Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Poem

A full moon
not quite full
but close, 
illuminant
casting beauty
bouncing off faces
bringing out the hue in eyes

I look up in a window
an upper floor room
and see orange ladders
two
and fresh walls
white and fragrant

I imagine dancing, dancing with him
paint smeared on our tees and cheeks
matted hair
streaks of white
too impatient to wait

I look down
a Sunkist can
a rolled up rug
someone’s heart
ambition

Cigarettes and cigarettes
a box of used books
slightly smelly
should we steer clear?
but free—free books!

Urine
dogs too small
dogs too big
fallen metrocards and littered to-go’s

Footprints
stories
and men and women with flaps of cardboard
a sharpie taken to them

Watery eyes
torn skin
a plea for help

I walk and walk
wondering how I got here—
wondering how I've stayed here.
How am I here?

Dishes clank
I saunter past the backside of cafes
kitchen windows are cracked
and radios raised
voices sing along inside

As I write
the coffee shop is getting crowded

My back is to the line and counter
but I hear as people enter and exit
the creak of the door

I feel the cool draft 
the outside air gushing in eagerly
while it is able

Overhead is Bono's voice
replacing Chris Martin's

"I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls"

My left bicep starts to throb
I rub my eyes

"But I still haven't found
what I'm looking for"

"But I still haven't found
what I'm looking for"

The throbbing stops
and I inhale deeply
resting my head on the concrete wall beside me
painted white
although not fresh and fragrant

I'm yanked from my daydreaming upon realizing where I am
"Decaf soy latte on the counter"
"Parfait"
Chairs push out and people wander over
fetching their orders and muttering
soft "Thank you"s

"But I still haven't found
what I'm looking for"

I guess I better stop looking

I close my eyes
and imagine dancing, dancing with him
and the moon's light bouncing off faces

Don't look for,
look at

Smile
dance
take in
turn wall paint into warrior paint
and go fetch that parfait
(even if you didn't order it)


Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's Newly 2017—Confidence, Inspiration, Favorites

I’m back, baby. Back in the city, back in my body, back as me—the Libby I know and love.
It’s hard when you take a step back and realize that you’ve become a stranger to yourself. It’s scary.


I’m in a bookstore right now. It’s one of those bookstore/coffee shop hybrids. It’s very pleasant—the air flow, the company (of both books upon books and soft-footed humans alike), the tunes overhead, the lighting. I feel very…protected. It’s hard coming back to the city when you’ve been away for a while. Undoubtedly, it’s magical thing. However, it’s also…overwhelming.

There’s something about bookstores. I guess that’s because there’s something about books. Seems like a stupid observation, I’m aware, but think about it...Within the pages of each and every book that has ever been created is so much energy, love, contemplation, curiosity, hard-work, freedom, history, personality, creativity…Within the pages of each and every book are peoplepeople to be discovered and dissected and loved (be it a character, the author, or oneself as the reader).

Around me, the floorboards are creaky, the beeping noise of the scanner is steady, and the bathroom door handle is rickety. Around me, the colors are neutral, eyeglasses resting on nose bridges and facedown phones on café tables are abundant, and everything and anything is labeled…

(Photo by: Francis Leith, August 2016, 35 mm)

Two people just played the “Which way are you going to go?” game, complete with the awkward, distressed shifting and nervous giggling. It was a cute interaction to witness. Both walked away thereafter—eyeballing their feet, wearing crooked grins, and fidgeting with their fingers. Me? I’m still sitting. A woman just walked by in a fabulous electric green/faux fur jacket. She’s speaking French with her daughter. I tried to tell her that I liked her jacket in French. I probably butchered it.


I started this post saying that I was feeling like a stranger to myself.
I don’t say that to put myself down. Instead, I say that to realize that I don’t (nor do I need to) feel that way anymore.
My word of the week? Confidence.

