How To Be a [Reading, Writing, Working, Loving, Healthy] Woman

That’s the book I am currently reading. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

I see your question, Caitlin, and I raise you, “How to be a woman writing a book while working full time at a desk job and in a long-distance relationship.”

I’m about a third through the book and only now has she poked the subjects of career and love. (The first 100 pages were dedicated more to what makes a woman, rather than how to be one—periods, vaginas and tits.) So perhaps some pearls of womanly wisdom are just a few page flips away. (That said, I am enjoying the book. Moran is a fluid and fun storyteller, despite the fact that periods are gross.)

But now I am distracted from reading. I am cursing myself for not yet posting in August (It’s already the 6th! gasp!)—It is a constant mental note to not be too hard on myself, You just started this blogging thing. Give it time to take shape and prove it’s worth as both an accountably and marketing tool. Rome wasn’t built in a day, Charlotte. Just keep at it. You’ll see…

“Will I?!” In-my-head-Charlotte, “Will I see?”

And then she says, Time will tell. Which ends the conversation, because she’s right.

Time WILL tell. It always does.

Time will tell if my efforts amount to anything. If my labor ripens into sweet, juicy fruits that everyone will want to bite into and then tell their friends and family about.

If I imagine my book as one of the great pyramids, I’m still building the first level of bricks. But each of those bricks is THE most important brick to the brick that lay on top of it. Jenga had no place in ancient Egypt.

pyramid
Mankaure’s (Mykerinus) Pyramid. Photo credit: walkingwithawareness.com

So I keep moving forward… Since my last posting, when I proclaimed, NO MORE TV!, a lot has happened! …a hell of a lot more than what was happening while I watched TV.

I am continuing to make changes in my daily routine to open more opportunities for me to be productive. Last month’s experiments (now the control) were revising my morning commute and quitting TV. This month, I’m focused on improving my reading rate—exploring e-book and audio books—and thus expanding my reading list.

I also, starting today, put my gym membership on hold. The new plan is to do yoga 3-5 days a week in my bedroom, saving me the time and, perhaps even more importantly, the energy of shlepping around San Francisco with my backpack full of books after a long day at the office.

So is that the answer then? How to be a woman with a big dream, a time-consuming job and inter-personal responsibilities and desires?—Brick by brick. Does that even make sense? 

Perhaps Caitlin Moran will explain it better. I should get back reading. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

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Being Grateful

A few Sunday mornings ago (or maybe afternoons since I had the freedom and desire to sleep until eleven a.m.), I was curled up on my couch in San Francisco, California, reading the Handmaid’s Tale. Then I wrote this:

I get so mad at myself. It sees like everyone around me is always doing so much. I woke up today to three text messages:

(1) The first came from my boyfriend in response to the text I had sent him at 9:30 p.m. the night before. “Good day?” I asked. By this time, I had already been in bed for three or four hours, nursing sunburnt legs (from an afternoon in Golden Gate Park) and numbing my brain to my favorite antidepressant, vintage episodes of Law & Order. My computer streaming the cable network’s self-proclaimed “binge-o-thon,” I fell asleep shortly after I sent the text.

This morning, I saw his response, timestamped at 9:54 p.m., “Cleaning up now. But it was good.” Twelve hours before he sent that text, he sent me another one saying he had already gotten to work for the day and couldn’t chat. He worked for twelve hours, jackhammering his way toward his goals. 

(2) The next text was from my boss, “I sold my 2012 MacBook Pro yesterday for $440 (bought it for $1000) and bought a 2015 MacBook Air two hours later for $780. #score #craigslistrules” She probably should have included one more hashtag, #whileyouweresleeping.

(3) The last text was from my younger sister, reminding me it was Father’s Day (which, for the record, I did remember on my own) and telling me my dad slept in the hospital last night (gasp!) because my ninety-year-old grandpa had the flu (phew!—not that I’m happy my grandpa is sick, but his frequenting the hospital is much less shocking than my dad being the patient).

I have two sisters. My older sister lives in Chicago with her husband (a professional in Jewish education) and two young kids (the grandchildren). My younger sister lives in Philadelphia, a short drive over the Delaware River from my parents in South Jersey. She is in med school, studying to be a pediatrician and follow the King tradition of my father and grandpa, now resting in his hospital bed.

