How To Spend The Morning Applying for Jobs

First, start up the laptop and place it on two pillows. Sit cross legged at the base of your bed facing the window. This is your make-shift corner office desk with a view.

Open Internet Explorer to greet the same window you’ve had up all week, with 10 tabs of job listings you’re interested in and half-completed applications.  Close a few tabs out. Keep the Conde Nast Traveler slideshow of Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S. open. Remember what you really want to do this fall.

Poke around job boards for publications hiring writers and interns. Hope to find a few relevant to your interests and attainable considering your status as a recent graduate. You do not have a single year of experience. At least you think you don’t.

Assistant Editor of New Digital Magazine with a Focus on Yoga. Established Author Seeks Social Media Intern. Flight attendant with Delta: Paid Training. Save, save, save.

Make a playlist on Spotify to optimize creativity. Today feels like Cat Power and Feist.

To the tune of “My Moon My Man,” saunter around your bedroom on your tiptoes. Lift alternate shoulders on each beat. Pace the room and using your toes like a claw, pick up socks from the floor. Place them in the laundry shoot.

Study your face too closely in the mirror, notice residue of yesterday’s eye makeup beneath your bottom lashes. Walk across the hall to the bathroom. Wash it off. Splash water on your face and watch droplets running slowly down the drain, through blurred vision.

In an overindulgent, melodramatic moment, see yourself as one of those droplets, weak and powerless, slowly drowning out of sight, never to be heard from again. Then say out loud “You’re ridiculous.” Your post-college existential crisis is becoming too cliché even for you. Return to the bedroom. In the mirror again, pout your lips and raise your eyebrows. Wink at yourself and smile.

Lift up your shirt. Check out how flat your abs are in loose pajama pants. Then consider working out instead of applying for jobs.

Make coffee in your Rutgers mug for good luck and pour a glass of ice water.

Read the application requirements for that MFA program one more time. Reread that article by Anne LaMott you like. Feel good about never bothering to watch the evening news. Wonder why the majority of jobs you look at sound a lot like journalism. Minor panic sets in.

Check e-mail… nothing there. Next to your computer is the bright green cover of Sister Outsider. Skim “Uses of the Erotic,” again. Remember what that professor told you about searching.

Notice the August sun and decide to go outside. Sit under the tree with your dog for a bit. Text a friend to ask how they’re doing. When you realize an hour and a half has passed, feel like you might explode.

Count down the hours until your shift at the restaurant starts, exactly two. Count the money you made working a double shift yesterday, feel a little relieved.

Consider picking up a green juice at the vegan cafe. You have not been taking good care of yourself lately.

Look out the window and hear a sentence, a line, a word come to you like breath. Write it down and find yourself here.

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Moss

As a lover,
one’s best work
is to unearth
the softness
in another.

Said it would take
a light so clear
to illuminate the
core and begin
shedding moss-
the first layer,
the gentle part.

In time, it happened-
as our softness coalesced,
but scraping stones against
each other, with constant
rhythm creates heat.
Neither of us quit.

Burning, we longed for moss-
its green comfort, could we find it?

Healing hid
along contours until
sedimentary surfaces
met in physical again.

Now, with no
testament carved,
just the certainty
of heat on skin,
we trace moss
and stone
to unearth light.

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Real-sumé

Katelyn Melody Devine
Real Life Lady of 22 Years


Daughter and Sister
1995- Present

Committed to the delicate art of upholding harmony in a six-person household
Acts as liaison between high school aged brothers and aging parents
Expert in bridging gaps of understanding

Friend
1994-Present

Listens closely
Offers comfort
Will collaborate in conversation to decode the mysteries of living
Will never judge your actions or desires
Interested in splitting a bottle of wine
Eager to take off on a road trip

Writer
 1997-Present

Creates poems and non-fiction pieces
Writes to make sense of my perception
Writes to experiment with language
Deeply committed to words
Appreciates a well crafted sentence
Constantly scribbling to share my piece of human contradiction, complexity, and beauty

In Love
2006-Present      

Lover, girlfriend, object of your affection
Experienced in infatuation
Occasionally acts on impulse and timing
Appreciates nothing more than a great love story
Has shown great improvement in choices made in recent years/months

