A Good, Bad Story

I am a paradox. Here I am, a girl who loves writing and storytelling but can’t tell a good story if her life depended on it. It’s become an inside joke between my friends and family who think my arsenal contains 3 mediocre stories-on a good day. In a real life situation, that’d set me up for about 15 minutes of first date conversation until I’m completely dry.

The overthinker that I am has spent many car rides and mid math class dazes pondering about what it is that makes my stories so terrible. Through simple trial and error I’ve calculated that my three biggest flaws in story telling are: unimportant details, over explained endings and an immediate admit of defeat after I finish. I always start off strong with the attention still twinkling in the eyes of my audience but as soon as I see them darting off as I explain the color of socks I was wearing or type of smoothie I had on the morning of that particular day, I give up and ruin my story with a unfulfilling ending. My go to end-of-story tag line is, “Wow I told that story awfully, I’m so sorry.”

I like to think that I inherited this quality from my great aunt Maisy who was as bad at telling stories as she was at telling jokes like: “I’ve been with the same man for 40 years…I hope my husband doesn’t find out about him.” However, I’m no Aunt Maisy. I can’t pull off the look of the charmingly gullible and ditzy old lady, any more than I can pull off the outrageous costume jewelry she used to adorn herself with. I’m just not cute enough. Seeing that I can’t miraculously convert into a charming old lady or a podcast superstar, I guess my only choice is to keep writing and telling stories, however unbearably boring they are, until I get the hang of this thing. Hopefully in a short time my tag line will be “Wow I told that story only slightly awfully, you’re welcome.”

– Charlotte

You’re invited

I do my best work when there’s too much work to do. Routines are as necessary to me as pizza and being down to earth are to Jennifer Lawrence. So it makes sense that going into this year I put a huge emphasis on finding a writing routine that was acute and time conscious: my Pop Pop newspaper assignment.

I feel like I have been fulfilling this task as I promised, but I find it challenging to write for every single conversation I have with my Pop Pop. This isn’t saying that that we have boring, unworthy conversations, its quite the opposite. Sometimes I just feel content with these conversations as they are and feel no need to ponder on them further. Simply put, some of these conversations are meant to stay between me and my Pop Pop only…sorry internet strangers.

With this in mind, I’ve tasked my self with a pre-new years, New Years resolution to write/post more about whatever story, essay or idea originates from my little brain. This is my bland attempt to embody the intimidatingly thoughtful Patti Smith who used to spend hours deciphering random poems, essays or stories she scribbled on whatever material was in her possession at the moment of inspiration. Maybe I won’t be having as profound thoughts as whether our lost socks or coats mourn us after we’ve misplaced them, but regardless, I’ll be writing and that’s all that matters.

So I guess this is my invitation to you, for an adventure into the land of non sensical writing.
RSVP by December 20th, black tie only

-Charlotte Isidore

To Fall in Love With Love

“Wow! This is honestly the best story I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Just wow! How can this be real life.” I raved holding up the newspaper like the holy grail, barely able to catch my breath.

“Hahaha, that’s the funny thing about love you know…” my Pop Pop replied endeared by my enthusiasm.

“What, what’s the funny thing about love?”

“That when you’ve never experienced love…that type of heart stopping love, it seems so unreal to you and you’re caught in a state of awe. I don’t think you fell in love with the story part of the story…I think you fell in love with love.”

I’m going to recommend that you all read the same article that left me as spellbound as it did. Maybe you’ll be reminded of a heart stopping love in your life or perhaps you’ll fall in love with love just like me. Either way I hope you enjoy it as much as I did: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/fashion/modern-love-religion-christian-lesbian-identity.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fmodern-love&action=click&contentCollection=fashion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=collection&_r=0

Hey Mista!

I‘m speechless. I honestly can’t bring myself to talk about how as of last Tuesday the President of the United States is Donald Trump. So I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to tell you a happy story, and hopefully in doing so, do my part in making your world seem a little sunnier on these gloomy, gloomy days.

As our country was slowly plotting its demise last Tuesday, my Pop Pop and I decided to start a column in the NYT’s to let off some steam. He chose one called “The Metropolitan Diaries” which are essentially little screenshots of the lives of New Yorkers. They’re not Pulitzer Prize winning materials but they’re the kind of stuff that make you happy to be a New Yorker/American again-and let’s face it that’s something we all need right now. They were all very charming and after reading them my Pop Pop’s was reminded of his very own metropolitan diary that goes something like this:

Many years ago when my Pop Pop graduated from college he moved to New York from his home in small, provincial East Rochester, NY to try to make it as a writer. My Nana also lived there and because they were both struggling young people they often entertained themselves cheaply by doing things like riding the Staten Island Ferry and taking long walks.

