Hi Hart Beat. How are you? How was yesterday? How is today? I’m thinking about you and thought it might be time for a little note to you, my Hart, on this cold Berkshire afternoon.
This time of year always makes us all think, doesn’t it? Thankfulness, gratefulness, happiness, all the ness’s really. I’m thankful for so many things; my family, my health, Teo, this beautiful land, this forgiving Universe.
But this year, in particular, I’m thankful for so much more. If I look back at what I was doing on this day just two years ago I can’t believe how different everything is. If you had asked me then what the chances are I would be happy living with my parents in Stockbridge, dating someone I’ve known since I was four, and finishing a full-length memoir I would have told you to get your head checked by a professional. Like asap. Like yesterday.
“It feels like we’re becoming the women we always dreamed we would be,” my sister Samantha said to me after seeing her on her twenty-eight birthday last month. It’s stayed with me since then and every day I think to her words and realize how true they are.
The next four months prove that to me. This December I’m pitching my fully finished memoir to agents. In January and February, I’m traveling to France and Spain on a grant I was awarded this fall to start working on a second book. My boyfriend Matt, who I started dating in July (!!) is coming with me. In March I will be up at the Vermont Studio Center for a month-long writer in residence program—something I’ve dreamed about since 2012 when my mom was a painter in residence there.
This life, Hart Beat. “We are becoming the woman we always dreamed we would be.” There’s not much more I can think of that can make this life any beautiful. For that, and for everything else, I am thankful today, tomorrow, and ever and ever.
Hola mi Amor. I miss you, Hart Beat! I’m sorry for being so MIA lately. As many of you know, I’m deep in the final edits of the God Damned book I’ve been working on this past year and a half. (If you’re on Instagram I’m sorry for harassing you so much with stories. It can get boring writing all day to an empty room.)
It’s been hard the last year and a half not keeping up with you here on ye old blog. There’s been so much culturally, philosophically, politically, sartorially, and just generally juicy happening this year that it’s driven me a little bananas to not process it here with you.
But you know, writing twice a day here takes time and the G.D. book has taken everything out of me. So I thought I’d pop in here and share with you some of the things I’ve been doing, reading, listening to, and buying lately.
I’m sure there are other things I should share with you (movies I’ve seen, places I’ve been—Portland, ME! Denver, CO! Brooklyn!—but I have to get back to the G.D. book. Talk soon, Hart Beat. xo
Other Things, If Not More Urgent Things by Natalie Shapero
How to get close without going over. How to feign lust for whatever’s on offer. How the largest possible quantity of anything is a lifetime. A lifetime of oat bran. A lifetime of timing belts. A lifetime of saying, SURE, WHY NOT, I’M ONLY ON EARTH FOR X NUMBER OF YEARS, and not knowing what to make x. Sometimes I pick a number I’ve already passed. I remember the gambler’s credo— when you only have fifty bucks left in this world, you’d better get rid of it fast; the last thing you want is money around, reminding you every day of the money you lost. The recommended retirement plan is arabesque, then leap and smash on the seawall. We made a promise not to catch each other.
Hola Hart Beat. Can you believe it’s already the end of August? On Friday it will be September and even though Summer doesn’t officially end for a few more weeks I can feel it coming. Living in the Berkshires has given me such a connection to nature, something I never truly felt in New York, and every day the air, the trees, the wind, the bugs remind me that times are changing.
Change—something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. The other week in my favorite yoga class, my teacher talked about the idea that our bodies are biologically trained to accept change but that our social construct doesn’t welcome the idea. We don’t freak out when night comes because we know morning is coming right after but it’s our cultural and construction associated with change that gives us anxiety and regrets when we encounter change.
I’ve thought about that idea since she said it to our sangha. For me, this summer has been the cherry on top of this entire last year of freedom and exploration. I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled and it makes me anxious, this change in season. Can this happiness and life continue as the leaves fall, the temperature cools, and the fresh tomatoes in my backyard garden stop producing?
The book I’m writing, the god-damned book, is all about change. It’s about returning to your personhood you might have lost along the way of life. But I’ve been thinking lately, do you really return? Or do you incorporate your old self into your new self while not berating your past person for the time you might have lost or the self you might have pushed away?