Over Analyzer  

Expert text message decoder
Proficient in reading mixed signals
Able to pick up on notions quickly and accurately
Proven track record of being correct when it comes to reading characters
Experience as child book worm and English Literature major

Dreamer          

Determined to write books
Eager to travel the world
Scheduled to run at sunrise sometimes
Committed to spreading kindness
Interested in learning to cook well
Will look closely at my mistakes and learn from them
Constantly working on living a good, honest, kind life

Can’t Decide    

Whether to take myself seriously or not
Where to direct my energies
Which passions to cultivate today
How to synthesize many ideas and dreams into a sustainable life
What to wear this evening

Understands    

Making something out of nothing is all in the phrasing
Reality is what you tell yourself it is
The universe knows what it is doing

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Living In The Now

I originally wrote this for The Rutgers Review April/May 2014 issue. It is my last article with The Review, a publication that offered a home to the kinds of articles I love to write. To read other pieces I had published, head to my Writing Samples page, where I linked the Issuu to all of my articles. Today I am  revisiting the piece after a few months of not looking at it, making edits, and adding some images.

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In the midst of a deep conversation, a good date, a life-changing book, or a fun party, sometimes, I pause for just a moment and think to myself, “I am in this experience right now and this is great.” This personal practice is my way of reveling in an experience, my attempt to slow down the passing of time, and my method of actively being grateful. Well aware that one day I will fondly remember these days once they have passed, my ritual allows me to think that I have already outsmarted the chance of future nostalgia, and it puts me at ease. To be fondly appreciative of an experience as it is happening does away with the possibility of taking the moment for granted.

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Wine-O’clock in Long Beach Island last week was not taken for granted.

My imprecise version of Zen is pieced together from the teachings of a few books, lessons learned while traveling, and the words of my oracles, my friends. I first consciously thought about “living in the now,” in high school. Back then, on quiet weekend nights in our hometown, my friends and I shared a ritual. We would pile into someone’s car and drive a mile down Atlantic Avenue to the Manasquan Inlet. Once parked we would roll down the windows, listen to our latest favorite music, smoke an occasional performative cigarette, and stare out at the thin stretch of water that separated the Atlantic Ocean from the Manasquan River, and Pt. Pleasant from Manasquan beach. Sometimes we played headlight tag with the cars parked across the way. We would sit here, making plans, texting whoever was in the know about where a party was.

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Meggo’s car aka “the volv” parked at the inlet.

We spent hours there, asking, moaning, stressing vowels, “What are we going to doooooo tonight?” On nights when there were no plans to be had, we stayed at the inlet all night, just talking. Sometimes we felt a sense of disappointment that we were not out enjoying ourselves, talking to potential dates, making “the best” out of our high school years. My friend Vin especially, was usually first to leave the inlet on nights when the promise of evening plans fell through.
“I’m tired you guys, if we aren’t going to do anything I’m going home.” We all felt like that sometimes, we all got bored of the inlet. “Don’t you always hope that there’s going to be a keg and a party waiting for us at the inlet one of these nights,” Vin asked me once. “Isn’t that why we always come here?” His words speak shamelessly to the priorities of bored suburban kids in a beach town. We did not know exactly why we always returned to the inlet, we just knew it was our spot.

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My friends Miss America-ing in my old Cabrio.

“At least we live near the beach, so we don’t have to park in like, a mall parking lot or something when we have nowhere else to go,” I would sometimes offer. I doubt the comment helped Vin’s perpetual disappointment. Somewhere buried in my words may have been the beginning of awareness that the inlet, with its choppy waters and seagulls overhead, was more than just a place for my friends and I to wait, it was our reality.

“Live in the now, Vin,” my friend Kat suggested one night. Her simple remark resonated. She meant be present. She meant enjoy our company. She meant sit in this car and smell the salt air and hear the melody coming from the radio and watch the boats that glide by in front of us and feel the cool breeze as it drifts down into the open sunroof. She meant to say that this moment is all we have, so be here now, rather than letting concerns for what will happen next consume you. In those days our concern was the possibility of being invited to a party. Today the concern is about how our lives will look and feel, and what truths we will live, when our time at college is over.

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Just a few finger sandwiches away from it all being over.

