Crazy People

To the man who wanted to argue with me tonight:

You didn’t get your wish.  I’m not sorry that I refused to give into your attempts to bait me into an argument while I was working. I’m not sorry that I grit my teeth and swallowed back my words and didn’t jump across the counter and kebab your eyeballs with my thumbs.  I’m not sorry because that means I still have a job.  Not because I didn’t want to kebab your eyeballs. 

Because I really, really did.

Here’s the thing: I don’t give a shit that you think I’m crazy for believing that all transgender people should just be treated like people.  No modifier needed.  I don’t care that you have nine children that you’re raising to be just as bigoted and narrow-minded as you. 

Nope, sorry, don’t believe you that there’s a “dark layer of sexual perversion” within the trans community.  Because, guess what? No, there isn’t.  Trans-women are not lying in wait to rape me in the bathroom.  That’s happened literally zero times to me and to every single person I’ve ever met in my life.  And guess what?  It’s happened zero times to anyone you know or care about too. 

Here’s why I’m still thinking about you and your narrow mind and utterly insane attempt to bait me into an argument today.  It’s not because of the things you said about bathrooms and the “direction this country is headed in” or about how you scoffed when I said that the transgender people I know are not the kinds of people I’ve ever even thought about being afraid of when I go to the bathroom. 

It’s none of that.

No, it’s when you got really angry toward the end of your impotent, one-sided argument and you stuck your finger in my face and raised your voice and said, “You’re crazy if you think they’re not out there.  You don’t understand now, but when you have children…THEN you’ll know and you’ll see how many things you really do need to be afraid of.”

And that stuck with me.

Now, first of all, I was raised to understand that you don’t stick your finger in the faces of crazy people.  And buddy, that’s exactly what I am.

Because when I do have children, the first thing I’m going to teach them is the idea that everyone is a little bit crazy and that everyone has the capacity to be unpredictable and that you should never really count on anyone following the script.

I’m going to teach them that men and women are equals in every sense of the word. 

I’m going to teach them that everyone is important in some way—not in a Participation Trophy kind of way, but in a ‘unique in the universe’/Dr. Who kind of way—and that even narrow-minded, bigoted idiots like you, sir, are worth listening to, if only for a minute.  Because I’m going to teach them that surrounding yourself with people who agree with you might make life easier, but it’s no way to learn anything about the world or about yourself.

I’m going to teach them that this world is big and vast and amazing and terrible and that it will break their little hearts ten ways to Sunday and not ever once apologize.

But I’m going to teach them how to be grateful for that heartbreak and how to turn it into something useful. And show them that rage and heartache and anger and pain have been turned into some of the most beautiful art in the world.  I want to show them that the world hurts you, but if you take your pain and make use of it, you can show the world that it didn’t win when it tried to break you.

I’m going to tell them that they need to see the world before they decide what they want to be when they grow up.  I want them to work alongside people who don’t speak English, who talk about them and giggle at their attempts to communicate.  I want them to understand how hard it is to learn another language and live somewhere new and unfamiliar and far from home so that they can sympathize with immigrants and refugees.  I want them to see and experience true poverty and true decadence and understand how lucky they are to have what they have.

But more than all that, I’m going to teach them that going through life with a small heart and a small mind is no way to live.  That no matter what anyone else says, in our house?  We accept each other.  When we’re afraid of something, we go and learn about it.  We don’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is fine when it isn’t.

I want to raise my children to be fearless warriors in the fight for a better world.  I want to raise people who love each other.  People who will greet this world and her many challenges and curiosities with an open hand, not a closed fist.

So no, sir.  I’m not going to cover the eyes and ears of my future children and tell them all the things they need to be afraid of.  They’ll have plenty of people who will do that for them.  People like you, I guess. 

And maybe I am crazy for clinging to a shred of hope for the next generation.  Maybe I’m crazy to think that people are just people and there’s no help for the human condition but love and acceptance. Maybe I’m nuts to believe that at our core, we’re all exactly the same anyway and these ideas of race and gender and nationality and religion are just things we made up, barriers we invented and they don’t mean anything.

But I guess what I’m really hoping is that someday, when someone points their finger in the face of my child and calls him crazy for standing up for what he believes in, I hope he turns the other cheek and smiles just to piss them off.

I hope he remembers that crazy isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  And if anyone ever asks where he got all his crazy ideas?  I hope that for at least a few of them he can be proud to say he got them from his mama. 

My Formal Treaty of Alliance

                Ally: (noun) something united with another, usually by treaty.  See also: supporter, advocate, partner, friend.

                My heart is heavy this week. 

                There’s a girl I know—someone whose name matters but won’t be revealed here—who is being hurt by someone she loves.  It doesn’t matter how I know this girl, just that I do, and I know her to be sweet and kind and undeserving of the things that have happened to her.

                Although, really, it wouldn’t matter if she wasn’t sweet and kind.  She could be rude or thoughtless or irresponsible and she still wouldn’t deserve the things that have happened to her.  No one is deserving of the things that are happening to this girl. 

                It wasn’t the first time she piled on the concealer to hide the bruising around her eyes or had to press ice cubes to her mouth, trying to calm the swelling of her fat lip.  It won’t be the last time, either.

                I knew she was going to go back to him.  Even as we sat together and discussed her options, even when the tears started cutting through the thick makeup beneath her eyes, even when she put her head on my shoulder and told me how afraid she was…even then.  I knew. 

                While looking for a way to help this particular girl, I found a fairly staggering collection of statistics:

o   Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.

o   On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

o   1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.

o   1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

o   On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

o   Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

o   Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

o   Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

                My resources also tell me that, on average, a woman will attempt to leave an abusive relationship seven times before she finally leaves for good.  By that point, a lot of people in her life have given up.  They’ve burnt out their concern.  They’ve forced themselves to detach.  She’s lost her support system, her safety net.

                A large part of my brain is telling me to do just that. To detach and say that she’s a grown woman and to let her make her own decisions, but my heart is still wincing with each beat.  I know it would be easier to turn my eyes away and to find something better, something more positive to focus on, but I just can’t.  Not when there are so many broken little girls like her. So many people who have already been erased by those they love out of pain or disgust or exhaustion.

                I can’t make this girl come with me. I can’t make her go to the police or the hospital.  Not if she’s not ready to.  But here’s what I can do: I can remain her ally.

                And if allies are only recognized as official by formal treaty, then I guess this is mine:

                I promise not to punish you if you decide to go back to him.  I will not roll my eyes and mutter under my breath that you are asking to be hurt again; I will not shake my head and pity you or call you an idiot and ask what is wrong with you.

                I promise that I will still answer my phone if you call me—whether it’s the middle of the night or the middle of my shift at work.  I promise I will answer.

                I promise I will believe you and treat you with the respect that you deserve while we get you the help that you need. 

                I promise that I will try my hardest never say "If it were me..." or "If I were you..." Because I am not you and I don't know what it's like to be living through the things that you are living through.  

                I promise that if you need me, I will come and get you.  No matter where you are, I will come and get you and bring you someplace safe.  Even if that place is my own home.  I will keep you safe and so will my loved ones. 

                I promise to be your ally; I promise that you are not alone and that this is not the way your story is meant to end. 

 

Resources:

http://www.ncadv.org/

http://www.thehotline.org/2013/06/50-obstacles-to-leaving-1-10/

 

Eff you, Mars

“I’m not going to die here.”

I said that to myself last night as I looked in the mirror.  It’s not an original line by any means.  I’m sure it’s been said a million times, but most recently and most famously by Matt Damon in the supremely wonderful film The Martian.

Mark Watney (Matt’s character) is stranded on a hostile, deserted Mars. His situation is pretty hopeless. But there’s a moment when he looks down and says those words to himself.  “I’m not going to die here.” 

