You're not a bitch if you're busy

My excuse for not having written here in over a month is that I was busy – busy in the typical having-many-responsibilities-to-fulfill sense, as opposed to the type of busy I would try to embody in order to appear more important than you. But this is not the case. What do you think I am, some kind of monster?

Busyness can translate into superiority. If you’re that busy, you must be some regal, untouchable being, as if any sort of disturbance will mess with your chakra and your holier-than-Thou stature. Another grand, sweeping statement for you: having actual free time to watch a season of Orange is the New Black, uninterrupted, means you are some type of good-for-nothing who needs to take on more projects at work. Right?

In truth, being so overwhelmingly busy that you don’t have the time to Snapchat me a photo of your new cat at least once a day can mean two things: you either have a) no interest in expanding your social circle to horizons broader than that which contain your cat (achoo!) or you have dismal time management skills, which is a setback in itself and probably my next blog post, but who knows. In fairness, I don’t have time to Snapchat you photos of my hypothetical cat either as I am asphyxiated by deadline-induced stress. True story.

Is busyness synonymous with importance? Let’s have a look. As a general rule, the corporate hierarchy suggests that interns are glamourized slaves (yup, I went there). Paid or not paid, they are often bombarded with tasks that their superiors don’t have time to do nor want to do (let’s be real here, not all internships live up to their “for educational purposes only” mandate. This is a reality. But as a wise man once said, “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game”).

It’s not as though anyone has bestowed upon these interns the opportunity to make revolutionary decisions – instead they toil away and do what they are told and make a suggestion or two. While having someone take care of menial tasks is essential to the health of any organization, you’ll rarely see an associate bow down to an intern, unless of course their basic HTML skillz are 2 die 4. The higher-ups have generally already paid their dues and thus have a little more legroom. While interns are often some of the best-dressed in the office (it’s like going on a first date, but every day for 4 months!!!!) there’s something inherently blue collar and unsung-heroic about how busy they are.

My friends have been expressing resentment towards me as of late for being too busy to step away from my work. I admire them all, firstly, for being able to uphold sophisticated positions and secondly, for having the time to hit up happy hour on the regular with little to no fear of their work quality being compromised (and also for having really nice hair and nail beds, but that’s a given). I admire them for being able to turn off work mode. I admire them for being able to relax and give busyness the manicured middle finger.

How do you decompartmentalize? How do you remove yourself from something in which you’re so completely engrossed? I was following a major league baseball player on Twitter a few months ago, Jose Canseco, who said in order to attain balance, your life should fall into the pattern of 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of play. Talk about normcore and a sentiment to which I will never relate. Unfollow.

                                                                      Would you take life advice from this guy?

                                                                      Would you take life advice from this guy?

What if being busy is truly and organically a result of your work being synonymous with your play? Is it destructive to cut off momentum when your brain is transfixed by all the spelling errors you get to edit? Or are there proven therapeutic benefits to prematurely cutting your work time short in favour of this contrived idea of play? That last bit veered on the introvert vs. extrovert battle we all have going on internally, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Many people tell themselves that this year will finally be the year they remove parasitic people from their circles, otherwise those known as toxic, unstimulating or #basic (I’ve been reading awful memes in Earlybird filter on Instagram, so naturally I am on board with the common resolution). My friends embody none of these colloquialisms, but of course, sometimes it’s important to do you. If you care about someone to the moon and back yet they find a way to hinder your ~*~CrEaTiVe PrOcEsS~*~, you are not heartless nor are you psychotic for opting out of certain interactions. You are a human and you like creating things and creating solidifies your existence. We good now?

Being “busy” is an excuse you will tell that  guy on Tinder who can’t discern “your” from “you’re”. It doesn’t mean you’re better than him (cognitively, maybe) but that he just doesn’t fit into your self-defined equation of happiness in that moment. Being happy is letting yourself melt into your endeavour until the sun rises. If that’s in line with your definition as well, let’s live busy ever after. Because what’s worse than having nothing to do besides maybe death or running out of ink?

