Post below in the comments section what your fears are. Fuck your fears!! Continue Reading…
I warned you that I was going to start blogging again so here I am. Friday night. Feeling kind of disgusted with myself over how disorganized I am, how bad at time management, how messy. If you knew you wouldn’t be my friend anymore. Wait: Are you my friend? Will you be? Gah, I am so needy.
Sometimes I worry that the really earnest people who read me, that they won’t get my sense of humor. But I can’t worry about that, right? < Needy. needy. Right, right? It’s weird because I have this big following (again, barf at the term following) of love and light and namaste people who, when I post the “Don’t be an asshole” videos will say things like: You are not an asshole, Jen. You are human.
Totes. I know this. I know I am not an asshole but I kinda am. We all are kinda assholes, at least sometimes and if you aren’t in on that joke, you are missing the big joke of life. The big joke of life is that we absolutely cannot take ourselves so seriously because we are just not that important. (Cue: Jen, we are so important. We matter.)
We do matter. We are enough. But you know why I tell my yoga peeps not to take themselves seriously, especially at 7 a.m.? Because it is so fucking boring,
It is really boring. Ever hang out with someone who takes themselves really really seriously?
Excuse me while I pour myself a stiff drink because even the thought of that is just. too. much. Continue Reading…
By Jen Pastiloff.
Confession: I miss my blog. I love that I have been able to turn this site into an online magazine. I really do. But I’m gonna sneak my stuff in now and again. This started as my blog but when I realized I had a big “following” << That sounds so douchey, sorry, but when I realized I had a big following I decided I wanted to create a space for other writers. But I’ll be damned, I never write shit down. I don’t take notes or keep a journal (add that to the fact that I can’t type and I am truly not your “typical” writer.) Because of these failings of mine, as it were, I realize that I forget a lot and the way I sort of half-assedly remember is by blogging. I miss it. So hi. Here I am. (Also- is douchey an adjective?) It makes me feel like I think I am Moses when I speak of “my following.” But, you know what I mean. Social media and such.
Wait- hang on while I go part the red sea.
So, this is just a quick update. So much has been happening and if you follow me on social media, you know I don’t hold back. I post like every five minutes so you don’t miss much. But in case you did. This is for you.
I have to make this quick because I am almost done my proposal for my new book for teens, Girl Power: You Are Enough. Eeeeek! (But wait, don’t we all need this book? This reminder? I am enough. You are enough. I am enough. You are enough.) It’s like: tattoo that shit on your brain. How often do I forget this? Every time I can’t hear because of my hearing loss and I feel lost and stupid I slip into not feeling enough. My not feeling enoughness ate up years of my life. It really did.
I am so excited by this project that I haven’t been sleeping. Have you felt excited by something like that before? It’s been a while for me, I must confess. It feels good. It feels, I don’t know, like I am alive. Some days I feel like a walking dead person. So to feel alive feels real good. Real good. I met this girl, Amymarie Gaertner, and we immediately decided we are sisters. Albeit she is my much younger sister. She has MILLIONS (yes, you read right) millions of followers on Vine (what the fuck is Vine I ask?) and Youtube and Instagram. Anyway, she is an ambassador for my GirlPower. She is self-taught. She taught herself how to dance in her mom’s basement. She created this crazy life and is living her dreams because she wanted to dance. And she did.
Here she is again:
So that was amazing.
She is spontaneous as anything. Like me. We started walking down Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood and she goes, “Look! Yhat would be cool to dance right there in that stairwell.” We set up my little tripod and, with people all around, and one dude on a ladder painting a ceiling, we danced and laughed. One take. The song: One More Time by Daft Punk. I had to do a voiceover on Facebook because they kept deleting my video for copyright infringement. You can see it on my (or her) instagram though. Damn you, Facebook. Damn you! Continue Reading…
Happy Sunday! I make loads of videos (shockingly bad production valyue, but hey!) which you can find on my Youtube channel here.