I’m not going to lie, I feel a little like I’m trapped on Mars.  Things are pretty dark in my head lately.  Pretty hopeless.  My job feels like a dead-end, it sucks my time and energy away from almost anything that makes me happy, my skin has been in a constant state of painful revolution since November of 2013 and my finances are…well…

I don’t like to overuse the words tragic farce, but if the shoe fits.

I’m unhealthy, grossly unhappy, and losing my grip on the hope that there’s still something bigger and better shimmering beneath my dingy surface.  And a lot of days—more often than not—I’m tired of feeling like that.  And I don’t see a light at the end of any tunnel.  I’m just tired.  I don’t necessarily want to die so much as I just want to lay down and close my eyes and wake up when I have the energy to live my life again.  

Depression is funny like that.  It beats you up slowly.  In tiny, little increments when you don’t even realize it.  It does it by reminding you of every time someone stabbed you with words like “Be realistic.”  Or “So what’s the back-up plan?” and “What are going to do for a real job?” It chips away at any kind of belief you have in yourself.  It turns the lights out one by one until you’re left sitting in the dark, replaying all of those words, all those moments when it was right.  When you weren’t smart enough or brave enough or pretty enough for…whatever it was you were looking for.

I can’t even remember sometimes. 

My depression’s been a real fucking asshole this past year.  It’s left me sitting in silence in my apartment, screaming and crying inside because I’m too inept to reach my husband who is walking through his own darkness just two rooms away.  It’s told me over and over again that my words are worthless.  That I’m a disappointment as a daughter and a sister and a friend.  That the reason no one has come to visit me is because I’m not worth it.  That my dream of grad school, of publishing and teaching is selfish and childish and unrealistic.  It’s assured me how unspecial I am.  How unentitled I am to anything more than a boring, run-of-the-mill existence. 

And it’s done it for so long that it sounds more right than anything else I can come up with.  Anything anyone else can say to me.  Because it’s coming from inside my brain, so it feels like it knows me better than anyone else.  So it must be right.

And, who knows. Maybe it is.

Maybe I’m not special.  Not everyone is.  (That sounds harsh, but it’s also the point of being special, isn’t it? That not everyone can be.)  Maybe I’m not meant for anything more than middle management and a word processor full of works-in-progress that never seem to achieve anything more than a few hundred words a month. 

Maybe that’s all true.

But it’s also true that I looked myself in the mirror yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and said “I’m not going to die here.”

And I’m going to say it tonight, too. 

Because I’m not going to die here.  Because I might be living a fucking nightmarish existence of mediocrity, but I’ve at least decided that much. 

And that’s not nothin’

Mars isn’t going to win this one. 


Help Wanted

You get in life what you have the courage to ask for – Oprah Winfrey

Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post about not being brave.  About being scared of chasing after something I wanted and about how my cowardly nature had allowed me to settle for something less than my dreams. 

It’s right here, if you missed it.

That was three years ago, ya’ll.  Three years.  And guess what?  I’m still stuck, just in a different rut, in a different town, with even less hope than I had before.  It’s getting dark inside my head.  Real dark. Like, my-cell-phone’s-dead-and-the-flashlight’s-busted-and-I’m-down-to-my-last-handful-of-matches-and-they-keep-burning-my-fingers-as-they-burn-out-kind of dark.

So, I’m doing something I don’t normally do.  I’m asking for help.

I have a little under a month to submit my application for the MFA program at Boston University.  It’s my number one, top-pick, reach-for-the-moon, over-the-fence, World Series kind of choice for a school, a city, and a program.  I can’t explain it, but I’ve wanted to go to BU since I was sixteen.

And BU?  BU is fucking scary.  Okay? It’s even scary to Google!  You get all kinds of results with horrifying words like “Prestigious” and “Top-Ten Best” and “One of the Oldest and Most Renowned”. 

But I was like, no, Emry.  No.  We’re going to be brave and fierce and we’re going to fill out our application and get into that school.

That school where dozens of bestselling authors have been educated.

That school that only accepts ten students every year.

Ten.

Out of what I’m sure are thousands of applications.

So now I’m like

Below you will find my statement of purpose.  It is the one I wrote for the other schools to which I applied, and it is by no means perfect.  In fact, it’s probably a large, steaming pile of shit. I’ve editedit and rewritten it probably six times and each time I hate it a little more.

That’s where you come in, guys.  I can’t do this alone.  I don’t want to do this alone.  I need your help.  Please give me strong, concrete suggestions about what works and what doesn’t and what parts are worth saving and what can be tossed straight out.

Here's the info on BU’s program.

And here’s my insufficient statement of purpose:

Dear Selection Committee,

I was nine years old when I decided that creative writing was more important than long division.  My fourth grade teacher did not agree and called a meeting to inform my parents that instead of answering a single question on the front of my math test, I’d flipped the page over and written a story about the case of Seven, on trial for cannibalism.  He was charged with eating Nine.  My mother nodded grimly, kept her words short and clipped and promised to talk to me about it later.  Instead of the grounding I was expecting, she bought me an ice cream cone, a fresh stack of composition books, and signed me up for a library card. 

“You’ve gotta take your math tests, Em,” she said with affectionate exasperation. “But I don’t want you to ever stop reading and writing stories.”

In the twenty years that have passed since that afternoon, I have only attempted a handful more math tests, but I have completed several novels and dozens of short stories.  My voracious appetite for words has always been my greatest asset.  Without a strong mentor for writing in my youth, I foraged my education through the shelves of the public library.  Judy Blume was my first instructor in the field of realistic dialogue and screenplays or television scripts by Joss Whedon taught me the place for dark humor and the beauty of weirdness. These lessons were cemented by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and later, Mark Danielewski.  Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and David Foster Wallace’s epic Infinite Jest have revealed to me the beauty in dense, complex storytelling. The art of loveable, flawed characters was introduced by Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys.

My professional life has taken me away from writing for the last eight years.  I have worked in the nonprofit sector and in restaurant management full time, cultivating my corporate training and effective management skills.  These careers have been professionally satisfying, but not nearly enough to quell the hunger in my heart for the life of a writer.  My precious writing time is what I can squeeze in before work or in the wee hours of the morning when I can barely keep my eyes open.  I rely on friends and family for constructive criticism, but the responses I receive are more akin to comments on a well-written fanfiction.  As encouraging as it is to hear that they are enjoying my work, there is no real criticism, nothing to challenge me and spur me on to better things.

I strive to reach my goal of writing at least one page of creative work each day.  Though some days it feels impossible, I am never one to shrink from a challenge.  As such, I have participated and won NaNoWriMo by completing a 50,000 word project in the month of November each year since 2012. Recently, I have begun revisions on a novel I have been working on for the last three years, a hybrid of historical fiction braided with a modern romantic comedy. 

In October of 2015, I co-founded a weekly podcast, Badass Bitches, where we tell the true stories of women such as Alice B. Sheldon, Virginia Hall, and Juliane Koepcke. Our aim is to share the stories of women who have faded from history and share their lives and accomplishments with an audience who might otherwise remain ignorant. 

I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to share my passion with other writers over the years as a guest commentator in the high school English classes of teachers with whom I am acquainted.  I have presented creative writing lectures and workshops to accelerated students in their AP level English courses, to small groups of older writers looking for a place to share their work, and to high school students who had never been given an outlet for their creative writing interests. 

It is time to stop treating my writing as a hobby and allow it to be the focus of my life and my career.  The small, focused group setting of University of Oregon is exactly what I am looking for in an MFA program.  The combination of intense workshops and individual tutorials makes for an exciting prospect to grow and develop as a writer.  I am ready to expose myself to the criticism of a sophisticated audience and hone my craft alongside an equally impassioned community of writers and educators.  If selected for your program, I would focus on further developing a distinct written voice and begin the construction of my next novel. 

