Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

A few months ago I got letters from the grad programs I applied to saying I didn’t make the cut. You may remember me writing that sad post about the tears I cried and my determination to figure out a new dream/plan of action.

Some people didn’t like that I suggested you have to give up on things, but sometimes I convince myself I’m okay with failure in a desperate effort to handle the rough realization that I don’t get everything I want.

I know, #firstworldprobs.

When I heard a no from the programs, I had to tell myself I had other options – even though I knew I didn’t. My dreams hadn’t changed, but the wind in my sails was straight up stagnate (ie: the whole effing boat was sinking and my shoes were bricks).

Not getting in felt like everything I’d worked for was wrong and insignificant.

Loads of friends sent me encouraging notes to cheer me up.

Eff grad school, you don’t need it

Grad school doesn’t make you a writer

You’re still #gold

The support was incredibly sweet, but I still wasn’t okay with not getting in. I wasn’t ready to accept a no, and thinking I needed grad school to become a writer wasn’t my issue. I knew an acceptance letter from Brooklyn College didn’t mean I suddenly became a columnist for Slate or Vanity Fair, but when I got rejected I realized I wanted grad school for me – not for a job, or a future life I envisioned. I wanted it for me to selfishly keep doing what I like doing. 

And I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I decided to email all of the programs and beg for guidance.

If New York has taught me anything, it’s that I’m a VERY small fish in a VERY big pond, and for some reason that’s actually comforting when you’re asking important people for things. Maybe that’s weird, but my thought process is – These people don’t know me. Cap Green emailing them literally means nothing.

So I emailed ALL OF THEM. 

If that sounds like the most desperate thing you’ve ever heard – it is.

And it gets worse. I didn’t just write the random, no-reply email address that sent the heart crushing rejection my way. I pulled up each programs’ list of English professors from the university sites and emailed EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.

(Perks of a background in stalking/PR)

I didn’t ask them to accept me, because I really didn’t think that was a possibility. I asked for help. I told them I felt my window for grad school was closing, and I wasn’t ready to give up. I tried to keep the pleas professional, but I’m sure they sensed the tears hidden within the syntax. 

I received a few emails from professors stating I should “keep writing” and not lose hope.

Umm.. thanks?

A few weeks went by, and I received a letter from the head of English at Brooklyn College. I opened thinking – I know, I know, you said no.

I GET IT.

But that wasn’t what he wrote.  Instead, he suggested that I resubmit my application to English Literature, as he thought I’d be a ‘perfect fit’.

So I did. I gave it one more shot because I had no shred of dignity left.  

Two agonizing weeks later I got a letter in the mail saying I was in. 

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I don’t know if this is inspiring or exhausting to hear, but I guess the whole point of this post is to say –

Sometimes you do get exactly what you want. Sometimes your hard work pays off. Sometimes you get the shot you thought you deserved. 

I know it’s cliche and annoying to hear when you’ve been actively fighting for a break that won’t seem to happen, but don’t give up on what you want. Fight for it even when people (like me) tell you not to.

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I Didn’t Get into Grad School [and other failures]

Wednesday I received an email from Pratt Institute. It said something along the lines of:

Dear Cap,

NO.

Okay, they didn’t say it quite like that, but that’s what it felt like in my gut/heart/tear ducts/legs.

Pratt was supposed to be my “sure thing”. I’ve applied to a few other dream schools, but Pratt was my safety net. To be honest, I’m still really confused why I got rejected. I mean, I may be a hot mess in real life, but I look pretty dope on paper. 

I got the email mid-way through my 13 hour work day, which meant I had seven hours to somehow figure out how to fake being okay and keep my shit together. I left work around 8:45, took a 35 min train ride home, walked a mile through a dark park, opened the door to my apartment, and headed straight to my bed to cry.

This wasn’t my normal Cap Cry. This was one of those devastating cries.

The ones where you feel like your life is ruined and you’ve got no future and everything you’ve worked for has gone up in smoke and you’re trying to live a life you can’t handle and you’re about to break from exhaustion and if you have to go to one more god damn PR meeting you’re going to break down in the middle of your office like a two year old who can’t reach their goldfish.

FOR REAL. EVERYTHING SEEMED LIKE SUCH A BIG DEAL. 

I cried for a solid hour still wrapped up in my wool coat, work shoes, and dress pants on my bed. I think at one point I even screamed “I just wanna write shit that matters!” (#kanyedramatic)

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Today, I’m still sad. I woke up with a little less faith in myself, a little less pep in my step, and a very bitter heart.