As my Pop Pop tells the story, one day he and Nana were taking a walk down Bleecker Street, and not the Michael Kors, hybrid croissant dessert Bleecker Street we know today. We’re talking about the real Bleecker Street, the one with three different Italian butcher shops and a nonna with a stark opinion about your hair cut on every corner.

On this particular walk a little boy came up to my Pop Pop and said, “Hey Mista! You know where 272 Bleeka is?”

Logically my Pop Pop wanted to help him and said, “Well let’s see, come with me and we’ll look. There it is… 272 Bleecker St.”

The kid then replied, “I know! I live there! I just wanted to see if you knew.”

From that point on little Vincent Vella, the “wise guy,” became a character in my Pop Pop’s life. If they encountered each other on the streets they’d talk, if my Pop Pop was going to church near by Vincent would say “I’ll walk ya.”  They even went to meet Vincent’s  family at one point. And when my Pop Pop was drafted into the army, Vincent was there the morning before my Pop Pop shipped out.

“When do you leave?” he asked my Pop Pop.

“I have a flight around 7,” my Pop Pop said.

“You gonna be flying ova the city?”

“Yeah, sure. I’ll be flying over the city.” My Pop Pop replied although he knew it to be a lie.

“Alright, I’ll tell ya what. I’ll be standin on this roof and when you fly ova, I’ll be wavin this big ol’ blanket and all you gotta look down and wave me goodbye.”

The  craziest thing isn’t that they went on to become friends. It’s that little wise cracking Vincent Vella went on to become an actor. Unsurprisingly, being featured in a few gangster movies most notably one with Robert De Niro.

It’s these types of random human connections that remind us that we’re not all that different, whether we’re happy this week or not. So the next time you’re walkin down the street or are stuck on the subway, don’t do the easy thing and become an introvert. Talk to people, exchange a smile, maybe even a laugh. It’s all we can do to mend the split that has obviously infected our nation. And hey who knows, maybe your version of a Vincent Vella will end up being a Beyoncé or Leonardo DiCaprio some day.


A Four Letter Word Called Love

It seems an impossible task to rescue love from the rubble of hate and negativity that currently liters our world at the fault of media, television or even presidential candidates.
While I wouldn’t necessarily see myself as having a shortage of emotions around me-being a teenage girl and all-I uncovered as of recent my distraction by the bad of the world and my loss of touch of the most human essence we all possess; love.

A favorite column my Mom Mom and Pop Pop used to read in the New York Times, is titled “Modern Love” covering stories of love, whether romantic, familial or whatever definition you please. This week’s addition highlighted the story of a woman through a rather abrupt breakup. Unlike the sappy love stories I’m accustomed to this piece ended without a resolution or rather, with a sad tone. I instantly regretted reading this because I knew how triggering it would be for my Pop Pop after the loss of my Mom Mom, his soul mate of 40 years. However, nothing could have prepared me for the simple words he said after I finished. “That made me sad…” he told me after a long pause, and for some reason those words, although plagued with undeniable grief and sadness for the love he lost, helped me remember that the world is a place of immense love.

It reminded me of how physically overcoming my love is when I discover something I’m passionate about. How when, at the height of my Arabic studies, I felt a love for unknown knowledge that was so conquering I was unable to put into words. It reminded me how the endless love and appreciation that radiates from my closest friendships has been transformative to my self-esteem. It reminded me of how intense my parents love for one another is and that when my dad defends my mom when she and I are fighting it’s because he wants to protect “his girl”-as he endearingly calls her-from all things ugly because he loves her too much to see her upset. It reminded me that there’s no emotion more deeply felt or more intensely yearned for than love and that it’s the sentiment most essential to carry within you in every endeavour.

My dad often tells me that I feel things more deeply than most and while he’s usually referring to my feelings of anger or angst, I take it to mean love. For just a moment I got caught up in all the hate and anger in the world and lost my greatest power as a human; my power to feel every little thing, whether that’s sadness or frustration or enthusiasm or even love, so deeply that it overcomes me. It’s almost poetic how words heavy with such immense grief as “That made me sad…” can help me remember that there is still indeed love in this world.

-Charlotte 10-24-16

A Teenagers Analysis on Trump

Now I know I’m not the only one when I say…I’m sick and tired of this election. This is especially true for people of my generation who, while you’re all out making your vote count on November 8th, will be at home anxiously hoping that there’s some common sense in the world. It’s one of those times my age comes to bite me in the butt.

