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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Graveyards

I love graveyards. I love them. I grew up with one of oldest graveyards in New York as my backyard. Our little house backed up to St. Paul's Graveyard in Glen Cove, NY and my sister and I played in it as if it were our own backyard. It was. We knew a lot of the headstones: Mrs. Wheeler, Mr. Barlow, Mr. & Mrs. Frost. Their resting place was our playground.
I had a terrible day today. And on my way home from work I took the scenic route and passed a Quaker graveyard in Locust Valley and immediately I wanted to go sit in it. Instead, I retreated to the old cemetery at St. Paul's. I hadn't been in a while but as soon as I walked through the cemetery gates, I felt at home and amongst old friends again. 

All day. everyday, we are surrounded by people, noise, traffic, work, aggravation etc. It's hard to escape. I find that when I am in the graveyard, I feel like no one can get to me. No one can find me. And they are SILENT. So quiet. That is so nice.

It's like I'm by myself but I am also not alone. I am surrounded by people but they are all quiet. And all at peace. And that makes me feel at peace too. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Long Island Images / Prints

Worked on these all weekend! And more to come! These are some new Long Island drawings / graphics I made. I am working on a few more that I will try to sell at the upcoming Sea Cliff Mini Mart (outdoor craft fair). If people seem to like them, I will make them available for purchase on my Etsy page! Had a lot of fun making them!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Represent

Us Long Islander's get a bad rap: bad accents, Guidos, costly... the Urban Dictionary even refers to LI as "New York Cities retarded younger brother." Yea, yea, yea. Say what you will but I love being from Long Island. We have some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, great food, low crime, awesome parks and we are but a stones throw away from the greatest city on the planet. So I represent! Especially on a day like today, 9/11.

 So here's some shitty Sharpie "art" to show my love! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Random Sharpie Drawing

I was bored last night so I made this... Nothing special, just wanted to share


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What the Hell Did I Just Draw?

I found these really neat markers in my fathers work shop and they draw incredibly. I love them. Problem is they are $3.00 each and can only be bought in bulk and I don't currently have $30.00 to blow on markers. So I started doodling and I suppose maybe I was trying to do a self portrait but I don't know who the fuck I just drew. But she's got some big ass eyebrows, some big ass lips and crazy high up ears and no chin. Her hair looks totally normal though. But I feel like I should have given her an eyebrow ring...that would've given her a bit more edge, I think. She seems like a banjee girl so, maybe some wide hoop earrings would've worked as well.

 I really can't draw for shit. 


Friday, September 5, 2014

"I Needed You In Me" A Poem by Amy Blanaru

(What to do when your soul feels raped? Let time pass.)
I believe in probability, not fate.
I scoff at long-lasting affection.
I have no frame of reference
for the conventional,
I struggle between settling for status quo lifestyle
and following the unknown.
When my cynical, fractured,
flawed soul met another,
I threw caution to the wind.
I let my guard down.
Instead of just opening my legs,
I opened my heart.
I didn’t just fall, I felt.
Pressed up against the wall,
neck jerking with my hair in his grasp,
rain blowing in through the window,
breeze on our naked bodies.
Music.
His heartbeat.
Fire.
Submission.
Release.
You.
Me.
Not us.
Never us.
You were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,
with the duplicity and duality
of forbidden fruit.
I made my bed our lair.
You, gifted bait and switch master,
made it the Garden of Eden.
You, the serpent, charmed me to eat
from the tree of knowledge
of good and evil.
The deal with the devil
was co-signed with my body,
paid for with my heart,
and forever indebted with my soul.
Your narcissism made me irrelevant by design.
I confused wishful thinking
for a kindred spirit of divine intervention.
Perfectly pathological perception
and reality became one.
Inevitably I became dope sick
from my addiction to you.
The first shot was free,
but my soul would forever owe.
When I could no longer feed my addiction,
I withdrew.
My heart raced with reckless abandon
and my bones unabashedly ached.
Panic presided and everything was a trigger.
I craved and used you again and again,
simultaneously tortured and enthralled.
I was as addicted to the ritual as I was to you.
I needed it.
I needed you in me.
You: my torrid storm.
Me: without a mast.
Not us.
Never us.
Brought to my knees,
I braved the storm and did not drown because,
you see, the thing about storms is,
they too shall pass.
Storms electrocute and electrify.
Storms leave carnage, but wash it away,
allowing for a cleansing catharsis.
Storms leave you breathless
and awaken the soul.
Storms are the counterculture of weather,
and the motivation for change.
Storms water the Tree of Life,
allowing for personal growth.
You, lightning.
Me, thunder.
Not us.
Never us.

amyblanaruAmy Blanaru is a left-leaning Celtic Gypsy based in Boston. She works in addiction treatment and likes her pasta al dente. You can find her on Facebook. She is also one of the loves of my life, a best friend for almost 15 years now. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Marathon Training is Hard

When I won the NYRR lottery for the 2014 NYC Marathon this year, I was over the moon! How lucky was I to win a ticket to one of the most monumental and celebrated races in the world. Runners from all over the globe enter this lottery and of all people, I win. Me (and 9,000 other people out of about 100,000 entries). Little ol' me, the new runner. The novice. A year and a half running and I win the first time I throw my hat into the ring. There are at least a hundred thousand other people more worthy than me for this opportunity, but for whatever reason, I got in. I am very grateful for this opportunity.

My enthusiasm about the marathon exploded the second I learned I gained acceptance to the race. I told everyone I knew and I relished in their awe and admiration for what a huge feat I would accomplish. I spent hours watching youtube videos of the course, envisioning myself gracefully running past landmarks in the boroughs, waving to my friends and family on the sidelines. I day-dreamed about how amazing training would be and how I would lose so much weight because of all the exercise I'd be doing. What an epic journey it would be and I'd finish in 4 and a half hours and glide like a gazelle through the finish line with ease.


No. It simply does not work like that.

I'm in week 10 of training and I'm really, really tired. I work full time too, so waking up to run 7-8 miles before work is taxing.  Also, I've GAINED 6 lbs since I started training. That most certainly was not supposed to happen (maybe I gained those 6 lbs in my calf's because I have huge man calf's now... a very sexy look for an already stocky, short woman). And training in the dead of summer in New York is a lot of fun - laboring along in 95 degree heat with 100% humidity is sometimes frightening. I wonder on long runs sometimes, am I going to make it home?

I'm discouraged too because my run times couldn't be worse.  I've been slugging along with 12 minute miles all summer... at that rate, I would drag my ass across the finish line in more like 7 hours as opposed to my imaginary cool and breezy 4 and a half hour projection.


I have covered over 200 miles in the past 10 weeks and I still have 255 miles left in the next 9 weeks before my gun goes off on November 2nd. My overall mileage (455 miles, or 481.2 miles including the marathon) is equal to that of me running from my house on Long Island to about Cleveland, Ohio, or Bangor, Maine. I haven't quite figured out where that is to the south but I gather it's somewhere around Richmond, Virginia.

My longest run thus far has been 15 miles and by mile 14 my body was in total WTF mode and my knee decided to stop working. I basically walked my last mile home and after I crashed through the door and collapsed on the floor, it hit me -  you still have to run 12 more miles on race day. 12 more miles than what you just barely accomplished.

Fear. Instant fear. How the fuck am I going to do this? What if I can't finish the race? What if I can't do this?

The mental game & anxiety has kicked now and there's still 58 days till the race. I feel a bit fearful and a slight sense of dread. I don't want to fail. However, I'm the most irrational person on the planet of course I go down bizarre avenues with my thinking  - What if I fall down and everyone just tramples over me and I have to claw my way to safety and now I'm injured and lost in one of the 5 boroughs, never to find my way home. 

Um hello!? This isn't the Serengeti! There's no one stampeding down 6th avenue like they are being chased by lions. I shouldn't let my imagination get the best of me. The worst thing that will happen is I can't finish the race and I will take the train home by myself...with a 40 oz... or two... and a box of tissues and a wounded ego with a side of failing and a heaping of sadness.

Sigh.
So what am I trying to say here? Yes, running a marathon is a dream of mine and a goal and I am determined to finish. I am worried about it, but that means I care about it and I want to do well. Thinking about it is easy, but actually doing it is hard. That's the challenge.

Marathon training is hard. It's physically & mentally very trying, tiring and sometimes it really hurts. Running 8 miles before going to work and then trying to stay awake at your desk is hard. Panicking over whether or not I will finish the race is draining and makes me bite my nails, which blows. But at the end of the day, this is an epic journey and it's not easy. It's not supposed to be easy.  No one ever said it was easy and if it was easy, everyone would do it. And that is why it is going to be so rewarding: because it's so fucking hard to do.

For all my whining and carrying on about how tired and anxious I am about the race, if you are reading this trying to decide whether or not to do a marathon
I say yes. Yes, you should. Why? Honestly, I don't know why. I can make up a slew of sappy reason why you should run a marathon. But everyone has their own reasons. So, if you are thinking about doing a marathon, I think you know why you want to do it. And for that reason, you should.

Why am I doing it? I have my reasons. And maybe I'll tell you why after I've crossed the finish line... if I get there.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You're Kidding, Right?

My boss and I grabbed a drink after work today and after a couple he asked me, "Who's going to pop out a baby first - you or your sister?" I wasn't surprised by his question. While not as bluntly as my boss put it, I have been asked that question many a time before. My husband and I are together over 10 years and I am almost 33 years old, so I suppose people are starting to wonder...  Are Laura and Justin going to have kids?

The decision for me was never hard. I always knew I didn't want children. As a kid growing up I always felt uncomfortable around babies and kids younger than me. And I have always been so tragically unnatural around children. Should I pick it up? Should I wait for its mom to come back? So confused. I never know how to act around them or what to say to make them happy. Also, they are incredibly self destructive... one peanut or a slice of cheese and poof, I have a dead kid on my hands.

So the decision to not have children wasn't difficult, it was coming to terms with that decision. I've always felt so alien about not wanting them. I'm a woman so of course I'm supposed to want children. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?  A lot of my friends, co-workers and family have or are having kids. So I should totally be having kids too... right?

No. No you're not.

I felt such despair and confusion... why don't I want them? My head screamed at me all the time. I was mired in negative thought about how I felt.

I felt so alone and uncomfortable with myself, my feelings & the thoughts that I had. I felt left out too. Everyone else was going ahead with the next phase in their life - the having children phase. And here I was hardcore resisting to even approach the stairs that entered that bus.

Of course Justin and I talked about it often. Turns out he had similar sentiments. One night, after having rehashed my dismay for the thousandth time, Justin said "Wilbur (our Shih Tzu Poodle) is our baby. We can change our minds later about kids if we want. We could even adopt if we are too late. But, right now we're OK. We don't need a child to be a family and to be happy."

He was right. 100% right. I suddenly let all my animosity towards myself go. I'm also not alone. More and more woman in my generation are deciding to not have children. And we don't need a reason for it or to explain it to anyone.

So, while my boss may have been a bit forward about his curiosity for my future plans, for once I wasn't offended by that question. I have come to peace with it, and I replied to him "I bet you $20 my sister beats me to it." We laughed and the conversation moved on. I'm certain he thought no differently of me at the close of that chat... and for one of the first times ever, I didn't think much differently about myself either.

Little does he know, my sister doesn't want children either. Ha.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Beard





When I met my husband Justin he was a clean shaven, baby faced guy. He remained beardless throughout our courtship, and to me Justin was always the kind of guy that shaved everyday. I was accustomed to his hairless face and that was pretty much how I recognized him so when the beard arrived after we got married, I was a little surprised.



The beard started off subtle, a sort of "just a for now" kind of thing - it had a "I just don't feel like shaving" sort of presence. I thought maybe Justin was just going through a phase with the beard and I didn't pay it much mind. But soon enough the beard grew comfortable, and with that comfort the beard grew great strength. I knew nothing of the beast that lay hiding beneath Justin's unassuming, shorn and smooth skin from the days when we dated. And before I knew it, the beard exploded into my life.

My husbands Italian decent only helped strengthen the beard and within a month or two, the beard had grown into Brian Wilson like proportions. Dark, black, present, menacing - THERE. ALWAYS THERE. It was all I could see. The beard commanded attention, the beard commanded respect, the beard had announced its arrival and the beard was here to stay.

"Get rid of that beard! It doesn't look like you!" I'd cry. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't do that. I really like the beard," said Justin.

The beard had taken over and with that it had started to grow indefatigably long. I resisted kisses, as with them came prickly scratches and the wet remnants of whatever Justin and the beard had just drank. The beard held onto food like a skiddish squirrel would hold onto nuts in the cold, early winter. The beard was there even when Justin wasn't, in the corners of the bathroom and occasionally stuck in the bristles of one of my hair brushes (the beard likes grooming).



Quite comfortable, the beard hung around and inevitably after 5 years I got used to it. I came to like it and enjoy its warm, pirate like company. But most of all the beard and I had an understanding: it made Justin happy and it made him feel more confident and with that, I came to accept my husbands whiskers. Whatever makes him happy makes me happy.

So it was quite the catastrophe when my mother in law asked Justin to shave his beard for our nephews christening. Justin obliged and I enjoyed seeing his face for a day or two till the beard inevitably came back a week later. But I think we both felt a little naked the day we christened our nephew. And in the pictures, Justin just didn't look like himself without the beard. I think the beard is part of our family now, and we both miss it when it's gone. So after that, I promised I would never ask him to shave his beard again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Musings of an Anxious Runner with a Drinking Problem

I don't know what on earth possessed me to become a runner. Even though I draw myself as pretty much a stick figure, I'm certainly not fit. One day in early 2013, I was horrified by a picture that was posted of me on Facebook. In the picture, my bloated face had eaten my neck and I barely recognized myself.  I decided that if I was going to lose weight I was going to jog because I was too broke to pay for a gym membership at the time. I hadn't done much exercise in about a decade so I muscled up the spirit and energy to get off the couch, throw on a pair of old hiking sneakers and throw my fat ass out the door.



Having just rounded a corner, I was slowly dragging myself through a nearby park when I happened upon a deer. It was maybe 6 feet away from me, standing quietly, looking at me. I had like a Harry Potter moment when he sees (spoiler alert) his like, dad dear in the forest and I was like OMG, this is so magical, beautiful and whimsical. That mystifying feeling lasted about half a second when horror set in and I ran like a mother fucker out of the park, fearing a ferocious and rabid deer on my tail. I decided upon returning home that I was never to enter that god damned Narnia-like place again.

However for some odd reason the next day I went out and ran again in search of that deer. He was like my spirit animal - a spirit animal I needed a picture of because, well, there's a deer in the park and there's never deer in the park where I live. But I was also kind of moved by the deer and the whole encounter. The whole experience was drenched in this sappy, ironic symbolism that basically summed up my life at the time:  I had been running away from everything. I feel super cheesy saying this and it's an uber cliche but, the thing I was running furthest away from was myself.
My panic disorder and depression were well out of hand and if I wasn't keyed up & nervous in the midst of an anxiety attack, I was mired in self loathing and angst. To escape my plight, I was doing everything I could to not feel anything. I was drinking a fuck ton of beer and eating a fuck ton of food every night. I was going to work with raging hangovers everyday, all to just load up on booze again once I got home at 5:30. My previous 130 lb healthy frame had ballooned to a hearty 190 lbs and to feel better about that I just avoided mirrors and cameras as to not see what I looked like. I had about zero fucks to give about anything and I had completely stopped caring.
I had been drowning for so long that any time I tried to surface, something would pull me back down to into the abyss: a bad day at work, a fight with my spouse - virtually any blip in the road would capsize me. Call it bad coping skills or whatever, but it wasn't until I found running that I felt I was able to get my feet back on dry land. Something about running woke up the person in me that I had lost at the bottom of the beer bottle, and I was happy to be back among the living.

One of the best things about running is getting back outside and into the world. After being holed up for so long, a little bit of sunshine is a shot in the arm. Even getting outside on a cloudy day is better than a dark room lit by the bouncing light of a television. While I was never a morning person, I started getting up a bit earlier in the morning to get in a 2 miler before work. The scent of fresh dew, a slight fog and a sunrise is one of the best things to wake you up in the morning, next to a cup of coffee (never mind the aerobics of running). And instead of crashing out of the door 15 minutes late everyday, getting up earlier made me feel more productive and prepared for my day.

Running also gave me time to think. In order to hide from my problems when one would arise, I would usually leap down some sort of irrational rabbit hole of thinking and then pour enough alcohol into my face to kill a small teenager.  Running gave me the time I never gave to myself to be alone with my thoughts and think them through. What I found was that if something was bothering me, typically, I would have somehow mentally resolved that problem or came to peace with it upon completing a run. Running taught me to take a minute, and not jump to conclusions.

Also, and this has been said before and I don't know by whom but I run to stay calm. It really is the best antidepressant. I find that on days where I run I am far calmer than I would be if I hadn't. Running has really changed my life for the better and I am so thankful for it.

So it was quite the surprise when I won the lottery for this years New York City Marathon just days after running my first half marathon. Training has been immensely difficult as a still quasi new runner but it has also been teaching me new things about myself: that I can conquer hurdles, that I can run further than my 14 mile commute to work, that for all my failings in life - I am actually powerful and strong. That certainly isn't something I would have thought about myself a year and a half ago.

So if I see that deer in the park again, I will stand there and stare back at him until he runs away.