how it’s going to work. i always feel like i’m in over my head because inevitably, art of this kind with this set of rules creates problems. we’re trying something new every show which becomes difficult. as we progress, we still need to invent new things and that becomes challenging. what would be something we haven’t done before? we incorporated a live bingo game into our last show, which the audience didn’t expect. another huge challenge is logistics as the shows end up having 40 or more people involved in them, and it’s all produced and put together between friday and the tuesday of the show, and communicating to so many people as a little operation is hard. i’m at the heart of everything, constantly trying to fuse everything and everybody together. it’s a challenge but also that creative energy is what makes it feel like magic.
BiT so all of this basically unfolds live on the night of the show?
JR yep. during the performance, our communication becomes a different challenge because it relies a lot on improv. the artists are encouraged to bring their own creative touch to things. we never know exactly what will happen. even just a lighting standpoint, it’s important to somehow have everything punch at the right time. we never have a rehearsal so it all unfolds live on stage, and we just have to have a lot of trust that it will go well. there’s a lot of stress because the whole thing gets tightly compressed until the day of the show. for at least half of the shows, we are often writing the ending as the performance is starting. we have no idea what’s going to happen.
 
BiT was there ever a moment that you realized holy shit this is actually happening?
JR this whole project is collaborative and it’s an exercise in a creative democracy. i collaborate with other co-directors on the conceptual bigger level and make sure i bring in talent who are encouraged to self-direct their acts. in the beginning, i had no theater background at all so i was still observing and learning about circus, theater, lighting, stage management. i am so engrossed in the show during the performance that i don’t get to experience it until 1-2 days after when i get to look at the footage. i get to look at the other artists’ works and that i don’t get to see the night of the show and i always think, “wow, you completely nailed that there. i didn’t even know that happens!” all these things wasn’t aware of, it’s so fascinating to see how well it works on the screen. those moments is when i realize how amazing it is, what we’ve created. every time when i come back home and see this amazing aerial piece happening in front of screen and i think, this is the best cinema ever! (laughing)  where else is this happening?
 
BiT how do you choose performances?
JR the films i choose are usually a combination of things. for the big lebowski, it felt seasonally appropriate and we knew it would be fun and a little crazy. i always get inspiration and suggestions from whom i’m creatively collaborating with, and i always wants some variety to keep things fresh. we’ll do a fun one, then dark one, then a documentary, then a comedy. we try to keep the curation very eclectic and diverse. and i always want to have a personal connection to the film so that passion is reflected in the performance.
 
BiT any surprises for the upcoming showing of The Dude Immersive that you want to share with Brooklyn, I’m Trying readers?
JR well you know, I don’t want to give anything away. guests will have action happening in all parts of the room, on stage and beyond stage, above their heads. they will be sprayed and hit by certain things, but in a pleasant way. you’ll see various metaphors come to life, like a drag queen representing a room that gets tied together. there will be a drinking game folded in, and lots of metaphors with objects brought in as people, pysch dreams interpreted by aerial performances, a lot of trapping and changing. about every 5 minutes the audience will get hit with something different, so just as they sink into thinking, “hey, i’m watching a movie,” something else entirely will happen.
BiT i seriously cannot wait to see what happens. can you tell me what’s next for Little Cinema?
JR I don’t have an idea yet for the next project, but for now I’m looking to plan out and curate a season and to establish a Little Cinema membership. I’d like to see the project grow up a bit in that sense. this whole project is very personal, as it is created and runs on people wanting to create and giving them a platform to do so. my goal is to keep it that way, both from the collaborator’s and from audience’s points of view. looking at our history, there’s several hundred people that have seen 5 or more shows, and we want to keep them coming back. in a way it doesn’t make much sense that we put so much work into one-off performances, but that’s what makes sense to us. we keep trying to keep magic alive and crazy and wild and ever-changing for as long as we can.

 

BiT …anything else you want to add about The Dude Immersive?
JR yeah. you can enter into a raffle for your chance to watch the show from a bathtub.