Today’s (well, I made 2, as you will see after you watch video. Go to my Facebook page or Youtube to watch first), today’s is about taking things personally. One of my faves.
Haters gonna hate.
Lovers gonna love. (Pssst…I say we love!)
This one is on taking things personally. Do you? I do at times.
But I get over it quicker now. That’s the thing- recovery time gets quicker. Are you going to take what “they” say as truth?
Also this: don’t defend who you are. And yes, some people may not like you. But so so many do. I do.
I like you.
BY TONY HOAGLAND
Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—
the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,
the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me
and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.
The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,
and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.
Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk
Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts
but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;
I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,
I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back
and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries
like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.
Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?
You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.
I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:
trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.
By Jen Pastiloff.
For Lidia Yuknavitch, my teacher, my heart sister, my friend.
I haven’t blogged in a while so here I am. Hi, hello, hi. I’m in Los Angeles, here at home for a few days before I hit the road again for more workshops.
A few weeks ago, I led a retreat in Ojai, California, with Lidia Yuknavitch, who wrote The Chronology of Water. The Writing & The Body Retreat. And yes, it was everything you’d imagine- and then some. And yes, we are doing it again in September.
In my own workshops, I ask people to write about the things that get in their way and the fears they have and what they are afraid of. I ask them to write and share about all sorts of things. That’s why the subtitle is On Being Human. It is not a “writing” workshop, per se, although there’s writing. Mostly, it’s about what it means to be a human being. They laugh and cry and let the snot fly, as I like to say.
And then I always ask this: Now what? Now what?
So you wrote about it and shared it out loud and you may “want to be a writer” and you may not, no matter really, what really matters is this: what now?
Writing and sharing is hard, and I think a pretty big deal, but you can write until you are blue in the face and go on retreats and camps and workshops and whatever but what are you going to do?
This is where I get stuck.
I talk a good talk.
But then I sit here and stare out the window all day.
So, when Lidia gives a prompt that is so similar to what I ask except she asks it in her Lidia-esque way, I know that this woman is my heart. She asks the group what was main thing was that was getting in their way. I participated in this one.
What was getting in my way? She asked us to write down the first thing we thought of.
My own self gets in my way. Me.
Then she gave this exact prompt, and this is really where I knew I loved her for life, “And here’s what the fuck I am going to do about it.” We had five minutes.
This is what came out of it for me. This is my Now what?
By Jen Pastiloff.
So last night I was waiting to board my flight at JFK.
It was a long day. We (hubby and I) had taken the bus Sunday morning from NYC to New Jersey, after my “birthday that never ends” celebration. I had never done that before- really let myself be loved like that. It was also the first time I traveled that wasn’t work related in ages.
It felt good.
It was the first time my husband came back east with me and met many of my friends and my family and got to see where I was from. We have been married 5 years this coming February and it was the first time he has come back with me, so it was special.
On my actual birthday, I saw one of my dearest friends, Laura Donnelly, shine on Broadway in The River. I sat there and watched someone whose dream was realized- she was onstage in this gorgeous red dress and she sang and I thought,”This is my friend. This is my people.”
And I teared up. Because, Fuck yeah! She did it!
I hung out with Hugh Jackman on my birthday. <<< Yea, that’s kind of amazing. I could probably stop this blog with that line. “I hung with Hugh on my birthday.” I sound like an asshole. Don’t be an asshole, Jen.
Eff that. I shall be an asshole. I hung with Hugh on my birthday. And he is just as lovely as you would imagine. Kind and funny and generous and present and humble.
I’m getting back to the JFK bit, bear with me.
I hung with Hugh Jackman and drank tequila with him and he made a “don’t be an asshole” video with me and then my friends took me to the fanciest dinner I have ever had in my life- 7 courses at Jean-Georges. In true NY fashion, we didn’t start eating until midnight. And there were copious amounts of wine. And dessert.
