Yesterday was a laundry day. I was listening to music and packing for my upcoming trip when it was time to switch loads. I was wearing a white and grey beaded necklace, a black bra, and a pair of tiny orange shorts. I threw on my boyfriend’s sweater, which I had worn back from his apartment due to the unforeseen rain. And of course, I slid into a pair of ugly knock-off Ugg boots (see picture).
When I got to the laundry room to change my stuff, I noticed the person before me had left his/her dry clothes in the only two dryers. The time had stopped. I decided to give them 8 minutes and returned to my apartment. That’s when I realized. I had forgotten to bring my keys. The handle was locked. Both of my roommates were out of town, but I called one anyway.
The solution: walk fifteen minutes to pick an extra set up from my roommate’s friend. So I began my walk through the city… in that dreadful outfit, in the rain. Now, don’t forget, the boots were knock-off Uggs and they weren’t meant for wearing in wet weather. I slid along the cobble walkways and took a short cut through the Prudential Center.
I took the stairs and noticed an older couple moving slowly ahead of me. They were dressed in their Sunday best. Then I turned and saw a poufy white gown. A wedding couple. The couple’s family – all standing on the stairs. I glanced to my right. Everybody else was taking the escalator and staring at the newly married couple. Lovely.
My roommate informed me that the keys were actually left in the store below her friend’s apartment. When I walked up, I saw a window display of expensive colorful dresses. Even in my best clothes, I would never walk into that store. I walked in anyway. Three girls, clearly friends, were standing near the register saying, “I’m so happy for you” and “that dress is perfect.” I stood behind the girl in line and smiled weakly at her friends. It was the kind of store that makes you feel uncomfortable because you’re always one of the only ones in it so the workers stare at you, ask you what you want, and make you feel as though you’re not worthy of being there.
“I believe my friend left my keys,” I said to the woman. She smiled at my – not out of pity or concern – but a professional, “this is what I do all day” smile. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t make any jokes, she just handed them over and let me go.
I did as anyone else would have done: I cabbed it home. Why? Because the rain had stopped, the sun was shining, I was sweating, and I wanted to go home. When I got to the apartment, I went back downstairs to change my load. And nearly thirty minutes later and there was one pile of clean clothes on a washer and another filling up the dryer still. I carefully balanced all of my wet clothes in my arms as I shifted the stranger’s clean clothes into a pile on the washer, because the girl (yep, saw her underwear), was an idiot.
And what did I learn from this experience: 1) don’t forget your keys. 2) Don’t ever wear fake Uggs in the rain. 3) Nobody really gives a shit about you and what you’re wearing. They may judge you for it, but they don’t care. And they will forget. 4) Move your laundry quickly or somebody will move it for you. No shits given.
I dreamed of getting out of the burbs and living in a city. Late-night bars, walking down crowded streets, staring at the skyline, and checking out new restaurants. I knew freedom, adventure, and independence awaited me. What you forget to realize is that when you’re actually living in the city, you have to deal with the mice, the non-air conditioned apartments, and the sweaty, smelly subway stations.
I got on a full train - bodies touching bodies, hands rubbing against hands and before the doors shut, a middle aged woman pushed her way on.
I was tired, I was sweaty, and I was annoyed. The cart grew quiet as this woman told “her story” in the hopes of getting money from the dozens of people stuck in a tiny space with her no where else to turn. It’s brilliant on her part and annoying for everybody else.
I looked down at a stranger and she shook her head and whispered, “I’m not giving money to a crazy.” I half-smiled at her in acknowledgment and looked down the cart where this woman stood. She was clearly haggard looking, but like she said, she did have all of her teeth, so that must mean something, right? (Yeahhh okay). So I stayed quiet like everybody else. And then there was a faint voice, “Sorry, I don’t have any cash on me.”
“Are you kidding me? Not one of you is going to look at me?” The woman said. And then she pushed through the cart until she reached the far end of the cart where different people ignored her.
