Wednesday, February 3, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #34

A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What's it like?

The perfect space for reading is basically this apartment, right here, right now, where I live. I guess to create the perfect space for writing, though, it would be the same thing, just with no other responsibilities so I can focus on writing.

My heart is really not in these posts at the moment. I'm so busy and don't really have time to focus on these in the morning when I need to be focusing on work. I don't really feel like doing this right now, because I feel like just lying on the couch and reading. But here I am, trying really hard to write every day, to follow through on the 365 writing prompts, and it's a struggle. But at least I got something down today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #33

"Think global, act local." Write a post connecting a global issue to a personal one.

LOL that this question is being posed to a vegan. Let's talk about climate change, shall we? Every single personal choice I make is a global choice.

My heart is not in these prompts. At least I lasted the first month. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, February 1, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #32

Invent a definition for the word "flangiprop;" then use the word in a post.

This is a stupid prompt. I've said that a few times about these prompts.

I recently learned about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Hit Record project. A kind of promo video was making its way around facebook, and I just started watching the first season on Netflix. I might sign up for Hit Record, quit with the prompts here, and get my prompts there instead. I still intend to write daily, just in a different venue with a different purpose. I think Hit Record is more in line with my long term goals for my writing, and the prompts are much more interesting than this. So, we'll see.
365 Days of Writing Prompts #31

Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

Full disclosure: I did not have time to write yesterday. I woke up at 6am, hit the road at 7am, spent the day in Brooklyn shopping and eating with my Vegan Lady Gang, got home around 11pm, and fell right to sleep.

That being said, I LOVE this prompt and am so relieved that now I can save the rest of my vintage lamps, all of my Pyrex, gifts from students from years ago, my Doc Martens, my laptop (which is owned by the school I work for, I'm sure they'd be thrilled if I save it, my grandmother's artwork, my great-grandfather's artwork, my phone (duh), my tempurpedic mattress, my week-at-a-glance paper & pencil calendar....

Hell, I'd save everything. Because here's the thing, I'm pretty minimalist. The things I own are things I really do love. It took me a long time to pare it all down and I really enjoy everything I still own.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #30

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

1. Mementos Box. This is where I keep old photo albums (pre-internet life!), letters, journals, my grandmother's recipes all in her handwriting. All in one convenient box because I've thought about this question.

2. External Hard Drive with all my everything backed up on it. I'm backing it up again right now while I'm thinking about this. It's a good practice to do this often.

3. Vintage Dress Collection. I can't decide on one dress, so I'm copping out and saving all of them. I have worked so hard to build this collection and getting them altered and I take such good care of them and they've been preserved for so many years--most of them are older than me--the thought of them coming to a fiery fate is too horrible for me to consider.

4. Vintage Cork Lamp. Not just because it's vintage, but because it was my grandmother's. And because I've had it literally my entire life.

5. Tom Robbins Collection. Every book he's ever written. Especially my signed copy of Still Life with Woodpecker. I waited too many years to meet him and get that book signed. It's so important to me.

This one has me curious. What would you save? Share in the comments. :)

Friday, January 29, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #29

Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.

I have just one window in my cute little studio, it's a huge window, my whole wall to the outside is basically a big tall window + sliding glass door.

The first thing I see is my balcony. I love my balcony, I love outdoor living space. It's not a typical balcony with a wrought iron fence like you normally see. Instead, it's a big brick wall with a really cool big archway. It's one of the things I love most about this building (I love everything about this building: it was built in 1895 and it was a bible factory!).

When I moved from a much bigger apartment with a much bigger balcony on the 3rd floor to my cute little studio on the 4th, one of the first things I fell in love with was my cute little balcony. My two Adirondack chairs (which are filthy after having been covered in snow) fit so much better and look so much cuter on this balcony. The balcony is also decorated with Tibetan prayer flags, a wooden OM wall hanging that I bought at a yoga studio where I taught years ago, and a really cool candle holder known as a "circle of friends" that I got to keep in my divorce. (I accidentally knocked it off a table once in my condo on South Beach and it broke into a lot of pieces--I glued it back together.)

As I admire my balcony now that all the snow has melted, I'm also acutely aware of the fact that it is desperately in need of a paint job. They need to scrape the floor and ceiling, as well as the ledge, and repaint it. Maybe I'll request that in the spring.

Beyond the balcony, I can't see a lot because I'm certainly not going outside right now, but I can see the roofs of a couple buildings, the traffic on Broad Street, and the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. But in my mind, I'm thinking about how it's so easy to see the Mummers (from up in my balcony is always preferable to near them) and the Broad Street Run.

And that's what I saw.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #28

A place from your past or childhood, one that you're fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.

So I'm only less than a month into these prompts, and already they're annoying me more often than they should. I can't even think of a place!

10 hours later...

And here I am, another day that it's the end of the day and I'm just now getting to this. This is a struggle, which clearly means I should keep doing it. I was thinking maybe just fuck it all, and freewrite instead, but I wonder if that will start being a struggle for me too. And I wonder why I'm so resistant to some of these prompts.

