[sic] life

I want to put my words out there, but I hold them deep inside, at the very core of my being, where they burn a hole into my gut.

It’s the reason I keep starting and stopping this blog. I want to do more, do better.

Lately, I’ve been making even more of an effort.

Artist dates are a must. I’ve been able to take myself on some pretty stellar ones lately, usually involving yummy food and drink to help fuel my brain and get the pen moving.

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I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of Honeygrow, but it’s amazing. If you’re ever in Philly, NJ or Northern Delaware, you need to try a honeybar fruit bowl and kale’atta. Decomposition Book optional but highly recommended.

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This is a fantastic cafe I stumbled upon one day, and I’m kind of in love. I mean, if you’re going to get oatmeal at a cafe, it should always be as pretty and composed as this.

Then, there are the days when leaving your house is just not happening. It’s cool. Surround yourself with beautiful things that remind you life can be beautiful.

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Is there anyone more equipped to help infuse your life with glamour and beauty than Dita Von Teese? I think not.

Look for the beauty in everything, everywhere and be inspired.

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weekend warrior.

So, this past weekend, those of us on the East Coast who have been bombarded with crappy weather got a break. Temperatures reached a damn near balmy 50 degrees on Sunday! Unfortunately, on Saturday, I didn’t get to see outside. It was one of those days where leaving the house simply was not an option. I’ve battled through snow, rain, and all sorts of madness to get shit done, but not Saturday. However! I did do my nails again!

This time, I chose China Glaze’s It’s a Trap-eze! What a fun color! Even in my sad, sad state, the bright glitter just made me smile. Also, it dried super fast, which is great because I have absolutely no patience.

Pretty, pretty colors!

Pretty, pretty colors!

Sunday, Lover Man and I took a trip to Philly. I needed to be a part of a real city again, even if just for a few hours. First, brunch at Talula’s Garden, a lovely restaurant hidden on a city street. Enter paradise.

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Everything was lovely, from the attentive table service to food itself. The frittata was perfectly done, with thin slices of new potato, fresh pesto and smoked mozzarella that I believe was personally crafted by angels. That side of potatoes? Perfection. Also, I am a sucker for little details like this itty bitty pot of ketchup.

Pictured: a plate of heavenly awesomeness

Pictured: a plate of heavenly awesomeness

Also, can we all just agree that this display is so charming and adorable?

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I admit, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff. Also, it was only after I got there that I realized that the restaurant was also the brainchild of the woman who runs Talula’s Table, AKA the hardest restaurant to get a reservation to EVER, located in Kennett Square, PA. (Seriously, you have to call exactly one year in advance to get a reservation. Ah, someday….)

After that, we walked all around Center City, from Chestnut to South all the way back to Market. We had amazing vegan cupcakes at Sweet Freedom Bakery, which I will gladly go to again. Of course, I brought home a bag full of goodies! I love that they had coconut milk creamer and vegan sweeteners for the tea and coconut water in the fridge. My kind of bakery! Lover Man devoured his brownie cupcake, though he said the texture was a bit different than what he’s used to. I, being a fiend for coconut, had the Samoa cupcake. Oh. My. God. A little dense but incredibly moist, so sweet but not cloying, a creamy chocolate center that brought all the elements together.

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A little midday treat.

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Seriously…OH. MY. GOD.

The pink monster reared its ugly head again–seriously, I don’t know what my sudden attraction is to this color, but I’m just going to run with it–and I ended up buying a pair of way-too-expensive but super adorable socks from Jack Wills that I kind of want to wear every day ever.

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Reading Terminal Market was kind of overwhelming, especially after our busy day of walking around, but a trip to The Herbiary stall eased my mind. Dried herbs! Bundles of sage! Handmade soaps! Tea! It definitely appealed to my Mama Earth witchy side. Exactly what I needed to end our day on the right note.

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A bag full of lavender…is there anything better?

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Tea: always the cure. Always.

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Everything that is right with this world, in one convenient little package. The artwork alone sold me!

Going out into the world helped me feel human again, and, thanks to yet another storm, today I was rewarded with a little extra space to breathe and connect with my words. (I am so damn sick of the snow, but today, I was pretty damn grateful for it!) One step closer to getting back to myself.

