Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic…

I’ve been working on a new project this month that I’m very excited about, but I’m determined not to use it as an excuse to neglect my other endeavors. Instead, I’ll just take you guys along for the ride!

I’m starting work on my first middle reader novel. It is also my first totally fictional effort. I’m not bad with the semi-autobiographical, but this is new territory for me so I’m pretty nervous about it.

I’m working on a story that features an LGBTQ protagonist. Shouldn’t actually be all that groundbreaking, but there is a huge dearth of LGBTQ friendly books for kids who have graduated from easy chapter books but aren’t necessarily ready for most of YA. And that’s sad. Because the need is there. Kids are coming out earlier and earlier and finding no literary representation. No one is telling their stories. These kids don’t need the sex and the intense, life changing relationships of YA, but they do need someone to tell them it is totally normal if you’re a boy who wants to hold the hand of another boy or a girl who is crushing harder on Taylor Swift than on Taylor Lautner. Even more than that, they need to see that these LGBTQ characters do the same things normal characters do. They go to the mall and tell jokes and play sports and drink Frappucinos. They get in trouble and win science fairs and dance awkwardly at school functions. And it’s not just LGBT kids that need these books. ALL kids need to see diversity in their literature.

I’m sending in a sample of this new project to apply for a diversity grant. The grant helps support diverse writers while they are creating diverse books, but more than that, for me I think it would be confirmation that I am on the right track with this.

All my fingers and toes are crossed for good news!

What about all of you awesome readers? What’s a book you would have liked to read in middle school that didn’t (and maybe still doesn’t) exist? Let’s discuss!

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“Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.” -Jen Lancaster

This has been a very long three months. As some of you may know, but most of you probably don’t, we have been having some gigantic issues with the management company of our apartment building. Today we had to put on our respectable clothes and spend hours playing grown up in a court room to defend our right to live in our apartment for the next couple of months. Not fun. But, in theory, it’s an ill wind that blows no good and this particularly bitter wind certainly brought with it a handful of lessons about being a grown up.

1. Get everything in writing, especially if a verbal agreement contradicts something that is written. Example- when the nice realtor who lives in the same building with her dog says the management looks the other way about small pets, despite the lease saying no pets, do not just believe her because she is nice. Nice doesn’t hold up as well as words on paper.

2. Have a nest egg or an emergency credit card. Preferably both. Just in case life throws you a curve ball. Sometimes you get stuck with surprise expenses, like pricey doggy daycare in NYC, and it’s nice if you can deal with those expenses without having to eat ramen for a month.

3. When in doubt, lawyer up. Seriously. If you have to go toe to toe with a company whose sole interest is their bottom line, it’s a good idea to have someone on your side who can finish their signature with Esq. Lawyers are much harder to bully with forms and technicalities and not-so-subtle intimidation tactics than the average tenant. It’s a pricey investment, but the peace of mind is worth it, and, sometimes, if you get someone really good, the results more than pay for the cost.

4. Some things are worth fighting for. Our tiny canine princess (pictured below) has brought incalculable amounts of happiness to my home and I would fight for her a million times over.

Fay

And as for the last lesson…

5. Winning. Is. AWESOME. That tiny pup and all her various people are staying right in this apartment until the lease is up.

Boom. Lawyered.

Time to pick a winner!

Hey friends! I posted a giveaway last week and, even though I didn’t quite hit the amount of comments I wanted, I’m going to tweak my rules just a bit and give Auggie & Me a new home anyway.

The winner of a brand new ARC of Auggie & Me by R.J. Palacio is…

GabrielaCasella!!!!!

Congratulations!

And stay tuned, everyone. There’s more fun to come!

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me…

C.S. Lewis totally gets me.

Hello, friends! I have to start by saying, I went to a blogger conference last week and the two rules they gave me were:

  1. Don’t apologize for absences
  2. Don’t write long blogs.

I’m about to break the heck out of both of those rules.

