A Love Letter to the Passing Year

Dear 2011,

I’m writing to you with tears in my eyes on a broken computer that I’m too poor to replace. You have been incredibly rough on me. I’m sure in some way I deserve it in some way. I wasn’t the nicest person this year. Maybe that’s why Santa Claus held out on me this time around, as well. Things were hard, not just to me. The economy is still crappy with unemployment at 9%. The president who I voted for isn’t doing the best job (and I do regret voting for him). There is still war and hunger and no seems to give a damn about that.

But at the same time, you given me so much happiness. I remember riding my bicycle home in the middle of a cold January night. The moon reflected off the snow, making the ice crystals dance. I listened to Iron and Wine on my iPod as I peddled, thinking it is was strange that there weren’t any cars on the road. I felt serene right at that moment. Cold, very cold, but serene.

Don’t get me wrong, 2011. There were plenty of other awesome times, as well. My Friday movie nights with ‘Death.’ Laughs and great conversations with my landlord, roommates, co-workers. (I hope that those balls dropped for you, E-beth.) Surfing and beach days in the blistering hot summer heat at the Rockaways. New tattoos. And man, oh man- plenty of interesting and memorable first (and second!) dates. In May, I crossed off an item on my bucket list and moved to New York City. After saving for months, I just did and it felt good. But then I couldn’t find a job (let alone, keep one) and my former roommates conned me out of rent money. I learned just how tough this city really is. But somehow, even with all the crying fits and calls home to loved ones, I kept calm and carried on. This is what I will continue to do. New York forces me to think about quitting and giving up all the time but my dreams are far too big to let me do so. They continue fight back those doubts and objections with swords and clubs. I may be a shy and insecure college dropout but I am determined to make something of myself. So watch out, 2012- I’m going to try to be better than myself. The best little Andrea I could be.

I know it’s silly to reinvent yourself of New Year’s Day (you know, any day could be the first new day of the rest of your life) but there are too many things I need to change and I left to change upon the new year. I know that I’m not living the best life. I need to start challenging myself. So, starting in 2012, I will be better about paying my bills, especially my student loans. Everything just needs to get placed in a plan. Yup, a plan.

I came here to New York to write. I have been forgetting that reason lately and I need to do something about that. I don’t know what but I know that my work deserves to be read by millions sets of eyes. I will push myself to the point of exhaustion. After all, you don’t get to pitch to the editors of “Vanity Fair” by just giving them a sweet smile.

I promise to you (and to my mom) that I will not be spending anymore holidays alone, including silly ones like Saint Patrick’s Day, (hint hint ’Carol.’) It took me a while but I’m starting to figure out how important my family -especially- and my true friends really are in my life.

“New York Magazine” puts out a yearly list of the 40 things it loves about our metropolis. I can only think about four I love about NYC (and one includes an ex-boyfriend, which really doesn’t count). I live in the most amazing city in the world and I’ve only seen 1/8 of it. That needs to change. Next year will be filled with more exploration as I walk, talk and eat around my city. Chow down on more pizza. Splurge on Broadway tickets. Send out more cheesy postcards. Take more pictures. Get out your apartment and away from that computer. Life is either a daring adventure or it’s nothing.

And buy that MacBook!

2011 was filled with trials and tribulations. I will take this lessons I learned to heart with this upcoming year and I apply to the future greatness I will be living. The only thing I can wish for is that your predecessor will be a thousand times better. And it will be. I promise to be a better, smartest, stronger and kinder woman. I’m learning that the life that I want takes work. Hard work. Nothing comes easy, even things like success and love. But I will work hard. I need to and I realize that I have to in order to be happy.

So, here’s to a happy and better 2012 (and please, I have no desire to die. If you can prevent the world from ending, I’d greatly appreciate it).

Thanks for the memories, 2011, and all of the Ryan Gosling movies.

Ready to Make Nice this Christmas

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  ~Dalai Lama

Is it nice to be nice? A few weeks ago, I was thinking different. Maybe I was going through one of my funks. I was finding dead hearts everywhere; among the strangers I was with on the streets, those who I call friends. I had a hard time believing that there was any love left in the world. The little boy I used to baby-sit started off our day by telling me if he was going to be nice or not (this was often together with a kick in the shin or some spit in my face). I wondered if it was at that moment he chose to be a monster or if he really did think for a moment about being nice and decided that it wasn’t worth it. And there I was, thinking, ‘Yup, it’s so not nice to be nice.’

Last week, I was ready to write about people’s lack of compassion and respect. But something funny happened- the day I started to look for examples of people’s rudeness, it seemed like the entire world was nice to me. Or perhaps, maybe I was just noticing everyone’s politeness. I noticed the man holding the door open for me at the market; a young woman giving up her seat for an older one on the subway; the random but friendly hug I received from the Salvation Army volunteer ringing her twinkle bells outside of Macy’s. Maybe it’s just this time of year but I’m feeling a magical love for one another in the air.

But what happens after the holidays, when we stop smiling from ear-to-ear and get on with our crazy, hectic lives? Does that period entitle us to be rude again? Are you going to stop opening up our pocketbooks and hearts? Does empathy no longer exists once the ball drops in Times Square? And if so, why do I bother trying so hard to be nice and thoughtful all the time?