While my sisters unconsciously rival for the gold medal in Parental Approval, I undoubtedly hold the bronze. I seem to date non-Jewish men, never want to birth children and dismissed law school for a career as a writer and dreams of being a New York Times best seller.

Let Me Out I’m Stuck. A New York Times best seller!

But that will only happen if I do something. If I work as hard and diligently toward my goals as I imagine the senders behind the text messages on my phone.

Which brings me back to the purpose of this post: Being Grateful.

In the Handmaid’s Tale, the main character is stripped of her freedoms—Freedoms of choice, voice, passion and action. As a young American, I take these freedoms for granted. But Margaret Atwood’s words resonate—my freedoms are a privilege. Yes, they are meant to be enjoyed. Sleeping until noon on Sunday is a luxury I should not guilt myself out of enjoying.

But my freedoms are also a responsibility. To do, to make, to grow, to share to help.

I am grateful for the freedom to use my time. This blog is to keep me accountable.

Before You Get What You Want, You Have to Do What You Need.

Take a deep breath…

Now, visualize what you wantwant to happen. Want to be.

Things don’t just happen. In real life, as an adult, if you want to be extraordinary, you have to try.

It’s easy to coast along. Work week: commute, exercise, happy hour, return home to a nightly routine of preparing for the next day. Weekends: laundry, social plans, marveling at the kids—they grow up so fast.

But if you want something to change, you have to try. You have to be thoughtful and proactive. Lean forward. Disrupt routine.

***

I moved to California for many reasons. To get away from winter. To get away from my family’s doubtful opinions of me. But also, to write a book.

Have I mentioned I’m writing a book? It’s called Let Me Out I’m Stuck.

You’ve probably never heard of it though because I haven’t finished writing it yet (not to mention the professional proposal and polished pitch I need to attract a publisher).

Four years ago, I arrived in San Diego, California with a New Yorker’s swagger and determination. (I also arrived with no idea of how complicated, tedious and time consuming it was to write a book.)

My first summer here I proudly pronounced, “The Summer of Writing!” With four months vacation from my contracted copywriting gig (and very few friends within 3,000 miles), I committed to transcribing my New York journals onto my laptop. Eight years of City escapades and self exploration packed into three hundred typed pages of exercises in candor and wit.

First Draft

After two months of diligent digitization, I printed and bound my first draft at 2nd Street Printing in Encinitas, California.

For the remainder of the summer, I remember pouring over those bound pages. I added creative writing assignments I had written throughout the years and wrote new, scenic prose to introduce the reader into my world. I meticulously shaped the first fifty pages, focusing on my “hook,” as they call it in the publishing biz.  

Then, I got distracted by a complicated living situation. In the two years I lived in San Diego, I packed up and movedª five times.

After the fifth move, I decided to leave Southern California. I put my book on hold to apply for jobs in San Francisco—Which is where I live now, working at yet another corporate copywriting job (this one without a four-month summer break).

Work week: commuting, exercising, happy hour-ing, returning home to a nightly routine preparing for the next day. Weekends: laundry, social plans, marveling at the kids, experiencing the city.

***

This month marks two years in San Francisco. Four in California!

I moved to California as a result of trying, leaning forward, disrupting.

I moved to California to write a book.

No more distractions, Charlotte! You’re accountable now.

So, take a deep breath…

Visualize what you want.

I want to share my voice and vision with the world by writing a book.

Good. Now, what needs to happen/what do you need to do to make that happen?

Many things.

Today’s post is focused on the acknowledgement of two:

(1.) Read more. I recently changed my commute to secure a half hour to forty five minutes on the bus to read each morning on my way to work. (My previous commute required switching from bus to BART, ten minutes on each. Sure, I got to work faster, but was that really my objective? The great thing about public transportation is that someone else is driving! I might as well relax, turn the page and enjoy the ride.

This weekend, I plan to finish the Handmaid’s Tale. My next book is How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh. I saw her on Chelsea Hander’s new Netflix series. If that chick can write a book, so can I.

(2.) Write more. Content is reliant on production (more on this later). Starting today, right now, I am making myself accountable to a weekly 2-3 hour writing session every Thursday evening. 

 

ªShout out to Tttttravis who actually moved my stuff.