Category Archives: true story

I Wish Someone Would Tell Me What All the Fuss is About: In Which New York City Pops My Cherry

Photo source: Travelblog.viator.com

Photo source: Travelblog.viator.com

My mom doesn’t save much from my childhood; she’s not sentimental in the slightest. Yet somehow she printed out this email, which I wrote during my first summer living in New York, and saved it. Now that I’m moving to LA, this is the perfect time to look back on my mercurial relationship with New York. I present to you my first impressions as a resident (’cause it’s not at all the same experience for a tourist). This would be much better as a dramatic reading, but use your imagination. All spelling and grammatical errors, in addition to overly emotional writing is all in tact. (Also, note the awesome email addresses.)

Subj: letter: new york city blues
Date: 6/19/02 1:59:55 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: gipsiegrl
To: Beemrldy

Ok, that’s it.  I need to vent.  This goddamn city is going to give me a heartattack.  First you think, wow people here do have manners, they are polite.  There are some areas that are so cultural and artistic and those places make you love new york.  But then, a big BUT – most people on the streets are rude, obnoxious, un-friendly, un-smiling, seemingly un-happy and all other un’-s you can think of.  Some people hold doors for you and others slam them on your face- there’s more of the latter.  So many people here have such an attitude I actually feel sorry for them underneath all my frustration.  And those that are willing to go out of their way for you, will only go ever so slightly, enough for you to think they’re decent people but not nice.  Godforbid someone has manners here!  If you have manners you’re either attracted to the person you are bestowing these good manners upon or you’re perceived as an out of towner or a push over.  Fuck that!  I know there are cities on this earth that do not have this problem.  And while new york city offers everything for everyone, it offers no welcoming hand- rather a hand reaching out for money.  And things with work are so as usual- not doing much, not learning how this magazine runs, not learning what the hell people do here, still trying to figure what I will write on my resume about my experiences here.  7 out of 10 times a day I want to cry about something- I never realized how sensitive I am until I got here and every thing and everybody makes me want to either hysterically cry or start boxing.  You can not have thin skin here and if you do you’ll grow a thick one pretty quick.  And it is sad in a way.  How can anyone be artistic or spiritual here?  Why here?!  What are people in love with here?  I doubt anything real.  Everyone revolves around they’re own world and if you’re not in their sphere, forget about getting in.  A trillion people and everyone spins in their own little orbit.  How sad!  I could move to a city with only 1,000 people and meet more people than in a city full of millions or trillions.  I wish someone would should me what the fuss is all about here in new york city.  It’s also very sad that everything I think I want to do is centered here- hell on earth.  It’s dirty and smelly even in the nice, good areas.  All this diversity and no one is diverse.  All these people to meet and no one is out-going.  Sorry this letter is so depressing but jesus!  I need to get this all out before I explode and fist fight the next person that looks at me the wrong way.  I don’t know whether to be nice or to take on a hard, unapproachable shell for the summer.  I fluctuate between the two every minute.  This place just hasn’t been my bag yet.  Still waiting.  Print this out so I can look back and read it if I ever consider this place again in my life.  I think after graduation (unless of course Rolling Stone opens their doors to me) I am moving somewhere in the south- like New Orleans or in the West like Phoenix- what a beautiful name that is for a city, with a name like that it has to be a great place.  I’m a writer and I need to thrive in my environment and this place doesn’t fit my fingers.  It’s just the wrong glove.  And I still want to be a big part of the music industry more than anything b/c I need to discover artists that are more like the greats from the 40s and 60s and 70s and stop this one way marketing big bucks corporate crap that is on the airwaves today (excluding some greats like Alicia Keys your girl founded by Clive Davis a music industry legend).  There’s no soul in music anymore, there’s no passion or spirituality, no heart-wrenching sacrifices anymore.  And that’s because, in my opinion, it’s run by new york. 

Love you,

Dara

Next up: A love letter to New York and a goodbye.

We very much were going to change the world back then.

A group of interns very ready to change the world, circa 2004.

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On Bullying, Fat Kids, and Fighting Back: It Only Takes One

old school disney pic

Me around age 9 or 10, clearly not like other kids

Recently I was invited by Huffington Post Live to talk on the subject of overweight kids, having been one myself and written about it for Babble.

The word “overweight” is so delicate, clinical. It doesn’t even begin to describe the reality of a child who lives it. The better word is fat. It’s cruel, it’s mean, it’s in your face. You can hide behind overweight; you can’t escape fat.

It was easy for me to be on camera and talk about having been overweight as a kid because people looking at me now wouldn’t necessarily think I have a problem. I went on camera and smiled; I felt confident. But then there’s this picture with Mickey. I brought it to work to show my co-workers the same week. I posted it on Facebook. When presenting the photo, I felt insecure, scared, ready for the laughs. I knew what would happen when I shared the photo — the same thing that happened when I was a kid. This time no one physically beat me or called me names, but inside I became the scared little girl awaiting judgment; waiting to be rejected based on my looks, my size. I confronted the fear and the uncomfortable feelings because that’s how fear is mitigated. And for so many years of my life I felt ashamed of my “fat kid” pictures, never wanting to share them with friends or love interests. I was ashamed of myself for years because no matter the changes on the outside, inside I’ve always been the same person. That person does not change as rapidly.

“When I ask her if she likes how she looks now, if she’s proud of what she’s accomplished, she says yes…Even so, the person she used to be still weighs on her. Tears of pain fill her eyes as she reflects on her yearlong journey. “That’s still me,” she says of her former self. “I’m not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds.” I protest that, indeed, she is different. At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past. A tear rolls down her beautiful cheek, past the glued-in feather. “Just because it’s in the past,” she says, “doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.””

This is an excerpt from a Vogue article about Dara-Lynn Weiss, who decided to put her 7-year-old on a diet and go public about it. Her memoir, The Heavy, came out in January, and she was also on the HuffPo Live panel with me. (Ironically I had already interviewed her for Babble about her experience with her daughter, which completely mirrored the situation between my mother and myself.

I empathize with Dara and Bea because my mother and I lived through the same thing, except without the glare of public criticism. I’m happy that we were given an outlet to talk about our experience. I’m proud that I shared this photo. I never fought back as a kid, so I’m doing it now. Plus, if I can’t embrace who I am, how can I expect the same of others?

Today I watched the documentary Bully and want to quote a girl named Kelby who refuses to leave her small town despite the threats and attacks made upon her for being a lesbian:

“All it takes is for one person to stand up. You’re not just standing up for you , you’re standing up for all the kids who go through this every single day.”

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