Like I said, feeling like a stranger to yourself is scary. So…don’t overcomplicate it. Simply, don’t be a stranger to yourself. Prioritize confidence in your life—do things that make you feel confident, inspire yourself, stimulate your creativity, exercise originality and self-expression, etc. So, here are some images/ideas/things I’m thinking about right now that are stimulating my confidence and creativity, inspiring me, and making me SMILE.

      • The idea of making (and motivation to make) new friends
      • Thinking about new and creative ways to make some cash
      • New piercings?
      • Redecorating and reorganizing
      • Fun with makeup (eyes & nails?)
      • The list I made of café’s, museums, and places around the city that I want to visit
      • This picture my mom sent me this morning
      • A funny movie my boyfriend showed me: Doomsdays
      • Telling/hearing/thinking about stories
      • Sparkly things
      • Looking at the clothes in my closet with fresh eyes/creating new looks with what I own
      • Sketching
      • These songs…

...and lots more.
What are you inspired by today? Are you feeling confident?

xx, Lib

Friday, January 13, 2017

What is Magic? December, Teamwork between Readiness & Desire, and the Truth about Truth.


The holidays have passed. Did they ever come though?
The tree did, the lights did, the snow did, the family did, the music did, and th—
…it feels as if something was missing this year, though.

The holiday season is known as a magical time of year. As we’ve all observed at some point or another, delight twirls throughout the air starting the day after Thanksgiving and lasting until that single, majestic day about a month later—the 25th of December (for those who celebrate Christmas, that is). This is evident in just how significantly the world around us changes upon entering December…Everything and anything is peppermint-ized; the medley of red, gold, and green is unavoidable; the musky scent of fir seems to be infused in the air itself; bells jingle and evergreens line the sidewalks; twinkling lights and glittery decorations adorn homes and fences and storefronts; old sweaters and chunky hats come out of hiding from the depths of trunks and attics; smiles shimmer and dimples dance, and…

Where’s the magic, though?
Can we see it? Or is it hidden—is it embedded in the smiles, the wafting fragrances, the twinkly lights?

Step back a bit.
What is magic?



It’s funny, the power we have within ourselves to yield resultsany results; the power of belief. This rings true not only when it comes to classic holiday stories and movies though—it extends beyond the principle of Santa Clause and the symbolism of the chiming bell in The Polar Express (for those who aren’t familiar with the message of The Polar Express, the sound of the bell from Santa’s sleigh is only able to be heard by those who truly believe). 




The power of perspective.

The magical feeling we sense during December is only magical because we want it to be— because we believe the magic exists—because we want such magic to exist. It’s a powerful thing, to want to experience a given feeling. In this case, we give our wants and desires validity by basing them in something external from and (illusorily) bigger than us (such as the emblematic date of Christmas). However, before we can want to experience a given feeling, we first must be ready. The template looks something like this:

    1. We’re ready to feel (insert given feeling(s) here)
    2. …because (insert reason here)
    3. …and, thus, we want to feel (insert given feeling(s) here
    4. …because it contextually makes sense
    5. …so we feel those feelings & those feelings feel—BECOME—real. 
For example, in this scenario.
    1. We’re ready to feel excitement and tenderness and gratefulness
    2. …because it’s December
    3. …and, thus, we want to feel excitement and tenderness and gratefulness
    4. …because it contextually makes sense
    5. …so we feel those feelings & those feelings feel—BECOME—real. 





Readiness and desire work in tandem, often behind the scenes, to spawn feeling (which is what drives us in life—our craving for feeling).

There’s something else I want to touch upon…
You know how I said that we give our wants and desires validity by basing them in things external from and (illusorily) bigger than us? Well, what if we re-concocted our perception of ourselves—within ourselves—by making ourselves paramount; the biggestunsurpassable

We need to challenge ourselves to begin rooting our wants within ourselves. We need to challenge ourselves to see ourselves as possessing more validity.
We, as humans, MAKE the outside world what it is—it’s only real to us because it’s something we perceive. In my opinion and based upon my experience(s), whatever we deem real is…our real. Sure, everyone’s definition of what is real and what is not WILL differ. However, in their world or in your world, what’s real is real—and that’s the real truth.



