Another Man's Treasure


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I have a complicated relationship with the show "Girls." The show has an uncanny ability to trigger a form of PTSD for me. After all, anyone who has spent any brief amount of time with me could tell you that I hated my years spent as a would-be writer in NYC: the striving, the transparent posturing involved in attending readings and Paris Review parties, the dual constants of being broke and hungover, the painfully stereotypical OKC dates, the cold and the humidity. It was the worst. Dark days.

That said, I'm glad I did it. If only to learn how I didn't want to live my life. So when I was watching Hannah's "Don't tell anyone this, but I just want to be happy" speech in the episode "One Man's Trash," I started to think about why the desire to be happy was such a stigma back then. Everything Hannah said, right down to the Fiona Apple quote that I also read in NYM, resonated.

Somewhere between school and the city and the Midtown studio that I shared with Mickey and Minnie (the two mice that lived in my defunct radiator), I cultivated a belief system that the key to my success as a writer was not writing, but research: I needed to experience as much as possible, the good and the bad. Especially the bad. The bad experiences were better material, so I sought them out constantly until finally they just started to happen to me. And like Hannah, I purposefully let them happen. Soon, "writer" became synonymous with "victim" and suddenly the "research" portion of my non-career was my actual life.

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In 2010, shortly after my quality of life had hit rock bottom, I traded harsh Manhattan winters for breezy San Diego summers. I just wanted to be happy. Once I made that choice, everything else fell into place. I focused on my day job, made friends with genuine, kind people, and didn't waste my time dating until I found someone who was perfect for me in every way.

Of course, happiness came with a price. As expected, my material dried out. For a while, I lost the motivation to write. I slowly stopped talking to my former MFA classmates because I didn't know what to say to them anymore. Worst of all is the fear that they'll think I've sold out: living in Southern California, working in Corporate America, enjoying my little slice of domestic bliss.

But watching Hannah have a nervous breakdown in front of Patrick Wilson and feeling a wave of relief that I am not that girl any more, it occurred to me that even if I have "sold out," it's better than selling myself short. To that end, the belief that I can't be a writer without victimizing myself is, in fact, as short as it gets. Which is why starting this blog this year was so important to me: I need an outlet where I can learn to write from a happy place. Now it's time to get some new material.

"They say California is a recipe for a black hole, and I say I've got my best shoes on, I'm ready to go" -Rilo Kiley, 'Pictures of Success'