The past two weeks of readings by my Pop Pop and I have been focused on of course…the election. How can you blame us when every page is plastered with the gross unraveled past of Trump or the overplayed analysis of Hilary’s trustworthiness. I dutifully read and make conversation but I honestly feel held back from discussion out of my sheer exhaustion on the topic. On the opposite hand my Pop Pop would rather talk about this election than any breaking news pieces or op-eds because he’s just SO DAMN nervous. He keeps telling me, “You’ll be on this earth a lot longer than I will and it makes me anxious to think that you’ll be living with someone like him (Trump) in power.” I kept relaying statistics to him to make him feel better but no Nate Silver poll or U of Chicago student’s pie chart did him any good. That’s when we decided to use my age to our benefit to analyze Trump as if he were a teenage boy (and as far as we’re concerned, he sure seems like one).

This all came about after we read a piece by Gail Collins where she equated Trump to a really bad boyfriend; so here’s our take on it.

Remember back in high school when you were starting a class full of people who you knew  nothing about and who knew nothing about you. As you started your first steps of small talk with someone it seemed like every story, joke or opinion they had were the most interesting thing you’d ever heard. You became so interested in this person’s seemingly story perfect life. Then as the new friend gitters settled and you started to get to know them on a deeper level you realized that those stories that captured you in the beginning of your friendship weren’t actually as magical as they seemed, in fact you may have found that they were flat-out lies. This tendency to embellish is something many people do when they’re young because they feel vulnerable and just want people to like them.
Now with this in mind, I want you to think about Trump and how he gained power. It wasn’t from concrete policies or experience. It was from the dinner party story esque way he gave speeches. He like any typical teenage boy longed for everybody, from the women and Latinos to the middle class and business owners, to like him for what he was saying and how he was saying it. The last thing he wanted to hear was for the black community to say, “you can’t sit with us.” It’s from this that we see what Trump really is, which is a vulnerable teenage boy who wants everyone to like him and would say or do anything to make that happen. I can bet you he would be the type of person to wear pink on Wednesdays just to get a seat at the table and I hope you keep this in mind on November 8th for the sake of all of us deemed not old or wise enough to vote.


The Weight We Carry

There’s a section in the New York Times called “Social Q’s” in which readers send in various questions and writers respond to them to the best of their knowledge. It’s like the Dear Debby advice column you’d find in typical girly magazines only more cosmopolitan and about issues such as racism or misogyny not the best lip gloss to get your crush to like you. My Pop Pop and I like to read the questions, guess the best response, see what the writer actually had to say and then discuss. Last week’s edition was dense. The headline question was from a father who was unsure if he should tell his daughter that she’s fat or not. This of course opened up a huge discussion about expectations, objectification of women and the unrealistic beauty norms young girls face today. However, with all this in mind, the thing that stuck out to me most was the question my Pop Pop asked.

We had moved on to the second entry about a petite sized nurse, when my Pop Pop pointed out the way my family reacts to comments on weight. He asked why he often gets in trouble when he compliments family member for their weight loss, when he means it as a friendly gesture. This struck me on a different level and brought me back to when I was 10, short and chubby.

I had been aware that I wasn’t the same size as other girls, but my weight had never been a defining factor of my life until I lost it all. I went to summer camp the year before entering middle school a little red-cheeked girl with ill-fitting clothes and came out a lanky girl with protruding bones. It was as if I had been stretched out in the laffy taffy room in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I was still me, just a longer leaner version of me. However, to the rest of the world it was as if I had come back a different person. The instant I saw friends and family, I was treated differently. Not better just different. It was common for an aunt or schoolmate to see me and say, “Charlotte?!” as if it were hard to believe it could be me in this new better sculpted body. It wasn’t those types of back-handed comments that stuck with me, it was the compliments.

There’s something so destructive about complimenting a girl for weight loss. It’s almost creating a reward system for unrealistic and unhealthy habits. The moment you tell her how, “good she looks after all that weight loss,” she will always be conscious of her physic trying hard not to dissapoint the people who complimented her.

I was lucky enough to come out of this weight transformation with little to no damage to my relationship with weight or food but that’s because I’m an incredibly stubborn person who doesn’t succumb to criticism like that without a fight. However, I’m one of few. I will always be the 4 foot 2, 100 pound girl with red chubby cheeks that I was 6 years ago. I will always hold the emotions that come from being my only friend in the school play not wearing a tutu and bodysuit. I will always remember the way I felt when I looked at my thighs and saw no gap. I still carry that weight, while it’s no longer in a physical sense, I still carry it.