I think one man handed her a few dollars, but nobody else moved or spoke. They stared at their cell phones and ipads. They raised their eyebrows. I didn’t feel bad for the woman. Did she think her story would work? Because she had her teeth in tact and a man had tried to rape her while she was at an ATM?
When I reached my stop, I shoved my way to the entrance where she stood and I said, “I’ll pray for you.”
Had I really just said that aloud? Yes, yes, I had.
“You need it,” I replied. Fuck, I did it again. Why couldn’t I just leave the cart silently just like everybody else?
The lady stepped onto the platform and yelled, “fuck you and your fucking prayers.”
I walked at an abnormally fast pace as the adrenaline picked up and before I realized it, I was practically running down the street to my apartment. I was terrified this woman would chase after me. She didn’t, of course, but it didn’t matter. I got home and said a quick prayer for myself and the woman. Was I more terrified of the woman or the fact that I had just provoked her?
And that was my moment… my “I can’t do it” anymore moment, my “fuck this city” moment, and from then on, I kept my mouth shut.
A genuine “how are you;” a compliment from a stranger; a bowl of three ice cream scoops smothered in sprinkles; a “mental health day” where you spend half the day in bed and half the day going for a long walk; a twenty-minute phone call from a friend; a hand-written “thank you” card; a long hug; a cold, cheap beer with an orange sticking out of the glass; a pair of baggy sweatpants that hangs far too low at the crotch and drags on the floor; a homemade meal; a quick “hello” from a roommate; a sappy chick flick; a 400 page beach read; a lukewarm shower with music playing in the bathroom; a coffee filled with too much milk and cream; an email from a friend; a vase filled with blooming flowers, even if they die a few days later; and a moment to yourself so you can stop and reflect.
Sometimes life weighs you down. Sometimes it really feels like there’s a heavy blanket hanging over your shoulders causing your body to slump over. Sometimes it’s unbearably difficult no matter how many times you’re reminded that “it will get better” and things “will work out.” Sometimes you just want to bask in the frustration and embrace the unknown, because seriously, life is hard. And sometimes all you need is a drink, a long venting session with a friend who just “gets it.” Sometimes you’re so mentally exhausted that even after you sleep for nine hours straight, you wake up feeling unsettled, groggy, and unmotivated, but you get up anyway, because eventually you know it’ll be different. And even if it takes weeks or months, the blanket will eventually crumble and you’ll be able to walk away knowing that yes, it did get better. But until then, it’s okay to let the frustration out… it’s okay if you’re moody because life isn’t going the way you planned or in fact, life isn’t going any which way, but it’s still going. And even if you’re hanging by a thread, at least you’re hanging on.
Eventually, things will get better. Then they’ll get worse, then they’ll get better, and on and on and on it goes, like life does. So stop worrying so much. Do your best, keep pushing along, and remember, you’re not alone in this life - always give more than you take. Life is too short to stress about what might happen, what might be, or what never happened but should have. As OneRepublic puts it, “We put one foot in front of the other,We move like we ain’t got no other, We go when we go, We’re marching on.” So keep marching on…
It’s insanely difficult to keep up the writing while you’re working all day, running errands, paying bills, and trying to live a normal life. It’s not some hobby you can jump in and out of like knitting or cooking or playing cards. It takes time to develop characters, to develop a story, and most importantly, to motivate yourself to write over and over again. It doesn’t matter how many days or weeks or months go by… it’s difficult to pick it back up. It’s intimidating, but here’s what you need to start doing:
Join a writers group. They happen all over - network, ask friends, or start your own (it worked for me).
Take a workshop. Take a class at a local college or organization, do a summer writer’s seminar, or do a drop-in writing class. In Boston, there’s Grub Street. They have hour-long writing sessions for $10.
Read more. You may not realize, but reading and writing go hand in hand. If you want to start writing more, start reading more books. You’ll find the inspiration you need.
