I suppose it’s time I find a purpose. Each time I open up Word, flip over the back of an A&P receipt, or spend countless hours surfing the web on tips to get started writing, I can’t seem to find the purpose in it. Let’s think about this. Why am I writing? Is it so that I can become a good researcher and get in the habit of writing about hotels, restaurants, etc. Is it so that I can write pieces that I can ultimately sell such as “5 ways to meditate on the MTA” or “how to take a vacation with your coworkers?” Or, am I writing so that I can share my genuine experiences of life with the rest of the world…in a very poor, non-profitable way. You know, the way a true artist does. Let’s be honest, I’m not good at faking it. The only time I can produce good, quality writing is when I am writing from a genuine place in my heart…and really, I don’t give two shits about meditating on the MTA. But, writing from my heart won’t work well for me as a career right now, not unless I train myself to write for an audience or unless I publish a book at the end of my 35 years working in media. Yeah, right.
In Heliopolis, Cairo about 3 blocks from President Mubarak’s house, there is a picture of my brothers and I on my mother’s mantle. Our apartment in Cairo is cozy. We walk in to find the large open space and marble floored hallway leading us to 2 large bedrooms and a living room. We are comfortable with the internet and American TV channels. And every morning we sit ourselves on the wrap around balcony and sip our morning brew. To be honest, our apartment in Cairo feels like home in Closter. And it was only when I visited Egypt with my mother, did the land feel like home to me. There was a connection to the country that I had never felt before. It was special. Hearing the tail end of Arabic words being spoken, eating the stuffed grape leaves or green leaf soup, being close to my family…I started to understand my background. All the things that made me different in America, made me at home in Egypt.
But while living in our apartment in Egypt was comforting, the reality of Egypt was better faced in the streets. This is where the culture lies. This is where you ride the taxi in 110 degree weather with no AC and the sounds of honking might replacing the radio. Where you see children trying to sell you fruit, old men playing chess in the shade, homeless dogs and cats scouring for food. And as you drive through the scenes of Cairo, you feel weighted down. You cannot help but notice the massive billboards of Mubarak. He stands there alone, dominant, towering. No one speaks of him. No taxi driver or shop keeper. They are scared.
With the news of what I will affirmatively call a R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N., the Egyptian people have revolted against Mubarak. I’m not sure how to feel about this. Of course, I fully support the Egyptian people, their right to democracy, their right to freedom. And I have seen first hand the lack of those very things in the faces and wrinkles of Egyptians. But, I hope for peace. I hope for peaceful protests. Somehow, chaos struck. It started as protests to remove Mubarak. The police were tear gasing the crowds, trying to contain the protests. The country was cut off from the internet, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, everything. Even a curfew was put in place. But after days of not being able to contain the protesters, the police disappeared and the military came in. This is when it got bad. It seems like in a moment, people had a hold of guns, swords, everything. they looted City stars, ruined mummies at the museum, killed people in Alexandria, even went to Samir’s rug shop and Mom’s apartment. I can’t even think about this straight right now. I just know this is sad. The Egyptian people deserve to be free. and this is what they need. this is a LONG TIME coming. but i can’t help but be heartbroken when i see the country suffer. it hurts.
It was sometime in the fall of 2009 when the corridors of 622 Third Avenue were full of dumpsters, every print title you can imagine, and yes, an almost-life-sized-if-you-were-three-years-old statue of Jack Daniel’s. The company’s cameraman zoomed in on my face as I grabbed Jack by the neck saying, “Really? Why would anyone throw this out???”
So, Jack and Nic went up the hill, under the Hudson, and through the door…where Jack spent night after night in my Hoboken home. When lonely, I would make sure Jack would tuck in with my roommate after she’d had a night of drinking. He always kept his hands on his sides and a really straight face.
Aside from Jack, I lugged home so many items from those dumpsters…everything varying from a light-up yo-yo from Google, photographs from the private New York Times events, a radio from Sirius, and well, so many bottles of Bacardi…from Bacardi. And that’s my job. When I look back at all of it, I am amazed at what it has offered me. So, I feel the need to go on the record here and acknowledge that I see it. I see the luck in this life.
Here’s what happened. I got back from travelling Europe in the summer of 2007. What happened during that summer…wow, I can’t even attempt to capture that in this entry. But know that I’ll come back to it, and you’ll know the full details of the rocks in Capri, the Yachts in Greece, the cardstock background of Prague, and the love in Italy. But after a summertime of pleasure, I returned to New Jersey, expedited shipping on 3 books…one of which was titled, “Pick Me! A guide to breaking into Advertising”…and hit the fast track to getting a job as a copywriter. That’s right, I want to be a writer. As I rounded the end of the career fair, I told Bryan Moll that no, I didn’t have a portfolio and that quite frankly, I’d rather get a beer at this point. He laughed. I started working on Bacardi in a matter of weeks. I wonder if it was the alcohol reference that pushed him. That, or his commission. (Note: I later emailed Bryan over a year after my hire and told him, “I’m not sure if I should love you or hate you”, and I still feel that way).
