BROOKLINDSAY

Literary Dispatches from Brooklyn

Blog Redesign Update

Posted on October 2, 2014

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If you’ve been following my blog, thank you, and I’m hoping that as I transfer my blog to a self-hosted site I won’t lose any followers in the process. Being a bit of a dunce with technology makes me paranoid though, so I thought I’d write a quick post to let you know that the site redesign should be live within the next few days, and email subscribers will continue to receive notifications of posts. But unless you sign up for email notifications, wordpress followers won’t be seeing my updates in the reader once I jump over to Bluehost. All this to say, please follow by email and check out my blog redesign very soon! In the meantime, here’s my Shiba Inu puppy, Miyagi, doing some stimulating research to warm your pumpkin spiced autumnal hearts.

 

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I’ve  been thinking about the nature of crutches lately…how we use them to hold us back from our true potential- whether in terms of our health, personal growth in everything from fitness to creative expression & writing. Check out the full article Miyagi is reading over at Zen Habits.  I like what C.S. Lewis has to say on the subject:

Most of us need the crutch at time; l but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes habits, etc.) can do the journey on their own.

My lack of understanding of back end blogging, from the coding to site design, has slowed down my redesign process, but I’ve picked up so many blogging and even coding skills along the way that I’m excited to share once the new site is up. Not understanding certain technologies is not really a valid crutch in the age of Google. Seriously, I have Googed all the things about transferring and building a blog design these past few weeks. Let Google be your crutch instead. Happy October & I hope to be live on the new site in a jiffy!

Pardon Me While I Get a New Face

Posted on September 12, 2014

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Apologies for the radio silence this week. I’m working on giving the blog a much needed facelift, but being the luddite that I am, it involves a lot of frustration and Youtube tutorials on CSS skills a 3rd grader could probably master faster than me. Oh well. Hopefully Brooklindsay will be shiny and new in no time! Until then, have a great weekend, and listen to some old school Incubus in the meantime.

 

 

The Silkworm Goes Normcore

Posted on September 5, 2014

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The last can’t stop won’t stop novel I read was Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm, which distracted me from a nasty head cold earlier this week. By now everyone knows that Galbraith is a psydoneum for the one and only J.K. Rowling. The second in her latest detective series, The Silkworm features a rough around the edges British detective, Cormoran Strike, as he chases down the unknown perpetrator of a truly twisted literary murder in London. The victim? A semi-famous novelist with a super ego and a sick sense of humor. Intrigued? Go read this one already. I promise it’s better entertainment than those sitcom reruns you were going to watch on Netflix tonight (no judgment, though).

By now I’m sure you’ve seen Gap’s ad campaign: an ode to “dressing normal” with a series of dreamy B&W videos directed by Oscar-nomined director David Fincher. (If you haven’t seen ’em, check the videos out here). When normcore became a so-called fashion trend last spring, I had to laugh. The way I dressed to walk my dog or pick up milk for coffee was suddenly a style? Wasn’t it just practical dressing, more like the absence of style, the way you’d dress if no one was watching? Well, Gap’s taken that theme one step further, instructing consumers to consciously dress like no one is watching.

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Looking life yourself is cool now, guys! Be a rebel, wear Gap. It’s all a bit campy and I kind of love it. Lest you forgot that America’s sweetheart can do sex appeal as well as normcore, Fincher’s ads are sensual, gritty, and apparently causing a lot of controversy.

The Silkworm is all about normcore. Cormoran Strike’s never attempting to look like a detective (he’ll leave that to Sherlock, thank you very much). He’s so normcore it hurts: wrinkled suits and shabby coats in various earth tones—slate, charcoal, maybe some shiitake if he’s feeling racy–lovingly chosen by the wise hand of J.K. Rowling. Since what he wears serves no purpose in unraveling a murder mystery, his style remains transparent, and we can instead try to solve the mystery alongside him. And it’s more fun that way! So, is Cormoran Strike some kind of style symbol because of his complete lack of style? Or is he just getting the job done- style be damned? It’s such a chicken and egg conundrum. Is normcore a style or just the way we dress when we think no one’s looking?

What do you think of Gap’s ad campaign? Have you read The Silkworm yet? Is normal the new rebellion?

