Tag Archives: Writing

A Sixth-Grader’s Nightmare: Christmas Edition

6 Dec

709fd2be62450971e334b29ee4c7f54aMortified. Horrified. Petrified.

I used to flip through teen magazines to the back section, a place where girls would write in to share their most distressing personal tales of embarrassing mishaps. “It was mortifying!!!” said every girl ever.

How awful! That would never happen to me, I thought. And as I chuckled over their misfortunes, in the back of my mind, I prayed that similar events would never happen to me.


It was my sixth-grade year. Instead of a traditional Christmas chorus concert, the entire grade put on the play The Runaway Snowman. Four kids would lead the production while the rest of the grade chimed in as the choir. I was one of those lucky few selected to fill one of the acting/singing parts.

This is it, I thought. People will recognize me, my talent, what I can bring to the table. As a sixth grader, I was consumed with the ideas of popularity, fitting in and standing out (go figure). And without athletic talent, this was an arena that I could perhaps shine in somehow.

So after many practices, our class was ready to present the show to our parents. It was a Friday afternoon and I spent the entire school day beaming. I was a star, I was brimming with absolute joy and excitement. My fellow cast mates and I were let out of class early to prepare for the production. A band director’s office was our costume slash prop room, and we had carefully laid out our clothes and makeup ahead of time.

After the lead character, the snowman, had put on his ensemble and headed out the door, I prepared to put on a dark blue jumper dress and a pair of my mother’s high heels. Not only was I playing the part of an adult woman, I would look the part. Absolutely stunning. There was a boy in the choir that I had been crushing on hard core. I kept thinking with the blush, lipstick and outfit (forget the thick glasses, buck teeth and braces), it would be hard to not take notice of me on stage.

And standing with just my Pocahontas underwear on (I was changing from my sports bra to a training bra), it happened. The door opened. And not one, or two, but four of my fellow male classmates happened to be standing right there. Wide mouthed.

I didn’t know what to do. How did they get in? Why were they here? What did they see?

I started to scream, “Get out! Get out!” I suddenly crossed my arms against my bare chest, realizing what they had just seen.

And the guys started screaming and running from the door, almost as horrified as I was.

I leaped under the teacher’s desk, crouched, breathing heavily. Was this a dream? It had to be. No way would something this horrible happen – it was too humiliating.

The frightened boys had come into the classroom to get the props for the stage, and I had forgotten to lock the door for privacy.

Something that people have nightmares about just happened to me. A 12-year-old girl just gave some of the cutest boys in school quite a show.

I couldn’t go back out there, even with just 15 minutes until the production would start. It took quite a bit of coaxing from the director to get me to show my face, and the confidence I had displayed earlier (after displaying my assets) was completely out the window.

For months, I couldn’t live it down with students teasing me about the incident. The boys were also unable to make eye contact with me or utter more than two words at a time in my presence.

Honestly, I hadn’t remembered the incident until a few days ago. Repression has most likely hidden many of my middle school slip-ups – especially terrible ones like this one.

After the event, it was difficult to visit that embarrassing moments page in the magazines. Part of the fun was knowing those events couldn’t happen to you. But I now knew for a fact that they could.

And although it was the worst thing that had happened to me at that time of my life, a few years later, I would understand that I could fill a couple pages with horrible moments similar to this one.


One True Love?

5 Sep

rel-05-soul-mates-orFor years, I had “… And They Lived Happily Ever After” printed in lacy cursive on my childhood bedroom wall. The glittery words spoke to my teenage mantra of “Everything Is Meant To Be.” My career, my lifestyle, and most of all, my love life. My soul mate. I highly believed in the concept that there was this one person in the world out there for me. Fate would somehow miraculously intervene and throw me a bone. Wherever he was, I would fall into his arms like some klutzy heroine in a romantic comedy.

I never believed that dating was a way of sifting through partners who might have similar interests and values. No, it was a means to an end. A way to narrow down to that one special snowflake of a soul mate. After reading this column written by a girl in a long-term relationship with someone who isn’t “THE ONE,”  I thought long and hard about my original concept. It was absolutely flawed.

Many couples I know found love in their own hometown, they didn’t have to search high and low for that special someone. Most people I know that are in a LTR may have had luck on their side, but they also found someone that they just really enjoyed being around. Someone with a shared love of traveling or music, or a person that likes sitting around on a lazy Sunday in the other person’s presence. It doesn’t have to be … so hard.

I have been in quite a few relationships. A very long one and others with varying spurts of time. In a few, there were these tremendous sparks – initial points of attraction and chemistry. Those exciting rushes, fairy-tale spun feelings always brought on the thought “maybe he is my true love.”

