Some Notes on Letting Go

{a rerun}

15124851037_bcf3019df2

When I was 8, I saw a pair of white gloves in a toy store that sang to my soul. They were long and satin and gorgeous, and I knew immediately that my life would never be complete without them. So when my mother wouldn’t buy them for me, my mission was clear: make her life a living hell. I begged and I whined and I sulked, and it soon became clear to my mom that she could either buy me the damn gloves or live the rest of her life being tortured by a freckled pain in her ass. She chose wisely.

Every night I’d put the gloves on very carefully—pulling them slowly up past my elbows—and I’d slip into my black mary janes that made the most satisfying clicking sound on the tiles of my bathroom floor. I’d spend long swaths of time click-clacking around that bathroom with those beautiful satin gloves on, and I felt positively regal. The fact that the bathroom was so small that I could only take a step or two in any direction, and that I was in my pajamas so I looked like I’d just fled the “special” ward of a hospital, stepping back and forth in place and gesturing wildly with my gloved hands—well that never occurred to me. It all just felt so right.

That memory has been hovering over me lately, and it’s made me realize 2 things: 1) My inclination towards madness is nothing new. And 2) What if I was willing to be a bit more like that little idiot, tapping back and forth in front of a bathroom mirror for no other reason than the fact that it made me happy? Ok the second one isn’t so much a realization as a question, but whatever. Continue reading

Advertisements

Jump In, The Water’s Warm: My Relationship with Social Media

photo-1425116100155-1ac0797442e1When social media first came around, I did not jump to join the masses. I preferred to be invisible. My life, as the cliche goes, had taken some bad turns and there was nothing about it that I wanted memorialized in photographs, much less posted for the world to see. I didn’t believe I had anything worth showing and so, I stayed as far off the grid as I possibly could.

When I was 23 I left my hometown, and in 12 years went back once, for half a day. I kept in touch with one person, who would occasionally tell me that someone had messaged her on Facebook to find me. Another friend reached out to my sister to ask her where I was. I would get the messages and let them go unanswered.

Truman Capote wrote of grief in In Cold Blood—he said that it draws a circle around you which separates you from anything outside of it. That’s what fear did to me in my 20s, and I disappeared into that circle. I didn’t want to be seen and so, I made sure I wasn’t. Continue reading

12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Social Media

22648728215_8e8056a225Here’s an old post for my new friends. I wrote this in December, when I had only been on social media for a few months. I was overwhelmed and confused and scared for humanity. I’m still all those things, but not quite as much. Progress, right?

So here it is–the list of wisdoms I’ve gleaned from social media:

1. I had no idea how much I missed a couple of people from my past until I re-connected with them.

2. The most delicious of all the features across all platforms: you can be friends with someone without following them. Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean I want to see or hear a single thing you do or say. Which, let’s face it, would be a pretty cool feature in real life too.

3. Social media messes with the natural evolution that’s supposed to happen in your life. Sometimes people are taken out of your life for a reason–it can be a beautiful gift, but it’s very hard to receive it now. No more survival of the fittest. Now every last slobbering, sweaty, unfit remnant of your entire life survives—and posts pictures of its survival for you to enjoy. Continue reading

A Few of My Favorite Things

25618679925_818626d5aeAs you may or, more likely, may not have noticed, I’ve stepped away from my blog for the last few weeks. Life can just be so damn time-consuming sometimes. And the more wrapped up in my life I get, the less I seem to be able to appreciate what’s good about it–even if I’m busy with great big wonderful things (which is not always the case), I don’t leave myself time to enjoy it.

Generally speaking I’m not one for gratitude lists. I find them hokey and a little self-deceptive–in my mind, gratitude is like modesty or being cool: once you’re talking about it, you probably ain’t got it. Having said that, for someone like me who tends to fall on the darker side of things, a gratitude list every now and then is not a bad thing. As writer I needed a blog post and as a human I needed to shift my focus. Two birds and all that. I’ve tried to keep the hokeyness to a minimum. Please to enjoy my gratitude list:

  • Grandma pizza from Coppola’s in New Providence, N.J. (Truly one of the joys in my life.)
  • The Mr. Miyagi-like calm that I feel while painting the walls in my apartment.
  • My little watercolor painting that I bought for $5 in Vietnam, for which I chose the perfect frame.
  • My 2 nieces and nephew who took me to school for “Special Person’s Day.”
  • The timing of that day: when I was beside myself with fear and sadness, and absolutely needed an auditorium full of grade-schoolers who were given access to microphones and instruments, to drown out the noise in my head.
  • A meeting with a journalist last week that gave new direction to my writing.
  • Soft serve vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. (Some say boring, I say classic.)
  • The knowledge that there’s a difference between being needy and letting yourself need someone.
  • That I don’t try to write poetry anymore.
  • A best friend who makes me laugh until I literally can’t breathe, while creating the perfect collage of all my artwork over the couch in my living room.
  • My new perfect pixie cut.
  • Walking into my quiet apartment after a long, loud day of life, knowing that everything is just as I left it.
  • That Jon Snow rises from the dead naked.
  • The fact that as of right now, I am not permanently responsible for any children.
  • My Sally.
  • That sometimes I do know when to walk away.
  • The faith that surrendering to that which is stronger than me is not the same thing as being defeated.
  • That I got to swim in the Gulf of Thailand and see this:

    phu quoc sunset
    Sunset as seen from Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam.
  • The editor at The Classical who helped shape the essay about my father and the Knicks that I had wanted to write for 20 years.
  • That there was no social media when I was in high school.
  • 2nd chances.
  • 3rd chances.
  • Bob Odenkirk
    9365338422_0a474a1496_m

  • The pain it takes to grow.
  • Don’t be ridiculous–that last one was just to see if you were paying attention.
  • White lilies.
  • That in between all the regret and grief, I can come back to the truth: that I’m better and more and further because of all the things that have broken me.
  • That moment just before you drift off into a late afternoon nap after a draining holiday dinner, and you see the cold fall sun through sheer white drapes, and everything is dim and blurry and quiet, and you catch yourself thinking, “maybe everything’s gonna be ok.”
  • Changes that I never could have seen coming.
  • Sarcasm.
  • Eye rolling.
  • Pop Tarts.
  • My great thaw: the process by which I am becoming willing to be vulnerable and bear discomfort and accept my own humanity.
  • My freckles.
  • Costco frozen yogurt.
  • A day a few years ago: walking to my sister’s house from the train station just after it had rained, and noticing how beautiful it was–the metallic trees, the smell of fresh earth and mint and change. It was a time when I was desperately trying to change, but it was hard and grueling and I wasn’t sure if I could, and I certainly wasn’t in the habit of noticing beauty around me. But that day I did. I noticed it and then it occurred to me later that night that the noticing meant that I was, in fact, changing.

 

photo credit: Claudia via photopin (license)

photo credit: Bob Odenkirk via photopin (license)

The Final Frontier: Lessons in Love

I’m not sure that I’ve been doing this long enough to start repeating posts, but an old piece of mine is up on The Huffington Post right now, and people seemed to dig it the first time. I’m trying to be more consistent about my posting schedule (because I know everyone is waited with baited breath), so Wednesday nights people. Wednesday nights.

****

love

Until a few years ago, I never let anyone get close enough to hurt me. Vulnerability was not a color I was willing to wear, and for years I thought that that made me pretty badass. I didn’t need a man to take care of me — I could do it just fine by myself, thank you very much.

Turns out, what’s actually badass is having the guts to be in a relationship — to show up on a daily basis for someone else and allow them to show up for you. There’s nothing harder or more revealing of self. My friend rightly calls being in a relationship the final frontier: raw and primal and often desolate. So, based on my extensive experience, I figured I’d compile a list of things that I’ve learned since moving to the final frontier:

  • Love is a choice you have to make over and over again. There will be times when you’ll want to punch this person that you love in the face — hard — and then leave. Times when the only thing you’ll be able to see is all the work that lies ahead, unfurling in front of you like a roll of garbage bags, and you just won’t be sure that you’re up for it. Intimacy is hard and it’s sloppy, and inevitably it will make you decide whether or not you’re up for the job of earning it.
  • Humility: Part 1 — The wood never fits. Admitting I’m wrong doesn’t come very naturally to me — especially, ironically, once I realize that I’m wrong. That’s when I decide that if I just whack this huge rectangular piece of plywood enough, I’ll get it to fit in a teapot. Spoiler alert: the wood never fits. That’s what she said. (Oh c’mon, you were thinking it too.)

To check out the rest of my sage advise, head over to the Huffington Post.

 

New Parenthood: Where Baby Meets Badass

24204550771_7c213183b4

The true mystery of life was not that we are all going to die, but that we were all born, that we were all once little babies like this, unknowing and slowly reeling in the world, gathering it loop by loop like a ball of string. The true terror was that we once didn’t exist, and then, through no fault of our own, we had to.

