Thursday, November 29, 2012

Resistance: The Enemy Within

A friend of mine handed me a book yesterday called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It's been a long time since I read a book that I felt like was written just for me to read. I started it this morning and raced through 20 pages which I should qualify by saying they are short pages and sometimes reading on the subway can be hazardous. But so far I'm reading all about "The Enemy Within" or as the author calls it "Resistance."  The photograph is a picture of Pressfield's idea of "Resistance's Greatest Hits." So many of these I can identify with. And what I also appreciated was the author's own admittance to having been defeated by Resistance from ages 24 - 32.

I am 31 (Sshhh!) and in 2013 it will be ten years since I graduated college with the Senior Achievement Award from my department and a Founder's Day Award and a 3.8 GPA from a pretty darn good private university. But right now, none of that fucking matters, other than I am still paying for that education.

When I first left school I was hungry. After spending the summer as a Camp Counselor in Vermont and then taking off to Ireland for a second time with that money from the summer, I found myself  in the cold hard world of the entertainment industry, Christmas 2002. I met with a friend of my Dad's and he lit a fire under me to cold call 300 people looking for a PA job on set. After a few calls, I was hired and started working as a production assistant. I quickly became a director's assistant all the while pursuing my own writing dream. I paired up with a friend from high school and wrote a ten minute play that got into a playwrights festival and won a production. Two friends of mine were submitting to film festivals short films that they directed and I had written. I felt like I was exercising that discipline I learned from being in an intensive writing program. And slowly... but surely...stopped.

I got distracted. I convinced myself I wanted to explore other things. And I did and I'm glad about that. But I slowly buried the passion for writing. I shot and produced a documentary. I worked in film. And then I just stopped. After two years of not writing, I decided to pick it back up and joined a playwriting group in LA. I started this blog though only gave the password to three people. Then I moved to New York and joined a fiction group. I signed up for memoir writing courses. I even applied to grad schools in New York which I see now was a grasp for an answer, a call for a savior. Needless to say, I think they could sense my desperation all over my application and was politely rejected from all of them.  I joined a memoir writing group. I almost had a fiction story win a writing contest. I had a personal essay published by the 92nd Street Y  in their online literary journal and in 2011 I had the biggest success of all - an essay published online by BlogHer. When I put it all down on paper, I start to feel a little better. There have been some accomplishments which feels better than none. But what kills me are the accomplishments that could be if I could just get my ass to the seat. Everyday, I find myself in a battle with resistance, a fight to see through my own bullshit that I don't even recognize how often I fling in my own way. But defeating resistance seems to be about harnessing your fears, stripping away the excuses, the "distractions," and getting as honest as possible with myself even if it hurts. The good news is, "The dream is not dead" as this same friend has said to me. And more importantly, resistance might be easier to defeat if I wasn't always defeating myself. This begs the question, would a huge success in writing, which I guess for me would mean a living made off writing, a story that inspired many people and brought about world peace or something like that, would it bring me the happiness I believe it might? The answer most likely is "no."

I can't count the number of times I overlook the accomplishments and focus on the "lack" of accomplishments. The strive for that golden word -success- means nothing without self acceptance and then self-love. If my ego is still running the show, nothing will ever be "good enough" because then what would be the purpose of the ego?

So for today, I am grateful to be given these little nuggets of inspiration and love. I am grateful for all that I have accomplished with my life - on and off the paper - which is pretty damn impressive considering the odds. I am grateful for my husband and my family and my friends. Oh, my friends, all over this country. And I'm grateful for anyone reading this blog and anyone who would want to add a thought or question or even a criticism. I am grateful for this moment, this day, these words and this life to keep learning and living, living and loving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Love of Beauty is Taste..."

I love Thanksgiving. I dare say it is my favorite holiday because it's based on two of my favorite things in life: food and gratitude. I have tried to make a conscious effort to start every morning this week with a mental gratitude list and one of the things I am most grateful for in this world are my friends, and I have good taste.The one featured above in this beautiful video is my friend and Tuesday Treat, Jenny Ziomek. Jenny and I met a few years ago at a mutual friend's going-away party. We stayed in touch with one random coffee date and a year later she was working at my school. Two years later Jenny designed my wedding invitation and over the summer she moved to California to pursue her art full time. Every year her brother throws an annual Halloween party where you have to perform or present something. This was Jenny's contribution.

