I have written twelve novels. This is the space where I share my stories with the world. There is so much to say in this life, and so little time...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

(Never-) Mind the Gap

 
 
 
 This is a cruel world for girls.

My friend and I have ongoing debates about this subject. He insists that life is equally difficult for men.

"Grasshopper," he says, using the nickname I've grown to love, "Men face just as much pressure as women. They are subject to just as many expectations and demands, although those demands may be slightly different."

I can't understand that.

Perhaps it's true, but I have seen the way women are objectified. I have succumbed to the insane pressure to be unrealistically (and destructively) thin. I've had to teach myself that it's ok to have imperfect hair or an imperfect nose. Or a ribcage that doesn't protrude the way it once did.

In my experience, women are supposed to be mysterious and reserved. They're expected to sit back instead of taking the reins. Many books claim that women should be passive, patient, and calm. Seriously...there's a whole genre of books dedicated to making us more "feminine" by teaching us to be demure. These aren't books from the 1950's, either. They are new and popular and readily available on your Kindle.

There are a ton of rules to being a girl, huh?

Overstep a boundary, gain five pounds, or speak out of turn and you're basically ejected from the game.

No pressure.

I'm 30 years old. Most my friends have spouses and kids, but I still haven't decided if I want children.

Some days, I wonder how it would feel to hold my own baby in my arms. Other days, I fly around the country in a state of pure bliss and reflect on how thankful I am to be uninhibited, unattached, utterly free.

If  I do have a child someday, and if that child is a girl, I can promise this much: I will love her so deeply that she won't be able to resist loving herself. I'll tell her she is gorgeous, and she undoubtedly will be. Whether her hair is brown or black or blond (which doesn't seem likely, considering my own dark shade), whether she is a size zero or a size fourteen, whether she has my big Italian sniffer or one of those cute button noses I've always admired...she will be simply perfect. In her own way.

And I will constantly remind her of that.

I will celebrate her personality and her life choices. If she's shy and prefers to work behind the scenes, fantastic. If she's incredibly outgoing and Type A, that's wonderful too.

I hope she never hears the term "mind-the-gap-Mondays." Better yet, I hope she hears the term and laughs at its sheer absurdity. Because there's absolutely NOTHING appropriate or admirable about judging a woman based on the space between her thighs. It's disgusting, in my opinion. It's truly sick. Then again, many aspects of this world are ill, broken, degrading.

Fortunately, hope is not lost. Sure, this world is a tough place for a girl. I'll always believe that. However, I also believe it's possible to defy the norm. Break the mold. Ignore the negativity. Love yourself in a healthy way...and teach others to do the same.

Love,
Lisa

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hard Questions


Our first glance was years ago,
When I was new
But it wasn't til Valentine's Day
I saw you, met you, loved you.
And life flew by, that much is true...
Seemed our lives were spinning too-  
But here's our chance to start anew:
To do it all, through & through.
To travel the world, just us two.


My mother often asks me if it’s hard to date with my “vagabond lifestyle.”

Friends ask if it’s difficult to stay in touch with old buddies from high school and college.

Passengers ask me if I ever get tired. With wide eyes, they inquire whether the constant traveling ever gets too intense.

These are some tough questions. The answers are equally tricky.
Sure, Mom, it’s hard to maintain a romantic relationship when I spend approximately half the month at 30,000 feet above sea level. But when I do give my heart away, which happens every now and then, I make sure it’s handed off to someone willing to accept my unconventional schedule. See, I get to weed out the half-interested folks and focus on those truly deserving of my time. Does this mean I never get my heart broken? Absolutely not.  I’ve had my fair share of disappointments. But I’ve picked up the pieces and continued along….typically with a 150mph tailwind propelling me forward.

And yes, friends, there are times when I lose touch with old pals. It’s impossible to keep up with them on a daily basis, due to the nature of my job. But I enjoy writing letters (the old-fashioned kind, which travel via airmail and usually have some kind of colorful design on the cover). I’m also pretty good at calling/texting whenever something notable occurs. I do my best and, fortunately, I’ve selected friends who are brilliant and loyal and just altogether inspiring people. So we maintain a connection, despite the miles or months separating us.
Yes, passengers, I get weary. Sometimes I wake up in a hotel room with the blackout curtains drawn, and for a moment I can’t recall whether it’s night or day, summertime or winter. This can be draining. It can also be lonely. But those bleak moments are far outnumbered by ones filled with mesmerizing, all-consuming wonder. This planet is massive and dazzling. I’m willing to sacrifice a few hours of sleep for the luxury of exploring this gorgeous green earth. In fact, that seems a very small price to pay.

I don’t mind these difficult questions.
I’m an optimist by nature, so I will answer each inquiry with an honest yet positive response. My life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but there's enough brilliance to last even when the rainclouds roll in. I have a job I adore. I have friends and coworkers more amazing than I could ever describe. I have an opportunity to fly to cities I've never even heard of and meet people with backgrounds far different from my own. That's something I refuse to take for granted.