I have not written one single little word in here for nine months. I could birth a new person in that amount of time. I didn’t. But I could have. So my apologies are dual. One to anyone who occasionally checks in on me and finds nothing new to see here. Another to myself for not taking the time to do something I enjoy.

There are a couple of reasons for my going AWOL. Initially, it was because the wife and I were busy getting settled into our Brooklyn abode and having panic attacks on alternating days that we’d just sunk our entire savings into this move. To b fair, that still occasionally happens, but here we are. After that the holidays descended full force and I decided to vent my creativity by becoming Betty Crocker. I did impress myself a couple of times. My first attempt at a Yule Log was more than respectable (and even if it hadn’t been, it was soaked in so much booze no one would have noticed if I’d made the whole thing of Playdoh.)

yulelog

Pretty, right? And you could basically get drunk off the fumes!

After that (drumroll please!) I started a new grad school program. One that actually kind of makes sense for a girl who can think of no better situation than being surrounded by books and drinking tea. I enrolled in Library School (name withheld because, well, stalkers) where, in two years, I can have a Masters in How To Be A Librarian. I go back and forth a little on whether or not this was the right choice, but the reality is that I’ve been hemming and hawing about whether or not to pursue performing again for a couple years now and that wasn’t doing much for me. So, I figure if I’m going to waffle indefinitely about pursuing a dream, at least I can be productive while doing so and, at the end of the next year, if I still haven’t decided, well, at least I’ll have a way to make some money while I vacillate.

Truth be told, though, I’m actually really glad I enrolled in this program. I took a children’s literature class this semester that lit a spark in me that I haven’t felt in awhile. In some of my research projects, I focused on LGBT books for kids and what I found is that there aren’t many. I know, big surprise right? But I had no idea how severely underrepresented LGBT characters and ideas were for younger kids. It was while I was in the midst of this (not actually shocking) realization that Andrea Davis Pinkney came to talk to us and something she said really stuck with me. She said she was having a conversation with her husband about the lack of diverse books available for kids and he told her that if they didn’t exist maybe she needed to write them herself. So she did. And I was floored. Because, despite being someone who writes, someone who finally managed to finish a book last year, someone who has been keeping a journal/blog for almost two decades, a solution that obvious had not even occurred to me. So I sat down and thought about it. I thought about the books I’d been reading for class and the books I’d read when I was younger. And then I thought about the books I didn’t read, the literary mirrors I never had. It took me a decade to realize I had a crush on a girl because I had no vocabulary to explain what I was feeling to myself. And then I started thinking about all the stories I wish I could have read. And I started to think maybe I could be one of those voices missing from the library shelves. Hmm…

Cut to the end of the semester and I had survived the project from hell (seriously, group work should be banned after like third grade) and all of the final papers and assignments, coming out with a 4.0 and a brand new happy dance. I spent a solid week telling anyone who would listen that I had managed a perfect GPA my first semester of grad school. Not even humble bragging it like any respectable braggart. Nope, I was shouting that news from the rooftops and inserting it in essentially every conversation I had. (Sidenote: I think, somehow, we’ve been conditioned to somehow downgrade our own accomplishments out of some bizarre societal norm that says humility somehow outranks pride when it comes to personal accomplishments. Well, eff that, I say! I worked my face off for those grades and I am gonna be as effusive in praise of myself as I would be in praise of anyone else.) As a reward, I bought myself a pass to BookExpo America’s Bloggers Conference and a weekend pass to BookCon.

So let me just tell you about that if you’ve never been. BEA is a professional conference for people whose careers revolve around books (librarians, publishers, authors, etc). That’s the official declaration. Unofficially, it’s more like Woodstock for nerds (I’m including myself in that description before anyone can be offended haha.) It is three days of literary bacchanalia, where authors are the rock stars and all the rest of us are either the screaming fans or the caretakers of the rock stars. And if Woodstock was a bit of a chemical free-for-all, well, let’s just call books my drug of choice. And there were plenty. Advance Reader Copies everywhere you turn. Books of every variety offered to you around every corner. It was one crazy trip, man. It started on Wednesday and my week went something like this.

