either we’re sad, lonely and can’t figure out what love is all about – or we’re really, really obsessed with lil wayne.
i’ve never been the type of girl to dream of my wedding, or at least, i didn’t used to be. you know how most girls say they’ve been dreaming of their perfect wedding forever, and tell stories about trying on their mother’s gown and clomping around the house in shoes five sizes too big? i never told those stories, partially because my parents weren’t able to legally marry until 2004 (yay massachusetts!), and partially because as a child, i simply wasn’t that into weddings. even as i hit puberty and turned into an awkward teenage that was a melange of strange feelings i didn’t know how to handle, i didn’t think much about it. in fact, i wasn’t even sure that i wanted to get married.
i can’t put my finger on when, exactly, my mind changed, but some time over the past few years, things shifted. and suddenly, i saw couples in love everywhere. i saw wedding photos on every blog i read. people i knew were doing crazy things like getting engaged and having babies. we weren’t kids anymore, not even college kids. we were real adults with real responsibilities and real relationships, and people were hunkering down.
and just like that, i started dreaming of my wedding. or at least, thinking about it – and how i wanted twinkling lights in an open garden, and a vintage lace dress that evoked a bygone era of glamour, and rows of chiavari chairs with classic cushions tied onto the seats. i thought of how i might like to carry hydrangeas, or perhaps, calla lilies or tulips. i tasted wedding cake in my mouth and pictured walking with my husband through pottery barn and anthropology, registering for our future hand in hand.
have i mentioned i am S.I.N.G.L.E? so it goes without saying that all of this is but a dream. but hopefully, someday it won’t be, and there will be a man who will humor me as i examine wine decanter after wine decanter in the crowded aisles of crate and barrel, who smiles when i ask him which style of milk glass he prefers. and until then, i can look at the gorgeous pictures of blogger/photographer/model candice lake, who got married in an english garden fit for a princess.
hey, a girl can dream, right?
can we talk about jennifer lawrence for a second? i know i’m not the only one talking about her today – girl won her first oscar, so the peanut gallery is abuzz – but i’m such a fan that i felt the need to type out a little ode to jlaw. i’ve been a fan ever since i saw her in the revered indie flick, winter’s bone, in which she played an entirely too resourceful, badass teenager in the ozark mountains trying to hunt down her father, a meth dealer who skipped out on his court date. jennifer’s turn as ree, a seventeen year old who’s in charge of taking care of her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings, is haunting and yet somehow, hopeful. it also happened to be the role that proved her to be the perfect fit for the hunger games’ katniss everdeen.
lawrence was, hands down, my first pick for katniss (and i feel very strongly about how hollywood casts my favorite movies), and i was thrilled when she got the part. she did, of course, kill it in the first movie, and i can’t wait to see how she shines in the next one. but that aside – last night, jennifer won the best actress oscar for her work in the silver linings playbook, and she was so self-effacing and NORMAL on both the red carpet and accepting her award that i couldn’t help but fall a little but more in love with her.
celebrities that seem like real people – emma stone is a great example – are few and far between. but jennifer appears to be one of them. over the past year, she went from acclaimed indie actress who could still shop at whole foods to the star of a multimillion dollar series who has to have friends pick up her groceries. and she’s done it with impeccable grace and an irrepressible sense of humor.
ms. lawrence, you are one in a million.
i’ve been an avid reader for as long as i can remember, so i thought it might be fun to start a feature about the books i read, just in case you, as my lovely readers, feel like picking up a copy for yourself. it’s no surprise that as a writer, i devour books the way some people devour chocolate (or, okay, the way i devour chocolate…). others drink to get away, i read. since i was little, i’ve been inventing stories in my head, and i think my ability to do so comes mostly from the fact that i was a voracious reader as a child. you can’t write unless you read. a lot.
since i still hold tight to the dream of writing a real book someday, one that people pick up in the bookstore and hold to their noses, taking in the scent of the newly printed pages, i continue to read. a lot.
my ability to fly through books is in part due to the fact that i spend a good deal of time on public transportation each day. i recently invested in a kindle, and it’s the best $79 i ever spent. i’m partial to real books, but i have to say, when you’re lugging your life onto a crowded subway car each day, it makes a huge difference to read from an ultra-light kindle instead of a heavy hardcover. i recently discovered you can get kindle books from the library. this has changed my life. NYPL, i love you. now, for my recco.
the paris wife by paula mclain
i should start this by telling you i have never been a fan of hemingway. i find his writing too bare, too simple, too stripped of emotion (i know he liked it that way and this writing style was intentional, but that’s never appealed to me). but now that i’ve read this (admittedly fictional, but based on history and his writings) novel about his early days, before he was ernest hemingway, the writer, i’m inclined to pick the sun also rises back up again. anywho, i won’t give any details away, but suffice it to say i loved this book (though the nytimes hated it), and while its (likely accurate) portrayal of women made me furious at times, it’s neat to see the man behind the mask.
