Going Off the Grid

Going off the grid is a desire many people possess, but never devote themselves to doing. I, too, sometimes envision myself free from the toxicities that join my phone. In fact, those cravings have manifested in my dreams.

Last summer, I went somewhat silent. After addressing some demanding affairs the previous spring, I decided to remove myself temporarily from social media, and essentially, my phone for the summer. In order to maintain my relationships, I opened it every Sunday, but no other instances. That way, I could focus on what I did during the week, rather than being preoccupied with the lives of the people I know.

This year, on the other hand, I determined to alter my status on behalf of a few people who live far from me. I did it because I felt I could benefit more from abandoning my society for a while, but this year, I stand in a different place where I would not advance as much off the grid. Every so often, I find myself in a situation in which muting the chatter can bring a novel sense of peace to my being.

The exchange of letters was how my close friends caught what I was up to. I collected addresses, located my Kate Spade stationary, and inscribed everything I did not want to say in an impersonal text. I found that through snail mail, I really considered what I wanted to say more than I do via text message. We often disclose too much since texting is so straightforward, but scribed communication boils thoughts down to their core. You’re not going to assert impulsive claims you don’t really mean if you’re physically writing them on paper, placing the paper in an envelope, sealing the envelope, addressing it, stamping it, and situating it in the mailbox, are you?

Something about handwriting a postcard or acknowledgement has always felt personal. Recently, despite my on-grid status, I have been composing letters to one person. Unfortunately, international snail mail is exceptionally delayed, but the everything I reveal in those letters is pure. Sometimes that purity and truth is forfeited in a text. Though I use my phone to correspond, nothing surpasses the delivery of a handwritten letter that you can reread and preserve; it’s like a relic. A letter is a memory that you can hold, which has become quite overlooked.

I urge others to let go of their connections to technology, whether it is for the day, a vacation, or a summer. It allows me to disregard my concerns and fixate on the positives present in wherever I am. Additionally, I promote the script of letters on paper; it’s more meaningful than a quick text and can enrich the dialogue in relationships of great distance. For those who aspire to tackle a stilled lifestyle, I encourage you to.

Happy writing!

Peace,

– Ali

Normalities

I have always been more curious and inquisitive than other girls, and that has set me apart from my cohorts everywhere. In fact, this drove me to the point of not particularly belonging in any group in any of the societies I am a part of. Though I always had appropriate components such as manner and affluence, I always possessed characteristics that cast me to the fringe of each crowd. To those who remain in the outskirts of my mind and life, this was unforeseen. This was due to the withholding of genuine factors of my being.

Recently, I began to resent the features that were forcefully shared among everyone just so they could become duplicates of each other. I intentionally dodge those characteristics in order to keep my originality. Yes, I have medical complications. Yes, my parents are very, very divorced. Yes, I dress like a modern Grace Kelly golfing on Nantucket in June. All of these things separate me from other people, but I cherish them because they do. Having people point out my differences, not necessarily negatively, has highlighted the question, what is normal?

Parts of this week have been offbeat, but the change of pace has allowed me to see something I had never recognized before. It’s transitioning periods that allow us to notice the contrasts in our lives, and leaving my cycle in Buzzards Bay for a few days has already. As I stated in one of my previous posts, I have battled health complications for quite some time, for which I visited my doctors in Boston.

That has disconnected me from others in ways I cannot describe. During my period of frustration following my appointments, I began to think about why I am like this. Going to a place where I discuss my distinctions only accentuated them for me.

Following this, I drove to my home in Connecticut. Having just considered the components of myself that make me different, I felt out of place in the spiritless suburban neighborhood I call home. Devonwood, where I spent my childhood, is everything that I look like I belong in, and everything that I am not. While I was in this unembellished, affluent neighborhood, I realized how much I would abhor being normal.

Sometimes we need to leave the pockets where we fit in order to recognize what makes us contrasting. I began to lose my sense of uniqueness in a place where I could easily exist. Leaving those havens in which we click allows us to see who we really are, and even become reformed. I cherish travel because it moves us to acknowledge the components of ourselves that speak to our cultures, and the ones that are unique to us. Maybe those differences that are unlike those you associate with could be manifested in a culture besides your own. 