I spent the following evening at Viceroy New York (thank you for the champagne!) with so many of my beloved friends, some since childhood. And my husband. And my agent came. And I was in NY! My first roommate from NYU came. My friend Tanya (owner of tanya-b clothing line, who organized Saturday’s party and who I am flying out to NYC to do a photo shoot for on Jan 12) gave me a candle with a Biggie Smalls quote on it. It said, “It was all a dream.”
I had the candle in my pocket and I thought, it was all a dream.
Who’s to say which is the dream and which is real life? I sometimes wonder this.
One time, when I was leading a retreat at Kripalu (were you worried I was going to say, One time, at band camp…?) I was getting a massage and I said to the woman, “I don’t want to go back to real life.” She said, “This is real life. This. Here. Now.”
And I thought about how she was right. Maybe that’s not even what she said. I was in massage-land but she said something to the effect of letting the fantasy part feel “real.” Because me? I always worry that the other shoe is about to drop. This is going to end. I have to go back to real life and real life is bad and messy and painful and something always hurts. This is going to end- I always think that. And yet- it will. It all ends.
But letting go of the idea that just because something good happens to me or for me or I am happy means that something awful is waiting is some straight up bullshit.
I went to bed happy.
The next morning Robert and I took the bus to New Jersey so we could drive to Delaware with my mom and visit Benny in the hospital. Those of you new to my page, Benny is a little boy my family and I have fallen in love with, who has Prader Willi Syndrome like my nephew Blaise. He is legally blind and just had a terrible accident that has left him paralyzed. Benny loves princesses.
For my birthday, I knew that the one thing I wanted more than anything was to meet him.
So I made that happen.
We drove to Delaware bearing the gifts (all princess stuff) that people had given us for Benny. People like you who have never met him but have been following his story. Someone brought me a present to my NYC birthday party for Benny. It was the greatest gift. Made me cry. She said she had gone to FAO Shwartz and that she “had no idea princesses were so confusing.” People can be so good when they aren’t being assholes. (Myself included.)
This little boy is such a warrior.
I won’t lie- I have been struggling with understanding why some people have to have so much pain in their lives? This kid has so much with having Prader Willi (google it, it sucks) and being blind. And now, he is fucking paralyzed? I wish I had a greater faith in times like this. I’d say, “Take me!! Take me!” but truly, I am not sure who I would be saying that to. How much can one little boy take??
And then this, in Pakistan this morning as I was posting this blog. All these children. Why? Why? Fists to the sky! Why!
By Jennifer Pastiloff
Annie Sertich and I were having coffee last week (she is a fantastic author and actress) and she decided to give me an impromptu interview. I shared it on my Facebook page and got a myriad of reactions.
Listen folks, I would never, and I mean never- and you can quote me on this if you want to, which I doubt you do- but I would never knock waiting tables.
I broke my foot three weeks ago.
I intend to mine that break for any and all material so watch out. It sucks so I at least better get some “life lessons” out of it.
I haven’t been able to put any weight on my right foot due to the break and, because I have severe carpal tunnel, the crutches have slayed me. I have barely been able to move. I’ve alternated between this chair (I’m sitting at my desk and have done for so long that my arse is numb), my bed (many many hours), and the sofa (I’ve stained it like a toddler would and indented it as if I hadn’t risen from it in 35 years.) Chair, bed, sofa. Chair, bed, sofa. I also have a terrible injury in my left leg and have laid off doing any exercise on it for years so I have no strength in it. So basically, I have only one leg to hop on and that leg is kind of crappy. Wah. I know it could be worse but my God, I have been feeling low.
My friend who has also broken her foot and struggled with anorexia texted me yesterday that the inner torture of a break cannot be comprehended. For me, it’s been the inner torture as well as the physical. It’s scary to write because I am 100% clear it could be worse and I feel like who am I to talk about pain? I know nothing of pain. Look at So and So. Or So and So. Now, they are in pain. They know pain. Who am I to speak of such things?
But the thing is, most people do that all the time, so everyone walks around swallowing their pain. They eat it and they fake a smile and go on with their day. Keep calm and carry on.