 

as much as i wanted to press him on this… will this person in the nude? what is the bathtub filled with? and where is said tub, on stage? however, i could tell by the reluctant divulgence of this statement that jay was actually doing me a favor by keeping this magic and mystery hidden until i see the show tuesday night. we hung up the phone around the time that the skyline came into view and that pure unadulterated love for this city and its inhabitants filled my soul once again.
…………….
  little cinema

“we often are writing the ending as the performance is starting. we have no idea what’s going to happen.”

by assembling so many talented individuals and giving them a platform to perform and create, the story and performance of little cinema unfolds in a masterful explosion of sound, lights, movement, words, music and pure kinetic energy that is felt by the audience and stays with them way after the curtain is drawn.
in this way, little cinema feels much like a metaphor for the life that jay has created. work hard and dream harder and contribute every fiber of your being to a project, and where there are gaps, surround yourself with people who are the best and believe the most in their craft. let life unfold in a harmonious cacophony, a tenacious performance to which the ending has not yet been written. and if i can tell you one thing, there will be plenty of twists in the plot of the life and work of jay rinsky, and the next scene is far from being written.
immerse yourself in the genius of his creation at little cinema. performances tonight and tomorrow are sold out, but follow Brooklyn, I’m Trying on Instagram to immerse yourself from afar, and check back with your social coordinator (i. e. yours truly) for their next performance, more info and ticket sales and all that jazz are here on their website and absorb all of the magic you can by following little cinema on instagram.
little cinema

My Experience at the Russian + Turkish Baths in New York.