Peace,

Ali

Balance

The yin and yang represent the shadows and the illumination. Darkness and light together translate to balance. Having both the good and the bad in one domain generates harmony between the two. This is a concept that has taken me years of meditation to manifest into my life, and it finally translated into my mind. However, it was not through my zen practices that I found this to be accurate; I was beachcombing.

As I do daily, I was sauntering on the sand beyond the yard of my summer home in Buzzards Bay. Gathering my aquamarine and foggy ivory sea glass from the sand, I carried my collection in one hand and reached with the other. Drawing a piece from the sand, a fragment from my hand slipped out next to the sliver of glass I was acquiring. Looking at the two pieces side by side, I realized that if I had not dropped one piece, I would not have come across the other.

Recently, one of my most tiresome battles has been acknowledging the good in the bad. My sisters and my lives have been record breaking arduous for any teenager in America. I have no doubt that what has kept me afloat during these calamities has been my ability to find luster in a world of darkness. That is what the yin and the yang depict; the piece of light in the darkness, the piece of darkness in the light.

Shedding the piece of sea glass exhibited that losing or letting go of something will lead to something else, and that relying on it to always be good is an unstable behavior. To be genuinely happy, we need balance, but beyond that, we need to dwell on the blessings that harmonize with the curses. 

Peace,

Ali

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Being Gluten Free

The gluten free diet has been a popular and well known solution for weight loss and well being for a few years. However, it has negative connotations, and those who take part in it are often ridiculed for it, including myself. I back the gluten free life whether it is by choice or not because it brings awareness to what we can eat, but there are negative factors as well. I’m sure that half of my readers have considered becoming gluten free, but those people should understand the hostility they unintentionally bring to the lifestyle.

Though many assume that I am gluten free by choice, I suffer from Celiac Disease for which I maintain a gluten free diet. Celiac is a medical condition with no cure, different from a gluten allergy, in which gluten mutilates the intestines and blockades nutrients from being blotted. Essentially, until diagnosis, the patient is slowly nearing the destruction of her GI tract and death. The only current solution to Celiac Disease is a gluten free diet, but many other victims of Celiac suffer from people’s prejudice about the diet. These are a few things I have to say about it.

Despite the diet, Celiacs still endure strain and agony regularly. I go in and out of month long phases in which I cannot eat without misery and sickness. In addition to weathering that, I also face the sporadic pain that all undergoing Celiac Disease cope with, not to mention the other medical conditions Celiac can bring upon its victims. A concerning percent of those with the condition develop related medical conditions, myself included. I could go on about the days spent in hospitals, and dinners with no food. This has been one of the most difficult adjustments I have made to my life, and I wish for that to be recognized.

Celiacs have benefitted from the fad of the gluten free diet; we have more options. However, I cannot verbalize how many times I have been sneered at for my dietary necessities. I see or hear gluten free quips several times a week. When I began my diet five years ago, I seeing those jokes made me feel recognized and sanctioned, but with time, that evolved into rancor. The behaviors have become an ongoing joke that people are constantly alluding to that undermines those who are gluten free for medical reasons.

For those who participate in the jesting, remember this. For those who are gluten free by choice, keep it simple.

Peace

Ali

Confidence

One of the tasks I have struggled with most is determining a reason for my desires and objectives. Who is it to impress, what is it for? When my relatives would urge me to lose weight by working out, it lessened my inclination to exercise despite my appreciation for it because I opposed the way they thrusted it upon me. In fact, it just installed body insecurity within me that I still haven’t shaken. Lindsey Vonn’s book, Strong Is the New Beautiful,  highlighted the importance of achieving your aspirations for yourself. She emphasized how to mute the chatter of others, and to keep striving if it is what you desire. This resonated with me because not only did one of my role models have body image uncertainty too, but she described how she disregarded it and focused on what she coveted for herself.

Recently, I grasped how to neglect their expectations for me and to flourish in my yoga and dryland training. However, those are the more docile desires and aspirations I harbor. Writing, on the other hand, has remained relatively hushed by me. Outside of the WordPress community, I have shared my work with very few people. Two of my pieces are being published in Twain Clothier’s literature gallery, but still, I have dozens of poems only my eyes have graced.