Sure, the spark is usually necessary to start a good relationship, but it doesn’t provide the end all. It does not signal “SOUL MATE, SOUL MATE, SOUL MATE!”

One short-lived relationship relied only on “the spark.” It was thrilling, yet we had nothing (NOTHING) in common – politics, religion, humor – NOTHING. Opposites attract, right? Paula Abdul, you were correct on that front, but attraction just isn’t enough. If I wanted to be a stereotypical ’50s housewife that obeys her husband, it would have worked out fine. But yeah, that’s not in the cards for me.

I was also in a couple other relationships that could have easily progressed into something more. Why didn’t they? Oh, circumstances. Location, interest levels, being at different points in our lives. I have no ill regrets toward those people or those relationships – they just didn’t work out. It just makes me believe less in this whole “True Love” thing.

Perhaps my soul mate lived across the world … would I go find him, climb to the ends of the earth just to meet him? Maybe it was predestined at birth. What if my future husband died of an illness, a car accident – am I just destined to spend the rest of my life alone or somewhat unhappy in another relationship? That is why I call this notion utter nonsense.

I won’t deny that when I first started dating my future husband (at the tender age of 18), there was a spark. “True love?” I pondered. It could definitely be defined as “young love”, and I batted my lashes doe-eyed in his direction. And then later, after we started arguing constantly and throwing accusations around, it died. Sometimes that “spark” would come and go, electrifying anger and bitterness that didn’t come with the “soul mate” guidelines. And even when our relationship has been at its strongest (now), we can be too busy with our own lives and act like strangers passing through the night. Not often, but sometimes.

Things haven’t always been perfect. Yet, I can’t picture someone else to spend the rest of my life with. We HAVE a true love. He’s my partner and best friend. We both have quirky personalities and similar levels of humor. We have a hard time choosing between a Woody Allen movie and a horrible action adventure when looking at a theater’s marquee. Our travel list is long, and we respect each other’s individuality and opinions. Almost everything in our lives seems to intertwine pretty seamlessly.

However, I don’t believe he’s my “Soul Mate.” I don’t. It’s not that I don’t think I am with the right person for me, because I do. It’s just that I don’t believe in that idea anymore. Perhaps I die tomorrow. Do I think my fiance will never find someone else? No, that’s silly. And vice versa. That person may love the new partner equally, more, less – who knows? I believe that there is an amount of “right” people to be in a relationship with, and the rest are not. How big is that grouping of people? No clue.

I think the right circumstances thrown in with a good amount of chemistry, well-blending personalities, and shared intellect, values and interests makes for a very happy couple. That’s what I believe.

I still believe in the concept of “… And They Lived Happily Ever After.” Just because I’m not a Disney princess waiting for my “One True Love” to come rescue me from my tower, doesn’t mean that’s not possible. I believe in happy endings, and I definitely believe in fabulous, amazing journeys.

The Writer’s Room

31 Jul


I came to NYC with three goals in mind: Grow closer to my now fiance, find a job in my field, and write a YA novel. One, check; two, sort of check; and three … yeah, about that.

Last week, I attended a writer’s meet-up in Tribeca. It was one of those “we heard about it on Facebook, so…let’s go” kind of things. Last year, this event happened and hundreds of people attended. It advertised free drinks, appetizers and a good atmosphere to network with a collection of writers, editors and publishers. We arrived at the basement event, which was almost pitch black excluding a few dimmed lights here and there for ambience purposes. Besides that, people were crammed in every which way, unable to walk through the crunch of bodies. If there were free beverages and cheese on crackers around, we must have missed that, because drinks were selling for at least $8 a pop. Not exactly an ideal place to meet up (for me, at least).

While we were crammed in a corner, a couple of people meandered over to meet the small group of writing cohorts I was hanging with. I’m sure that we could have tried to mingle with others, but after a full-day’s work and feeling overwhelmed by the total lack of space, it just wasn’t my jam. (My jam included getting in my jammies and watching some Netflixed flicks while stuffing cookie dough in my mouth.)

Sure, it would have been nice to make some new friends that have similar interests as me. It could have been. Yet, I was also taking in the swell of individuals (many non-native New Yorkers) that were in this tight space because a majority of them were aspiring writers.

Yeah, it shouldn’t still be so surprising that so many artists live in this city and its surrounding areas. But I am. When I see a columnist or popular blogger post pictures of their surroundings and I realize that I either live near them or just walked near a place they referred to, it’s pretty eerie. I don’t think I will ever get used to the situation, either.