I couldn’t figure out why I felt so defeated. My career is always filled with rejection. I write something, send it off, get no answer, and try again.. and again.. and again. Sometimes it pushes me to work harder – sometimes it makes me want to build a tree house in Canada and change my name to something really hippie and carefree like Margot Sunshine. (Not sure why Canada is part of the escape plan) 

The blow shouldn’t have hit me so hard. I’m actually lucky to be doing PR for a great company, but there is still a side of me that just thought I wasn’t ready to give up on the end goal.

I’d actually just asked a friend – “When do you stop trying?”

I’m still curious. When do you realize what you want to do and what you can do are not always the same thing? I thought I would never settle, and while I’m lucky to have a great job – the idea of grad school made me feel like I still had a promising future. It made me feel like I was still on the path of becoming a writer.

Now, I feel like I’m done.

I think it’s okay to accept that some things don’t work out. Sometimes life does feel unfair. Sometimes your input doesn’t necessarily match up with the output. Sometimes you have to accept failure.

I’m not suggesting you give up on your goals. Try with everything you have to get what you want.

But if there comes a time when you realize you’ve given it all you can to no avail – It doesn’t mean you won’t be happy.

It just means you have to build a new dream.

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Come at Me, Bro!

My maintenance man, the one you may remember me talking about in They Outran the Rain just kissed me, and I don’t mean in a sweet, British, double cheek way. I mean in a flirtatious, is he going to throw me back in my apartment and have his way with me way.

He bear hugged me, squeezed me in tight, and kissed me in that awkward, high cheek area near the ear.  Let me rephrase that – his sloppy lips were on my ear and he kissed repetitively until the shock from the awkward encounter finally left my body and my limbs found the strength to push him off of me.

(#sorrynotsorry)

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If you’re like Todd Akin, you may be wondering what I did to entice the maintenance man to kiss me. So here’s the low down:

I was leaving my apartment for pure barre. I was gross with no make-up on and was wearing a wool coat that fell right above my knees, an infinity scarf that ensured no skin on my décolleté was bare, and snow boots that came to my knees.  You know, obviously begging for attention.

It looked something like this…

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I’m referencing Mother Teresa – not Lady Di

The fact that I’m justifying how much I was not “asking for it” genuinely frustrates me. Because, let’s be real – even if I was dressed like Princess Di and had a little Kim K cleavage showing, I still have the right to go outside without feeling like some rando is going to find it his right to claim me as his perverted exhibition for the day.

But I guess in  2016 women still have no say in who they actually want to touch them.

I don’t know this man more than a quick “hi” and nod in the halls. We are not friends. We are barely acquaintances. Initially, I thought he was a nice guy (I say that in the most passive aggressive way possible), but now I am creeped to my core.

He violated my sense of self.  He made me suddenly question what I’d done wrong.  Had I led him on?  Had I dressed in a manner that suggested I was “that type of girl”? Did I secretly want the creepy 50 year old man to kiss me? 

Which only adds more frustration to the whole thing. 

I knew the situation was sketch when he first approached me, but when he wished me a good day and started walking in for a hug, I was left dumbfounded. I did an awkward side hug to politely suggest that I wasn’t cool with this level of intimacy, but he obviously didn’t pick up on my vibe.

Side note:  I barely even touch my loved ones and I have a weird, unrealistic fear of people touching my face. 

When he pulled me in for the main show, I was almost too naïve to pick up on what was going on. I was running through the list of ways I could escape in my mind all the while thinking – I don’t want to make him feel awkward or embarrassed.

Then it hit me, I don’t know this man well enough to give a shit about hurting his feelings.

So I used my only move, the reverse and duck, and got the hell out of the building – intent on never returning.

[insert the importance of taking a self defense class here]

I did eventually return… mostly because I pay too much in rent to afford a hideout home, but also because I always gain major girl power after I’m removed from a situation and get a chance to reflect on how I could have been more badass.

The fact that some stranger made me feel that low made my blood boil like Kanye’s does when you bring up #buttstuff. 

I don’t know how to promote girl power without being labeled as some crazy feminist, but I know I don’t feel an obligation to be polite or ladylike to anyone making gross remarks or advances towards me.


