Write a poem about the process of making a meal or the steps taken to get the ingredient. Examples: the dirty skins of beets gently peeling off as they float in boiling water, pulling beets from a garden and gathering them in a bowl, etc.
I just got an internship in the web editorial department at a Conde Nast publication. My greatest advice is BE PERSISTENT. As my mom always says, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and it’s true! Don’t think you are being annoying by sending lots of e-mails or following up one too many times. If anything, this shows your desire, passion, motivation, and dedication. After you send in your resume, always e-mail the people afterwards saying something like “Dear ____, just wanted to make sure you received my cover letter, resume, writing sample (etc.). I am so excited about the opportunity to even apply to this amazing publication (or wherever you are applying to).” If they don’t respond, send another e-mail. Sometimes these people are just so busy and frazzled that they forget about your clips, resume, etc. so they need a little reminder (or four) ha. In the world we live in today, half of it is about your drive and perseverance. Even if you are persistent and you don’t get offered the internship you want, I can bet you they will reply and they will likely remember you from all your e-mails—and you want to be memorable! My grandma is a very successful business woman who hires interns all the time and she told me that she remembers the people who write eye-catching e-mails, not the dry type of e-mails that our career service advisors tell us to send. Send an e-mail that differentiates you from the rest—don’t be afraid to show your personality on paper and through e-mail. Hope this helps!
So I’ve been in Maine for almost a week now with the family and I am going to be here for another week. Maine for two weeks? Sounded boring at first—that was, until I set an intention for my time here. I vowed I would spend my time focusing on writing, exercising, reading, and just soaking myself in my own little world of creativity. Even more importantly, I didn’t tell myself I have to write this much each day, I have to do this and get this done by then, blah blah blah. I just generally told myself I would use this as a ‘ME’ retreat (which is funny because ME are the initials for Maine) to get back in touch with what I love.
So far, so great. I finished a novel, started another one, have been reading poetry, writing poetry, meditating, doing yoga, going for walks, and I even spent four hours yesterday drawing! Another great breakthrough—every morning when I wake up I have been free writing, long hand, in my journal for as long as I need (a tip I picked up from ZenHabits). Before I even start the day and fill my mouth with coffee and my head with computer pixels, I just write. One day I wrote about my dream, another day I wrote about what I was thinking during my meditation, and the other morning I wrote the beginnings of a short story.
This retreat really filtered out all the distractions that I find back home and it has really released all the pent up creativity that has been bringing me down lately. I’ve felt unsuccessful, like I’ve been wasting my time because I haven’t been writing pages and pages each day. I have found all sorts of outlets of creativity here—not just writing—that have made me feel whole again and satisfied. I have taken little steps each day—five minute meditation, ten minute yoga, thirty minute walk, thirty minutes of writing—to feel fulfilled by the end of the day. I’ve been trying to stay in the present instead of projecting future goals and whatnot. By living fully in the present, I find myself doing what I want in that moment and spending as long as I need on it. Without time limits and goals, I’ve been much more productive than usual.
Bottom line: It’s okay to let go. It’s okay to input rather than output. It’s okay to soak rather than stir. Let yourself have a week or two to take in creativity rather than feeling you need to produce it like a creative factory. Take everything in, appreciate it, meditate on it, and it will settle inside you and eventually spill out in the form of a beautiful poem, story, drawing, song, etc.
Margaritas, anyone? On Monday, we told you how we’ve been craving this delicious Mexican drink, preferably paired with chips and guacamole, or a few fish tacos, enjoyed from a shady outdoor patio.
We should probably just buy a plane ticket to Mexico, but, in the interim, we’d like to sip a quality margarita - none of that plastic bottle tequila and margarita mix, thank you very much. No, we want the real deal.
So, asked you guys for your recommendations, and, as usual, you delivered. We’ve rounded up your favorites - there were a lot - and curated them a tiny bit. Looks like we’ve got a lot of drinking to do this summer.
Without further ado, your favorite margaritas in NYC:
The Dutch Epicure in Litchfield, CT, is an amazing find. Nestled in the hills of Litchfield among the wineries, abundant farms, and rolling pastures, it serves up some unique and delicious pastries. You may not be a Connecticutian but you can still embrace the lovely tastes of these sweet treats.