The first things I thought of were my grandparents' homes as places I was fond of from my childhood. But my Grandmom Texas's (yes, that's what I called her, Grandmom Texas) house in Dallas was already torn down, when I lived in Dallas, in fact. And my Grandmom Rosie and Pop's building in Chestnut Hill still seems to be standing, though it also seems to have been completely redone...which is obviously a good thing, since the last time they lived there was more than 25 years ago.

I'm not sure about writing a memorial to these places, but the thoughts of them make me nostalgic for my childhood, when everything was so much simpler. I may have still had depression and anxiety, because I forever and always have depression and anxiety, but everything seems so much simpler then as I look back. Is it because I was a child that it seemed simpler, or were the times before the technological revolution really just that much simpler?

I just don't know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #27

Most of us have heard the saying, "That's the best thing since sliced bread!" What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

Ha! I love this saying! Because I'm not quite sure that sliced bread was ever the best thing. I mean, it's convenient, for sure, but nothing compares to a ripping off a chunk of a baguette fresh and warm out of the oven.

Still, I've been known to say it. Of course, at this moment, I can't think of what I said it about recently. Space heaters? Pretty amazing. Otterbox iPhone cases? Flawless. Dry shampoo? Life changing. Yes, I'm just looking around my apartment and telling you about things I like.

Let me go on, because even though I'm kind of minimalist, a lot of my stuff simply enhances my life. Because the things I love, I REALLY LOVE. I'm obsessed with my granny cart (even made it through the snow yesterday full of groceries), my progressive lenses (fancy shmancy no-line bifocals), and my flannel sheets (naked sleeping in the winter!).

All of these things are BETTER than sliced bread. Vegan leather is better too! Whatever that magical fabric is that Vaute Couture makes their coats out of, that's better too! iPhones, like holy shit--we have a computer that can connect us with all of the information in the entire world and it fits in our little pocket! Yep, they're also better than sliced bread.

It seems that I could go on all day about all the things I love, so I'll stop right now because I need to grade some papers for the online school where I teach, which is also the best thing since sliced bread.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #26

What role does music play in your life?

One of my resolutions this year is to be more open to current music. I've been mostly stuck in a singer-songwriter from the 60s and 80s New Wave rut for as long as I can remember. But I like what I like and it makes me happy.

I'm not one of those people for whom music is my life. You will rarely catch me going to shows and there is a lot of music that I strongly dislike. Like punk and hardcore and any variations of those genres. I admit that I know very little about them. But what I do know is that it's loud, even when the volume is turned down, it's still loud, and it's actually physically painful to me. Like literally painful (and I use literally properly, not to mean figuratively like most people). Other bands I hate because they hurt my ears include Sigur Ros and Radiohead. Something about their sound sets my teeth on edge. I don't know what it is. I'm just super sensitive.

But still. I understand music's power to bring people together and I understand how particular songs affect me emotionally. Just give me some nice guitar sounds and some nice melodies and I'm happy. Find me people who love what I love and I'm happy. There are songs and bands that I will listen to over and over again--The Cure, The Beatles, Live, Tori Amos, Pink, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, Indigo Girls...I could go on....

The music I like I really, really love. As I work through my thoughts on this post, I realize I'm actually kind of self conscious about the things I don't like. Like I'm worried that people will think my music tastes are "uncool." It's time to get over that. I like what I like. If it makes me happy, like when I hear cheesy pop at the gym, that's great. If it inspires me to get up out of my desk and have a home office dance party, that's amazing. If it's meaningful to me, that's really all that matters.

Monday, January 25, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #25

Write your own eulogy.

Friends, Philadelphians, Vegans. Let us celebrate the life of our very own LJ, who did so much for our community during her VERY long life.

LJ was a teacher for many, many years, and we are so thankful to so many of her former students and colleagues for coming from throughout the country and even the world to pay their last respects. Sharing her love of literature and writing with all of you meant so much to her, as did her deep belief in online education. But what mattered most to her was getting to know each of you as individuals, and making a difference in your lives, whether you were a student in her English class or a teacher on her team.

Upon retiring from a career that she loved, LJ spent a great deal of her time with her first love, writing. After years of being encouraged by her closest friends, she finally became a published essayist. With multiple collections of short essays and countless appearances in The Best American Essays, LJ was so proud to finally be able to share her honest vulnerable self with readers who ended up caring deeply about her adventures and rants.

LJ was also a beloved auntie. She loved her nephews Benny and Adam and her niece Rory with her whole heart. She was dedicated to their education, and instilled in them all a love of books, and a love of animals. We all know that she was fiercely independent and happily childfree, but she loved all three of those kiddos unconditionally. In fact, it was Adam, before he was even born, who got her to move to Philadelphia in the first place, and she lived around the corner from him until he left for college. For that, Adam, Philadelphia is eternally grateful to you.

But what we will remember best about LJ is her friendship and community building. All LJ wanted was a group of vegan lady friends for dinner parties, but her creation of the Vegan Lady Gang truly changed the world: from potlucks and dinners to activism and volunteering, LJ created a movement of strong, compassionate women joining together to make the world a better place, and what a wonderful world it's become.