Carve out time. If you don’t make the time, you’ll never write. Schedule an hour into your calender. Wake up early and go to a coffee shop. Find a time that works with you and stick to it!
Carry a journal. I’ve been working on this one, because it’s tough. I feel silly writing in a journal on the subway, too, but I’ve realized: nobody cares. And some of the best material comes to you while you’re commuting, while you’re listening to a stranger’s conversation, or standing in a line. Take notes.
Separate yourself from social media. This one’s a problem for me. I can’t help myself. I get home from work and all I want to do is watch SYTYCD or Orange is the New Black. Instead, turn off the Netflix, the TV, or the movie, and focus on writing. I work best with music, but maybe you work best in a quiet room. Figure out what works and do that more often than not.
Commit to it. Whatever you’re thinking about writing, stop thinking about it, and just write it. Writers always have ideas flowing. Instead of letting them float around, it’s important to get them on paper to see if they’re worth pursuing or not.
“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” ― Henry Miller
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
I have been (un)fortunate enough to live in three different apartments in Boston, not including my brother’s apartment where I spent three months sleeping on a purple couch in his living room. In all three apartments, I have had major issues. Call it unlucky, or call it city living, but whatever the reason, it happens more often than not. So, here’s some advice for city living, based on my own personal experiences:
If there’s a man sleeping on your front door at 1am in the morning,you should call 9-11. They will have him removed. Don’t ever try to climb over a sleeping stranger, especially as you’re jiggling your keys into your front door.
If homeless people continue to frequent your stoop like it’s their home, tell your landlord and call the city’s non-emergency line. Apparently, your landlord can install motion activated lights on the stairs, as well as a no-trespassing sign. Every little bit helps.
If you have mice in your apartment, cover all holes in the walls (even the teeny tiny ones), put traps near the walls, and keep your apartment spotless. Also, keep your food in closed containers, keep your trash closed, and make sure there are no messes - clothes included.
If you find a cockroach, there are others. Look for holes in the walls, put sticky traps around the apartment, clean everything, especially the kitchen, and kill them with insecticides.
If you live below or above a drummer and they play at 4 or 5am in the morning, report it to the landlord. If the landlord doesn’t do anything and the music doesn’t stop, call 9-11 with a noise complaint. Don’t feel bad. If they play again and again, the cops can remove their drum set and charge them with a fine.
If your toilet floods, don’t scream. Seriously, that helps no one. Use a plunger. If the toilet continues to spill water (and the plunger’s not working), lift the back of the toilet and then lift the float cup or float ball high enough so that the water stops running. Now use the plunger to clear the area and reset the float so it sits lower in the tank. And clean up the mess…
If you have flies, don’t worry, they tend to live short lives. Until they die, keep your kitchen and living areas spotless. Bump up the air conditioning if you have it. If you don’t (as I do not), use fly paper on the windows and fly traps on the counters. Or use a magazine - works just as well.
If there’s a SWAT team at your apartment, find somewhere else to sleep that night. Refresh your google news, look on Twitter for updates, and email your landlord for details of the incident. You’re entitled to know a) what’s going on b) who they’re after c) what happens to the suspect when they’re sent to the psych unit and d) when they’re expected to return to the apartment (if at all).
If you have a creepy neighbor, don’t invite them into your apartment and don’t go inside their apartment. I thought this was self-explanatory, but apparently not.
Of course, these aren’t the only problems one might experience in the city… there are also bed bugs, rats, and spiders. Maybe I’ll be spared in my next apartment, but who knows. All I can say is, I’m ready for a clean, comfortable, safe apartment. I think I deserve that much…
Location: Journeyman Restaurant, Union Square, Sommerville, MA
Scene: My older brother’s birthday. We sat at the bar where we watched the chefs make our courses step-by-step as we sipped on numerous cocktails. It was a very satisfying, memorable experience that I recommend to anybody looking for a quiet, expensive night out. There was also a fire in the front of the restaurant. You can’t go wrong.