“Change is the essence of life…

Yesterday, I went to one of the NYU computer labs which happened to be on the second floor of a building. When I took the elevator down, I stepped onto the ground level and right before me was this:

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I’d like to think it was a sign of encouragement and I hope it acts as one for you as well! Have a great day everyone! 🙂

sugar is smoking

Today’s poem is by Jason Schneiderman (anyone else LOVE that last name?) which I received from poets.org from their Poem-A-Day email. By now I guess you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s about death (since that seems to be a common event I keep writing and posting about) but this piece stuck out to me in its simplicity. It definitely makes you reflect on any unhealthy–but enjoyable–habits you may have. Here it is! Enjoy 🙂

smoking

it’s amazing how death
is always around the corner,
or not even so far away
as that, hiding in the little pleasures
that some of us would go
so far as to say
are the only things
keeping us alive

What the Big Apple Has Taught Me So Far

I’ve only been in Manhattan a couple of days and I’ve already learned quite a few lessons. Surprisingly however, none of them have to do with writing. But for the price I’m paying to be here, I better keep learning things (any sorts of things) at this rate.

1. Not every apartment (or in my case, dorm room) has a beautiful view onto the New York City skyline.

Expectation:

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Reality:

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2. The closet in my dorm room has a light that beeps like a fire alarm if I forget to turn it off. I guess this is the university’s way to conserve energy. By saving wattage…in closets…can you tell I’m rolling my eyes?

3. Dorm room mattresses are very uncomfortable. I’ve never slept in a dorm before so I highly suggest purchasing a mattress cover for anyone heading off to college in the fall!

4. You can’t go outside to see what the weather is like when you live nine stories up. This was particularly problematic for me yesterday morning when I was trying to get dressed but couldn’t really tell what the weather was actually like (rainy? hot? humid?)

5. Which leads you to learning that umbrellas (which you bring with you in the event it actually does rain) really do turn inside out. I was that girl yesterday in the rain who was fighting with the damn thing.

6. Don’t talk to people on the street who wave you down like airplanes. They’re most likely trying to sell you something (a material item or an idea) and will waste precious time out of your walk to class (which you don’t have to spare) trying to convince you to purchase something or join a cause that you will decline at the end of the fifteen minute monologue they somehow manage to engage you in.

This happened to me already while I was walking to get my student ID. I had my headphones in (which you would think would automatically signal to oncoming salespeople/activists that I am clearly NOT INTERESTED—but alas, some people are quite persistent. They like a challenge.) and some guy waved me down and commented that he liked the color of my cardigan (green) because it meant I liked the Earth. This was news to me since I thought wearing green just signified you liked the color green but hey, I’ll let him off the hook. Then he complimented my nose pin (which is in the shape of a flower—which I’m now realizing probably also encouraged him to thinking I love the Earth—which I do, I’m just not an environmental activist, which turns out is what he wanted me to 1) Sign up to be 2) Donate to and 3) Well, actually I can’t remember the third thing he wanted because after he said the word “donate” my broke-college-student-mind tuned out. I politely told him I’d think about joining his activist group (lie) and continued on my way. On my walk back to my building I got lucky as he had trapped another poor unfortunate soul in his monologue and couldn’t devote his full attention to me except to say, “I’m still waiting for you!” in a sing-song voice, in which I sang back “I’m still thinking!” and continued walking, head down.

7. Food is painfully expensive. So expensive that you don’t want to buy it. I now understand why most people in this neighborhood are skinny. Also, the term “starving artist.”

8. You should really exchange phone numbers with your suitemate. Because when their alarm clock goes off at 8PM instead of AM and continues beeping for the next half hour because they aren’t in their room to turn it off and you can’t turn it off because they locked their door, communication would be helpful.

9. There are other places in the world besides America. And people actually live there. Yes, people live in Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands, Colombia (besides Shakira), India, and China. And yes, I met people yesterday from each of these places so I have real live evidence.

10. These people are crazy enough (like me) to want to pursue a career as a writer (just like me). It’s amazing to be in a room with people who all share your passion. It’s terrifying and slightly intimidating, but it’s also inspiring and somehow feels like home.

11. Tony Bennett lives next door to the building where I have classes and Daniel Day Lewis lives across the street. The lesson learned here: Celebrities exist in real life. Who knew?

12. However, the best lesson I’ve learned so far has nothing to do with living in New York or my classes at NYU. Quite the contrary actually. It’s that nothing can make me happier than knowing the person you wrote a piece for actually read it and enjoyed it. Especially when that person does work that you not only admire, but are inspired by. It turns out you don’t need a fancy school name under your belt or be part of a “prestigious” program to have your writing give you pure unadulterated happiness by having others enjoy it.

Check out the picture below to see the reply I got from Andrew Jenks after sending him the piece I wrote about his show (https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/world-of-jenks-and-why-its-awesome/). It’s short and simple, but it’s all I need to know I did well by him and his show. It’s an amazing feeling 🙂

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My Last Days

For those of you who haven’t heard of Zach Sobiech, I strongly urge you to watch this video. It’s about twenty minutes long but please find the time to watch the (very condensed) story of a young man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and how he truly embodied the saying “Live each day to its fullest.” I suggest watching it at a time when you do not feel rushed and have a box of tissues handy. Zach is an inspiration to all. Rest in peace. 

For those of you who want to listen to his song, Clouds, here it is! Absolutely a pleasure to listen to! 