We walk by a brownstone, find out an established writer resides there. In conversation, a friend mentions another friend that just landed a major book deal. Not to be repetitive, but “overwhelmed” is the word here. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to see something published in book form, and maybe that will happen, maybe not – who knows. And while being in a place with useful contacts is ideal, it’s also a place that can sink your hopes when you realize how much of a guppy you really are.

You hear the words “network” “contacts”, and the phrase “it’s all about who you know” all the time, and yes, it’s all true. But mentally, sometimes I’d rather snuggle under the covers and dream about it all happening. I’ve networked. I’ve made a few contacts. I know some people, I guess. Can I have a break?

Last Thursday was more of a realization that I’ve got a long way to go to seeing one of my goals ever completed. Maybe it’s good to have reality hit you in the head. Maybe?

Will NYC Be Our Home?

25 Jun
From "The Little House." One of my favorite books as a child. I think it is applicable here.

From “The Little House.” One of my favorite books as a child. I think it is applicable here.

Each weekend, we spend at least a day crossing off items on our NYC bucket list. Two weeks ago it was Coney Island. The past weekend was a trip to the Bronx Zoo. And each week, we add to the list – whether it be a new restaurant or pub that we heard rave reviews about or another park to visit. Lately, we have started compiling an East Coast list. We just need a few more dollars, a rental car, and some vacation time.

We still live here like we are tourists. And for as long as that may be, we will probably do the same. Through my work as a writer at a magazine, I have heard a few actors talk about their professional time spent in NYC. It’s usually the same: I was too busy, I should have spent more time exploring. And that statement doesn’t make me smug, it just urges me to continue on with the pattern we started since we moved here last August.

Sure, we technically live here. And when I say “I’m going home for the night”, it’s to our apartment in Jersey City across the water (which I will remind people is exactly a 6-minute ride across the Hudson – best commute time ever, or at least I say so.) But is this home? The apartment is decorated to my liking – cozy, inviting and a great place to relax and watch a movie. But is this home?

For now. And at least into the near future. Nate is a year in to his two-year creative writing program and was recently employed by Rutgers as a poetry teacher. I recently started my position at a national magazine, editing and writing features. For now, it’s great. On paper, it’s great. We’re at a place ripe with professional contacts, where our careers can take off. And being with the person I want to spend my life with, that makes it home.

But is this it? No, I don’t think so. While I’m no longer homesick as I once was, it’s not the place I want to plunk down my money to buy a house and start a family. Even if we moved out to the suburbs, it’s just not where I want to land.

My “home” bucket list includes: Green, room to grow, community, and family and friends. I’ve got to see some wild trees and flowers soon or I will go crazy! Buildings are only cute for so long 😉  Room to grow: After spending a few years in a writing field as a career, I’m ready to start another one: Teacher. And that requires a couple more years of schooling. Community: We’ve met some really lovely people here so far, but we feel far from involved in the place that we live. I’d love to share with my future children some of the childhood that I was allowed to experience. And family and friends. I guess that needs no explanation.

So this stint here may last for one, two, perhaps three more years. This move is a bit more dependent on where Nate gets a job after finishing his program. But hopefully someplace in the Midwest will be a great place to finally permanently reside.

We will continue to live like tourists, checking off and adding to our NYC bucket list for the time being. And while eventually this city will become just another place to travel to in the future, for right now, it is our home.



Running Boo-Boo

20 Jun


Took a bit of a break from writing the last couple days, as I had my klutziness to attend to instead.

I have not been running in months. And while this news might call for a “so?” from people, to those who know me, that’s pretty crazy since that’s my go-to stress reliever.

I had my reasons. One, I cannot stand running in crowded, traffic-y areas. Just not my thang. And although running in a circle around my area park is an option, it just doesn’t sound appealing. Luckily, we can run by the Hudson River facing NYC, so there’s that.

I also stopped running for another reason: Health insurance. When I had it, running was a breeze. It was my little escape from the world and I had no cares besides my music playlist being in tip-top shape. When my insurance expired in August, the world darkened a little. What if I fall? What if a nail goes through my shoe? I couldn’t afford an emergency room visit! And while I had stocked up on medications, I didn’t want to go to the doctor for a twisted ankle or broken bone due to running.

One day, after filling out too many job applications, I decided to ignore my rules and go on a bit of a jaunt. And I paid the price. I tentatively went on my merry little way and after 10 minutes, relaxed. Huge no no. I landed wrong on my right foot and did something wonky to the muscle connecting my right hip and inner knee. My knee cap ballooned out, and walking was quite painful for awhile. So I said no more.