I am confident that I write for only myself, but I was apprehensive about sharing my work with people besides other bloggers. Now, recognizing that I have learned to maintain Lindsey Vonn’s ideals in my compositions, I am prepared to publicize them. For those who have faced the same internal conflicts as I, remember who you’re doing it for. If it is for yourself, it will feel right. This has been a turning point for me, and I am satisfied with my work because it is who I am, and no one can halt that now. I have found a way to be happy with my endeavors, and my body.

Peace xxx Ali

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Keeping A Journal

 

Nearly everyone attempts to maintain a journal, but few succeed. Journaling is a brutal game in which the weak are eliminated promptly, but those who persevere flourish in keeping a chronicle experience mental benefits throughout their lives.

As a religious journalist for three years, I urge others to surpass the desires to surrender, because there are profuse reasons to write. Having been in the place of a half committed journalist once, I comprehend the endeavor of maintaining motivation to continue. I hope the reasons below possess readers to start as well and my constancy in writing will stir ambition in others.

 

  • It’s Just For You

Three years of saturated books that were once barren diaries. I realized recently that I do not care whether or not others scan my journals because they are who I am, and they are the elements of me that I cannot express when interacting with people regularly. Yes, they withhold secrets between the two covers, but I know that one day, I will be ready to share those secrets with the people around me. The realities documented in there are disguised in a Lilly Pulitzer or monogrammed cover. Perhaps, I even desire to, but I am too cowardly to verbalize them. Until the event in which I am fearless sharing the content, the journals are books that were written by and for myself.

  • A Memoir

Something that I am confident that I will do one day is compose a memoir, which is part of why I am so rigid about writing entries regularly. At the end of my life, my journals will serve as a documentation of everything I underwent, and the lessons I learned.

Although I have considered that they will be a chronicle of my life, I relish recollecting my past with those journals. To have my mental growth laid out visually is an incredible thing to see. Recognizing that I am now more mature than I was a year ago is something that is very special, and more rare than it should be.

  • Process Your Thoughts

For the writers reading this, keeping a journal has been the most influential aspect of my ideas for what I write about. Going back into an old diary is like doing research on yourself, and you can stand in the position you were when you wrote the entry. We often lose sight of the trivial memories that we never reminisce about, but the simplicity of those times can be poetic on their own, and with a journal, the ability to do that is granted.

 

I hope that this can speak to those who either strained while attempting to write consistently, or never pursued it. For those who have succeeded, I encourage you to circulate the importance of journaling, whatever that may be for you. For those who have not, consider my statements, and I wish you the best of luck!

 – Alexandra

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Backyard

The village is piped with hydrangeas, accompanied by bursts of color in American flags lining the street, and the black lab sprawled out on the sidewalk at the corner. High Street is cloaked in a canopy of trees, leaving a blanket of shadows with stains of sunlight that seep through the leaves. The stretch of road is hushed in the mornings. Ricketson’s Point runs parallel to High Street and the coastline on either side, and can be accessed through my footpath nestled in the forest behind my home.

 

This place is truly beautiful in its simplicity; a textbook New England summer town. Each June, my visions of Padanaram Harbor become more refined, the bay more spirited, the yard more opulent. When I take the right onto the silver cobblestones of the entrance for the first time in months, my stomach swells with elation. On the evening of June 4, I arrived at the estate. The vim of the sky was muted by clouds, and the atmosphere saturated with rain. It felt that my oasis had been diminished, and I feared that it was some sort of damaging omen. Arriving in Padanaram on anything but a bluebird day felt bizarre. I felt out of place and alone, and wondered why this point seemed altered from the way it was last summer.

In a state of melancholy, I recalled Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn. In this story, one of the characters said, “It’s like it always was ten years ago. It hasn’t changed. It’s us and the land that’ve changed, become impossible.”

