Finishing the hat

When I was in my late teens to early twenties I lived with my siblings at my mom’s house.  Up the street was an elementary school, and on weekends the fields were used by the city for kid sports activities and games.  Like T-Ball, or CAPS (Coach Assisted), little league stuff.  When my youngest brother was playing these sports was when my older (and only) sister taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned.  A lesson I have often returned to in times of crisis, or heightened emotions, family fights or disagreements.  I return to it when I find myself to prideful, or when I am in the line of fire of someone else’s pride or stubborn self-righteous behavior.  I return to the lesson when my close friends are in crisis or heightened emotions and the like.

Family shows up.

That’s it.  Three words.  Simple.  True.  Important.

My brother had a game, up the street at that school and I was in bed, sleeping in because I had a late rehearsal from a musical I was involved in.  My mom came in and asked me if I was going to Rik’s game, and I mumbled “no” and rolled over and went back to sleep.  She closed the door and I heard her and my sister talk briefly, then my sister came in and asked me, with a firm tone “why aren’t you coming to Rik’s game?” I snapped back that I was tired and had a late running rehearsal last night, and I rolled back over again.  She stood there for a brief moment in silence.  Then she said “how would you feel if none of us went to see your show?” and she closed the door.  I’m guessing she didn’t ask the question to receive an answer.  But I lay there and opened my eyes and considered it.  I considered what it would feel like to look out at the audience during my show and see empty seats where my family was supposed to be seated.

Then I got up.  Washed my face, got dressed and walked up to the school, because family shows up.

When I was old enough,  I moved out of my mothers house, pay rent for my room in SLOville at The Barn, pay my share of electricity bills and water bills and gas bills.  This kind of freedom also meant driving to hang out with my friends.  Whether it was for lunch, down at the bar for karaoke, whatever.  The friends I made in my early twenties I didn’t know would remain in my life almost 20 years later . The few people I kept in contact with after high school have also remained present and that’s over 20 years.  These friends, have helped me move to different cities, different states even.  These friends have bought me groceries when I was low on funds, they’ve put gas in my car between paychecks, they’ve stayed the night if a roommate was out of town so I wouldn’t be alone.  They answer their phones in the middle of the night if I’m stuck on the side of the road. They’ve seen me laugh and cry.  They’ve seen me depressed and struggling.  They’ve seen me excel and they celebrate little and big things with me. They taught me family is not formed only by blood.  They taught me this by showing up when I needed them, not just when it was convenient – and that was another big lesson to learn

Family find the way to put pride on hold when big events happen.  Family shows up during big events and help, not hurt or harm – especially on purpose or out of pride.

I was reminded of this today, after an extremely ugly and difficult day yesterday.  A friend I’ve known since I was 14 reminded me , simply, and I quote “we learn who our real family and friends are when the chips are down, not when things are good.”

It’s so easy to live life during the upswing.  Then someone words something wrong, someone misunderstands, someone takes a stand, someone fights the stance and innocents are hurt as collateral damage.  Lies are told because the truth isn’t accepted as actual truth because then someone would have to take responsibility for being wrong.  Pride, stubbornness, ego, self-righteousness.  I’ve been on both sides of those words.  And every time I was the one being prideful, or righteous – I was the one who was wrong, and I’m thankful I learned that lesson a while ago.  Because I don’t know if I’d listen to that lesson once I’m set in my ways.

My wedding is in 10 days.  My fiance is the stay-at-home parent of our 19m old twins, and I run my own spa as a solo-practitioner.  Instead of eloping in Vegas (which was an option), or getting married at the courthouse (another valid and inexpensive option), we waited and planned and saved money for over a year so that our friends and family would be present and witness how far we’ve come as a family, and celebrate with us.  What I know is that our real friends, and real family will, in fact, show up.

And those who cannot show up physically because of work, mileage etc.,  – distance and obligations are understandable and we know you’d be here if you could.  It’s when you have choice to be here, and choose to not show up that our disappointment sinks in.

I’ve missed putting my thoughts and feelings and experiences here.  It’s been over two years.  I think it’s time to come back.  I think I’m ready to show up here, again.  It won’t be like picking up a paint brush and covering an old picture with something new.  It’s more like something I’ve been staring at and not knowing how to paint it.  What colors or shapes to use and add.  Where is the light source so I can highlight what should be highlighted, and allow shadows to exist without being in darkness.  So, I’ll be here again, soon.  I’ll show up again, soon.

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2015 Year In Review

Normally these reflections on the past year bring back all kinds of  good memories.  Although I am not reflecting on anything “bad,” this last year was quite unexpected, at least the last half was.  The last half of 2015 was full of huge changes and discoveries.  Most days I found to feel “every day” but ultimately the changes are life-altering, full of surprises, confusion, old love becoming new love again and coming to terms with the choices I’ve made.  Those choices will become the kind of challenges I never thought I’d cross, and it’s difficult for me to be humbled and simply say “thank you” but as I walk up to these new changes and challenges I should immediately thank those who have supported me.  I should thank those who have made changes in their lives based on my changes, like my mother.  I should thank my friends who have stuck by me and listened to me complain, and cry, and yell.  Friends that have allowed me to be lazy or secretive because I was not yet ready to let everyone else in.    I should thank my New Mister, who in fact is not “new” but an old love, rekindled, for choosing me (again).  For not judging me, but listening and caring.

And I will–I will thank all of you, somehow.

 

january 02January

 JANUARY

Continuing the luck-of-the-draw in playing The Lotto to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, my housemate, Ianina and I went to play to see John Cameron Mitchell star in the role he created.  The show itself is fun, a little different with each actor that steps in.  JCM was more fun than I could’ve imagined.  His jokes and improv were spot on, and although when he came out of the Stage Door he declined taking pictures with people, we could photo him and when he passed by me I asked if I could hug him and he said “of course.” and hugged me.  I had whispered to him “excellent work tonight” and he squeezed me tighter and whispered back “thank you so much.” Hedwig was not the only show I saw this month!  My christmas present to Boyfriend Jenn was to see Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man.  We had a “Bradley Cooper Weekend” watching the show, and Hangover, and interview clips from the show and other movies he was working on.  It’s possible we paused the movies we watched and posed next to him with smoochie faces…shut up.  We have fun when we’re together!  Although it was winter, I successfully scheduled time amidst my full time work and full time school routine to continue Kick Boxing, introduce Mr. Gutter to Pedros in Brooklyn (the first decent mexican food I had found in NY), get to Physical Therapy, do homework, and job search.  The spa I had been working at was losing it’s sparkle when the owner started talking to me and treating me poorly.  I had finally accepted “friend requests” on fb from classmates (a rule I previously set in place for good reasons), and I took a leap into being vulnerable by posting two videos of songs I’d written on the piano, and sung.  They were taken down only days later…but I tried!

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FEBRUARY

By february I posted a third video of a song I wrote and played on the piano–and also took it down days later.  It’s quite terrifying putting personal things like that out there for people to see and hear, I thought I could do it and let people see that part of me.  But…nope! ha!  My days started by waking up at 7am, leaving for work by 930a, leaving work by 730p for class, staying there until 11p and getting home by midnight.  Only to hope I could fall asleep with minutes of laying down by 1a in hopes I could sleep all 6 hours before doing it again.  My housemate and I got last minute tickets IN THE FRONT ROW to see “The River” with Hugh Jackman in it.  I remember there was a scene where he was preparing dinner in silence and someone started applauding because he was cutting vegetables and such.  Quite funny.  We were close enough I could’ve reached up and grabbed him–but I didn’t.  Ever the well-behaved audience member.  She also treated me to “Cabaret” with Emma Stone and Alan Cumming as a christmas present.  So so so so so FUN!  Being this close to Broadway to be able to see these shows is one of the BEST things about living here! During February I also wrote one of my favorite blogs entitled “(S)wipe Out” and I interviewed at a prestigious high end spa, where I sat with the owner and CEO and talked, then did a mini facial and a back massage and was offered the position on the spot!

