Sunrise Sky

Posted by:brittan on Aug - 4 - 2013 - Filed under: Brooklyn,City Life,fear,hope,inspirational,life changes,love,moving,New York City,women -


Brooklyn in the Morning
How does one accurately describe waking up to witness the sun rising over the Williamsburg Bridge, seen though floor-to-ceiling windows,while lying in a king-sized bed on the 17th floor?

Because seeing the sun rise is surprisingly not just about the colors, it’s more about the emotions of the visible, consistent and irrepressible advancement of the Earth. Even on it’s coldest, shortest and cloudiest days. There is something about the effortless perfection in the exact slow and steady motion, which turns every single dark night into an unmarked day that frustrates me when equipped only with words to describe it.

Yet it’s one of the only things I’ve been able to think of every time I sit down to write. The perversions of my own perceived standards of perfection have prevented me from even attempting to nail it down.

Written words remove my chance to take them back once they are out into the minds, and freewheeling interpretations, of the people who read them.

The impossible task of capturing the force that powers the stubborn and undeniable progression of a planet, and a person, into a new age,  has kept me from writing anything. For a year. Because bearing witness to the inevitable meter-measured movement of every single thing goes so far beyond the word “lovely”, or “beautiful” or any other word overused to the point of meaninglessness, to describe something so ordinary and profound.

I need a word that captures the subtle glory in the grand simplicity of the profound juxtaposition of insignificance and omnipotence in witnessing the sun…rise.Morning in BK I need hand motions, facial expressions, eye contact and tone of voice. I need to take the awe that punches me in the back of the throat and fills my eyes with tears and wrap it around you till you have it too.

My move to a new state has relocated my frame of reference and I don’t always know where I am. Add that to a tendency to lose my keys in a city where doors are locked tightly, elevators are cramped, and stairways are small and every day holds the potential to turn into a place I have never been.

I’ve called NYC home for a year & a half and some change. Change is constant and impossible to count quickly enough so I’ve learned to survive by tipping generously. And by realizing that the sun rises and sets daily, no matter what the day brings.

At the beginning and end of each brand new day, I get to be home in the arms of the city of my current cohabitation.  Falling asleep to the city’s twinkling lights that beat like the warm heart tucked into the chest where I lay my head every night, in a king-sized bed, on the 17th floor.

The best word I can use to describe this is the most overused, underrated word in the English language. Love.

View of Brooklyn at night.

Shout out to Jonathon Colman & Marja Huhta. Thanks for the encouragement and best of luck in your next chapter.

 

 

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Seven Days of Summer Subway Scenery

Posted by:brittan on Jul - 31 - 2012 - Filed under: Brooklyn,City Life,moving,New York City,Public Transportation,Subway,Traveling -

Saturday 

I sit on the Subway and stare at the state of the people standing. Some city things I still fail to consider, like how the silk of this slip dress would slide soundlessly on smooth silent seats of plastic at every stop. Slamming me, gracelessly, into the spacey sadness of the unoccupied eyes in the occupied seat next to me as he’s repeatedly knocked into by pre-occupied me.

Subway Stop

Sunday

Suits, sweatpants, sneakers, strollers, skirts and shopping bags sweat through the slow pace of Sunday Subway schedules in the summer.  Man pats the perspiration trickling alongside the tattooed tears on his face with a white towel. Holds his daughter’s tiny pink painted fingers with the other while she clutches a blue birthday balloon.

Doors to a Subway Car

Monday

Make-up-less mom moves mountains to maneuver multiple children amongst the mob of Manhattan-bound masses like me this morning.  Heading to daycare or day camp, to daydreaming about having a nanny like that one she stares at longingly across the center of the train. Uniformed nanny holds the uniform hand of the uniformed child who sits soundlessly until his stop.

Tuesday

Hipster with purple plastic peepers, menswear inspired shoes, destroyed 80’s denim jeans and a cantankerous cloth bag that’s maliciously swinging into heads, hips, arms and a face as she makes her mindless mark amongst the unfortunate passengers she’s standing with. No smiles or apologies just a grimacing gaze at the man in the suit stepping into the train on the Lower East Side.

