Being Uncomfortable is Important Sometimes

Hey party people,

So I graduated high school. I’M FREEEEEE! But I’m actually feeling kind of nostalgic and weird right with my new freedom. I’m leaving my comfortable little bubble and going off into the scary, big, collegiate world full of new people and new situations. College is a big transition in general, but it’s an especially big transition for me because I’m moving alllllll the way across the country. Yikes. Me + Change = Disaster.

But I digress—as I walked down the aisle during the graduation ceremony, my English teacher (who is actually the best person ever) handed me the book Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (the dude who wrote Fight Club.) In it, she wrote a note about how it’s an odd but eye opening read. Judging by the cover, (a drawing of a princess with blood on the place where her mouth would be) I assumed it would indeed be quite odd. Then I was like Sara, have you learned NOTHING? Never judge a book by its cover. I feel like I’ve failed life. I just graduated high school and I still judge books by their covers.

 Anyways, since I’ve got a couple hours commute every day, I get a looot of time to read. And I’m not complaining. So I cracked open the book the next day and started to read. The book reminded me much of a mixture of Catcher in the Rye, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and someone trippin’ on LSD. Seriously. I was only 20 pages in, and I was already so confused. I was like what the heck did my teacher just give me to read? I really could not figure it out. But regardless, I decided I should read on, like boats against the current (<< see what I did there, Gatsby fans?)

As I neared the end of the book (and I mean the very end, like the last few pages end) I finally understood why my teacher had given this book to me. **thematic spoiler alert** In the end, the narrator learns that it’s good to venture far, FAR out of her comfort zone. She learns to embrace the uncomfortable and the weird and the unconventional. The end of the book was just a bombardment of life-advice:

 “Don’t do what you want. Do what you don’t want. Do what you’re trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.”

 “I wish the whole world would embrace what it hates. Find what you’re afraid of most and go live there.”

 “To see if I could cope, I wanted to force myself to grow again.  To explode my comfort zone.”

I realized that I should follow in the main character’s revelations. My teacher knows me so well— She gave this book to the kid, the only kid of her friends, and practically her whole entire grade, who is going to college across the country (and is also scared shitless.) After reading the book, I felt a bit better about my college anxieties. Maybe “exploding” my comfort zone would be a good thing.

BUT THEN I TOOK THIS IDEA TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. The other day, I was at a Japanese restaurant with a friend and on the menu, I saw:

Avocado Roll

Peanut butter & Jelly Roll

California Roll

 

 And I did a double take:

 Avocado Roll

Peanut butter & Jelly Roll

California Roll

 

What.

Is.

Going.

On.

^^ my actual thought process though.

With my inner zone feeling pretty comfortable at the Avocado Roll, I decided that NO, MY COMFORT ZONE WILL NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE ANYMORE.

 I ordered the PB&J sushi.

 Comfort

zone

exploded.

And it was actually quite good.

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So to my english teacher– thank you 🙂

 

-Sara

#Sayonara? Nahh.

Being a Gotham intern as well as taking classes here has gotten me to notice all of the characters in this world and all the stories going on all around us every day. I came to this realization the other day when I was taking the bus home, as usual, and witnessed the weirdest – and cutest – interaction between the married-with-no-kids bus driver and the married-with-no-kids bus passenger in an offensively loud belly dancing skirt worn over her actual skirt. It was Father’s Day, so the woman said to the male driver, “Happy Father’s Day” as she got on the bus. He thanked her but politely pointed out that he was, in fact, childless. She replied by saying that that’s fine, but that she just has a tendency to want to get everyone to marry and be happy… and then quickly apologized for her forwardness. The bus driver wasn’t offended – if only slightly uncomfortable to be discussing his personal life within the first five minutes of meeting this woman – and said that he actually was married just no kids. The wannabe belly dancer then conceded that she, too, was in the same boat. Anyone from the outside looking in could then see that the two of them would, from that moment on, be the best of friends… if only for the reminder of the bus ride.