When a certain life event, a fun night out, or an incredible novel comes to a close, the pressure to appreciate it feels heavier. In my final weeks as an undergraduate at Rutgers, I find myself remembering Kat’s words to Vin; “live in the now.” It’s not always so simple, especially considering the small talk questioning from neighbors and uncles asking, “so what’s next after graduation?” While I research careers and graduate programs at my desk beside a window that overlooks Easton Avenue, I pause to remind myself that this is my reality, and it is best to simply take delight in being here. It is a practice in balance, making preparations for the future while being present for all the little moments. It is a welcomed pleasure, the awareness and practice of just living in the now.

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It should come with a map

It should come with a map
at birth, alongside
the certificate that records
breath and name.
The map would be
baby’s first fine art,
and outline the
aesthetic and precision
of chance.
It would warn
of dead-ends. Left turns
feel safer.
It would hang above a basinet,
someday rest in a dorm room drawer.

The gift of this map
would set free
the tumultuous years
the mapless ones
spend learning cartography
for themselves.

The map, be it on
tapestry or scroll,
would shake us free,
so our fibers can collect
more useful lessons.

While learning cartography
My greatest fear has become traveling in circles.

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The Drive Home

Every year growing up, our family spent a glorious week in Long Beach Island with my father’s brothers, sisters and all 17 of our cousins. We stayed in one crowded beach house, and each one of us with our freckled Irish skin went through bottles and bottles of sunscreen.

On the drive down to LBI, my father used to remark jokingly that the drive to vacation is the best part, full of anticipation for the fun to come, and the drive home is miserable. Driving home you’re sunburnt, broke, tired, and too aware of the impending doom of returning to work and school. Dad deemed Parkway South as the happy side, and Parkway North the “depressing” side.

It is ironic that my father said that the drive there is more pleasant than the ride back, because for as long as I can remember, every trip we have ever taken begins with the same exact argument between my parents. The scene is all too predictable. Dad wants to take just one more work call, or fix the leaky sink just when my mother has planed for us to leave. She says “No Tom, we’ve got to go, come on Tom,” and he rubs his forehead and widens his eyes. When we are finally in the car and Dad’s behind the wheel, it takes about an hour and two Diet Cokes for him to actually settle into the moment and enjoy it.

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My favorite picture of my father enjoying a rainbow in our backyard.

As everyone grows up it has become difficult for all six of us to get a week off from work, especially in the summer. My mother, who scours the internet for affordable family fun within driving distance, will not be denied at least a two-day family getaway. We tease her intentions to preserve just a percent of family trips in these busier times, but appreciate her efforts to make it happen. So these past few summers, we’ve enjoyed a weekend at a cabin, nestled in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, and earlier this week we took a drive down to Washington D.C.

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Fam road trip…!

My mother planed for us to visit the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum, because my brothers are “interested in history.” I was not at all excited about going. I anticipated the museum being upsetting and intense, and it was. I wondered why, for our one annual trip away together, she decided on this particular spot. All summer I’ve been wanting to enjoy a nice hike, or swim in a lake, so in the character of a complaining child I begged my parents, “Whyyyyyy? Why can’t we do something fun and happy and light?”

My request was unmet and to make matters worse we visited Arlington National Cemetery as the main attraction of day two in DC. My brothers, “interested in history” as they are, wanted to see John F. Kennedy’s grave, and wander the historic grounds. I sobbed ceaselessly throughout the entirety of the tour through the cemetery, at the sight of endless fields of tiny graves of men and women who passed in combat. This is not cool or fun this is tragic and ridiculous, and I want to leave, I thought. I dubbed the weekend “sad-cation.”

 

The last thing I ever want to do is sound ungrateful, because I truly enjoyed the time my family gets to spend together, no matter where we go. I know my gratitude to be true because somehow, my favorite part of “sad-cation” was the four hour car ride home. With plans originally to sleep off my food coma from lunch and two desserts we ate just before heading home, I placed my head on a makeshift car pillow of bundled sweatshirts and closed my eyes.

Driving through the outskirts of DC, my parents and brothers and sister began discussing what they were surprised to learn in the museum. My brothers explained what they learned in history class about the second World War, facts that informed their experience walking through exhibits. I asked about their teachers, and remembered my last experience in a U.S. history class in high school.