Advertisement in SubwayWednesday

Chaotic crowded train containing cool kids with Cookie Monster shoes and a giant white baby in a tiny Baby Bjorn with a tiny baby daddy who stands oblivious to his son’s fascination with touching the tiny intricate braids of the beautiful black barista seated within the reach of his giant baby hands. She sits and smiles causing him to seek the source of such radiation and reciprocate by reaching for her hand that he holds till High Street.

Thursday

Heat hinders my ability to see subtle signs of something foul in the car I choose as my chariot on the 2 train today. Shoeless and silent a man with his own bench and his own stench creates camaraderie among the rest of the riders. Realizing too late my measured movement to the middle of the car is a misguided move he leaps up and begins to make frantic laps of the car. Working to warn us in whispers of those that will drain our blood until he catches his reflection in the door and dances the robot for himself on repeat until I reach Penn Station.

Brooklyn Borough Hall

Friday

Crowded chaos in close proximity as those of us in a rush head home. Too-tight jeans guy finds a too-tight spot to stand holding the rail right over my head as I sit. The train clears yet he continues to stay near, and jut his tiny jeans in my too-close face. I attempt a nonchalant turn of my head to the left pretending not to notice. My eyes connect with the wiggling and quietly giggling woman next to me.  We both spend the next stop strategically avoiding his thrusty too-tight jeans guy sway.

Subway Sign

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Life is a Highway

Posted by:brittan on Apr - 8 - 2012 - Filed under: driving,life changes,moving -

And I am now a pedestrian. Or a passenger.

My recent trip back to Indianapolis was my first since I moved to NYC. Traveling back to Indy steered me down all kinds of memory lanes.

I’d like to focus on the turning lane for the purpose of this post.

Getting into my car, and driving down familiar streets after not driving for four months reminded me of my rocky and pot-holed relationship with driving. I actually hate it.

It never occurred to me that driving would not be something I was good at doing. Every person I knew over the age of 15 (even those Amish neighbors of mine) could drive, how hard could it be?

It all started in Driver’s Ed. I believe I got a C, one of my worst grades ever and therefore one of the classes I dreaded the most. My high school’s Driver’s Ed car was a stick shift which I managed to not learn how to drive, despite passing the class. My driving reports would contain notes like “almost got us hit by a semi due to failure to check blind spot” and “needs to understand right-of-way on left turns”.

My Driver’s Ed teacher (who’s identity I shall protect so as not to incriminate in this post as he did his best to teach me) granted me the coveted waiver that allowed me to bypass the driving test at the DMV so I only had to pass the written test to get my license. Usually this is reward given to good drivers. I was waived because “I’m afraid if you have to take the driving test, you’ll never get your license, I don’t want to do that to you.”

I’m positive he was right. In fact, I’m not 100% sure I could pass one now despite 15 years of driving. Four-way stops and left turns are not my thing.

Mr. Puby's Twin

My first ever car came from my father. A $300, 1993 Plymouth Colt that looked like a red roller-skate with a bajillion miles on it. It made a loud sckreechy-squealy noise sporadically when it rained. This car was affectionately referred to as “Mr. Puby” by my friends and me due to the embarrassment of driving while it was squeal-eak-eeching being equal to that of the humiliation suffered during of puberty.

***Sidenote: My father deserves the blame/credit for that analogy. To him nothing is more embarrassing or hilarious than puberty so many things have become “pubic” situations I found this hilarious as a teenager and actually still do despite how gross it sounds.***

So yeah, Mr. Puby. My dad mistakenly assumed I could drive a stick shift because I’d gotten my license and my driver’s ed car was manual. For about the first month, I let my friends drive me around in my car because I couldn’t drive it without a panic attack at four-way stops where all the pressure not to stall was more than I could handle. I did quickly master the radio so remained in control of the soundtrack to which we rolled.