It’s situations like these that make me thankful that I am a writer. There is so much going on – all the time – and I have the ability to capture it, like a time capsule, for all eternity. I know I still have so much to learn about this craft and yet I am not deterred. There is so much good but also so much bad in this world and all I want to do is do justice to every experience I have, witness, or hear about and share my perspective with the world and add on to the very brilliant literary canon the writers of this planet have created.

That is what I have learned from being an intern at Gotham and I leave it with a heart open to a future where I will be able to write and write and write some more and feel like my writing has a purpose and a goal and touches at least one person who reads it. Even though my internship period has ended, it almost feels like I’m not really leaving – just taking a small break. I have met such great people and have had such a positive experience that I really can’t ever leave. (What does Dana call this phenomenon? The Gotham Mob?) And so a small break is exactly what this is. I’ll still get to be around for Write-Ins and registration stuff and anything else the lovely Dana Miller asks me to do that I’ll do with the utmost pleasure. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss being in the office and answering the phone with, “Hi, this is Yana at Gotham Writers Workshop, how may I help you?”

So, reader, whoever you are, I’d like to leave you with this thought: Gotham is a great place. Sign up for a class if you’ve never done so. Sign up for another if you’re a returning student. Become an intern. Appreciate it. And yet another thought: there truly are #storieseverywhere.

~Yana

L’chaim

This whole week has been one long preparation for the Great Flood – my brother’s bar mitzvah this Saturday. As the designated editor-older sister hybrid, I have been charged with proofreading all documents pertaining to this event. Multiple drafts. Lots of suggestions. Rewrites. (The older sister part of the deal means I do all of this for free.)  In addition to that, I have to write a speech telling all about my brother, this next step in his life, advice I have for him, and how much I appreciate him. Needless to say, I haven’t started it yet. After talking to some of my friends with younger siblings who have gone through this process already and getting confirmation that no self-respecting sibling starts her speech ‘til the day of, I started to feel a lot better about my situation, since I plan on starting mine tonight.

For those who may not know what a bar mitzvah is, it’s the point in a young male’s life when he is spiritually accepted into the Jewish community through a ceremonious reading of the Torah and a subsequent, slightly less ceremonious, devouring of food and awkward dancing. This male is usually 13 years of age. For females, this is done at 12 and is called a bat mitzvah.

I remember having mine five years ago: very untraditional – no readings in Hebrew – and very scandalous – maybe even sacrilegious – for many of my family’s more religious friends. And yet, I feel like I did more justice and paid more respect to my faith than any of the kids my age who had no idea what they were even saying in Hebrew. What I did was I wrote essays. Lots of essays. Essays on my family history, on my values, on what makes me who I am as a member of the Jewish community. And I made a project. A huge project. A project on a topic over which either Jews have had influence or that has influenced Jews throughout history. As a self-proclaimed fashion diva at the time, I chose Jews and Fashion as my area of study. I spent endless hours doing research and putting the presentation together with voice-overs and images. It took me close to a year to put all of this together and for good reason. That’s what made the experience meaningful to me. It really did. And that was taken away from me with harsh comments about how unreligious and therefore wrong my bat mitzvah was. Yes, I smiled through the comments and endured, but they did affect me. I don’t even know if I want to still identify myself as Jewish anymore – of course, this thought has been brought to fruition by more than just the hurtful comments, but they did play a part. Other religions aren’t really any more accepting of people who are different, the outliers, but maybe that says something about the time we live in. More and more people, it seems, are finding religion less and less helpful. And yet, I believe religion is a very important part of a person’s life – morally and spiritually – has played a huge role in the history of the human race and shouldn’t disappear because of its archaicness. Religion has to evolve. It has to learn to include everyone. People need religion and religion needs people. Just look at the new pope, Pope Francis. He’s really doing it right.