Hoefjes or chocolate dipped “hooves”: Soft, chewy macaroons dipped in rich dark chocolate. These aren’t the kind of hard and dry macaroons you buy in the supermarket. These are crunchy on the outside, half dipped in dark chocolate, with an inside that is truly soft and chewy with hints of almond marscapone. I decided to have one with my coffee this morning (oh, I’m so European) but I actually finished my first one before the coffee was even done brewing. And I have a Keurig, so that should tell you how fast I ate it. Actually, to be honest, I ate one while the Keurig was warming up, even before I put the coffee pod in. Then I ate the other one while the coffee was brewing. What can I say, I’m a gourmand.
Citrons: These really remind me of my childhood. My grandpa lives in Litchfield, which is about 35 minutes from my house, and every time we went he would always have a box of citrons on the counter for us. I would grab one of these delicate lemon tarts sitting in its shallow paper cupcake liner and eat it in little bites. This is something to be savored. It’s a flaky pastry crust filled with lemon buttercream and covered with a sweet, yellow fondant icing. Not too lemony and not too sweet, it is perfectly subtle and carefully layered. There is not too much crust and the layer of fondant on top is very thin, so the star of this pastry is the filling. It sounds heavy but it is delightfully light and it is more about the texture, in my opinion. It has the consistency of a very light mousse or whipped cream, which blends perfectly with the hard layer of fondant and flaky layer of crust. They even write the word “citron” in an elegant font on the top with chocolate, making it a unique product of the bakery. So light, you could eat several in a row. And in my childhood, I often did. Just don’t tell my grandpa.
You all should read Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” It is not only inspiring but honest and to the point—he says several times that he is going to filter out all the bullshit—or something along those lines—and just tell us the most important things. One important thing he says is, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” Writing really is a job, and like a job, it should entail not only dedication and drive but also a routine. All of my creative writing professors have said this and Stephen King says it: write at the same time every day for the same amount of time. Some writers even follow a routine so strictly that if they are mid-sentence when their writing time is up, they walk away from it and finish it during their next writing time (which is the next day).
Find a time of day that works best for you—mine is the morning when my mind is clear, I’ve meditated, and I don’t have all those distractions scurrying around in the depths of my mind. Set a time frame during the day and a duration (you could start with one hour a day and then work up from that) so that you can discipline/condition yourself to write during that time. This may seem like an oxymoron when it comes to writing (writing is free, writing comes when the muse comes, and so on) but it really isn’t! The muse is there but look at the quote above—Stephen King is right! The muse may not come for a while so why wait around for him or her? Keep writing, even if it’s crap—filter out the bad and unleash the great.
Have your own writing space with NO distractions. This is really important because if you have family/friends around in the house, this could really cramp your flow. For example, I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and I was really excited about a short story idea I had so I wanted to start writing it. Then a woman came up to me, saw that I was a writer, and began to recite her short, rhymed poem called “Moonlight Sonata.” Then she began to talk about her poem for the next fifteen minutes, and since I was too nice to interrupt, I sat there and listened. This completely threw off my flow but if I were in a quiet room with music and the door shut, this wouldn’t have happened. Pick a great space you can go back to! If you start a routine, every time you sit down in that space at that time, your brain will go oh, guess it’s time to write!
Don’t judge very much during the first stages. I tend to judge my writing as I write my first draft but that;s a mistake. Just write and write and write—set a goal of about 3-5 pages each day—and just keep writing no matter if a bunch of crap or a bouquet of flowery goodness comes out onto the computer screen/paper/etc. Get it all out there and take out the crap later. You don’t want to completely dismiss something in the first stages if it can be improved later and turned into something superb.
Stephen King also gives great technical advice, including the dangers of adverbs: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” He also goes into detail about description, dialogue, how to balance both, that he said/she said is a blessing and should not betampered with very much. He also suggests—actually urges—us to buy Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (which I am going to buy today).
An aspiring writer is no different from an aspiring musician. You have to live and breathe writing, day and night. You have to read just as much (and maybe more) as you write because that is a writer’s form of “studying.” You have to practice as much as you can—the more you write, the more the shit will be expelled and the good will have room to shine. Remember, there’s room for all on the endless reams of Microsoft Word paper and revision is your best friend.
Vermont was gorgeous, the perfect place for their first trip. Dani and Cal got to Green Mountain National Forest, took some pictures by an old-fashioned water pump, slipped the doses under their tongues, took some pictures of that and then set out for their hike.
Dani and Cal started tripping halfway up the mountain. Cal had taken two more doses after he couldn’t feel the first so it was stronger for him than it was for Dani.