Since then, here’s what happened. Aside from the pride, self-confidence, and growth that I have undoubtedly gained…I gained this: A 10 minute conversation with Adam Duritz in the conference room of Rolling Stone Magazine where his hazel eyes stared at me and we discussed love – simply put. I gained meet & greets with The Jonus Brothers, Shakira, Rainn Wilson, Seann William Scott. I danced until 3 in the morning at the Bacardi B-Live concert listening to Matt & Kim…you know, the concert that I did the “fish move” with the Bacardi CEO. I went into Howard Stern’s Studio. I saw Venus & Serena play during the US Open. I went to the Westminster dog show. I got a free skii trip to Vermont. I stayed up until 6am in the morning after partying at Drambiue events. I laughed with the CEO of Applebee’s. I got two video cameras…for free. I went to Glamour’s “Woman of the Year” awards show…where Bill Clinton spoke…and where I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams of closing my tired eyes and listening to the voice of Maya Angelou breathing poetry with her very existence.
So, yes…it’s not a bad gig. And for the moment, I won’t spell out all the difficult…very, very difficult times I went through with this job as well. Just remember, nothing is free. I paid for this all with my life.
And so, I want to pay my life back. I figured the best way to start would be to being selling my crap. The Martha Stewart book, the extra video camera, the big picture frame, the little picture frame. When my roommate sent along the listing for the Hoboken Sidewalk Sale, I signed on the dotted line. In 20 words or less, I was tasked to describe what I was selling. So, I did my new job – I wrote. I wrote “Selling all my worldly possessions for a trip around the world! Books, photographs, and even a statue of Jack Daniel’s!”
Last night, at nearly 1am…I was putting the finishing touches on the map I drew out with my itinerary. A map telling people of what the next year of my life will be, a map with the address of this very blog…to start spreading the word. And, I made $103 dollars. That will buy me a week in Thailand. And at the end of the day, I almost sold Jack Daniel’s. I gave him to my roommate to keep. But none-the-less…I’m ready to sell.
So this is how it goes:
- play in a sandbox
- get sand stuck in your bathingsuit during summers as a child down the shore
- spend a Saturday painting a map of the USA with your mother
- take October time to fiddle through your closet looking for flannel to fill with hay
- tell him you don’t love him
- let your car window soak up the University sticker
- get grown
- get educated in the back of a classroom and the front of a study hall renovated from a chapel
- get going
- keep his love notes in your wallet
- keep your love notes in your wallet
- get leftovers from the company meeting
- get stuck
- in your suit
- during winter
- as an elder
- down the line
So while I am here, up the line, I want to make sure that before I get stuck in my suit during winter as an elder…that I make sure to write new love notes. I must admit though – I think perhaps more than anything, I have admired those who have been able to be comfortable in their lives as is – those people that already have their novels written. You know, the types of people who have a mahogony bookcase next to the grandfather clock with dusty leather-bound books smelling of generations and grandpa’s laps. Each novel is nestled close…at the place it calls home. These people – they don’t need to see the volcanoes in Ecuador or the floating markets in Vietnam. Their pages are already written and they are so very satisfied with their story. They need the lives they have created here; and that’s it. I am disappointed in myself. Disappointed that the life I have worked very hard to create here, has never satisfied me. I know that everybody sees the same thing I do. They’re all wondering, “What is it she’s after? Why isn’t she happy?” I think that’s what hurts my mother most; that she thinks I feel like this life isn’t enough. But I can’t help but long for more. I can’t help but wonder, “Are they really happy? For now, or well… for ever? What is it they have found?” I think at the end of the day, I’d rather be the kind that tried. Because, I would rather be the kind that tried than the kind that is so nestled to their volumes that they can’t see the plagiarism of their lives occurring.
But what if I’m just the kind of person who only carries love notes in her wallet; who doesn’t carry love?
Today is 4/20, and I am stiffly reminded of poor choices from the previous weekend. A fresh release is a fresh reminder that I am framed by someone else’s idea of me. And now I sit with tired heels propped on my wooden table, attempting to write the words to explain how I feel – to the world. And despite my attempts that only wear away at my manicure, the one thing I am learning about the world, most certainly, is that I am trying to find my place in it. I live at 520 Grand Street in Hoboken, NJ. I spent my entire life in this state. I would spend sun-shot days in my front yard picking at the tar bubbles on my street. The neighbors black Sherpard would run wild and I would run inside after the sprinklers ran after my summer’s heat. And with all those memories tucked away like Kleenex to-go tissues, I have to pull them out. Pull them out one-by-one to feel them. To bring them to my face and see them, smell them, taste them on my tongue. And after I have relived them, I learn my place in the world. My heart is with my friends and family. But as I tuck those Kleenexes away, I am reminded of today. Today is 4/20 and I live at 520; 520 Grand Street in Hoboken, NJ. This here is my life.
Yesterday, my right hand lead me through old grand doors that coughed low budget and history. I politely knocked on the door. And while I wanted to whisper to my life where I would be going next, my nerves made me scream. I screamed it so loud the old grand doors couldn’t be heard coughing anymore. After I spent 20 minutes with Kerri at the Division of Cultural Affairs. Her response was, “I should put you in touch with my friend, he’s travelling the world too”. I handed the old grand doors a Kleenex for its cough. I know I’ll be back soon to tuck the Kleenex back in, but for not, I need to go.