So, what am I going to write about in my speech to my brother then? I’m going to write about how he needs to accept himself for who he is and not care about others’ opinions. No one can tell him how to live his life. He needs to be his own guide because that’s the only way he’ll be able to live truthfully and without regrets. I just wish him all the happiness in the world and don’t want anyone to have the power to take that away from him.

Mazel Tov, little bro.

~Yana

Muggle Problems

I have a really huge problem—I can’t stop reading Harry Potter. No, I am not re-reading it. I had never read it before, and I felt that I was being an irresponsible person if I kept living my life, never having read the Harry Potter series. So, I made it my pre-college goal to read the series and see what the hype was/is about. I thought that it would be hard to finish, given there are 7 huge books, but it’s actually easy. Too easy. It’s coming to a close so fast. I’m nearing the end of book 5 and I started sometime in April.

I don’t normally like fantasy books filled with frolicking magical creatures and wizards. In fact, I normally go out of my way avoid such books, but I can’t put Harry Potter down… and when I say I can’t put it down I mean it. I’ve never had this experience before, of being so engrossed in a literary world that I am unable to go a day without reading. Sure, I’ve loved other books, but the plot of Harry Potter is so absorbing… and I have been trying to understand why. It’s certainly not the most eloquent and deep piece of literature, but the plot is so well crafted. J.K Rowling, your writing skills boggle my mind. I constantly find myself biting my nails, agonizing over what’s going to happen next, and the next series of events never fail to draw me further and further into Hogwarts (aka further and further away from going to sleep at a reasonable hour.) My reading obsession has come to the point where I sometimes avoid social situations to just sit in my room and read.

What am I doing?

(Good thing I work here at Gotham, or else I’d probably be in my room, avoiding sunlight, reading until the end of the series…mwahaha)

-Sara

#PramaDrama

After taking a five-hour intensive last FriI learned that everyone has obsessions but that writers are the ones who bring them to the surface through their writing – whether subconsciously or not. Sara, my fellow intern, and I recently both had our respective proms and, as mine came to a conclusion, I realised that the reason why I haven’t been writing as much is that the only thing I could write about was prom – my obsession. I, evidently, didn’t want to write about that because of all of the stresses, expectations, and drama surrounding it. Prom, when it arrived – as should’ve been expected – was as stressful as the build up – full of drama and emotions. When it ended, however, I felt so lost, as though I had lost a great part of me. I’ve been obsessing over this day for close to a year and now it’s over? I was overwhelmed with it and hollow without it. So I guess the only thing left to do is to write about it – my therapy.

~Yana

P.S. Here’s a pic from the madness!

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Word on the Street

Not to sound cheesy, but here at Gotham we’re one big happy family. If our office were a dysfunctional Thanksgiving dinner, Alex would be the goofy patriarch, Dana would be the peace-loving mama bear, Britt would be the hip, edgy older sister, and Kelly would be the cool aunt who’s so pleasant and pure-hearted that she should probably be cloned into an army of flight attendants. Yana, Sara, and I are like the exchange students who, after being thrust into the scary new world of using office phones, now feel comfortable enough to answer calls as if we’re members of the family.

Then there’s Street, the whip-smart brother whose one-liners have yet to be topped. It would be a shame for all of Street’s witticisms to go undocumented, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves as interns to introduce a new page dedicated to the classic quotes of our favorite workplace brother. One day we’ll publish a book titled Streetisms: No Context Needed.  You’re welcome, world.

word-on-the-street-sign1Word.

-Allie

If You Love Buzzfeed…

Last week, Yana and I were put to the test and given a project, with the goal being to advertise for our Teen 1-Day Intensive on June 27th (COME ONE, COME ALL!* ages 13-17.) After having an intense brain-storm session, Yana had a brilliant idea: to make a Buzzfeed post. GO YANA!