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survival.

This week fucking sucked. Still sick, still tired, still dealing with too much shit. Still wanting to write, still afraid, still wondering what the fuck I’m doing.

HOWEVER.

When shit goes down, and I feel depressed and overwhelmed, I try to find the little things that make me feel better. Sometimes, I just need to reach deep within and find the positive aspects of life. So, I document.

I sit by the fire at a cafe and read my friend Jennifer Sky’s brilliant account of her time as a teen model in Japan, Queen of the Tokyo Ballroom.

I carry around Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things with me, a portable source of strength, stories of pain and hope and survival.

A gift card tucked away in the pocket of my coat last winter is found, and I turn a lunch break into an indulgent experience. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but little reminders of self-care. Inspiration in culture.

Flipping through a magazine on break (I think it was Marie Claire) and getting a shot of self esteem. I chose the last option without even having to think about it. I already have smarts and moves, and I don’t give a fuck about my flabby arms. Give me the wardrobe!

So, life’s not perfect. I’m working every day on being a better version of me, but the version of me that I am right now is pretty fucking tough. I am a survivor. I am a hard worker. I am smart as hell and clean up nicely (though you wouldn’t know it this week. I’ve walked around like a hobo. Let’s not talk about my hair. Let’s just…not).

Maybe I’ll do my nails again today. Maybe I’ll put some more words to paper. Maybe I’ll finally eat something. Maybe I’ll actually get out of bed, turn off The Golden Girls and do something that matters today.

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a voice.

Magic!

Magic!

So, Listen To Your Mother-Wilmington was a huge success. Sold out crowd. Dr. Jill Biden in the audience (I know!). Every cast member delivering their words with heart and confidence.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like myself.

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I was able to tell my truth and express my fears about motherhood and my body without shame or guilt. Menstruation, feminism, breast feeding. I bared it all. It means the world to me that LTYM Director Shoshana Martyniak, Producer Jessica Kupferman, and Associate Producer Jenn Steinberg saw the value in my experience and my words. I am so incredibly inspired by these brilliant women!

I felt supported by the brilliant cast and every single member of the audience. I didn’t know Dr. Biden was in the audience until after I performed, which was probably a good thing because I would have been terrified had I been aware.

Delaware is like a small town: somehow, everyone is connected, and this includes the Bidens. Jill Biden is a friend and former colleague of some cast members (which I also didn’t know until after I performed), and it is lovely and inspiring to see women that continue to support and celebrate each other. Another person I know told me yesterday that Dr. Biden was her teacher and helped her immensely on her path to a successful career. In a time where it seems almost fashionable for women to tear each other down and separate themselves according to class, race and appearance, I am blessed to not just witness solidarity but be a part of it.

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Ethnicity, religious affiliations (or lack thereof), marital status, sexual orientation: none of that mattered. We bonded over our honesty and our experiences, the threads that ran throughout all of our stories, the rawness of our emotions. Backstage, there was talk of mikvah (Jewish ritual bath), politics, science, family life.

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I miss New York every single day, but I am so glad Lover Man and I moved to Delaware. My moments of longing and isolation forced me to face so many fears and take risks I never would have taken in New York. I needed to feel that need, that desperation where the only way to survive was to “write like a motherfucker”, to extend myself and become open to new experiences. I’m still learning, and there are times I want to hide away. I am so often overwhelmed by life; there are so many decisions for me to make every single day, so much noise and chaos. Just writing this is hard, but I am finding my strength every day. Thanks to LTYM, I’m taking an amazing writing workshop, Writing the Body, led by fellow cast member Cathleen Delia Mulrooney, and I am learning how to open up and find the power in my life, even the most traumatic parts, the parts that nearly became my undoing.

I am tired of hiding.

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Take that!

Back in March, when I was bonding with my word warriors and being inspired at AWP, Cheryl Strayed wrote me a note as we chatted briefly in the hallway. (Still pinching myself.) I read it every single day. On May 12, 2013, on that stage, I truly began living it.

Flawless life advice.

Flawless life advice.

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P.S. All photography from the show is by Donna Harlev.

the universe is conspiring….

After the crazy/amazing/inspiring/exhausting ride that was AWP Writer’s Conference in Boston, I came home even more determined to write and create, but also more frustrated by the little things in life somehow blowing up to become these all-consuming beasts. I woke up last Tuesday so tired, I didn’t know how I’d make it through the day, and I barely did. My body suddenly felt useless; after being sick and pretty much eliminating all common sense concerning food and exercise during the AWP whirlwind, I felt like I lost all my physical strength. Feeling physically weak almost always results in my emotional and mental health suffering, and I was definitely sinking. Tuesday ended with me eating carrots and Goldfish crackers for dinner and having a minor meltdown in bed.

And then, there was Wednesday.

I woke up deciding that I couldn’t feel this terrible about life anymore. I had a lot of shit to be happy about, so many accomplishments and opportunities that I should be excited about. So, I check Facebook, and my awesome friend Melanie (who was also a gracious host during AWP!), posted an article from Buzzfeed: 25 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Down. It seriously changed my attitude. Seriously, how could you not love an article that encourages you to tell yourself that you’re a badass bitch and no one can fuck with you (tip #2)? So, I did it. I made myself a lovely breakfast with avocado, or “nature’s butter, bitch” (tip #3). I gave myself mental high fives and wore my comfiest sweater, which has kind of become my security blanket. I listened to a lot of Frank Ocean, particularly

I took a walk. Now, in Delaware, people find it really fucking weird that I like to walk. Look, I grew up in Brooklyn. We were broke. Bus fare was a luxury. You learn to love walking when it’s the main way of getting around, come to appreciate all it does for your body and mind, what stinging air can do to wake up your senses.  I don’t like relying on others to get around, to do what I want. It’s obnoxious to expect people to cart you around. So, I walked around, picked up a few things for a wedding I had to go to, and then wandered into the dollar store. There’s a book section there, and I like checking it occasionally, though I usually don’t find anything great. Sometimes, I’ll find a silly novel for a buck. Well, I was just about to give up when I saw a slim white book crammed in between two larger ones with the word BLOCK emblazoned on the spine. The word “Wasteland” was scrawled in script. I literally gasped and pulled out the book, in complete denial. There’s no way that in this place, on this day, did I find one of the few Francesca Lia Block books I did not own.

I did.

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I literally hugged the slim paperback to my chest. It had a little tear in the back cover and a tiny dent, but that made it even better to me in a way. It was perfectly imperfect. I left the store with tears in my eyes. It wasn’t just about finding the book. It was a reminder that this author, my favorite author, had seen the value and beauty in my work at some point. It was a reminder that I had a tribe of word warriors that always had my back. It was the universe reminding me that pain and uncertainty is fuel for art.  It was about the power books have to comfort and inspire.

When I was at AWP, I met the amazing Cheryl Strayed, who radiated warmth, serenity and a fierceness that is hard to put into words. She told me to just live my life like a motherfucker, and that is exactly what I intend to do. That night, after finding the book, I went to Zumba. Once again, the universe blessed me, this time with a little bit of British pop music just as I felt myself flagging:

I wish I could say the entire day completely erased any meltdowns from my life, but I had another one the next night, over my clothes, about how to express myself through fashion when I felt like so much of my clothing doesn’t really reflect who I am. I’m a fashion whore, so it’s hard for me to feel like I’m not expressing to people who I am with my sartorial choices. Again, the universe was there, through the brilliant plus sized clothing company Domino Dollhouse, who posted another Buzzfeed article: 18 Fashion Rules from Beth Ditto. Beth is my fashion icon, my body confidence goddess, and this article was exactly the kick in the ass I needed to remind myself to work the fuck out of whatever is in my closet, that I am a fucking force, that black eyeliner is a gift from the cosmetic gods. I felt a little bit of my old swagger returning and, as I applied my gel liner to create a bitchin’ cat eye, I winked at myself in the mirror.

Welcome back, kid.

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lazy saturday.

After a completely shitty Friday at work and the very sad news about the dolphin that died in the Gowanus, I woke up this morning with sadness still weighing heavy on me. Lover Man had work, so I was left to my own devices. Clearly, I called my mom and sister and texted with my amazing niece who always cheers me up. But I was still feeling bummed out, so I did a few things to calm myself.

1. I made a cuppa earl grey just the way I like it: sugar in the raw, soy milk. Belvita chocolate biscuits for a lunch of champions. Done. (Also, according to the sketchy dude at Teavana, earl grey is a natural antidepressant. Huzzah!)

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Nom nom nom.

2. I lit some candles to ward off the chill of this frigid day and the bad spirits of yesterday. Bringing in warmth, prosperity, hope and light.

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Baby, baby, baby, light my way.

(Just out of frame here are my Squinkies,  by the way. Yes, I have them! They were a Christmas present from my mom, who knows I love Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent in particular.)

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Note how, in my version of events, Maleficent is queen. Just sayin’.

3. Whenever I am in a super funky mood, watching videos by British pop groups cheers me up. I know, weird, but it reminds me of the time I spent in England. It was a strange, confusing, magical time, the first time I felt free and broke out of the cage I felt I had been put in long ago. First, I caught up on the show Chasing the Saturdays. Their new single is okay, but I prefer their song Ego:

If we’re really talking British girl groups, the best one since the Spice Girls is clearly Girls Aloud. Their songs are pop perfection. Their reunion single, Something New, is brilliant, and I want all the clothes from the video (including the pants which, according to Kimberly, were made for her the day of the shoot!):

I also looked at some of my old photos of the Gowanus, such as this one of a mural by artist Pasqualina Azzarello. I really miss Brooklyn.revolutionary_war_azzarello

And now, as I prepare to work on my writing, I can’t say I feel perfect, but I feel a hell of a lot better. It seems the universe is already providing me with goodness. I finally got my copy of fellow Love Magick Anthology contributor Ashley Inguanta‘s wonderful book The Way Home in the mail. She is such an inspiration, and I can’t wait to curl up with another cuppa and her amazing words.

Now, to edit!

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i do not want this.

So…this is the mood I’m in today:

I want to know everything. I want to be everywhere. I want to fuck everyone in the world. I want to do something that matters!

I’m struggling to make myself heard, to finish all the stories I’m writing so I can begin new ones, to become more than I am right now. I know it’s not an overnight thing, but I am just so frustrated. I want to go hard at life, you know? I just want to make things better than they are now. I live for things like The Kindred Collective and my freelance work at HellaWella because that’s what makes me feel whole. The collective in particular has opened me up to being so creative and pushing myself artistically, and I love that. I’m tired of feeling stifled, I’m tired of fearing a life without stability. I just want to grab Lover Man, hop on a plane, in a car, train, whatever, and see the world. Eat new food, walk in a desert, breathe new air, swim in new water, I don’t know. SOMETHING. I know, how incredibly concrete of me, but that’s not the point. My entire life right now is based on planning and concrete actions. It’s nice to just dream about being impulsive, even if I’m far too neurotic to live a life of instability.

Maybe I need to just breathe and be thankful and know that I’m working at creating a more fulfilling life.

My friend Melanie often talks about what she is thankful for at her awesome blog, and I think it’s a great idea. She’s a fan of Things I Love Thursdays (or something to this effect, please correct me if I’m wrong, Melanie!), so I think I’m going to take that spirit and run with it:

I, jessaissomewhatdamaged, sincerely love (and am thankful for)

my family

Lover Man

my friends

tea

having a steady paycheck

having a writing gig other than my steady paycheck

The Kindred Collective

good music, particularly playlists

my awesome apartment

love!

books!

words!

movement!

glitter!

coffee! (Really hyped about coffee right now…maybe I should lay off the Bustelo.)

life!

Okay, I feel much better. So…another song, then? I love Ellie Goulding. Her voice, her beats, the feeling of possibility, even when her lyrics are melancholy. So…here goes.

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i love it!

Oh, Icona Pop. Thank you for creating the perfect song that makes me feel like jumping on my bed, wearing too much lip gloss, and dancing until my feet are blistered and my throat is coated in secondhand smoke and vodka.