There comes a point in our lives where we feel like we don’t belong anywhere or we don’t exactly know who we are anymore. There are numerous things that can cause this in everyday life; something that shakes the entire structure of our personal lives. For me, this event came in the form of a death in my family. I’ve been to several funerals in my young age, but this time was different. This was the first time that someone I lost was someone that I had fresh, vivid memories of and with. Christopher, my cousin, was close to me for a long time and someone that was close to my age and died too young. I honestly didn’t expect it to affect my life so severely, but it did. I found it hard to focus on anything anymore, especially classes and activities. I was constantly tired. All I wanted to do was sleep.
Like the saying goes, “when it rains, it pours.” Around the same time that my cousin’s death happened, I suffered my first big heartbreak. I had fallen in love for the first time and I was rejected. It’s something all romantics go through time and time again; falling for the one that we can’t have or the one that we already let go and can’t seem to get back. “You never know what you have until it’s gone.” That is more true to me now than it has ever been before. Life is surrounded and cluttered with so many material things that we all want, that we take everything we’re given in life for granted; family, friends, shelter and clothing. It’s always more, more, more. It isn’t until you lose one or more of the important things that you look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how you had what you needed the whole time; the things that made living life worthwhile.
As I have said before, I have had several bad spells of depression through my life. This time has been by far the worst, longest lasting and most severe symptoms-wise. But that’s not what I want to focus on in this post today. I want to talk about finally stepping into the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Meaning that I’ve lived out this spell and found a balance in life again. This is where I say, it’s not too late to become who who I always wanted to become. It’s not about being an astronaut or a famous ballerina for but more about acceptance. I need to stay focused on accepting myself. I’m not always going to make the right decisions, but I need to live with whatever I choose to do and always look forward to improving anywhere I can. It’s about motivation and believing in oneself. It’s not impossible to start over, to reinvent oneself; it just takes the want to do so and the drive to never give up.
“Sometimes you have to kind of die inside in order to rise from your own ashes and believe in yourself and love yourself to become a new person.”
― Gerard Way
Working at a publishing company, it’s a particularly fitting analogy to use, “when one chapter ends, another begins.” It’s not easy to say but this is my last official blog post at Parables & Books.
As many of you know, I will be leaving at the end of the month to pursue a master’s degree in Spanish Linguistics with NYU Madrid. I am so excited to begin this journey to a whole new life. I’ve always envisioned myself in academia and this juncture is gearing me up for all that I need to accomplish. My ultimate goal of obtaining a doctorate in Sociolinguistics is just one step, one chapter, closer than it was before.
Living in Spain is sure to be an adventure, but there are certain challenges I’m going to face. Adapting to a whole new culture for an entire year is going to be difficult in of itself. Although, that is an exciting component of traveling and I probably won’t mind that so much. Still, there are many parts of my life that I’m, for the lack of a better word, abandoning. I will miss my niece, who just recently turned one-year old. I will miss the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I will miss the birth of a new niece or nephew.
All of these sacrifices, as challenging as they are sure to be, are what it takes to reach my goals. Nothing should ever stop you from going after what you need in life. Of course, everything is always easier said than done. But no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, “obstacles” will come in the way in some form or another. Keeping focus on what is most pressing to me has helped me make some important decisions.
Originally, after completing undergraduate school at Rutgers, my goal was to take some time off to apply directly to get my PhD. I didn’t get accepted anywhere. I was completely devastated. After realizing just how competitive it is, and particularly with only a BA under one’s belt, I worked an assortment of odd jobs. From interning in SoHo for an online photo crowd sourcing website, helping my father’s construction business, private tutoring, substitute teaching and most infamously waiting tables, I learned so much about life. Working in these different capacities helped me realize what my skill sets are and where my passions lie. Most importantly, I was able to draw comparisons and take what I learned in one field and apply it to a seemingly unrelated one, surprising others and myself along the way.
I’ll never forget my first day at Parables & Books; I was thrown into this completely other world and loved every minute of it. It hasn’t always been easy, yet I have continued to learn about myself through working here. When I got the opportunity to apply for this graduate program that seemed tailor-made for me, I jumped on it, knowing that all of my experiences had led up to that moment. Getting in has been one of the most gratifying events of my life.
My time here at Parables & Books has been exceptional. After almost an entire year, I have seen the company take shape and produce some stellar work, work that I have had a hand in developing. I am so excited for the continued growth and what’s in store for P&B. I will miss all of the people that I have had the opportunity to work with and wish them all only the best.