We wanted to reach a broad but also specific audience, so we thought we’d make it semi-universal by writing a list with suggestions on how teen writers can survive the summer season. We figured we could:

  1. Advertise our teen 1-day to the teen crowd of Buzzfeed and beyond (aka readers who might click a link we sent them containing the post.)
  2. Connect with our fellow writers who may find us, and our writing-centric jokes, funny.
  3. Take up arms with our fellow writers, create a mini-army and take over the world (JUST KIDDING…or am I?)
  4. Make people laugh.
  5. Make people cry (because they’re laughing so hard.)

I’ll stop this list now because it could go on forever… but you get the point.

My favorite part of this project was finding pictures and coming up with ideas for the post. I got to look through Pinterest and Google images for humorous “memes” and “GIFs” to include in the post. I am an avid Pinterest user (#noshame) so I’m not gonna lie, I already had a stash of funny images stowed away, awaiting use.

My hope and dream for this project is that the article reaches the entire universe, everyone realizes how awesome Gotham is, and every writer and non-writer in the universe signs up for a class, a one day workshop, a 5 hour, a write in…or what have you.

But that can’t happen without your help!!

If you, awesome reader, would check out our post and help spread it around, we’d love you forever.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/gothamwritersworkshop/18-ways-teen-writers-survive-summer-qjqd

Rock on.

Life Musings from the Newbie

As one of my favorite writers once poignantly stated, “It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.” This week, between trying to figure out the Big Board and freaking out about talking to a real-live human client on the office phone, I started to explore in my mind the idea of artifice versus reality in one’s daily life. The way one presents oneself to the outside world has rapidly become akin to one’s alter-ego or foil in this technologically-obsessed year of 2K14. I personally cannot remember the last time I posted a profile picture on Facebook that was not edited and re-edited at least ten times and approved beforehand by at least five other people nor can I say I haven’t read and re-read a status update or blog post (!) over and over before posting in debilitating fear of making an embarrassing ‘their’ for ‘they’re’ switch-a-roo or using a misplaced modifier.

In all honesty, what has brought me to thinking about this subject is the fact that Monday, May 19 was my first day as a Gotham intern and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t spent at least a whole day trying to figure out how to best present myself to my new coworkers. (I think I actually started to plan my outfit three days beforehand and made mental lists of topics to discuss in order to avoid awkward ‘oh we don’t really know each other awkward giggle’ pauses in conversation.) We all put on a mask when we first meet people, which can hinder them from seeing our true selves. We then further this image we create of ourselves with half-truths and white lies, beautifying ourselves through our language and demeanor, attitude, appearance… Anything that can hide who we truly are. Why do we succumb to facades instead of facing the world with un-makeup-clogged pores? Are we afraid that our true selves are so ugly that they are not worthy of appreciation?

In starting to read Nabakov’s Lolita on the Path train to work, I find that, as much as I hate the narrator, Humbert Humbert, for being so utterly creepy and despicable, I appreciate his ability to be truthful to the reader in his despicableness. I always wondered what made this novel such a classic and I think that that may be part of the reason. Humbert – though he has an affair with a girl-child, as he puts it – does not bother with a mask. He reveals to the reader every ugly part of himself and is true to who he is. That is enthralling and refreshing, to say the least, in a world full of artifice.

Therefore, over these next few weeks — and in life in general — I would like to try to become more like Humbert in that way – truthful to others about who I am. But not as creepy.

~Yana

P.S. Who is more true to herself than a princess? (Because how could there possibly be any artifice when a hoop skirt is involved.)

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Clone Club: The Gotham Chapter

Sara is really showing me up. She wrote three blog posts before I came around to penning just one. But never fear, Millennials – this underrepresentation ends now. I won’t stand for a Generation Z overthrow. The other day we discovered that although we’re both 90s offspring, Sara is technically a member of the yet-to-be-named Post-Millennial Generation because she was born in 1995 (the cut-off is 1994), whereas I was born in 1990. So basically, I’m the original 90s kid in the office, meaning that I bridge the gap between those who need help writing a text and those who need help writing in cursive.