hemingway treated his wife like shit, for the most part, and she sat back and took it. he seems like quite a macho asshole to me – a guy who, deep down, was incredibly insecure and entirely selfish, with a singular focus on his career. little else mattered to him in the end. he thought he was entitled to the best the world had to offer, and took all that came his way, whether it belonged to him or not, whether it was right or wrong. if nothing else, the paris wife is an interesting look at what it used to mean to be a woman. i have to say, i’m not sure i could have lived in the twenties. sure, the glitz and the glam of the flapper era would have dazzled my senses, but quite frankly, it positively stunk to be a woman in that age. i’m oversimplifying, of course – but i just can’t imagine living in an era where women had no voice, no job prospects, and were simply meant to satiate their husband’s every desire. my, how the times have changed.
one of my favorite new blogs (if not the favorite) of this past year is one launched by danielle moss and alaina kaczmarski. the everygirl is a site dedicated to just that: regular, every day girls. the site isn’t about perfectly posed street style photos, or the kind of girls who appear to have a surplus of designer clothing and spend their days drinking iced lattes on the streets of los angeles, their impossibly long legs dangling over the benches of joan’s on third. no – this site is about real girls. those creative, intelligent, eloquent, driven girls who have created incredible careers for themselves and deserve to be featured for that: their drive, their power, their creativity – not their looks.
the site curates multiple features on inspiring, motivational women each week, and also features amazing recipe and interior design features on the regular. many of my favorite bloggers have been featured, including elements of style’s erin gates, cupcakes and cashmere’s emily schuman and more. you can spend hours on this site, i promise you. go ahead and set the time aside now.
today is the site’s one year anniversary (you go, girls!), and as a celebration, this morning’s feature spotlights none other than its amazing creators, danielle and alaina. in every everygirl feature, the last question is, “what would you tell your 23 year old self?” this is my favorite interview question that the girls ask, and their answers (as predicted), seen below, are inspiring, to say the least. bravo, danielle and alaina.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR 23-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Alaina: 1. Never compromise your integrity. You do not have to be cutthroat to be successful. If you find yourself in a position that breeds unhealthy competition or dishonesty, or you are not being valued, then that is not the job for you. Remove yourself from the situation and figure out a way to do what you love with honesty and grace. 2. Don’t burn bridges. 3. Disregard any plans you have for a life timeline. After all, things might happen a lot sooner than you could have imagined. 4. New York City is lovely. Undeniably a place for creatives and dreamers. But you don’t have to be in New York City to make your dreams to come true. If you want them badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to bring your dreams to you.”
Danielle: Try not to be so hard on yourself and know that you don’t need to have all the answers right now. You aren’t where you thought you’d be, but that’s ok. In spite of what you may think, you will be ok if you aren’t married at twenty-eight and a mom by thirty. These things will happen when they should, and in a few years, you’ll be happy they worked out the way they did.
Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough, beautiful enough, or smart enough to do anything you set your mind to. Never ever stay in a relationship because you’re afraid of being alone. Do not base your happiness on anyone other than yourself. Find someone who looks at you in a way you never thought possible and never settle for anything less.
Surround yourself with friends who will love and support you unconditionally. Always follow your heart. Work hard, don’t forget to smile, and give yourself a break when you need one. Stop second guessing yourself. You will make mistakes, and you will also make some pretty great decisions, too. Life is going to keep getting better for you. Just stay true to yourself and you will find your way.
the first “book” i ever wrote was one i bound myself, in the publishing center at ryan road elementary school. it was called “the cat and the dog go to the farm” – and i’m pretty sure it consisted of little more than, “the cat and the dog went to the farm. they had a great time. they went home.” but somehow, in selecting the front and back of my book from stacks of patterned pieces, in “binding” together the pages with colorful tape, i knew that i’d found something important. something that could help me sort through the voices in my head.
when i first lost my job last spring, i was devastated. the voices in my head were louder than ever. “you’ve failed,” they said. “you’ll never work again,” they said. “you were never worthy to begin with,” they said. and for a few weeks, i listened. i wallowed, i cried to my overly understanding friends and family, and i wondered aloud whether i was wrong – whether i wasn’t meant to work with words, whether writing wasn’t my calling. i worried i’d overestimated my skills, that i wasn’t good at what i did, not a little bit, not at all. i thought about what it would take to open a bakery. i started this here “food blog” (though it’s changed since inception), thinking that maybe it would help me sort out my thoughts. i considered going back to school, taking a few interior design courses. i contemplated moving back home.
and then, something magical happened. a recruiter called, and said someone wanted to hire me, and how soon could i start? and no, they didn’t want to interview me, they’d seen my book, and that was enough. which meant, of course, they’d seen my writing. they’d seen how my brain worked. and they liked it enough to offer me work on the spot. three days later, i walked into an ad agency on the famed madison avenue, and i didn’t walk out until four months later, when i had a full time job offer at another agency in hand.