Hearing my family talk confidently about WWII and history made me glad we had visited the museum together, and that my younger brothers and sisters  could discuss history. It’s not as if we were having heated scholarly debates, but just having an informed discussion with them was enlightening. We eventually wandered through other unrelated topics, and before I knew it we were on I95 in New Jersey. While I grew up remembering the drive home as the low point of every getaway, this drive was quite pleasant. The drive home was my favorite part of our trip together. Perhaps with the pressure to enjoy a museum that I was not particularly thrilled about visiting and monuments that upset me behind us, I was able, comfortably spread in three rows of our Suburban, to simple take delight in the company of my family.

Maybe it is because I just didn’t really enjoy DC, (sorry Mom) but I found it ironic that the dreaded drive home, the “depressing side,” of the highway, as my father might say, was actually really great. Maybe my childhood idea that “real life” was something dreaded to return to after the bliss of escaping is totally false (yay). Or maybe the drive home was the only place where all five of my favorite people sat within inches of each other, with nothing to do but talk, laugh and eat Reece’s peanut butter cups.  We can entertain ourselves for hours with our own jokes and banter.

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Uhh you can’t swim in the WWII memorial monument.

My friend Jack, who is the youngest child of his family with sisters much older than him, asked how it felt to be on a trip with my family at this point in my life, at 22,  just after graduating from college. Besides feeling cranky in a freezing cold museum surrounded by heartbreaking and horrific stories, or a cemetery full of men and women who lost their lives to war, two places that I wold happily never visit again, it felt awesome. I felt full from gratitude, and thankful for the time to laugh with my family, especially throughout the drive home.

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Excerpt

Resistance holds the hand of doubt.
Structure used to help me cross the street.

Traverse the earth with ungodly fears?
Would you consider breaking back into prison?

Smoke crept out her wrinkled mouth,
“No way, my child,” she whispered to his grave.

While pleasantly rooted in fear, I
blindly trusted the word “always…”

But the strongest flowers grow beside the highway,
they are not sold with instructions or guarantee.

Numbed to the point of thoughtlessness,
foggy insight cracked the bathroom mirror.

Potted plants of your mother’s made me
remember there was something I forgot-

It is naturally occurring.
It cannot be bought.

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Someone’s Garden

Have you not touched your body in so long
that you forgot the
jellyfish quality of kneecaps
and the way they freely slide?
Have you not felt in years
your thigh and shin, smoothly sealed?

The constancy across your face hides
the moist miracle of your Portobello stems.
The depth of your gaze has rendered you blind
to your very own Southern hemisphere.

I see you kneeling in the dirt of loam
picking heirloom tomatoes-
home gown,
from the neighbor’s vines.
Coalescing with earth, your
bare knees on the inside, slide.

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The Veteran

With the sting of pavement
warming beneath us,
you and I ran from the wet sky.

We found a roof to smell its roots
when history found one another.

He broke into your mind
with a hand on your barstool,
bending the image
of that familiar green.

Budding images of bedded nights
flew around our held hands, as I read
“Free Omelet Tuesdays” and watched the taps flow,
blissfully distracted and mindfully absent,
while you heard of places unseen.

The drenched mind spoke from
somewhere exotic and not free.
You looked in an accelerated mirror,
rough like the corners of your
conscience bellowing through
lines and lines and lines of men again.

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Haiku for A Lazy Day

Waiting until two
P.M. to brush ones teeth is
post-grad-limbo-life.

Dinner shifts prove to
Fill my wallet but not my
soul. I get tired.

Perhaps if I got
dressed, more could be accomplished.
But, relaxation.

It’s not as if I
don’t have work tonight, I do.
It starts at 4:30.

Showers are for the
hour just before I must
be somewhere pressing.

Lunch today was cool-
Salad with avocado.
Good tastes all around.

(response haiku from my friend Pip…
Okay now I want
avocado too. Thanks Kate
My fridge is empty.)

At first, humans seem
so permanent. All that stays
is what we create.

(response haiku from my friend Pip after discussing how ridiculous haiku can be…
Haiku are silly
But we need them. In the end,
all is vanity.)

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