Nah, I’m just kidding. Everyone in the office is really tech-savvy, and I’m (almost) positive that Sara briefly learned how to write in cursive before that skill became as obsolete as chalkboards and the Dewey Decimal System. In all seriousness, though, one of the best things about interning at Gotham is that everybody learns from each other. We all have different perspectives and experiences, so why shouldn’t the rookies teach the veterans once in a while?

Plus, with a few exceptions *cough*SARA*cough*, my fellow Gothamists are about as obsessed with television and comedy as I am (hence why I’m taking TV Writing and Stand-Up Comedy Writing classes). The most recent addition to my extensive archive of watched television series is Orphan Black. In case you’re not familiar with this Canadian gem, it’s about a woman who discovers that she’s a subject in an illegal cloning experiment. If I were her character, I would just spend the rest of my days pulling off the classic Parent Trap switcheroo. But hey, to each his own, I guess. Anyhoo, it just so happens that two of the core clone characters in the show are named Sarah and Alison (Sara and Allison would be preferable, but we can work with the inferior alternate spellings). If your name is Rachel or Cosima (but really just Rachel, because let’s be real – there’s a higher probability that your name is Regina Phalange), we’d love to hear from you so that we can round out our in-house Clone Club. Bonus points if you have curly hair – everybody thought that we were sisters on first day thanks to our luscious locks. Orphan-Black-Doppelganger

Don’t worry, Sara only looks this intimidating when you tell her you prefer vanilla to chocolate.

-Allie

When Your Life Doesn’t Have a Theme Song

This past week, during my Essay and Opinion Writing class, I was faced with one of the toughest questions presented to me in my 18-year lifespan: 

“If your life had a theme song, what would it be?” 

My brain froze, much like when you click too many tabs on a computer and it has trouble processing. Too-much-to-process. There’s too much about me to compact into one song.

I am weird—I am a conglomeration of many things, but prominent among them is the fact that I am shy and reserved upon first meeting me, but once you hang around me enough, I open up and reveal my whole personality (insert cliché about how people are like the layers of an onion here.) People are often surprised at how loud I can be.

Anyways- as per usual, I gave an idiotic answer to the question that involved puppies and sunshine because I was like well, I do love puppies and I do love sunshine (if you don’t you’re a cruel being…just kidding.) Then Ryan, the teacher, noticed how everything I said would be in my theme song was positive, so my theme song would show to others that I am a positive person. I did a double take. A positive person? HA.  

I am a pessimist. I wish I wasn’t. I wish I saw the world in a super happy, comical and adorable Jess-on-New-Girl-esque way. But I don’t, and there’s no hiding that. My most recent struggle has been to be more optimistic… and it’s interesting that my quest of optimism revealed itself in my supposed theme song.

Theme songs not only say a lot about you but also, about who you want to be. A theme song is using someone else’s art to express who you think of yourself as (unless, of course, you write your own original theme song.) I didn’t write down things about me such as: “over analytical,” or “despises grapes” (yeah, that’s right) because those are negatives and I don’t want to be portrayed as a negative person. (Apparently, at 9pm 2 nights ago, I wanted to be portrayed as a dog-obsessed-sunshine-lover.)

Can anything ever have a theme song?

Food for thought.

Speaking of food, [tangent alert] I am doing this thing where I am avoiding junk food for a month in order to break the habit of craving it…I’ve heard it takes a month or so to break or make a habit. So I’m trying to break a bad habit and make a good one of being healthier. This is going to be really hard for me because I looove ice cream and all that is sugar-coated and terrible for your insides.

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(#THROWBACKTOTHE90s)

I’d say no… because I obviously don’t want any ice cream right now. But I do. Eep… I can tell you now: this is going to be a looooooong month. 

-Sara