Way too much time to think. Way too much time to look on Facebook and make up stories and get caught up in my head. Way too much time to think about irrelevant things. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve written a few essays and worked on my book Beauty Hunting and read a few books but the bulk of the time has been spent wallowing and feeling stuck and broken and then being mad at myself for wallowing and feeling stuck and broken.
The truth. I hesitate to write it, but hell, I have a reputation of being a truth teller, so here it is: I had been struggling with depression (and written copious amounts about the struggle as you guys know) before the break. So the break kind of sent me into a tailspin.
I had gone off my antidepressants last year and a lot of my “stuff” came up with this break. Imagine: being immobilized and having nowhere to “run” to. Having to sit with it all.
Not. So. Easy.
A few days ago I posted something on my Facebook. I woke up the next day with what Brene Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover.” I wanted to delete it but didn’t because it seemed to strike a major chord with folks. And because I was telling the truth and I know that’s important.
Here is what I wrote:
Feeling grateful for the people who’ve been supportive during what has been a shitty ass motherfucking time for me. Feeling equally disappointed by the people I have yet to hear from. Not even a text or an acknowledgment. Which makes me question why I give a shit? Why do we let ourselves create expectations of people based on how we think we’d act? I understand that people have short memories. Also, that it’s easier to be with people who are “doing great, everything’s fine,” but my God, what an eye-opening experience this has been. I am sure I will write a piece on it, but meanwhile, a public thank you to the people who notice when another person is in pain. Truthfully, that’s the kind of person I am drawn to anyway: the kind who pays attention. May I always pay attention. And, may I be willing to be with someone even if it’s messy, even if feel like they are broken. Thank you. You know who you are. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes unnoticed with me. I may have bad ears but I hear it all.
Here are a couple little lessons I learned:
1) If you are in pain, let people know.
2) If someone is in pain, reach out. Even a text. A card. A nod. Some form of acknowledgement. Anything. A balloon. A cookie. Wine. (I like wine.)
3) Never feel like you shouldn’t say something because why would your voice matter? Because that person already has a lot of support. Because you think you will be a burden. Because you don’t know what to say. (I got a few texts from people that said they didn’t reach out because they thought I was probably inundated. Or that they didn’t matter.)
4) Pain is pain. Even though I am not dying and I don’t have cancer or whatever else it may be, I have still been going through a hard time. That’s not nothing. Don’t judge your pain. Or anyone else’s.
5) Be willing to be with people even if they are not fine, good, happy, perfect, rainbows, unicorns.
6) Notice your tendency to pay attention to the one who doesn’t text/call/like you rather than the loads that do. Notice that.
(I have an exercise in my workshop I call “The 1 and 100.” I ask the room if there’s a room with a hundred people and they all love you except one, who do you focus on? Yup. Most say the one. Notice how this exemplifies say times one million when you are stuck on your ass for weeks on end with a broken bone. Notice that.
7) It sounds corny but Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers said “look for the helpers.” So yea, do that. Pay attention to them.
8) Kindness matters. Teeny tiny minuscule baby kindnesses. Or large as the sea kind of kindnesses. They matter. Act like they do.
9) Empathy. Compassion. Those words.
Being human is tough at times. But it’s what we signed up for. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why my workshop is called The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human. The On Being Human part is really my concern. May we all work on that a little more.
May we always pay attention to what makes us so.
So, I’ll not only NOT delete my status update but I will share it here. And I will probably have a vulnerability hangover again tomorrow. But I’ll nurse it, ever so slowly, ever so gently, ever so lovingly.
This is a project I started a over ten years ago. I have a terrible habit of writing letters and never sending them. So I compiled many of them from over the years (1982-2002) and took snippets out to create a sort of found art project. Found poetry and art is one of my absolute favorites so I hope you will enjoy this series. I plan on adding more to the site. Tonight, I sat on the floor in the hallway my pajamas and looked through thousands of poems I had written as well as photographs. It really was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night.
Various Letters, Unfinished, Unsent
Dear Mom, I wish you best luck. Your my sunshine, my only sunshine of you. I love you ps, Love Jennifer P, “you make me feel good inside”.”