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MARCH

It wasn’t as snowy by now, but still quite cold.  My days were basically Work/Class/Clinic.  Approaching the end of my two-year attendance I was in the middle of writing and studying for finals, as well.  I left the spa I was working at having accepted a new position with Ling Skin Care NYC.  I used my crockpot more, including making a stellar chicken enchilada soup with home made enchilada sauce! (thank you very much).  I attended IECSC, a spa convention that spans 3 days of great deals on skin care equipment and products, and classes.  I saw the show “If/Then” starring Idina Menzel with my friend and housemate, Sloan.  That show…you must pay attention to.  If I had had any booze in my system I would’ve been lost for sure.  It had to be a bit difficult for the cast, as well, to keep it all straight while learning it.  That picture up there is outside of a restaurant Sloan and I walked by on the way to the train from seeing If/Then.  I found it random enough to document.  Sloan moved out at the end of the month and went back to North Carolina (where I believe he is now happily married).

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APRIL

UGH! I love those boys.  My nephews that live in Jersey! Mr. Gutter invited me along to Medieval Times in Jersey for my birthday and paid for my ticket, an announcement during dinner, and the king named me a Lady and Dame of the Realm.  I have a picture, a scroll, and video to prove it…muuuahahaha.  Boyfriend Jenn took me to see “Something Rotten” for my birthday.  Now THAT is one hilarious show! So many shakespeare jokes (tons I probably missed, too) and many jokes about musicals and other shows in general.  Such a good time! After, we went to The Playwright and had dinner and drinks.  So this birthday year was a total win!  I graduated from the New York College of Health Professions with an Associates Degree in Occupational Studies for Massage Therapy, a two year course and over 1,000 hours in anatomy, myology, pathology, neurology, different techniques and much more.  I celebrated with a few choice classmates by drinking and singing at Planet Rose, we called it Wepa Wednesday.  I was definitely hammered by the end of the night.  Wow.

MAY

Up there are the band members of Face The King, and I love them.  The second one from the left, Dan, is the one who got me to listen to them and I finally got to see them play live (in Long Island…) and meet all of them.  By “meet” I may have attacked them with hugs as well…and bought a shirt and had them all sign it.  It was a month of favorite bands as I was also able to see Bound By Substance play at the Mercury Lounge.  It had probably been over a year since I’d seen them play! May 3 also held my anniversary date for moving to NY.  I went to The Rockstar’s (Dino Colacito) house for Preakness…a horse race of some kind where I dressed up and we drank rose ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT long.  Wow.  Then I was further extended the invite to his Annual Memorial Day BBQ where I had beer.  Ten of them.  I don’t like beer–I drank ten because it was free and available to me.  I saw Age Of Ultron, and wrote a blog important to me entitled “Behind Paper Trees” where a song by Face The King was referenced and used.

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JUNE

This was the month that began to change everything.  I had more “me-time” on my hands available and that was lovely, truly.  A friend of mine was moving, so he came over to say goodbye.  I saw Face The King perform live AGAIN, this time for the Indie Music TV launch.  The drummer, Randy recognized me as the really loud girl from their concert in Long Island–I’ll take it, and I found the lead singer hiding on a couch somewhere.  I of course went over to bother him and he said (mouthed) hello and how are you.  I found The Guitar Player (Dan) and hugged him.  They are truly amazing to me.  I was the only girl at my spa that was an Esthetician AND a Massage therapist, so I did all the body treatments and a few facials and some of my loyal clients followed my over there.  I enjoyed a two-week vacation to CA to visit family and friends.  So much happened there…saw Eddie Izzard live, my mother turned 60 and we had a Beatles themed wine tasting birthday party for her.  Mr. Gutter and my two jersey nephews were also visiting CA so we were all able to be together for a  couple days.  Siblings got a matching tattoo, Adriane hosted a sleepover, wine tasting, I drove up to visit the Champeau’s for a couple days.  Had dinner with a good friend, bought a new fun dress, went to karaoke and saw so many old friends that it was more like a reunion from the good ol’ Sunset Dunes Days.  I hadn’t seen Randy and Cortney in over a decade! And I officiated a friends wedding.  I’ve known Shaun for almost two decades by now, I love his lady Aja, they have a son together and they’ve been wanting to get married for a while.  So I said–lets do this while I’m visiting!  It was an excellent day.  What else? Mr. Gutter’s sister, Sarah, visited and we toured the city for about 8 hours getting them to certain sites as quickly as we could.  Including the 9/11 memorial site, which is quiet, very clean and beautiful.  Marriage Equality hit all 50 states during this month! And by the end of the month I had strep throat and it was horrible.

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JULY

I had a doctors appointment thursday July 2nd.  I hosted a 4th of July brunch and we watched ID4 (as per tradition, of course).  Boyfriend Jenn and her boyfriend Jeff (sounds funny, right?) came over, as did The Professor and Lady Schrift, and my newest housemate Elizabeth also had a friend visiting and they had brunch with us as well.  I made Independence Day Sangria, and tried Grapefruit beer–it was delicious.  I went to Jersey to visit Mr. Gutter and since Jenn had the boys, we were able to have dinner and chat (good chinese food), and we went to see Terminator: Genesis–which was super awesome, in my opinion.  During this month I had decided I’d be moving back to the Central Coast by September, but I told very few people.  Immediate family only, and I began interviewing people to take over the lease of my apartment.  Hoping I’d find a good match with the current housemates I had.  I didn’t want to leave NY, I needed to.  I had to.  I made a choice to move and over the next few weeks I would be coming to terms with that decision.  Ianina and I went to see a taping of the Seth Meyers show where the guests were Amy Schumer (promoting her movie Trainwreck) and she’s hilarious…REALLY, and the other guest was…a guy I recognized as “porn-stache” from OITNB. Also went to see the movie Trainwreck with my friends Jeremy and Deon, we had food somewhere at a BBQ joint, pretty good.  That movie was hilarious.  I want Amy to be a friend of mine.  My friend Jackie with her daughter, and I went to a place called La Flaca in the Lower East Side.  Best mexican food I’d had since moving to NY.  Sad I was JUST introduced to it, I would’ve gone there a WHOLE bunch in the past five years had I’d known.  Then Jackie treated us all to doughnuts at some bigtime doughnut place, and I got a Creme brulee doughnut, and realized WHY it’s a big deal place.  YUM.  I went with Mr. Gutter later to share the joy, and gave him my inversion table since I wouldn’t be taking it with me to CA.  I love that inversion table, hope it’s getting some good use.  Sucker is HEAVY and the dude carried it down five flights of stairs alone.  I pretty much carried the small bag of plastic accessories.  heh.  During this month I also began to take the Intensives at school as refresher courses to prepare us for the NYS Licensing Exam in August.  It was not fun, at all.  Ever.  We’d shove a trimester’s worth (or two) of information back in our faces in 3 hour increments.  I failed every single mock exam–so I was not excited about the fast approaching real-life-exam.