If you haven't check out her art, you can do so here and here and here or check out her blog,

Another one in my gratitude cornucopia whose creativity continually inspires me is one of my oldest friends, Morgan at, who really needs no introduction: mother, blogger, writer, director, creative extraordinaire.

Morgan and I have been friends since being forced to watch the movie KIDS at a sleep-over when we were 14. Someone snapped a picture of us on the couch, arms folded, thoroughly disturbed by the story unfolding before us. Morgan is that friend who makes you feel likesmart just for making friends with her so you could be near her creative genius. She missed her kid's first year attempt at trick our treating because she was stranded in New York after my wedding and Hurricane Sandy. But she didn't complain once and instead got me to go to Coney Island with her days after the storm. The wheels are always turning. She also, along with Tara, did this to my honeymoon suite the night of my wedding. 
Photo cred @the818
And on her kick-ass blog she posts cool tutorials, all of which have upped by Instagram game and helped make me a better iPhonographer. If you want to learn some basic instagram tips and tricks, check out this easy to understand tutorial.

Of course, there is Tara (also a creative genius with ovaries of steel), who is simply one of those friends I could not do without. 

Over the past 12 years, Tara and I have only be in physical proximity to each other for 6 months is LA when we were freshman year roommates second semester of college and a year and half in NYC. Our paths keep weaving in and out but no matter where we are, I don't think either one of our journeys would be complete without the honesty and love and laughter we each give the other. Tara is my life coach just by being Tara. 

And then there is this family...

Particularly those two mustachioed beauties, Carmen and daleboca. My friendship with Carmen, (the dancer, the clown, the performer and amazing gymnastics teacher) started over our love for Krispy Kreme doughnuts and now includes 11 years of sister-like love, complete with crying fights and growing pains, a road trip around the country, lots of nudity, many, many laughs and that push and pull of a friendship that moves each other along their own paths kind of like a coal mine car pumping its way along the tracks. And then there is daleboca (film, language, mothering and food critic expert), who has made my life so much bigger. Whether it was giving me Spanish lessons, or treating me like an aunt to her children, or passionate film debates over fresh baked Italian bread, this family has made life on the Eastern seaboard a home away from home. If you haven't checked out one of her film reviews, prepared to get schooled here.

There's these two nuts, Danielle (to the left) who I have known since I was 12 and infuses my life with humor and much amazing music! And Sarah (to the right) who I have known for four years, who also fills my life with humor and competition because she kicks ass at every sport she touches.

There's this bag of nuts that collectively all traveled from places like Vermont, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado and Indiana to come to our wedding. This brood is full of one thing: LOVE. So much love. Love for each other and love for children and teaching and building and love for making this world better. I've never had a group of friends more positive and inspiring than this.

And these handsome guys who are all enigmas because they are all gorgeous and yet some of the kindest people I know. One of them is my husband, one is my brother, and the other is my brother from another mother. Shaun and Sam are both extremely talented actors. Hey Hollywood, gives these guys a break, will ya?

Photo Cred by Erin
These clowns - Erin, Jeff and Ziggy, give me so much laughter and Erin, so much wisdom. I feel a kinship with that Yogi I just can't seem to put words to. And Pat, the definition of a loyal friend. Monica, Lena, Tom, Joe - the writer, the herbalist, the professor, the artist. An afternoon with these folks and my soul feels restored.

And that crazy crew from Hazlet. Mike's friends from high school, all just really good people who love big and celebrate even bigger. All musicians and businessmen and cooks and techies and so many of them now parents. They have always been so damn welcoming and down to earth. Even though we rarely see them, I love this crew. 

Photo cred Summer

Photo cred Summer
Photo cred Eric
Photo Cred Summer
Oh and this little family of mine who came all the way from California - these guys are HUGE on my gratitude list. They are really more like brothers and sisters, moms and dads, then cousins and aunts and uncles. They are a big part of the reason I am who I am today and why our wedding was so damn fun!