Day 1: I shall go to all the conferences and learn many things. I don’t need to bring a suitcase like everyone says because I am here to gain wisdom and knowledge. During a break, I make the fatal mistake of going to check out the exhibition floor. I will only be there for a few minutes, I think. I have many more things to learn this afternoon. And then someone handed me my first ARC and I fell down the rabbit hole, emerging dazed and glassy eyed an hour later to attempt to regain my day and resume my schedule of learning things. I am still convinced this week is for learning. I go to a few more panels and then head home patting myself on the back for not being sucked into the madness. I only left with two big bags of books.

Embarrassing Event of the Day: Not realizing I was holding a Bernadette Peter’s book until I glanced up and she was two feet in front of me. Not bad on its own, but I proceeded to gape like a fish before walking away with what I thought was a free ARC only to be chased down by one of her people and firmly advised that I could NOT have that book. I am fairly certain the shade of red I turned is not one my face has ever experienced and I hope it never experiences it again.

Day 2: I think perhaps I need better shoes. And maybe a suitcase. Just in case. But I am going to learn things. That is why I am here. I attend a panel and then, mysteriously, I find myself suddenly in the exhibition hall. I have no idea how I got here. But the books! They are everywhere. There are more than yesterday and all of these people want me to have them. It is possible that I am dreaming or that it is Christmas or that I have died and this is heaven. I will go back to the panels later. Really. I will. Probably. Only this line to meet Brandon Stanton (you know, Humans of New York. And if you don’t know, look him up. You’ll thank me.) is very long so perhaps I better just skip the learning things.

Embarrassing Event of the Day: I spilled coffee all over my white shirt. On the plus, I managed to do it after meeting Brandon Stanton. Small favors.

Day 3: I have given up on all pretense of educating myself. Today I am hanging out with my favorite Syracuse librarian and we are going to get all the books. This is the plan. It turns out she is a very good accomplice in this mission, possessing a stunning combination of fearlessness and speed. Mission accomplished. We part ways in the afternoon and I line up to see Mindy Kaling. This is pretty much the rest of my day.

Embarrassing Event of the Day: Mindy Kaling asks if I am R* as that is what it says on the sticky note I am clutching. I reply that R* is my roommate and that I am getting this autograph for her. MK calls me a good friend. I reply that I try. She says, “Well, I hope she enjoys it.” Says I, “We’ll see.” We’ll see. Yes, I said to a best selling author that there is some possibility that my roommate will not, in fact, enjoy the autograph and preview chapter that she has just given me. I realize my mistake and attempt to rectify it calling helplessly over my shoulder that my roommate introduced me to MK’s book and I feel like she deserves the autograph as thanks. MK appears to be simultaneously be bored and also possibly slightly concerned about my sanity. I could, however, be attributing this to her because I am questioning my own sanity at this point. I am a spaz. Also, I don’t even watch the woman’s show. I just really liked her book. From this, I conclude that apparently the only people I turn into a babbling idiot around are authors whose work I enjoy. (And possibly Naya Rivera, but I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t?)

BEA15

The results of Book Expo 2015- Books for days!!!!

After such an embarrassing week, I was only cautiously optimistic about not making a raving fool of myself at BookCon over the weekend. BookCon is the greatest thing in the world for book lovers not lucky enough to work in the field. It’s BookExpo-lite, with a few less giveaways maybe, but with much less pressure to rationalize to your boss why you should be allowed to attend on the company’s dime. The crowds are completely overwhelming and the amount of people crying over missing out on an autograph from a Kardashian makes me concerned about the future of this world, but minus that, it’s quite a fun weekend. My wife and my roommate came with me on Sunday and it is no exaggeration to say that we could have made real use of a pack mule trying to schlep all of our swag back to Brooklyn. By the end of the day, people were begging you to take books off their hands so they didn’t have to ship them. A volunteer handed my wife a stack of a big name, big deal, up and coming novel and told her she could have extras for her friends. Not people to turn down free books, the three of us ended the day bent practically in half and running for the bus in a sudden downpour, trying to make sure the books weren’t destroyed before they even made it home. It was some combination of amazing and terrible. Terribly amazing?