august

AUGUST

My last 30 days on the east coast began this month. 27 days left in NYC, and the remaining days were spent in Jersey visiting Mr. Gutter and the boys, and Boyfriend Jenn.  I also injured my back, making packing all 30 boxes extremely difficult.  I was literally in bed for over a week before I could make it down stairs or anywhere else.  And even then, I had to walk with my cane.  I left my job at Ling , she was extremely kind and understanding of everything and supported my decision to return to CA saying New York would always be there, and if I returned I’d have a job with her.  I thought was very kind and caring.  I FINALLY finished watching FireFly AND even saw Serenity, thanks to my friend Amanda.  Boyfriend Jenn came out to the city and we went to the Hunger Games Exhibition.  We spent over  3 hours there, and I wouldn’t have been able to manage without my cane…ugh.  There were a group of kids that got there the same time we did, and we just let them go in front of us knowing they’d rush through everything, and we wanted to take our time and appreciate every piece we saw, and read every sign and placard. I was able to pack and measure and ship 9 boxes alone, but I needed help with the other 21 boxes.  I had friends offering to come out to help, which was extremely thoughtful and I would not have been able to do it without them. So thank you Andrew and Monica.  Also thank you to The Professor and Lady Schrift for offering, if Andrew wasn’t already planning to be there you would definitely have been summoned!  haha  ugh.  Then there was The UPS FIASCO.  I don’t even think I have the energy to discuss it again.  They were just…always late, the drivers threw my stuff in front of me, the people on the phone were as helpful as a bag of sand and then they over charged me…A LOT.  In the end they refunded me some money, and I changed my debit card to avoid further radical charges from them.  The NYS Massage Licensing Exam was on thursday 8/27/2015.  My classmate Seiller (no, not his first name) drove us there, my cane with me.  I took the entire 3 hours allotted, and was convinced I failed.  There were SO MANY questions I literally guessed on because even deductive reasoning couldn’t help me. Some questions I closed my eyes and pointed and if it said “B” that’s what I shaded in on the answer sheet.  I simply…didn’t know some of the questions.  Friday morning 8/28 UPS showed up for the last time (they were supposed to be there wednesday 8/26…) and took the remaining 21 boxes I needed to ship to CA and Mr. Gutter arrived to pick me up and take me to Jersey.  He disassembled my piano, I had my back pack, purse and suitcase ready.  I left keys on the vanity where the new tenant would  see them.  I had already said goodbye to Elizabeth and Ianina.  I stood staring in my room.  The furniture still there for the next person, the empty hangers.  I had flashes that blinked in my mind painting those walls and the window sills of every room in that apartment.  Every.  Single.  Room.  I missed the french doors already, the hanging wine glasses.  I missed the uncontrollable heat from the radiators and poles.  I missed the humming of the A/C unit.  I missed the snow, and chalice nights with friends.  I missed reading in my recliner on my days off.  I didn’t cry, I just stood there and stared for a bit, and Mr. Gutter let me.  He was silent, just standing in the hallway waiting patiently for me.  Eventually I looked over to him and said ok, and he nodded and we headed out the door.  I closed the door, gently when I left and briefly placed my left hand on the door just beneath the apartment number, 54.  I didn’t say anything still, just took my moment and we headed down the stairs, got in the car and went to Jersey.  We ate at Red Robin’s I was introduced to Not Your Father’s Rootbeer. YUM.  I hugged and kissed my nephews a lot that weekend.  I told them why I was moving, I explained it as best as I could considering they were 7 and 4.  We read books and watched movies.  They played in their little pool and I watched them play basketball and ride their scooters.  I just…sat and watched them.  Trying to commit every movement, every facial expression to memory.  I know I was the lucky one that lived close enough to them to see them as often as I did.  I never took that for granted, but I also didn’t expect it to change anytime soon.  That’s the thing with changes, they happen when you aren’t expecting them.  My last day in Jersey I spent with Boyfriend Jenn, we had vietnemese food, had sonic ice cream shakes, watched Alias, and  the next morning I helped her set up her classroom.  She dropped me off to Mr. Gutter’s on monday 8/31 and I hugged her goodbye.  It’s hard to hug someone goodbye and not know when you’ll see them again.  Me and the boys did stories for the last time before bed time, I hugged and kissed them so so much and went to bed knowing I’d wake up and try not to cry.

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SEPTEMBER

On the first of September I woke up early as the boys were getting ready for school/daycare.  I hugged and kissed them goodbye and Mr. Gutter left with them and would be back for me.  I got up and got showered, repacked everything I had out the last few days and when he came back we went to breakfast (at a really cool cafe.  No idea what it’s called, several different kinds of eggs benedict though WOW), then he took me to the train station and I hugged him goodbye.  I didn’t have to say much.  Some people just know what you want to say and how you feel.  I hugged him and said “thank you.  for so many things.” and he said it right back.  I got on the train and made it to Newark airport, checked in (with my cane still…) and prepared for my flights home.  I was quiet the whole day.  I didn’t speak to people unless I had to.  I moved slowly because of my back and my mother picked me up at the Santa Barbara airport.  That was the airport I flew out of one-way to NY 5 years, and 4 months ago.  It seemed fitting she’d drop me off then, and pick me up now.  As much as I know she was happy to see me, and excited about the upcoming months, and the changes in my life, it was hard to be happy to see her.  Only because I was still adjusting to the circumstances that brought me back to CA.  I stayed with her in Los osos for a couple days.  Then I stayed with my friend Seanah for a couple weeks until the place my mother was moving to was available.  Living with my mother again would be a challenge, for different reasons.  She’s not a bad person, but I left “the nest” 16 years ago.  Neither one of us knew right away how we’d work it out, living together again.  But was thankful she found a place that I could live.  Knowing I had very little to contribute, it was very humbling and difficult to accept what was happening.  By mid september we moved in to the new place, my back was still not 100% so my brother Rik helped me move  all 30 boxes from my sisters place, to the new place.  And I began to settle in.  I also, oddly enough, reached out to say hello to someone who recently crossed my mind.  Hoping over the past 13 years he’d had a wonderful life and gotten everything he ever wanted.  I found him on fb and said hello and friended him, we spoke on the phone and it was fun to play catch up.  He’s not someone I ever thought I’d speak to again, but he was also not someone I ever wished bad things upon.  We dated in my early twenties.  from 2000-2002, and our breakup was not an ugly toxic thing.  We just wanted different things, or I wasn’t ready for certain things and didn’t want to feel I was holding him back. By september 20th I was heading down to la to have lunch with one friend, then meet up with another friend Dana and go see a movie called The Stockroom.  A movie at the la indie film festival that my friend Victor wrote/directed/starred in (I met him in NY), and I invited that same guy I dated 15 years ago.  He was working within the industry as well and I thought it would be fun to see him. The three of us (he, dana, and myself) went to see Victor’s film, then to ice cream and then found out we could go to Disneyland the next day with my friend Jack.  It was a wonderful time.  I came back to the central coast on tuesday, and I stayed in contact with my old flame.  I continued to unpack into my room at my mothers place keeping in mind I wouldn’t be the only one in there.  It was a slow process.  I had also been applying for jobs, then was offered one in SLOville at a massage and wellness spa.  I’d only be able to work there for a few months, but anything would help and the owner was kind and understanding about all of it.  By the end of the month I found out I passed the NY State Massage Licensing Exam (even though I wouldn’t be there to practice), which meant I would not have to take an exam in CA.  I will only need to send in the application and requirements and a copy of my license.  That was a nice win.  I also, made plans to go back down to la to visit my old flame.  We’d been talking on the phone and skyping and wanted to see one another again.

