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WhyDid’s Words: Haunted

By |November 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|

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She loved to play dress up. Her mother’s lace dresses dragging behind her as she ran barefoot through the backyard.  Climbing citrus trees and catching garden snakes with her older brothers wearing pink satin and polka dots.

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Lizards, hermit crabs, snails all became her pets and friends.  When her parents had tried to dress her in her older brothers’ jeans and sweaters, the little girl who looked much like a soft pink rose, made it clear that would just not do.  Mostly by throwing the clothing back at them and crossing her little doughy white arms across her tiny chest.  She was a woman, through and through– and she knew this well before she knew her times tables.

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When she’d been born, she was a surprise.  The doctor had assured her parents that they were due for a third little boy.  As she arrived at the hospital, her mother exclaimed, “Thank God!  Thank you! It’s a little girl.”

The little girl loved her big brothers and never let their rough play intimidate her.  She enthusiastically took it as a challenge, but there was no way she was going to do so any way but on her own terms.  So, she dug into her mother’s closet and armed herself the only way she knew how– in chiffon, silk, and sequins.

She made no sense to many.  Was she a boy in girls’ clothing or a girl who wanted to be a boy?  She never thought of this as a decision she had to make.

And she never had to choose.  A woman is exactly who she wants to be.

 

WhyDid Wisdom: Paris 102, A Guide for the Intermediate

By |October 15th, 2017|WhyDid Wisdom|

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Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, Stein…

I imagined myself penning some of my best work eating oysters and sipping muscadet at La Closerie de Lilas.  Instead, I write this in an airport lounge.

I’ve fallen in love many times.  Sometimes serious.  Sometimes fleeting.  Sometimes it was merely the love of an idea.  Sometimes it was truly and painfully to the core.  This time I had fallen in love with not a person, but a place.

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It had happened the first time three years ago as I’d wandered through the avenues and rues, across the Pont Nuef and traversed the Tuileries.  I’d never set foot in this city before, but I, a usually timid and overly cautious individual, had marched along like I owned the place.  It was like meeting someone who you felt you already knew.  Maybe in a past life, maybe on another plane.  Sure, it’s trite to say you fell in love with Paris.  Who hasn’t fallen in love with the city of lights?   Every young woman, poet, and romantic alike has been seduced by the city and the Seine.

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I fell in love with the dark meandering streets.  Quiet and empty always before two am, full of mystery of what “might be.”  Looking up at the windows of buildings still lit.  Imagining what the going’s on of the current occupants.  Wondering what their lives were like.

And I fell in love with the light– even on days the locals complained of grey, I was captivated by the way the Lutetian limestone buildings always managed to cast a golden glow.  Very different from the grey days in Manhattan where one can’t tell the difference between dusk or dawn.

I fell in love mostly with the discovery of something new at every turn.  A giant door propped open just enough so you could see the building tuckedbehind it.  An intricately carved column prettier than art in most museums.  A hidden garden held captive by ancient iron gates.  There was always something new to see and experience so long as you were open to it.  I felt like I had finally found a place, a city, a home.  Somewhere I was safe.  Somewhere I was understood.

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I fell in love with a man like this once.  I also had felt as if I’d known him long before the first time I looked into his brown eyes.  He was familiar to me though I hardly knew him.  It was the same sensation I’d experienced walking the streets of Paris.  I hadn’t needed a map.  And should I get lost, I didn’t mind.  I’d find my way back and enjoy the unexpected surprises as I did.  I immediately felt he understood me much the way Paris had.  I didn’t need to be anything different than I was.  Moody, romantic, daydreaming in a field of flowers.  He seemed as amused by me as the city, itself, had been amusing to me.

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But who hasn’t fallen in love?  It’s easy to fall in love with any new place be it Madrid or Marrakesh, Stefan or Stephanie.  There is mystery in the unfamiliar, so I decided to test my love.

Whizzing through museums packed with masterpieces only once seen in high school history books, eating at cafés where famed writers once took their afternoon apéros, gazing at the twinkling lights reflecting off the Seine.  Anything can feel romantic, special, and captivating in small doses.  Everything can feel like magic when it’s not your reality.

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So, I stayed.  I stayed much longer than I should have.

I spent time alone, writing in brasseries while I waited for the rain to stop, trying to make human connections where I hardly spoke the language.

I wanted to see what it was like once the magic wore off.  I wanted to know how I would feel in the morning when I woke up alone, realizing it all was only a partial reality.  You see, it’s quite simple and slightly selfish to think that something is special to us and only to us.  A city, a person, a song, a smell.