My dad eventually noticed that I wasn’t driving my car and taught me how to drive a stick, something I did end up mastering and am still good. This skill was born mostly out of necessity to accommodate the deteriorating transmission of Mr. Puby and learn to shift from first to third to fifth gear as they began to blow out. I also blew out the speakers. And may or may not have blown through stop signs on back country roads while honking my horn and flashing my headlights when late for curfew.

When the transmission finally quit on me, Mr. Puby went where a lot of Hoosier cars go to die… a trailer park. My dad had some mechanic friends operating out of their home who he lovingly called the “Beverlies” as in the Beverly Hillbillies… They tried to find junkyard parts… or parts to cars in their yard (aka car graveyard), to keep ol’ Puby on the road but in the end, it was his time.

My mom got me my next car, a shiny bright blue and bubbly 1997 Neon. The Neon had a TAPE deck and air conditioning.

The Bambi Slayer's Cousin

I felt fancy. A lot of Destiny’s Child, Biggie Smalls, Puff Daddy and Mase were bumped in this car with a side of Wu-tang and Tupac. This vehicle only received a name posthumously because in life it was mild but when it went out, it went out hardcore.

This car shall be called the Bambi-Killer. I was returning to college one night, again on back country roads. Speeding as usual, with the windows rolled down and the stereo blasting 112. I found myself facing a doe and it’s fawn seconds before I ended their lives with the Bambi-Slayer. I ended up in a ditch, my car filling with water, my airbags smacking me in the face, and crawling out of the window of my car for the last time.

The Oil-Guzzzzzlah

This time my dad went to a car auction with the $1,000 I managed to scrape together and got me a sexy (or so I thought at the time) little black Saturn Coupe. WITH a CD player I might add (the removable face didn’t work but it still played CD’s so that counted). This car had great gas mileage but horrible motor oil mileage. It could’ve been considered a dude-magnet if I didn’t mind having my intelligence questioned by a different guy at the gas station every time I pulled in to fill up and threw a quart or two of oil in the engine without checking it. They would always tell me there was no way my car needed that much oil, I must need to learn how to check my oil. The poor guy would then check my oil, realize it was as empty as my gas tank, and look at me like “uh, you’re car is messed up sweet cheeks”. Duh.

So I decided I was an adult and I was going to go to a dealership and buy a car by myself. It wasn’t one of my best financial decisions, I had no clue what I was doing and was not the savvy saleswomen I ended up becoming so I fell for every trick in the book.

I purchased a with a car that had tinted windows, a moon roof, leather seats and power windows. I thought my 2000

Hoopty from her good side...Grand Prix GT was really classy.Too bad it was like a huge boat that I was terrible at driving. And the (drug-dealer) tint was (turns out) illegally dark and impossible to see through at night.

Yet this was the car I held onto the longest. I was so proud of myself when I paid that thing off that I rode it into the ground. I hit two parked cars, rear-ended someone while talking on my cell phone, blew the speakers out, got pulled over for the tint three times, and let a homeless guy fix a dent in the parking lot of a grocery store for $50 and lunch at McDonalds. I repainted it, guessed at my fuel levels when the gas gauge stopped working and was the sole person who knew the trick to getting the keys out of the ignition… most of the time.  I had a friend-of-a-friend slap some junkyard parts in her to hold the old’ gal together for as long as I could hold out.

What’s great about this car is that by this time in my life my financial means, my career, my house, my wardrobe, all the trappings of success and adulthood I possessed would’ve lead you to believe I drove a much nicer car. But nope, I would strut out after a client meeting in my suit and heels to my big ol’ jalopy and hoped it would start. And that no one was looking out the window or needed me to drive to lunch.

Sad to see it go... 

Until last summer. I agonized over the decision to buy a new car. I didn’t want to make a bad decision so I avoided it until the ol’ hoopty finally gave out on me. I wanted a car that was easy to drive, reliable but cool — damn it! I wanted an understated but nice car. So I researched cars, sought top advice from savvy car-buyers on how to negotiate, researched percentage rates and decided on a 2009 Acura TSX.

Then I decided to move to New York City 3 months later just to spite myself.