So bring on the questions. I’ll gladly share my perspective or, even better, take you along for the ride. Buckle up.
Love,
Lisa

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sparkle On


Yesterday, someone told me there are no “good” or “bad” circumstances. According to my friend, things are simply neutral. We choose to deal with them in a number of ways, and our response defines each incident as either positive or negative.

I would argue that bad things do happen. Everyone I know has suffered through a painful breakup, or period of depression, or perhaps financial instability.

Sometimes life is freaking hard.

Yet our response is crucial. My friend was spot-on with that assertion.

So far, 2014 has been an interesting year. My time in Orlando is dwindling. In a few months, everything will change. I can’t say where I will be or, for that matter, who will be beside me. That's a little intimidating. Even for a self-proclaimed adventure junkie.

But what good will it do to worry? All I have is right now. Here. In this exact moment.

Which is actually true for all of us, if you really think about it.

This summer can go one of two ways. I can work like crazy and deliberately minimize my time in Florida. Or I can enjoy these balmy months in The Sunshine State. It can be as good or bad as I choose.

Well, that seems like an easy choice.

Here’s to us. To the optimists, the ones who see obstacles as opportunities.

Summer of 2014 is an explosive time for many of us...but let’s think of it as a firework. Or a shooting star. Or one of those sparklers you hold on the Fourth of July.

Sparkle on, my friends. Shine bright.

 
Love,
 
Lisa

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Coming Home

Yeah, I know your home's far away
And it's hard to leave the life you've made
But I promise you more
Then what you've seen
And what you've had before...


-Dirty South, "Until the End"










Dear (scared) Lisa,


Remember that first red-eye flight? You thought you'd die.


Guess what? You survived.


In fact, you landed in San Francisco with energy to spare! Everyone was tired, so you ventured into the city alone. For the very first time. With shaky hands, a racing heart, and a smile big enough to convince strangers you actually knew what you were doing.


You trekked all over town and immediately fell in love with the entire Bay Area, remember? It was this intense, magnetic pull.


Yep, you were just a young thing back then. Twenty-six years old, with a head full of dreams and a heart that had never been broken.


Shhh...I hear those murmurs that escape your tired lips. I'm older now, you argue. Less agile. Less bold. More jaded.


Don't write yourself off like that.


You've done many brave things, things you never gave yourself credit for. Things that had overwhelmingly positive results.


Trinidad, AmeriCorps, Berlin. Quitting that lucrative job because you realized there was more to life than a paycheck and a nice car. Sending your novels to publishers despite the fact that you had been rejected before. Choosing to love even though you knew you might get burned.


You're a fierce one, my dear. A force to be reckoned with.


Now you're at a crossroads, hmm? Very soon, things will change drastically at work. You have a choice to make.


You can buy into the lie that California is unaffordable, overwhelming and downright impractical. You can take comfort in the familiar, instead of branching out.


Or you can carve a new path...one that is entirely your own.


You know what to do. You've known it all along, girlfriend.




Love,
(Brave-ish) Lisa



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Loved You More





It’s November of 2011.

I’m sitting on the steps in front of Union Square, San Francisco’s thriving city center. Lights flash all around me. People hurry past, eager to enjoy Sunday night before it fades into the monotony of Monday morning.

My life statistics are currently bleak: I have three friends in this brand-new town, four hundred dollars in my bank account, a questionable apartment in the East Bay, and absolutely no idea that my buddy Alvin will be dead in a week.

But I’m oblivious to these facts. I’m too busy enjoying the moment. The sun is setting and the air is crisp. A sweet scent lingers around me.  Local musicians stand on street corners and strum their guitars, banjos, ukeleles.

The world feels whole.

From my perch in front of Union Square, I spot the 38 Bus. Within minutes, it will stop and Alvin will get off. Of course, Alvin’s disembarking will take a longer than usual. Due to his wheelchair.

The bus stops just before Powell Street, in front of a big painted heart. This is my favorite of all the heart statues scattered throughout San Francisco. It shows the Golden Gate Bridge, set against a hazy blue sky. The painting captures the intrigue of this West Coast city which became my home one week ago.

I approach the bus.

“They let me ride for half-price,” Alvin declares as he descends the special platform. “Because I’m disabled. Score!”

He’s laughing, which is typical.

Alvin’s two years younger than me. He hasn’t traveled much, yet he has this worldliness…the kind that doesn’t come from sipping wine in Italy or hiking through waterfalls in Trinidad. The kind that has a lot more to do with enduring pain, then choosing to push forward anyway.

We make our way to a café and order bubble tea. I hold Alvin’s cup while he drinks through a straw.

He tells me he wants to apply for a job at Costco.

“I could be a greeter,” he says. “It’ll get me out of the house and into the real world again. It’ll give me a chance to do something.”

“You’d be great,” I say, and I mean it.

Then I tell him a story about the time I knocked over a display case at Costco. Alvin chuckles at my stupid anecdote. We talk a little more, sip our drinks, and watch the dusky sky fill with stars.

That was 2011.

This is 2014.

March has been a rocky month for me. April can’t come quickly enough...seriously.

I lost someone I cared about this week.