So, that’s a little update. I have many more words, but since I’m already approaching 2000, I’ll cut myself off here and promise a solid effort on my part to update more often.

One more thing. I’m thinking about adding the occasional book review in here and in the spirit of that, I thought I’d try a little contest. If I can get ten comments on this blog telling me about a book on your To Be Read list (whether it’s published yet or not) I will put names in a virtual hat and pick one to receive an advance copy of Auggie & Me, Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio. Get your comments in this weekend because on Monday June 8, 2015 at noon I’ll choose a name!

Until then, happy reading!

BookCon15

And, thank you, BookCon, for all the beautiful books!

You’d be surprised, I’ve changed while you’ve been gone…

This is my first official post as a blogging Brooklynite. I feel a bit more hipster-ish than I ever envisioned myself, but I can’t deny I’m digging our new zip code.

So for starters, apologies to the handful of you that check in on me ever so often. This poor blog has been horrendously neglected for the past two months. Things have been a tad crazy and, as often happens, something had to give. But now we are living in a shiny new place and I have a minute or two to breath between crises so it’s time to play catch up.

So, biggest thing first. I have officially been married for over a year. That kind of thing bears some commemoration and reflection. We have had some amazing times in this first year and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to experience them with someone as fantastic as my wife. We’ve been to Vegas and Florida and Upstate NY on vacations this year. We’ve managed to see NINE Broadway shows, five of which were Tony nominees this year. Please forgive that statement and be assured that it’s not a humblebrag. It’s mostly a reminder to myself about how much I have and a further reminder to keep remembering gratitude. I didn’t even know some of these things were possible when I was a kid and now I’m living in the greatest city in the world and am able to experience SO MUCH. For a kid from a tiny town in Florida, it’s overwhelming. We’ve also been able to spend time at some museums and parks and fantastic local places and every new discovery has been delightful. We got to be the first customers at a local artisanal ice cream shop and it was super fun. And I rode a freaking roller coaster! We’ve made some wonderful memories in this first year. It’s going to be fantastic to look back and remember how much we were able to experience together as newlyweds.

That said, I’ve learned a little more about marriage than what can be encompassed in fun new experiences. I’ve learned that not every part of marriage involves cupcakes and rainbows. Not everything is shiny and pretty, even when you’re a newlywed. 2am trips to the emergency room still happen. Family emergencies happen. Personal health crises happen. Professional uncertainty happens. Tears and fears happen. Snoring happens. Tone deaf 4am singing happens. Jokes about farting happen. And the great thing is that, through all of it, you have someone next to you saying, “I support you. Always. Unless you intend to murder someone and then maybe let’s talk about things first.” For all the good times, this has been a difficult year in many respects and knowing I had someone to lean on through the worst of it was the only thing that got me through some of it. A lot has changed this year. A lot is still changing.But I’d like to think we’re trudging uphill slowly. 

It’s strange, the picture that triggered tonight’s writing had little to do with the present and much to do with the past, yet when I sat down to write, the present seemed to matter more. I hope this is a sign of progress. I have terrible difficulty leaving the past where it belongs, especially things I still feel guilty about or hurt over, but I am working on it. It’s interesting, though, how easily a picture can create the need for an outpouring of words. This one picture led to a search for more and, when I found them, a bit of indulgent nostalgia. There’s something endearing about one’s nineteen year old self when looked at through a lens less tinted by negativity. There’s something unutterably sweet about remembering how new everything still was. There’s even some level of compassion for some of the mistakes yet to come that that smiling girl knows nothing about in that moment. She doesn’t know it yet, but things will get worse before they get better and some of her choices are going to leave some very deep scars. She doesn’t know how significant an impact she is having on the woman she will become. I’d like to think, if she did know, she might be kind enough to avoid some of the calamities, but I know better. Nineteen is invincible. Nineteen thinks tomorrow will always be unblemished. Nineteen is a conceited little twit at times, but she’s also lovely. She still believes that she can have it all. She may be dumb, but she’s optimistic and I can certainly respect that. So, here’s to her, but here’s also to moving forward, taking the positive and learning from the negative. Nineteen left me with a lot of demons, but she also left me with some memories that even regret can’t tarnish too badly. Time to kick some demon ass and let nineteen stay in the past where she belongs.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Aside