My mom, the OG crafter who I am now realizing is responsible for instilling my love of hot glue guns and glitter and my brother's girlfriend, Lauren, an actress with a natural comedic timing and the best pie-baker I have ever know, are some of the gifts in my life that keep surprising me.  

And have I told you about my new family?

 I know, right? Fun, loving, and all great cooks! So much to be grateful for!

And then there is this guy...
My Dad (photocred @the818)
Me and my dad
At the after party of my wedding, a friend said to me, "Your dad is the slickest motherfucker out there!" He is pretty slick. Our father/daughter dance was to the Beach Boys "God Only Knows" because the truth is I don't think either of us would know what we'd be without the other.

So, when I started this post, I only meant to write about Jenny and then I thought maybe I'd include some of my other creative friends who have stuff online and then it just became this rolling gratitude list. If there is ever a time to do one it is now. And if you are getting sick of wedding pictures, I apologize...but I'm sure there will be more to come! A big THANK YOU to my friends and family who have made my life a thing of beauty. 

And to this thoughts exactly.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Colors in the Closet

There was a time when my aunt used to say to me,"You have too much black in your wardrobe. What's wrong with a little color? Live a little!" It's true, that for a while my closet consisted of mainly black clothing. I blame some of that on my angsty years and some of that on truly believing the color black made me look smaller in everything. Black was flattering and black was tough. Black hid the beer gut from college, the speckles of pizza grease, even the occasional cigarette burn, and made my butt look just a tad smaller from the side. While wearing black was a great way for me to hide, that was also the problem with it. It served no other purpose.

I can't remember when I began buying clothes with color. I can remember associating bright colors with being bubbly and for me that meant being stupid. I didn't wear pink or periwinkle and I still don't really dig pastels, but this past summer I bought my first hot pink tank top...and I love it. My love for bright pink is a new found passion. It started in 2010 when, at 28 years old,  I got a manicure and pedicure with my mom for the first time in my life. I had wanted to pick a dark burgundy, because for some reason I still hang on to trends that were cool in the 90s, but the manicurist suggested something bright for summer. My mom encouraged the thought, so I reached for the most far-out color I could find, or rather the color reached out for me. For the first time in my life, I had pink toes and not just any pink, but a Pink-Out-Loud kind of pink. I fell in love with the color and how the color made me feel - FUN! Ever since, my ideas on pink have been broadening, until I finally owned an article of pink clothing.

I still wear this pink tank top with a black blazer or during my bachelorette party, I wore a grubby blue hoodie over the pink. But the thing I love about pink is that you can't hide it. Even if you throw a dark coat over it, pink will find a way to steal the show. Pink will find a way out.

Over the weekend, when hanging some of my wet clothes to dry, I caught a glimpse of a sampling of my closet and felt so happy when I realized that black was a hard color to find. My closet now has deep cobalt blues, and turquoise greens, and pink, bright whites, and even a little red. Its moments like these when I recognize the tiny transformations in my life that have rippling effects and even stronger undertows signifying change and growth. I no longer want to hide myself -  lady lumps be damned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

#MikePlusLindsey: The Players

Maid of Honor / Photo Cred @courtneyrent

Father of the Bride / Photo Cred @courtneyrent

The Venue (Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe) / Photo Cred @courtneyrent

Bridesmaid / Photo Cred @courtneyrent

Guest / Photo Cred @courtneyrent

The Afterparty with MOH & Bridesmaid /  Photo Cred @shellybeannnn

The Florist / Photo Cred @courtneyrent

The Bride & Groom / Photo Cred @shellybeannnn

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seeing the Forest from the Trees: Financial Clarity and Reclaiming The Dream

Tree down in Park Slope 11.11.12
It's not always easy to see the forest when there are so many damn trees in the way. The first time I heard that phrase was in physics class in high school when Mike McGee said it to my best friend at the time when she couldn't understand what to him was a basic concept. In truth, I didn't understand the concept either, but I have always hid behind "being smart" or at least projected that I was smart even when I didn't always know the topic of conversation. I confess, I have pretended to know things that people were talking about in conversation, whether it be politics, celebrities, food or physics, when I hadn't the slightest clue. It was easier to stay quiet or say things like "Right, right" or "I know...It's so crazy!" than to say, "What's that?" or ask "What are you talking about?" It was probably a survival skill I picked up along the way in order to maintain a certain image that I knew a lot, that I was well-informed, that I was not stupid. The problem with that is it is also an exercise in not speaking up for yourself. It is a means to avoid asking for help, and asking for help has always been something I saw as a weakness. After all, am I not the most self-sufficient person I know?