Retaining this quotation reminded me that despite the ambiance of the village feeling morose, the ocean around which it was constructed has remained the same. Perhaps it is not the milieu that made me feel foreign, but the transitions I have undergone during the winter months. I am constantly evolving and adapting to my varying home situations, so I am not the same person I was the previous time I was here.

Throughout my life, during the sorrow and calamities, I have always viewed my summer home as a haven from the squalls. Though I may be growing less and less attached to this place, it has been a cornerstone for me during my development. Each year, I return having experienced neverending hardships and fleeing alleviation, but the security the bay brings me has remained. My fascination with free diving and exploring beneath the surface has never dwindled. The riddles it withholds have not been answered. The sea has not changed, it is I who have.

 

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Living With a Mantra

Lana Del Rey once stated that her mantra was, “I believe in the kindness of strangers.” Since those words charmed my ears, they have been as present in my life as the pearls around my neck.

Though I constantly recalled that phrase, I had never consciously allowed them to govern my life until one spring break, I completely embraced the perplection of drifters and aliens. It was not until several months after the phase of festivities that I realized I had been living by that quote. Through the fearlessness of strangers stored in a back pocket of my mind, I met remarkable people, and tasted admiration.

From that realization on, I truly have administered myself to adhere to the inspiring quotation. Passing people on the street, admiring grandiose estates, I recall those scorching Caribbean nights of gaiety and union between strangers. I remind myself that there is more in my world than I know, and there is more in the world than there is in my own. People I know may bear strains on their shoulders, but beyond my circle, there are countless stories that have not reached me.

Tales of vibrant Mediterranean sunsets, car chases, unforgettable New Years banquets that got out of hand. There will always be more personal anecdotes that have not sailed over yet, crossed my path, hailed a taxi to the club while I was there. Perhaps, though you may not be a bestseller, you will stumble upon an unfinished storybook in a coat and tie. More novels always come in.

We never grow wiser by rereading the same novel. We can rediscover lessons each time we read it, but it’s those nights that you’re in a new place that stick with us, not the ones stamped by the scent of takeout for two, consumed by one. The same goes for literature. It’s always good to keep the veteran books on a shelf, but hauling it around will not move you forward. Instead, pick up the books that you’ve always eyed but never read. Read something new. The tale between the covers could be changed by you.

Recognizing how crucial moving forward through the union with strangers and leaps of faith is, my subconscious mind stamped me with something beautiful:

 

One night, I had a vision and I woke up absolutely mesmerized by it. I was amazed that my mind could produce such a beautiful reverie. In the dream, I had hitchhiked across America carelessly, freely, placing my trust into the palms of each driver who took me in. This was a dream about letting go of myself, and drowning my mind in everything around me. Once I had learned one thing, I went somewhere else. An endless road of freedom.

 

Had God intended for us to stay in one place, the whole world would be uniform, no wind on the sea, no spectacular hue in surfs we have not seen. Had God wanted us to stay in one place, he would not have created the appeal of new people. Had God wanted us to stay in one place, there would be no tales to tell, or adventures to seek. The grace of an outsider opens a door, and if you duck your head into a new realm, the holy grail of experience will present itself.

I believe in not only the kindness of strangers, but the importance of them, and the hope they bring into our lives when we undergo an emotional winter. I believe in the myths and memoirs, and more than anything, I believe that those stories have the ability to alter individuals. Nothing has ever evolved my character more.

The Dock

The dock in Buzzard’s Bay was constructed fifteen years ago when our family bought the beach house, and it has plotted our growth as a family over that period. In order to prevent damage to the foundation, upon the house’s vacancy, each October, the beams are removed for the cold months allowing the winter waves to sweep through the frame freely. Each time those beams are laid down to undergo another summer, the people creating footsteps have changed. The dock, the float, and our fishing boat Andiamo, have been that anchored down our family for all of this time. The twenty of us have been interlaced in the center of a hefty reef knot for fifteen years, but the knot is getting loose, and one by one, each person slips out. With each wave tumbling on the shore, we drift further apart.

There was a time when the we were a family in tact; a much simpler time. It seemed as though the rainy, melancholy days full of sorrow rolled in much less often as they do now, or perhaps the thunder was muted by the enthusiastic chatter echoing through the house. Times change.