I am writing an angry blog today. I am displeased with this world and the effect I have allowed it to have on how I live.

I went into Old Navy yesterday on a mission to find a t-shirt and some shorts to wear to Pride. I have frequented Old Navy in the past for clothes that are affordable and cute, if not exactly durable, and I expected today to be a day much like any other. I picked out a few shirts to try and checked out their Pride t-shirt for the year and then headed off to look for shorts. Now, this is kind of a big deal for me because my legs haven’t been in shorts since, I don’t know, circa 2001? But I’ve been trying to reclaim my right to love my body and to wear what I want and so I was going to buy a pair of shorts. Only guess what I didn’t find on the shelves? Shorts in my size. Now that might not have been so irritating if they had other large sizes and were just out of stock in mine, even if they were out of stock in every single style. But that wasn’t the case. Old Navy just didn’t have any shorts in the store above a size 16. Well, you know what, that doesn’t include me. And I’m sick of having to feel ashamed of that. So that upset me, because I’ve always been able to find clothes I liked there. But the thing that really incensed me was that I could still find other products in my size. I could find jeans and shirts easy peasy. Just no shorts. “Sorry plus sized folks, but we’re not interested in seeing your legs. Cover those things up!” was the message I took from it loud and clear. Ironic from a company that sells Pride shirts to not encourage all kinds of positive pride. Now to be fair, you can certainly go online and buy some of their shorts in a larger size, but, sorry bigger ladies, they’re not gonna make it as easy on you as they would if you were a little smaller.

Well,l you know what, Old Navy? You can suck it. Because I am AWESOME. I am SICK of letting the world tell me that I am less than because I don’t fit inside their dainty little box. This world has been telling me that because I am fat or because I am queer or because I am a woman, I will never be enough. This crazy world started telling me to be ashamed of myself long before I had any idea that what they were feeding me with their pretty pictures was poison. Even before a girl hits puberty, she’s inundated with messages telling her she should be pretty and thin and that the ultimate goal is for Prince Charming to come and rescue her. 

I’m over it.

My Prince Charming is a woman with ideas and beliefs and curves who is so much more than just beautiful.

And I am not thin. Odds are I never will be, at least not in a way to fit the standards of a glossy magazine.

And I am a woman. If I do things like a girl, I’m not going to apologize for that because I am one and we are fucking amazing.

I have spent the majority of my life feeling like I needed to wear capris so my stretch marks don’t offend anyone. But I wore shorts to Pride this weekend (thank you, Forever 21!) and it was fantastic! And I wore a shirt that showed a little of my stomach if I stretched certain ways, a stomach that is not even slightly flat or unblemished. After spending so much time covering it up and trying to hide the imperfections, I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I felt good when I put on my outfit and first looked in the mirror, but not even a minute later I could name a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t be so bold as to wear what I want. This was the first time in probably a decade that I declared myself free of other people’s expectations of what a plus size woman should wear. And it was freaking liberating. And it won’t be the last time. I bought a bathing suit this weekend, too. It comes in two pieces and it doesn’t include a modesty skirt and I am damn well going to wear it to the beach and have an awesome day.

Because I deserve to feel the sun on my skin again and if the world doesn’t like it, they can kiss my big butt.

But let me caution you, that’s so not an #endrant. Because today my country said to me, “Oh you’re a woman? You mean you think it should be up to you and your doctor as to what health care you need? Nope. Sorry. We’re gonna leave that to your employers and they now have a legal right to complete douche-baggery.”