It might not disappear completely but perhaps it goes into hiding. When I was a little girl, I wished it was Christmas every day. I think this is the way we all need to start living, as if the wholesomeness of the holiday was every Tuesday. We are more obsessed with reality television than the reality of homelessness and starving children. So many of us care about certain celebrities failed marriage (which in my opinion should be no one but that couple’s business) but chose not to listen to the people who give up their lives for our country. If anything, we should be turning off the negative and spend time laughing with the ones you love.

Dead hearts are everywhere but maybe both you and me, dear reader, can prove to the world otherwise. Maybe it just takes a little bit of holiday spirit to help show it.

The Legacy I Want to Leave

“After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.” ~Cato

I always thought I was different. Even when I was a little girl. Of course, I didn’t like being called four-eyes in primary school and getting labeled as an ‘oreo’ during fourth period math class was awful. The difference that I feel always had this special sparkle to it, telling me that I’m meant for great things. In college, I was given a tee shirt that on the front says, Most Likely to Save the World. I believe that I can do that; that I’m meant to do that with my life. I’m not particularly more amazing than anybody else but I have something that glows inside me and somehow, I’m supposed to release it from my chest cavity and let it shine.

My dad and I were talking last Monday night about the legacy we (okay, I really mean, I) wanted to leave. Granted that I’m not dying soon, knock on wood, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Dad gave me the story of improving myself, and gave the examples of changing his profession during my youth and how he managed to change his life (and subsequently, my life) for the better. I’ve been thinking about changes, the changes people promise to themselves in order to change their life around and make into something worthwhile and well, something amazing. I have several changes that I’d like to make about myself, as I’m sure you do, too, dear reader. But I’m looking at these changes now and wondering if I can actually make them happen…

I want to write professionally; books, for nationally published magazines. I want to make movies and documentaries, meet and interview interesting and unique people. I want my words and my imagination to inspire other for the better and to do better. I moved to New York City this past May to start doing creative things- to write and film interesting things. I can’t forget the reason I came here.

I want others to think, Andrea is the nicest person ever. I want my legacy to be that I was known a caring friend, sister, daughter and eventually, mother.

I want to stop feeling the need to check my Facebook and email every fifteen minutes. I want to use that time to learn something new, like Spanish, or how to skateboard (not just because I want to impress a boy). There is more to life than what the internet can show me- it’s rather time to experience it for myself.

I want to have bookshelves lined with a thousand and one books I read cover to cover. I want to be smarter; sound more educated when I speak to people about a certain subject; actually know what the hell is going in the world…

I think it all comes down to the level of focus I have. It’s something that my roommate told me about. No one survives lounging on the beach in their sparkly bikini. Things take work. You need to work in order to create the life you want and that work takes focus. Having that focus never came easy to me. If I had that focus, I probably would have better decisions about school and the people I chose to befriend. But nevertheless, the moment is here and the moment is now.

I know that I will never be the most beautiful nor smartest woman in the world but that doesn’t matter. I can change myself to be the best person that I can be, starting right now at this moment- this choice is mine and that will be the legacy I will leave.

A Promise to Myself

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”  ~Japanese Proverb

I was given an opportunity this past Friday. Yes, it is disguised as something negative and stressful, something the old me would’ve freaked out about but I’m going to look at this situation at a new angle.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out where my life is going. I tend to think like this when things get a little too comfortable. I had a decent job, am living in the city of my dreams and have a small but amazing group of friends (even a boyfriend!). My life wasn’t too difficult and things are good. More than good; things are unbelievably great. So, why wasn’t I happy? I should have been screaming from the rooftops, dancing to “Glee” covers in the department store (okay, I did do that and embarrassed the hell out of myself). What was wrong with me?

After talking to my best friend about this, she asked me if I liked being miserable. Every time she phoned or sent me an IM chat, I’d bitch about how horrible I thought everything was. I was never satisfied or remotely joyful. That hit my soul hard and I’ve been thinking her words ever since. Do I really enjoy being miserable? Why do I need to have something wrong going on in my life in order to feel good? How did I end up this way? I never considered myself as to be a drama queen- I rather leave that for the girls at the Jersey shore. Part of me feels like that you should never be satisfied with your life- or you will never desire to change and grow. But it that true?

I know that I’m not truly living the life I’ve always wanted and dreamed about. I know that there is too many things that I want to accomplish (seriously, take a look at my bucket list. It stretches across three pages, written in a ten-point font). For the past few days, I’ve been lounging around my house, trying to figure out how to make these changes in order to create this ideal life. What I discovered is that I need to stop thinking and get off my ass to do something. These bad habits of mine are hard to break but I am determined to make this positive change. I’m the biggest pessimistic I know and I’m incredibly lazy and unmotivated but the first step to quitting is recognizing your faults and I have done that.

I know that I deserve to live a happy and rewarding life filled with love, fun adventures and crazy stories to tell my future grandchildren- I‘m meant to. I dream about it every night. I don’t want to be that old woman on her death bed, lying there with a heart filled with regrets. So, I’m making a promise to myself to use this opportunity to make the change. I’m facing my fears. I know that I’m secretly brave and can pretty much anything in this world (well, maybe not pee standing up but I’m working on it). It may be a little early to start my New Year’s resolution but the chance has presented itself. I have now been given the chance to improve and improve I will do. So, where does this lead me? A better job. A more positive attitude and outlook on my life and the random direction it’s going in. Maybe a new hobby- I’ve always wanted to do roller derby. The thing is that the possibilities are endless. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. I only have this one life and I want to make the most of it. So, I’m going to take this opportunity and run with it. Now, where are my tennis shoes?