Though I have wandered from the path of professional writing and teaching, I have never left entirely.  It has not been easy to continue to call myself a writer, and even more difficult to live up to the title, but it is a challenge I accept every day. 

I have proven to myself that I have the discipline, passion and commitment for a higher level of instruction.  It is my hope that I can have the opportunity to prove the same to you as a student at the University of Oregon.

Thank you for your consideration.

Emily J. Jeziorski

Here’s what I’ve got going for me:

1.)    I’m a non-traditional student
2.)    I’ve taken time off to figure out that being a writer is what I really, really, really want to do
3.)    …I have pretty hair.

So, yeah, okay.  Not the resume I was hoping for, but it’s a start.  It’s also worth noting that the letter above doesn’t sound like me AT ALL and I’m wondering if I should just take some combination of the Autobiographical Statement I posted earlier today and somehow turn that into a letter they’d remember?

I literally don’t know.  Please help.

Please.

I’m going to go eat my feelings while I figure out my next move.


Autobiographical Statement

As some of you know--and some of you don't--I'm applying to grad school for Fall of 2016.  I didn't advertise this anywhere on social media for a lot of reasons.  Those reasons are for a different blog that's probably going to be really dark and depressing and maybe published later today. 

The purpose of this post, though, is not just to tell Squarespace that I'm still alive and using this domain, but to share one of the pieces I crafted for one of my applications.  This particular school asked for a lot of different things.  They wanted a Statement of Purpose, an Autobiographical Statement, and a Personal History Statement.

Uh...what?

That's a lot of things that all sound like the same thing.  And doesn't that sound like it would make it more difficult for the selection committee?  And why not lump all these things together and call it an Extra Long Tell Us About Yourself Statement?  (Capital Letters Are Important to Grad Schools).

But I'm bad a naming things, so I guess that's why they're reading my stuff and I'm sitting on my couch, waiting for rejection letters.  

Wait. That's too dark. I promised darkness later.  Shit.

Anyway, here's the autobiographical statement I ended up being the most proud of.  I haven't considered dipping a toe into the lake of Creative Nonfiction since sophomore year of college, but that's where this piece would fall if I needed to give it a genre.

Without further ado: 

In the fourth grade classroom at Gill Hall Elementary, in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a hot April day in 1997, I sat with three adults.  My parents and my teacher.

            It was tense.  The sweat prickled at my hairline before sliding slowly down the back of my neck.  The adults were talking.  Their words clipped and terse.  No one was talking to me.  No one was even looking at me.  They were just carrying on, speaking to one another, hands folded over the papers in question.  Ignoring me like I wasn’t sitting there beside them, awaiting execution.

            I didn’t mean to forget to finish my math test.  Or start it.  I’d just gotten carried away.  Numbers were so much more interesting when I could turn them into little characters and make up a story about them instead.  And the story which I’d ended up writing on the back of my test was a lot more entertaining than the equations I hadn’t answered on the front, anyway. 

            “Emily,” Mrs. K said finally, setting her beady eyes on the accused.  “Do you understand why I’ve asked your parents to be here?”

            My mother and father—who couldn’t stand to be in the same room as one another normally—both focused their gaze on me.  I swallowed hard.  “Yes?”

            “And why is that?” Mrs. K raised one of her penciled on eyebrows and pursed her lined lips. 

            “Because I wrote a story about the numbers on the back of my math test,” I mumbled, looking down at my hands.

            “Instead of?”

            I sighed with resignation.  “Instead of taking my math test.”

            Even to my nine year old self, this tribunal seemed rife with injustice.  Did they even read the story about Seven dispelling the rumors of his cannibalism?  Did no one care that he went to trial and swore under oath that he did not eat Nine as he was charged?  Or how One defended him because she knew what it was like to be lonely and intimidating? And best yet, after Seven was cleared of all charged, they fell in love and walked hand in hand into the double digits together. 

            “Why do you think we’re disappointed, Em?” my father asked.  His tone was still kind and gentle as always, but undoubtedly displeased.

            “Because math is important?” It was a question.  One I’d been asking since the subject had been introduced to me three years ago and immediately begun its bullying. It was a question that no one had answered. 

            No one answered me this time.  Instead, they turned their attention back to one another and moved onto the sentencing portion of my trial.  Mrs. K used words like “special” and “extra help” and “after-school programs.”  Words that made the knot in my stomach twist tighter and tighter.   

            My mother was silent afterward as we climbed into the car and buckled our seatbelts.  I waited until we pulled onto the street before I swallowed hard and glanced over at her.  “Are you mad?” I asked, quietly, praying I was looking cuter than I felt.

            “Yes,” she said in an even tone.

            “Oh.”

            “I’m mad because I can’t believe my taxes go to paying that woman’s salary,” she gripped the steering wheel tighter.  I blinked. Didn’t expect that.  “What kind of idiot reads a story like that and calls a meeting to tell us she thinks there’s something wrong with you?”  She shook her head and pulled over onto the shoulder.  She took a deep breath and turned to me.  “Look, Em,” she reached out and put a hand on my shoulder.  “No one is good at everything, okay?  But this?” she held up my story.  “You’re good at this.  You’re really, really good at this.”  I felt myself smiling for the first time all day.  My mother smiled back and pressed a kiss to the top of my head.  “Just please don’t use your math tests anymore, okay?  I’ll buy you as many notebooks as you want.  I just don’t want to sit through another meeting like that one.”  She raised her eyebrows.  “Deal?”

            I grinned.  “Deal.”  

            “We’re going to the library,” her mother decided aloud.  “An imagination like yours needs to be fed.”

            True to my word, I stopped writing on the back of my math tests.  I still failed them, but no one had to go to any more meetings because of it.  I had a building full of new teachers waiting for me to devour the lessons they had hidden between their pages.

             I studied character development from Harper Lee and Thomas Mann.  I learned description from the poets—Mary Oliver was my favorite, but I made time for Dickenson and Thoreau.  I kept myself awake most of the summer of 2002 studying how to tingle a spine from the likes of Shelley and Danielewski.  Judy Blume, Toni Morrison, and Elmore Leonard taught me the ins and outs of great dialogue. 

            It was only eleven years later that I found myself in the hospital, sitting beside my mother in the last week of her life.  She had been asleep most of the day; the morphine dulled the pain of the cancer ravaging her body, but it also knocked her out.  She did open her eyes that afternoon, though, and reached for my hand, startling me from the book I was reading at her bedside.

            Her skin was yellowed with jaundice, but her eyes were the same.  Green and kind and curious about what I was doing.  “Who are you reading today?” she asked, her voice hoarse. 

            I covered her hand with mine.  “Neil Gaiman.”

            She managed a smile.  “Get it from the library?”  I nodded and swallowed down the lump in my throat.  “Is there anything in that place you haven’t read?”

            I brought our hands up and kissed the back of hers, squeezing our fingers together as I forced a smile.  “Just the math books.”

 

 

Meatless Monday Meal

Hey there friends!  I know, I’ve been MIA on the blogging scene for a few months (it’s my thing.  I do that sometimes) but now I’m back!  You can all release the breath you’ve been holding.

So guess what?  I have a recipe for you fine folks.

I came up with this little dish a few weeks ago while remembering my fondness for my former employer’s White Bean and Spinach soup.  It was super delicious and gave me the idea for this meatless meal.  I also took this to my family in Tennessee on my road trip last week where it received the Grandma Seal of Approval. 

So there’s some fierce street cred for ya. 

Let’s get started.  First thing’s first:  gather your ingredients

(Note: there should also be a teaspoon of olive oil pictured here, but I forgot to add the bottle to the photo.  Yes, husband/photographer, you were right.  I was wrong.  I said it.)