You know what’s ridiculous? Being punished for being born with ovaries. And the punishments just keep rolling in. Equally qualified women rarely make as much money as their male counterparts. Women are much more often the victim of crimes, especially sex crimes. I’m scared when my wife comes home alone at night because I know how often we hear the jeers and catcalls when we’re together, just walking down the street. #yeseverywoman experiences sexual harassment on a near daily basis. And every single one of us can name a time when we’ve been scared to walk alone. Shame on the world for that. And shame on anyone who thinks they have a right to dictate what medical procedures I choose for my body. And shame shame SHAME on all of the victim blamers and slut shamers and misogynists that EVERY WOMAN has to deal with constantly. I am not less than because of the parts I come with. I am AWESOME. And someday the world’s not gonna be too cowardly to accept that.

And while we’re ranting, you know what else is gonna happen based on today’s Supreme Court idiocy? Lots of companies are gonna jump on the religious bandwagon and then where does it stop? Do we get to legalize the right to discriminatory hiring practices? Can employers only offer bonuses to employees who live in keeping with the boss’s moral code? Does corporate America get to decide cancer treatment is against their religion? Or hey, maybe your religion orders you to beat the crap out of gay people and, since you’re running your company that way, if it happens to someone on the clock, that’s totally fine, right?

Gay people. Female people. Fat people. People of color. Short people. Weird people. Religious people. Not so religious people.

There’s an overwhelming theme here. People. We’re all people. When it comes down to it, we all run because for some reason our hearts decide to beat. So maybe it’s time to stop acting like some people are superior to others. Maybe it’s time to start reclaiming our right to be treated as just as important as everyone else. And maybe if a few of us start now, it will catch on.

One pair of shorts at a time.

And when I grow up, I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed…

Welcome back to me! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from this writing regularly thing that I was doing. I’ve been a bit bogged down in introspection and decided it might be best to take a few weeks to collect my thoughts before I put them on the internet for the world to judge. But, to be honest, I’ve had a bit of difficulty finding clarity lately. I’ve been feeling like the universe is trying to send me a message. And until this evening, I was pretty sure that message was to not even bother with trying to change things, because the second you do, it all falls apart. Several separate instances led to my forming this opinion.

#1- Back in late October, I was pretty certain I didn’t want to stay in law school, but I made up my mind to stick it out for the semester and see how I felt in December. It seemed like the right thing to do to at least give it that much of a try. Then a family crisis happened and I was called out of town and by the time I returned it was near to impossible to catch up on all I’d missed. Said the universe, “Fuck it. Go watch Netflix instead.” And despite my resolution to finish the term, I found myself in the dean’s office completing an exit interview and hanging my head because I couldn’t keep it together.

#2- In January I wrote myself a list of goals that escalated in difficulty for twelve months to try and help myself develop healthier habits. I got a good start on this and things were going well and then, well, my dad almost died in a car accident. Suffice it to say that my new goal was just to get him through the worst of it without having a breakdown of my own. Said the universe, “Fuck it. All you have time for right now is Publix subs and caffeine. Deal with your health later.”