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OCTOBER

My old flame was re-nicknamed to McDreamy for a couple reasons, one he has great hair.  All curly.  ha! I was able to go visit him twice during October.  We’d go see movies, or stay home and he’d cook for me.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I was spoiled.  He made everything left in me light up like the Rockefeller tree.  He became very important to me, very quickly.  My auntie Agnes and Auntie Maria came out for a visit and I let them know why I moved back from CA.  Mr. Gutter and his girlfriend Liz came out for a visit and stayed at my mothers place.  We had a good breakfast at Penny’s All American Cafe in Pismo and walked on the pier.  At one point I went over to Lil Bits Cafe and had breakfast by myself.  I don’t mind being alone, at times I even prefer it.  It’s something I learned to like while living in New York.  I didn’t have to entertain anyone, or invest in any conversation. I could just go about my business in quiet.  I also had breakfast at Bon Temps with my brothers.  I didn’t go to any halloween parties, but The Guitar Player (from Face The King) posted he needed last minute ideas and took MY suggestion, which pretty much made me the winner of everyhing.  I wrote an important blog called “A Conversation” revealing the main reason I moved to CA and answered as many questions as I could within that blog so that I would not get caught with people asking the same things over and over.  Later I revealed that Sourdough was a girl, and Rye Bread was a boy, and both were just fine still baking in my oven.  The crowd went fooking wild.

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NOVEMBER

The Dog Haus is a hot dog chain.  McDreamy took me there during a visit and I didn’t even know what to choose, I wanted it ALL.  I was able to visit McDreamy twice in November.  We ate yummy food, had cozy nights at home, saw the Bodies exhibit and the Titanic artifact exhibit.  I had some kind of ridiculously good potato and corn chowder at Vinesa’s house, that was fun.  I started watching AHS: Freak Show.  Scary…could only watch it during the daytime. I wanted to indulge in butternut squash ravioli at Guiseppe’s and Brighteyes came along semi-spontaneously.  YUM.  I finally saw Insurgent (part 2 in the Divergent series) MockingJay part 2 came out and I went at roughly the same time as Boyfriend Jenn did in Jersey, so it could be like we went together.  The hunt for Adobo seasoning for a friend that couldn’t find it in her state, began.  However, all the places that normally sold it here, were also sold out every time I went!  Finally found some and shipped her a ton.  That’s an important thing to recall…  Thanksgiving happened.  My first in CA in 5 years.  I did the turkey again and family came over and we all ate and drank egg nog.  Sister helped pull the turkey apart, taking over the hands of Lady Schrift in our tradition of not-carving the turkey, but pulling meat off with our bare hands.  Good times.  I was also gifted several pieces of furniture from a friend that had twins 4 years ago, so big items were already being taken care of. All my friends have been very supportive and helpful donating furniture, clothes, towels, blankets, mattresses–all kinds of things have been handed down to me so I didn’t have to purchase new things for The Bread.  Very, very kind.  This would not have happened anywhere else.

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DECEMBER

Sleep left me alone and made me sad once December rolled around.  I’ve been told it’s like bootcamp, to prepare me for the lack of sleep I will be getting.  And the intervals in which I wake up are also a training course.  BOOOOOOO.  I miss sleep. What else?! My Wifey surprised me by showing up to The Bread Shower from SACRAMENTO.  Such a far drive.  I screamed and cried.  And she came to the house afterwards for a bit, and we had breakfast the next day before she left, as well.  I went to Cory & Jen’s annual holiday party and ate four pulled pork sandos.  Yah, I’m not afraid to admit that.  Freaking delicious.  Accompanied my mother to her work holiday party and watched an interesting game of White Elephant.  And my sweet, handsome Mister came to visit for a week and we spent New Years together.  He has been quite possibly the best surprise in my life since my return to CA.  With the upcoming life changes one would think a guy would keep his distance.  Not him, he cares for me and wants to see where all of this goes.  I didn’t see him or talk to him for 13 years, and now he’s in my life again making me happy.  Perhaps the odds really were in my favor.  Perhaps all the crazy, hugely unexpected changes that have occurred in the last 6 months of 2015 will actually work out.  Just when I think I’m beginning to understand life, it pulls the rug out from me, I fall down, and this time when I go to get back up I’m facing this guy again.  I don’t think I’m allowed to question anything anymore, I think I’m just supposed to go with the flow and see what happens.

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It’s an odd feeling to be thankful for things you never thought would happen in your life, ever  Quite, quite odd.  And instead of analyzing and over-analyzing, like I’m used to, I find myself not asking as many questions but simply accepting the facts and my feelings.

Shows seen in NY before leaving (in no particular order)…. 

The Elephant Man

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Cabaret

If/Then

Placebo

Something Rotten

The Visit

On The Town

The River

Shows seen in CA 

The Foreigner

A Christmas Survival Guide

The Great American Melodrama’s Holiday Extravaganza

Books read:

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy part 3)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me

[yikes, that it for reading??? Mind was on other things this year, clearly]

What I learned

There is never a good time to take a risk, it’s one of the reasons it is called a risk.

Challenges are what happen when you make a choice (and/or take a risk)

Even when the odds are against you, or chances are low for something to ever happen–it could still happen. Thus leaving you to make a choice, take a risk and meet the challenges.

I actually did not want to end up being the 40 year old single lady at the karaoke bar with my Jameson and Gingerale, singing 20 year old songs and “making friends” for the night with the twenty somethings (which I think was where my social life was headed, having given up on relationships or connections with people.  I was very much a loner at times)

Painting all the rooms and hallways in my NY apartment, taking over the lease, carefully selecting housemates, made it all the more difficult to leave.  Because I put so much of my time and energy there.  It was the longest I’d lived anywhere.  I was the most successful I’d ever been in my adult life, living in NY and working as an esthetician.

Sometimes choices are made for us, because we are too distracted or unsettled to make them ourselves.

Being thankful is not the same as being humbled.

The only person that has judged me as much as I thought over the past years, is me.

Asserting myself is not the same as defending myself.  Both of which are important, but don’t necessarily need to be taken to battle.

Isolation shows you who you really are.

Loneliness is not the same as being alone.

Extroverts and introverts are titles that are too black and white to use alone to describe someone.

I miss singing and performing.

My past experience with men and relationships doesn’t define my worth as a partner. In fact, it only makes me better at understanding myself and my current Mister–who has incidentally made everything in me light up again.

I can avoid major sweets like chocolate bars, cake, cookies, ice cream, for  30 days and not die.  hahaha

I know more about skin care than I thought I did, I found this out by how I was learning new products and my knowledge of ingredients and skin analysis.  It makes me a good teacher, so I’m told.

It’s called Massage Therapy, not Massage Luxury, for a reason.

What I aim for in 2016

I want to learn Sign Language (still…20+ years in the making by now..no?)

I want to learn Calligraphy

I want to choose massage specialties to offer (currently considering: prenatal, trigger point, reflexology, sports, and asian body treatments where I’d be working with the meridians and points), and build a clientele along with my esthetics work. I need to be able to make a living again with the skills I’ve learned.