Starkly, magic itself is an illusion. I realized this in fourth grade upon finding out the truth about Santa Clause (and sobbing hysterically for weeks afterward). If we really think about it, everything in life is an illusion. Hope isn’t lost though—I’m not saying this to desensitize you. Instead, I’m saying this to empower you—to excite you. If everything in life is an illusion—and meaning and magic are only as real as us humans make them—that means that US HUMANS have the power to choose what exactly we find meaningful and magical (after, of course, US HUMANS determine what’s real or not real in the first place). The important part? We hold the power...all of it...

The power of perspective is…quite terrifying when we take a step back. You may not believe in yourself, but I mean it when I say that you have the ability to make anything…anything. You can feel anything, do anything, see anything, be anything (try replacing all my “anything”s above with “whatever you WANT”). 

Such ability to sculpt what we see as real proves the insanely cool elasticity of us as humans—of our minds.


Remember: nothing is binding you to a certain way of thinking. If there's something that you want to do—if you want to think a certain way or for something to be real you you—that want/desire to achieve something, whatever that something is, is fundamentally rooted in wanting to feel. So...feel.

What's real to you?
xx, Lib

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Stay Warm & Stay YOU


Today is December 10th, meaning we can officially and undoubtedly say that the holiday season is now in full swing (as evident by the twinkly lights lurking in apartment windows, bundled up evergreen trees lining the sidewalks, red and gold nails aplenty, tourists aplenty, etcetera).

Yesterday, the high in NYC was 36ºF. Today, my Weather app is flaunting the snowflake emoji and, from 6AM this morning to 6PM this evening, is plastered with “34º” (not sure how that’s cold enough for snow to precipitate, but that’s beside the point). Being from Maine, this weather shouldn’t feel that cold. However, there’s something about cold weather in the city that leads to a bone-chilling feeling unlike any other…Prolonged time outside and traveling by foot is inevitable, the streets and avenues between buildings become ducts through which whizzing winds can travel, and the temptation of constantly being surrounded by  buildings (that are warm and heated inside) whilst walking around outside leads to only resenting the low temps more.
  
And...I dress to stay warm. Today's look: a pair of leggings atop another pair of leggings; Smartwool socks; a bulky turtleneck layered beneath an oversized fleece; a pair of $2.99 gloves from the Duane Reade around the corner (that are touch screen compatible!!); and my beat-up Converse (not necessarily the warmest shoe, but they're unrivaled in terms of comfort/walkability)...

Lately, walking down the street (and wearing the oh so swanky look described above), I’m finding myself dragging my jaw—how are people possibly pulling off fierce heeled boots? How are their toes staying warm? Dresses without tights; jeans covered in holes—where are people's layers? No gloves or mittens!? How do they do it? Of course, though, not everyone looks and dresses like a supermodel here (nor does everyone skimp on the outerwear). Many people do dress very practically (as I do). That being said though, of course, the common thread of practicality amongst the way many people dress doesn't mean these people's clothing is exactly the same—that their clothing is identical. Instead, inevitably, everyone has their unique style and flair that makes them them—that differentiates their look from that of the person next to them (wearing the same jacket, for example). However, it can be hard to really accentuate that—to really let one's unique style be seen—when he or she is hiding among layer atop layer atop layer...

So, what can be done?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"I Want to Jump"

I wanted to jump the other day.


His hand was in mine,
and mine was in his.
We were underneath Canal Street—
the dot that's yellow.


I am
a dot
that's yellow.


I use the “Dandelion” Crayola, my hands.


You and I,
we're on a brown one—
A green dot
blue
yellow too...


Maybe,
I am the world.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Internet Subscriptions vs. Internet Prescriptions


There’s something wrong with the way we’re interacting—largely with those around us but predominantly with ourselves. We live in a virtual society, one dominated by likes and followers and “friends” and…deep breath—the list goes on and on. Do we really understand though? Do we understand how terrifyingly harmful confiding in the illusive hideout of our devices can be? I’m not saying this in an effort to sound like an “old soul” and or simply to act as a contrarian member of our generation…I’m coming from a place of honesty—honesty with myself and, in an effort to rescue you from falling down the slippery slope that so many of us do, honesty with you too. 

Do you ever think about denotation versus connotation? It can really throw you for a loop. Say you’re looking at a television. Sure, we’ve come to know a rectangular device that displays moving, illuminated images as a “TV” (…it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the gist). The word used to define it (i.e. “television”) is the connotative definition, or its meaning in the context of our contemporary society; it only has the meaning that it has because we have given it—we have created—such meaning. Denotatively, however, what do we see? Like I said, it’s merely a “rectangular device that displays moving, illuminated images.” It’s often black. It often says “Samsung” or “LG” or “Dell” at the bottom…Sometimes it’s mounted on the wall, sometimes it sits freely on a stand of sorts. The list of surface details is endless. If someone from the 1500s miraculously and suddenly emerged in our current era, he or she would see the word “television” as nothing more than a meaningless combination of letters and, visually, would observe the surface features I mentioned but would be unable to conclude why? What? How?

Another example. 
Pixelation.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My First Month in the City


September was my first month in the city. It was a busy month—at times blissful, at times volatile, at times overwhelming. It was a month of reflection and never-ending newness. I’m tired, that’s undeniable. My feet are blistered, my white sneakers are stained, my caffeine dependence has really ramped up, and my tolerance for other human beings has become…both higher and lower.

I’m no expert, but if there’s one piece of advice I have for anyone moving from one place to another (be it for school or not, on his/her own or not, many miles from home or not, etc.)…don’t detach. Don’t desensitize. Don’t neutralize. Instead, dive in. Feel scared. Feel lonely. Feel awkward. Got that, Libby? I won’t sugarcoat things—I didn’t and I haven’t done these things. I did detach, and I didn’t feel those feelings. So, listen up self—you can do this.

I love this place. There’s an overwhelming about of realness that surrounds me on a daily basis. Manhattan is a Mecca of contrast—trash litters the sidewalks, designer handbags dance by on a block-by-block basis, burly owners escort their petite dogs; $1 pizza joints neighbor pricey vegan bistros. And the people, the PEOPLE. There are so many people! And so many kinds of people—races, faces, religions, sexualities, styles, personalities, and so on. Within this contrast is an overwhelming amount of beauty—so much beauty that it hurts.


Getting used to living with a roommate is hard. I’m probably/definitely not very good at it (sorry, Grace). It’s not hard in the sense that the two of us don’t get along or anything. Instead, I think that having a roommate has just made me realize how…strange I am. Little do you know, when you have your own space, you engage in habits and customs that you (likely) don’t even realize are a part of your lifestyle. Once you’re aware that someone else has a firsthand account of you and your life—in your most private, personal space—those idiosyncrasies and bizarre rituals emerge…Or maybe they don’t/won’t. Maybe I’m just weird...Doesn’t everyone wear socks to bed?

I woke Grace up the other day due to the potency of my nail polish’s scent. Truly, it was eye-watering (…and why was I painting my nails early in the morning? Good question—not sure why I felt such a pressing need to have red nails upon heading out the door that morning, but it must’ve been important).


More to come soon.
I'm excited to see what October has in store. Oh yeah, school is going well too :)
xx, Lib


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Trek Across America — A Digital Diary




So, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago — we drove across America. Who's we? Four of us: Tom, Even, Francis, and Libby (that's me). The trip lasted sixteen days and...well, it was quite an experience. This post is going to be a bit fragmented, as there's no way I will be able to include all that occurred or all that I desire to express. However, I figure that I should just allow myself to write freely and share whatever feels memorable/important to me.

Here's a general synopsis of our route:
1. Portland, Maine to Milan, Ohio
2. Milan, Ohio to Mitchell, South Dakota
3. Mitchell, South Dakota to Bozeman, Montana
4. Bozeman, Montana to Hood River, Oregon
5. Hood River, Oregon to Seaside, Oregon
6. Seaside, Oregon to Waldport, Oregon
7. Waldport, Oregon to Crescent City, California
8. Crescent City, California to Potter Valley, California
9. Potter Valley, California to San Fransisco, California
10. San Francisco, California to Monterey Bay, California
11. San Francisco, California to Big Sur, California
12. Big Sur, California to Camarillo, California
13. Camarillo, California to Laguna Beach/Manhattan Beach, California

The first four days were long (from Maine to Oregon), as we spent about fourteen hours in the car per day. Day one was meaningful — we took a pitstop at Francis's grandmother's house midday, where we were greeted with warm hugs, delightful (& dairy-free) blueberry buckle, and hot coffee to fuel our next seven hours. We talked of travel, school, baking, art, and so much more. The visit left me feeling reflective — incredibly sentimental, present, and mindful of myself and what lies ahead in life for me. 

...and, like we did often, we then hit the road. Days 1-3 entailed Comfort Inns (maybe one was a Country Suite?), Subway for dinner nearly every night (sandwiches really are great car food), throwback Black Eyed Peas music, conversations/debates about time and whether or not it is overly valued by/emphasized in our society, etcetera.



America is a very large place. The thing I found most interesting about covering so much ground in such little time involved how many small-town-America cultures we were able to experience from state to state as we stopped for food, bathroom breaks, and driver switcheroos — how lifestyle differs so much from place to place and how incredibly diverse our country is in every sense.

We stopped for lunch in a town called Morris, Illinois one day at a diner known as The Weitz Cafe. The town itself had an eerie yet soothing vibe. Adele's voice rang through the speakers that lined either side of Main Street. There were no tunes playing in the restaurant itself — just murmurs from the ladies lunching at the table to our right, dishes clinking in the kitchen, and a man at the front discussing the day's pie flavors with the waitress (who was also the hostess and cashier). That's another thing I learned — pie is a big thing at diners...and in America...who knew? The interactions we had in this diner were minimal, as it wasn't very crowded. Also, we were undoubtedly the only people under sixty-five in the whole place. After a burger each (I think I actually got a chicken burger), a milkshake for Tom, and fries all around, we hopped back in the car and set off again.


South Dakota surprised me. From miles and miles of corn fields, to the historic Wall Drug (www.walldrug.com — I didn't know this existed until we drove by it, but apparently it's a huge tourist attraction), to the MAGICAL Badlands National Park — the state has much more to offer than people give it credit for (I would particularly recommend visiting the Badlands. We debated driving through, but I'm so glad we ended up detouring a bit and experiencing the breathtaking canyons and rock spires amid the sprawling grasslands).

Bozeman, Montana was beautiful as well. My aunt was kind enough to let us stay with her for the night. If you ever get the chance to visit Bozeman, make sure to stop by The Nova Cafe (www.thenovacafe.comfor breakfast or brunch — it's one of my aunt's favorite places and we absolutely understood why upon tasting the delicious food and sitting amid the vibrant, retro space. Tip: snag a temporary tattoo from the basket at the front — I adorned myself with the one depicting a scull and crossbones through an illustration of a fried egg and two strips of bacon...
 