People move, relationships progress, friendships ebb and flow, summer ends, fall begins, jobs grow stale, ideas bloom, and so much more—sometimes even all at once. I’ve been trying to embrace the changes and remind myself that it is all okay, that it’s all good even. It’s nature and natural for these things to happen. If we didn’t change what would we even be? Not alive surely and not learning or growing. How boring would that be?
This morning I read through the poem of the day emails I get from The Paris Review and was struck by this one here. It reminds me so much of what I’ve been wrestling with.
Cold by Gerard Malanga
The young girl is unable to change The form of her habitual thinking, The posture with which she corresponds to A feeling of sadness, the flow of her Thoughts in which she is looking, The facial expression, and so on; She forgets herself to remember her pain In the neck, to remember her problems. I’ve said this before, remembering myself in the same Situation until she came Into my life for the first time Remembering herself walking out in the open field Of vision with eyes full of tears and smoke Slowly coming out of her mouth.
I hope this gives you some comfort, even in just knowing that there’s someone out there who is also thinking about all of this.
Hi Hart Beat! Hello! Hola! Bonjour! It is me! You’re favorite lifestyle blogger turned writer who then disappeared for a year in the Berkshires and you never heard from again!
Not to fear though Hart Beat because this fall marks a re-entry to the blogosphere and this here site. The book is chugging along (#thirddraftissues) but I miss you here so I’m wanting to stop in a bit more.
For today, here are a few things that I’ve been thinking about, wanting, listening to, and just generally jonesing about lately.
New Fall Jumpsuits.
My two best friends here in the Berkshires, Kasha and Rachel, have both recently bought jumpsuits from the great L.A. company Big Bud. Kash, in the video below, got the Mustard Yellow and Rach has it in Dusty Rose. I’m thinking either plane jane black or Forest Green. I love the idea of having a legit uniform for the Fall and Winter months.
This Tweet from Paula Froelich. I’m finding fire, inspiration, regret, and fierce fight after seeing this tweet about Frida Kahlo.
This song from Lorde’s album Melodrama from last summer. It feels so much like what this summer has been and I listen to it over and over in the car while I’m driving around my hometown. Do you know it, Hart Beat?
And that’s it for now, Hart Beat. See you soon. xo
Hi. Hello. Hola. Hey. How are you, Hart Beat? Long time no talk. I hope you’ve been well, I promise I haven’t forgotten about you all here on the blog. The G.D. book is coming along. Drafts one and two are officially finished and the third should be done by the end of July. Whew.
Yesterday a friend of mine came up from the city to visit the Berkshires and see Live From Here recorded at Tanglewood in right here in the Berkshires. It wasn’t until we walked on the grounds for the concert that the production is the new iteration of Prarie Home Companion formally with Garrison Keilor. Long story short (sup Instagram stories) the concert was amazing and introduced me to an entirely new group of musicians. Chris Thile, Lake Street Dive, I’m With Her, Punch Brothers were all there and played in various combinations. I loved every minute.
If you want to hear the recording you can download it or stream it here. I highly recommend it and then looking up the musicians that performed. And if you want something quicker here’s my favorite song performed at another live event. Thought you might like it, Hart Beat. Talk soon, I promise.
Hi Hart Beat. Happy end of the holiday season! For those of you working in e-commerce, bravo, for those working in hospitality, congrats, for those of us just looking to survive the parties, friends, family, travel, and events that onslaught us all this time of year WE DID IT. WE REALLY, REALLY DID IT.
I don’t know about you, Hart Beat, but between traveling, working, and seeing people I got about zero actual good work done this month. I tried to sit down and write a few days but what came out was pretty much gobbledygook and needs a major rework in the second draft I’m starting next month. So, what to do about it? Well since we can’t go back in time I decided to try something new, something I’m calling “No Plan Jan.”
What’s No Plan Jan, you may be asking? That’s so catchy, is that something real? I mean, it is now. No Plan Jan comes from me and pretty much is exactly what the name implies—all of January is plan free. For me, that means that I’m not doing one social thing the entire month. No after work drinks, no coffees, no parties, no traveling, nada. I am going to be turning promptly into a hermit at zero o’clock on January 1st until midnight on January 31st. The point is so that I can go heads down and dive into finishing the first draft of my book and get the lions share of the second draft done before February 1st. I want to have not one thing in my way of writing.
