on life, ambitions, and dreams


Posts Tagged ‘memories’

A Writer’s Love Letter to Other Writers

Journals, handstands, and writing taken by lamiki

Writers see the world differently. We analyze every word that you say, every move that you make, and every thought that you barely breathe. We piece stories together when there aren’t any to be told. And we create a world out of the pieces that we see in our own.

And yet, with as much as I love this part of myself, being a writer is hard. It takes practice. The great Haruki Murakami wrote an entire book about how being a writer (especially of epic novels) is like long distance running, it takes practice, endurance, and a lot of training.

I’ve been writing stories my entire life. In elementary school I would sit along the wall while the other kids played foursquare (the game, not the app) and scribble stories in my notebook with a felt-tipped marker.

One day, a girl in my class saw me writing and came over.

“What are you writing?” she asked.

“Oh, just a story,” I said, and curled the spiral bound notebook up in a way so that she wouldn’t be able to read it. But of course she did. And she noticed exactly what I didn’t want her to, the name of one of the characters.

“Ohhhh, do you like Tyler?”

There were three boys named Tyler in our class, and it was perfect for one of my characters. We were nine years old. Even if I tried to explain it, there was no way she was going to understand how writers work.

As my husband, the illustrator said one day, he creates art out of nothing, and I create art out of what I see. That is the difference between the illustrator and the writer.

My first fiction teacher told me that his wife used to read his stories and would always find the character that resembles her. Shortly after I wrote the best short story of my life and the protagonist was modeled loosely after my best friend.

That’s the magic and the danger behind being a writer, we don’t know how to separate the two worlds apart and we don’t want to. That’s why process of writing is scary and personal, we write about what we see in the world in order to understand it, we write for us and at the same time for you. We write because we have to, because we need to, because the world needs us to.

And sometimes that’s enough.

My Valentine’s Day Wish for You

Happy Chinese Girl! by Beardman

Valentine’s Day reminds me of the four years I spent working at a flower shop while I was in high school. It reminds me of working late on school nights and peeling guard petals off of roses in a cold, damp, but enormously lively warehouse. It reminds me of a city cop doing parking lot control to keep the frantic lovers under control when they stopped to buy mementos of their love on the way home from work. It reminds me of endless buckets of endless buckets full of flowers that dwindled, slowly, to nothing as 9 o’clock rolled around and the shop and registers were finally quiet.

But most importantly, it reminds me of the first time that I tried a new job at work and kicked ass doing it.

Valentine’s Day reminds me of hard work and what it really mean’s to prove yourself to yourself.

So this Valentine’s Day, I wish you love and the ability to kick ass – for you. Because if there’s one thing that is for certain, it’s that you gotta love you.

Photo Credit: Beardnan

Bookstores, Silence, and Solitude

Stacks By Kirby Gladstein

Tonight I did something that I haven’t done in a long time – I took a walk, by myself, and browsed through a bookstore. Alone.

The happiest place on Earth

Not a lot of people know about my book publishing background or the fact that the happiest place on Earth is getting lost in the stacks at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Growing up that was my oasis. I would get absorbed in the fiction section for hours and emerge with a tower filled with an army of protagonists. When I was in college Powell’s was my solace, my break, my habit. I went there to discover new thoughts, new ideas, and meet new characters that I would take home in perfectly bound, 288-page escapes from real-life.

Books breathe things into your life that you never thought you were missing. They give you a perspective that you weren’t looking for and never knew that you needed.

And that smell of paper and wooden shelves. And the low hum of voices, pages turning, and shoes clomping, delicately, on the wooden floor, trying to be impossibly silent.

Silence and being alone yet surrounded by endless opportunities and new pathways, that’s the feeling I appreciate the most about books and bookstores.

When was the last time you ‘turned things off’ and went dark?

And I’m talking more than unplugging, but literally not communicating with anyone other that that who is inside of your head or a book away.