Dear Daddy, I hope you feel much better soon. I love you so much, best wishes. P.S. Oops I forgot to ask you how you felt! I bet I could make a list full of things I forgot to say I love you how are you doing please right back xoxoxo Sincerely, love-
Dear Mr. Presidedent, it is Friday Dec. 16th, 1983 and I live in Pennsauken N.J. and you live in Washington D.C. Will you please let me come and visit you sometime. Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! and I really want you to meet my mom and my sister. Because I didn¹t say my dad is because he died will you Please! please! Please! Call or write back! I live in pennsauken N.J. P.S. I know how to spell antidisestablishmentterismn.
Dear Rachel, It’s Sunday night and I¹m supposed to be studying but of course I¹m not. I do this to myself all the time. I get really behind, waste time, procrastinate, have nervous breakdowns and usually somehow in the end manage to pull it all together. but I¹m not so sure about this semester. I wasted my whole today (big surprise there) because I got so drunk and sick last night that today I was a mess. I felt so sick. everyday. I’m so homesick, I don¹t know why. I’m having a crisis I think. New York sometimes is just too much for me. I don’t know. I feel scared in a sense that I’m turning 21. I’m getting old. No more “kid”. It’s weird, sometimes I just want to be a kid again and not have to deal with all the pressures I deal with now. I mean even to be 18 again. I don’t miss high school per se, but I miss that era in my life. That safety you have that you don’t have when you get older anymore. My stomach is still going crazy on me. I had puke all over myself last night. Joe was laughing at me so hard. I just opened the cab door and started puking and he was holding on to my shirt so I wouldn’t go flying out. Then I shut the door but shortly, very shortly, thereafter I realized “Oh no, I have to vomit again” so I puked all over the door and it hit the window and splattered off of it and hit me in the face and went in my eyes.
Dear Kara, Cherry Hill is famously dull. I am so uninspired here
I haven’t even been down the shore yet this summer
I looked for an apartment yesterday with my mom. It is the hardest thing to find an apartment in the Village. Wednesday I start to get a root canal. My teeth are a wreck.
I am really scared. I cannot deal with pain well.
Now it is the night. Dan is getting on my very last nerve.
He flaked on me, he is getting very good at it.
Dear Daniel, It’s 2:55 a.m. on Sat. night/Sun morning. Chris just called me and said you and Fransisco were maybe going to come here. It would be a waste for just one day. Let’s do it for a real weekend! And I want to come there on Valentine¹s weekend. I have such a stomach ache right now. I ate so much today and so many weird combinations. I had about a million pickles and grapes and raisins. I called your house today to talk to Gabrielle for her birthday. Today was Carl’s b-day. That’s so sad. God, I really didn’t even say a prayer for him today. I will before I fall asleep. I really think Chris is a great person. Francisco better hold on to her. And she loves him so much, she always talks about him and how much she cares about him etc. I just stopped and ate a bowl of cereal. That’s great at 3:35 in the morning. Dan, Dan, Dan. I miss you. I’m going to try and fall asleep. Why am I so awake? It’s just crazy. I love and miss you. Have a good week and good classes and good workouts. Smile. Love always and forever,
Dear Steve, you were so right about how the best thing that happened to me was Dan and I breaking up. it’s weird because I am finally experiencing what it¹s like to just enjoy meeting different types of people and gong out and not feeling guilty when I do.
I can¹t believe my foot is still messed up from that run I did
when I was there in Atlanta. My mom fears I’m addicted to my painkillers.
I miss hanging out with you. I have a weird feeling it was really random and spontaneous and I won’t see you again for a long time.
I can¹t believe I’m going back to New York in September. I am getting so used to it here.
Dear Dan, Can you believe I have been here in L.A. a week? You know what’s weird?
How things change. You never know where you are going to be,
what you’re going to be doing, who you’ll be doing it with…
I’m glad though that we moved on b/c we are far too young to not have experience
of other people and other things. It’s the next morning now. I passed out in the middle
of this letter last night because of that painkiller. I woke up and my foot actually feels worse.