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What makes love of a city, a person, a song, a smell different to some than others is the willingness to stick things out.  To accept the rainy mornings, the sleepless nights, the frustrations, the setbacks, all after the magic has worn off.  Then and only then will you know– when the golden glow is gone, that you are in love.

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 Dress: Reformation, Apartment: Paris Perfect  

 

WhyDid’s Words: Alice in Dreams

By |September 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|

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She came to me in my dreams one night.  A tiny little thing with big blue eyes and long flaxen hair.  She looked like a real life Alice in Wonderland.

She plopped herself down haphazardly in the chair across from me.  We were in a cafeteria.  It reminded me of my highschool.  She looked me straight in the eyes and blinked a couple of times before saying anything.  She began to speak and then giggled.

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“You know none of this is real, right?”

“What isn’t?” I asked, confused.

“This!” she nearly shouted as she threw her little arms above her head.

I looked at her puzzled and she frowned in frustration.

“What don’t you understand?  All this stuff you worry about doesn’t really even matter.  It’s absolutely absurd!” she laughed, eyes wide.

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I continued to stare at her in half amusement, half disbelief.  She was turning around in her chair– left and right, looking at everyone around us as if sizing up each person in the room.  A man then walked by us, he looked like an authority figure (remember, this is just a dream).  The little blonde held her hand up to him in the gesture of a high five.  He smiled and met her hand with his own.  She turned back around to me.

“See?  It’s all absolutely ridiculous and the sooner your realize that, the happier you’ll be.”

It didn’t occur to me until after rubbing my sleepy eyes that morning that the little blonde was me.  Me before I had ever worried about all of the things I do today.  Me before I forgot that life is totally absurd.

 

WhyDid’s Words: Morning Glory

By |August 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|

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She rarely slept past 5am.  Sometimes it felt as if she’d lived an entire day before nine in the morning.  She wasn’t sure if it was the thin blinds she’d installed to block the early morning summer sun or the lucid dreams that left her feeling emotional long past opening her pretty blue eyes.  Maybe she was still living in a different time zone from a lifetime passed.  Maybe she just loved the solace of the dawn.  Maybe her golden hour happened hours before what others deemed it to be.

Whatever it was, it was the only time of day she truly felt completely alone.  Entirely disconnected from the outside world.  But that was her time.  It was her favorite time.  She knew most people would consider her odd.  By society’s standards she was odd, but that wasn’t something that bothered her.  She cherished that.

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No one ever knew why she was tired, but no one would ever know the magic of her morning hours.

WhyDid’s Words: Happily in Your Head

By |August 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|

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“You see,” she said, “the problem with being a hopeless romantic with an active imagination is that you turn everyone into a storybook character. That asshole with reckless tendencies who keeps you on the hook? He becomes a brooding sensitive artist type with insecurities who is in love with you but is just ‘scared.’ He speaks in riddles so as to leave everything open to interpretation.”

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A wind blew the picnic blanket up knocking over a striped paper cup of prosecco and spilling it onto the already wilting salad.  She dabbed at the bubbling puddle with a gingham cloth napkin then tossed it back into the wicker basket once realizing her efforts were in vain.  She looked back up, eyes clear.

“Suddenly the damsel becomes the heroine. The princess who should be fought for gets busy trying to save all these half assed imaginary characters.  She’s confused the villains for the white knights, the fire breathing dragon for Prince Charming.  And instead of a ‘happily ever after’ she’s left with her own tragedy.  One nobody can write her out of but herself.  Unless, of course, she wants to spend all of eternity locked in a tower with seven dwarfs and a singing candlestick.”

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Her friend laughed out of courtesy because it was the truth.

The intended audience stabbed at a chunk of tomato with a plastic fork and took a deep breath wondering if she’d been constructing her own fairytales in her head well past the days of dress up and jungle gyms.

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“Listen, you are a fairy princess.  We all see it– and I’m not talking about your fairy princess hair and flowy dresses.  You’ve got the biggest heart and maybe that’s your problem.  You can’t seem to accept that sometimes people are just– bad, so you find the tiniest sliver of goodness in them and focus on that– which, as I say it doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but that’s why you get hurt, bamboozled, left in the damn dust scratching your pretty little head.

You can’t rewrite real life and you can’t fix everyone– well, my spiritual adviser would correct me there, but… anyway, sometimes an evil stepmom is an evil stepmom and a flying monkey is just that.”

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The wind picked up again and the hammock began to swing.

“Enough with Jafar and his harem.  Where the eff is Prince Eric?”

They both laughed and then were quiet for a moment enjoying the warm summer breeze.

“Wait… should I change my bio to ‘fairytale princess?'”

Photos by Michael Stiegler