Nobody Reads This, Chapter Ten – Finale
Everyone needs a drummer.
When I was born to Sam and Candy Mersai on April 17, 1979 I was a month late. That’s right a month. My due date was March 13, and apparently I wouldn’t have it. My mother didn’t actually go into labor either, she had to be induced. I was delivered by Dr. Rice, my mom tells the story as She delivered me, and my dad says Dr. Rice was more like the catcher. I’ll take it. No big deal. I was 9 lbs 8 ounces, strong heart beat.
Mom said I was an easy baby. Didn’t cry or get sick. I made some noises when I was hungry and when I needed to be changed, and I’m told when I get hungry even now – I make those same noises. Some things never change.
My mom was excellent in the mom-daughter relationship as far as teaching me about body parts, what a period was, how to wear a bra etc. She was always realistic with me about money and although at times I felt a little to sheltered in my childhood, I think I’m a better person for it. I never really stayed at friends houses or did slumber parties at my house. I wasn’t allowed to go over to their houses after school. *I* had other responsibilities. Like homework and chores, then to karate or dance. I later appreciated the activities, but at the time didn’t understand how strong my heart was for handling all of them.
My dad taught me karate from when I was 6 until I was 17. I also taught once I was advanced enough. Those skills trained me to catch on quickly, retain ALOT of information and focus. After I stopped karate I realized I learned more than just those skills, I learned many lessons as well.
I was terrible in math, but great in english. I wanted to be an actor but I was too shy to get in front of people and ever DO anything. That is of course unless it was a kata or with my dance group. But that was different somehow. I did Tennis for 2 years, Volleyball for 1 year and threw the shot put and discus for 3 years. I did weight training in High School and in gyms once I graduated and left high school. I wasn’t super into cardio, although I could run pretty fast. No really knows that though, well Antoan did. He knew that in Junior High I clocked in the 100-yard dash 7/10ths of a second slower than the fastest girl in school. He knows that when I sprinted, it was never my fastest, it was fast enough though. meh.
My first musical that I auditioned for was "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." Ro made me audition, I sang something from beauty and the beast that made them think i was a soprano. woops. I learned other songs later that were more in my range. Community theatre was an excellent outlet for me. I was creative, I was learning, I was dancing and singing and acting and moving and around friends that loved to do it too. Eventually with such a small community of performers you’d see the same people at auditions, the same people would get cast in the same kind of roles and the same people would be the parents, or the chorus or the background. We’d have the same choreographers, same light designers and same costumers. They were all great, we were one big happy family, with of course bits of drama here and there – like any other family. bla bla bla. Some could sing, some could dance, some would get tired, but I could recover quickly. I was probably 175/180 pounds.
I played the clarinet for two years in elementary school, was pretty good at it but come junior high I had to choose between drama or band, so I chose drama. 7th grade I was quiet and sat alone. 8th grade I was loud and making myself get out of my shell, it worked. I nabbed a lead role in both shows we put on. Both were musicals. Then people thought I sang "loud" it wasn’t until later I learned I was "belting" Even then I needed people to learn to stay with the music. Couldn’t they hear they they were going too fast? and it didn’t sound right? oh well. It was junior high, I weighed what – 140? 150lbs?
My senior year of high school I was in dance company and A Cappella choir. I promised my good friend Dave Brewer that I would audition for choir, so I did and I got in and I had to sport the Big Blue Dress. It was seriously the most horrid looking thing ever and a terrible fabric that showed your flaws and your sweat. Terrible, unflattering length with poofy shoulders and an odd square/diamond v-neckline. Not suitable for anything other than burning. I was around 170 by then. Muscles, rolls on my stomach were always there, I was tan, a 36 B and sometimes the rest of the choir still sped up. Some people just don’t get.
After high school I worked in a kitchen store for a year then started to work in the Hospitality Industry at The Cliffs Resort. After a few years there I moved on to the Embassy Suites in SLO as a Revenue manager. I was a size 12, and wore heels every day. I loved my job and my co-workers. I wasn’t too obsessed with going to the gym, I was 185. Then I got a great idea and went to pursue my acting career. I had an entertainment manager, and an agent and was living in burbank with my best friend. I had 3 jobs and was auditioning. We lived off of ramen, mcDonald’s coffee and yogurt with granola. Sometimes we’d splurge and get doritos and macaroni and cheese. The 99¢ store was our alleged grocery store. I can still hear the clinking sound every time an item was scanned and an "uh-oh" when it was scanned incorrectly…somehow. Eventually we just couldn’t afford the roof over our head let alone food in our fridge, did I mention that for the first 2-3 months there we didn’t have a fridge. We used an ice chest. Yah, good times. I left Burbank in 2004 weighing in at 221 pounds.
