A poem inspired by the New York Public Library
Picture yourself here.
From your phone and out, towards the cold marbled floor that now holds you.
A floor that, despite its thousands of daily visitors, remains
Pristine with, of course,
a touch of
Now, look higher.
Past the books. Above the shelves. Beyond the stacks.
Let your eyes wander.
Take in the people, the strangers. Their focus, their gaze:
At the task at hand.
Studying. Reading. Learning. Quenching their thirst on the information all around them.
The words and sentences hanging silently
in the air, passing…
When life hits the metaphorical fan and it all comes crashing down, do you face it head-on or go running in the opposite direction? This is one girl’s story of the latter, and the silent pull towards something more.
Meet Sophie Dawson. A young woman who appears to have it all. Until she doesn’t.
In this coming-of-age tale, we follow the adventures–and misadventures–of one girl’s imminent quarter-life crisis and her one-way train ticket out of it. That’s the hope anyway…
On her cross-country journey, she meets Walt, a retired train conductor nearing the end of his life, who rides the same train back and forth in hopes of answering a similar question to her own: what next? …
A few weeks back, while perusing through a tiny, 50-year-old bookshop in the French Quarter, I stumbled upon this copy of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which just so happens to be her very first published novel. As I sit here, draft one complete and one step closer to the finish line of my own (first, to-be-published novel), all I can think is, wadddup Universe, I see your timing…
I proceeded to, of course, buy the book (for a whopping $3.50 I might add) and now have it on the nightstand here at the beach as a reminder of just how close I am, but, more importantly, of how far I’ve come. What started as a mere pipe dream and took me from the blank pages of a New Years Eve train in Truckee, California to the mountains of Colorado and now here in this moment at my makeshift writing desk in Florida, this story has been with me through it all. And although getting the words on paper hasn’t been the easiest feat at times, this feeling right now of reflecting on the work thus far and preparing for where it will take me next is one I’ll never forget. …
“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”
I’m just gonna come out and say it.
Life can be a damn shitshow sometimes.
I know, I know, there are about a million and a half inspirational memes out there along with countless tales of “I dropped everything and moved to a tropical island and everything is perfect“ that would tell you the opposite, but here are just a few examples (in no particular order) of when the #lifeisgood facade just won’t cut it.
War. Shootings. Death. Taxes. Flat tires. Hurricanes. Cancer. Traffic. Speeding tickets. Health scares. Cancelled flights. Breakups. Power outages. Flu bugs. Climate change. Long lines. Allergies. Divorce. Crime. DMV appointments. Broken phones. Broken A/C. Broken hearts. …
“Walt took a deep breath to fill his lungs with the cold Illinois air, and was met with the soft and perfect landing of a snowflake just on the tip of his nose. The ends of his smile began to curl as he looked up towards the dusk skies that glowed with the faintest hint of red. He tried to recall the saying about what red skies meant for sailors back in the day, but shrugged it off assuring himself that, whatever it was, it probably didn’t apply to train conductors.
Hearing the sound of his pocket watch, he glanced down. It was just moments away from ticking to the top of the hour, and soon they would begin the long-awaited, final stretch to bring their 2,500-mile journey to a close.
Somehow everything had gone off without a hitch, which for Walt, was all he could ask for in his line of work.
Still, for some reason, the second to last station of his voyages were always accompanied by the bittersweet feeling of goodbye, of yet another journey coming to a close.
He was excited, sure. Relieved? You bet.
Of course, one thing stood out most with the anticipation of those final, screechy turns of the wheels.
An excerpt from “Just Passing Through” by Kristy Gustafson. …
This is writing.
Red wine and a wool yellow chair in the corner of a dimly lit room. The crickets and sounds of night serving as my soundtrack. A messy “desk” (if I can even call it that) with pens, partially opened bills and other miscellaneous embellishments strewn about.
No one is home but the dog laying at my feet, paws twitching to every beat of his dreaming subconscious.
I scan over the manuscript before me.
Nearly 30,000 words of a story that has been swirling around my mind long before I even knew it, and silently piecing itself together day by day. Ideas patiently wait their turn to make it on the page.
“It can’t be long now,” they think.
The writer assures herself the same.
“But dear, don’t be afraid of love. It is only magic.”
— r.m. drake
Let’s break this down, shall we?
When you grow up consuming as much rom-coms and love songs as you do air and Vitamin D (umm, guilty…), quotes like this are sure to pull at the heartstrings. It paints the picture of love and magic being one in the same, which — hey, is a beautiful picture. But, in my experience? A mere Instagram filter to what lies beneath.
I’m all for the love-is-magic tale, but, most days, the real story is of two lives coming together and having to work at things every single day. It’s trust, patience and compromise, making mistakes and learning to forgive and embrace flaws (yes, even your own) — all the while knowing your partner is doing the exact same thing for you. (I mean, let’s hope, right?) It’s recognizing that, at the end of the day, we’re all human, and not every second is going to be perfect and wonderful and dusted with little specs of rainbow confetti magic.
But, that’s not to say those times don’t exist either.
All I’m saying is remember, that movies, songs, and yes, even books (*gulp*) often don’t tell the full story, and there is always more to it than we think.
Relationship are built on the stuff between sentences, behind closed doors, and what comes after the credits roll to black. It’s the real and honest, filter-less, good, bad and ugly, vulnerable, messy, beautiful, and raw tale of two people throwing caution to the wind, swapping pieces of their heart, a little at a time or all at once, staying true to themselves and trying their very best along the way.
So, yes, don’t be afraid of love. But don’t be afraid of what comes along with the territory either. Welcome, embrace and trust in the process whole-heartedly. …
Last week, I spent the day drinking in the humid beach air, too many coffee refills to count, and the long-ago written stories from my now 80-something Grandfather recounting life after growing up on a farm in Lake Village, Indiana.
His stories began with attending an all-boys college where he recounted, “if I received an A in one of my courses, I viewed it as professor error” and onto being “almost as dazed on the football field as in the classroom.” …
Holiday recovery mode is in full effect, and once again, I’m reminded of this phrase right here.
il dolce far niente.
How sweet it is to sit back and bask in the freedom of doing absolutely nothing.
In some form, this is written on the walls of our favorite places, overplayed on the radio of our hectic minds, and intertwined between way too many inspirational quotes on our social media newsfeeds. (Hmm, just me…?)
Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see it all blossoms from the art of tossing your worries aside for a while, giving your to-do list the finger, and allowing your mind and body the reset they need. …
Every now and then when I come across an old typewriter like this one, I picture myself going back in time. I imagine what it would be like swapping in my MacBook (and backspace button… #yikes) and writing my novel with the meticulous precision required of an L.C. Smith & Bros.
The process I envision is a mix between slow steadiness and a rush of messy haste. Desperately trying to reach the grand illusion of perfection, but quickly giving up and trying not to capsize in the sea of torn and crumpled up mistakes strewn about on the floor.
Nowadays, with the help of technological advances (thank the lawd), writing appears a lot smoother, cleaner, maybe even calmer. But, of course, that’s not always the case either. The backspace button may give us an easy way to erase mistakes and ideas that don’t pan out the way we imagined them to be in our minds (as opposed to drowning in them), but the fervor and rush, the messiness and haste, and that solid attempt of meticulous precision is still there, buried beneath the raw inner workings of our imagination trying desperately to make their way onto the pages before us. …