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The Locked Diary #10: When Things Don't Go According To Plan

Ride the waves of change or get swallowed whole. (FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME).

I could get into all the reasons as to *why* I decided to leave my beloved New York City, approximately one month after my dinner with my darling friend, Dakota.


In fact, that was precisely my plan! Because you see—this column was never "supposed" to read like a column. My intention was for it to read like a serialized book, in which each chapter picked up exactly where the previous chapter left off. My goal was—and still is—to compile the chapters together when the timing is right—and voilà. We have the makings of a pretty little manuscript for a pretty little memoir. Not a haphazard book of essays, like my debut book GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP.

A sophisticated, cohesive memoir that reads more like a novel, than a series of articles.

Because of my lofty memoir goals, I vowed to my higher power (Lana Del Rey) to not get all internet-y when writing this project, even though it's being published on said platform. What do I mean by internet-y? Good question. There are stylistic writing choices that are celebrated on the internet but frowned upon in the traditional publishing world. Like what I'm doing right now, "breaking the fourth wall." Rarely in a book will you witness an author addressing her audience directly. Especially as intimately as I—and many of my fellow internet writers—do. Let's just say publishers don't take kindly to authors referring to their readers as "babe" or "little sister." It's also not often you'll find an esteemed book writer who, when writing in the first-person, will take herself out of the scene and debrief with her readers. You're supposed to get your message across through action and dialogue and plot. I love action and I love dialogue and I love plot. But I also love talking to you all, candidly. After all, that's how I built my following, back in the salad days of my tenure at good ole' Elite

But this time around, I wasn't going to fuck around. I covet book deals. Lucrative ones. And if I want lucrative book deals, I felt I needed to stick to the firmly cemented literary rules. And bless the bitch that dares to break the literary rules. Even the stiffest writers I know complain about how unfairly rigid the rules of traditional publishing are. It's as the kids say—"a thing."

But this week, when I sat down to write the play-by-play of what happened at dinner with Dakota and the subsequent events that followed suit—it felt all...wrong. The work felt contrived. Because it was. And more than I want a book deal, I want my writing to feel alive. I know that sounds idealistic and pretentious and probably makes you hate me a tiny bit, but I can't help it. I'm being nauseatingly earnest here. Trust me, I'd be a helluva lot richer if I wasn't wired this way. But that aliveness that I crave more than I crave fame and fortune (which is a stealth craving, trust me), can only be achieved when I write from an organic, authentic place. Forcing art into a box is like trying to wrangle a wild animal into a cage! It's fucking cruel. You're essentially caging something that is meant to run free. Who cares how pretty something looks, if its spirit has been deadened by the steel bars of captivity?

So screw it. If it doesn't feel right, it's not right.

So I decided to go ahead and do what I do best: Be real. Tell the truth. And the truth is sometimes shit doesn't go according to plan. And when that happens we're faced with one of two choices: we can either fight the tide with all our might—cling to our beautifully crafted plan until our palms bleed—or we can ride the waves of change. Gracefully, like a lean, nimble surfer. (I learned this from the esteemed Martha Beck, who I'm studying under now. More on that, later).

I mean if I've unearthed one truly precious gem in the rock-bottom I've lived in for the past year—it's been this: surfing the waves of change is so much more pleasurable than resisting the waves of change. Because that tsunami is coming, whether we want her to or not. And a tsunami doesn't care how hard you worked to build the structure that is your life. The strongest building in the entire world is not a fraction as strong as the wrath of Mother Nature. She'll take a city down in one swoop!

What I mean is the shit you never ever thought could happen can and will happen. The marriage that was meant to last forever could crumble into nothing. The person you thought would never hurt you could betray you in the deepest way. The career you thought you'd be in for the rest of your life might become redundant in the rapidly changing digital landscape. You can let the sea of change swallow you whole, or you can buy yourself a shiny new surfboard, and ride, ride, ride.

Yes, you will likely make a complete asshat out of yourself, if you've never taken a stab at surfing before. But let's normalize making asshats out of ourselves. It's inevitable. We're all going to be scared, vulnerable, and look stupid as fuck when trying something new. But the only way to get better at anything is to keep working at it. As the great Macklemore says: The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint/the greats were great because they paint a lot. Letting go of old ideas, people, places, plans, and structures, is a skill like anything else. We are good at shit not because of some elusive super-power we innately possess—but because we do it repeatedly.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is hi. This is me. Z. Your lesbian big sister who wanted to write a very cohesive memoir and here I am breaking all of my own rules.

Here I am trying to surf, looking like a dickhead. A loser. Here I am, awkwardly standing before you in my ugly, unflattering wetsuit, uncomfortably attempting to let go of the "idea" of what this column is "supposed" to be and in turn, just letting it be whatever the hell it wants to be. This is new for me, I'm not a cool, laid-back surfer chick. I'm an ambitious Manhattan woman, a former cigarette smoker, prone to panic attacks. I've spent so much of my life obsessing over the end result, the end result, THE END RESULT. Micromanaging my future like an insufferable boss does her employees. But we all know that no one likes to be micromanaged, your life included. And all this intense goal-setting and back-breaking work—what has it all been for? Book deals that didn't go through? A feeling of peacefulness that never came? A picture-perfect future that didn't happen—because here I am as we speak—in my mid-thirties living in my parent's house, child-less, and financially insecure?

I wonder what could happen if I stopped trying to manufacture a life, and instead, just lived one? I don't think I have a choice except to throw up my hands and ride the wave, like some bohemian blonde who lives in Venice Beach and has never been medicated for anxiety. Because listen, baby. I'm tired.

I'm exhausted. I don't have any fight left inside of me. But even though I can barely manage to open my eyes—I'm starting to believe that there's a rare kind of beauty that can only live in the folds of extreme fatigue. I think sometimes when we're really, really sleepy, so sleepy that we no longer have the energy to overthink every little detail of our lives—we create space for unexpected magic to creep in. There is no space for unexpected magic in these airtight structures we build for ourselves. Unexpected magic is too big to survive in such rigid, fixed spaces.

But when the structure of our life finally explodes, maybe there's room for all the unexpected magic?