Say thank you more often.  It’s very difficult for me to say thank you when it’s regarding things I didn’t want to have happen.  Or when things don’t happen the way I wanted them to, I don’t acknowledge the effort of others enough, I think. Not because it’s not good enough, or they aren’t good enough, but somewhere in my head its just more difficult to be thankful when it’s not going my way or the way I wanted.  It’s quite selfish of me, and that’s not a good thing.  Even though I feel trapped, and like a failure for so many things, I have to be able to say thank you. This will be very hard for me.

Be open to help with The Bread.  I’m stubborn and want to do things on my own and my way.  Asking for help will be extremely difficult, accepting help will be harder.  I hope I can ask and create boundaries at the same time.

Exercise.  Not just for me and my health, but now to be an example to The Bread, and to support a longer future with my significant other.  Let’s hope my 3 herniated discs do not impinge on such a goal.  I have my chiropractor here and I will go see him.  I will do my core strength exercises my Physical therapist told me to do over and over and over.

Remind myself I am the one who judges me the most.  Me.  Take responsibility for that and stop giving negative-credit to people.

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I ultimately just want things to work out (but I also hope I like how it all works out… know what I mean?)  I don’t feel like an adult right now. I live at my mother’s place, I will need her help.  I need to be thankful and SAY thank you.  My situation is only for now, it’s not forever.  Starting over again is never easy.  Never…ever.  And it seems harder because I was doing well.  I didn’t have to start over because I fell down.  I had to start over because I made a choice, a life changing choice.  And altering my life and my priorities is a difficult challenge, but I’d like to think I’m strong enough to step up to the challenge.  I’d like to think that I got myself this far, and I need to remind myself I didn’t get this far alone! I have had my friends and family behind me the whole way, rooting me on.  I need to remind myself of what discipline and motivation looks like, what results look like when you try, and what patience looks like when you shut up.

perhaps the luxury of fear

Today is Thanksgiving.  Facebook is full of what people are thankful for, in addition to memes that include sarcasm about how Thanksgiving came about.  Shrug.  Holidays.

Last year I hosted Thanksgiving in NY.  It was my 3rd year hosting, I believe.  I had a few friends over, friends that had been in attendance for a few years, and new friends.  We played games in the living room, I ate ALL the Bourbon Pecan Pie and a few days later I made turkey soup with the turkey carcass, like you do.

Last year I didn’t for one moment, not one second, think I’d be in CA this year for Thanksgiving.  Not one moment passed where I thought it would be my last Thanksgiving out in NY with those people.  I went about my holidays.  I came home to CA for 4 days for Christmas, I came back again in June for a two week vacation, then I moved back in September.

Because everything changed.

Today I’m unsure of how to be thankful.  There are, of course, the obvious things: a roof over my head (thanks to my mother), food (thanks to my mother), indoor plumbing…that’s always a good, important one to be thankful.  Thankful for having a vehicle to drive around, because you MUST have one here.  The public transportation is few and far between, and I can again thank my mother (and sister) for providing such a luxury.  I have a very small income right now, working part-time/flexible hours is not consistent but I also am unable to commit to more, for the same reasons I moved back.  I’m thankful my family is so close to me, sure.  Being able to see them pretty much whenever I want is nice, but it was a trade-out to my life in NY.  Not that one could replace the other, but that was the sacrifice.

My friends that are here have all accepted me back with smiles and hugs.  The close ones have made efforts to see me because I am not as socially fluttery as I used to be.  I’m older, and like my alone time and quiet time.  I’m not drinking whiskey (right now…heh), so I’m spending less money if/when I go out (making money, spending less is a good exchange I suppose)

I don’t feel as comfortable here, as I used to.  There are many reasons to love my hometown, many reasons I had left it as well.  There are simple treasures here, but I don’t feel as comfortable here as I used to.  And I often fear because I have changed, that returning would mean losing a chunk of my friends, because I’m not as comfortable here as I used to be.  I’m not as loud and crazy at karaoke as I used to be.  I don’t book out my time like I used to.  This friend for coffee and breakfast, that friend for lunch, this one for dinner or drinks.  I stay home, a lot.  I don’t speak as much.  I observe more.  My responses are less expressive, I think.  My intentions remain good, my delivery better now but still there is no perfection in my actions, reactions, or abilities to communicate.  And soon, in just a couple of months-soon, those will all be put to the test again and I’ll have to learn even MORE.  I’ll have to teach more, sleep less, try harder.

And I’m scared.

The holidays should bring such great, loving feelings and for the most part they do for me, they really do.  This year because I’m also preparing for the unprepare-able…I fear I’ve already failed.  Mild to heavy panic attacks or anxiety attacks just being close to other people is an odd feeling.  And it’s not because I don’t like these people anymore, it’s because of how my body is changing, how my emotions are handling it.  Some people think it’s hormones.  My experience with hormones is different, so this particular experience is a bit less-describable and relatable for me.

I’m thankful my friends and family have welcomed me home with open arms.  I’m thankful for the hand-me-downs I’ve been offered as I prepare for what comes next. I’m thankful for the seemingly non-judgemental attitudes and questions I’ve received from everyone.  It seems silly to express thanks for things that one would consider unquestionable, but I thought it would be different.  I thought I’d receive more questions about my decisions.  More harsh stares, or eye rolls. But I was wrong.

Even the gentleman I’m dating right now reacted differently than I thought when I sat down and spoke to him about why I’ve returned to CA.  I was prepared, more, to sit down and explain some things to him and have him say “oh…never mind, then.”  But instead he embraced me.  He cuddles up next to me, calls me every day (since he lives a few hours away, this is what we can do) and is thus far the only person I don’t get panicky over when he places his hand over my stomach.  I’m unsure how that magic works out, but he has a very calming effect over me.  More calming than my immediate family.  I feel safe with him, cared for, and heard.  Hugging him feels like home.  I’m thankful for him, and the way he accepts me, and the way he makes me feel.

This year is not what I expected or planned.  It has surprised me since we hit the half way mark of this year.  It has put me in a place and on a path I did not consider for myself.  I’m confused, nervous, scared, thankful, appreciative, closed-off, quiet, and and and and and…

Mostly I hope and wish everything will be okay.  Not just get-by okay.  Not just surviving-life okay.  But live-well okay.  I hope this time I get it right, not one thing in particular.  Many things.  I hope I get many things right. And that somehow the panic I experience, the fears, are ultimately luxuries and lessons in becoming a better human, and teaching new humans to be good as well.

 

 

adjustments, simply put

4 weeks.  2 days.

That’s how long I’ve been back on the Central Coast.  It wasn’t until recent days that I started to feel like I was actually living here again.  I stayed with my friend Seanah for a week and a half when I got here, that felt like a bed and breakfast vacation.  When I moved into my mother’s new place, it was partially furnished already.  The bed in “my” room was there, the furniture is my mothers, the hangers are even hers.  I unpacked my clothes and put them into drawers and hung them in the closet, but it felt like preparing for an extended stay at a hotel, or time share of sort.  Then I was offered a job at a Wellness Spa, part time, and I started training.  Then was open on the books, and worked with a new client.  Then, yesterday a friend helped me assemble a shelf to put my DVD’s, TVD’s (that’s what I call TV series on DVD.  Copyright, bitches), books, and games on.  I put a few framed pictures out as well.  Seeing things that belong to me, pictures of people I care about sitting on surfaces not mine, froze me a bit, in time. It wasn’t until that moment I felt like I was actually here, living here.