But honestly, Hart Beat, No Plan Jan can mean whatever you want. The most important part is to just take the month for yourself. I know you told everyone and their mother you’d “catch up after the holidays” but honestly, no one will mind if you push that further back into February. Next thing we know spring will be here and with it summer so take this month, hermit yourself away, finish that project you started, that scarf you were knitting, that book your reading, and we’ll all be better off when we regroup in February, I promise.
Here’s what No Plan Jan means for me,
Things that are okay:
Work at the café two days a week (girls gotta make some cash)
Yoga classes at my yoga studio
Meetings with my writing coach (don’t fret Virginia!!)
After work drinks, coffee, parties, parties, seances, whatever
Catch up lunches that I planned in November 🙄
Leaving the Berkshires
Having fun of any kind (jkjk, it’s fun to sit in a room all alone and write, right?)
Book readings, poetry readings, basically, any event of any kind
What my goal is, and yours if you choose to accept it, is to do every day the same way, getting yourself (myself) into a routine to create. If you’re not a creative, TBD if No Plan Jan will work for you but try it out! Tell me! Maybe we have something good here.
I promise at least one more post before the end of the year. I’m not sure where I land on the blog and if it should be allowed for No Plan Jan. Part of me says yes since it does involve me sitting down at my laptop and writing. Ho-hum we will see. Happy New Year, Hart Beat.
Both photos via one of my favorite Instagram accounts, @aygabrielle. Follow her!
Hiya Hart Beat. Greetings from sunny Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing lots of traveling and am happy to report that I have successfully trapped myself in a pile of knit sweaters and books to be read for the rest of the month. I will not be traveling until I can dig myself out of this cozy mess. Please don’t send help.
Not only did I visit Montreal for Thanksgiving, last week I visited New York City for the first time since leaving at the end of March this year. It had been eight months since I was back and I had avoided it for a while, getting anxiety dreams about even thinking of going back over the summer. By the time Fall rolled around though, there were so many people that I wanted to see that it was finally time. I mean, I did live there for five years.
So I went. I visited some of my favorite people, drank delicious coffee, walked around, and bought too many books. And you know what was the craziest thing about being back, Hart Beat? That city has not changed A BIT since I left. Seriously, it kind of felt like the last eight months hadn’t happened. The thing was though, that I felt different. It was weird to be in a place that hadn’t changed when I feel like I’m in such a different, better place. Instead of feeling like I couldn’t fit into the city, it felt like the city couldn’t fit into me.
Now that I’m back I’m so happy that I can call this studio, this town, this county, my home right now. I don’t think I’ll be here forever but I do know that I’m going to milk every hour out of the Berkshires until it’s time to move on.
In other news, happy December!! It’s one of my favorite months and so, in honor of cozy time, here are a few things on my mind lately. #hyggeedition
Waiting (not so patiently) for Call Me By Your Name to come to the Triplex. I also just ordered the book to read hopefully before seeing the movie and am ashamed at home much I paid for the non-movie cover version of the book. #iamvain
I’ve been unable to stop listening to this season’s Dissect series on My Beautiful Deep Twisted Fantasy but was BLOWN AWAY by the episodes on “Devil in a New Dress” and “Runaway.” They were always my favorites on the album and now they are probably two of my favorite songs of all time.
Loving Caroline Donofrio’s (former editor of Cup of Jo) Instagram series on different “Haiku’s From Former Lovers.” It’s hard to pick a favorite but this one really got me:
While I was working on the book, a friend said to me, “You probably know what you would teach young Claire if you could, but what does young Claire have to teach you?” What she had to teach me was in those journals: the importance of love and yearning and, yes, pretentiousness things we sometimes forget about in the daily round of grown-up life.
Hi friends! Long time no talk. How are you? How’s your November going? Thoughts on daylight savings? Three weeks till Thanksgiving? I’ve been keeping a list of things I want to write to you about in my journal and the list has finally hit more than a dozen so I figured it was time to break down and say hi here. Hi.
In ye old Stockbridge not much new is happening. I’m still working on my book (!!), still working part-time at the café, and still trying to teach Tato how to play dead. Other than that, going to the movies every week, and walking around town, not much new to report. But here are a handful of things I’ve been thinking about that I thought you might like too. Per usual, each of these things could have its own post but because I’m #writingamotherfuckingbook a short shout-out, for now, will have to do.
P.S. As per photo above I did end up getting bangs. I love them and feel v. French.
