Every Week is a Strange Week, Also Metaphors

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I believe wholeheartedly in the power of storytelling to help us understand ourselves and each other, to make sense of the world we live in. And while I don’t believe that we have to be able to identify with characters or worlds for this to work – and in fact, it wouldn’t work if that were the case – I do think it’s interesting the way that some stories become so far reaching in spite of a highly specific and localized narrative structure.

This has been coming up a lot for me with Netflix shows. For example, Daredevil:


Watching Daredevil feels like a superhero show – this may seem obvious, but when you think about it, it is by far the most local of all the Marvel storylines. Daredevil is essentially fighting an extremely violent version of gentrification in his neighborhood, but it feels of a scale with the wormhole that opens up above the Empire State Building in the first Avengers movie. Jessica Jones, I’ve already talked about, but is still worth mentioning again. It’s a specific story, about a woman and her superpowers and the villain she’s fighting, but it too is of a much larger scale – a metaphorical one, a more universal female experience of the power that society gives men over women.

I like the big stories, the ones that are bigger than the world I can see. I like the ones that use superpowers and spaceships and magic to manipulate the world, to twist what I know into a new shape so that I can look at it from a different angle. And yeah, I like to escape. I like a world that is at least partly unrecognizable. Everyone has moments where they don’t want to be here wherever here is, and when that happens I like to read or watch something that I can disappear into.

Still, there has to be something recognizable, right? It’s hard to immerse yourself in a world where everything is unfamiliar. I’ve talked about Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand before, and while I love it a lot, it’s not the most immersive story. Pronouns don’t even work the same way. Still, there is something recognizable even in that too – a specificity about relationships and attraction that comments on and reflects a recognizable experience.

I was thinking about this a lot while watching Stranger Things which is such a weird, beautiful story about family and friendship and society and government conspiracies and monsters. These things are all entwined so carefully and so intricately that the alternate world becomes an obvious metaphor for the characters’ lived experiences. But it’s also a real place, imbued with weight and specificity so that you believe in it – you see the parallels, but you also fall head first into the story. The Upside down serves the story because it provides a mirror, but it’s also actually a mirror in which allows the characters to find answers/closure/judgement for actions in their own world.


This blog post could have been an ode to Stranger Things honestly, because I loved it, but I need to watch it a few more times first. Mostly it’s an ode to Netflix shows, because their metaphors so unbearably elegant and I think that’s why they’ve had such success. They’ve found a way to tell a story that is so wonderfully specific and fleshed out that it can’t help but find some universality. The metaphors aren’t just metaphors – they are stories. And it’s beautiful.

Yes, I know this blog post is late, and mostly incoherent. I had a bit of a strange week with not a lot of sleep – part certain individuals having loud phone conversations at 11:30pm, part the weather, part having potato chips in my pantry for the first time in ages, part thinking about a Nano novel, which would bring my current projects total up to three. But in thinking about this stuff I’ve been learning a lot about storytelling and how it gives me the chills and what makes it awesome and I’m really excited about that. So enjoy!

An Education

Sara and I recently started a collaborative playlist on Spotify called EDUCATION. It’s where we put music that we are super into for whatever reason. This is another why for us to get in each other’s brains while finding awesome new music.

In that vain, here are ten songs that are currently rocking my world and should probably also rock yours.

Nicola La / Ruby and the RabbitFoot / Divorce Party


Underdressed / VÉRITÉ / Underdressed


Dark Days / Local Natives / Sunlit Youth


Friends (feat. Bon Iver / Francis and the Lights / Single


Girls Your Age / Transviolet / Girls Your Age


We Don’t Talk Anymore (feat. Selena Gomez) / Charlie Puth / Nine Track Mind


Killing Me / Ofelia K / Killing Me


Blue Boss / Sampa the Great / Blue Boss


Get Low / James Vincent McMorrow / Get Low


Tropicana / Topaz Jones / Tropicana

Another List


IMG_0713.jpgI have to renew my passport before I go to Australia this December. I got this one in 2007 so I could go on a cruise with my family and it expires next July. I know they are going to send it back to me. I know I have enough time to get it renewed before I leave. I know that my next passport could, one day, be just as well stamped and stickered, just as worn and worldly around the edges. It might even be more so.

But there’s something disconcerting about it, something unnerving about the timing. I’m at a place in my life where I’m set for the foreseeable future. I have an apartment, a job in a field I’m looking to stick with, a city I’d like to get to know better. And I’m handing over this document, with its student visa for the UK, it’s visitor’s visa for India, it’s stamps from Italy and Ireland, Serbia and Greece. This is the passport that was on the train with me when I got hustled in Slovakia, when I missed my flight in France. This is the passport I used to get back from Rome when an Icelandic volcano grounded me. This passport took me to Australia for the first time after my parents moved.