I just ate cereal and leftover tuna. What’s up with you lately? You seem really moody or something. Is everything okay?
Dear Jeremy, I wanted you to know that seeing you really made my trip. It’s quite amazing to know that you have a friendship so strong that you can go a couple of years without seeing each other and nothing really changes. You just mean a lot to me. You’re one of my oldest, dearest friends and I cherish you. Please come see me in California. Just get the mud off the shoes before you come in my house! (Remember that, from after the wedding?) This is bullshit, the plane still hasn’t taken off.
Dear Dan, I can’t believe how mean Rachel is being. i seriously don’t know how my mom lives with her year round. So, how is it living with the guys? I called you tonight but no one answered. My sister is being unreasonably cruel, mean, bitchy and hard to get along with. she called me a cunt tonight because I called her an uneducated fart. But she started it by saying stupid stuff and fighting about the car situation!
Dear Steve, I forgot to ask you if I left my white turtleneck there? I think I did. The Polo one. God, I am so jealous that you are there having fun, drunk, and I am here moving furniture. I hope you will come here and see me. The offer still stands. but if you don¹t come here let¹s keep in touch. I wish you the best of luck in all you do and I am very happy for you. No one can make me laugh like you can.
I think I will pierce my bellybutton this weekend.
Dear Jeremy, Well hello Jeremy hello! Glad you called me the other day. It was a pleasant surprise.
I was so grateful for your last letter, it really meant a lot to me. Everytime you speak to me or write to me, I¹m not only impressed by your intelligence but also by your drive and determination to see your ideas and visions follow through.. Do you know how great it is to know someone for as long as I have known you and continually be surprised by them? I¹m working on a scene right now for my acting class.
Dear Danny, That look so weird to my eyes because it’s been so long since I have written that. I am on the plane, having just spent a really great weekend in Austin, Texas. I don¹t think I am happy in L.A. but then a part of me wonders, will I be happy anywhere? maybe it is me?There are so many changes I want to make. I don’t even know where to start
Dear R., this week was a blur…… Fascinating in all ways……. I learned much about myself, about where I want to be, about people and their energies, about mating rituals…… Sitting in cabs I watched the city fly by and knew I was flying with it. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was moving…… Wonder is: people¹s paths crossing and the beauty of them actually connecting. Then the even more minute chance of them connecting on more than a sexual level. The ease with which I can spend time with you and not have to analyze anything. When you have to define something it often changes it because it challenges it by trying to put something in a box that was not meant to be in a box. The magic in how people enter your life. A lot of things came clear to me in NYC this past week. The main one: my life, as well as yours, right now is nothing more than endless possibilities. I am glad that we got to get together. I am grateful for all the little moments.
Dear M., What I said scared me as well. What I said was passionate and impulsive. I felt a lot of things when you were leaving. I will not dissect for you exactly why I said it, nor do I want to. It has everything to do with me, my own crap. What I am saying here is NOT that I take it back. I can¹t. Although, for a while I wished I could. But, that’s immature and, quite simply, impossible.
( If we could take back time, could you imagine? The implications of that?) The whole incident has given me something to write about. It gave me material. it gave me fuel and fire, a muse, an impetus, and, naturally, it gave me some drama. Onward and upward, no looking back…
Dear S, On plane, bloody mary in hand, packed in like sardines. Last week with you was one of the best times of my life. Naturally, I am leaving feeling very confused. You were so amazing to me all week. I know it all seems so random, because it does to me, and yet… It doesn’t seem so random at all. I know you are reading this and probably cringing at the thought that I may actually talk about my feelings. No! No! Not that! I don’t know what¹s going to happen. You just do something to me. When I think of you I smile.
Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane and the founder of The Manifest-Station. She’s leading a weekend retreat in May to Ojai, Calif as well as 4 day retreat over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif and over New Years 2015. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is Costa Rica followed by Dallas, Seattle and London.