“And by the way…

writing1

Today I head off to NYU to start their creative nonfiction summer writing program so in the spirit of writing, a quote by Ms. Sylvia Plath. Have a great day everyone! (If you have any advice for me as I embark on this journey, please share!) 

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”~Sylvia Plath

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

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In a few days (two to be precise) I’ll be moving into Manhattan to participate in NYU’s Writers in NY program specifically for creative non-fiction. I can’t believe that I’ll actually be embarking on this journey for the next four weeks. And because this is going to be one of the most exciting things I’ve done so far in my life, I’ll be using my Wednesday and Saturday posts to document my time in the program. I’m really hoping to have some great stories to tell.

I also think it’s important for me to use today’s post to reflect on what it’s taken to get me to be a part of this program. As mentioned before, (https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/why-do-i-write-anyway/) I’ve been writing my entire life. (After I wrote that piece I even remembered the two books I had started writing when I was in middle school. It’s funny how vividly I still remember them.) I always considered writing a hobby of mine, or just a way for me to express and reflect on my emotions—never really considering it something I could pursue as a career. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book but never thought it was possible. At least not right now. I just thought I would write it later, when I had more experience, or something like that.

Over winter break however, I was truly inspired after coming across a TV show (yes, another one!) that I had watched in high school called The Buried Life. Similar to World of Jenks (which I wrote about on Wednesday– https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/world-of-jenks-and-why-its-awesome/) the show is filmed as a documentary. The show is about four guys who created a list of things they wanted to do before they died and follows them as they travel across the country crossing things off their list. What made the show truly inspirational however, wasn’t just watching their shenanigans (they competed in a Krump competition, snuck into a party at the Playboy Mansion, and helped deliver a baby); it was that for each thing they crossed off their list, they helped a stranger cross something off of theirs. With every stranger they met, they asked What do you want to do before you die? When I watched the show in high school I didn’t think about it too much. I never even asked myself What do I want to do before I die? But now that I’ve experienced a loss so close to me with the death of my father, I know that I won’t be here forever and I better make the most of the time I have.

So I decided to make my own list of things to do before I die. As I read over the list, I realized just how bizarre and outrageous some of the things on it were. #48: Spend a day talking with a British accent. #33: Kiss a stranger on New Years Eve in Times Square. #56: Be a nude model for an art class. I scoured the list for something I could start working on now, because I realized that once I had written my dreams down they no longer felt so unattainable. Suddenly, they just became projects to cross off the list.

Scanning the two sheets of loose leaf I had written my list on, my eyes fell upon

#7: Write a book.

 As I sat there, I realized that there was no reason to wait any longer to start working on this dream. Because hey, there might not be a later for me. Who knows? Why not start now?

And as it began to sink in that I could start working on this dream right now I began to think about how much work it would actually take. I accepted the fact that you don’t just automatically sneeze out an entire book in one sitting. I don’t imagine J.K. Rowling sat down one night and started writing “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much,” all the way to “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” * It’s a lot of hard work. There are a lot of tiny baby steps to creating such a big piece. And so I thought, what’s the first step I need to take?

And with that, I went to lunch with one of my dearest friends, Brian, and posed my idea to him. Just like he had told me the previous summer when I came to him saying I wanted to write seriously, he suggested I start a blog. But this time, unlike last summer, when I had protested the use of technology, I decided that creating a blog would be the best way to start writing regularly and to an audience (something I was absolutely terrified about—the pages of my journal were the only audience I had before). It would be my way of seeing if I really had the chops to write seriously. Would I get writers block? Would I run out of ideas? Would anyone even read it?

Despite my fears, I started this blog with my first piece The Only Thing We Have To Do In Life (https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/the-only-thing-we-have-to-do-in-life/and couldn’t believe the overwhelmingly positive response I got. I’ve been writing consistently since then and I’ve got to tell you, creating this blog was the best thing I could have done. I’ve proven to myself that I have an endless amount of ideas. (And that when I have writers block, I can easily hide it from my readers by posting fiction for two weeks.) And I’ve gotten a great confidence boost in knowing that people read my pieces and actually–dare I say it–enjoy them.

The most important thing I’ve learned however, is that taking the first step toward a dream project is really the hardest part. After you’ve taken the first step, the next ones don’t seem as difficult. After you’ve taken the first step, the dream feels more achievable, not so scary, and you feel motivated to take the next steps, one after the other.

And so after writing this blog for a few months, I decided I was ready to take another step toward writing a bigger work. While my blog has given me experience and confidence, it’s now time to take my writing to the next level and focus on perfecting my craft. Knowing that this was a necessary step toward reaching my dream, I applied to NYU’s summer writing program. To my surprise I was accepted and to my even greater surprise, my grandparents agreed to let me go (with a lot of persuasion on my part). I can’t believe I’m going to have the opportunity to work with professors who are published authors and I can’t wait to see how my writing will change over the next four weeks with all the things I will learn. It’s going to be amazing.

So I’d like to thank The Buried Life guys for inspiring me to finally pursue my love for writing right now instead of waiting until it might be too late. And I’d like to thank Brian for pushing me to start a blog despite my initial hesitation. Without these two influences, I think I would still be searching for happiness even though it’s been at the end of my pen all these years.

So now I open up the question to you: What do you want to do before you die? Feel free to leave your answers in the comment box!

*First and last lines of the Harry Potter series.

Here’s a trailer of The Buried Life for anyone who’s interested!