Returning has filled me with an array of mixed feelings.  Some are contentment, some are disappointment.  Somewhere in there I’m neither happy nor sad, unless I hear the voice of someone that’s returned to my life.  That has been interesting.  In returning, I was encouraged to think of things here that I liked, that I missed, that I’d look forward to having or seeing again.  In returning, I was making a checklist in my head of good times I’d had.  Landmark events like when I moved out of my parents’ house for the first time, and into The Barn in SLO with Kaza.  In returning, I looked at old photos of shows, and play-dates with friends and family and I thought of someone in particular.  Found him in fb, and said hello.  We texted, we chatted on the phone, we video chat, we spent time together in person and there were old feelings and new feelings that emerged.  That’s what happiness felt like here.  Happiness here was…is…about connection to people.  It’s such a small place that it’s not difficult but one can feel overwhelmed with the…responsibility…of providing that happiness–or something like that.  Where as in NYC I found different kinds of happiness, like being alone in a sea of people; going to a movie or dinner alone and not wondering or caring if I’d see someone I knew and furthermore wondering if they would feel sorry for me somehow, because I was alone.  These were choices.  Happiness, there, was a spontaneous trip to Broadway, or a friend coming over for drinks and a chat, or lunch and a walk around the city just talking.  Time with friends there, is nothing like time with friends here.  It’s harder there.  Everything is harder there, and something about that made me feel like everything I did, was earned.  It’s just…easier here.  I don’t have to earn things like I did there.   My alone time, I just have to stay home or not look up at people where ever I am.  Getting groceries without a car, in the snow, several blocks from home is earned.  The difficulty living there, is part of what made it so great.  The ease here is sometimes refreshing, and sometimes annoying.  The odds of seeing someone I know here are higher than in NYC.  That is something that takes adjustment, great adjustment.

I mean, I’ve changed. I know, I keep saying that.   I’ve grown up more in 5 1/2 years in New York City, than I did in my twenties total–but those were still extremely important and altering years.  I made terrible mistakes.  I learned hard lessons.  I succeeded, I failed, I loved, I disappointed, I earned every excelled heart rate, and equally every heartbreak. –I just don’t want those ups and downs anymore.  I’ve evened out, a bit–I think. I balanced out, more.   I’m more “set in my ways,” and beyond that I actually like the ways in which I’m set.  I’ve learned the difference between being alone and loneliness, and equally the choice in how I react to those moments and feelings.  Whether I like it or not.  I’ve learned my capabilities are flexible, depending on what the end goal is.  Spreading myself thin is worth it, sometimes. A commitment, and a challenge in my sanity and health–but still worth it, sometimes.   Saying “no,” is important, and okay.  Making excuses is not the same as giving the reason.  The reason may be disagreeable by others, but I do not give the reason to please or appease.  It is simply to let them know.  Beyond that, I hope that my reasons are taken as honesty and not harm.  Sometimes the reason is simply “because I don’t want to,” and I don’t need to explain beyond that.  I don’t need to make up an excuse or have people feel sorry for me, or ask their permission–I just let them know where I stand.  Sometimes that lands me in hot lava, sometimes I get a simple nod and “ok.”

What is starting to stir, though, in my adjustment time here is a certain kind of “want” or “hope” for lack of better word.  Every person I’ve seen again has said they are happy to see me or welcomed me back, and have equally asked if *I* am happy to be back.  The answer there, simply, is “not really.”  I am not necessarily ready to discuss every reason I moved back.  I know that my life is changing, and sacrifices and changes must be made.  Coming to terms with those facts has been the hardest adjustment of them all.  Coming to terms with anything life offers you, me….is always the hardest.

Every time I think about where I thought I’d be “by now,” I’m disappointed.  EVERY TIME??? Even simply starting massage school, and looking at when I’d graduate and be licensed and how I’d begin adding to my bank account because of the career move I invested in for my industry–I took the NYS Board Exam on my last day in the city, and moved days later.  Boom.  Disappointed.  I’m somehow unable to look at it and remind myself the two-year commitment it took to work full-time, and school full-time with homework and clinic work, and weather obstacles, and say “well done, Mersai.” I look at it and think “all that, just to move?” I defeat myself over and over again.  This is the hardest thing (lesson?) that I just cannot seem to grasp.  Celebrating the small victories is just as important as recognizing the overall accomplishments.  People tell me I do not give myself enough credit–I do not think I’ve earned that “credit.”  It’s very difficult for me to say “yes, I did that” and have it be Enough.

Which reminds me of two questions and important friend asked me during dinner while visiting in June.  “What is important?” and “What is enough?”

I’m afraid of listing what I believe is important, or enough, because what if I never get there?  What if not only am I never satisfied, but what I have to offer someone else isn’t enough either, or it’s too much by now? What if I put everything I am and everything I have left on the line, I put it all on the table, I open all the closets and expose all the skeletons and I’m told “no.” ? What then?  Do wake up, in this small town, where connection is easy, but choose to disconnect? Do I hide? Do I take it as a challenge and prove myself otherwise? What are my options, my real options?

Sigh.

I’m being…humbled, lately.  Was I riding a wave to high for me to handle? Was I getting arrogant by saying “I’m finally living my life, not just surviving it.” ? Did I swear off relationships long enough to find who *I* really am, and will that be enough? Have I learned, or earned enough for what I want NOW?  Was I on that upward swing too high, or too long, that something had to pull me backwards? Was I running too fast and that’s why I somehow face planted? What? What’s the reason? Who do I owe? What do I owe, to get back to that place? Back to the place of being assured.  Back to being brave enough to keep moving forward.  Back to being happy.

I have moments of joy and laughter.  Like when he calls or we Skype.  Memory lane has been a favorite place for me to spend time these past couple weeks.  Seeing faces of friends more often than once a year, or at least the idea of it, makes me smile.  But, I left here…because it wasn’t enough.  I left, because I couldn’t be here and be a daughter, sister, auntie, and friend–and have it be enough.  I left because I needed to find something, or find myself, then once I did or started to–it all changed again.

Was it worth it.  Are the butterflies in my heart and stomach worth it? Are the smiles and “welcome back” comments, worth it? Is the new job worth it? The new responsibilities, the new life.  Will it all be worth it?

This is when I’d sit at my piano and just play.  Play what I know, play what I feel.  This is when I cry because I’m unable to articulate or organize my words and thoughts.  This is when I try to just brain purge to find out what’s really going on inside me.  I’m stumbling, and tripping, and falling.  And those feelings are equally uplifting and encouraging, and making me feel like a drunken idiot.

What I know is: I have to be okay with what happens next.  I have to be okay with what happens next.  I have to be okay with what happens next.  I have to be okay with what happens next.

My problem: I’m terrified for what’s next.  Because some pieces I’m aware of, and other pieces I’m not.  All, equally, terrifying.  A question I don’t like asking, but currently have the constant reason to is ,”what if…?” and this is exciting and unsettling at the same time.

The Stockroom; a movie review

Victor Cruz.  A pretty awesome guy I met while I lived in NYC.  He rented an office across the hallway from the boutique spa where I worked.  I’d go in and visit with him on my lunch breaks.  A working actor in film and TV, taught acting classes, and he was getting ready to film a movie he wrote.  He wrote it, acted in it, and directed it.  The sound of that alone is intimidating enough for me to sort of bow a bit when I’d see him.  This guy never looked stressed out.  He always had a smile ready for me, a greeting hug, and some good laughs.  When I learned I had to move back to CA I was sad I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see his film when it released.  Turns out, I was able to go to the Los Angeles premiere, which incidentally was also the World Premiere.  Needless to say, *I* felt pretty cool just getting to be there.  And of course I felt even MORE special when I saw him and hugged him. “I know him!!”