in CULTURE, WORDS
i first heard about the russian bath houses during my first year in new york. i was on a train coming back to the city from virginia. the entire northeast was in the middle of a relentless snow storm, and thus my usual 6 hour trip was on hour 10 and counting. we’d been stuck in philly for over an hour and i met a guy at the bar in the train station who was also heading to new york, and also intentionally getting drunk to pass the time. we boarded together and made plans to meet in the dining car. i had a bota full of wine, he had a bottle of dewar’s – our christmas spoils. as we sat and drank, he was a plethora of knowledge about the city. he drew me a map of manhattan and all the things i needed to know; which parks were prettiest in autumn and which ones you could consistently score drugs in, neighborhoods with the most authentic cuisine from a range of cultures and why you should use the staten island ferry (just as a free boat ride and then to turn right back around and come back, he advised). i still have this map, and the spot on it where he showed me his favorite russian bath house was. he looked at me very seriously as he described the nearly religious process of going room to room, the russian men that would beat you if you asked for it and sometimes even if you didn’t, the absolute euphoric feeling in your body after you left. he marked it on the map, and told me i have to go. then he pulled a lighter from his pocket and started burning the edges of the map and we were both laughing wildly, drunk and restless from the ride. they kicked us out of the dining car. we ran into the area between the cars to hide, laughing loudly and then he pressed his body against mine and we made out aggressively and madly all the way through new jersey.
seven years and, well, quite a few makeout sessions with strangers on trains later, i finally made it to the russian & turkish bath house. thankfully i went with someone who knew the routine, and now i will pass that knowledge off to you. the whole experience was insane and hilarious and hard and uncomfortable and then completely, corporally euphoric.
first, bring a bathing suit. honestly, i’d say a one-piece is best, but a two-piece works too. they have little cotton shorts that you can (and should) keep over your suit, and if you happen to spend the night away from home, then your uniform can simply be a borrowed sleeveless tee and just the shorts. which i kind of thought was hip. regardless of what getup you choose, go in the locker room, change, and loop the key around your wrist or ankle as if your life depended on it. trust me, you don’t want to know what they do if people lose them.
choose a pair of rubber slippers, a towel, and then go downstairs and enter into a tiled basement of different rooms and the knowledge that your dignity is far, far behind you. i arrived with my hair tossed up in a top bun, smiley and bright-eyed and mistakenly wearing mascara. within minutes i became a desperate, drowned rat.
the whole scene transports you back into history, imagining this activity in countries all over the world, a social scene. built in 1892, this is clearly the oldest activity in New York, other than drinking and lying. it all kind of felt like being at the gym, just without the working out. everyone is suffering, out of breath, wanting the activity they are doing to stop but also trying to push through it. some people talk, which usually consists of “god it’s just so hot in here.” some people just moan every so often. most just exchange eye contact that says, “are you ok? because i don’t know if i’m ok. and if i pass out, will you drag my body out of here? because i’ll drag yours.”
there are 7 rooms, i think. honestly i lost track and along with my sense of direction because when you enter one room, you take a deep breath knowing it will be the last time you can actually fill you lungs for the duration of your stay, and when you exit, all you can think about is submerging your body in the ice pool. which, as soon as you do, all you can think of is getting out of the ice pool. the room that i suppose i decided was my favorite, which i don’t know if that means it was the most tolerable or most challenging, was a stone cave that looked like part of a putt-putt course. it has tiers of wooden benches that you can’t sit on straight away because you’ll burn your buns off. literally. i saw it happen. you sit on your wet towel and every 30 seconds you force your body to walk over to a well of cold water and dump an entire bucket over your head. i was hesitant to do this at first because it looks ridiculous, just shaming yourself with a bucket of water in front of a group of strangers. it felt as dumb as the ice bucket challenge but the only charity it’s supporting is you and your own momentary survival. my hesitance quickly evaporated along with every ounce of moisture on my skin, lips, and hair. that bucket saved my life, again and again and again and again.
the steamy rooms felt like you were in confession with a large group of strangers. you felt, saw, and heard all of their sins exiting their bodies. then all of our sins hung there in a heavy cloud together as we all sat paying our public penance. everyone sits leaning over, their shoulders heavy, their breath short. just sitting and trying to continue sitting, somehow.
every so often a large man with a gold chain wanders through the rooms saying “who wants a platza!!” to which, without inquiring, i would recommend going with, “no sir, i would not like a platza today.” i saw one man being platza’d, which took place in the hot stone room, in front of everyone. he was instructed to lay down, turn over, sit up, stand up, all while being beaten with a wet rag and having water and some other liquid poured over him. it was like a public shaming, and i felt the desire to help him but of course, all i could do was muster the energy to drag my body over to the well and baptize myself every 30 seconds. he chose the platza. now he must suffer.
at some point, you carry your tired body up the steep stairs to the roof for some sun. this, again, is not a glamorous experience; you lay your body upon some old rubber mats and close your eyes and feel your heart nearly beating out of your chest from the intense environments you’ve been experiencing. men are walking around with some sort of thick white mud face masks caked on their faces, looking like mimes. mimes are walking around without any face masks, looking like men. you realize you may never leave the rubber mat. you are trapped in a glass case of corporal instability. you and the mimes.
you descend back into the basement and wander again from room to room. into the pool and immediately back out. breathing in steam and heat and sins and nothing at all. you sit in the social room between the other wet humans. everyone seems to be marginally surviving and you think, maybe, you will too.
i remember being concerned that my boobs were showing through my wet clingy man tank top or that my baggie shorts were exposing everything beneath and then immediately thinking that i should concentrate on breathing. inhale, exhale. nothing is private here, we are all exposed.
and that’s when anthony weiner walked by in a tiny speedo and started doing slow, languid ballet moves with his tiny tight leg upon the bar in front of me.
when you finally leave, putting back on your clothes and saying goodbye to the sassy little shorts and shoes, you emerge out onto 10th street and new york is still happening all around you. i kept wanting to ask people as they passed on the sidewalk – do you have any idea what is going on in there? my body felt completely cleansed and euphoric. my skin felt new. i felt grounded and displaced in the city i knew so well.
the russian & turkish baths are not only the best hangover cure i have ever experienced, they are a glimpse into an ancient history and a strange social experience you can’t find anywhere else, unless i suppose you actually do slip into the confession booth in your skivs with a bunch of strangers and steam.
also, it’s the best way to see Anthony Weiner’s wiener without giving him your phone number. because he is always, always there.
the russian and turkish baths are located at 268 east 10th st.
check the site for the schedule, because there are men-only and women-only hours in addition to the co-ed and anthony weiner hours.