-Dan Chaon, You Remind Me of Me

A few things have recently conspired to get me thinking about beginnings:

  1. Two people who are very special to me had a baby last week, and while they did not deliver on my request for a dramatic, blog-worthy water-break when we went out to dinner a few weeks ago, it hasn’t been a complete waste. I’ve been hanging with the new little nugget quite a bit and she’s melting my badass right off me. I’m smitten. That newborn-head smell. Those tiny frogger legs. Her wobbly little head, and eyes that speak of equal parts confusion, intrigue, and suspicion. So this is all pretty interesting, but please tell me that soon I’m headed back to that dark, warm place I used to live in—hey c’mon!—put that blanket back on me!…wait, where are you going with that boob?…oh you’re not really about to dunk me in any water, are you? That’s the vibe I get from her.
  2. I’ve also been struggling with a piece I’m writing about my relationship with my mother, specifically how decisions that were made long before I was born came to shape the person I became. How my parents’ expectations about who I’d be—about what they needed me to be—affected the person I actually became.

At a certain point we all try to re-write our past by re-writing our future. We change jobs, we move, we end relationships— and sometimes the new narrative comes in the form of a baby. I was not able to do X, parents sometimes say, so I want my child to. My parents didn’t do Y for me, so I will do Y in outrageous measures for my child. If only they’d done it the way I will do it, things would have been better for me.

I will watch my child be what I might have been.
Continue reading

Bombs Away: The Anatomy of a Text-Grenade

1014389095_ba4129859a

They say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. So, I have a problem. I’ve tried to stop on my own but this thing is bigger than I am—I can stop, I just can’t stay stopped. Every time I do it, I wake up the next morning remorseful and I swear that I’ll never do it again. But then I do.

My name is Dani and I launch text-grenades. I want to stop—I really do—I just don’t know how. Continue reading

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad For Ditching Your New Year’s Resolutions

FullSizeRender_2

“It is not all bad, but it is not all good, it is not all ugly, but it is not all beautiful, it is life, life, life—the only thing that matters. It is savage, cruel, kind, noble, passionate, selfish, generous, stupid, ugly, beautiful, painful, joyous—it is all these, and more, and it’s all these I want to know and, by God, I shall, though they crucify me for it.”

-Thomas Wolfe’s Letters To His Mother 

February 17, 2016

I’ve been recovering from some pretty invasive oral surgery this week, so I’m re-publishing an old post that I think is particularly relevant this time of year, when many of us fall off our resolution-wagons. ‘Forget it,’ we say when the results aren’t what we thought they’d be. ‘I don’t know why I ever thought I could change in the first place.’  We set unreasonable goals, beat ourselves up when we fall short of them, and then use those shortcomings as proof that real change simply isn’t possible. And by believing that, we make it so.

So I’d like to reiterate my objection to the whole idea of new year’s resolutions.

Change is slow and subtle. It isn’t about grand gestures or sweeping declarations. It’s about the small decisions you get to make on a daily basis that eventually add up to something bigger. And the beautiful thing about “a daily basis” is that a new one starts every day–you get to decide to start the process of change right now, even if the scale is smaller than what you had in mind. Smaller scales are better anyway; sudden, sweeping change never ends up being real. It’s the painstaking, repetitive, meandering change–the kind that takes place in the grit and muscle of life’s grind–that’s what ends up sticking.

So here again are my thoughts about new year’s resolutions.  Continue reading

The Green-Eyed Bitch

97353996_0aa308b47e_mI’ve never been a particularly jealous girlfriend but I am a very jealous writer. When I see someone promoting a piece on Facebook or Twitter, I feel something a little bitter and slithery churn in me: “Not fair,” I think in my whiniest adolescent voice. My better self might know that it has nothing to do with fair, but that better self doesn’t always get a say.

Now raise your hand if any of the following scenarios churn something ugly in you:

  • Someone else’s kid makes Varsity and yours doesn’t.
  • Your friend drives a BMW P series (or whatever) while you have a shitbox with a tape deck and half a bumper.
  • Some perfect-looking skinny bitch is…well, a perfect-looking skinny bitch.

Don’t lie—your hand is up by now.

  • A writer you know signs a book deal with a big-time publisher.

And now so is mine. Continue reading

If I Knew Then, Part II

image
Look’it this idiot. Clearly, she needs some help.

I’ve been doing more thinking about what I’d tell my younger, dumber selves, I suppose because my present self needs the help too. It’s funny how I can learn something–sometimes over and over again–and still need reminding about it. I guess knowledge and acceptance often run on very different tracks. (See Part I of my sage wisdom here.)

Here’s what I came up with. Continue reading