Start your water a’boiling and drain your white beans.


Julienne the roasted reds and sundried tomatoes.


While your pasta is cooking, roast your garlic in the olive oil.

And wilt your spinach.

(Note: use more spinach than you think you’ll need.  It shrivels up fast and you will need a lot to mix with the beans and other veggies.)


Add in the white beans, peppers, and tomatoes.

(Omigod.  So pretty.)


Reduce heat and cover for 5-10 minutes while the pasta finishes cooking.


Strain the pasta

(Husband/photographer thought this was a superfluous photo…but it’s just nice, y’know?)


Toss veggie topping together and spoon over a serving of pasta.


You can also top with parmesan cheese….which we do not have.  Much to Moxie’s disappointment.

No, seriously.  She’s obviously pissed. 

 

But my belly is happy, and so is my husband…who was paid for his photography skills in healthy, delicious pasta.

 

Ingredients:

(Serves 2-4)

-Whole wheat pasta—I used linguine but I don’t want to tell you how to live your life

-1 Jar roasted red peppers

-1 jar sundried tomatoes (if you can get them pre-julienned, go for it.  Save a step.)

-1 bag baby spinach

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 tablespoon minced garlic

-1 can white beans

-Grated parmesan cheese

(which, as stated above, I did not have)

 

 

Hope you've enjoyed your Meatless Monday!

All photos are, of course, courtesy of the sexiest photographer on the scene: Jeremy Jeziorski  Both my life and my blog would suck without him.

Heirlooms

                Let me present you with a little scenario: say your great-grandmother left you a beautiful set of bone china.  The good stuff with the gold trimming and the little chip in the tea cup your great-grandfather used the most. 

Pretty...

Pretty...

                It’s gorgeous, it’s priceless, it’s full of three generations of little imperfections and stories and the kind of history that hardly exists anymore.

                And Oh. My. God.  You dropped a salad plate.  You did.  You were being so good and washing it by hand in special imported soap and drying it with a dish towel woven by mute Chinese nuns and everything and it just.  Yep.  Slipped out of your hand and shattered into a million pieces.

                It’s gone.  You can quietly mourn for a moment if you need to.

And yeah, I know the pattern doesn't match.  I wasn't actually going to use my own set of antique dishes.  Judge me.

And yeah, I know the pattern doesn't match.  I wasn't actually going to use my own set of antique dishes.  Judge me.

                You know what you wouldn’t do?  You wouldn’t take the rest of the plates and tea cups and sugar bowls and smash them on the floor too—would you?  Of course you wouldn’t!  In fact, you’d probably take extra care to make sure you weren’t so slippery with the rest of them.  You’d be heartbroken that one had smashed, but you’d rejoice that you still had the rest, wouldn’t you? 

                Obviously.

                So why then, when people slip up in their healthy eating, do they do exactly that? They take all the hard work they’ve been doing, all the exercise and the conscious choices, and they smash them mercilessly on the floor.

                Okay, not everyone does this.  But lately it seems like I’m surrounded by people who say those two, guilty little words to me, “I cheated” and proceed to flush their brand new healthy lifestyle right down the drain. 

I know, Kanye.  Seriously.

I know, Kanye.  Seriously.

                Let me remind you of something: you are nothing more and nothing less than a collection of traits that fought long and hard to root themselves in your DNA.  You’re a walking, breathing, complaining collection of family heirlooms.  There isn’t a part of you that you can’t connect back to someone else—probably someone you love, someone who loves you.

                Me?  I’ve got terrible feet—but so did both grandmas who have taught me more about the world than I could ever hope to learn on my own.  I also have sloping shoulders—and so do my aunts and my cousins because Grandma Schohn had sloping shoulders.  My legs are short and I’ll never be anything other than a curvy, solid 5’6”—just like Noni.  I have Mom’s smile and the Parroccini nose and chin and all of these are things I can do nothing about.  I have to love them on some level because they’re not just me, they’re my family.

Had to pick a strapless wedding dress and Jill had to sew her sleeves to her bra straps to keep them from sliding down.  The sloping shoulders demand such things.

Had to pick a strapless wedding dress and Jill had to sew her sleeves to her bra straps to keep them from sliding down.  The sloping shoulders demand such things.


                You are a collection of heirlooms and just like the china set, you are just as precious, just as priceless, and just as irreplaceable. 

                Once you start accepting that, I think you might be less quick to destroy them, to act as if one day of eating chocolate is an excuse to undo six weeks of clean eating and exercise. 

                It’s not! People slip!  I don’t know what else to say to all the people I’ve been hearing this from lately.  What do you want from me?  Guilt?  Shame?  I mean, I guess I could try to shine some on for you, but it’s not really my thing...

                …I mean, unless I want something and have something I can lord over you.  Then guilt is totally my thing and I’ll be shameless in my use of it.  But food-shaming?  Breeding an even more negative relationship between someone and food?  Sorry, not going to contribute. 


                It’s not the end of the world.  If you made a new year’s resolution and you’ve fallen off the wagon, guess what?  It hasn’t rolled away!  You can jump right back on and recommit yourself to a healthy lifestyle. 

                Because it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do yesterday or last weekend.  It matters what you do today.  Feeling guilty or asking for absolution for breaking one plate isn’t going to change anything—it won’t replace or glue that salad plate back together and it won’t help you to take care of the rest of the dishes.  It’ll just be exactly what it is: a broken plate.  Sweep it up, say a prayer over its broken pieces, and get back to work. 

                And be kind to those heirlooms—they worked hard to fit into the person you are today.

Be honest...and unmerciful.

So there’s this thing that no one ever really told me about.  Not honestly, anyway.  This thing that I’m talking about is called “revision” and it’s just the worst part of my life right now.

Those are the two sides of my brain fighting about whether or not I'm being super dramatic about this whole thing.  

Those are the two sides of my brain fighting about whether or not I'm being super dramatic about this whole thing.  

No, really it is!  And here’s why.  Because when I was a little girl and I told my mother I wanted to be a writer (this was after she told me she wasn’t taking me to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career at the age of nine) she said, “That’s great!  Start writing.”  So, y’know, I did. What she should have said was, “Start writing, but don’t get too attached to anything you initially come up with because it will most likely be crap and you’ll get really discouraged upon rereading it.” 

Okay, okay…I’m glad she didn’t say that. I’m secretly glad that no one said that for most of my life. Although, really, I think that once I hit college someone out there could have let me in on the little secret that a first draft (even if you spend three years writing it) is usually not the story you’re going to end up with.

So what’s wrong with Mack & Moira?

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Okay, that’s maybe an exaggeration.  Maybe.  And I know I wrote the first section of this book two years ago, but honestly, I feel like it was written by a completely different person.  I read somewhere that you should pretend someone else wrote your book so you can revise it objectively…but I mean, do other people actually have to pretend that?  Because this is my life.  If I hadn’t written this manuscript I would want to find the writer and shake her.  But I can’t do that!  Because the writer is me! 

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And maybe I’m being overly critical, but honestly, this is discouraging.  Because while I was writing it, my ego must have been driving because I distinctly remember ending more than a few writing days feeling like:

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But now that I’m reading it, it’s more like:

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Does everyone feel this lost when they first go back and look at their book?  Is this normal?  I thought the hardest part was going to be being critical and objective but honestly, I'm having a much harder time being kind to myself, reminding myself that people actually did love parts of this book and really did come to love and care about the characters.  Thankfully I haven't tried to open the word doc...I don't think I can trust myself with a backspace key at this point.  