This is Week Two | Brooklyn, I’m Trying.

in LIFESTYLE, WORDS
a weekly journal of my new freelance life. 
they should teach more about personal finance in school. they should warn you about the dangers of credit cards in this country instead of encouraging them, nearly forcing them down your throat when you’re at your most financially vulnerable, requiring them for all the the major steps of your life… at which point they will simply serve as flagrant signs of your requisite irresponsibility. they should tell you to budget.
but then, maybe they did. maybe i just didn’t listen. and maybe i’m still confident that every dollar of debt that i have accumulated has been part of an experience, traveling, dining, learning, growing.
and, ok, more than a few times buying food for number one (the cat. obviously).
i’m in a financial crisis. i saved up no money before i quit my job, and well… let’s just say i left myself in a not-so-comfortable situation. however, if i’d waited for that comfort, i would have never left the job. i often subscribe to the push-the-bird-out-of-the-nest method, and this nest was not in the money tree.
i’m kind of thinking it was a cork tree, given where a lot of my monies go.
i had that all-too familiar feeling today, the one where you feel like you are truly at the very end of your rope and then somehow the rope extends and you end up deeper and even more helpless than you were when you thought you were at the end.
this feeling brought me back to a particular moment when i was living in madrid. a moment when everything came crashing down. i was dead broke, and more heartbroken then i had ever been at the time. i was lost, emotionally. and at least a bit turned around physically. i sat down on the curb by myself and tried to get a grip. i sat and stared up at a streetlight. i took a deep breath, then quite a few more. i decided at that moment that i had a choice. there was absolutely no clear answer, no obvious path. no way out. and i realized that there wasn’t going to be, but i had to keep going. somehow, something would get figured out. there would be an answer. there would, right streetlight? i implored. right??
it reminded me of one of my favorite songs, a recreation of augustin lara’s farolito sung by natalia lafourcade. farolito, a song sung to a streetlight, that ignited and illuminated the same desperation i felt.
farolito, que alumbra apenas la calle desierata
cuantas noches me has visto, llorando, llamar a su puerta?
sin llevarme mas que una cancion, un pedazo de mi corazon?
  
little street lamp, barely lighting up this deserted street,
how many nights have you seen me weeping, calling at her door
without wanting to bring her more than a song, than a piece of my heart?
it represents the calming presence of the light when all that is felt is misery and despair, perhaps so deep that the singer doesn’t even realize.
how many nights have you seen me? 
the farolito is a light, and also a beacon, providing a sense of vision and balance. a hope on a deserted street and in an empty heart where there seems to be none at all.
streetlights in new york often feel like a beacon, of safety and security, and perhaps of companionship on deserted streets or those that are overcrowded, where we find ourselves surrounded, yet alone.
the street i just moved on to in brooklyn is completey shrowded by a thick canopy of trees that are so charming during the day, but they block out all light from the farolitos at night, and have forced me to take notice and memorize the location of the most forboding potholes during the day, so that at night i can safely navigate my way home without compromising the wheels on my beloved 1960s schwinn.
so this, this is week 2. equal parts desperate and seeking a beacon of hope, a sense of calm, an inhale, an answer. or at least a steady presence to ask.
and also knowing that i need to have confidence in what i’ve learned during times of doubt, blindness, uncertainty so far to guide me through this dark and innavigable path.

This Is Week One.

in WORDS
A JOURNAL.
i have become my own experiment. here i chronicle the weeks and how i will navigate this new life, in the most honest way possible.