As a little girl, some of my most cherished memories are the ones spent on the boat with my family. Whether we drove to Martha’s Vineyard, Cuttyhunk, or just inside of the cove, we would make a day of it. Cheerfulness was always abundant, and our skin warmed and hair washed out, bleached by the sweltering New England sun. When I was seven or so, my oldest cousin stood for nearly two nautical miles wakeboarding in the colossal wake of our navy blue fishing boat. I was uplifted and inspired by his long spin behind Andiamo. My uncles and grandfather were pushing me to repeat the ride, in the form of teasing, as they often did, but I resisted. Eventually, I became weary of repelling them, so retrieved my life jacket and cautiously paraded to the stern. I was silent, but my dad glanced over and placed his hand on my shoulder with delight. He displayed his pride, but at the time, I was unaware of how infrequent that would become. Everyone was astonished at my risk, and I was tense about it. Minutes later, I was in the water twenty feet behind the boat, gripping the line. The engine started, churned the water it propelled from, fluctuating the cobalt blue sea to white. The line trimmed until it became taut and I was hoisted up, clutching it firmly. After no more than two shallow breaths standing on the bay, I tumbled at the water like concrete and the rope bulleted out of my hands as I plunged beneath the surface.

It wasn’t until years later that it dawned on me that my father’s mannerisms displayed his pride for me taking that risk. I’m content that I seized that chance because it would not return. Five or six years later, our family is not the same. I realized this because the wakeboard has been sedentary in the boat house, with a coat of dust evolving on the surface since that day. Each year, “let’s go put the boat in the water”, becomes more and more rarefied. “It’s too rough to take it off the lift,” becomes more frequently stated. More often than not, I find myself sailing the dinghy single-handed, and each time I rig it, I feel more alone.

I recall those days spent fishing on the floating dock. There’d be four or five of us diffused on different sides in order to prevent our lines from catching one another and interweaving. Time would soar by cast after cast, reel after reel, bass after bass. We resembled a family one from a picture frame, and living in a postcard of a cloudless sky.

Coastal stormy days are ideal for fishing because the rain breaching the ocean’s surface resembles minnows, alluring bluefish to the silver lid on the sea. On one of those stormy days, most squandered inside, but I was out, determined to catch my first bluefish. There were four of us dispersed facing different directions on the floating dock, and one cast got lucky.

It has been years since there have been rods facing north, south, east, and west on the float. There’s just one facing east afternoon after the next, and it’s me. The memories of my family with me increase my loneliness catching nothing, casting solitarily in silence.

The most memorable summer days were the ones I spent springing off the dock into the water with my cousins and sisters. We would paddle out to the far float like a school of fish with a yellow lab. Lola, my aunt’s eternal dog, is more passionate about swimming in the ocean more than her food. She would tag along with us all summer, as long as we were in the bay with her.

One of the countless times we glided out to the float, we boosted Lola up the ladder. She was as ecstatic as a dog could be, and her tail wagged as rapidly as a tail could beat. The group was standing on the float, our newly blonde hair saturated with saltwater, still short winded from the swim. We instantaneously dispersed the second Lola revealed signs of shaking. At each edge of the float, each of us prepared for a rainstorm beneath the sun. She whipped, bullets of water barrelling in each direction, and my older cousin snatched my hand. He leaped into the ocean, hauling me down with him.

Once we clambered back up the ladder, his younger brother was on the diving board with Lola, and the others spectating, highly amused. Lola followed her instinct and flopped off the board, causing a monumental splash to form around her. We watched her do it over and over.

These days, Lola is brittle, and can barely even hobble down to the dock. The giggles and splashes from the float are echoes in the gusts of ocean wind that whistle in the wood and rattle the lures like windchimes. The far float was tugged into the harbor for the winter last year, and was never brought back out. It has been replaced by a white mooring, a gravestone, for all of the memories created and the love that was lost. Every afternoon, I find myself on the dock. I leap off, swim to the buoy, and return to the floating dock, gliding with the current peacefully. Freediving is something that I have picked up over the past few years. When I am alone with the ocean, freediving puts me at peace with it, and all of the memories lose their melancholy associations.