So, during my trip to Indy I cut the last tie to my former suburban life- I sold my car. The car I FINALLY treated myself to after that long history of sloppy –jalopy-hunky-junky-rinky-dink-clunker-oil-burning-pubic-squeaking-creaking-deer-slaying beasts. I sold my grown and sexy car.

This means I am serious about my NYC life. This is the first time I have been carless since the age of 16.

My new ride.

This also means the streets are safer. You’re welcome.

Life is a highway, a bi-way, a runway, and a cobblestone road. It’s also a subway, an elevator and a sidewalk.

So I may not be driving, but I plan to travel further than ever, in ways I never considered.

 

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWCwc1_sYMY

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Life is Scary

Posted by:brittan on Mar - 7 - 2012 - Filed under: fear,hope,inspirational,life changes,self confidence -

They say there is nothing to fear but fear itself. I agree. I also think it’s worth acknowledging that in real, grown-up, adult life… seriously scary shit happens. I would venture to say that the majority of what we fear in life is not the actual scary shit though…

Three years ago, a 26-year-old colleague and friend with an inclusive and infectious laugh, and huge beautiful blue eyes, didn’t wake up one Tuesday morning in February. Her funeral was on Valentine’s Day and her husband, who was her high school sweetheart, bought her roses for the last time and buried them with his love. Death parted them much sooner than any young couple ever considers when walking down the aisle and taking those vows.

I’m embarrassed when I am honest about how many  Valentine’s Days prior to that one I’d spent, like a lot of other women, succumbing to the cultivation of the expectation of unnecessarily grand gestures on this day.  Usually leaving me unnecessarily disappointed. Fearing, and typically realizing, disappointment on the same day, in some form, year after year.

This past summer my older sister gave birth to her second child.  She and my brother-in-law already have one child, and like many young families, they decided to expand theirs and make her a big sister. The day they found out they were expecting a boy, they were also told he had a very serious heart defect. Every day for the rest of her pregnancy my sister walked around knowing she was carrying a child with a low chance of survival and a long road ahead of him. My nephew passed away after eight hard fought days leaving my sister to return home to an empty blue nursery with a heartbreakingly tiny casket.

At the time I was living alone in a house much bigger than I needed. I had four empty bedrooms and rarely ventured to the second floor. Scared of empty rooms that no amount of furniture or redecorating could ever fill. Afraid that the seemingly endless days of coming home to myself, my thoughts and my perceived failures was the punishment I deserved for my imperfections.

That same summer, I attended a funeral full of uplifting gospel music about joy, faith and love. Planned by the man it was for, it took place shortly after his 30th birthday. Some chest pain after a pick-up basketball game less then two years prior led to the discovery of cancer. His wife was early in the pregnancy of their second baby together, and although he fought as hard as he could, there are two little girls who will grow up flashing the same smile as a father they didn’t get to know. His young wife and their tiny daughters stood at his casket and comforted everyone else.

I spent so much of that year angry, afraid and feeling sorry for myself. Working constantly, I stressed about contracts and quotas and quarters. The quality of my life was quantifiable to me at the time because I got it into my head that  dollars would bring the change I needed. I didn’t realize how mindlessly I was capable of passionately throwing myself into everything I was doing just to fulfill the need to throw something at the discomfort I was feeling and fearing.

The primary function of fear is to aid survival. In tougher times this translated to an instinctual avoidance of physical pain. As humans we are wired to fight or take flight to stay alive. But sometimes we don’t stay alive. And sometimes fear becomes so powerful it’s immobilizing. Or insanely circular. As a true lover of technology I can appreciate the purpose of an application that does not offer seamless integration with the platforms we use to communicate today. I can also identify when it’s time to  move on to one that has emerged as more intuitive technology in the context of what we need to survice and thrive today.

Examining the petty, prevalent anxieties I have battled at different points in my life through this lens revealed them to be frivolous, self-absorbed and self-indulgent.

Fear is to be feared when it becomes an omni-present and dominating force in our lives , unanswered by hope or faith of any kind, in any thing. When it keeps us in one place, in one time, prevents us from stretching out and growing. Of viewing something from many different angles over time, it is a threat to our survival.