On some occasions, I would go home and look up the obscure reference and on some occasions I would simply pass through the conversation under the radar, happy to continue living in the fog. But that is exactly what I am trying to pull myself out of right now:  fog. Financial fog, career fog, and spiritual fog.

If you read this blog, you may remember my financial rant/post last year that was picked up for syndication by BlogHerMoney: My Life With Sallie Mae: A Nightmare in the Making. My student loan debt is still enormous and my situation of being able to lower my payments still the same. I cannot consolidate my private loan and what I owe remains in the 30K+ range. But there is another component to living with debt that I am just awakening to - the psychological component.

A friend recently asked me what my monthly payments were and her reaction was, "Wow!" And I jumped on that reaction to explain how that is exactly how I feel and how I continue to feel like I can never get above water because of that debt. Her response, "Yes, but the debt isn't what keeps you from earning more prosperously." Light bulb. It certainly is not what keeps me from earning more and staying in jobs that are beneath my skill level. What started my initial "Oh my God, take any job offered you to pay off these loans!!!"  was fear and what keeps me from growing is a lack of clarity, a vagueness, a beaten down spirit and again, fear.

What underlies my unhappiness tied to money and finances is a a secret I hate to admit: somewhere, somehow, I feel like a failure. I am disappointed with myself. I tell myself that if I were so talented, "I should have made it by now." But the good news is, that idea that I'm a failure is bullshit. That is not the truth. The same way feelings can color any situation, the basic fact is that is simply not true even if I tell it to myself all day long. This same friend said to me, "The dream is not dead," to which I felt like she had reached through my dingy hoodie and old tee shirt and grabbed a hold of my beating heart to make sure it was indeed still thumping. Part of the fogginess I feel when it comes to which direction I should go or the directionless feelings that I have in general about what to do next in life ironically exist out of the deeply seated truth that I actually know exactly what I want but I'm so terrified I'm not going to get it. So I consider other alternatives. I look at other career paths, I research grad school programs with degrees that look interesting, I try to listen to other parts of my soul that feel fulfilled by various jobs, but I don't move on any of them. Why? Maybe because I'm scared of failing at those, too. Or maybe because I'm scared that pursuing those options would be a marker of the true failure possible - letting go of my dream before ever actually taking the giant risk to make it happen.

So where am I now? I am getting clear. I have opened an online money management account that lets me see all of my money (accounts), debts (student loans and credit cards) and investments (403B) in one place. It helps me set goals that are visual and not just a line on a spreadsheet. It helps me account for every penny and furthermore it gets me excited that my goal to get out of financial debt is not impossible. It also helps me plan that while I do have this enormous debt, I can still plan for a serious adventure or save for a house or one day figure out how to work part time and pursue that book that is actually totally possible to sell.

And as for the's still alive in my still beating heart. I want to write and I want my writing to be published. I want that to be my job. And the truth is, only so much is in my control. I can only do half the work - writing the words, dedicating time to editing, and more importantly finally asking for help and informing myself how the hell you actually pitch something! But without saying it aloud, without putting that goal in front of me every single morning, and without asking for help, it most certainly won't happen. It is time to admire all those trees and get walking through that damn forest.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How To Be Nice To Yourself

On Sunday evening, a friend suggested to me, "You should so something nice for yourself." I thought about taking a bath but our tub is small and not always relaxing. I made myself chili which tasted good but afterwards made me feel not so good. And then I saw a post over at love Maegan  and it hit me: I'm going to paint my nails.