And I'm just filled with all kind of weird doubts and twisty feelings.  Am I not tearing through it because it's not good and because I don't like it?  Or am I just stalling because I'm secretly sabotaging myself and this awful process?  Because it's not like I'm not reading it because I'm so super busy.  Really I'm just distracting myself by not writing anything new and not really enjoying any of the books I've been trying to read for the last three months.  What the hell is my problem?!

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If I'm going to be home and be entirely unmotivated to do anything else...shouldn't I be kicking this draft's ass and taking names?  Or at least changing names and plot lines? 

Ugh.  I don't know.  I don't feel like I know anything anymore.  I don't even know what kind of writer I am.  Nothing makes sense.  This is all just getting horribly discouraging and I'm starting to understand why more writers become alcoholics along the way.  

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Basically, I think I just need to shut up and get back to work.  It's okay if you were thinking the same thing. I think everyone is.  Especially the cats.  (Obviously.  What else do cats do but beg for food and judge you?)  

Hopefully these feelings will pass and I'll find myself in the swing of things soon.  Right?  Please?  In the meantime, I guess there's nothing to do but keep plugging through and keep telling my manuscript what I've been telling myself every day since I was fifteen. 

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Here's hoping.

 

 

Note: If you haven't seen Almost Famous then stop what you're doing right now (right now!) and watch it.  It's my most favorite movie of all time and contains without a doubt my favorite character that the late and extremely great Philip Seymour Hoffman ever played. 

Banana Pancakes

                It’s Sunday!  A day of rest and relaxation and in my house, it’s a day for a big, delicious breakfast.  And because I recently discovered a healthy version of one of my favorite recipes, it’s also the day I’m going to share it with you.  But first, do me a favor and open the link below in a separate window.  This particular post calls for a little background music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Graa_Vm5eA

                Thanks, Jack.  That’s right my friends…today we’re making healthy banana pancakes.  I don’t normally love the pancake.  When I was a kid, chocolate chip pancakes were kind of my life (yolo) but since I’ve gotten older (and nutritionally self-aware) they don’t grace my breakfast plate too often.  Which is why, when I announced to my husband during my pre-bedtime yoga routine, “Man, I really want some pancakes,” I knew this weekend would be a perfect time to share this recipe with my blog friends.  You can find the recipe here.  I discovered it on Pinterest.

                (Side note: when I announced this at 11:30 on Thursday night, all I got was a look and an “Okay…” from said husband.  He didn’t know he’d be playing such a pivotal role in making this post a reality.)

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                So these pancakes are all kinds of wonderful and let me tell you why:  they are ridiculously easy to make, they are deeeeeeelicious, and best of all, they’re low in calories.  So let’s get started.


Step one: Gather ingredients

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Step two: Throw that stuff in the blender (the recipe says to grind the oatmeal into powder first but ain’t nobody got time for that.  I also only put half the banana in the blender; I save the other half for slices to add to the pancakes later on.)

(Note: It will look completely disgusting when you put it all in the blender.  You’ve been warned.)

(Note: It will look completely disgusting when you put it all in the blender.  You’ve been warned.)

Step three: Blend it up! 

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Step four: Pour it out (easy to do since you’ve got the mouth of blender working for you.  No ladles necessary!)

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Step five: Pre-flip, add a few thin slices of bananas

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Step six: Flip!  (Don’t get crazy though—some bananas just want to watch the world burn.  They go rogue and they jump outta the cake.  No good.)

Healthy-Banana-Pancakes-Recipe-Emily-Jeremy-Jeziorski-07.jpg


Step seven: Wait until you’ve got a nice golden brown and then flip them out of the pan and onto a pretty polka-dotted plate.  (Or, y’know, whatever you’ve got going on.)

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Step eight: Repeat until batter is gone.

Healthy-Banana-Pancakes-Recipe-Emily-Jeremy-Jeziorski-10.jpg

 

Aaaaaand done!  Do a little quick clean-up and you’re good to go.  And the greatest part of this whole thing?  You can eat all of those pancakes for 255 calories. 

Happy Sunday indeed.

 

Thanks to Jack Johnson for the background jams and the super sexy Jeremy Jeziorski for making such tasty photos to accompany this post.

 

Reasons to Wilf-Dance

Hey, guess what?  It’s a post where I get to brag about something.  I love posts like that!  Today, I get to strut a little bit with pride because on Saturday I officially finished my first full month of the Blogilates calendar.

Could Wilf be any cuter?  No.  He can't be.

Could Wilf be any cuter?  No.  He can't be.

I kind of can't believe it; working out six day a week for a whole month is definitely not something I am used to but hey!  Guess what? I did it!  Cue the adorable Wilf-dancing above.  

What I liked about this month:  
-With the calendar provided on blogilates.com, I wasn't ever bored or wasting time looking for anything on Youtube.
-Sharing struggles and triumphs with the other two taquitos, Jill and Steph and making each other laugh (though not on the day after Ab Day.  Nobody laughs the day after Ab Day).
-I lost 7.5lbs! 

 

What I learned about myself: 
-I am capable of hauling myself out of bed six days a week to workout
-It takes about 28 straight days for my body to get back in the swing of exercise
-I feel better when I'm active
-Four weeks is just enough time to begin to notice subtle changes in the way I look.

Early morning shot of me and my complete beginners calendar

Early morning shot of me and my complete beginners calendar

 

So now, I am biding my time waiting for Cassey to post the February calendar so that I can move on to my next challenge: 2-a-days for the first two weeks of the month before I leave for Haiti.***  I figure I'll be spending my 10 days abroad doing a lot of manual labor so my pilates can take a backseat for a minute.  Right?  I'm going to go ahead and say right.

How has the first month of the year treated you all?  Anything you want to brag about?  Share with me in the comments below!

 

 

*** I'll be posting about our upcoming trip to Haiti in the next few days so stay tuned!

The hole in my heart

 

               It’s been six years since the night I left you at the hospital.  Since the last time I kissed your cheek and felt your fingers squeeze mine.  Since you told the nurse you had been talking to Jesus.  Since you told me to make sure my boobs weren’t hanging out of my shirt (because of course you did.  Of course that was what you were worried about the day before you died). 

                I’ve forgotten what your voice sounds like.  When I replay memories of you, it’s my own voice that comes out of your mouth because I can’t conjure up how yours sounded.  I can’t remember little things anymore; your favorite song, how you took your coffee.  I used to remember them better than my own but they’re starting to slip away and no matter how I try, I can’t hold onto them.  I know it’s natural, after so many years, to begin to let things go.  I know it’s part of this extended grieving process; that it’s even considered healthy by some.  But even if it’s natural, it still feels like a betrayal.

                But I wanted you to know that there are things I haven’t forgotten.  I haven’t forgotten how to make perfect dippy eggs, or aggressively maneuver the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, or any of the words to any Simon and Garfunkel song.  I haven’t forgotten how good it felt to make you laugh, or to hear you say you were proud of me, or to feel your arms around me in a good, tight hug. 

                I hope that I still make you proud.  Despite that I’ve done things I know we would have fought about, things you would have disapproved of.  Of course I have.  But there were things I think you were wrong about—things that I can’t pretend we would have agreed upon.  And on the other hand, there have been many, many things that I wish I could tell you you were right about.  That I’m sorry for all the times I was a typical teenager.  For all the things I wish I had known then so we could have spent less time fighting.  There are so many things I wish I could take back—so many times I rolled my eyes or slammed my door or stomped away from you. 

                Sometimes I think it would be better if people wore their expiration dates stamped on them somewhere like a carton of milk.  I think we’d be kinder to one another if we had any idea how short twenty years really is when it’s all the time you get with someone you love.

                I hope you’re still watching us.  I hope you can see that I smile every day, that I write every day, that I didn’t settle, that I found someone who loves me more than I thought possible, that I’m cared for and that I’m loved and that I’m trying my best to do some good in the world.  I hope you know that even though I can’t hear you say them anymore, I still remember the things you said, the things you taught me.