I finally broke down and watched the second season of Master of None on Netflix. Three important things about it 1) I’m in love with Aziz Ansari (Aziz, if you’re reading this, give me a call). 2) I want to be/own everything that the female lead Alessandra Mastronardi is/has on the show. Viva Italia. 3) I’m shocked how much the second season parallels my romantic life as much as the first one did at the time I saw it. Attempt numero-two for Aziz to call me. Let’s make a third season together. #seewhatididthere
Listen to this song by Post Animal. I’m going to see the band this week with two of my sisters and I can’t wait to hear them play “When I Get Home” live. P.S. Steve from Stranger Things is in the band and I can’t get over him since seeing S2 of the show and reading this GQ article. #ivebeensingletoolong #mrharringtongivemeacallalsoplease
I’m learning to tolerate black coffee.You read that right, Hart Beat. This month, for reasons, unbeknownst to me, I started the Whole30 diet. What it is is pretty much cutting out anything delicious in your life. I can’t have sugar, dairy. grains, or legumes of any sort. I’m currently on day fourteen and it’s going pretty well. I don’t hate it but the one thing that I’m surprised to now like is black coffee. Who am I?
Deciding whether or not I want to order my favorite holiday candle even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. The Wassail Candle from Farmhouse Pottery in Vermont is one of my favorite things. Last year I had it in my apartment and savored every moment of the 40 hour burn time. It’s not a cheap candle but, I promise if you like the smell of pine and evergreen trees you’ll love this. An added bonus is the adorable design of the box.
Listening to a podcast about my favorite album of all time. Thanks to a recommendation from a friend I found the second season of the podcast Dissect: A Serialized Music Podcast. The entire twelve episode series is a song by song analysis of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The 2010 album is one of my favorite of all time and I love hearing each song broken down and talked about. If you like (or hate) Kanya I highly recommend.
Send me your Montreal recommendations! I’m going to the Canadian city for a quick vacation later this month and I want your suggestions! I’m so excited since the last time I went to the city was when I was ten. It’s been on my list for years and I can’t wait to explore the city. Any coffee shop, bookstores, boutiques, restaurants, bars, live music that you love would be amazing. I can’t wait to pretend I’m in Europe for a few days. (Photo via To Europe Beyond.)
A New Richard Linklater movie is coming! I heard this great interview with the director on NPR the other morning and, even though I wasn’t crazy about Boyhood, I want to see his newest. Last Flag Flying, sadly, isn’t another installment of my favorite series but it does star Brian Cranston (swoon) so at least there’s that.
I’m almost done with my sweater! I started the knitting project a year ago and I can’t believe it’s almost done. I’m thinking of holding a Drake “Hotline Bling” inspired photo shoot when I’m done. Keep an eye on Instagram later this month.
This poster from Rise + Fall. Not much more to say about it other than it’s hanging in my writing studio now and is giving me all the encouragement I need when I sit down and try to write every day.
Hi Hart Beat. How have you been lately? Me? Oh well, you know, just sitting here thinking and writing as I have been every day this month. Ha. Not. No, not even close. I’ve been struggling lately, Hart Beat. Struggling with this GD book that is pretty much begging to be written but what I just can’t seem to find the time to get done. I’ve been looking for inspiration every which way and the most helpful has come in this quote:
You climb a long ladder until you can see over the roof, or over the clouds. You are writing a book. You watch your shod feet step on each round rung, one at a time; you do not hurry and do not rest.” – Annie Dillard
You do not hurry and do not rest. That quote has been playing in my head for most days, for most of the time. You do not hurry and do not rest. The quote comes from my favorite book on writing so far Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. I feel over the moon lucky and happy to be going to a conference by Dani this weekend at Kripalu in Lenox. It’s a weekend of meditation and writing and just what I need right now. I’ve been trying to write every day but to be honest Hart Beat, in the eleven days so far this month I’ve written only four. That’s not even half. I don’t want to even think what the ratio was in September. I know it was appalling.
So, what have I been doing other than working on this book that is pretty much begging me to be written at this point? Not much more than what I wrote about in the last post/life update. Although, there has been one addition, a newfangled obsession with Paris. I know, I know, I know, let’s get more cliche right? Le sigh. I don’t know, Hart Beat, I know that Madrid is my favorite city in the world with New York coming in a close second but ever since my mom and I visited the city of lights this past April I can’t stop thinking about it and wanting to visit again (or live there? Who said that?).