Mike, Me & my sister-in-law, Michele
Now, mind you, I almost never paint my nails. I could probably count the times I have done it on two hands. And usually it takes me so long and it is so messy I end up taking the polish entirely off after completing it. But not this time. I picked two colors I had stored in a bag of nail polish I have collected. Every Christmas or birthday, I get a color or two from Mike's sister and I love them! But I'm always discouraged by my left-handed painting skills. But when I saw the unopened teal bottle next to the gold glitter bottle, I knew what I had to do.

Hours later (while watching some awesome reruns of How I Met Your Mother) this is the manicure I ended up with. Still messy but I'm quite proud of it if I do say so myself. I liked the sort of meditative, creative task of painting my nails and I think I'd like to have painted nails for often. It just makes me feel more fun. And now they have nail polish stickers (they have probably had these for years but this is how "in" I am with fashion), so there's a short cut if I'm feeling short on time.

In the end, I felt like I really had done something nice for myself. And on Sunday nights, while Mike is at work, I just might make this my nail painting evening.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear Mother Nature:

Please give the East Coast a break. A Nor'Easter in November only a week and a half after Hurricane Sandy? Really? People are still without power, heat, and water, still digging through the rubble of their homes and businesses. We got the message. Global Warming is here. Now, can you cut the twilight weather long enough for the tri-state area to really make some headway on recovery?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Very Simple Reasons Why I Voted For Obama: A Warrior For The Middle Class

Because if you are a woman and Mitt Romney wins you may lose your reproductive rights meaning -no abortion AND possibly no IVF. (Check out Ryan's Sanctity of Human Life Act)

Because Obama passed national healthcare coverage.

Because Obama actually killed the man responsible for 9/11.

Obama ended the war in Iraq.
My polling place at 8a.m.

Obama is not perfect, but he he means what he says.

Because a community organizer is always more in touch with the people than a millionaire businessman.

Because Romney straight up called 47% of people (the people he believes wouldn't vote for him) victims and people who feel entitled to healthcare and housing.

Today, President Obama played basketball with Scottie Pippen. He plays basketball on election days, a superstition he truly believes in. i.e. He is a real human being.

The only tears I've seen Obama cry are today in Iowa when he thanked all of the people that have helped him with this campaign.

My polling place 30 minutes later - angry and excited
Because I heard way too many Republicans (including Ryan) talk about their various definitions of rape. Rape is rape. Period. It is alway violent.

Because I truly don't believe Romney or the Republican party gives a shit about me - a woman with student loan debt.

Because top-down economics still doesn't make any sense to me. Because the country is hurting so bad, HOW does a tax cut for corporations and the 1% help the country grow?

Because Romney spoke to the American people like we were stupid and more than flip-flopped on nearly everything on his platform, most notable where he stood with the automobile industry bail-out.

Because I like my presidents real and although I am sure there is corruption and stretched facts possibly  lies on Obama's side, at his core he is a man that has spent his life working for the people. Because I will vote against social conservatism every day of the week. Because Romney admitted that human rights are not a priority for him unless serving American interests. Because change is messy and imperfect but progress takes patience and I have another four years of it. 

Me after I voted
I no longer question if it counts, but rather feel grateful
for the chance to have my voice noted and proud that I
exercise my hard fought right to do so.


Monday, November 5, 2012

A Wedding, A Hurricane, and Renewed NYC Vows

Photo Credit by the Brilliant Sara Moe

Photo Credit by the Brilliant Sara Moe
We did it! And when I say we, I don't just mean Mike and I got married, but I mean the collective we in our family and friends all helping us to make the most amazing day of our lives happen, not to mention, one hell of a party. A friend of mine who is engaged asked me after it was all over if I had any sage advice and the only thing I could tell her was that part of what made the day so special was that I really let myself be a girl. But what I really think I meant, was that I let myself "go big."  I have a tendency to think I'm not interested in being "big." I don't like the spotlight, I say. I don't like getting all gussied up, I say. I'm more comfortable in jeans and a NY Giants hoodie, I say. I say, I say, I say....I clean up pretty nice.