As I prepare for grad school, I’m also in the process of applying for a Fulbright grant to conduct independent research in Istanbul. I hope to do so immediately following the completion of my master’s program next year. Is it ambitious? Absolutely. But is it worth it? Without a doubt. God willing, I will get accepted and be able to do some awesome research. If not, I know that it’s because I need to be doing other things in my life first or instead. Now is the time to go after everything we want from life. I don’t want to regret not having tried something if it means that much to me.
I end this blog post encouraging you all to follow your dreams. Go after whatever you want, within reason, of course. Try your hardest at whatever you do. If you wait tables, take it seriously. Never look at what you do as menial or unimportant, because you never know how that experience will impact your life in some way. I don’t know for certain what the future holds for me. I just know that we’ll never get a glimpse of what we want from it if we don’t take initiative and be proactive.
Thank you, all. See you later.
“Life is like a novel. You can guess what will happen in the next chapter, but you will not know until you get there.”
Everyone has a superhero. Now, I’ve never really been into comic books, videogames or attended a Comic-Con event, but I greatly enjoy the Marvel movies (Spiderman is one of my favorites). Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my superhero, though. The only way I can explain it is women empowerment. I caught the show for the first time at a young age, but ever since, I’ve been hooked. I own all the seasons and even some comic books and apparel based on the show. Honestly, I’m not one for scary things, especially movies or shows. For instance, anything that has to do with ghosts scares me and I won’t watch it. I’ve only seen a handful of scary movies in my whole life. Yet, I can watch Buffy into the early hours of morning and have no problem falling asleep. The show itself makes me feel like I can do anything for a while after. If anything, that show is a lullaby that helps put me to sleep. I mean who doesn’t love a girl who can kick some vampire ass? (hah!) I don’t know a girl or woman in the world that wouldn’t love to come up against any physical being they faced, or at least know that they had a good advantage with their super strength. I know that would help me rest easier at night.
Unfortunately, those kinds of things don’t exist, that’s why they’re fictional. But there are real life heroes right in front of us in our everyday lives. My parents are my real heroes. I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask for anyone better than the parents I got dealt in life, I truly am lucky to have my mother and father. I have great relationships with both of them and they have a great relationship amongst themselves.
My mom is one of my best friends. I talk to her on a daily basis and tell her about every happening in my life. Sometimes I even tell her too much, things she as my parent never wanted to know (hah!) I love her so much. She is always there for me. She understands me better than any other adult can. And she’s always supporting me, giving me advice and helping me feel better when I’m down. She’s helped me get through some really hard times in my life and I appreciate that more than anything. She’s an amazing person. I can only hope that one day I can be as great of a mom to my kids as she is to my sisters and me.
My dad is just as much of a hero to me. He works a fulltime job and has his own business on the side. He’s always working and willing to support our family and is the strongest and kindest man I know. I always feel safe when he is around and will always be his little girl; I still love to cuddle up to him on the couch when we’re watching television. His hugs can cure almost any problem and he knows what I’m going through in my life, we have a lot in common that way. He still calls me by my childhood nickname and would do anything for me. I love him so much. One day, I hope to find a guy as great as him and have the kind of relationship that my parents have with each other.
“Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.”—Ronald Reagan
On Monday July 9th, something really special happened. I had the good fortune to be invited by my favorite publisher, Sandy Ghattas, to join her for lunch with His Eminence Mor Polycarpus Eugene Aydin, Archbishop of The Netherlands. Together with Sandy and His Eminence, we were joined by two of six of His Eminence’s brothers.
Upon meeting His Eminence, I was first impressed by his youth and vitality. He has an easy laugh and an engaging nature. As the conversation around the lunch table continued, I then became impressed with his ability to listen and to share thoughts that moved beyond the usual banter and helped me look deeper into myself, ask better questions, and come to new insights into my view of the world.
For example when talking about faith, he shared with me the New Testament quote, “Faith comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17). When His Eminence shared these words, they helped calm me, take a breathe, and to listen more carefully. These are all things I should be doing more of every day!
Plus, His Eminence recommended a book, I’m reading now — The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris – This book is in the tradition of Thomas Merton. It is opening a new window within me where I’m exploring my own spirituality. The book has humor, questioning, and peacefulness.
Too soon, His Eminence and his brothers needed to leave to make their way to the airport. I would like to give my special thanks to Sandy, for inviting me to this delightful and thought-provoking lunch.
Hello again at long last to my friends at Parables and Books. You’ll have to forgive my lengthy absence, as it’s been awhile since I’ve been inspired with a topic suitable for this blog. …Well, I was going about my business one dank and dreary afternoon of late, when all of the sudden that inspiration did hit me – or, more accurately, it hit my eardrums.