I now live so close to the Brooklyn Bridge that I can walk across it from the 9/11 Memorial and it will take me home. I did not live in New York City on the morning that people peered across this very Bridge into the City to see the Towers coming down. I cannot even fathom what that must’ve looked like from where I stand now. Probably the end of the world.

And yet, New Yorkers still ride the train to work, still sell meat on the street, still take elevators to offices in skyscrapers. Because one unexpected and really bad day, one extremely horific tragedy will change you  but

it doesn’t mean we should live our daily lives as if every day is a tragedy.

Among other places, I draw (with gratitude and humility) from the resiliency and honesty of the people of New York City for the continued encouragement needed to reject living life in the confines of fear.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMJJHoqKxDM&feature=colike

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Life is Hearty

Posted by:brittan on Feb - 20 - 2012 - Filed under: life changes,moving -

They say home is where the heart is, so where do you go when you lose your heart? If your heart is broken, do you have to stay in a broken home? The past year of my life put me in the position to find out.

Let me explain. Until September 15th, 2011, I lived in Fishers, Indiana, A family oriented, quiet little suburb of Indianapolis, full of kids, bikes, dogs, parks, churches, chain restaurants, nice people and good schools.

House in Fishers Indiana.

I bought this house when I was 26 years old. One of my goals in life at the time was to provide myself a home that was stable, consistent and mine. I felt I was an adult and it was a responsible thing to do. I had a good job and everyone I worked with was buying a house and talking about investing in property.  So I did my homework and some house shopping and ended up here.

Owning this house did not create the home, or life I was hoping for or planning to have. In fact, during the four years I lived in this house absolutely nothing I did went well or according to any plan. Pretty much everything turned to shit, to put it eloquently.

So I began to resent the house. Looking back I actually think the resentment started the day I got the keys and walked into my big new responsibility. It was so empty and my attempts to fill it up and make it nice were fruitless failures. In the Fall of 2010 I finally decided let go of my pride and make some moves. I put it up for sale.

Turns out my good investment in 2007 was a pain in the ass to get rid of in 2011. Unshakeable in my dedication to shed the suburban subdivision lifestyle, I re-carpeted, re-roofed, re-painted, re-landscaped and removed any personal traces of life from the house to make it sale ready. Enduring a constant stream of strangers and curious neighbors traipsing through my always clean, unlived in home, I was undeterred and undiscouragable.

Sold Sign

So one year, 97 total showings, four price-reductions, three offers and one 47’ flat screen TV later, it was sold. Although it felt more like I paid someone to take it away. My heart was nowhere near this house, it did not feel like a home and I was relieved to leave it behind.

The problem I discovered in the month it took to finalize the closing on the sale was that I hadn’t put that much thought into where I wanted to go next, just that I didn’t want to be where I was. Turns out that was not the house’s fault, it was mine. It’s far too easy to focus on the things in life that make us unhappy. I filled a lot of time and put a lot of effort into ridding my life of unhappiness. Only to find my life empty. Not being unhappy does not necessarily equal happy by default, who knew?

It was time to passionately pursue joy and not just avoid pain by seeking stability. I tried that tactic, it didn’t work but it did teach me the huge, yet seemingly subtle difference between the two concepts.

So, I decided to rent a funky little house with a friend in the hipsterville of Indianapolis, South Broadripple. It was trendy, cheap and a completely different vibe than family-friendly SoBro Hipster CribFishers. I gave myself the length of the lease to figure out what I wanted to do next.

The decisions had been made, moves were in motion but life doesn’t stop and it definitely doesn’t go according to plan in any experience I’ve had trying to force it to.  The week I was moving to my new apartment and closing on the sale of my house, I had to head to NYC to attend a conference for work. I was not happy with the horrible timing of this trip, It was absolutely the last thing I felt like doing. Exhausted from moving, emotionally spent, stressed and freaking out a little about the lack of big picture direction in my life, I had no time or energy for NYC.

You know where this is going.