                There’s a hole in my heart that won’t ever truly heal.  Love has patched it over and time has dulled its constant ache, but it’s still there.  It will be there forever.  It’s in the shape of you, Mom.  It’s the space where you used to be.  I don’t want anyone to try to fill it.  I don’t want it to heal.  It’s the proof that you were here—the scar I get to wear from loving someone who left us too soon. 

                This letter is the best that I can do on these cold and lonely January nights.  I hope it’s enough to let you know that your absence is still felt, and that the good things you did are still echoing back in the people you loved.

                I hope you know how much we still miss you.

                I hope you know how much we still love you.

                I hope…

The Three Taquitos

Do you know Cassey Ho?  She's the brainiac behind the amazing blogilates.com.  Have you been?  You should go.  

While looking for ways to improve my energy level and decrease the general gelatinous nature of my mid-section, I stumbled upon her site and her fantastically challenging and hilarious workout videos.  What I really like though is that she builds these awesome calendars so you don't have to hunt around and waste time looking for anything.  

Check out this beginner's calendar that I'm using to ease myself back into a more active lifestyle: http://www.blogilates.com/blog/2013/06/03/beginners-calendar-for-popsters-just-starting-out/

 

Anyway, the point of this blog is not just to point you in Cassey's direction, but to remind you that there is something truly awesome about working out with your friends.  I asked my cousin (bestest friend/partner in crime etc.) to do the challenge with me and she roped her college roomie, Steph into joining us as well. Below is all the proof and motivation I needed to make it through week one and keep going into week two. 

(Apologies (sort of) for our foul mouths)

 

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Jillian Rodgers: dat Ana making me sweat.

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Emily Jeziorski: Bitch is crazy.

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: Those teaser twists? Impossible

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Jillian Rodgers: literally just cleaned up all the hair off my floor with my awkward arm i was laying on. ya know?

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Emily Jeziorski: I hate side plank anything. Makes me feel like I weigh exactly as much as I do

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Jillian Rodgers: Lolololz. We should start our own fitness blog.

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: The three taquitos

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Jillian Rodgers: PERFECT!!!

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: I keep checking my stomach for a six pack

{C}·         {C}{C}{C} Jillian Rodgers: HA. Sam literally just pulled up his shirt and explained to me that he has a 6-pack but it is just hiding under his gut which he has named Bulbasor. like the pokemon. also this happened at work
{C}
{C}

1:41pm Steph Gribbin named the conversation: Everything tastes as good as skinny feels.
{C}
{C}

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Such a professional

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Jillian Rodgers: lolol the naming of this convo.

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: It came to me whilst showering

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Emily JeziorskiAhahahhah!  Literally everything does taste as good as skinny feels. I mean, I'm just assuming. But the 3 taquitos is the greatest thing I have heard in years…Until I found out that Sam named his gut after a Pokemon.

·         Jillian Rodgers: What are the chances that both sam and steph would be talking about their 6packs at the same time? Soul sisterz.

·         Emily Jeziorski: It's no wonder you were drawn to them both

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: God bless you for letting me live in my delusion

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Emily Jeziorski: If we end up with six packs by next December, I'm naming all of my abs

·         Steph Gribbin: Any ideas for names?

·         Emily Jeziorski: Two of them will be Steph and Sam, then Tennessee, Tubbs...

·         Steph Gribbin: Just as it should be…DEUCE?!?!?

·         Emily Jeziorski: Deuce, naturallyI need one more.  Maybe Dobby...because I like having the names start with the same letter

·         Jillian Rodgers: I’m holding you to this.  This is the best motivation.

·         Emily Jeziorski: I'll write on my stomach and take obnoxious pictures

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: Make sure you give yourself two extra names just in case you have an eight pack

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Emily Jeziorski: Ooh Steph...shooting for the moon there!  I'll figure something out if that's the case

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Jillian Rodgers: Amazing.

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: I feel like a lifetime movie is going to made about our experience

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Emily Jeziorski: This has escalated quickly and in exactly the right direction

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: Haha owww I can't laugh I hurt too much

·         Emily JeziorskiOw. Me too. God damn you, Cassey Ho!

·          Steph Gribbin: What did you guys think about her jeggings?

·          Emily Jeziorski: I thought they weren't workout wear.  But her damn thigh gap allows her to pull off anything

{C}·         {C}{C}{C}Steph Gribbin: A thigh gap is all I've ever wanted

·         Emily JeziorskiYou could name your thigh gap!  Jill, what will you name?  You should name your bottom since we all know you've never had one.

{C}·         {C}{C}{C} Steph Gribbin: I bet she's excited for that bubble butt workout tomorrow

·          Emily Jeziorski: I thought of her when I saw it

·          Jillian Rodgers: I love all of this. I don't want it to ever stop. Let me think my butt name over

 

----------------------

I don't know, they make me laugh.  And more than that, they make me want to keep working out so we can keep talking about the challenge and making each other laugh. 

What about you guys?  Are you solo gym rats or do you workout better when you're with friends?

 

Much love,

Emily

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 

I’d post a cute picture of myself blowing one of those streamer horns and wearing a party hat but :

a.)    I don’t know where my camera is

b.)    I’m looking pretty rough for someone who had one glass of champagne and was asleep by 12:45

c.)     I don’t have either of the aforementioned props that would make this picture super cute

d.)    Oh well

Now comes my annual January post where I either make resolutions or to-do lists and feel all fuzzy about the upcoming year.  But first, as always, we must look back on my massive list of goals and plans for 2013 and see what did and didn’t happen.

The Goals:

a.)    Catch my breath

b.)    Trust myself

c.)     Have an adventure

So far so good!  I did, in fact, catch my breath after adjusting to a life that wasn’t motivated entirely by work-related stress.  I did more yoga and more meditating than I ever have in my entire life.  I don’t really know if I learned to trust myself more.  I’m not actually sure what I had in mind when I threw that one on the list.  So we’ll move on. 

Did I have an adventure?  I sure did.  More than one, as a matter of fact.  But we can talk about that later.

Now on to the to-do list:  I feel I may have done less than stellar on this one.

 

The Tasks:

1.)    Learn Italian (conversational is fine, but be on the way to fluent by December)

Yeah, no.  This didn’t even start to happen.  Better luck next year.
 

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2.)    Finish Mack&Moira by July 1st

I did finish Mack&Moira (see all of the depressing posts about it below) but I did it about a month behind schedule.  Still finished it, still giving myself a high five whenever I think about it.

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3.)    Walk more than I drive

Yes!  Done!  There have been plenty of decisions that have been made in regards to going somewhere where my logic is, ‘if I don’t feel like walking there, I’m not going.’  Yes, that’s kind of backwards in that it did, on occasion, breed further laziness.  But whatever.  I decreased my carbon footprint.

4.)    Visit at least 2 out-of-state friends or family members on their turf (I’ll take bids and bribes for who it is!)

I…think I did this.  Didn’t I?  I feel like I did.  Yes!  I did!  I visited Rebecca in Cincinatti and Grandma and Aunt Jaye + family in Clarksville, TN.  So yes. Boom.  Did it.

5.)    Compose and post 20 blog posts.  Yes.  20.

Nope.  7/20.  Maybe I’ll be better this year. 

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6.)    See at least 5 live performances of different genres

Louis CK (stand-up comic), Cinderella (kids musical), Tom Franklin(author reading), A Chemical Imbalance (straight play), Backstreet Boys (concert)

Bam!  Another high-five!

7.)    Improve my healthy recipe repertoire

Yep.  Did it.

8.)    Construct a solid and agreed-upon outline for Henrietta

Well…we kind of did this.  Not really though.  Elizabeth, we need to hammer this out.