A raucous screech, unlike anything I’d ever heard before, came through my open window and commanded my full attention. Had that ungodly sound come from some kind of animal??? – I almost wondered aloud. As if daring me to investigate further, the noise again pierced the air. After some diligent searching out into the yard, my gaze finally settled upon a huge bird, black as night, perched in the branches of a tree not twenty feet from the house. This was much, much larger than any ordinary blackbird I’m used to seeing, and if I had to describe its sound, to borrow a colloquial phrase, I’d have said it belonged to a “crow on steroids”. But, reminding myself to be rational, I settled on the more likely conclusion that it was indeed a common raven (just not so common to my average little suburban town of Bloomingdale).
I stood there both watching and listening to the animal for a few minutes, transfixed by this awesome, eerie sight. The mysterious creature before me, and the circumstances of that rainy day led me to wonder whether I’d just been magically inserted into Edgar Allan Poe’s renowned poem, The Raven.
One of my most beloved authors, Edgar Poe was both born and died in the early half of the 19th century – living only to the age of 40, and meting with an end whose circumstances seemed almost as odd and ambiguous as the rest of the man’s life. Of course there’s no way I’d be able to rehash his entire biography – or even make an attempt to do so – in this limited space, but I will share some of the more pertinent and/or interesting little gems I dug up while researching this post.
Mr. Poe always struck me as somewhat of a misfit, even from his youth, when he lost one parent to death and another to abandonment. His middle name comes from the surname of the wealthy family who raised him as a foster, yet apparently never accepted him enough to formally adopt him. Poe’s writing clearly reflects his disturbed personality, that of one who wandered from location to location (and vocation to vocation) in life. His enigmatic works can be described as outwardly dark, and yet upon further examination, remarkably colorful. They depict a man trying to find himself and a purpose to his life. Many carry the theme of lost love – perhaps unsurprisingly, as many of Poe’s loved ones were quite literally snatched away during the course of his life – by death or other circumstances. One of the most striking examples of this, beyond Poe’s already noted disjointed childhood, was the tragic death of his wife after only a brief marriage – she being a cousin, 10 years younger, who he had wed at the tender age of thirteen.
Edgar Allan Poe dabbled in a variety of genres, including poetry (which gave us works like The Raven); short stories (usually with an eerie or even macabre motif, such as The Pit and the Pendulum and The Tell-tale Heart); “scientific” writings like Eureka that were poorly researched and largely bogus; and intentional hoax stories in the spirit of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. Poe was also a pioneer in detective fiction, a genre which to this day honors his contribution with its Edgars [awards]. He enjoyed creating ciphers and puzzles. And he even produced some of the earliest works considered to be science fiction – seemingly ahead of their time in the early 19th century.
Truly, this disturbed human being was in essence one of our most prolific writers, who made invaluable contributions to American literature. Nearly two centuries later, his numerous works continue to captivate and entertain readers both young and old.
(Photograph credit: http://www.pbase.com/norman/image)
You know how there are those questions that you ask yourself on a daily basis? Well, one of the biggest ones that I’ve been struggling with for a couple years is what is happiness? With that, what makes someone happy? What would make me happy? Perhaps many of you ask yourselves these same questions. I’m not claiming that I can give you an exact answer to that, but I can offer up a new perspective for you to consider. I feel like happiness is something that people constantly feel like they have to live up to or have to work hard to get. Often, I find myself turning back to my favorite television show, One Tree Hill, for advice or solace through its quotes and messages. As always, I was able to find what I was looking for about happiness.
“Happiness is not a destination. It is a mood. It is not permanent. It comes and goes and if people thought that way then maybe people would find happiness more often.” It just makes so much sense. People constantly think that accumulating material things will make them happy. The truth is, happiness is not a state to be reached, rather individual moments. Moments, which are fleeting, but happen quite often. It’s like people say, “it’s the little things that count.” Friends can make you happy. Family can make you happy. Happiness is being aware of what you have in life, not about what you don’t. Anything beyond that is just extra.
With this definition, I recognize that I have been happy plenty of times over the past two and a half years, which I consider to be emotionally the hardest time of my life, thus far. I now realize there were many positive points that I overlooked because I was too busy dwelling on the negative. There are many things that I have learned over the past few years, but I know I still have many things ahead of me. Sometimes you need to experience things head-on before you fully understand what you thought you knew.
If there is one thing that I want you to take away from this post, it’s that there are going to be sad and bad times, but when there are good times, “let the good times roll.”
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss