happy new year. it’s all about me.

I’m not generally that into New Year’s resolutions: be nicer; be healthier; try harder; create and complete more to-do lists, less to-done lists (hello, check to one of those already!); pursue creative endeavors; re: my future/a career about which I’m passionate: more acting, less pontificating; spend less time staring into space; magically develop a talent; understand the difference between narcissism and self-love; buy more shampoo; please don’t forget to send Christmas thank-you-notes before the week is over; something about eating; Clarkie Crawford; Elizabeth Clarke; Elizabeth Clarke Crawford; scribble, scribble, scribble; both of my parents’ signatures, perfectly matching those on my third grade reading log; HAPPY NEW YEAR.

I think 2013 might be the year of the resolution to have resolutions, but I’m a little nervous about it.

Historically, for me, the New Year simply marks the time I need to start thinking about the year ahead, which doesn’t start until the anniversary of my birth, which conveniently falls exactly one month after Christmas. How I feel, act and react during my twenty-four hour birthday period, I have always thought, unquestionably determines how I will feel, act, and react for the entire year. (So, resolutions are not generally my deal. My life is generally out of my control save that one special day.) I’m so self-obsessed that in the weeks before my 26th birthday, I still completely believe in this phenomenon, which is why I’m nervous about the year of the resolution to have resolutions. My birthday falls on a Friday this year and my mom will be in town. I’m already feeling so much pressure that I almost had to take my coat off on my way home from work last night; it’s 14 degrees outside, and it didn’t feel safe. What if the day ruins the resolutions?

I was born on Super Bowl Sunday, which is obviously the root of both my apathy toward football (and perhaps love for pigs) and my love-hate relationship with myself. At the tender age of zero, I could tell the focus wasn’t all on me but could sense the American camaraderie in the air. Moreover, I wasn’t able to discern the tone of the “Super Baby” my grandparents had embroidered on the beautiful pillowcase that still rests on my childhood bed.

I tell everyone I meet about the time I had my mom make a carrot cake for my third birthday. Nobody liked it except for me. I’m actually not sure I liked it, but that didn’t matter because I had to keep up appearances, like a true adult. That was the year I moved from Chicago to Kentucky, had to re-evaluate my whole being, developed the adult ability to suck it up and go with the flow. It was the year I pretended not to be potty-trained at night because I didn’t want to let go of my childhood innocence, which I realized—but didn’t dare admit— I’d given away with my cake order.

I turned seven in the year of Louisville, Kentucky’s “Big Snow.” Every girl in my grade (or so I assume, because I was so inclusive and popular) was invited to my house for the most amazing and safe sledding party of all time. I felt very fortunate to have a hill in my backyard, and everyone went home with a purple saucer-style sled as a party favor. I experienced true embarrassment for the first time during this party of all parties when my dad yelled at me for spilling my homemade orange soda snow cone on the dining room rug. I thought the point of the designs on oriental rugs was so that they would hide stains. Apparently, I was wrong. (Plus side: Up until that moment, I had to say my most embarrassing moment was when my pants almost fell down on the monkey bars in pre-school.) That year, I felt pretty on top of my social life and created a new embarrassing moment for myself and my summer best friend when I decided to wear my brother’s swim trunks and no top to the country club pool. Had I not been embarrassed on my birthday, I probably would have felt stronger when acting out my choice to make a statement about socially constructed gender roles at the country club pool.

The day I turned sixteen, I was diagnosed with mono. All my best gal pals came over to eat Funfetti, then the boy equivalent to our friend group came over and stood in my front hall. I had to break and sit on the stairs. I felt exhausted and loved, decided I had contracted the kissing disease from an airplane and spent the better part of that year being excited when I had enough energy to brush my hair after washing it. I was too overwhelmed to get my driver’s license, but my best friend drove me everywhere and called me every single day I didn’t show up at school.

I turned 21 in a Walmart. They wouldn’t sell me beer because I wasn’t yet 21 in California; I knew the girl checking me out had no control over the machine, but, I said, “Could you just put your ID in there since I’m clearly of legal age now and we aren’t in California?” “No,” she said. They take these laws extremely seriously in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. I’m pretty sure it was my idea to have someone sing happy birthday over the intercom. My friend made it happen, and then my roommate threw up in the parking lot because she ate raw chicken.  We drove twenty minutes back to school and went to bed. The next morning, because I was about to leave for a study abroad program and didn’t have a room at school, I sat in my car and called my mom.  That night, I accidentally decided I would just buy everyone drinks for my birthday and then thought all my friends ditched me at a party, but really I just told them all to leave even though I didn’t have a ride home. I decided not to be mad. Two weeks later, I went to China. The airline lost my luggage, and I spent the next three months being exactly who I wanted to be. I was about to say it was the only time in my life I didn’t care what other people thought, but that would have been a lie. I also won a lot of athletic awards when I was 21, which is probably only because I persevered (Walmart) and took control of a few situations on 21st birthday, and athletes who give up and don’t take control don’t generally get awards.

Last year, I said: “I’m 25: I do what I want” and then cried on my kitchen floor.

I keep saying I have plans, tricks up my sleeve, moves to make, articulations almost ready to be articulated. I don’t know what’s going to happen this year, but I’m just saying that I hope I’m not a liar. HAPPY NEW YEAR. Sorry if my grouping you in with me doesn’t apply, but let’s make a change for once in our lives. It seems right.


on handstands.

A couple of months ago, I had a revelation, a true and beautiful moment when I connected my life (and its success or failure) to my ability to do a handstand. I scribbled some messy words in my journal while kneeling on a hardwood floor, smelling lavender and listening to my own discoveries. My life made complete sense and knowing that I could forever – at least metaphorically — execute perfect alignment with properly engaged muscles seemed possible, if not probable. At twenty-five, I had discovered the secret to LIVING (versus living).

I realized that everything I had ever thought about handstands was left over from being a competitive twelve-year-old in a swimming pool. So, I reprogrammed my definition of “handstand” as a dynamic woman.  I could intentionally and powerfully flip my view of the world, just for a moment. I had a plan to get my life on track and wrote a quick version of my future in my brain before putting the top on my pen.

At that moment, I was empowered and in control. Thirty-five minutes later, though, I had to have a conversation with another human. The human was in a terrible mood, but I stayed strong and did a handstand in my apartment later that night. Life, obviously, went on.

Yesterday morning, I stepped over an empty box of donuts, shared a silent moment with myself for everyone who cares about Twinkies, and tried to revisit my relationship with handstands. Through a window, I saw a man vacuuming a room filled with mismatched chairs and mailboxes, compared him to a Swiss dairy farmer (Part of me will always want to be a Swiss dairy farmer.), and laugh-cried at myself for seriously thinking, “I hate myself, and I love myself” (flashback to watching this video two years ago). I looked back at the man, wondering what he thought about handstands, if he had any children and whether or not he could find a hint of a reflection of himself in me, as I could in him (and in most everyone else on the planet). I daydreamed a scenario in which I, lost and empty-handed, knocked on the window to ask him for advice.

When I was a twelve-year-old in a swimming pool, I held my breath the entire time my feet flailed in the air, and it was always a competition. I usually laughed.  Sometimes, these days, I like to lie on the floor and breathe by myself.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful for the moments that remind me that I’m not (despite my thoughts, actions, or others’ opinions) even close to being my entire world. I mean, how can I know if my handstand is perfect if other people aren’t walking around testing my focus, strength and balance? It doesn’t matter if they look; it just matters that they’re there.

(Now, flip it.)


cheers to you.

I’m raising my day-old plastic iced coffee cup to all who wake up when you say you will. Whether it’s at six in the morning or two in the afternoon, two hours or two minutes before you need to be out the door, cheers to you. If you brush your teeth in the car or sleep in your clothes, if you blow dry your hair, make your own coffee (or tea), do something creative or active, eat pancakes, shave your legs, fold your socks, and/or meditate before your day truly begins, I’m saying “prost!” to you. I don’t want to be jealous; I just want to toast. You can clap.