The Stockroom was the last feature film of the LA Indie Film Festival to play.  It was Sunday 9/20/2015, 5pm.  I was accompanied by a good friend visiting from Florida, and a handsome guy-friend that lives in LA and works on his own projects, acting, writing, and editing.  Basically this day was pretty great.

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Joseph, a man that works in the stockroom of a store we never see is coming up on his 10th year working in the stockroom.  “Legend says” if you hit ten years in the stockroom, you’ll never get out.  The film starts with him excited about a promotion, which we quickly learn is not going to happen.  –Calm down, there are no major spoilers here– “Corporate” as it were, was sending someone else over to shake things up.  So not only does our hero, Joseph, not get his promotion, we start losing people that work there.  Even though it’s someone’s first day, and this never really gets addressed, it’s unimportant as to why a new girl shows up, the same day the bad guy shows up and starts firing people.  What we know is Joseph gets screwed out of a promotion and is basically left vulnerable because people that were above him and protecting him can’t help him now..  What we also know is he doesn’t want to be in the stockroom forever, he wants to do stand-up comedy.  Of course, there’s a girl he wants, of course she doesn’t want him back until someone else shows interest, and of course he comes around on his own and it’s okay that the girl and he are not together.  –All of this happens during a time clock that represents the one day he has until he hits that 10 year mark.

With moments of employees just living their own mild drama, we get to see the fun the stockroom-family makes with what they have.  Including but not limited to a little dance party, bubble wrapping and taping people up for fun, and listening to the wisdom bestowed upon them all by a guy that’s been there 25 years.  We like these people, I like these people.  They are relatable, and funny in their own ways.

The moment that made this movie “a good one” for me was the same part that made my eyes water up.  There’s something important about seeing the vulnerability of a character.  You take the simplicity of what this movie offers at first, then see this scene and realize the movie is far more than the superficial pieces of everyday life and work.  It’s doubt.  A visual, conscious version of Doubt and he walks in with his words like hammers.  We see him twice.  The first time he walked in he sounded so mean.  Hitting the sensitive spots like buttons, over and over, and watching the reaction…I was speechless.  When a man reveals what he loves, he also reveals his weakness, almost.  The places you could hit him to make him lower his head in defeat and sadness.  And watching this happen, it was like I was interrupting a private moment and I wanted to reach out and hug him and tell him not to listen to this visual-version-of-doubt.  Problem is, not only could I not do that–I’ve been there.  I’ve been right there, listening to doubt remind me of my own issues.  Telling me what I need to think is important vs.  what I love and want to go after.  I’ve been there when you want out of a situation so bad but feel a sense of responsibility to stay because it’s “safe.”  I’ve been there listening to a voice that sounds just like mine…break me down and basically tell me I’m a failure and a fool if I try anything else.  And that’s when I knew this was a good movie.  Up until then, it was fun with bits of “uh-oh.”  All of a sudden Joseph wasn’t just our hero for the movie, he represented anyone and everyone that wanted to DO something ELSE in life.  He represented the struggle we have inside.  The side we don’t let other people know exists because we don’t tell them about what’s really going on.  He represented the moment the superficial behaviors shed when we stand in front of a mirror and question everything we are.  And I loved it, and was scared of it all at the same time.

We come out of this moment and back into the stockroom with what’s going on outside of his own heart and mind.  We come out and are reminded of the demons he faces now, on the outside, not just on the inside, and we want him to win.  I want him to win.  I want him to win over the outside and the inside, for all of us that were never strong enough to keep moving forward.

Nearing the end of the day of his 9th year, he sees that outside demon again.  The one that marched in earlier in the day and started shaking things up, getting rid of employees and challenging his work ethic.  It is a face off, and what we get to see is Doubt again, walking up.  Reminding him of who and what he is, where he should be, the choice he should make.  And Joseph says something that changed it all for me “I don’t need you to protect me anymore.”  I never thought of that voice as a means of protection.  Never.  That voice was always just doubt for no reason.  No reason other than to push me down.  But here, we find that it very well could be something we create on our own, to protect ourselves.  It’s a voice somewhere between Doubt and Reason.

And it’s there, between Doubt and Reason we all realize this isn’t just a stockroom, this isn’t about a promotion, or about a big head honcho coming in and shaking things up.  This isn’t about the girl, or the new-girl.  This is about who we are right now, who we want to be, where we want to be, and the sacrifices, the risks…. it takes to step out of that self-inflicted “comfort zone.”  It’s inspiring and terrifying at the same time.  It’s there I cried the second time.

It’s because of that realization and experience everyone should see it.  If you’ve ever wanted something more, dreamt of something bigger…this movie is about you.  This movie is about you and where you are right now, and it makes you question the places you’ve wanted to go.

My advice? Take a look at your personal inventory.  Get rid of what you don’t need or use.  If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. If there’s someone in your way, make them move.  If you are in your way, take stock, turn the radio on and dance, hug someone, and fill the space between the “me and the me I’m supposed to be.”

You can start by watching this movie.

The Stockroom, by Victor Cruz;

Winner of the 2015 LA Indie Film Festival awards: Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Production

And so, The Countdown begins

I grew up on the Central Coast in CA.  It was beautiful, still is, as far as I know.  Whenever I visit it’s just as I remember.  Blue skies, light cool breeze.  There are trees, and parks.  The beach is minutes away.  Several of them, even.  You have to love that kind of place.  It’s excellent for growing up.  It’s simple because it’s small, and it feels safe.  Everyone knows everyone. And if you don’t, you have a mutual friend I guarantee it.  You see the same people working at the same places, doing the same hikes up Madonna Mountain or Bishops Peak.  You see the same people on the same community theatre stages.  You see the same people at the gym, and walking on the beach.  You see them at the BBQ’s, and the bonfires, and they help each other move with expectations like  a cold beer at the end of the day.  They support the junior high teams, and the high school teams, long after they’ve been out of school themselves.  And they do it because they love their community, their little town.  It’s comfortable.  There’s a great and special kind of bond that’s created in people that grow up or live in a town like the one I grew up in.

It’s nothing like New York.

I moved here May 2010.  Most, if not all, of the people I knew back then were under the impression I was moving out here to pursue theatre.  Acting.  Broadway.  And all of them were wrong.  Sure, I was enrolled in a school where I was going to finish out my Bachelors degree.  I attended that particular school for one year.  It wasn’t for me.  Whether it was the school itself, the location, the curiculum, the teachers, or the fellow classmates–it wasn’t a good fit or me.  So I didn’t return the following year. I had probably 3 semesters left to get my degree, so another…22,000$ of student loans and debt with no real passion or direction for that field any more.  I was okay with not returning.  It was not the main reason I moved here.

I moved here to find myself.  I moved here seeking independence and something new and bigger than myself.  I moved here seeking a certain kind of shadow that I could hide in, in plain sight.  New York is great for being around a ton of people, and being completely alone at the same time.  And I loved that.  Granted, when I first moved here I was not alone.  My transition to the east coast was particularly easy because I had a place to live before I moved here.  My friend Robin already lived here and had a room I could move in to.  I shipped all my boxes there (UPS hated me, it’s a 5th floor walk up).  I found a job quickly, getting rehired Sporting The Green Apron was not ideal, but I knew it would only be temporary, it was something I could do for money, and I was good at it.  I even ended up being a main trainer for my district.  Managers were sent to me to learn how to make drinks.  It was not terrible–though it was not ideal.