It's a quieter, less colorful world without LJ in it, though. So let's dance to 80s music, eat vegan donuts, and pass that joint around in honor of an authentic life well lived. To LJ!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #24

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the time goes off, publish.

Now we're talking! After pissing me off yesterday with what felt like a homework assignment, I'm thrilled to have a freewrite. So here's what I'm thinking about this morning: Snow. And how it affects your life.

In case you've been living under a rock, there was a blizzard that started on Friday night and lasted through some of yesterday. High winds. Cold temps. A shit ton of snow. I think we got about two feet of snow here in Philly. I posted on facebook that this year I would definitely sled the Art Museum steps. You know what? I should have known that I was totally lying. It was cold. And windy. I left the house for a total of 10 minutes, to walk with Lia to the corner store to buy some beer. Then I made dinner here instead. Because fuck all that cold windy frozen wetness, the worst.

On Friday night, though, I went out. I had a date with a guy I'd been talking to for about two weeks. I was never 100% into him, but I guess I was excited enough about him. And I wanted a snow date. We walked, like crazy people, to the Ritz at the Bourse, saw a great film (definitely check out Trumbo, great cast, very well written, and actually very timely), and then walked home in even worse snow and wind. He spent the night (I hate sleepovers, actually, but I'm the one who wanted a snow date), the sex was...ummm...let's call it good enough? He made sure I was satisfied, which is clearly a good thing, but overall it was pretty meh (and my feelings for him in general are pretty meh), and there just was not enough chemistry or things in common for me to want to see him again. Also, it took him two hours after I woke up to wake up and leave.

Today, I woke up wanting his energy and cooties out of my home so I...

Timer!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #23

Read the story of Richard Parker and Tom Dudley. Is what Dudley did defensible? What would you have done?

It's 5pm and I just remembered that I need to do this. I barely skimmed the wikipedia page (link above) this morning. This prompt reminded me too much of something I would assign a student, that it left me less than interested.

However, if my goal for doing these prompts is to get into the habit of writing every day, then I still need to write every day. Despite my resistance to the prompt, despite the three hours of sleep I got last night, I still am committed to this. Some posts feel really good and authentic, some less so, but at least I'm doing it. Even if today I'm writing just a little.

Friday, January 22, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #22

If you could choose to be a master of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?

The first thing that popped into my head would be whatever skills it takes to be a professional writer. You know, writing daily at a set time comes to mind, especially since I usually blog first thing in the morning and it's about 2:30pm right now. But that's what I want to be, that's my goal for the next phase: retire early and write.

But these are kind of skills that I already have. I know how to write, pretty well, if I do say so myself, so maybe think bigger....

Why is this post so hard for me? It's now two hours later than those previous two paragraphs. It's not like I'm super busy today. I clearly have a mental block. This prompt, like the bucket list prompt a couple weeks ago, is just not something I think about. I'm satisfied with my life. No. I'm happy with my life. I don't feel like anything is lacking, so I struggle with questions like these.

Oh. OK. I have one! Remember in The Matrix when they downloaded ALL of the martial arts into Neo's brain? I want that. I want to be able to fight like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And I have another! I want to be able to act. And act well. And be up on stage tomorrow.

And I want to be able to magically play the guitar! Especially since I posted three days ago about giving up on it!

Does being a dominatrix count as a skill to master? I want that one too.

And photography. I used to be good at it in high school I want to be good at it again. I want to be especially good at food photography. I'm a mess at that. And I'm a vegan on instagram, it's clearly a necessary skill.

HA! So that was fun. As soon as I said that my life is great the way it is, the part of my brain that still wants to learn all the new things woke the fuck up. I wonder where the hell it was all day? Because now I could probably think about 10 more skills I want to learn in less than 10 minutes.

Oh. But the prompt asked me for just one. Oh well.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #21

When you were 16, what did you think you life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?

I always pictured myself living in an apartment alone. Is that weird for a teenage girl? To not have visions of a husband and kids in a house? Probably. According to society. Well. Weird or not, it's nice to know I haven't really changed, that I've always been outside mainstream society's rules in my life choices. I mean, I did have a husband and a house for a minute, but that was clearly a disaster, and I've been back to living alone ever since.

I spent a lot of my childhood in Philly. My grandparents were here, my high school boyfriend was here, so this city has always been a big part of my life. I remember one time I made my grandparents take me to South Street and I dragged them into Zipperhead and Skinz. I thought I was so cool, but really, I was in Zipperhead and Skinz with my grandparents in the late-1980s. Not cool.

What is cool, however, is what 16-year-old LJ would think of 42-year-old LJ. I live a block away from South Street, hell I grocery shop on South Street, my favorite vintage thrift store is on South Street, I've been tattooed on South Street. And I'm living alone in the coolest apartment, being this happy, independent, badass woman.

So yes, my life looks pretty much exactly how I pictured it at 16. And yes, it's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #20

Think about the last time you broke a rule (a big one, not just ripping the tags off your pillows). Were you burned, or did things turn out for the best?