Horrible timing turned out to be perfect timing. I arrived feeling lost and focusing on the final leg of a period of loss in my life. However, all I’d really lost was hope and that was what I rediscovered during this trip. I returned to Indianapolis after traveling feeling light, free, excited and a little crazy. For the first time ever, I knew with confidence where my new home would be.

View from Downtown Brooklyn.

Ultimately trying to find and define home for myself taught me that you can lose yourself, but not your heart. Your heart is in your chest, on the left side, steadily pumping to circulate your blood throughout your body to keep you alive and keep things moving, just like it’s supposed to.  Home is where you are, and a broken home does not have to break you. When something breaks, it needs to heal. It needs repair.

My heart, like many, has continued beating after taking a beating because it’s a professional heart and it’s doing a good job despite what I’ve put it through.

Three and a half months after that business trip and this is the view from my apartment-my home, in Downtown Brooklyn.

The story of how that came to be is a good one. It’s a story about rediscovering love in many forms. It will get its own post.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EIeUlvHAiM

 

 

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Life Is Hairy

Posted by:brittan on Feb - 13 - 2012 - Filed under: hair,self-esteem,women -

They say life is hairy. I think I agree except I am not really sure what that means or where I first heard it now that I think about it…

I am however, confident that a life-long obsession with hair, two parents in the business and the view-blocking ability of my ‘do qualifies me for staking a confident claim in my life being of a particularly hairy nature. Let’s review my most recent salon experience, which also happened to be my first trip to a NYC house of beauty…

For once I didn’t go looking for a salon to magically transform me into someone with suddenly cooperative hair. I also didn’t go in with a list of demands and expectations including (but not limited to) threatening the life of anyone who tried to chop my hard-won inches off, give me an updo with 3,000 bobby pins and a shellac finish or make my hair so straight I walked out feeling like a bobble head – Till it rained.

Being a benevolent Hair Queen, I am that girl that ends up showing my stylists my own methods of curl containment.  Particularly when I found myself in the chair of someone looking visibly squeamish at the thought of getting a comb through my hair.

As a former straight up, straight hair evangelist, my bag of hair tricks has evolved over the years. Some classics include scalp-scalding chemical treatments, a clothing iron (and an ironing board) and a full-sized hood dryer in my house.

My reputation for hair straightening abilities preceded me. My girlfriends and co-workers of every race would come to me for advice. I spread the good word of hair control to all of my curly friends.

Like most people, when faced with the big 3-0 I started freaking out about…everything. Nothing about my life was recognizable. I looked in the mirror and saw a hard working stranger engaged in a long, gruesome, tiring and unwinnable battle with herself.

So I surrendered. I don’t ever remember loving my hair. It had been 15 years since I had just left it alone and gave it the freedom to be. Freeing my hair freed me.

Because in NYC anything is possible and everything exists, I found a salon entirely focused on curly hair love when I moved here a couple of months ago. A magical place that doesn’t claim to be multi-cultural but boasts singular focus; curls.

Women tend to walk into salons with hope.  I didn’t walk into this salon. I was ushered in by the doorman. He took one look at me and knew exactly where I was going. “Downstairs to the right.”

I entered a place of understanding and a room full of curls, kinks, and waves in all shades of gray, ginger, brown, black, blonde and blue. Buoyant, boinging, bouncing and billowing beauty. So much diversity, yet one common theme: self-acceptance. It was magical. I belonged.

A fellow client waiting with me asked “is this your first time?”

I told her I was new to town and only recently learned of the existence of such a place.

She assured me I’d found a new home.

These stylists were fearless when faced with my tangles. They taught me tips and showed me how to show love to my tresses. Every product, every tool designed to set my hair up to lovingly do its own thing.

So yes, my life is hairy. And big. And bold. And unruly.  And beautiful. Thank God.

And no, this blog will not only be about hair.

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About Us

Brittan Bright is the curly-haired and curious bold bouncer from Naptown to Brooklyn. She's spicy, sassy and inspired by: fun, feng shui, change, challenges, yogis, music, love & the world wide web. Get in touch!