I’ve walked in your shoes but always end up kicking them off and losing them under a desk or in a bag somewhere. I seriously don’t know how you don’t have blisters.

I’m barefoot, just reading about creativity, passion and change; I’ll be back soon with lots to say. Until then, cheers with eye contact.


does the difference matter?

My floor is clean, my keys are gone, and, last night, I saw a story.

I was sitting in a sidewalk pen. It’s a city pizza place’s answer to al fresco dining. One of my roommates was in the middle of an important story about converting a VHS to DVD and how the experience made her realize that she’s not yet an adult. A man walked by and shrieked. He couldn’t wait for the bus because the biggest rat he’s ever seen had beat him to the stop.

I didn’t look. I hate rodents, and I didn’t want the mushrooms on my pizza to taste like rat feet. I stared at the dancing man instead. It wasn’t the biggest rat he’d ever seen. It was actually kind of cute. He was going to take a picture. Did it want to ride the bus with him? Why wasn’t it moving? No, seriously, why wasn’t it moving?

I caved. I looked behind the basil box on the small picket fence and realized I have no idea what determines a mouse from a rat. Whatever it was looked like the city mouse from that story about country mouse, city mouse. But I didn’t think he was clean.The dancing man thought otherswise. He was getting impatient. He wanted a friend for the bus.

It was too much.

He touched the rat with his phone and the bottom of his shoe. The bus came, and the rat finally moved. Now, somewhere north of Cornelia, there’s a man walking around who overcame his fears last night. He also judged and probed.

He got on the bus, and the rat fell off the curb; I hate to stereotype, but I screamed about the Bubonic Plague. We finished the conversation about adulthood, and, on our way out, saw the mouse/rat ten feet down the street.

He was dead.


this land is my land.


It’s Tuesday, and, at 5:43a.m., I woke up in the life of a college boy. I could have been lying in a pool of sweat or blood or urine or rain; instead, I was wrapped in a mess of sheets dashed with $4. I guess I didn’t finish that coconut water or screw the top tight enough. Don’t shop at 711; I’ve heard it before.

I lost my keys in my apartment, and you can’t see the floor of my bedroom underneath the duffle bags of clean clothes that suddenly feel dirty again, but my toes are hot pink, and my heels are exfoliated. I feel less cramped, or, at least, like I could be.

While I was sitting in the best nail salon massage chair of my life last night, I found out I had a mutual acquaintance-friend with the boy-man who was painting my nails. His name is Mike, and I might have to become one of his regular clients. He makes me feel like the big world is small—not like my small world is big, and definitely not like my small world is smaller. The acquaintance friend is a yogi; om namah shivayah, let’s take that for whatever I want it to be.

This winter, I was a regular at Starbucks. It warmed my heart, kept me energized, and made me feel like I had a purpose, an adult life, and an important job. After several months of, “Hey, Clarkie! We are actually JUST got new regular vanilla!” and “What is with this weather?” I had to cut myself off.

Sorry, Starbucks; I think I found a replacement.

Two nights ago, Mike and his brother made Korean short ribs, and last night we all watched The Bachelor Pad together and discussed whether or not it’s necessary to tell someone that they are making a mistake with their first choice for nail color. Some things aren’t completely subjective, and I want to see myself through the eyes of the rest of the world every once in a while. I want the strength to stand by my opinion, but I want to see more than myself. People respect Mike, and he also feels it’s important to speak his mind.

I spilled leftover coffee from the morning out of my personal French press mug and all over the pedicure chair. Something changed in me, and I wasn’t afraid to tell Mike and his family about it. I explained the situation and said, “I pretty much cleaned it up with my dress and the towel you put on my knees, but you might want to wipe that chair down anyways. Enjoy your night — my fingernails and I will be back later this week!” It just felt right.


under the influence.