First of all, have you ever actually read the pillow tags? They say, "do not remove under penalty of law...except by consumer." You're the consumer, you bought the stupid pillows so it's within your legal rights to rip off the stupid tags. Everyone, stop being stupid about this and learn to read! </rant>

And now for the deliberately vague portion of the post. There are certain laws that I find completely unjust and I break them all the time, every day in fact, and I have for more than 20 years. I haven't been burned yet and it's the dawn of a new era. I'm clearly not losing sleep over it, but that's all I'm going to say about that.

Mostly because I have some place to be early this morning and I'm doing something out of my comfort zone, so it's time to get to it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #19

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

This is funny. I don't like doing things I'm not good at. And even though I tell myself that I'm new at something and have to learn and will get better, I'm still not that into it.

A few years ago, I learned how to crochet. I was so bad at it from the start. Ugh, that first loop, or whatever it was called, the first and second rows, terrible! But then, once I got past those first few rows, it got easier. I made a whole blanket for my nephew, but I was never really great at it, so after that blanket, a crappy pair of slippers and a crappy scarf, I gave it up.

Another thing I gave up quickly was guitar. And I was good at it at first! But as soon as I started learning chords, it hurt my fingers and I dropped it.

OH! And swimming! I get so winded, and the last time I tried to do laps in an aqua bootcamp class last year, I had a panic attack, ran out of class like a weirdo, and never went back.

So yeah, sometimes I'm a quitter.

But sometimes I'm not.

The first time I did yoga, I'm sure I was terrible at it, but I have been practicing for years and years and have spent a lot of time getting to know my body and I'm better for it. For a long time, I wouldn't go to advanced classes I was fully capable of out of fear. But I overcame that. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's called a "practice." It's not called a "perfect," you know.

Another thing I wasn't good at in the beginning is lifting weights, but now I'm obsessed and I lift three days a week. But I'm learning and I'm conscious of my form and I'm getting stronger every day. Also, I find it very, very fun, and I am truly enjoying watching myself get better and better at it.

I'm trying to figure out if there's a correlation between what kinds of things I quit and what kinds of things I keep doing. Both yoga and lifting I do with people--whether it's the yoga community, or my personal trainer, someone is there and happy to see me, which makes both activities more fun for me. The other things seemed more solitary. I wonder if that's it. To be honest, I'm really just thinking about the yoga and lifting I want to do this week and weekend.

Monday, January 18, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #18

Write down the first words that come to mind when we say home...soil...rain. Use those words in the title of your post.

Philadelphia. Dirt. Cold. OK. So my title is:

On Being Dirty & Cold in Philadelphia

Since moving here after 11 years in Miami Beach, I've always said that I prefer the gritty realness of Philadelphia to the shiny phonies of Miami. Philly is dirty and real, people are honest here, and not afraid to say what they want to say to your face. In Miami, people smile in your face, lie to you, then stab you in the back and screw you over before even blinking. Fuck Miami.

So many times people have asked me: "how could you leave the beautiful beaches, the sunshine, the warmth year round?" I'll admit that on mornings like this when the feels like is 7F in Philly and it's 50 degrees warmer in Miami, I do question my decisions, but some things are more important than weather.

In Philly, I live around the corner from my nephews. I get to hang out with them (and my brother and sister-in-law all the time). My dad comes to town a lot. Despite all the speeches I gave on Thanksgiving gatherings in my South Beach condo about my chosen family, and though I'm still triggered by a certain member of my immediate family, nothing is more important than being close to my real family.

In Miami Beach, I had a solid circle of girl friends. While I did learn a lot from them, and while I did grow through those friendships, there were very few people I could really count on, nobody I could trust with a key to my apartment for emergencies. People often flaked on plans, canceling at the last minute or just not showing up at all. Upon leaving, I never heard from most of these "good friends" again. And now, in Philadelphia, I have a whole Lady Gang, and an inner circle of girl friends who have never let me down, who are always there for me, who never flake, who tell it like it is, who I trust completely. To say it's a really good feeling would be an understatement, as I still heal from the "friendships" I had in Miami three years later.

In Philadelphia, we have museums, history, art, so much culture. While Miami's art scene is growing, it's also, like everything else in Miami, full of phonies. Miami has the better beaches, for sure. South Beach has spoiled the Jersey shore for me forever, but with everything else I have here, I can absolutely live without the beach.

I can't conclude this post without mentioning the vegan food scene. I mean, Philadelphia is actually a vegan destination. And Miami...is not. Like the art scene, I've heard it's improving, but Philadelphia it will never be.

I didn't intend for this to turn into such an "I hate Miami" piece. I mostly had a good life there. I became a yoga teacher in Miami, I became vegan in Miami, and those good friends mentioned above really were good friends at the time. I was in Miami for eight years after I left my husband (we were together for my first three years there), and for those eight years, I thought I was happy. But when I moved to Philadelphia, I discovered what real happiness feels like.

Last week, a friend told me that when he thinks of me, it seems like I've always lived here, that Philly suits me more than anyone else he knows. While I did spend much of my childhood here visiting my grandparents, I didn't know it was home until I came back in adulthood. Which takes me back to the prompt. Home is Philadelphia.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #17

Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?