For Naomi Shihab Nye, who makes me want to be a better person.
The 5 Most Beautiful Things Project. I sometimes forget to write them down here in the blog but I almost always am on the hunt for them. Here’s the latest:
Poetry. Even the found poems, especially the found ones. As if they were left specifically for us. (Maybe they were?) Like the journal I found in my drawer tonight that someone had left at the restaurant I worked at for years. I’ve kept it all this time. I found it left under a table one night while I was cleaning up after my shift.
Some day I will live in the southe of France, wear espadrilles and a long silk scarf flowing behind me as I ride my bicycle to the beach
So much time has passed since I found this old journal that I question now if I indeed wrote the words, but the handwriting isn’t mine and there’s these little drawings, which are most definitely not mine (at best I can draw stick figures.) But this gift, this poem(s) as it were, because it is a poem- who can question the image of a long silk scarf flowing behind a girl (who, according to the drawing wears a mask) and how that image will live somewhere inside me so that if I ever visit the south of France, which I have every intention of doing, I will conjure this mask wearing bicycle riding scarf trailing bicycle girl.
The next page:
I love you… but I’m shy.
One of the riders is only a head. No body. This gift of poetry, which is everywhere if you look.
Saturday night I went to a reading of Naomi Shihab Nye’s. (She’s actually the number one beautiful thing on this list.) Naomi has become a friend and what I most love about her, and there are many things to love, is her ability to be present and how she looks at the world with a poet’s eye, or rather, with a childlike sense of wonder. She talked about going to the library as a child and how you’d just let yourself wander until you found a book. You’d explore, as you weren’t going there for anything in particular. As adults, she said, we’re so directive. We make a beeline for exactly when what we want. There is a mission and a purpose and very little letting yourself get lost amidst a sea of books. She has that sense of wander and wonder.
My first love was poetry. I started writing stories as a child but when I got serious about it at NYU, it was for the love of poetry. C.K. Williams was the first poet I heard read.
I loved C.K. for how his poetry ran on and on. How it felt like he was talking to only me (isn’t that what all good writing does?) singling me out in a room full of shoelace-faced students—whispering into my freezing ears. Out of all the ears he could whisper to on a packed C train and he chose mine! This is what poetry can look like, he said. This is what words can do. And he conversed with me through his poems and taught me what was possible. If it weren’t for him (and a few other poets who crawled into my slowly-going-deaf-ears, right at that particular moment in time, I might still be riding the C train without the knowledge that words could change the world.) They could pummel and destroy and create and fascinate. I didn’t quite realize the capacity they had until those poets (Donna Masini, C.K. Williams, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Sharon Olds, Stanley Kunitz) quietly, without so much as a word of warning, showed up during my 19th year on the planet. They marched in and planted their word-flags and even when they left, their flags remained waving for me so that no matter where I went, I had a place that felt like home.
Naomi Shihab Nye makes me want to scour the world for poems.
I went digging and found the journal in my drawer which is undoubtedly filled with other poem worthy artifacts. I remember when I found the journal at work that Saturday night in 2001, or whenever it was, how I thought I’d hit the jackpot. I peaked in the book and realized it was nothing confessional (I murdered someone or I’m having an affair.) It probably sucked to lose it but I doubt it was earth shattering (Geez, I hope it wasn’t)- most of it was blank, save a few drawings and dreams and clothing sketches.
I stuck it in the safe at the restaurant. No one claimed it for a whole year so I finally went back and got my loot. Then I stuck it in a drawer for a good ten years. Until today. So that’s one (or more) of my beautiful things. The way art finds us. The way poetry is everywhere. Just like beauty. And bicycles with body-less riders and lists of places to go, well, can’t the mind just go wild on that shit nodding madly yes yes yes.
Opening my own notebook and seeing this list.
London. Meet Jimmy again.
Go To Hong Kong.