We began camping once we made it to Oregon. 
Our first stop was Hood River. We arrived pretty late in the evening (around 8ish) and had a thoroughly horrible meal at a Mexican restaurant downtown (it was funny though — the whole dining experience was just super bizarre, as the wait staff was very inattentive, the food itself was pretty shitty, and all of us were deliriously over-hungry). Also, on our way back to the car after eating, we saw a woman getting arrested which was strange...Something was definitely off about Hood River, yet I found the town incredibly intriguing nonetheless. It was now dark and we still needed to make it to our campsite (Lost Lake Resort — lostlakeresort.org), which was about 45 minutes away. Although we were feeling sleepy, we cranked the tunes and put our game faces on. Francis was behind the wheel, I sat copilot, and there was magic in the air. Although it was dark, the sky was a deep purple color and the snow-covered peak of Mt. Hood glowed stoically against the night sky. The road was windy, the air was crisp, and the wilderness surrounding us was pulsing with life. This was truly one of the most memorable and meaningful moments of the whole trip.

We woke up at our campsite the next day and hit the road once again — and we had one goal in mind: to finally reach the Pacific Ocean. Destination? Seaside, Oregon.

Upon arriving in Seaside, we were surrounded by barefoot pedestrians, neon signs, and salty air. We made our way to the boardwalk, where we then proceeded to (very blatantly) park illegally, jump out of the car, and run (which I struggled to do, as I had developed a fever...but that's a whole other story) through the thick fog until our toes touched the sweet sea of the West Coast. Thanks to the fog bank, we weren't aware that it was low tide...AKA it felt like we just kept running...and running...and running. This, too, was an incredibly strange experience — it was quite cold out, so we were running past people wrapped in flannels making bonfires on the beach while it was still quite light out. We also passed an abandoned office chair sitting uncharacteristically (and alone) atop the sand...It was enlivening though — not just the moment of reaching the Pacific Ocean, but also the journey to get there (figuratively and literally).

Subsequent to Seaside, we made our way down the breathtaking coast of Oregon (taking the Pacific Coast Highway) and eventually ventured into Northern California. The sea was blue, the sand was soft, the grass was tall, the trees were towering, and the cliffs were dramatic. The air was cold both when we crept into our tents at night and when we emerged in the morning. James Mercer's mesmerizing voice sounded through the car speakers on repeat. Coffee (or the boys' particular caffeinated beverage of choice, SToK) pulsated through our veins. Wonder, curiosity, and awe glistened in our eyes.


Other memorable moments included...
• We rented an Airbnb in Potter Valley, California (AKA Wine Country). The two-bedroom home was absolutely STUNNING, tucked in among sprawling vineyards and rolling peaks. This was the first time we had access to a kitchen (we didn't need to pull out our Coleman camping stove this time!), so we made a delicious dinner and an even more tasty (and hearty!) breakfast the next morning. Here's the link to the place where we stayed: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/10686425?s=VIgeNWOr&sug=51
• Upon waking up in San Francisco, Francis and I got up early and embarked on a breakfast adventure. We ended up stumbling upon a place called Blue Bottle Coffee on Mint Street (bluebottlecoffee.com/cafes/mint-plaza) — and, here, we had one of the most memorable coffee experiences ever. We ordered the Ethiopian Siphon (a very sophisticated method of brewing explained here). It's a bit too complex for me to try to explain, but LONG STORY SHORT: the coffee was ridiculous delicious — light, bold, rich, and insanely flavorful. The food we ordered was incredibly tasty as well. Upon leaving, our bellies were happy, we felt fueled and energized for the day, and we had had some truly wonderful interactions with the staff at Blue Bottle. Also, I may or may not have solidified my tattoo idea whilst on this unadorned yet very meaningful adventure...
• Camping in Big Sur and waking up to the view that's featured in the picture above...
• Antiquing in Hermosa Beach at Stars Antique Market
AND........

I'm going to leave it there, as I don't want to feel like I "got it all." Why? There's no way to capture it all, let alone try to EXPRESS it all. My goal in writing this post was simply to relish in some of the infinite beautiful memories that were made on our journey. I don't want to have some sort of "closing remarks" where I say how incredible the trip was and how grateful I am for the opportunity (indeed neither of those things are false, but consciously stating those things has a cheapening effect). So, I'll leave you with this.

Live.


Also, drive across America.
xx, Lib