Meet a Magpie: Andrea Dorfman

“Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.”

It feels a little awkward when I try to explain what happened to me at the end of  2007. I was stressed out and sad, tired of being tired, restless and ready for change. I didn’t want to move again, I didn’t want to try any more religions or yoga practices or gluten-free recipes. I needed something drastic, and I knew it couldn’t come from the self-help aisle, it needed to come from within myself.  The idea came to me that maybe I should try being alone. Sure, I’d always have my daughter, and I’d always have my friends, but it was time to take a step back from…men. Romance. Dating. Phone numbers. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It turned out,  I had absolutely no idea who I was! I spent the first 27 years of my life trying so hard to impress and be impressed, becoming an expert at knowing a little bit about a lot of things just to assure that I was never, ever alone, without once stopping to consider what I truly  liked, or wanted, or appreciated, or enjoyed, or hated.

I started taking myself out, with only myself to impress and amuse and keep company. I brought my writing everywhere, and I went wherever I wanted: I took myself to movies (and walked out when I was bored or unamused), I took myself to dinner, and ate as slowly as I liked.  I read books on park benches, I visited my brother in New York and danced by myself  in smoky jazz clubs.  Instead of waiting for Prince Charming, I bought myself fresh flower bouquets, and got massages at the spa. I shaved my head.

And of course, I asked people I met along the way— new friends and old—for lists.   I learned that being alone and being lonely isn’t always the same thing. I felt like I was being born all over, crawling out of a case,  shedding  an oppressive skin of societal expectations.  My friends were worried for me, people felt sorry for me.  Their concern was unnecessary; I was having a wonderful time! My year turned into almost 3. Now, at the end of 2010, I seem to be coming out of the other side of this self-defined journey a different kind of person. For the first time in my life, I am comfortable being myself.

The first time I watched Andrea Dorfman’s short film piece, “How To Be Alone,” I was speechless and inspired.  She, together with poet-songwriter Tanya Davis, was telling my story. I couldn’t believe it; someone else who encourages solitude!  My connection to their piece notwithstanding, the collaboration between Andrea and Tanya creates work that is simple and beautiful.

Using youtube to contact Ms. Dorfman, I sent a message about The Magpie List,  never really expecting to hear back, but dying to know more about this artist from Nova Scotia and what inspires her.  I feel honored to have not only received a list from one of Canada’s “most promising, versatile, and truly independent young filmmakers,” but also a nice note:

hi eve,

it’s taken me a while to get back to you but here i am…!

thanks so much for the nice words about my work. it’s lovely to know that it reaches people in far away places.

i love lists.i made a feature film about a woman who has a list of things to do before she graduates from university. i also love listing off inspiring things but, off the top of my head – today – here is my list.*

i think it’s great you email strangers. someone once told me that askers own the world. i tell my boyfriends kids that all the time.

all the best to you!


Thank you, Andrea Dorfman.  I will be open and honest when I feel inspired by people’s creations. I will send notes. I will ask questions. And whether or not I am alone, The Magpie List will grow!

*Read Andrea Dorfman’s List!

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