The first thing that comes to mind is that time I was in 10th grade and my next door neighbor accidentally stuck her arm through a window and came screaming over to my house, bleeding all over my kitchen, because her parents weren't home. My parents were traveling, and we had a babysitter--like a grown up in her 20s kind of babysitter. She handled it right, called 911, the ambulance arrived. I freaked the fuck out, ran to my other neighbors' houses in the cul-de-sac because they were doctors.

I've been beating myself up over this action for 27 years, thinking that I ran away. But as soon as I wrote it down just now, it seems like I made a logical decision. I was 15 years old. The real adult was adulting just fine. And the logic of wanting a doctor around makes sense to me. So that was cathartic.

Thankfully, I can't even think of a more recent crisis situation, so I guess I'm doing OK. I worry about "what ifs" more than I should (I need to work on this) but I feel like maybe I wouldn't panic when faced with a real life crisis. I'm just not sure. I don't freak out when the fire alarm goes off in my building, so I guess that's a start. Still, I'd rather not dwell on this prompt any longer, as I try really hard not to worry about those "what ifs."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #16

Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

This is a very interesting prompt, and it's already brought up some important memories for me just typing it. The thing is, I'm not excellent at being self-deprecating, I've worked really hard on positive self image and loving myself, which is not the same thing as having a big ego, despite what my mother thinks.

When I was living in Miami Beach, a group of my girlfriends had women's circles on the new moon each month. It was a sacred space, and it was where I first learned to become part of a community of women who uplift each other instead of tear each other down. The circles were also the place where I first learned to combat my negative self talk. My friend Diana taught us a strategy in which every time she was saying something negative about or to herself, she tried to hear it in our friend Gina's voice. Hearing negative things in her best friend's voice helped her to hear how ridiculous they were. I still use and share that strategy.

So yeah, I like myself. A lot. And again, contrary to my mom's opinion, it's not a big ego. A lot of reading and a lot of therapy and a lot of work have gone into this self love, and it's not going anywhere. And I think a lot more women should join me on this journey, should love themselves more.

Because if you pay attention to the media, there's a reason so many women are "excellent at being self deprecating." Because we are taught, for our whole lives, that everything we are is not enough...not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not strong enough...or that we are too...too loud, too hairy, too fat, too thin, too emotional. Stop paying attention to the media and start paying attention to your friends and yourself. Did you know that the only reason women shave their legs now is because advertisers were trying to find a way to sell more razors? Women's body hair is seen as dirty by the mainstream because advertisers told us it was. For fuck's sake!

Take back your bodies! Take back your minds! Love yourself, ladies!

Friday, January 15, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #15

"It's never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don't really know." Agree or disagree?

This is a really old saying, right? I feel that it's even more relevant now as politics are more divisive than ever. So yes, I agree.

I was at two events recently where I wasn't 100% comfortable. I was out of my vegan-atheist-feminist-anti-racist-progressive bubble, and it was scary. At one event, I got to overhear the subtle racism from people who don't think they're racists. At another, I saw what my life would be like if I had chosen another path, and in that moment, all of my life choices were affirmed.

But yeah, at either of these events, if I had brought up politics or religion, EEK, what ugliness would have appeared. Instead, I kept quiet and I mingled and everything turned out great.

I actually have a really bad headache this morning (read: champagne hangover) so I'm really not that up for writing, though I may have more to say about one or both of the above mentioned events, still need some time to process....

Thursday, January 14, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #14

Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on that article.

Umm. No? I'm not a short story writer, I'm a memoirist, so I'm just going to do my own thing today and ignore the prompt. Like when I couldn't get through Moby Dick in an American Lit class in college so I wrote my essay test about why I didn't read it and somehow ended up with a B.

Oh, OK, just one short paragraph later and I feel guilty for not attempting. Let me open Citizen Radio and see what they're talking about today and then decide. So we have Obama's Last SOTU Address, GOP Takes Aim at Trump's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric, and National Guard Distributing Bottled Water in Flint.

(I am so disinterested in this prompt that I just walked away to make my bed. I never make my bed.)

Yep, I don't write fiction, this is not going to happen, though it might be fun to explore how Trump's own party is having a problem with him. That's good news, right?

Meh. I'm hungry. I'm going to start my day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #13

Explore the room you're in as if you're seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?

This is actually something I think about a lot, how someone's home is a reflection of who they are. I live in a small studio apartment with a separate kitchen. I'm currently in what I call the "main room," which is my bedroom, living room, and home office. If I didn't know me, I would think that the person who lives here:

  • Is a neat freak, but wonder why she doesn't make her bed.
  • Likes to read.
  • Cares about her family.
  • Likes really cool vintage lamps.
  • Likes the color red.
  • Has cool taste in art. 
  • Is close with her family.
  • Runs cold and is probably suffering from the weather.
  • Really likes candles.
  • Really likes Philadelphia.
  • Really likes her job.
  • Is creative.
What's interesting here is that I rarely burn any of the many candles I have and that I am not that particularly into the color red. This post actually made me want a new cover for my couch. In fact, I just opened IKEA on another tab and I'm checking out new covers. Maybe a nice gray? Or a darker purpley red? Something to think about. I'm also thinking about replacing a table with a dresser. What stranger LJ wouldn't notice above but real LJ knows is that I need just a little more storage. It's on my to do list. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #12

Run outside. Take a picture of the first thing you see. Run inside. Take a picture of the second thing you see. Write about the connection between these two random objects, people, or scenes.

