The Little Fox

When I was in high school, my life more or less revolved around the drama department. I was an actress (I was not very good), I created the programs (they had a lot of fonts – it was early Microsoft Word days, after all), I was an officer (secretary, then president), I made publicity t-shirts, I competed in district and state competitions, I was a friend, a coach, a listener. Basically, drama was everything to me. I knew I wouldn’t do it in college (though, crazy enough, I did for a bit), but that didn’t matter. I loved it. I created my identity around it.

As is with most drama teachers, my teacher was crazy. She was this little ball of spiky-haired energy that would literally throw shoes at us when she was upset (or, sometimes, when she was proud). She was a mother, a friend. She knew the right roles for us. She knew what we needed to hear, and, sometimes, what we needed to do. She loved each and every one of us.

Every year when members  graduated, she would give them a copy of The Little Prince, casting them in a role that most suited them. When my year came, I met it with joy and trepidation. I always wanted my own copy, but what was next? What lay on that overwhelmingly large space ahead of me? But during my final drama end-of-the-year party, when I got my copy, I knew i’d be okay. I had friends. I had family.

I met college with that same amount of hesitance and passion. I tried. I joined clubs. I found myself. But…I never forgot what my teacher wrote. Interestingly, I think it’s what led me towards becoming a teacher, and now, a librarian. I’m not sure how she knew it back then, when I was 17, but what she wrote still rings true. Still guides me and pushes me to be the Fox she always knew I was.

Lauren – You are the Fox who teaches all the Little Princes in your life how to live.. Remember your gift always…”

I won’t forget. Ever.

The Ataris

About a year ago, my husband created a blog called Youth Groups where he writes about bands he loved in high school, and then revisits their music to see what he thinks now, as an adult. It’s a neat concept, and I’ve had fun learning more about high school him (since we didn’t meet until college).

Today, I guest posted. My post is about my meaningful and deep love affair with the band The Ataris. They were everything to me.

So…check it out!

UPDATE: Kris, the lead singer, has apparently read my post. 16-year-old AND 29-year-old Lauren are both equally fan-girling LIKE CRAZY.

My (Home) Desk

As promised, here’s my home desk.

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For starters, I love my desk so much. It’s big and bulky and dark wood. Incidentally, I have found two people who share the same desk – one of which being my best friend. It was originally my grandfathers, and he gave it to me before he passed away. There are secret compartments behind the drawers where I like to think he hid presents for my grandmother.

Top: IKEA clock (which I never wound, but I thought was cute), tiny toys (good luck cat and mini typewriter from my friend Colure; shell turtles from my friend Katie; Chun Li, Harley Quinn, and Joker action figures from my friend Hunter), The Ataris CD (I listen to high school pop punk when I need writing inspiration-seriously) moving calendar (because that’s important), mask from my trip to Venice, Little Prince figure from my trip to Paris, cube of Jewish phrases that used to belong to my grandparents, old camera, pile of old books*.

Drawers: A ton of random things, including four filled moleskin notebooks, circus greeting cards from Michaels, my letter from my agent(!!!), stamps (because I still mail letters), post-its, and a golf ball that almost hit me in the head when I was 16. I keep weird things.

Desk: Penguin mug from London (S got me The Big Sleep because we met while reading that book in class-awwww), notebook, hard drive, camera, post-it with my to-do list, laptop, pile of edits.

And because I love it, my cork board beside my desk has a mess of things, including: buttons, a Helga Hufflepuff card, a picture of my puppy Jetta, photostrips of my mom and I and my friend Meg and I from the day I bought my wedding gown, bookmarks, drawings from my friend Shannon, a picture of S and I, and a bookmark from a haunted ship (yep).

And here’s the wall above my desk:

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I like to frame random things, so here you go. Clockwise from top: painting from Florence, a print that says Hope, a photograph of my great aunt and uncle**, a postcard from Papa Please Get the Moon for Me***, a painting from Venice, a print my friend Shannon got S and I of two owls reading.

* – Books: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dick Tracy, The House at Pooh Corner, Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Peter Pan, Through the Looking Glass.

** – Photo: My Great Aunt Faye and Great Uncle Julius were flamenco dancers in Spain. It was a Huge Deal because she was just a little Jewish girl from Brooklyn who followed her heart to another country for a guy. First interracial marriage of my family! The story ended well, though, because they were married until he passed away (when I was in 5th grade). She passed away when I was a senior in high school, and it broke my heart. She was such an amazing woman. In the end, she left me her rings, which are now my engagement and wedding bands.

*** – Postcard: There’s an ongoing joke in my family that my dad will do anything for me. So when he (willingly!) went with me to an Eric Carle exhibit, he bought me the postcard because, yeah, if I asked for the moon as a child, he would have done his best to get it.

Standard Inspirational Morning Post

When I was in high school, my friend always repeated the same mantra:

Expect the worst, hope for the best.