#3- On Saturday, June 14th, I felt a rare sense of daring developing. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a right coward when it comes down to anything even remotely intimidating, so I semi-dismissed the feeling and went to bed. I woke up on Sunday morning and the feeling had not only persisted, it had redoubled its efforts at getting my attention. And I knew it was time. I was ready to try and learn to be brave. I thought, if I can take one little step today, then I’ll be able to take another little one tomorrow and some more after that. I dragged my ever-accommodating wife off to Coney Island and found a roller coaster that looked like it would scare me without killing me. We got in line and we paid and I panicked. I’m not a brave person and doing a brave thing was WAY outside my comfort zone. But I also realized that it was possible there was more to my panic than just the roller coaster fear (although that was a pretty giant fear by itself). If I managed to face up to one of my fears, I would know I was strong enough to face up to more of them, but I’d also have one less excuse to avoid them. I got on that coaster (reluctantly and with my wife urging me every step of the way) and I screamed my face off and cried and laughed and ended the ride not even knowing what to do with myself. And it was awesome. And so I thought, “Good job self. Let’s keep this up.” And for a few days I did. I even decided that I was going to go crazy and take a tap class. It’s been my lifelong dream to take dance classes at Broadway Dance Center, but I’ve avoided it because I felt like I wasn’t ready, like I’d stick out to much for being the large person in the room, like maybe I just wasn’t good enough to dare to dance on those hallowed floors. But I was going to do it. I was going to tell the world and my own insecurity to suck it and that I had as much right to dance as anyone. Yup. And then my ankle gave way as I was walking through a parking lot and that little dance class idea flew right on out the window. See, with my history of ankle injuries, there’s a strong possibility that a doctor could tell me I’ve done too much damage and won’t be able to dance. Until June 21st at about 10pm, I was pretty sure that was the universe’s final nail in the coffin of my ambitions and goals. I was relatively certain that the message was, “Fuck it. Hide in your room and drink a lot of wine because every time you try to make things better, I’m gonna knock you on your butt.”

But around 10pm my wife found out Shrek the Musical existed on Netflix and we decided to turn it on. And then this ragtag crew of fairytale creatures took the stage and somewhere in my brain a little light went on. The Pied Piper’s rats started dancing with Sutton Foster and I literally cried because the idea that I could lose dance was too painful. It was one thing to always think in the back of my head that I could get brave and go back when I was ready. It was a whole other tragedy to think that there might not be a choice. And I think that’s when it clicked. What if the universe isn’t trying to tell you to give up? What if the universe is trying to prove that there’s nothing you haven’t made it through, even if things didn’t always go as planned? What if you have a choice in how you interpret any message? Or what if the universe doesn’t give a fig about you at all? Maybe things just happen and you get through them how you can. I wouldn’t trade being there with my family through various crises for the best law school grades ever and a list of perfectly checked off goals. It was worth more to me to be there to say goodbye to someone I love, than it was to be in law school. It was more important to me to be with my dad whenever he woke up for that week when things were still really scary than it was to have perfect gold stars for drinking enough water and working out. And while this ankle injury is really scary for me right now, maybe the point wasn’t to take dance away, but to remind me to fight for something that it would hurt so much to lose. Maybe the universe is just trying to remind me of what my priorities really ought to be.

So to that end I’ve decided that this injury isn’t going to be an end for me. I don’t know how things will ultimately turn out with my foot, but I know that it’s time for me to figure out some priorities. I’m very good at making abstract lists of things I want and ideas I’d theoretically like to pursue, but I’m terrible at making concrete goals for myself. Much like bravery, it’s something I need to work on. So here are the first few.

Awesome Life Goal #1- Live in New York City for five years before considering relocation again. I’m infamous for my gypsy ways, but I’ve grown tired of traipsing around. One of my two goals in life was to be a New Yorker. It’s time to stick it out and make it work.

Awesome Life Goal #2- Go talk to a therapist. I was hesitant to be so forthcoming about this particular goal, but I realized that that is because our society has put such a stigma on asking for help with mental/emotional issues. But the reality is, if I am willing to go to the foot doctor to fix my foot when it is injured, I should be willing to do the same for my brain. Plus I really think that everyone could use an unbiased sounding block from time to time to help sort things out in their heads. It’s time for me to stop being a hypocrite and take my own advice. It’s a tough world, and if someone out there can make my anxiety about living in it a little less then it seems like a worthwhile goal to have.

Awesome Life Goal #3- Rejoin the world. Start trying to meet people in the city I love. Make plans for coffee with friends and actually follow through. Go to meetup groups and hang out with people that are into the same things as me. Connect with people again. It’s scary and difficult and probably worth it.

Awesome Life Goal #4- When I get sad, stop being sad and be awesome instead.