My grandmother has a story that I wish I could tell.  It’s made her the strongest, bravest, most perfect person in this world.  Her experiences were constantly being whispered in my ear as a young girl.  She would remind me to know my worth, know what I’m okay with, and never be afraid of any man – no matter how burley they are. #thankscorrine


What I’m trying to get across is that all of these weird advances from strangers I’ve been experiencing in NYC are uncomfortable and frustrating on so many levels. No one should have the power to make you fear your safety, question your sense of worth, or diminish who you are as an intelligent human.

I like feeling fierce AF, but I hate feeling as though that’s where my value lies.

Even more than that – I hate feeling like someone has the right to assume some sort of claim or power over me as a female.

Now, some girl power for your soul…

 

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One Girl’s Letter to her Dad

When I was in the 5th grade I won an essay contest for D.A.R.E.  In the essay, I had to explain my pledge to stay away from drugs.  I wrote something very cheesy and expectant for a typical elementary kid.  You know, something really thought provoking like, “drugs are bad”.

I’m pretty sure my essay would have left that “Heaven is for Real” kid in the dust though… had our sentences been juxtaposed.

The essay wasn’t life changing, but I wrote it with passion. And it wasn’t because the DARE officer showed my formative brain horror videos of drunk drivers and families abandoned by victims of drug overdoses, but because I had already witnessed that in real life. When I look back on the essay, I realize it was a pledge to you.  It was me promising I would never turn out like that, while somehow simultaneously begging you to come back. Today, I’m writing a new essay.  Not in hopes that you’ll put down your habits (I mean, I do hope that too), but in an effort to say, I get it.

Continue reading “One Girl’s Letter to her Dad”

The Etymology of Cap

I filled out one of those random Facebook questionnaires today.  I usually keep scrolling when I see those, but my stepdad specifically tagged me, which made me feel obligated to share pointless facts about my life.  The first series of questions asked three names people call me – Capper, Cap, & Doddle Bug.

I can’t really explain any of the nicknames.  I mean, I know stories of where they stemmed from, but I think they slowly became more and more elaborated over the years. So, I’ll spare you the sketchy deets. The just – some older gentleman at my childhood church was called Cap.  He and I were besties. 

My mother claims she named me Catherine Aimee (Ahhh-Meee) because she wanted me to have a “classy” name.  Turns out, as you grow up – sometimes you don’t live up to your classy name and people have to make up boyish alternatives that better suit your all beige.. all jean.. all sneaker lifestyle.

Hi Cap.

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No one ever gets the name Cap right on the first time, which means I usually have to pretend I’m cool with being called Cat or worse – Cathy.  Eventually people start catching on to the “pppp” sound, but some slow rollers are still missing it three + years down the road. #awkward 

Side note:  Close friends call me Capper, which is an instant reminder that they know EVERYTHING about me.  My heart gets warm and fuzzy when I hear Capper.

No one in NYC calls me Capper.

My mom, sister and brother are the only people allowed to call me Doodle.

I usually introduce myself as Catherine because, as I said above, no one gets the “P” on the first go.  I tend to just let people figure out Cap on their own.

What I’m trying to get at is we don’t just come out being the person we’re meant to be.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of mispronunciations to get people to understand you.  Right now, I feel like I’m living a steady “Cathy” life.  No one in NYC really catches on to my vibe, and the writing gigs are kind of none existent.  In NYC, I have to show people who Cap was before she was Cap, because they didn’t see me get here.  I’m basically starting at Catherine Aimee and trying to deconstruct from there. But I don’t have 27 years to do it.  I’ve got like 30 seconds.

ITS ROUGH Y’ALL.

I just wanna transition from Ziggy Stardust to Major Tom without the hassle.  (RIP BOWIE)

The other day I was talking with my mom about how to be who you want to be in life.  I mean, you can read lots of motivational books that may help, but what really gets a person to go out in search of themselves?

I think we’re always evolving.  Some names aren’t always as glamorous or fun as others, but they make the final you that much more unique and weird and more understood.

Here’s to making people in NYC catch that “p”.

 

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Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Eighteen

As a 27 year old at the Christmas table this year I suddenly felt old enough to give all of the annoying advice I hated hearing at 18.

I say this all the time, and I’m sure its not a novel idea – but there’s some creepy side of me that wishes I could go back to 2006 and coach myself through those younger years filled with confusion, self exploration and that rough realization that this world is HUGE and we are SMALL.

I know I can’t go back to Cap in 2006, but I’m gonna make you suffer through what I’d tell her anyway…

Just look at me as that annoying Aunt whose place card you keep moving around the table because you’re sick of hearing her talk. 