Also, my niece was born Wednesday night. This is both exciting and terrifying. I don’t have much experience with children. I want so badly to love her, hold her, help her grow into a beautiful woman. But there are times when I don’t feel like a beautiful woman, so what advice could I possible give this impressionable little girl?

Last night, I heard the old cliché: “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

My initial thought was, Yeah, right.

Loss is not fun. Loneliness is not desirable. Nobody looks forward to waking up in tears, or feeling as though their chest is collapsing because it’s filled with so much ache.

Alvin died in his mid-twenties. It doesn't make a lot of sense. I opened my heart, then he was gone. This is one example, but my resume is filled with similar stories. My life is an all-you-can-eat buffet of unfulfilled desires and endings with no closure.

My tendency is to love too much and too hard.

I loved, and in 2011 I lost.

This week I also lost. Big time.

There’s a possibility that I'll lose again, with my newest (and tiniest) relative.  I don’t know how to be a decent aunt. I’m afraid I will screw things up. There’s a good chance I already have.

But that won’t stop me from loving. In the end, there’s always someone who cared the most, right? Someone who can take a step back, once the dust has settled, and honestly say, “I loved you more.”

I’m willing to be the one.

 

Love,
Lisa

 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Light, God & Beauty


People say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I do it anyway.

If a book has a weird title, neon colors or a cartoon zombie/monster/alien on the cover, I'm probably going to purchase it. Fact: I almost bought a book printed in German (which I don't speak) because the cover artwork was so mesmerizing.

Anyway, I recently purchased "Through Painted Deserts" at Goodwill because:
1) I loved the title
2) the cover photo was very vintage
3) it cost a dollar.

The book's subtitle is "Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road." As soon as my eyes scanned those words, I was hooked. It felt like a perfect description of my job as a flight attendant...except that I cruise clouds rather than highways. Which seemed like a minor detail.

I didn't read the book immediately.

At first, I was content to simply hold the novel in my hands, admiring its black-and-white photo and riveting title. 253 pages of raw emotion awaited me, I knew. But the mystery, the waiting period was so alluring.

Today, a passenger approached me in the galley. Tears streamed down her face and her lip quivered as she explained the series of tragic events she'd endured recently.

I sat down with her and listened while she poured out her heart. I'm a "stewardess," sure...but I'm also a human being, and when someone comes to me in a state of despair, I can't help empathizing with that person. Whether she's a stranger or an old friend.

Her sniffles eventually slowed, then ceased altogether.

The girl curled up against a window. Soon she was fast asleep, exhausted from the emotional purging she'd just done.

I returned to my jumpseat in the back of the plane, and "Through Painted Deserts" stared up at me from my duffel bag.

Today was just another day on another airplane bound for a big, Southern city. But there was surely "light, God, and beauty" here on this open road.

The colors of my life are vibrant and, at times, completely overwhelming. Often the panorama is so surreal that I can't find the proper words to describe it. But I will keep trying anyway.

I will keep listening to strangers' stories and admiring their offbeat cover artwork, because it's all part of a bigger tapestry that involves love, empathy and a deep appreciation for this multi-faceted world of ours.

Whatever it is that you're doing today, I promise you're marching through a dazzling "painted desert." I also promise there is light, God and beauty along the way. Just keep your eyes open. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Love,
Lisa

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Don't Forget to be Awesome



To the little boy writing poetry in seat 17C:

I’m sorry your brothers made fun of you.

 I’m sorry your mom warned you to “stop that, it’s embarrassing.”

Adults aren’t supposed to say this, but it’s cool because I’m not actually an adult (I just look like one; I’m about 15 years old, on the inside): sometimes grown-ups invent stupid rules because they’re blinded by their own insecurities.

Yep. That’s a mouthful. But let me break it down.

Grown-ups don’t know everything.

So when your mother says that you’re doing something wrong or drawing negative attention to yourself, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.

Of course, there are times when she might be right. Now and then, your heart might lead you down a dangerous path. Foolish decisions can be so appealing; occasionally it’s tempting to do something that you know is going to hurt others.

But there are also times when your heart is going to speak so loudly and so eloquently that even you will be surprised.

Look, I’m just here to serve pretzels and make sure everyone arrives in Raleigh safely.

Nobody asked for my advice. In fact, nobody even batted an eye when I walked past (except for the guy in the exit row, but he’s been reading Maxim the whole flight and hasn’t turned the page once. He’s stuck on one particular “article,” if you know what I mean…).

So feel free to dismiss my dime-store psychology.

But, if you choose to hear the words I’m whispering into the universe, please remember this: you are allowed to express yourself in ways that others might not understand.

Poetry is not “girly.”

It’s not embarrassing, or pointless, or weird.

It doesn’t mean that you’re gay (although if you are, that’s perfectly fine).

It doesn’t mean you’re anything less than awesome.

In fact, I am inspired by your hand-written poem. I write poems too, although mine are often scribbled on paper towels and napkins. Yours looks so neat, inside that green notebook. You’ve got impressive handwriting, my friend.

Keep being you.

Keep doing your thing; you’re good at it.

And if people can’t handle your awesome quirks, it’s their loss.

 
Love,
Lisa
(a.k.a. the flight attendant wearing the huge zombie pin)