What I loved about Paris was how many people my age there were there. While most of my friends lived in New York when I was there, we still didn’t see each other very often. And that was not their fault, it was mine. Life was so busy and work took up so much time. Even more, everyone lived so far apart (again partially my fault), but in Paris, all I saw at night were people in their mid-twenties and thirties out for drinks or just walks around the city. I am probably (most definitely) romanticizing it but what can I say, that’s who I am.
So, in honor of my current city muse, here are a few Paris inspired things I’ve been wanting, having, and dreaming about.
This t-shirt ^^ from the effortlessly chic French fashion brand Sézanne. Even more of a bonus they are giving it to you for FREE between now and October 17th with an order of $200 or more. Yes, please.
The dilemma I’m in right now about whether or not to get bangs. I had them at one point but then when they wouldn’t style right and I asked my Brooklyn hairdresser why she told me that I “lived too active a lifestyle for bangs.” I’m not sure if my lifestyle is any less active now but I think I want them again. See inspo photos above. Clearly, I am obsessed with Jane Burkin but please give me a break, I know you are too Hart Beat.
And finally, the new book that The Paris Review is coming out with this November. The publication may be based out of New York but they clearly have as much an affinity for the city as I do. The book, Women at Work looks inspiring and beautiful and just what we all need right now. Some of my favorite authors are included in the book and let’s just say, I am now extra excited for November to get here.
And that’s it Hart Beat, all I have to say here today. I clearly have so much more to say but I think I’m going to channel it into my book now. You can thank me later.
Oh hi there, Hart Beat. It’s been a long time. In fact, it’s been three weeks since I’ve checked up here on Hart Beat. That’s a long time especially since I thought I would write here every week or so. Shwoopsie, sorry about that my love. What have I been doing instead of sitting here, writing to you, you may ask. It turns out a lot of things and also, a lot of not things. I spent a week in D.C. and Virginia which was amazing. On top of biking 250 miles through the Virginia Blue Ridge mountain range, I got to see two of my best friends in D.C. It was overall just the trip that I needed and I am forever grateful for everyone that helped me get there.
Other than that week in D.C. what I’ve mainly been doing is sitting in this very chair, writing the book that is now 70,000 words (!!!) and working weekends at a local cafe serving leaf peepers and the like. It’s not bad Hart Beat but the other day it occurred to me that it’s been almost exactly six months since I left New York City. For someone that called that devil of a city home for five years, it’s been a hard adjustment not waking up every morning in the concrete jungle. There are so many things I miss; the shaky conductor voice on the R train, j-walking while not giving any fucks, a properly made old-fashioned, but most of the time I miss my friends, the women that I haven’t seen since I left. I’d love to visit you all soon but to be honest, I can’t go back to that place for a long time yet I think. There’s too much there that I don’t want to remember quite yet.
Anyway, on a happier and less self-reflective note, I thought I’d share some things that have genuinely brought me joy these last few weeks. The post was supposed to only be about these things but I guess I had more to say. I guess that’s life when you write for eight hours most days. I highly recommend any and all of the things on this list and would love to hear the things you’ve been loving Hart Beat. Especially happy things. We all need more of that right now.
The new Miley Cyrus album. YES, IT’S AMAZING AND DIFFERENT AND THAT’S OKAY. I especially love the song She’s Not Him and I have been listening to it in my car all week. La la la la la la la.
Re-reading one of my favorite book series. Other than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants there isn’t another book series that I love so much other than the Sloppy First/Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. If you haven’t read all five books then you should. And if you are Marcus Flutie reading this please give me a call.
Getting back into figure drawing, something I used to do in college. There’s something about tuning everything out and just drawing that brings up so many thoughts. It’s like cheap therapy. Luckily the Berks is an artsy enough place to have plenty of options.
Re-watching New Girl and trying to figure out why Shmidt isn’t considered the best character on TV right now (followed closely by Winston btw.)
Anyway, that’s it from the land of Hart Beat. I’ve got to get back to writing less instantly gratifying work.
P.S. The photo up top was taken by a good friend of mine Catherine O’Donnell. She is currently living all our best lives at culinary school in Paris and I’ve been vicariously living through her Instagram. If you like blogs, food, and Paris (come on of course you do) you should check out her site Foodstuffs. If it doesn’t make you want to up and move to Paris I don’t know what will.