(I remember now that these were my husband’s wishes and I’d just written them down for him.) We were in San Francisco. We’d just had some pizza. It was December and we were in San Francisco at some over-priced restaurant targeted for tourists. I had a glass of chardonnay and the wine gave me that rush of what was possible so I said to him, What should we do, you know? This year, with my pen poised and my little notebook out. Where do you want to go? So I am looking at this next to this old notebook I found at The Newsroom on my waitressing shift and I’m thinking how the same we are. So many of us. How we dream and dream and want and want and how we write things down in little notebooks and maybe we leave them behind or maybe we take them. Maybe we never go to any of the places we dream of going, but maybe we do. There’s so many of us with so many wishes and places and notebooks that surely there is a varied lot- some who make it to the other side of their dreams, some who make it as far as the ink on the paper and some who never have the courage to write it down. I’m thinking there’s all sorts.
Anyway, funny that I have these two books open and both are lists of places to go.
Oh, the places you’ll go!
I wonder if the girl who lost the notebook at The Newsroom ever went to the places she doodled. Her name is in the front cover. Back then we didn’t have Facebook to look her up but now I suppose I could. But I won’t. It would be awkward. If she reads me (wouldn’t that be a funny thing?) maybe she’ll recognize her drawings and her words. And maybe she will shoot me an email saying, “Yes, I made it. I am here in the south of France on my bicycle with a long scarf flowing behind me.”
The joy of quiet. Something Naomi said last Saturday. She loved my essay I wrote about my hearing loss on The Nervous Breakdown, and it struck me hearing her talk of the joy of quiet, that she, along with myself, must think of bursts of silence as holy things. The moderator, Lisa Napoli, asked Naomi how she finds quiet in the madness of the world. Oh, it’s to be found, she said in so many words. And I thought how the quiet is in itself a found art.
I am so unwilling to let myself get quiet most days and combined with the constant ringing in my ears, it seems as if my head is a carnival of sound. Nonstop chatter. I decided I must excavate quiet, I must unearth it and actively look for it as I do with the 5 Most Beautiful Things Project. Beauty Hunter. Hunter of Quiet. I’ve begun making it a project, seeking quiet wherever I can, because surely we all deserve the joy of quiet.
I have been walking to the beach. I have been meditating. I have been listening. It’s nice.
Today, a couple kids were yelping loudly so I said, “What’s the excitement?”
“He’s my cousin!” one shrieks, pointing to another, obviously very proud of this relation.
“She is too!” Pointing to another, younger girl, thrilled to be able to point this out to me. That such excitement about family exists. We are related!
Can you imagine being somewhere and jumping up and down to tell someone This is my mom! This is my brother! This is my Uncle! She’s my sister! It was sweet. And I wondered how long they’d stay close. I am not particularly close to any of my cousins. And just then, one of the kids face planted and havoc ensued.
I sort of lost track since I’m rambling, but I think I am at number 5.
#5 then, my friend Angela Giles who is a gifted writer and who sent me this book the other day when I was feeling like shit. I had been struggling with depression and anxiety and she sent this wee book in the mail, so small I thought the package was empty. It’s called The Do-It-Yourself Guide To Fighting The Big Motherfuckin’ Sad by Adam Gnade. The timing was impeccable. And this little book, surely there are parts where I feel as if I wrote it (again how similar we are! So many of us walking around trying to fight the big motherfuckin’ sad in our lives.) I mean, have you read my friend Maggie May Ethridge’s piece on my site called Sad Fish? It’s one of my favorites and I have taken to reading it aloud to people like some preacher on a street corner. Hey you! You! Over there! In the red jacket! Listen up.
I think that maybe finding the beauty and the quiet is the poetry. And the things we notice when we are the denizens of such particular states of grace will allow us to harness our joy in such way that every so often we’ll feel as if we are on a bicycle somewhere in the south of France, some scarf trailing behind us and nothing existing but that which is waiting to be found by us and has perhaps been waiting forever.
Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane and the founder of The Manifest-Station. She’s leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and a weekend retreat in May to Ojai, Calif as well as 4 day retreat over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is NYC in March followed by Dallas, Seattle and London.