Me & Tara: the Kick-Ass MOH, and some party revelers
With the help of my best friends, including my amazing kick-ass Maid of Honor,  as well as a friend who patiently guided me daily from Park Slope, I went the full monty...or maybe the full monty found me. I got real with myself and asked what I really wanted, even if I didn't think I wanted it because I didn't think I could have it. And I got it all and so much more even if that meant that I wanted and NEEDED bridesmaids and two months before my wedding, I had two friends kind of enough to forgive my tardiness in asking them and hop on the wedding train. The day fell together like magic and so much of that was due in part to the leaps of faith we both took that it would just come together. I didn't see my bridesmaid dresses until the day of the wedding. We did everything over the internet sending pictures that showed up as different colors on different computer screens. But we kept saying, "It will all come together...and if it doesn't, no one will know." My wedding was far better than I could have ever dreamed, designed, or imagined. The day was filled with champagne toasts and primping and reggae and laughter with some of my oldest friends and new sister-in-law. 

The ceremony was perfect, from two friends who played our procession and recession songs (Longing to Belong by Eddie Vedder and I Want To Grow Old With You  by Adam Sandler) to our friend Hugh (the officiant) whose remarks were nothing short of electrifying to the readings we chose (Billy Crystal's final monologue in When Harry Met Sally  read by dear friend and fellow blogger daleboca and a poem called The Marriage  by Denise Levertov read by my brother) to the musical interlude Words and Music (by Sondre Lerche) performed by two of our most special friends, Carmen and Joe, to our vows that were written once and spoken straight from the heart. Our friends cheered us on and cried and laughed and made the entire ceremony unforgettable.

(Video credit by my awesome cousin Gilen)

The food, the cocktails, the dueling bridesmaid speech brilliantly executed by my incredibly talented bridesmaids. If you don't know @the818, you should, cause she is definitely the Kristen Wiig character, and she snapped an awesome picture of us on a Vespa. Check this out...

Dancing with Mike to Ziggy Marley's acoustic version of Love Is My Religion and then with my father to the Beach Boys' God Only Knows  interrupted by a two step to Garth Brooks are some of the moments I still can feel in my gut. 

And then the party...we came to get down, we saw to get down, we conquered getting down...

Photo Credit by the Brilliant Sara Moe
Photo Credit by the best damn florist and friend
a bride could ask for, Courtney
...while also getting a few photo booth shots along the way.

And then there was the after party at a bar across the cobblestone street, a convenience that made me fall in love with New York all over again. Only here can the momentum of an incredible night sweep you just steps away to yet another turn in the adventure.

Do you think we had a good time? I still have scabs over the blisters on my feet. 

Light finally breaking over Manhattan
The next day, Tara and Morgan informed us of Hurricane Sandy, which we had heard a little about but pretty much thought it was like storm Irene last August.  The city got a lot of rain, but ultimately, the Hurricane had been downgraded as was the damage. We joked about the media's coverage that basically said, We don't know where exactly it will hit or when but it will be massive. The Innkeeper at our honeymoon inn up in Woodstock called to tell us if we wanted to cancel we could and to keep in mind if we did come, they did not have a generator. Our first decision as a married couple...we decided it would be a good story so we boogied out of town and headed to the Hudson Valley. We honeymooned despite the tree that was ripped in half by the wind outside of our spa the next morning and when trees started to go down around our Inn, we switched rooms to make sure we were away from some of the bigger possibly weaker trees.  But we were still riding high from our wedding and in truth there was part of what was happening that was just impossible to look at (both emotionally and physically). We happily were tucked away with power coming in and out and our first romantic meal on our honeymoon was pasta cooked by the Innkeeper since the town lost power. By Tuesday, there was no wind and little rain, but power lines and trees were down, so roads were closed. Happy to have an extra day, we stayed up at Woodstock. But on Wednesday we made the trek back to New York and were jarred awake to the devastation the Hurricane brought to the city we call home.  We were lucky to come home to a heated apartment with electricity and internet and television only to be informed of the extent of the storm through heartbreaking images from Mike's childhood, a roller coaster from Seaside Heights swept out into the Atlantic, the Jersey Shore all but vanished. His family in Jersey was without power for a week, but everyone was safe and for the most part untouched. 