After all this banter on how busy I am, you’re probably wondering how I made the time to write this blog, or maybe you are also busy and that thought did not once cross your mind. The truth is that you just have to suck it up. We’ve all been allotted the same 24 hours, and I have faith that Darwin magically whittled our workloads down to a manageable scale so that we can Snapchat each other our hypothetical cats and call it a day.

Where for art thou poetry stigma

For those of you who’ve been following my posts, you’ve probably come to realize that I often talk about digital media within the context of health, beauty, fitness, and the occasional nail polish idea. These aren’t particularly offensive topics – at least I hope they aren't. That’s why I have been hesitant to talk about poetry, because once you throw that into the mix, people run for the hills and start occupying Wall Street, or worse, shaving Miley Cyrus mohawks in protest.

And understandably so – there is nothing safe about poetry. There is nothing comforting about it. There are no CP Style or AP Style guidelines telling you to do things a certain way. You could write % instead of per cent and get a round of finger-snapping applause while the audience at your poetry reading murmurs along to your free verse thing about hummingbirds at dawn and you will feel like you don’t deserve the praise because you invented your own writing rules, you went hard on that line enjambment, you inventimavized words, you went CRAY on spacing, your poem is to be read in a Norwegian­ accent, so how could you be right? Being objectively wrong about a syntax rule is soothing. There is no wrong in poetry, unless you're one of those angry kids in my former poetry workshops. 

Oddly enough, promising not to talk about poetry is only turning me into one of Freud’s little “repression leads to fixation” projects. I used to write poetry all the time, either to get published in anthologies or to tell my friends things that I was too shy to say sans the guise of obscure language. It was my platform of choice, my language, my Snapchat (ps: Snapchat is the worst but I use it religiously). Being a journalist and a poet is a difficult thing for many people to contend with because they pull at opposite sides of the brain.

You’re probably wondering, How can she tell my story accurately and fairly if she’s feeling so many feelings? This is a good hypothetical question. The tools I’ve learned as a poet have helped me immensely as a writer in that I’ve developed a linguistic fearlessness, almost a feeling of being invincible. More so, I think it’s helped me connect with people I talk to on a very human level. I get attached to the stories I write and the people I interview, but that’s because poetry has helped me care.

Even so, telling people I write poetry is often met with visceral reactions. It's like coming out of the closet. Eyebrows scrunch into unibrows, mouths go ajar, nostrils flare in panic. The digital age – aka all of society, aka our governing force – doesn't make the world very comfortable for poets. Every verse is a Survivor challenge and few of us get that Immunity (#TBT). People are threatened by its fluidity, its ability to emancipate both physically and spiritually. Incorporating SEO into poetry is not a thing, and the moment it is will be the moment it is tarnished forever.

In 2008, police arrested a Jordanian poet for incorporating verses of the Quran into his love poetry without approval of the Jordanian government. He was charged with harming the Islamic faith and violating the press and publication law for combining the sacred words of the Quran with sexual themes. If this weren't a fairly outdated example, I’d say that a breach of freedom of expression in this seemingly harmless manner (stemming from either political or religious sources) is a world I’m ashamed to be a part of. 

I hate to say “poetry is everywhere” because that is probably something I learned from Sesame Street, but it really is. Find your poetry. Do that one weird thing that totally conflicts with your career and make it work for you. We’re all anomalies. 

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Sprinting, running and getting it done

Let’s play a game of Would You Rather.

Yes?

Okay.

Would you rather spend a month doing passive leg workouts with minimal resistance and range of motion because that’s all your hotel room and schedule could afford, or abandon your blog like a lost child in the abyss of a Target store only to find it weeping and begging for your attention, all sad, yanking at your pant leg with metaphorical mascara running down its eyes?

Neither of these! (Spoiler alert: I just played a round of Would You Rather with myself. Separate issue, separate post.)