I read a quote recently that said “anywhere can be a prison if you make it one” and the honesty of those words pissed me off but also stuck with me. so often we create boundaries, walls, gates, limitations, in so many areas of our lives. we do this emotionally, professionally, creatively. we are capable of so somuch more than we allow ourselves to be. anytime I doubt that I watch this and feel alive and invigorated and deliberate and afraid of nothing.

last week I quit my job. I found myself on my first day of “freedom” feeling completely unhinged, trying not to panic. I tried to write but the words wouldn’t come. I tried to workoutbut it didn’t feel productive enough. I wrote a to-do list and accomplished nothing on it but “buy TP”. I found myself at the grocery store standing on the meat aisle, thinking that we need different meats. none of these felt right. there must be others? have we thought of others?? i just stood there, ironically paralyzed among the once living and now sterilely packaged products, not knowing what to do next.

the very freedom I’d been craving became debilitating, and I found myself somehow imprisoned again, by fear.
with all of the preachy “follow your dreams!” “live your best life!” posts that i shove down your throats, I have finally followed my own advice. I am now my own experiment. so stick with me and follow along, I guarantee this will get interesting.

Brooklyn, I’m trying
to break free of these walls
to live without fear
to be so much more.

week one
felt weak. My first day on my own I expected the energy I had and felt and embodied the days I’d lied about being sick, running around with a rambunctious fever, feeling and seeing and doing ferociously. instead i found myself in a rare hungover state, standing immobile on the meet aisle, wondering why we hadn’t come up with different meats by now. none of these met my expectations or could even meet me where I was, directionless and hungry.
I was unhinged.
I stopped making to-do lists that only made me feel incompetent and unnacomplished
I realized I was breaking habits and staryijng new ones.
I gave myself a break.
I slept more.
I prioritized meditation.
I made my space better and more inspiring but left when I found myself allowing organization to bleed into satisfaction.
I left the house.
I came back and cleaned the backyard.
I planted herbs.
I unpacked boxes.
I did my laundry, I spoke Spanish with everyone in the laundromat.
I threw myself into the family in the laundromat.
I came out displaced and rinsed clean.
I inhaled. I slowed down.
i went to the doctor’s office on my last day of insurance. under “occupation // employer” i started writing “digital strategist // justin alexander” but i’m not. i scratched through it and started to write “bartender…” but that is not me either. i drew a line through it and proudly wrote “writer // self-employed.” wiht a strong period at the end. i stared at it. that’s what i am, that’s why i’m here. i walked my papers up to the desk and sat back down, satisfied and swimming in the — that permission gives you when i was called back up. “ma’am, your position and employer don’t match what we have on file with your insurance.”
sonofabitch.
i was told i’m healthy and don’t look close to 30, which means that 30 is old.
i recognized that my time is my own, ever single minute.
i stopped working at the wine bar and was accepted beautifully and unexpectedly into a restaurant family that will become my own.
i accepted a tequila shot in celebration of my first shift.
i felt warm.
I’ve been drinking less because a day of incompetence is now unacceptable.
I’m deliberate.
I’m deliberate and afraid of nothing.
And this is week one.
<3L.

Spring (mental) Cleaning | Guided Meditations

in WORDS

let’s go into this new season with clear minds and hearts. a friend of mine recently spoke of meditation as feeling like you’ve thrown a house party and realizing you know none of the guests. we let so many thoughts passively infiltrate our minds that it feels like they become us, they control us, they occupy our space and grind up on each other inappropriately and leave red solo cups of stale beer on every single surface. let’s be deliberate about taking control and clearing that shit out. never meditated? start with these guided meditations and show those unwanted house guests the door.

all words and meditations below are from the enlightened gabby bernstein, shared with me by the lovely @hannahea88

enjoy.

 

The first meditation helps you tap into compassion. Learn how to dissolve all boundaries and clear space to attract love. Enjoy the Compassion Meditation.

My second meditation will help you make decisions with ease. Do you struggle with making the right choice? This practice will help you trust your intuition. Press play and enjoy the Decision Making Meditation.