Brooklyn Night Bazaar

Posted on September 3, 2014

Before getting really sick for the second half of Labor Day weekend, I had an awesome night out at a really unique venue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. If you’re ever looking for something a little different than your average dinner & a movie or drinks at a bar, check out Brooklyn Night Bazaar, which is open 7pm-1am on Fridays and Saturdays. What is it, you ask? It’s kinda like a flea market mixed with an indie rock concert, throw in some food trucks and the most miniature mini golf course you’ve ever seen for good measure. Oh, and a few bars. The whole shindig takes place in a grafitti covered warehouse on an otherwise deserted block, making it feel very much like something out of an episode of Girls. Which, for the record, doesn’t really resemble my life in Brooklyn at all. And I think that’s why I liked Brooklyn Night Bazaar– the whole thing was so unexpected and refreshing. A spectacle at its best. Plus I have a weakness for handmade jewelry crafted by local artisans, and know I’ll get a lot of wear out of these two new pieces I picked up. Check out the Bazaar’s website for a list of their vendors and upcoming shows (and photos! It was too dark for me to capture any decent shots of the space.)

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Simple yet intricate gold hoops.

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Agate stone pendant on gold chain: my take on minimalism.

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I hope you all had a happy & healthy long weekend, and are excited about the possibilities of September. 

Reflections on Freelancing

Posted on August 28, 2014

This time one year ago, I had just quit an unsatisfying office job that was stressing me out much more than I even realized at the time. It was the kind of underpaid, 24/7, thousands of emails, pointless meetings, and taking lunch orders kind of gig. In other words, I was an editorial assistant at a big magazine. I shouldered my boss’ worries as though they were my own, dealt with gossipy coworkers and a hoarder of a seat mate…I could go on, but let’s just say I was not a happy camper.

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When I finally screwed up the courage to quit, it was with the dream of making a living as a freelance writer (hello New York cliche!). I had the dream, but no idea how to make it a reality. Now that it’s been a year since I made that fateful decision, I wanted to share a bit about what I learned along the way. These days, I’ve got a pretty sweet freelance writer/editor/librarian gig over at Oyster, and I’m finally starting to write my own creative stuff again. Though I haven’t made much progress on writing the next Great American Novel, I’ve come to accept that maybe that project just isn’t meant to be right now. My heart is pulling me toward blogging, personal essay, and op-ed writing, which all sound pretty cool, right?! In honor of my one year quitting anniversary (and 1 year birthday of this blog!), I thought I’d share a few tips on making the freelance dream a reality. If you’re also figuring out the freelance puzzle, please share what’s worked for you in the comments below!

Four Freelance Writing Tips

1. PITCH, PITCH, PITCH

You’re not going to get paid writing jobs just because you know you’re a good writer. You’ve gotta put yourself out there, be your own biggest advocate, and build a portfolio to show potential clients why they should choose you for that project/article/assignment. Pitching can feel like shameless self-promotion, but it’s part of the job. Recently I pitched two fun stories to xojane.com and they were accepted the same day. Knowing I can write in that site’s tone of voice, I plan on pitching more stories there. Check out the sites you read on a regular basis, and see if they’re looking for new writers. Or try for one off gigs on places like Elance.

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2. BE PROACTIVE

Along with pitching, seek out those areas where you think your expertise could add something to an existing platform. When I started freelancing for Oyster (which is basically like Netflix for ebooks), I was excited to bring my knowledge of literature (you could say I like to read) to help build out their library. Given that I’ve taught memoir writing classes for a few years now and also wrote a memoir, I felt pretty confident about making some cool new memoir sub-genres for Oyster’s library. Sports & Adventure Memoirs shouldn’t necessarily be housed in the same set as, say, political or addiction memoirs. Hence, I made my expertise seem valuable, and from there, my duties at Oyster have grown. So be proactive and prove yourself, and more will come your way.

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3. PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME

Being a freelancer is not the same as going to coffee shops every day, online shopping, Facebook stalking, procrastinating, sleeping in, or binge watching your favorite shows on Netflix. If that’s how you’re thinking of it, it’s pretty much destined to not work out as a viable job (of course we all have days like this once in a while). Remember why you wanted to freelance in the first place. Was it to have time to finally work on that creative project? To have a less toxic work environment? To set your own schedule? Even more than traditional office jobs, freelancing is a balancing act. I’ve found that devoting mornings to one freelance job, then taking a lunch/yoga break, and then using the afternoon for my own article/story/blogging breaks things up nicely.