I had lived at my dadda’s house upon my return. He and his wife Terry were wonderful. It was nice to have a roof over my head, food and no debt – by the way I filed Bankruptcy at the age of 24. All I needed to do was pull myself together, get a job then go for it again. Only I didn’t tell my friends I was back just yet, or where I was. I wouldn’t take their calls, and I wouldn’t talk to them online. I was hiding. Not just from them, from myself. My weight depressed me, my LIFE depressed me. I started Sporting The Green Apron and experienced my love hate relationship with them, even transferred when I moved again to Vista.
In the midst of my return to civilization and STGA I was back at karaoke with my friends and ran into Michael Jenkinson, and some of his friends. I had sung Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked and they heard and had all encouraged me to contact Stephanie Courtney at PCPA to audition for school. So I did, then auditioned, got accepted and started Fall of 2005. I was 215 pounds but still limber, kind of strong and willing to learn. I got to school andbegan my love/hate relationship for that as well. Dealing with things like "oh you knew Michael Jenkinson BEFORE auditions for Beauty and the Beast? oh THAT’s why you were cast as a swing and understudy" Forget that I might have actually had a bit of talent. I shrugged it off, and proved myself to those ones, earned their respect and moved on. At the end of my first year the Conservatory Director Roger DeLaurier gave us a "pep-talk" about being second years. About the shape we needed to be in. That was mentally, emotionally and physically. I took it seriously and had already been doing Weight Watchers for a couple months at that point. I continued to stay true to my nutrition and exercise during the summer. Upon my return to school in Fall 2006 I was down to 200. That was a new balance of muscle and my beloved fat rolls. But I’d been in the 200-210’s for 5 or 6 years now, it wasn’t new, but it felt better. My heart felt better.
By graduation, May 2007 I weighed 190lbs. An all time low for my adult life and i was 20 pounds from my ultimate goal. I wore a size 14 again, comfortably and most importantly to me at that time – I was in love. I fell in love fast, got married fast and finished school happy and confident. A the end of the summer in 2007 my husband and I moved to Vista, CA for him to attend school at SDSU. It was a rough few months settling in, finding jobs and him going to school. I didn’t have any friends, well I had Mentor about 20 miles south of me and we saw each other when we could. That was nice. By March 2008 I began Esthetician school at The Palomar Institute of Cosmetology. I needed something to do that was for just me, that I would enjoy. I was a member of 24 hour fitness and took Gloria (my 1st generation iPod shuffle) with me and we’d make my heart feel better. The gym was my place. The smell of sweat, the sound of machines and the clinking of free weights felt more like home than my apartment did. This was the place my heart felt at its best. In May of 2008 my husband and I began our trial separation. He was not into communication and liked making decisions without me so he went to work in Santa Rosa and I was to stay home and finish school as well. Only, my heart couldn’t take it. I had no one, nothing. I had too much vodka. So I took a leave of absence from school for 60 days and came back to the Central Coast for a bit. I watched my nephew every day for a few hours while his parents went to work. I watched TV with friends, I went to karaoke and I didn’t want to leave.
In August 2008 my husband said he wanted a divorce, by that time so did I. True to my princess form I thought when I returned home he would say I was right, he was sorry and wanted to make it all work. I wanted him to fight for me, and instead he threw up a white flag. I was disappointed. Both in myself and in him. Some days it felt okay, sometimes it just wasn’t. And true to his form he ran away from any problem. He never liked to face problems, he liked to run away. It didn’t feel good to be thrown away, and I don’t know how it felt to him – but a part of me also just didn’t care anymore. I made myself stay to finish school. I would get something out of this year if it killed me. And in November I did finish school and I got licensed and I was home.
Living at my mom’s house. Twenty-nine years old, in the middle of a divorce and eating everything in site. Jobless in search of an Esthetician position and being pursued by a man who lived over 200 miles away from me. It was a nice ego boost, but who’d want me? What could I possibly have left to offer? I go out with my friends to karaoke, I rarely wear makeup. I’ve been wearing the same disposable contacts since September of 2008. That’s five months longer than I should. So I wear my glasses when I can, but my eyes are still getting worse and I can’t see all that well.
Being back in town allowed me the ability to see my friends plays at the drop of hat. Go catch a matinee, or just walk around downtown SLO because we can. It allowed me to go see Rik’s home games and have my dadda’s BBQ on a random weekend. I finally started working, but I still need to build a clientele. Being home meant Smurf and I could spend a whole day doing nothing but watching TV together and talking. Being home meant seeing my sister whenever I wanted and it meant I could finally see her husband’s band play. For a while Matt, Dan & Loren went by "MDL" as a band. Eventually they landed on a band name and "Each Passing Day" released their first studio album entitled "Welcome Home" and were playing in local coffee houses and bars. Their songs are reminiscent of days I’d sit back with headphones and a walkman chewing bubblebum. They were boppy here and sentimental there.