A lonely Halloween with @the818
Missing Skyline
Blackout of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn

Part of me wanted to look away from all of this, pass by the donation drop offs and volunteer sign ups in my neighborhood and just cling to the memories of my wedding just days before. But when I remembered we had almost chosen November 3rd as our date, I was overcome with gratitude but also heartbreak for the couple whose wedding was surely canceled this week. I felt grateful for my life and and my friends and family and my apartment and my big beautiful wedding that happened hours before the most devastating storm to ever hit New York and New Jersey made landfall. I picked up Morgan, my stranded bridesmaid, from Long Island who had to miss Halloween with her three-year old daughter and yet never once complained about being here for 10 days, the longest she had ever been away from her. We looked out at the blackout of lower Manhattan from the roof of my apartment building in silence, each taking in the moon and the eery quiet that should not have been. 

The next day, Morgan got the idea to visit Coney Island and see it for ourselves. We both had lived through the '94 Earthquake in Northridge, California and we both had experienced 9/11 together.  It seemed fitting that us two Valley girls would have to witness this together. So we walked through the looted and sludge covered streets of Coney Island as well as the boardwalk covered in sand. We talked to a shop owner who told us he hadn't seen water like this in all his 40 years doing business at Coney Island. He showed us the water levels in his garage. As we walked along the beach, we spotted a living room set sat in tact by the water. Whole backyards with kids toys and picnic sets were scattered along the shore. 

Four foot Water level
Rows of cars flooded, looted,
and this one was burned
Coney Island, Mega Whirl
Beach Closed
A living room set on the beach
Lights Out on the Verrazano
Sump pumps
Brighton Beach
Brighton Beach

Lost steps, Coney Island Boardwalk
Witness (the818)
We rode home in silence, exhausted and overwhelmed by what we had just taken in. The only help we saw were Con Edison workers and immigrants who were bargaining for hire to help clean up some of the more established businesses. We did not see many people, the boardwalk almost completely abandoned, but those we did see were talking with neighbors, or pulling out molded furniture. And some of the people were smoking cigarettes and laughing, looking at the bright side of things- they were all standing. Morgan admitted she felt bad to be leaving when there was so much need. After she left the next morning, Mike and I tried to sign up for volunteering to use our truck for donation drop offs in Red Hook, but there were so many volunteers already signed up, they sent us away after we gave them our phone number. We donated to food drives and cleaned out our closets for any clothing drives, but we also made a promise that although the volunteer needs are being met right now, in the future, we can't forget there will still be need and maybe that will be our time to contribute ourselves. We agreed that it was okay to still feel happy about our wedding but also be present and aware to what is happening all around us.  

Farmers Market, Brooklyn
I wish I could say the honeymoon isn't over, but in an ironic twist I'm glad to start our marriage in this way. While cleaning out clothes I overheard Mike call the plumber that services his work building just to see how he is since he is a resident of Staten Island. I felt so proud to be married to a man that thought of people very much outside of his private world and called just to see if they needed anything during this time.  As we walked through our Brooklyn neighborhood, I was proud to see donation drop offs at our park, our food co-op, and our farmers market as well as a Hurricane Relief bake sale run by children and their mothers down the street. I felt once again that beating love for New York and my fellow New Yorkers, be they transplants or homegrown, and even more importantly to be married to a Jersey Boy who has that same beating love for the family we often forget - our community. 
Food Drive at
Park Slope Food Co Op

What we have experienced in one week is the most romantic moment of our lives, the biggest celebration of our lives, complete loss and devastation and the coming together of a city that may do a lot of things wrong but always does one thing really well: heal. It hit me why I have always been attracted to this city, why I feel this gravitational pull to be here. New Yorkers rebuild.  Jersey Goes Strong. And that's not to say California does not. I saw that city rebuild itself twice in the 90s with the LA Riots and Northridge Earthquake.  Maybe the difference is that I feel like I really grew up in New York. Maybe it's that in a city so packed with people and so little space, you cannot help but be a part of it. You can't escape it and whether you want to or not, you will go through thick and thin together. To be a New Yorker, one must marry the city. And although we are in the midst of a huge tragedy, we are also at the dawn of a rebirth and what better way to start a marriage than be a part of that light.

Lights On, Long Island