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4. BE REALISTIC

Just because you’re not commuting to an office every day now, don’t expect yourself to be cranking out gorgeous pages every day a la Hemingway. And don’t expect freelance jobs to buy you a wardrobe like Carrie’s on Sex in the City. But if you’re making small steps toward living your life in a way that feels right to you– clearing the clutter out and bringing creativity in– I’d say that’s a success. Best of all, it’s a lifestyle shift that you can build upon, whether by setting creative goals for yourself or exploring new projects. Don’t beat yourself if it doesn’t happen all at once. The accomplishments we’re most proud of? Those are the ones that take dedication, tenacity, and time.

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Carrie Bradshaw

I will never look like this while I write, and I’m okay with that.

The View From The Other Side

Posted on August 25, 2014

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Continuing with my plan to make Sundays more enjoyable, yesterday involved sleeping in and then heading to Prospect Park, equipped with our dog, bagels, and coffee. The sun was shining and the bikers, joggers, rollerbladers, and even horseback riders were all enjoying the park’s 3 mile outer loop. True to architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s original plan and 1866 execution of Brooklyn’s biggest public park, birds of all feathers catch a break from city living in the park. Rich, poor, barbecuing, biking, Frisbee-ing, picnicing…you get the idea. If you’re interested in more on the park’s history, here’s a handy timeline.

 

As someone who spends over an hour every morning in the park, I truly believe in the power of a good park to cure even the most stubborn urban malaise. Spending time in nature–whether it’s hiking a mountain or strolling through a local park–is a perfect counterweight to how most of us spend our time in the 21st century: hunched over at a desk, staring at screens, clicking on a digital world. Yesterday I saw a whole new side of Prospect Park than my usual morning dog-and-coffee route, which just makes me love the wonders of this park even more. Below, a sampling of our five hour hike. Hope you all had enjoyed the beautiful late summer weekend!

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Blending the old with the new: I’m pretty sure Frederick Law Olmsted didn’t envision a deluxe kiddie pool outside a rollerskating rink, but that’s the beauty of an evolving city park. 

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Thank goodness the Boathouse was saved from imminent demolition in the ’60s. 

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Five hour hikes necessitate burgers, fries, and a milkshake, and the new  Bluestone cafe outside the revamped Lakeside area of Prospect Park is a lot tastier than expected. Only downside? I was ready for a nap after this meal, not a long hike home!

The Power of a Lazy Sunday

Posted on August 17, 2014

If you’re anything like me, Sunday is a day spent getting everything in order for the upcoming week, cleaning, running errands, doing laundry, and catching up on emails. It doesn’t sound very fun, does it? I’ve been realizing lately that cramming all this busy work into Sundays doesn’t actually leave me feeling very rested or rejuvenated for the week ahead.

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My Mondays are always my marathon day: a full day’s work at my freelance writing/editing gig, breaking only for a grueling hour-long Crossfit workout, and then rushing off to midtown Manhattan to teach a three hour memoir writing class until 10 pm. I don’t get home till after 11 pm, and then I have to figure out what to make for dinner. So there’s no getting around the fact that Mondays are tiring. But I think by tweaking my Sunday routine to do less, I’ll actually feel more prepared.

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Instead of jumping right into cleaning the bathroom and sweeping the floors and scrubbing the stove (what fun, i know!) I let myself sleep in, and then took Miyagi for a long walk in Prospect Park, winding through the less-trafficked trails around a serene waterfall that made me wonder if I’d been transported to the set of the show Lost. I feel so lucky to have such an amazing natural park practically right in my backyard, and having a puppy means that I actually feel the calming effects of nature on a daily basis. With an iced coffee and blueberry muffin in hand, it was a much more soul satisfying way to start the day than scrubbing the toilet.

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The photo doesn’t do it justice, but there’s this rock that looks like a squatting frog sitting atop a little waterfall.

I like to think he’s contemplating the jump.

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Sure, I still did some tidying and ran an errand or two today, but I also stopped to enjoy a yummy homemade lunch, played Scrabble, and am going to the movies tonight. I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie in the theatre, and what could be more fun than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 3D with a big ol’ bucket of popcorn?! It’s not my typical kind of movie, but that’s the point.

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So I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all about balance. The week will always be there, whether I try to clean and control it on Sundays, or let Sundays flow more peacefully around me. Maybe the apartment won’t be squeeky clean, but who really cares? I’m happy to be heading into Monday feeling relaxed and rested. It’s good to let yourself be lazy once in a while. What’s your Sunday routine and how do you make it soul-recharging?

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