if this were a movie, this is the scene where i’d say, “see, haters? i told you you’d rue the day you told me i couldn’t do it!” but the truth is, the only haters around were the ones in my own head. everyone but me believed i’d work again, knew that the job i’d get next would make me stronger, smarter, happier. i was the one who wasn’t so sure.
the quote above really makes you stop and think about what you spend your days doing. because it’s true, isn’t it? what you do when you procrastinate is what you love to do. what you do when you’re sitting on your bed in flannel pants and an oversized sweater with pimples on your forehead and not a stitch of makeup (what? you don’t have pimples on your forehead right now? that’s just me?) – that’s what you love to do.
and me? i love to write. i have my days where i doubt myself, where the voices tell me i’m not talented, i don’t have what it takes, i’m doomed – and then i remember that i’ve been doing this since i was old enough to dictate stories to my parents. i’ve been doing it long before i could write, long before i could type, long before i knew i could be paid to write the ads that appear on my TV.
recently, i was asked to contribute a story to bar method’s facebook page. contributors were told to talk about where they were when they started taking classes at the studio, what obstacles they’ve had to overcome since, and what they feel it means to them. i submitted my piece last week, and this weekend, i gave it to my mother to read. and in the middle of a crowded saturday brunch in the west village, as she scrolled through my phone, her eyes began to water. and when she looked up, there were a few salty tears dripping down from underneath her glasses. and you know what she said?
“sarah, you are such a wonderful writer. you were born to do this.”
and while she’s my mother and the big man upstairs probably paid her to say that, sometimes, just sometimes, i think she might be right. and man, do i feel thankful that i get to do something i love, and (bonus!) i even get paid for it. lucky, lucky me.
i still hear voices in my head. but for the most part, they’re good voices. they’re the voices i hear when i walk by the most spectacular townhouse on west 10th street and see a mom ladling giant pancakes onto her son’s plate through an oversized window. they’re the characters i imagine as i sit next to a young couple in love on the subway. they’re the stories i hear when i plug in my headphones at work and open a new word document, my fingers flying across the keys.
and if the voices ever get to be too much? well, then you can lock me up. but until then, i think i’m satisfied telling stories, putting moments and memories down on paper (or electronic paper, i suppose), and doing the one thing i’m pretty damn sure i really, truly love.
i don’t think i’ve been in love many times – maybe a handful, if that. and perhaps the romance i remember most fondly is one that occurred when i hadn’t yet hit puberty. it’s valentine’s day, and while there’s little i like about this day besides the fact that it means that hoards of candy will go on 75% off sale first thing tomorrow morning, the 14th of february always brings to mind the best love note i’ve ever received.
when i was five, i was madly, obsessively in love with the son of one of my mother’s friends. we happened to go to preschool together, which meant that even though he was a year younger than me, we attended the same school. a few years later, when i was in second grade at the local elementary school and he was in first, he came in one day toting a handmade love note. i have the crispest, clearest memory of the card itself, which is a small miracle considering how much weed i smoked in college. it was made from two pieces on construction paper glued together; the front was orange, the inside, pink. on the outside, scrawled in crayon, were the words, “i love you.” inside, there were poorly-rendered hearts, and my name, and his.
i have never in my life been more proud of a piece of paper than i was of this love note, so it’s not surprising that i showed it to anyone who would listen, including the recess lady, a 60-something woman in a hairnet. much to my horror (and surprise), she snatched it out of my hands, tore it up, and threw it down the drain, proclaiming loudly, “you are too young for love notes!”
but i wasn’t. i wasn’t too young at all. in fact, i’d been in love with the boy in question ever since i’d seen him at preschool, and i continued to have a thing for him up through middle and early high school, when i’d purposefully lay out on the rock wall in front of my home, “sunbathing” during warm summer days, because i knew he and his friends would be riding their bikes around the neighborhood. then, of course, as it happens, we grew up and went away.
and then, he moved to new york. and we started spending a lot of time together, and one drunken night, he ended up in my bed, and i spent the late night hours staring at the ripples in his back, wondering how i’d ended up spending the night with the boy who’d written me a love note at the age of 6. because i’m a hopeless romantic, i fell asleep dreaming of what would happen if we ended up together, the stories we’d tell our children about first grade love notes on the playground.
of course, the night didn’t last, because as always, the sun rose, and things looked different in the morning. and then he moved to california, and that was the end of that.
but even so, it’s nice to know that once, a long time ago, someone wrote me a love note. it’s a memory i keep tucked away, one that i pull out when i’m feeling slightly sorry for myself, like i generally do on valentine’s day. so here, self – have this memory. don’t lose it, or let it get dusty. keep it in a safe place, will you?