“Peps, do you feel it?” Cal asked, stopping to rest on a rock. Peps became their pet name for each other, something that came about after saying baby in, well, a baby voice for so long.
“I’m not sure,” Dani said, surveying the area as her test. “I feel different but I still feel in control like I crossed over but I still have a grasp on reality.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Nothing’s popping out at me like every one says, I just feel altered in some subtle way.” Cal wiped the sweat off his forehead, rubbed his hands on his pants, and walked over to Dani. He seemed different to her—scared and wide-eyed—but it could have just been his dilated pupils, which made his eyes black.
“Let’s go, we’re halfway to the top. We can hang out there for a few hours,” Cal said, taking the lead.
It was quiet in the forest, no one in sight, but Dani still needed a safe haven or at least a place to sit still. She felt in control on acid, contrary to how she felt after smoking weed, but she still loved to be still somewhere so she could feel safe or feel the effects of what she was on. Stillness helped remind her that she was okay, that she wouldn’t let a bad thought slip into her head, let it consume her until she had a heart attack or something. Dani always thought of the worst-case scenario. Worst-case scenarios never even crossed Cal’s mind, ever.
After a few minutes of walking up a steep incline, Dani and Cal stopped to survey the forest again. The silence hit Dani like a wall, moving in towards her face until she could feel its heavy hand on her cheek. She had never felt the weight of silence until now, as if the forest’s presence had been culled out to lightness and filled full again with nothing. Dani thought about how we all resist silence. She thought about how we need to fill the void whether during a conversation or even when we are alone. She thought about how we fill our worlds with such noise that in moments like this, silence comes as a surprise. Dani and Cal didn’t speak. Cal stood higher than Dani. She was just about to his waist now from the incline as they stared out toward the boundless trees.
When they started speaking, their voices seemed amplified, stabbing into the thick silence they had just contemplated. They whispered to ease in to it.
“Wow, this is so amazing. Can you believe how silent it is?” Dani took a picture on her phone, part of the documenting she set out to do on their trip.
Cal didn’t say anything so Dani looked back at him. He was staring at her in amazement, as if she were a new creature he had stumbled upon in the forest. She smiled at him but he kept staring, trying to figure out the unfathomable species he had encountered.
“Pepi, are you okay?” Dani pursed her lips and gave him a silent kiss. He smiled back at her but with his eyes—still in awe but overjoyed that he was in her presence.
“You are like my Pocahontas, my little hippy,” Cal whispered, “you look different to me right now. You’re so natural.”
He walked down to her level slowly, stood behind her and wrapped both his arms around her neck. He kissed the back of her neck and head, held her tight as if she would run away before he could fully grasp her. He was trying to figure out what she meant to him in that moment, in his new altered state of mind. She was nothing new to him; she was what had been there all along. As he held her, he realized that she simply was. She was his beautiful creature.
When they reached the mountaintop, it hit Dani. First the view hit her and then the acid. Maybe it was the view that onset the acid. All she knew was that it all hit at once—her lightheaded, calm inner world hit the outer world in a beautiful collision. Cal could feel it too. He was wide-eyed again but this time, instead of the message in his eyes, it was his hands that gave him away. Lying tight against his sides, forearms flexed and hands in half fists, Cal rubbed his thumbs against the inside of his pointer and middle fingers, slow and hard. It was as if everything around him had made him numb and he was trying to wake his hands so he could at least have them to feel.
Juicing, like smoothies, has completely changed the way I feel in the mornings. Smoothies are great and healthy and a perfect way to start your day but juice kicks it up a notch. The thing about juice machines is that they utilize every part of the vegetable or fruit, which is easy because you can throw in a whole apple, carrot, or head of kale without peeling, cutting, slicing, or dicing. The machine sucks up every last bit of fiber and vitamins—no more worrying about wasting precious nutrients! And it’s so easy—I throw whole apples in my juicer and—voila! —my heavy duty juicing machine eats it up in a second, squirting out some juicy goodness on the other end. There is also a compartment that collects the unusable pulp so you can just throw that in your compost bin afterwards.
Because you’re utilizing every part of your fresh fruits and veggies, you feel like a light, energy-producing powerhouse immediately after you drink it. No joke—I get a certain high after I juice (juice is my new favorite verb) and a level of inspiration that helps motivate me to run, write, and carpe diem! My body feels clean, my mind is clear, and I’m ready to seize the day and squeeze out every last second of it like I’m my own juice machine. I find that beets and kale really do the trick so here are two recipes that always serve up a nice glass of hearty happiness and vibrant color.