Well. I didn't actually "run" anywhere. I opened the door to my balcony, but fuck going outside, the "feels like" is 19F.
Here we have an Adirondack Chair on my balcony. I've been obsessed with Adirondack Chairs ever since my days at sleep-away camp. They just look so cool to me and they are so comfortable for lounging on a summer day.
And here we have my unmade bed that I just got out of. Tempurpedic mattress, shredded memory foam pillows, flannel sheets, lots of blankets, right next to my heater, so cozy, and the second thing I saw after closing the door to my balcony that I didn't even go out on.

What do these items have in common? Besides being owned by me, and being supportive of me when I sit or lie down on them, they reveal my independence and self reliance. The Adirondack Chairs and the bed frame (and almost every piece of furniture I own that isn't vintage or gifted from my sister-in-law) came in lots and lots of parts in a box and I put them together by myself.

In college, I bought my first piece of furniture that came in a box. It was a dresser. I was a damsel in distress, so sure that I couldn't possibly do it myself, that I didn't even try before enlisting the help of two male friends to do it for me. That shit fell apart within a few months, the faces of the drawers never stayed on. Was it the dresser itself or was it the dudes who put it together? I'm going to go with the dudes.

I bought a new dresser in grad school from IKEA, and it was the first thing I put together myself. I certainly wasn't going to ask the losers above for help again! It was easy and fun! Since then, I've put together countless shelves, chairs, dressers, tables, beds, couches, desks...including that Adirondack Chair and that bed. All. By. My. Self. Because I enjoy the process--it's like a puzzle. And because I can.

I think this just turned into a post on feminism. Or at least a post on being a badass strong independent woman who owns a power screwdriver. Which is kind of the same thing.

Monday, January 11, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #11

If you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover.

Ummm. How about HELL NO?! For two reasons:
  1. Would this book be a factual account? Like everything that really happened as it happened? As in not colored by my perceptions and memories and weirdness? Then definitely not. I like my vague, shadowy memories, colored by who I am now and who I was then. 
  2. I don't want to know the future. If I knew what was coming, what fun would that be? Would I try to fight the inevitable? Change things I saw coming? Would I get depressed? I'd much rather be present in this moment right now.
However. What I'd like to do is actually write a book about my life. I've had some adventures and I can tell a good story. I mean, I did graduate with a degree in creative non-fiction writing 20 years ago...I should be using it for more than this blog, Yelp reviews, and carefully crafted emails to my team, right?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #10

Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely?

As I child, I used to think that vanilla was nothing more than the absence of chocolate. Vanilla was nothingness. And therefore terrible. As an adult, I've come to appreciate vanilla as a flavor, but as long as it's mixed with something else, like cookie dough. Chocolate. Chocolate desserts forever.

Is this really what this prompt is asking me about? I took this project on as a means of getting into a habit of writing every day. But am I really writing about flavors right now? My love of chocolate? The fact that I add raw cacao to every smoothie so that it may look green, but it tastes like a chocolate shake?

Or is it asking about something else all together? Perhaps it's asking if I'm into vanilla sex (I am). Does that mean that chocolate sex is kink (which I am also into)? Or is that more like rocky road or even chocolate chocolate chip?

Last week, when I was asked to write about my bucket list, I shared some deliberately vague goals about sex and relationships. I feel like I spent last year gathering knowledge on who I am as a relationshipper and who I am as a sexual being. I find it interesting that since I've been in my 40s, I've become more and more out of the mainstream (I was always out of the mainstream, I just have become more accepting of myself) and more and more kinky (I think it was always there--my best friend for 20+ years wasn't surprised when I told her about it--but maybe I wasn't always aware of it). The more I get to know myself, the more I'm comfortable with myself, with my body, and the more sure of my likes and dislikes I become.

I am surrounded by amazing feminine energy with the Lady Gang and it's positive and life affirming and life enhancing and I've never been happier. I am who I am right now because of the amazing women friendships I have been cultivating, especially since I moved to Philly. I am strong and independent and happy and part of an amazing community.

So now here's what I want. I want men who are as good for my life as my ladybros. I want multiple lovers in my life who are good for my body, my mind, and my spirit. They don't all have to cover all three aspects, that's why I want more than one. I want great sex and great cuddling and great conversations. I want to stay in and I want to go out. I even want sleepovers (once in a while). I want ethical non-monogamy and kinkiness and body-positivity and sex positivity.

And I want chocolate.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #9

You're locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what's in the room.

I've been thinking about this prompt as I made my morning smoothie and I can't think of a response. I don't think I'm really scared of a lot. I mean, I don't watch a lot of scary movies because they give me nightmares, whether they're supernaturally scary or crazy monstrous human being scary. But those aren't real life. I wouldn't say I'm fearless, but I do walk alone in Philadelphia often late at night and that doesn't really scare me.

Or maybe the things I'm scared of are so horrible and upsetting that I don't want to put them in words for fear of manifesting them. Rape. Torture. Something happening to my nephew.

Yeah, I can't write about this. The real life things that scare me make me want to cry, they're just too terrible to even imagine, let alone write about.

Friday, January 8, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #8

Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different because of him or her?

Oh wow. I AM a teacher and I feel like I owe my 18-year career (so far) to so many of my teachers in my life. From Mrs. Gardner and Mrs. Lipscomb and Mrs. Taylor in elementary school to Mr. Rosenthal and Mrs. Koons and Mrs. O'Brien in high school and even to Dr. Sutherland in college and Dr. Wilcox in grad school.

I always wanted to teach. I used to play school with my brother. The teachers above all inspired me in some way to be the teacher I am today.

From my elementary teachers, I learned compassion: they all seemed to love me even though I was a pain in the ass weirdo who cried all the time and needed a lot of attention.

From my high school teachers, I learned my work ethic and my openness to student ideas and creativity. I still hear Mr. Rosenthal in my head bellowing "Beware the Ides of March" every single time I talk to a student about Julius Caesar and I think that the moment Mrs. Koons used my idea for an exercise in stream of consciousness is the moment I decided to become an English teacher.

From my professors, I learned how to structure classroom discussions and everything I know about pedagogy.

And what about my students, who are as much my teachers as my actual teachers were? I'm thinking specifically about Colton, of course, and how he's grown from being my student to my intern to a teacher on my team to my co-lead and one of my very best friends. Soon, he'll be above me on the payscale. Nothing could make me prouder.

I owe so much to all of those teachers mentioned above, and to ones that I didn't mention (like my supervising teachers when I was an intern who told me I'd never make it as an English teacher). Without them, I wouldn't be the teacher that I was for Colton and so many other students.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #7

Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that--and what did you do about it?

I'm sitting here staring at this prompt with absolutely no idea what to write about. I haven't felt helpless in a long time. And I'm glad because clearly, I'm a control freak.

Even last night. My internet went out and I couldn't get it back on and I had to contact customer service. The customer service rep talked down to me like I'd never even heard of a router, made me reset everything and then there were problems with updating my wifi name and password, and then I had all kinds of rage at the less than helpful help desk. So I ended the call, and I fixed that shit my goddamn self. Because I'm not helpless.

I just got distracted by texting with a friend, so I'm going to just let this prompt go and be glad I haven't felt this feeling in a long time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #6

What's the most time you've ever spent apart from your favorite person? 

Interesting question. My favorite person is my nephew, Adam, and I haven't spent more than a month away from him since he's been born, and that's only because in the summer, he goes to the beach house in Margate.

In September 2012, I was still living in Miami Beach. My brother (Jeff) and SIL (Nikki) had gotten married earlier that year and Adam was due to be born the end of October. I wanted to come visit for no occasion--I didn't want to see my parents (though they both insisted on coming in from Harrisburg and dad even dragged Jeff and me to the cemetery to visit our grandparents' graves) and I just wanted to enjoy Philadelphia. I spent a lot of my childhood here, but hadn't been here other than the airport in about 20 years. There were vegan twitter friends I wanted to meet, vegan restaurants I wanted to try.

It was a Thursday night, and Jeff and I were walking down South Street to Blackbird, and I turned to him and said, "I kind of really dig the vibe here." By Sunday morning, I decided to move here. A week later, my South Beach condo was on the market. Part of the draw was the impending arrival of Adam--I wanted to be the auntie who saw her nephew twice a week, not the auntie who saw him twice a year. And part of the draw was Philadelphia itself. I just knew I belonged here.

I came back twice more in 2012 before my big move to see more of the city and apartment hunt, and I fell more in love with both the city and my nephew. I signed a lease the week of Thanksgiving, and officially arrived at my forever home on December 21, 2012. I see Adam all the time, babysitting often and just spending time with my family. Summer is the hardest because they're at the beach house the whole time, so I try to get down there at least once a month. I have this irrational fear that Adam will forget me (he never does, he never will, I'm his LJ, but still!)--and that is my answer to this prompt.

I find it interesting that I started and ended this post with Adam, but that mostly, I wrote about Philadelphia. The two are so intertwined for me. That 3-year-old (3 already!) is a very important part of what has been the best part of my life so far. Living without Adam, and without Philly, would be a kind of death for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #5

Take the first sentence of your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

(Well, since I went with one of my favorite books yesterday, I'll use my other favorite today: sentence is from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.)

"We slept in what had once been the gymnasium."

Yeah, so I don't like this prompt. Am I supposed to be writing fiction based on this? I'm not a fiction writer. Is it supposed to trigger a memory? It kind of takes me back to something Jewish youth group related at the Harrisburg JCC, but it's vague and I'm sure we didn't sleep in a gymnasium. Can I just write about how much I love The Handmaid's Tale? And how annoyed I am right now that when I took the book off of my shelf the cover fell off?