I get it. These are all major #firstworldproblems, but there is something about losing momentum that is so eerily debilitating. In many cases, stepping away from a mentally exhausting project or creative endeavor can help you breathe new life into something once you revisit it, but in my case, the opposite tends to usually ring true.

I like to think of the types of momentum I experience in my life as mental inertia. Whether it’s torturing myself at the gym six days a week to sneak in a full-body workout (trust me, it feels so good) or vowing to complete a feature in under two days, time off removes me mentally and physically from my work to the point where it feels like a foreign entity to me. Fear of the unknown, or rather the forgotten, sets me back. 

Trainers always tell me to take rest days. I don’t refrain from taking them because I’m particularly maniacal about working out (white lie #1), but because the comfort in doing something one day and then again the next at the same time creates structure and flow in a transitory world. The same goes for writing. I looked at this blog thing after a month of not touching it like it had 12 hands and googly eyes. Who are you? Why are you looking at me like that? You’re making me uncomfortable. Stop it, I said to this blog.

But of course, there are exceptions to every rule. My friend called me yesterday, lets call him David to protect the innocent (his real name is also David), to ask me how I developed my strong work ethic. I told him two things. A strong work ethic is really nothing to admire. If you are a human being you will naturally be so passionate about something, at least one thing, that there is really nothing you’d rather spend your time doing.

The second thing I told him is that it’s important to get invested in multiple projects at once so that you don’t feel suffocated by one in particular. Like interval training, sometimes it’s more effective to imbue short bursts of energy into a certain project than to test your endurance, yield lackluster results, and come out drained and hating yourself and the thing that you once loved, on the verge of murdering an innocent bystander for the nearest Gatorade. 

David has so many ideas that he often isn’t sure where to start, and I think that if he were to spread his little videojournalism wings (am I giving away too much info? Were we off the record?) he would view each of his projects with a newfound sense of excitement and maybe even first-date butterflies.

That’s all I have to say about momentum for now. Some people are sprinters and some are marathon runners. Where do you fall?

 

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Be an artist and be damn proud of yourself

This. This is why I do what I do. I never doubted arts/creative writing/reporting as my career path, but several people a day throw arguments at me why I shouldn’t do it – not because I’m not qualified, or passionate enough, or ready – but because they fear for me and they care and they are worried and they are my "friends". They’re worried I’ll live on canned tuna alone or not have an overflowing supply of Bath and Body Works exfoliant like I do now. Because the latter would be an ultimate tragedy. A girl’s gotta exfoliate. There’s virtually no going around it.

I tell them they should be way more worried having me do their taxes or perform open heart surgery on a loved one. For me, poems can mend hearts. Magazines are medicine. Do you know how much money I’ve saved on therapy just from reading Cosmo alone? Not that I need therapy, because I absolutely don’t (not that there is anything wrong with it at all if you need it).

Speaking strictly on preventative terms, my psyche and overall well-being would be a lot different had I not had the authoritative final say of the magazine to have my back during iffy times and even not-so-iffy times while getting a pedicure (which is more often than not Fiji by Essie, in case you were wondering. Baby pink on toes still works for fall, and I'm living proof!). Anyone who tries to argue the validity and importance of women’s magazines can meet me in the schoolyard at 3 p.m. We’ll duke it out. Come at me, bro.

When you’re passionate about something, the money follows. I send all the hugs in the world to those of you who have chosen a certain field strictly for money or stature or whatnot. Own up to what you love and stop putting yourself down for enjoying endeavours people don’t conventionally deem prestigious. You are great and you will be successful.  So, for all of y’alls who think you’re doing me a favor by requesting me to rethink my career choice, I invite you to read this quote by my man Kurt Vonnegut. I’m sure you’ve heard it, but I’d like it to come from me. Love to all.

"Here is a lesson in creative writing.


First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I'm kidding.

For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I'm kidding.

We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding.

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

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