(1/2 a head of kale, 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 lime, 1 apple)
(my personal favorite for taste, beautiful color, and benefits: 1 beet, 3-4 carrots, 1/4 lime, 1 cup of strawberries)
Follow these recipes for your own version of this magic potion. Speaking of magic—make sure to drink your juice right after you make it before all the healthy benefits and wholesome goodness disappear!
a frame, circling the graffiti wall. Trail of sewer water leading to the wall, spreading out underneath, A drooling fan reaching for neon. How odd, this lively mural down in a damp sewer. Sometimes the best of us get stuck down below where no one can tell the brightest colors— though surrounded by darkness— make the most wonderful art.
Between legs in the crowd, Pete saw a girl with sallow skin and clenched fists, passed out on the concrete. Then he noticed the other girl hunched over her body. He’d never seen that headband, tied around her head, ends trailing down past her shoulders. He’d never seen that cropped shirt with fringed ends, or high-waisted shorts holding steady her thin waist. But when she turned her head to the side, asking for help, the silk tails moved over. He recognized the three freckles that formed a triangle on her back, the ones he had traced repeatedly in the dark.
I was inspired by the prompt I just posted. I know it is not a poem but I just felt like writing this quickly. As always, you can write either a poem or short story in response to any prompt I post!
"Ugh, does my face look really big in this picture?" I ask my sister, pressing at the sides of my face where my jaw juts out.
"No, I already told you, it looks fine."
"I know, it just looks bigger than everyone else’s. I look like a bobble head."
I do look like a bobble head, like one of those Steve Madden girls with big hair, big heads, tiny bodies. I’ve always loved my body; I’m lucky to be petite but still have curves and a slim waist. But my head, it’s just so god damn big. And it’s not even really my head cause I think my lion’s mane (my hair) covers my big noggin. But my face is so wide. My cheeks are big and square like barren planes where you can grow fields of corn. My jaw is prominent, always noticed, and sometimes commented on. One time I got, you must be stubborn as hell with a jaw like that. It’s the only part of me that is so obtrusive. I love my big green eyes, my small straight nose, my full lips, and I’ve even come to love the brown freckles that dot my face like sprinkles. But my jaw looks like I bit down on it so hard as a kid that it just eventually puffed up like a rock solid muscle.
That was five years ago. Over the years I’ve realized that my face defines me. It’s strong, beautiful, and it makes people notice me. Plus, it’s nice that people notice my face before my boobs. I mean, eventually they get down to the twins but it’s not the first stop for their eyes. My face is like a large canvas, clear skinned and freckly, that leaves room for all the add ins—my eyes, which I frequently get compliments on, my cute little nose that is sometimes compared to a “who” from the Grinch, and my big teeth that must have kept growing past the point they were supposed to. Now I just think, hey, God gave me this huge head to fit my brain and gave me this wide-set face so he had room to fit all my lovely features. Ever since I lost my baby fat, I haven’t been called “chubby cheeks” as often. There is still a little roundness to my cheeks, but I’ve realized that my face has started to turn square like my mom’s. I’ve always seen my mom as beautiful.
Write a poem without any articles or fillers—the, a, an, even like. Try to use line breaks instead to signal these words. This might feel weird but it will really help with cutting any unnecessary words in your poems, which is a problem that came up frequently in my poetry class. Even omission of “the” can change a poem drastically. Every word in a poem counts, so we don’t want any unnecessary words to cloud the beauty! After you do this exercise, look back at it and only put in the articles and fillers where absolutely necessary. If you need help with deciding where to insert the articles, let me know!
Her arms reminded me of pixie sticks, not because they were thin, but because they hung by her side, stiffly. She would move her arms, to the table to grab her beer or a towel to wipe the condensation, but they wouldn’t bend, not even slightly. When she lifted her beer and took a long gulp of the amber ale, her arms obviously had to bend to reach her mouth but they still maintained the stiffness. Mostly, they hung by her side, clung to the sides of her small stomach, and I wanted to pinch those arms from top to bottom. She used to bring me pixie sticks and tell me to pinch my fingers from bottom to top so I could suck up every crystal of sugar. But I wanted to pinch hers top to bottom to see if when I licked her fingers, they would taste sweet.