I know that part of why I'm doing this to just get into the habit of writing daily, so I suppose this is sort of turning into a stream of consciousness exercise today and that's fine too. But I have a headache, probably with two causes--sugar withdrawal and my period--so I'm suffering, but at least I'm writing. But honestly, that's enough.

I tried.

Monday, January 4, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #4

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

I feel like I have a few of these, and that I probably have an old blog post or posts somewhere with my top 100 favorite quotes in it or something. But I'm going to go with one from Tom Robbins' Still Life with Woodpecker, the one that I had him include when he signed my copy back in October:
"Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words 'make' and 'stay' become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free."
Actually, after I responded to yesterday's prompt, I felt moved to write again last night. But I had to go out mid-post and I wasn't feeling what I'd written this morning, so I deleted it. And now, here I am, thinking about this quotation, which is very much related to that post. To me, this quotation speaks to who I am with my belief in ethical non-monogamy and to some ideas I've had about unconditional love. This is the kind of love (kinds of loves) I'd like to find.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #3

What's the 11th item on your bucket list?

Oh shit. Only three days into the writing prompts and I don't really have an answer. As I've already stated, I use my Day Zero lists not just for big items, but for small goals and baby steps for things I struggle with. And I'm so happy in my current life that I'm pretty much present in it and not so focused on the future. But, if I have to answer this question, maybe let's brainstorm.

I know my first few, my biggest dreams, they're easy:
  1. Retire early and be a writer, get published.
  2. Take an improv or acting class--perform on stage.
  3. Something Vegan Lady Gang related--I want to see this group of powerful women make a really big and really positive difference in Philadelphia and even the world.
I met Tom Robbins a few months ago, that was such a huge bucket list item that I was sure it would never even happen, so maybe I should add my other favorite author to my list:

     4. Meet Margaret Atwood.

But beyond that, I don't really have any big things I dream about. Should I? Am I missing out by not having a bucket list? Is it boring that right now, I feel like this is a valid bucket list goal (that I might even achieve this very year):

     5. Get out of debt.

I have some goals related to my sex and romantic life but I'm not really up for sharing them here right now, so this is me being deliberately vague:

     6. Sexy goals.
     7. Unconventional partnership goals.

Is the fact that I plan to get knuckle tattoos as soon as I retire from teaching a bucket list item? If so:

     8. Get knuckle tattoos.

I also have some local goals I want to achieve:

     9. Visit ALL of the Philadelphia museums and historical sites.

So I looked at Day Zero and there are some places that I want to see on that list, but to be perfectly honest, I really do NOT enjoy traveling. Everything about travel makes me anxious, airports and lateness and everything unfamiliar. Clearly this is something I should work on, because I might be missing out:

     10. Visit London, Paris, and Amsterdam.
     11. Visit Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver.

OK, so there's my 11. So I should work on overcoming my travel issues. Maybe I'll be ready for that in 2017.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #2

Have you ever made a New Year's Resolution that you kept?

Yep. Last year, I made the best resolutions and keeping them made for a great 2015.

The first one was to become a more auditory learner, and to that end, start listening to podcasts. I started with Citizen Radio--every day--and now I feel really good about how informed politically I finally am because of Jamie and Allison. Citizen Radio's Lady Power Hour led me to The Struggle Bus, which makes me feel like anything I could possibly go through in life, there is someone going through something similar--so reassuring--and I want to be friends with Katherine and Sally! Through recommendations from friends, I've also picked up on Serial and This American Life (duh) and Mystery Show and A Way with Words. I've listened to a few others, but these are the ones with staying power for me. I even have an audio book in my library queue, so I would say that the auditory learner resolution was a success!

The second two resolutions were to spend more time with my friends Betty and Lia. I had the best year because of these two women, and they've become two of my closest friends. Through them, I've met other amazing women friends, I've become more giving, a better listener...I'm simply a better version of myself because of these two friends. In the past 5+ years, I've been realizing more and more the value of women-friendships, of how important it is for us to join together and lift each other up, to build a community. Betty and Lia are both very important parts of my community, and I have so much gratitude for them, and for all of my circle of friends. It's a good life, a life of friendship. I'm very happy.

One never knows what the coming year will bring, but yesterday, Betty, Lia, five more girlfriends (I love my life!), and I set our visions for 2016. It's going to be a good one.
A photo posted by LJ (@veganlicious.lj) on

Friday, January 1, 2016

365 Days of Writing Prompts #1

Where were you last night when 2014 became 2015? Is that where you'd wanted to be?

I was home, happily alone, makeup washed off, getting ready for bed, hearing my neighbor (I think) vomit off of her balcony. I had just gotten home from a wonderful impromptu dinner with my friends Lia and Bernard at Bar Bombon, though I had intended to stay home, since I'm hosting some ladies for brunch and vision boarding this morning.

I was glad to get out for dinner though. As happy as I am to stay home, I'm not a party girl, I feel like I'm in a good place in my life in that I have friends who want to spend time with me on New Year's Eve. It was nice to get dressed up, I was really proud of my eye makeup, it was nice to have a great meal, and then it was nice to get home.

I'm glad, very glad, that I am not the kind of person who vomits off of a balcony.