fearing what you love

Tonight in class we’re discussing one of my favorite writers, Stuart Dybek.

Like many things, I owe Danielle thanks for introducing me to his work. She took me to a reading while we were working at NU together, and that’s where I picked up Coast of Chicago. This collection of short stories quickly made my list of favorite books. I still think of Pet Milk occasionally while riding the El.

The way he’s captured Chicago—the neighborhoods, the people—I’ve romanticized it all. Between the music and the silence in Chopin in Winter. The simplicity of Lights. The raw, yet still strangely beautiful story of Hot Ice. After reading and re-reading Coat of Chicago for three years now, I’ve finally picked up another one of his books, I Sailed with Magellan. His writing is gritty yet so beautiful.

This is the writing I want to be doing. But I’ve definitely hit that gap. You know which gap—the one Ira Glass spoke about. That gap. And I’ve hit this gap so many times before. It’s the point trying to write is almost like asking me to slice open my veins and bleed everything that I am out into words. I hate how terribly cliche that sounds. I freeze up. Become afraid of my limits. I hide in my hole and think maybe if I keep this hidden, keep this thing that I’ve put so much of myself into away from the public, maybe everything will be okay again.

I’m afraid of the things I hold closest to me. Afraid of failure. Afraid of abandonment. I see this in my passions as well as my relationships. I don’t always know a way around it, if there even is one. I just have to push on, keep going. Enjoy the good times and not give up. I have to accept that some days I will be that crazy girl, some days I’ll stare at my notebook for hours, some days I’ll have shitty writing. If I keep going, maybe one of these days I’ll stop writing this same post again and again.


time to be honest.

Okay Internet. I have a confession.

I have been failing, absolutely failing, with my creative writing as of late.

I haven’t written anything new since… the way home from DC. May 7th. Two and half weeks. And it’s not writer’s block that’s stopping me. I’ve got scenes in my head. And after the trip to Nelsonville, I’ve got a lot of insight for a story I started two years ago. So I’ve got two novels going. There’s a lot of words and visions and just things happening in my head. But I haven’t taken the time to get them from my noggin to paper.

I can’t really blame exhaustion. Yes, I’ve been beyond tired this month and really busy. But I can make time to write. I should make time to write. But I didn’t. And it’s no one’s fault but my own.

I’m not going to completely beat myself up because of it… but I am going to use this frustration to kick my ass into gear and get working on these stories. Not to mention I want to work on my focus, short stories. (Though after these latest developments, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t switch to the novel tract.)

I’ve got a 3-day weekend coming up, and I’m going to use it properly: buy a new bikini, go to the beach at the end of my block, WRITE WRITE WRITE.


it’s not starting over… it’s just starting.

June’s finally arriving, and I seriously cannot wait.  Lovely‘s on her way, and thanks to some super awesome friends, almost all of my stuff is in my new apartment with just one last trip or two needed today.

Though I don’t really need a “starting over” in life right now, I am treating June as a new page.  It’s a lot easier to attack life full force if you’re starting with a fresh canvas.  It’s a little intimidating for some, but really… there’s a lot I want to start and want to do, and well, I’m just going to do that.

Lovely’s a lot better with the plant analogies, but I’m going to be planting a lot of seeds this summer — various ideas and projects will take shape and hopefully bloom into something beautiful.  From the small: eating better; to the medium: finishing a strong portfolio; to the large: applying to grad school, attempting to make steps towards a career I can be passionate about; to the OMG I’m really going to take that on: an interesting venture which will have me going to New York to get this started.  It’s going to be a full-on garden of awesomeness.

I’m still not really certain what’s going to happen in some areas.  I’m not sure I can stay at the Toy Store if I want to push forward with some of these things, just based on the amount of time and energy it demands — it doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but the owner wants us to support the store first, to put her dream first.  And I just can’t afford to do that right now.  But I also can’t leave myself without some sort of financial stability.  (I’m almost considering becoming a waitress again.  At least I’d get tips.)

Regardless.  I’m going to push forward.  (All those motivational and inspirational talks from Josh really have sunk in.  The boy’s a good one.  Truly is.  I can’t wait to see his own dreams come into a reality.)


a ghost of done (or: I'm joining a cult?)

Just to preface this… yes, this is another motivational, get shit done post.  I think I need these more than they need to be online.

Yesterday at work, Josh introduced me to what is apparently called the Cult of Done.  Though apparently I’d been introduced to it before because not one day goes by when I work with Josh that he tells me to do something. And we’re not talking about things around the store — I’m still the boss there.

I talk big.  And there is absolutely no question I’m a dreamer.  I’m a curator of ideas.  I can make lists, plot, ploy, and fill notebooks (and hot air) like no other.  And that’s fine.  But it’s not that rewarding.  Josh has basically called “bull shit” on all of it — in a very supportive way, though.

I get inspired by the people around me.  Josh is no exception.  He’s doing big things to reach his dreams and goals.  It’s pretty freaking awesome.  And then my very soon-to-be roommate, Lovely, is also actively working towards her passions.  My blogging community is littered with people following their hearts and just doing amazing things.  And I want to be one of them.

There has to be more than just the financial aspect holding me back.  And honestly, there is.  My looming inhibition is just that I’m not qualified to do these things.  That I’m just tinkering around.  I’m going to get my feet in the water and before I know it, realize I can’t swim.  I’ve become so attached to my dreams I’m afraid to fail.  If I don’t have these things, these aspirations, what do I have?

Failure and mistakes are okay.  Failure and mistakes are okay.  It’ll sink in one day.  And when it does, I’ll be able to let go and actually take a leap.

So, self.  Don’t let things die in the pages of your notebooks.  Do things.  Then do more things.  Mistakes are just an opportunity to learn — and we love learning.  So get going.  Do something.  Remember: Done is the engine of more.

*According to the Cult of Done Manifesto: “If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.”


from dreaming to living.

There’s a lot of people out there doing a lot of awesome things.  Truly too many to name.  And if you know me, well… you know I talk a lot about all these ideas and dreams that I have.

But it’s all that.  It’s just talk.

Well, after a conversation with my Lovely friend, 2010 is the year we stop just dreaming and start doing.  Now this friend is also up some really awesome stuff, and she pretty much always inspires and re-inspires me to go after my own dreams.  And ya know, if she keeps inspiring me I need to actually do something about it.

So, um… What are my dreams?

I’ve got a lot, so it’s hard to know which ones to focus on… which ones I’m truly passionate about, which ones might actually be feasible…  I think the easiest thing to do now is just take them one step at a time.  Brainstorm a bit.  Do some research.  Outline.  NOTEBOOKS!

There’s one that has a deadline coming up really soon.  I’ve had a lifelong passion for animals, and have always felt a strong calling for stewardship (and more-so educating others about our world and why we need to take care of it and why it’s so freaking amazing)… And if I ever wanted to actually pursue that, now is the time.  The Chicago Zoological Society is offering an MA in Zoology.  It doesn’t have crazy prerequisites I don’t meet.  (You’re talking to the girl who only took 2 biology courses, albeit one was Zoology, in undergrad.)  Anyway.  The deadline is the end of February.  And I need two people to write recommendations for me.  (Remember that lack of science background?)  So it looks like I need to get working.

As for my other dreams?  Starting a small press, having my own cafe, a hostel/inn for musicians, writing.. A LOT… and um, probably 50 others I’m forgetting… I’ll still work on those.  Start my research and get my ass in gear.

I’m not always fond of ending in a question, but well, I’m going to.
What are your dreams?  And what are you doing to live them?