The third meditation is going to rock your world! Are you ready to learn how to attract what you want into your life? This meditation will help you use creative visualization to cultivate a powerful energy that will make you a magnet for what you desire. Enjoy my Creative Visualization Meditation.

The final meditation will help you own your purpose. I often hear people say, “I don’t know how to find my purpose.” I believe it’s the opposite. Your purpose will find you! Practice this meditation and clear space for your purpose to come forth.

You Are a Lightworker Meditation.

 

 

<3L.

Rebel with a Cause | Brooklyn, I’m Trying.

in WORDS

I recently come across this piece in the Atlantic through my dear homies at the new stand and the title immediately grabbed my attention. “The Case for the Rebel,” Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, a teacher, talks about the inconvenience of the class clown, the trouble maker. Noting that over the years, although they gave her more grey hairs than anyone else, it was always the rebels that were the idea makers because they challenged the status quo. They were fearless and bold. Just as her colleagues, she noted, would “often intentionally break rules if it means a better education for the students in their classroom” [which of course recalls one of the greatest films ever made] yet didn’t recognize that the students who were doing the same thing were punished.

“Most teachers,” she said,  “noted that self-control and cooperation were the most important indicators of school success,” rewarding the so-called soft skills. This is the educational system we grew up in, and the workplaces to which we now sell our souls. Follow the rules. Fit the mold. Graciously accept this 2% raise because you’re lucky to have a job. Work late so they think you’re important. Leave your dignity at the door, you’ll get it back with your retirement package… you know, when you lack the audacity and energy to use it properly.
This piece gave me hope because this has always been me. A rebel with a cause, I’d like to think. Even now as an “adult”, I really fucking love getting in trouble. I crave mischief. I kept thinking this would fade with age, that the thrill of sneaking out of the house would dissipate once I no longer had a curfew. That petty theft would wane into no theft at all once I could fully comprehend the risk. That marijuana would simply be a gateway to not being tempted by drugs anymore. That a harmless game of spin the bottle would be the closest I ever got to cheating on someone.
If anything, this temptation has increased with age. If you don’t have a house to sneak out of, rules to disobey, class to skip, a fake ID to test…. you find edgier and more dangerous ways to cause trouble. When my dad told me that he held the record for streaking, “five dates in five days! never been beat.” I didn’t see it as a weird dad college story, I saw it as a challenge. I knocked it out of the park, streaking five states in one day, and I’m pretty sure that’s never been beat. (And yes, that is a challenge.) I showed up for a wedding last summer with paint still lingering in the creases of my fingernails. “Crafting?” someone asked. “No, I was tagging something at 4am this morning.” I was almost not allowed back in the country because I had a warrant out for my arrest for not paying a ticket I got for drinking a beer on the street because I thought the ticket was dumb. Still do. Still drinkin’ on the street.
I read this piece and finally I felt like my mischief wasn’t met with a disappointed stare from my mother as she picked up the phone and realized it was my teacher calling, again. Defiance should be encouraged. And no, I am not campaigning for complete anarchy here so everyone stop rolling your eyes. I’m just saying that the system only works because we buy into it. We were founded as a nation of rebels. Back then, the system didn’t work and so we stopped buying into it. Historically, we have always been encouraged by “troublemakers” who turn into leaders because no one is hanging onto the coat tails or following in the wake of a meek, compliant, nervous follower. Seek defiance. Shake things up. Because we’re meant for more than petty rules and mindless busy work.

The rebels in the world are often the ones who change it the most.

Quit your day job. We were not made to mindlessly enter numbers into excel spreadsheets that ultimately add up to a paycheck’s worth of hours spent working toward someone else’s dream. And hey, some people are totally fine with doing this type of work, and that is fantastic, and even enviable. To be satisfied in complacency isn’t something to look down upon. But if you were born with this fire in your heart, do something unexpected.
Buy a one way ticket. Shake up your lifestyle. Because if you don’t do it now, when will you? Go. Go now. Don’t wait for everything to line up perfectly before you commit. Don’t wait to be financially secured. Don’t wait for the perfect time in your life to go because that time will never come. Don’t ask people for advice because they will likely discourage you. Just go.
Do what they don’t want you to do. Because they only thing that has ever really culminated into is a fresh new crop of “they’s” anyway. Move up the corporate ladder, where every rung is well-worn! Get to the top and then look down, satisfied! Because this, of course, is success!