I know the next one is going to take me to Australia too. I know that it can take me so many other places, that even though I’m no longer a student, I can make my own opportunities, take my own trips. If I actually get my finances under control, I could start building my new collage next year. I know this. I do.


My roommate has decided that this is the week to start having loud conversations on the phone after eleven at night, while simultaneously watching TV at top volume. So it’s been taking me longer than I’d like to fall asleep. An unusual complaint for me, to know what is keeping me awake at night, for that something to be outside my own mind.

I don’t particularly want to live here anymore, but I really don’t want to move. I don’t hate my commute, and my apartment itself is beautiful. I have one really nice roommate and one really terrible one. But I don’t really see myself staying here forever. I don’t feel like I can settle into this place. I don’t know if it’s the cold war hostilities or if it’s me. Is it me? Am I looking for something I’m not prepared to find yet?


I haven’t listened to Kings of Leon in a long time. The last time I listened to them with any kind of intensity was while I was freewheeling my way across Europe on night trains, using their intensity to block out the ambient noises around me. But they popped up on Spotify today and I remembered just how much I loved them. How I waited in the rain on Governor’s Island to see them while Feist called Poseidon down on our heads and got the whole concert canceled for fear of electrocution. Cold wet and covered with mud, dehydrated and exhausted and so very alive.


You can all tell how invested I am in this election, in doing everything I can to make sure that Hillary Clinton gets elected. It’s the number one thing keeping me up at night. It’s pretty much all consuming. And yet, still, every time I get a DNC email with a subject line like “WE’RE SCREWED!” My first thought is always “oh my god, no you’re not, simmer down…”


I need to go to the dry cleaner. I need to stop eating so much pasta. I need to buy rain boots. My liquor store has a terrible wine selection. I need to write my book.


Photo credit: Me, proving to my parents that I had my passport as I made my way to Australia. Yes, I was 26. Yes, I would probably make you text me a picture of your passport too.

Maybe you’re an idiot, but I am also an idiot


Yesterday I got into an argument on Facebook. Which is never a promising way to start any sentence. This particular argument was related to the current election and I wasn’t the only one engaging with our adversary, but I was the only one to call this person an idiot.

This is something that I am neither proud of nor ashamed of. This person was in fact, being an idiot – they disregarded facts, did not listen to or acknowledge any points based on facts, and effectively said that EL James’ 50 Shades of Grey did not represent an abusive relationship because it was a best seller. There are many people I know who would say I was perfectly within my right to call this person an idiot. And I must say, it felt good.

But as good as it felt, if there’s one thing I think we call all agree on as a species, it’s that getting called stupid or an idiot or whatever really sucks. Instead of making us look at our life and look at our choices, being called an idiot usually makes us retreat further into our schools of thought, making us stew in self-righteous anger, being all moody and misunderstood.

No matter my feelings in the moment, I should probably have spent more time imagining this person complexly. Who knows exactly how they came to their way of thinking, but that doesn’t really matter. They are perfectly entitled to their opinion. And if I truly believe that they are fundamentally wrong, there are better ways to change people’s minds.

One of the most interesting pieces I read in 2015 was an article in The New Yorker about a women, Megan Phelps-Roper, who was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church and ran social media for the church, and how that lead to her questioning her beliefs and everything Westboro stands. While she spent her time tweeting things that made people cringe, she eventually came in contact with a Jewish web-developer named David Abitbol, who goes by the twitter handle @jewlicious. Though they would spend hours debating online, they enjoyed their back and forth, Roper-Phelps even admitting she liked that he was friendly.

Abitbol says in the article that he learned that relating to hateful people on a human level was the best way to deal with them. As Roper-Phelps continued to tweet her views, Abitbol politely countered her them, making himself as approachable as possible in order to humanize himself to her. His plan worked and he eventually changed her mind on some of Westboro’s most important doctrines. Her interactions with him led to her meeting others online who challenged her ways of thinking and eventually she left the church.

Now this of course took years. Roper-Phelps wasn’t convinced her previous way of thinking was wrong after just one interaction online. She had to chip away at it and she had to be open enough to believe there were other people out there that were good and held different opinions than hers. But without the compassion that some of her adversaries had for her, she may never have changed her mind.

I’m not saying that there was ever a way I could’ve reasoned with this person, especially on Facebook. And not everyone can change their minds. But it was a good reminder that change starts at the bottom, and it starts with us treating each other as people. Maybe not good people…but people nonetheless. It’s what this election is all about; the complexity of our systems and the complexity of ourselves.

So on November 8th, no matter what you think or believe, you should vote. Because people died to give you the right to vote and that goes for all of us idiots too.

If you’re interested in reading the article I mentioned, you can find it here: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/23/conversion-via-twitter-westboro-baptist-church-megan-phelps-roper

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/6262122778

Write Drunk. Write Sober. Write At All.

img_1173I’ve been thinking a lot about writing this week – how much I talk about it verses how little I do it. I don’t really want to write a blog post about all of these anxieties that keep me from writing. That’s a little deeper than I really feel comfortable going on a Friday night.