Well, the insurance fairy landed in April and I have still been a bit wary about that whole injury thing. So I waited it out. Finally, after witnessing my fiance get super fit by running and Jillian Michaels’ DVDs (it’s just hilarious hearing her bark at him to get into bikini shape), I decided it was time to tone up as well. So I did it. And again, after 15 minutes of slow-going movement, I cranked it up … and tripped over a broken sidewalk. Super. I have landed on my face before on a sidewalk, causing various injuries and a trip to the emergency room. So this time, I decided to protect it by slamming my knees and left palm into the pavement. And the results were a bit ghastly. While I didn’t take a trip to the hospital (I probably should have), Nate spent a great deal of time picking pieces of gravel out of my wounds.

I don’t know if my body is just rejecting running outright, but I’m willing to give it a try … in a couple weeks. But for now, I’m just hobbling around NYC, which is not a fun thing to do. Especially with the amount of walking I have on an everyday basis. So while I visit with my old friends on the couch (The Gilmore Girls), I will eat Oreo after Oreo, thinking of the day that I will try this whole thing again.

A longing for home

8 Apr


I miss it.

Going to be honest here, I miss the quiet of rural life. The sound of song birds in the morning and of crickets chirping at dusk. Perhaps the rustle of the wind in the leaves will grace your presence. And the smell. The heavenly smell of wet grass, mulberry bushes, and of fresh dirt. God, I miss it. Friendly faces of people you have known your whole life, and even knowing the fact that going to a Dairy Queen for an afternoon frozen treat is a big deal. Seeing the stars at night in a clear farm sky – feeling so small in such an infinite space out on a dirt road, it can make you weep in such beauty. I want to sit in my local library, curl up in one of their beautiful chairs while being illuminated by the green glow of the lamp beside me. Sit in a coffee shop and hear only quiet – sipping slowly on a freshly brewed beverage.

Big city life is overwhelming. It’s exhilarating, beautiful, and still so new. Getting off the subway, the street aromas can be invigorating and disgusting all at once. You are suddenly hungry for sweetened cashews and a loaded gyro. The steam heat will hit you from the grates below, as the stink of urine and the sound of street performers provide a sensory overload. People ask for money, to take their flyer – while you bump into people coming from each and every direction. Most of the time, I still find it a thrilling part of being in the city; while at other times, I just want to find a place to hide. I can’t go in a library without sitting next to tons of other people. And with everyone piling into a Starbucks to try to get an internet connection, I’d rather walk with my coffee and try to chug it along the way.

Yesterday, we escaped to the suburbs. To a 12-plex movie theater with a Wendy’s restaurant nearby. I marveled at the size of the parking lot, of people driving their cars from their homes. I happily exclaimed that the inside of the movie theater reminded me of one in a college town in the Midwest. And when we finally hit the fast-food chain, I couldn’t contain my happiness. The dollar menu meal – a cheeseburger deluxe, small chili, and chocolate frosty – was a thrill indeed. I looked out the window and could imagine that I was looking out at Omaha or Ames. We would be driving home soon, I thought. Instead, we headed on the Light Rail back to our apartment across from the New York City skyline. There is no car parked outside, and no set time to go back and visit the places I imagine daily.

To be that excited by a strip mall – in the back of my head it’s laughable. In the front, I wonder when I came plan my next trip back there.

For most of my teenage years and after, I have dreamed of living big – of a glittery expanse of city life. Me and my fellow cohorts would lament the lack of options due to our small town living – no concert venues or shopping malls for miles. There is something better out there for us, we’d say. Someplace we could actually belong.

Now, I dream of something different. I long for that little town that I have always called home and of the simplicity that I have come to appreciate ever so much more.

A column by a friend

28 Jan

I am waiting to write more until tomorrow at Midway Airport in Chicago. I will be flying back to NYC tomorrow and have a lot to do in preparation for going back. After being in Iowa for over a month, it will definitely feel weird to be back in my apartment, and using the subway and walking as my primary modes of transportation.


Today, I wanted to share a column by a fellow columnist at the daily paper I used to work at. Arvid Huisman is the development director for The Salvation Army in Des Moines, Iowa. He writes a weekly column called Country Roads, recounting his childhood memories of growing up in Central Iowa, funny stories about his family, and some very creative writing pieces. When I was able set up the opinion page of the Monday paper, I was always happy to open up the attached word document from Arvid with his latest column. The topics were always relatable and full of emotional content. He wrote a piece in the past year about his father dying – it was one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I had ever encountered.

We would write to each other back and forth over our writing topics, and it was wonderful to hear from such a kind voice. I have counted him among my mentors and will continue to look forward to his columns for years to come.

Last week, his wife passed away suddenly from complications from breast cancer. Arvid was willing to share with the public what he has been going through with his Monday column. Absolutely honest and heart-wrenching.

Here is a link to “More of what I have learned.”

My prayers are with Arvid and his family.


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