Continue reading “Five Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Eighteen”

Iron Sky


I like to people watch.  I’m that person you catch missing train stops, running into brick walls, and falling over pavement because I am awe struck in my made-up story of the unlucky individual sitting/standing/reading/sleeping beside me. I pretend as though I get people, even when I have no idea who they are or what they’ve been through.  I make up stories about where they’re headed in life, where they came from, and what they’re running from.

You could say I’m a silent narrator of the human race, but like – a really bad one. 

To some extent, I believe we all pretend to understand people.  Maybe its to relate to one another, or to feel a connection, or maybe its just so we don’t feel so distant in such an immense world.

But an individual’s true story will never fit into the template you’ve created in your mind. 

The attacks in Paris, the people of Iraq, and the Syrian refugees prove this.

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I will keep the following  as PC as possible:

There are many cultures, but only one human race.  We are all a part of this, and I hate to be the one to tell you – but to believe in equality means to believe it past the confines of your religion.  To believe in love, to believe in freedom, to believe in the right to live goes far beyond your family and friends.

It seems easy to freely state a belief in something, but to see what your belief means beyond the familiarity of your current practices can be challenging.  To have the core of your morality truly tested, you have to break away from your comfort zone.  To close borders and cast hate, but pray for peace is only creating more of a disconnect.

I will not pretend that I know the answers to the current state of our nation and the world, but I know for us to gain any true sense of unity – we have to practice a more compassionate lifestyle.  A lifestyle that seeks to understand, rather than judge.  A lifestyle that hopes to open doors instead of close them shut.

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They Outran the Rain

The 6 train is my worst enemy.

The only thing that makes the disgusting cat calls, awkward eye contact diversion, and dance routines doable for my 2.5 hour commute each day is a set of earphones and a good read.  Every once in a while, I look around the train and think…

I should probably acknowledge this person’s existence.

But just as that thought makes it’s way to my frontal lobe, someone tells me there’s a seat available on their lap, and my duty as a caring human seems to vanish.

Khaleesi, y’all

I’m not trying to insinuate that I’m irresistible in New York, I’m just letting you know the men here are bold and they all appear to be fresh out of the pen.

At least the ones in Spanish Harlem.


Side Note:

The maintenance man in my building calls me “mama” on a regular basis, and I’ve totally come to love him and his gross affection towards Mosie, which probably discounts my frustration with the aforementioned topic.  


In an effort to keep my southern hospitality thriving, I keep my head buried in books and leave earphones in even if I don’t have anything playing through them.  Keeping quiet isn’t really my style, but until I get a few dragons on my shoulder – I think it’s the safest way to travel.

My subway war strategy enables me to catch up on lots of good reads I missed out on while reading required junk in undergrad like Start Something That Matters

Currently,  I’m obsessed with B.J. Novak‘s collection of short stories, One More Thing.  And while I’m sure this probably isn’t legal – I’m about to type out my new favorite short story by Novak.

(Please don’t send me to prison.  I’m no Martha.)  #thuglyfe

P.S. There is a perk in not knowing anyone in the city – it’s that when I start tearing up from a cheesing short story, no one can judge me.  I mean, they can judge me, but I will never have to see them again… so it doesn’t really give it much credit.


They Kept Driving Faster and Outran the Rain (by B.J. Novak)

He rented a brand-new, bright yellow Ford Mustang convertible for their seven-day honeymoon in Hawaii.  It rained lightly all day, every day, for the first six days.  It wasn’t what they were expecting, but it was beautiful, and they took walks in the mist around the hotel property and looked at the flowers.

“I love the fauna here at the hotel.”

“Wait, what’s fauna?”

“Plants, flowers, right?”

“Right, but ‘flora and fauna.’ Isn’t flora flowers?”

“Don’t know.  Let’s look it up later.”

“K.”

“K.”

On the last day the rain cleared, and they decided to circle the island in the convertible.  It was beautiful, but once they got up in the mountains it started to rain again.

“Should we put the roof up?”

“Okay.  But we have to stop to put the roof up.”

“I don’t want to stop.”

“I don’t want to, either.”

Then they noticed that when they drove faster, the rain was deflected by the windshield and didn’t hit them.  As it rained harder, they just drove faster.

When they came back they told their friends about the drive they took on their last day and how it ended up being the best day of their whole trip.

Their friends insisted that rain didn’t work that way – it must have been hitting them.  All of them agreed.  One friend, who taught physics at a university, was particularly insistent.  He even drew a diagram and wouldn’t let them change the subject until they promised and swore that they understood, which they finally did.