When I was young, my summer stories could be told in lines plucked from Beach Boys lyrics. Now, each of us are being dragged into different riptides, but we don’t attempt to resist them. Our family is decaying, and as time goes on, it crumbles into the sea only to be broken down even more until our hearts are corroded into grains of sand. The memories are turning to seaglass, beings scuffed and fogged as we begin to forget. Our stories to come are like a message in a bottle, but the bottle has been fractured, and water is seeping into the bottle and the ink bleeds. Our love for one another has reached a back eddy that is splitting us up and spitting us out, back into the current, where our hearts deteriorate. Our footprints in the sand have been washed away, but I still hear our laughter in the waves, and the warmth of family in the Buzzards Bay sun.

 

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Beauty

If something so beautiful in the sky has never been touched, then the Earth already has its beauty. We just have to preserve it. Our appearances are modified as we flourish, and so are our perspectives, but our underlying personalities, our truths, should never be altered.

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The Sea’s Spirits

The sea is unpredictable,

With no moral compass,

No aspirations, and no setbacks.

 

Currents are mapped out,

But the strongest riptides cannot be prepared for.

The coastal storms that pluck ships from a harbor

Like seaglass from the sand,

Cannot be prepared for.

 

The ocean has sons and daughters

Who they raised themselves.

Were born to live in tandem

With the current.

Our hymns and our dirges are

The barreling waves pummeling down

On the burnished sand.

 

Moon after moon,

The sea repeats its cycle.

Wave after wave,

The tide develops.

And with the moon’s presence,

It retrogresses

Exposing the spirits

Beneath the surface.

Although the sea is unchanging,

It has always been perplexing and mystifying.

Beneath the cobalt blue dome,

There is a bottomless dusk trench

Suffused with salt and secrets.

 

Some were born to be unnerved by it,

Others were born to return to it.

Those few are intrigued by its eternity,

And consoled by its menace.

We obtain the instinct to venture into the somber waters.

 

The ocean is God’s kingdom,

And our Heaven

On Earth.

Those who are swallowed into

The depths of hopes dashed

Are greeted by God at in the

Depths of hopes repaired.

 

A world separate from our society

Belonging to everyone,

Belonging to no one.

The sea and I are

Wild,

Boundless,

Free.

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The Blossom

In a sea of the perished,

One white blossom stands

Like a lighthouse on a

Dark ocean.

 

Flowers plucked around it,

But this flower remained.

One flower,

Innocent with its white.

Persistent to halt.

 

Until something novel

And frightening

Stumbled upon the flower.

 

The blossom was nourished

By this energy,

But the flower would not live forever.

 

The light went out,

And the blossom died.

A somber sea of dusk remained,

And the luster of the blossom

Dimmed.

Go Away

Upon setting into a plane before flight, the steward will describe the protocol for a crisis. In the case of a loss of cabin pressure an oxygen mask will drop before you. “Please administer your own before aiding others with their masks.”

People constantly bitch aloud as long as clocks keep progressing. I could have gone my whole life without having to process the fact that you did not get enough sleep or that you are hungry, however, you will go your whole life without hearing about the venom that taints my days. For an unidentified reason, I often find myself a mark of my peer’s afflictions and rumbles, or an unpaid therapist. Do you see a mask on my face? I recognize that you cannot breathe, but I cannot either. Perhaps I will alleviate the application of your oxygen mask when I have found the stability to implement my own. Until then, please try to figure it out on your own and just fuck off.

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Happiness

 

There is one achievement that nearly everyone desires to reach

As their ultimate goal, and some only believe that they do.

Those who are unwilling to release all negativity

Are never genuinely moved by him for more than just a high.

In order to be in his presence,

A person’s life must be absent of animosity,

Angst, and aloneness.

He often appears for stunning bursts of time

In the lives of those who do endure those crucial objects.

For those who abolish negativity from their lives forever,

And replace it with pure positivity,

His presence will be appreciated and recognized until death.

The few people for whom he does manifest have nothing to gain,

And nothing to lose.

He is a luxury that can only be accompanied by peace,

Freedom,

And the absence of desire.