Not in the crazy kind of way, but the solitude kind of way.

When was the last time you did that and it was okay?

Photo Credit: Kirby Gladstein

Show, Don’t Tell: How do you show success?

Secret Love, Thomas Hawk

Whether you celebrate Single Awareness Day, Love Safely Day, or a new one this year, Generosity Day, it’s still February 14th in my book. In my world, Valentine’s Day represents the first time that I kicked ass and proved myself in a work environment.

My first job story

Valentine’s Day is the number one holiday for the flower industry. But it’s an even bigger day if it falls mid-week as lovers from all walks of life need to send something to their loved one on that day to build up for the big date on the weekend.

In high school, I worked at a flower shop. It’s a local empire that has a retail arm plus it’s own wholesale business that produces bouquets, elaborate vase arrangements, potted plant baskets, and more. A friend of mine got be the job and we started by only working on Sundays in the warehouse, processing flowers that came in boxes locally and internationally. From there I moved to the “Cuts” department, making bouquets for the retail stores and distribution to local grocery chains.

Valentine’s Day means “all hands on deck,” and in 2003 V-day fell on a Wednesday. Picture this chaos: a rent-a-cop was on duty doing parking control so that frantic customers wouldn’t just pull up, hop out of their car, rush into the store and rush out.

I was working in the warehouse at this time, but was asked to help at one of the stores. My role was to tame the buckets and buckets of bouquets and cut flowers on display outside in front of the store and consolidate the display as merchandise was purchased. I spent the entire evening running out the back door of the shop to the front and back again, pulling more bouquets from the cooler, and discretely dumping out the water of the empty buckets. I saw the store manager maybe once the entire evening.

Lines and lines of people poured in and out of the store. Piles and piles of petals went out, wrapped neatly in tissue. Money was exchanged, receipts tallied, and at the end of the evening there was nothing left.

Before closing for the night, the store manager made her first trip to the front of the store. Everything was under control. I don’t remember her exact sentiment, but she was absolutely shocked by how she didn’t have time to even check the front.

It was a success and my first impression with her.

If you have to buy flowers on Valentine’s Day

For the love of all things retail, buy local.

I received an email from friends about the abusive practices of 1-800-Flowers and how workers on flower fields in Central and South America do not have any rights at all. It’s crazy and I didn’t realize that fair trade extended to this industry (but why shouldn’t it?).

I’m not saying boycott the flower industry, just be smart. If you have to buy flowers, purchase from your local flower shop and at least make a ripple in your own economy. Or do research and find a shop that supports your own values and ideas.

Also, skip the roses. Wholesale prices for flowers get jacked up in the weeks leading up to February 14th and your local flower shop has to pass on the price to stay in business. And most often than not, these roses are not top quality due to the season and demand.

Get creative with a lily or Gerbera daisy ensemble. Bonus, buy something that’s not red. Or get even more creative and splurge on something like a cactus.

And for the love of the green thumb, never, ever get baby’s breath.

Back to my point

By doing what I felt I needed to do that day to get the job done inspired the store manager to request that I work at that store on a regular basis. It was the best interview and impression I could have left.

When given the opportunity to prove yourself—be it through a project or a simple task—just do it. Results speak louder than words.

Make it your goal to leave the only impression, the best one.

Do you remember the first time you kicked ass at work or in a professional environment?

Share your story.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

Playtime and Feelin’ Electric

Back in the day, a friend tried to change the phrase “let’s hang out” to “let’s play.” We were teenagers and pushing our way into adulthood, yet we latched on to selective sentiments of simplicity and innocence.

The term “let’s play” didn’t stick. We moved on. We grew up.

As an adult, we get pulled in so many directions. But when was the last time you just played? And I’m talking played in the sense of silliness. Playing in the way that it’s not for professional development or a hobby, but for fun. Because you want to, because you need to? Played to the point where you laughed at your own laughter?