9.)    Read 24 books

Yes!  Did that too.

10.)  Participate in NaNoWrimo again

Heck yes!  Participated and won!  Two years in a row.

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11.)  Travel outside the US

I was actually pretty sure this wasn’t going to happen, but thanks to my wonderful, amazing, spontaneous husband, it did!  An impromptu romantic early-spring escape to Jamaica was exactly what this seasonally depressed girl needed.

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12.)  Write at least one sentence every day

Did that too!  I’m pretty sure it was thanks to this little idea that I was able to finish two novels this year.

13.)  Complete certification with the IAWP
Yes, I did that too.  September 7th. Bam.

 

Okay, so it looks like I did a bit better than I thought I might have.  Yay for me!  Now, onto this year.  I think I’m going to be a little less ambitious with my list and strive for some small, consistent changes that will last longer than my typical flights of fancy.

 

So, here we go:

1.)    Edit Mack & Moira.  I’m actually already dreading this.  A lot.

2.)    Take better care of my skin.  I didn’t decide to do this until this morning when I woke up and noticed LEGITIMATE LINES UNDER MY EYES.  No good.

3.)    Read more in new genres.  Mainly screenplays.  I learn best by reading so let’s start with that.  Who knows what might happen after that.  More nonfiction?  *gulp* Poetry?  

4.)    Improve the quality of my sleep.  I’m really too old for this night terror shit.  I’ve got a bed time checklist, some new “deep sleep” meditation recordings, and a night time yoga routine, along with the advice of my brilliant almost-doctor niece Hannah.  I actually got a head start on this one and have been night terror free for five nights!

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So that’s what I’ve got goin’ on.  What about you guys?  What does this year hold for you?  Let me know in the comments!

Oh, and what do you think of my shiny new website?  Pretty sweet, huh?

 

XOXO

Emily

My favorite scar

There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with." — Harry Crews

I think I just fell in love with a new quote today.  It felt so perfect for what I’m about to write—how I’ve closed a wound in my heart that I’d kept open too long.  And instead of another issue to work through, I’ve got a scar.  A new scar, a beautiful scar, a scar that tells me I accomplished something I thought was totally impossible.

I learned how to love myself.

It occurred to me the other day that I started this blog planning to talk about one thing and I’ve ended up wanting to talk about something else.  Like, a lot of the time.  Anyone else notice that?

I think it started when I moved to my own website.  I no longer had the words “FULL-FIGURED” yelling at me from the address bar or the top of the page and I guess, maybe, I felt a little liberated and felt like I’d been given permission to write about other things that interested me.

Not so bad, really.  In fact, it’s been quite fun.

But I realized something else, while I was realizing all these other things (Sunday, although truly a day where not a lot happened, was apparently chock-full of realizations) and that’s that I haven’t been writing about my struggle with body image because…I…don’t really struggle with body image that much anymore?

Wait.  What?

2013-10-15 12.09.25

2013-10-15 12.09.25

When the hell did that happen?

Truthfully, I don’t know.  I can’t pinpoint the precise moment I decided to love and accept myself exactly as I am.  Starting the blog was monumental, obviously.  I was able to publicly deal with a lot of dark and twisty stuff that I’d been bottling up for a long time.  What was even more amazing was everyone sharing their stories and struggles with me and all of us working through our crap together.  It was awesome.  It still is awesome.  Please don’t stop telling me about yourselves!

But anyway, I was pinpointing.  Or not pinpointing.  Or…whatever.  I guess at some point I just decided to stop believing all my own bullshit.  Actually, I think I decided that if I could teach myself to believe all this bullshit about not being thin/pretty/in-shape/toned/tanned/etc. “enough” (whatever that means) then I could teach myself just the opposite, even if it took another 25 years.

Besides, who doesn’t love a super-sexy and confident woman in her fifties?

kim cattrall

kim cattrall

I know I do.

2013-10-15 12.11.08

2013-10-15 12.11.08

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bit of a struggle, but here are some awesome things that have happened since I changed my life a year ago:

-I am 100% healthier in body, mind, and spirit

-I can cook some pretty delicious and healthy dishes

-I prefer walking to driving anywhere

-I wore a bikini on the beach last April (and received an embarrassing amount of positive attention from the natives)

-I’m down a size in my jeans

-I can look at photos of myself and at my own reflection and go, “Damn girl.  You look good.”  (I did that today, actually.)

Like for instance, today my wonderful husband put up this photo of us:

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1395148_578804838833540_1767869350_n

Before, I know exactly what I would have thought, looking at it.  I would have focused on my arms and thought, “Ugh, they’re so fat and pale and unshapely.”  And I would have scrutinized my complexion and my double chin and probably found every reason in the world to hate it.

But sometime, over the last three years, something clicked in my brain and I can look at this photo and smile and laugh and tell Jer that it’s one of my favorites we’ve ever taken.  Why?  Because of my barely contained smile.  Because of the way my fingers and hands are bent at such a weird angle that I’m always going to be trying to remember what I was saying to him right before the photo was snapped.  And best of all, because of the way Jer is looking at me like I’m unlimited supply of pizza and hot wings.  Because we look young and happy and in love and it’s all kinds of perfect.

(Oh, and because my hair looked good and crazy that day, too.)

good hair

good hair

(See?  Good and crazy.)

It’s kind of amazing the difference a little love can make, especially when you aim that love at yourself.

So that’s what’s going on with me.  What’s going on with you guys?

And here, I thought endings were hard

So here’s the thing.  The agent who was reading my book?  She didn’t want it.  Yeah, I’m dying inside.  Every time I say it or think it which (because I’m self-deprecating  and a little bit insane) is all the time, I feel like curling up into a ball and crying. Or screaming and pounding my fists.

Or drinking a bottle of tequila with a straw.

Or all three.

Or kind of like this:

And, okay, yeah, I know that literally EVERYONE gets rejected before they have any kind of success.  I know that.  (I mean, if you know someone whose first attempt at artistic success wasn’t rejected, don’t fucking tell me about it.  I’ll want them dead.  It’s not fair, it’s not right or mature, but it’s what I’ll want.)  But it doesn’t make it any harder to deal with the fact that I joined their ranks.  It doesn’t make me feel any less like an absolute failure with a 12 paragraph long e-mail with all the reasons my book sucks.  It doesn’t make me wonder if everyone who ever taught me was wrong or if everyone who read Mack & Moira thus far was just being nice.

Because these are real feelings.  These are real fears I’m dealing with all of the time.  Truly every time I open my word processor, there’s this little slacker voice where my imagination used to be that kind of yawns and looks at me like, “Really?  We’re still doing this?  Ugh.  You’re such a glutton for punishment but…*sigh* Okay…”

I also still have 130,000 unusable words that are all chanting a chorus of:

So there’s that.  Am I being overly dramatic?  Yes.  But just dramatic?  No.  I’m not.  And if you think I am, I don’t care, because the sheer weight of what needs to be changed about this manuscript that I just spent three years opening my veins into is just.  It’s just exhausting.  And of course I’m going to do it.  And of course I knew I’d have to.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I still feel like crying, and that a large part of my sleepy, slacker brain is wondering if it’s going to be worth it, and all of this adds up to me feeling really, really lost.

And really sad.

And having to write a “thank you for rejecting me” email that took three drafts before I could send it.

So if you see me and ask me how the book is and I either:

a.)    burst directly into tears

b.)    whimper and dissolve into a sniffling heap on the ground

c.)     turn and walk in the opposite direction

Just remember, it’s not you.  It’s me and my broken heart.

Will I get over this?  Yes.  Obviously.  If I can survive 2008, I can clearly survive this.  Because even if I don’t actually want to keep putting myself out there to be rejected again and again and again (repeat 400x as needed until success occurs), I’ll still do it.  Why?  Is it because I’m adorably optimistic and hopeful?  Not really.