My roommate gave me a book to borrow a few months ago. It’s about influence (advertising and the like), and that’s all I know. I read one chapter on an airplane before wrapping myself in a scarf like I was a swaddled baby and the mother at the same time. It’s a new method of plane-sleeping that says a lot about creativity and comfort. Look at me, I won’t notice.

I am thinking about reading the book tonight in the Laundromat. Sometimes, I go there and pretend like I live in a romantic comedy. I sit on top of the washing machines, even though there are chairs, and read something like a literary novel or a trash magazine while not trying to seem very introspective and mysteriously attractive. There is a pizza place next door, and I think about getting a slice, but the part of me who left her bag in her unlocked car even after it was broken into has matured into a skeptic. Someone might want my target towels or monogrammed pillowcases. I don’t know; trust is no longer a banner hanging in the cafeteria.

My life can be something, I think.

The other night when I almost missed my train to the suburbs, I remembered the lustful dream of folding someone’s boxers while chewing a piece of gum rescued from a pocket. I was confused, and I remembered the feeling while wondering how many commuting fathers really ate fast food on their way home at night. I forgot to finish the thought when I realized I wasn’t sure where I was going. My phone was dying. I was sweating. I thought about girl power and anti-feminism all at the same time. My brain’s a busy place.

As it turned out, I wasn’t left behind and decided to feel like an empowered business woman; I was surrounded only by men in suits. Oh, the world, the city, the suburbs, the weekend: I couldn’t read or sleep and felt eyes on my skin.

Conductors are not accepting credit cards, and it costs $9.25 cents to ride on a train for 53 minutes. Nobody told me any of that. But now, I know. I also know that that one conductor is writing screenplays. He hated high school academics and was absolutely not going to college, so he enlisted. He was working on a helicopter on a boat when he started writing down his jokes and life experiences. Then someone told him he was accidentally writing a screenplay.

He doesn’t want to sell it for just anything or to just anyone; he’s spent too much time on it. His idea is way too original. But he has faith.

He feels secure in his job but doesn’t understand why people don’t read the train schedule. They expect him to know it. Just like I expected him to have a credit card machine built into his hand, or at least some sort of iDevice like the man in that rural Virginia coffee shop. His shop was turning into a cart, and it really made the most sense. It’s crazy how expensive things are, but it’s wonderful how portable life can be these days.

The conductor doesn’t know anyone, but all of the people who could know someone say his screenplay is something special.

He asked me what I did, what I studied in college, and if I liked the country. He asked me what I wrote and if he was bothering me. Get back to me later, I said, and no, you’re not. I was actually wondering who could hear me and if some day I would live in a place where people took $9 trains to work.

That was on Friday, and now I’m here. Maybe I should read that book.


so, run after it.

I used to hate scary television shows. Now, I can’t stop watching them.

The other day, I  felt like I was on the Magic Schoolbus. I talked about how I live my life like I’m running a fartlek, and I wrote down things that need to happen later. I also thought a lot about what the guy who told me he liked my pants was like as a child. I know I should have been totally offended by his words, but the reality is that I was wearing my yoga pants and knew I wasn’t going to make the train in time to get there. I was feeling a little upset about it, about being in the walking part of my fartlek week, and maybe even of my fartlek life, so, instead of being offended, I laughed at him. It was a nice laugh.

When he was eleven he had this experience on one side of a school fence that he thinks changed his life forever. Sometimes he remembers that day without telling anyone about it. Sometimes he talks about something else, when he’s really talking about that day. The people he talks to were probably standing next to him; he was wearing blue shoes. He decided to walk home instead of ride the bus. His brother convinced him to do it because he wanted ice cream. He found a ten dollar bill on the way home and wishes he hadn’t picked it up. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. His brother has a job with a euphemistic title, and his bus-mate gets to skip lines in airports.

Recently, I have only been in places outside my apartment that play music and think that silence should be my new theme song. Unfortunately for that thought, I keep singing the Chase commercial in my head.