But no matter what their friends told them, they would always know what really happened.  They just kept driving faster, and outran the rain.

[ Cap cries ] [Stranger stares]

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Big Girl Panties

Hey yo. Hey yo.  Haaay Yooo.

I feel obliged to tell y’all that Cap found her big girl panties.  They’ve been buried somewhere under lots of fear and uncertainties, but they surfaced yesterday in the form of floral prints, jazzy colors, release parties and modern décor.

I know, so stylish.

I think I’ve died and gone to grown up heaven. 



When you’re in school, no one tells you how terribly awkward and uncomfortable the limbo stage is after graduation.  It’s so easy to be a dreamer in school.  It’s easy  to think about all of the epic, meme worthy jobs and experiences you are going to have because you don’t really have to figure out how to go about getting there.

In school, I had such a wide array of plans.  Ultimately, I just wanted to be able to write, but I was game for anything.  After two months of applying for jobs, and slowly feeling like I was destined for life as a #schlump, a friend over at Southern Living gave me the best advice.

Advice so simple it became the most frustrating thing I’d ever heard.

I emailed Travis at my low point.  I believe the opening line went something like…

HOW DID YOU DO IT?!  TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.

Travis replied coolly.  “What kind of stuff do you want to write about?”

“ANYTHING!” I said.

“What do you want to write?”

(cyberspace crickets)

I was so caught up in telling people I was an English Major interested in writing that I somehow forgot to come up with a game plan.  Sure, I knew I’d kill to write short stories or screenplays… but #lyke what was I going to do for a real job?

You don’t really graduate school with a column in Vanity Fair or a book deal.

It was the getting there that was really throwing me off.   I kept taking shit jobs that weren’t getting me any closer to the dream.  It was really difficult to realize that even in limbo – you have to have a game plan.  You have to know what you have to offer, understand your interests, and find a way to make a job out of it.

But that’s really hard to grasp.

Because for four years you probably heard everyone tell you the world is your oyster, and it is.

It’s a big effing oyster that you have to figure out how to navigate.

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What I’ve learned through this limbo is that you have to be true to yourself.  You have to understand where your strengths are and you have to have a game plan while you make your way to your big game plan.  Do what you know you like, but not just frivolously.  Do it with passion and with a compass locked in on your end goal.  Take risks.  Explore your options.  But you have to eventually narrow down your choices.

Figure out how to do one thing well – not a lot of things half assed.

Be willing to step out of your comfort zone, but don’t disregard what you really want.  People are going to be eager to take advantage of your naivety.  They are going to want to cash in on your willingness to do “anything”, because they realize you are desperate.  But don’t be desperate.  I mean, you can be in real life, but not in the job world.  Know what you want, know you’re good at what you do, and write (or whatever you do) what you would want to read.

Also, never trust a man who wears a broken watch.  Just trust me on that.

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You Wild Thing

People always tell you the sky’s the limit.  I’m starting to think that notion is pretty terrifying.  Dreaming is fun, but every once in a while you realize your dreams have remained dreams for too long.

That’s where I am now.

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Truman Capote said:

“It’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”

I get that now.  Who knew a romance like Breakfast at Tiffany’s had so much relevant truth?

Sometimes I wonder if “reaching for the sky”  is just a ploy to convince us to work diligently with false hope.

You know, like one of those pyramid business schemes.

It’s like an info commercial is narrating my life.  “Keep going”, it says.  “Don’t give up, that’s right… sell another.  Invest all of your savings.  Go ahead, DIVE IN!  THE PINK CADILLAC LEVEL IS NEAR.”

But you never reach the top of the stupid pyramid.  Instead, you’re lost somewhere amongst the steep steps to success.

The only thing that makes this track feel differently, is that I actually believe in it.

The only faith I have is knowing that reaching towards something is more fun than having no aspirations.  Maybe there will never be a day when they stop being dreams.  Maybe I’ll live a life constantly wanting more – like the wild things Capote talked about.

But I don’t mind being a wild thing.

wild thing

Living in the emptiness of the sky is rough.  Still, I’d rather know what the sky feels like.  I’d rather go through the failures, the pain, the feeling of complete loneliness than live a life thinking the sky was different.

Chasing after what I want hasn’t been what I wanted.  I’ve wanted to give up everyday.  I’ve felt inadequate, I’ve felt like a shitty writer, I thought I had no vision… the list is endless.

But I still value all of those feelings.

I value wanting to give up, because it makes the not giving up feel even wilder.

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