But Sara, you say, if you had done this yesterday, when you were supposed to, would you have felt more comfortable? And anyway, isn’t that point of the blog, you ask – to talk about the things that make you uncomfortable, the things that keep you awake at night? Sometimes those things are television or cooking or wanting to travel. And some times those things are screwing up at work or generic ennui.

But sometimes, it’s going to be the act of writing itself, right? And on the days when you feel like you can’t write, like you have nothing to say, you’re always going to find yourself stuck in some kind of hole, some kind of endless feedback loop where you have to write, but you can’t, but all you have to say is that you can’t write and then where does that leave you?

I talk about writing a lot more than I end up doing it.

It’s strange too, because I’m always better at doing things when no one is looking. If I had my way, I’d have a secret room that no one knows about, with a balcony and a view of the trees and no internet connection. My phone would spontaneously combust at the door. I’d have a really good explanation for when people asked me where I was. God only knows if I’d get any more done, but I’d certainly feel better about it. And yet, I find myself spouting out about writing in these uncontrollable bursts.

I like poking wounds. I do it to myself when I get too comfortable, or restless, or board. I run my tongue over my toothache. I press on bruises to see if they still hurt. I don’t wait for things to blow over. I don’t confront them – that would be much too mature. But I go up and stand next to them in the hopes that I’ll at least be able to see what’s coming. Maybe I talk about writing so much in the hopes that one day, I’ll talk about it and it will suddenly feel comfortable, easy.

What right do I have to tell stories? Will I ever be able to make them as good on paper as they are in my head? What’s the point if no one will ever read it? Will I ever want to let anyone read it? Will I ever feel good at this? Can anyone ever be good at this? How can you possibly ever live up to the responsibility of it? Do you even want to be a writer? Why?

I know it’s never going to feel comfortable. I know that everyone has anxiety about it. I know other people manage to wake up early in the morning or stay up late into the night and put words to paper and move them around. I know people personally who are able to do this. I know lots of people made it happen because I pick up their books and I fall in love with them.

Today I was able to get to the end of this blog post. Poking your bruise doesn’t often get you anywhere, but today it got me 600 more words, I guess. Yesterday at work, I did some research. I carry my notebooks around with me everywhere.

I guess we’ll see where this goes.

How to Date your Interviewer


I save a lot of notes on my phone;they’re usually jokes I come up with or trains of thought I don’t want to lose. I was scrolling through a few of them the other day and came across an old attempt at a cover letter. It went a little something like this…”Working for both print and digital organizations, I’ve gotten to tweet and post about thing that I love. Not to mention I’m pretty much always on the internet. I’m like the lorax, I never leave I just warn people about internet trolls and give advice.”

Yeah I know it’s pretty rough. Except for the line about being the lorax (I’m hilarious). But this is a good example of the balance I was trying (and am sometimes still trying) to achieve in my cover letters and interviews.

When I was job hunting, I was called in for a lot of interviews. And when I say a lot, it was probably over 50 in a 6 month period. I won’t say this made me good at being interviewed – if I had improved at interviewing over that time, it probably wouldn’t have taken me so long to find a job. But I did learn a lot about the dynamics of relationships as well as the odd ritual of meeting strangers for 30 minutes, telling them all your hopes, dreams, and failures, all with the knowledge and fear that they alone hold your future in their hands hanging over your head.

Mostly I think I wasn’t particularly good at interviews because they are a lot like taking an oral test, and I am not a great test taker. But interviewing is also very much like dating. It’s a test of compatibility and wit and resourcefulness. It is about something more then just being good on paper. And if you don’t perform, your future is affected–maybe not majorly, but a potential life path is now closed.

Much like dating, in pretty much all the interviews I went on, I could usually tell whether my interviewer was “into me” or not. I remember leaving one particularly fast-paced meeting for a publicity assistant position with Penguin Young Readers; when my interviewer left me at the elevator bank, I caught her eyes and the look she gave me was such that I knew immediately I wasn’t getting invited back. But along the same lines, the two interviews I had for the job I currently hold were some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, no doubt resulting in my hire.

Good interviews, like good dates, are a result of a connection, and that’s hard to make when you’re a little bit terrified during the whole process. One needs to be cool, but not too laid back, focused and determined, but not over bearing– I usually just wanted to get my words out in the correct order, let alone be fabulously funny while doing so.

This of course all stems back to my desire to be liked. I always came out of those conversations a little flummoxed, a little anxious, but ultimately hopeful. And though I had my fair share of disappointments, the only way to get what I wanted was to get back on the horse, and know that my soulmate of a job could be just around the corner.

Image Source: http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/I-see-that-in-college-you-got-along-equally-well-with-the-jocks-and-the-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Prints_i8544944_.htm