“I recently heard on the radio a state legislator speaking of the importance of developing “soft skills” for the workforce. He elaborated on the merits of understanding the importance of a firm handshake, showing up 10 minutes early, and being a “team player.” As I listened to him, I thought these were admirable traits—traits that my own father tried desperately to instill in me, which I generally ignored—but they were mostly values held by an older generation.”

Seek defiance, because you’ve come a long way, baby. Don’t stop now.
Oh, and get into some fucking trouble. Be a rebel with a cause, a mission, an unwavering belief that you’re meant for something more. And if you’re trying to find ways to get involved in some trouble… well… I’m accepting applications.

 

On Being A “Blogger” | Brooklyn, I’m Trying.

in WORDS
being a blogger never appealed to me, because it felt a bit soulless. isn’t a blog just one long-winded advertising platform? i didn’t see myself shamelessly representing products, curating lists with click-baity headlines, in reality i knew i was more of a writer than anything else.
and then i read this. garance dore is a photographer turned blogger, who is also a killer writer. ok and i’m underplaying this. she’s one of the best in the biz and what i learned from her is that you can have a blog and have it still convey your real voice, your thoughts, your words, your soul. when i came across this stunning post describing her grandmother’s funeral in morocco, it changed everything for me. i can have a space that is purely mine, whatever i want it to be.
read this by garance and let it move you, above everything else, to give you the confidence that what you create is yours alone. it need not fit into any mold or represent anyone else’s ideas or views of what it should be. you have created something where there was nothing before, so let it start by meaning something to you,

i cannot wait to see what you create.

<3L.

Put the Cart Before the Horse | Brooklyn, I’m Trying.

in WORDS
I think intentional is where our hearts best exist. with good intention, bursting out of our chests and beating with a forward motion and refusing to calm, to hush, to settle.
I’ve been thinking so much recently about the necessary ridicule of putting the cart before the horse.
Put your intention actively and forcibly before your action and movement. leap and the net will appear. Go confidently in the direction that you’ve setting towards with little to no preparation. Your willingness begets opportunity. Your determination will be a hand outstretched, a finger beckoning, a confident wink and a smile, that yes, yes, this is your next move. Just keep stepping before you see the path.
I’ve been lost within the folds of jim carrey’s success story since I heard it. he believed in his own success so much, daring himself to believe, with no official reason or plan and even less money in his bank account. He wrote himself a check for $10 million dated 5 years in the future and folded it up in his wallet. The knowledge of that challenge, the understanding of that requirement, the onset of that date, altered every move and thought and even hesitation just enough… that within 5 years he had the lead in ace ventura series, the mask, liar liar, and was billing $20 million per film.
What we could accomplish with just a little secret, an impenetrable intention, folded deliberately into our pocket.
A cart placed illogically before the horse.
Write yourself a check with way too many zeroes. Book a one way flight with no plan. Self-publish your novel. Choose a relentless accountability partner. Dare yourself and take bets against your accomplishments. Do not rest.
a horse before a cart is bridled and submissive. switch it around, start living the life you’ve been planning and move confidently into the future, and don’t look back.
nothing but a stubborn horse back there anyway.

<3L.

the seventh haiku.

in haikus, WORDS

apparent, when undone

how quickly our lives become

four walls and one roof.

 

 

things proven true this week – moving is a bitch, and haikus provide order among chaos, poetry upon boxes, beauty amidst pain, and inspiration to conquer writers block,… especially on tuesdays. this one written while negotiating my life into cardboard boxes, secured with packaging tape and a plea for gentle handling.

<3L.