It’s more like this:

PS: Thanks to Kat Dennings for her support and wisdom during this difficult time.

 

 

Endings are hard.

My book is finished.  Okay, not finished finished.  Not on-the-shelf finished or even as-done-as-it-gets finished, but it is finished.  The first draft is complete. I keep saying that thinking that I’ll feel something like joy or relief or even accomplishment, but I don’t.  I feel sad, lonely, a little proud, I guess, but mostly just kind of listless.

Is this what parents feel when they drop their kids off for college?

I should be jumping up and down like everyone else, but the truth is, I’m a little heartbroken.  I loved writing this book—even when I complained about it (which was, let’s face it, a not small percent of the time).  I love Moira and her broken heart, I love Jack and his honesty (and his grid-like abdomen), Mack and Charlie learning how to be friends as siblings, Rory, Betty, Tom Hanks…

I love all of them.  And now they’re all kind of grown up and done and I don’t know what to do with myself.

So while I pretend I’m not obsessively checking my email every thirty seconds (nothing new, I just looked), I’ve made a deal with myself that I won’t even look at the manuscript for 30 days.

And since I’m absolutely incapable of starting something new, I think I’ll just keep clicking through my Mack & Moira Pinterest board and listening to the Official Soundtrack.  That's not pathetic...right?

Anyway, special thanks to the following people, places, and things who helped me get through the last 3 years:

-My couch and laptop, without whom I would not have a 300 page manuscript or a place to rest my atrophying ass while I created it -My husband, who will never ever ever get all the credit and thanks he deserves.  It is because of him I have clean clothes, food, bills that are paid on time, and a full wine glass to celebrate. -Kassy, who must have heard the plan for the last 8 chapters forty-five times before she finally got me to admit that I was no longer blocked, just stalling -Jillian, who supplied me with a four-volume soundtrack of the most amazing word-inspiring music I've ever heard.  How this girl knows how to pick songs for scenes that haven't been written yet, I will never know.  She's got a gift. -Doc who read and reviewed each available chapter (sorry, you can't read the rest--it's not ready) -Alllllllllll the people who have read and reviewed and especially those who helped me get ready for the conference: Leah, Brittany, Mariah, and Adri -And the amazingly patient and wonderful Elizabeth who has loved and supported this project since we reworked the original idea (the one we'll never speak of.  ever.) at our first writers' weekend retreat in 2010:

3 summers ago :-)

So I know it's not really the end, because I will likely be editing until the cows come home (though hopefully not to my home, because I'm not certain where I'll put them) and I'm sure I'll eventually be so sick of Mack and Moira and all their wacky pals that I'll want to just do a Select+A+Del and start with something new...right now, I wanted to take a minute to remember this feeling of sadness and nostalgia and remember how much I've adored these characters from the beginning.

"Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There's always gonna be holes. And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something. I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass. ... No doubt, endings are hard.  But then again...nothing ever really ends, does it?" -Chuck, Supernatural

Creative Writing Workshop

It’s officially a year of breaking out of comfort zones, climbing out on limbs, sailing away from the harbor and too many clichés!  Adding to my list of brand new things I have always wanted to try, but have been too scared to actually do it, I have decided to start leading a creative writing workshop. I don’t want to say “teaching a class” because I don’t know that creative writing is something that can necessarily be taught.  I think talent and interest in the arts can be guided and directed, and while something like learning to play scales or use an airbrush technique is a definite skill that can be taught like a subject in school, I don’t think that creative writing fits with those words.

 

Anyway, that’s beside the point.  The point is that I’d like to start this workshop here in Warren, Tuesday nights beginning on May 7th at 6pm.  The class would be open to anyone ages 14+ and would only guarantee the 3 F’s:

*Freedom—to write what you want and not be judged

*Feedback—from a small group (no more than 10 people) to improve and develop your writing

*Fun—honing and perfecting your craft with a small group of like-minded individuals (I’ll probably bring snacks each week too…and we all know that snacks make anything more fun.)

 

The course would cost $50 and run for 6 weeks with each class lasting 2 hours.  Each class would focus on a different aspect of a work of fiction so that the end product is a well-rounded, thoroughly work-shopped piece of writing.  There will be weekly “homework” assignments (2-3 pages max) which will be work-shopped at the beginning of each class with the group.  There will be no official grades or credit given—this will be strictly extra-curricular.

Due to the nature of a creative writing workshop, a small-group setting is best, so I’m going to cap this class at 10 participants.  If the class fills up and there is still an interest from the community, I would absolutely consider hosting another class.

Disclosure: I am not a board certified teacher, nor have I ever claimed to be.  I am, however, a student and lover of the written word who has been creating fictional worlds since I was six years old and I do have a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a minor in Creative Writing from Clarion University. My second novel is in the final stages of its first draft and I will be attending the Clarksville Writer’s Conference in Tennessee this summer to meet with and pitch to several agents.  Most importantly, though, I am someone who would have loved and benefited from a small-group instruction of creative writing any time throughout my life, and am interested in creating such an environment here in Warren.

I hope you’ll join me!  Please e-mail (emily.jeziorski@gmail.com), comment, or message me on Facebook if this is something in which you’d be interested.

Right in the feels

I read this today on Pinterest and it stopped me in my tracks.  This is what I love about words.  I don’t know who said this, I don’t know why, or when or how long ago or if it was in a book or a movie or a song or just inside someone’s head who decided to write it down.  I could find out, but I don’t really care. taking so many naps

 

 

What is amazing is that whoever this person was, she managed to put into words what I’ve been feeling for the last twenty-five years and have never been able to articulate.

I’ve always been restless, always waiting for the next place I go to feel like home.  It never has—not yet, anyway.  Not where I was born or grew up, not where my family is, not where I am right now.  It’s good, it’s just not where I want to end up.

I’m not where I want to end up.  I’m not done becoming who I want to be.  Maybe when I get there, I’ll know where I’m supposed to stay.

I’m just not there yet.

But maybe that’s the point.

Kale chips, man. Kale chips.

  Today is a great day in my kitchen.  Why, you ask?  Two words:  kale chips.  Kale. Freaking. Chips.  (Okay, that’s three words, but only if you add the “freaking” in there, which you probably will after you try them.)  If you know about kale chips, then the amazingness of them is not news to you.  But me?  I’m still recovering from a life-changer.  Not even a game-changer.  Nope.  Life-changer.

Kale chips, man.  Kale chips.

There are plenty of recipes out there that will guide you down the path of awesome, but I got mine straight from nutrition guru Julie at the café.  Here’s what I did:

Step one: Took this gigantic bag of kale:

 Kale Chips 004

(That’s Gladys, my ladybug timer)

 

Step 2:  Arranged that stuff on a cookie sheet like so:

 Kale Chips 001

Step 3: Spritzed with some EVOO and seasoned one pan with sea salt and one pan with garlic powder, just because I was feeling frisky.

 Kale Chips 006

 

Step 4: Popped those puppies in the over at 350° for 10 minutes

Kale Chips 007

(10 minutes, please, Gladys!)

Step 5: Waited less than patiently for them to crisp up and the edges to turn brown, like so:

 Kale Chips 008

and a closer look…

 Kale Chips 009

(quietly preparing to rock my socks off)

 

Step 6: Eat, smile, be happy and know your life has been changed for the better.

 Kale Chips 012

(But brush your hair and put some lipstick of before you take a picture of yourself…unlike some of us.)

End!

PS: Starting now and occurring whenever I feel like it, I will be cross-posting on wellnesscafepa.com's website.  Check out my posts over there for my reviews of healthy recipes, workshops, and occasional success stories!