Of recent, they played at SLO Downtown Brew to fans wobbling in half broken chairs and screaming with applause after each song. In a closing number front man Loren Radis checked in with drummer Matthew Schmitz, my brother-in-law again making sure they were together. He had done this a few times during the night, which reminded me of something a teacher of mine once said at PCPA. In a Sing Tech class with Jonathan Swoboda he said the life of the song resides in the pulse. The pulse. Not the beat, the beat can change, the rhythm can change, but the pulse – was the life. It was the constant that allowed music to become. And in some strange metaphoric world where lights swirled I realized that for months, I’d had no pulse.
Loren Radis’s lyrics bounced off the audience like a giant beach ball. Those who knew the song sang along the way we do when we’re in the car or the shower, and we all sound twelve when we sing in a crowd. The sound of his voice was like a magic wand and with every crescendo parts of my iced over heart had begun to melt, and I reached over and grabbed Mr. Man’s hand, who was sitting next to me. Anyone who has never been dumped would categorize this song in the "just another break up song" place. Anyone who has suffered emotional heart ache and possible heart failure would call it an anthem. And it was more than the lyrics, it was the guitar, it was the base, it was the drummer.
It’s the pulse behind the front man
It’s the pulse, behind the front-man
It’s the pulse behind the front, man.
I’m 238.7 pounds and I just recently realized I’ve been without a pulse for months. For years my worries were small, my problems were few and I would blow them up. I’d make them bigger than they actually were. For years I’d set my mind on a goal and fight for it but I’d lose somehow. Then all of that went away and I got married. I was prepared to live happily ever after as the cliched couple where the actor married the techie. I was prepared to struggle, but come home to warmth. It wasn’t until I felt my heart begin to melt that I had realized it had been frozen over. I had stopped coming home to warmth and would go home to emptiness. I didn’t get that even though I was getting up and going to school and eating and functioning that I wasn’t a person anymore. I had become more than detached, a part of me was actually dead inside. Even after dating someone else and hearing them tell me to my face that I’m detached and they want to help, I didn’t understand – I wouldn’t. I had eaten myself into a depression blaming everything but the food and everyone but myself. And equally as horrible I was not taking out on family or friends, I was taking it out on a man I loved.
And in the midst of my strange rendition of a 60’s high, having no drug use to actually base it on – I thought to myself::::
Was I going to apologize for my childish behavior?
Would I ask him to buy me another drink?
When was the band playing again and where?
I missed some of my teachers
I missed some of my classmates
I was poor, but rich in other ways
Does my weight actually define me in any real way?
Should I wear make up for him more often?
I need clothes that fit.
I wished Cincinnati was here to listen, she’d understand – somehow.
Why did Jeffrey really want to be rid of me?
I miss the gym
Am I really that terrible?
Am I not approachable or easy to talk to?
I want to record the songs I’ve written so I have them
How cool would it be if they opened for John Mayer?
Does he do any Beatles songs?
Will Mr. Man play his guitar for me again soon?
Would he love me longer than the others?
Would he always pursue me?
Even after our fights, he comes back to me.
My life was telling me it wasn’t about just physical health, or mental health. It was also emotional.
And as I sat there reminding myself of what I’ve been through in almost 30 years I looked over at him and think of what the next 30 might do to me. And it scares me, and intrigues me but at least the beat is going on. At least now as the front man in my own life, I can check in with my drummer and know that I have a pulse. I know that my heart is on its way to better health, again. On with the show.
Hear the song The Show by Each Passing Day by clicking on the link.
I’d like to thank my parents for always encouraging me to do what I wanted to do and letting me live at their house when I had no where else to go. My siblings, you are a reason for anyone to keep moving forward. Your support in all my endeavors is the reason I’ve survived them thus far. To my friends, our playtime keeps me young and so do your children! I wish we could dedicate more of our lives to each other and more often. To all of my ex-boyfriends, former flings, and supposed boy toys – thanks for the lessons, wish it didn’t happen the way it did but I wouldn’t change it either. Sometimes drama makes for good story-telling. And here’s to my future, may you always come back to me.
Nobody Reads This, the Series was written from my point of view of my experiences. The only way I could somehow write exactly how I felt or thought I tried to keep in mind that journaling as if nobody read it, allowed me to be more free with my writing. Instead of purposefully writing for an audience. Thank you for the time you give freely to read my thoughts and opinions and experiences.