As a cynical teenager, I loved the phrase. I repeated it too because I liked knowing that if something went wrong, I was already prepared for it. This way I was never disappointed. And when something went right? Well, it was just perfect.

(And then came my second favorite quote: “If you start out depressed everything’s kind of a pleasant surprise.” Thank you, Lloyd Dobler.)

Over time, though, my cynicism was lost. I hated the idea of looking at situations negatively. Why would you do that? Why would you prepare for something bad to happen?

Which is why I’ve decided to change the original quote. I don’t want to expect the worst anymore. If you expect the worst, why try for something great? Really, it’s setting yourself up to fail.

So how about this: “Know the worst, but shoot for the best.” 

With this, you understand the worst that can happen. You can analyze it from every situation and, in a way, still be prepared. But you’re not settling. You’re not telling yoruself that it’s okay to fail. You’re still going for the best in the situation.

Because rather than looking at things cynically, I’d rather be positive. I’d rather see the best in my future and do everything I can to reach it. Sometimes, I’ll even throw away the worst feelings. Leave them at home with all other doubts, and just keep climbing until I get what I want.

Because I’m done being prepared. I want to reach and hope and shoot and keep going and actually believe in the best. Because I know it can come.

And you should, too.

2012 Update

Remember my resolutions from January 1st?

Well, beside the whole “work out” one that I never keep, I’ve actually managed to – for the most part – conquer the rest! Let’s observe.

1. Learn to knit.

Done and done. I’m not fantastic by far, but I’m really enjoying it. The above project was originally going to be a scarf for my friend’s baby, but I messed up a bit. So, rather than gifting it away, I made it into a bracelet for myself. I’m excited to start my next project. Knitting seems to relax me – go figure.

2. Do everything in my power to get TNWSY agented.

I am! I’ve sent quite a few queries out, and entered two contests. Right now I’ve had a few rejections, and a few partial/full requests (which is, might I say, extremely exciting).

3. Start Book 2.

While it might not have had the best of starts, Book 2 is in progress! It has a plot, all mapped up, and three characters I’m absolutely in love with. And most importantly, I’m excited to be working on it. Takes my mind off the rejections, too.

UPDATE:

S reminded me of our fourth, unofficial, resolution. I must include it.

4. Do something different every week.

S and I have decided that each week we’ll go somewhere new or try something new. It’s an easy way to better explore the city, or at least have a mini adventure. In this effort we’ve: tried new restaurants, gone to new areas in town, and, most oddly, went to bars in both a grocery store and a furniture store. Also, we stumbled upon a Civil War reenactment behind an antique complex. It’s true. Orlando has some where places. We’ve really been enjoying this little addition to our weeks.

So that’s where I stand, almost two months in. I feel good. I’m nervous, of course; it’s scary how much I want TNWSY to succeed. But I take everything day by day. I’m still new in the game, after all.

What about you all? How are your resolutions coming along?

Fear

Let me admit something – It took me 7,000 years (or so it felt) to finish a novel because I was afraid. So so afraid. What if it wasn’t good? What if it didn’t live up to other books? What if people hated it? Hated me? What if I start to doubt myself? Doubt my story? It was all there. Every fear bubbled inside me for days, weeks, years. Every book I’d start, I’d look at and think “oh, well this sucks,” and then scrap it for something new. Or, I’d like a part and keep re-writing it until I thought it was perfect. But it was never perfect because I had such high expectations. Let’s be honest, I’ll never be the next Bronte, the next Fitzgerald, the next Twain.

As a writer, my degree in literature kind of set me up for failure.

But thanks to NaNoWriMo, I blocked out that fear and kept going. I knew what I was writing wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t care. I barreled through, writing page after page. I knew at the end there would be the big boss, like in every video game, and I knew I’d have to punch my way to the finish line, but I was ready. Because in that month, I finally believed in myself. I believed that, even if the book never sells, even if it sits on my computer for all of eternity, as long as it was finished, I won.

I’m starting this year without fear. I’m editing madly, making the book as clean as I can. I’m stomping all over fear and toasting to my accomplishment. Because I did win. I completed my ultimate goal.

I read the article “25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing” this morning and one part stood out to me:

 But being a writer is nothing worthy of fear. It’s worthy of praise. And triumph. And fireworks. And shotguns. And a box of wine. So shove fear aside — let fear be gnawed upon by escalators and tigers. Step up to the plate. Let this be your year.

And so I shall. I’m diving head first into this year, not worrying about the sharks that may be swimming around in the water. I’m going to make mistakes, and learn from each one. Because with each mistake, or each victory, it means I’m trying. It means I’m actually doing something, and that, for once, I’m not afraid. I’m not hesitating and wondering what may be waiting around the next bend. I’m running forward with my chin up and eyes open. And I’m ready for anything.

And I hope you are, too.

Let’s do this thing.