I met someone here.  I loved him.  Our relationship took horrible turns and became toxic.  We were together for maybe a year and a half.  And he moved away in the fall of 2012.  I didn’t date anyone serious after him.  I couldn’t.  Not because he hurt me so, but because I knew I needed to do more for ME.  I knew I needed to find ME still.

My housemates moved out one by one and new people came in.  My brother Ben (Smurf) even moved out here for a year.  He needed a new start as well.  He needed to find something in him as well, something I think only moving far away from family and small towns can give you.  When he was ready, he went back.  And although I don’t speak to him daily anymore, I know he’s a different person having lived out here for a year.

Soon, I was all that remained of the Original 4 people that lived here when I moved out here in 2010.  I took over the lease, first time I’d been on a lease in years.  It was uplifting to feel a sense of adulthood or a level of responsibility again.  It also marked the longest I’d lived in any one place since leaving my parents house.  I took on housemates my own way, putting them through almost an audition process, trying to find the right match for me, for us.  At this point I had also passed the NY state board exams to be a licensed esthetician here.  So I was working in my field of expertise, my name was on a lease, and  I was making enough money that I even got to go out and play sometimes.  Just when everything seemed to add up nicely, I added full-time school to my plate.  Massage therapy.  It was in my field, my industry.  Although I had sworn to myself years ago I would not go through school again, there I was signing up for a 2-year commitment to receive an Associates Degree in Occupational Studies for Massage Therapy.

I was exhausted.  I rarely had a day off.  If I didn’t have school or work, I still had homework.  And eventually I had school, work, homework, and clinic hours to fulfill.  I barely made it. But I did.  I graduated in April 2015.  I switched spas so I could do both skin care and massage.  I still had some play money.  I still would go out and sing at karaoke.  I’d still flirt with whomever I chose for that night.  I finally had days off.  And I’d spend my time awake on those days off doing absolutely nothing.  I’d get up, and make it from my bedroom to the livingroom.  I’d watch TV.  I’d eat food.  And maybe 12 hours later I’d go back to my room and go to sleep.  It was amazing.

I also started seeing a therapist out here.  That was life changing.  That was originally a requirement, as part of my psychiatric plan.  At some point I had hit a place of depression and anxiety and sought out help.  I took antidepressants for a while, then stopped successfully, staying mentally balanced. But I continued to see my therapist.  I grew a great deal as a person by seeing her.  Learned about myself, how I hear things and respond.  How I interpret successes and failures.  How I choose the people in my life.  How I choose to keep people OUT of my life… I would not have come this far in my search of myself without her.  And I’m not in perfect place.  I don’t know that I ever will be.  I’m sure I’ll want or need something else every time I get to “the next level.” I don’t seem to be the kind of person that can deal with complacency.  I get bored.  I can’t do the same exact thing five days a week for five years.  I need changes.  Sure they can be little, but I need them.  I want them.  I like learning new stuff.  I like my quiet, alone time.  I like that some days I don’t see one other human being the entire day.  I like that some days, I don’t speak at all.  There are different kinds of discoveries I find in myself and about myself when I am quiet; when I am not entertaining or in the spotlight, which is where a lot of the people that know me think I love to be.  I like it there, sometimes.  I don’t love it there, all the time.  It’s hard to be “on” all the time.  I’m somewhere between an introvert and extrovert.  I find comfort in both places.

I’ve built a life for myself out here.  I’ve reached a certain kind of independence I didn’t consider before.  Not necessarily that I’d reached something I never thought I’d reach, just a place I hadn’t thought of.  And as I sit back and reflect on how far I’ve come in so many ways I can nod agreeing “good job, Mersai” and I can equally begin crying.

It can be…so…hard…here.  I don’t know why I’ve convinced myself it MUST be difficult in order to EARN _______ (whatever).  I don’t know why I still look at other peoples successes and see my failures, when somewhere in my brain i KNOW that that is impractical and immeasurable because they are not equal fields.  I can only measure me against me.  Where I’ve messed up, where I’ve gotten it right.  Where I could use improvement.  Where I could teach someone else.  There’s…so many things about ME that I do right, and so many things about ME I still want to work on and figure out that I’m unsure as to why I still consider myself in a race or competition with anyone else, but myself.

The good part is, I’m willing to continue to try.

The good part is, I don’t think I need to keep making it so difficult for myself anymore.  I think I can finally look at myself, see myself sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, and say out loud “it’s okay.”

I think I can finally say “I have found what I wanted here.  I have learned what I wanted here.  I have earned…what I wanted here.” A very good friend of mine reminded me not too long ago that I’ve been here, in Manhattan New York, for Five Years.  That’s the longest I’ve been anywhere since leaving my parents house.  He reminded me of what I have accomplished.  He said….I made it.

My heart pounded and tears burst out of my eyes when he said that.

I made it.  I made it, here.  And with that, it was okay to say “then I think I’m done here.”

I miss it already.  New York.  The ease of public transportation instead of having a car.  Broadway, whenever I want because I can.  Being alone in a crowd.  Being my own person.  Back home  I’m Sam’s daughter, Candy’s daughter, Summer’s sister, or Ben and Rik’s sister.  Back home I’m so-and-so’s friend.  Back home I was “the princess” and you’d find me at karaoke on certain days.  Back home I might be auditioning for a theatre production somewhere.  But, I miss New York already.  I miss the steamed dumplings from the chinese place downstairs.  I miss the stores so close to me I can go and come back in five minutes.  I miss the seasons.  Horrid as the summer and winter are, I survived.  I walked through it.  Over and over.  I miss looking up at the sky and seeing blue and white peaking just pass the building that seemed to stretch up forever.  There is more that I miss already.  I met some good people out here I call friends, and I now have to consider not knowing when I will see them again.  Being in NY also means I am close to Jersey (follow me here, I know Jersey doesn’t sound great…).  Jersey is where two of my good friends live, and my nephews.  My heart already aches knowing I won’t see Sammy bear and Jamey bean as often as I want.  It’s the same ache for the family I have in CA.  One should never have to choose.  Neither members of my family (in CA or in Jersey) are more important than the other.  But I have to choose *me* right now.

What I don’t / won’t miss?  I won’t miss the smell of garbage and dog poop cooking in the heat of the summer.  I won’t miss the smell of a homeless person.  I won’t miss weather that reads 2 degrees, and with wind factor “feels like -19 degrees.” I won’t miss the stairs.  I won’t miss the opportunity to close down a bar at 4am because I actually stayed out that late (I haven’t done this in quite a while…).  I won’t miss the fact that there isn’t great mexican food out here (although I did finally get introduced to an excellent place just recently.  And If I was staying put, I’m sure I’d visit it more often).  I won’t miss being on the train and people saying “what time is it? Show time!” during my commute.  Then they’re blasting music I dont’ call music, and their dancing and flipping, and almost kicking people, then walking around collecting change or money for their performance.  A piece (a very small piece) of me says “that takes guts, and the flipping was impressive” but mostly I wanted them to shut up and sit down and not bother me.  I won’t miss the hustle.  I did it.  I absolutely got to a place where I was walking fast, I had somewhere to be and I needed to be there NOW, and I’d get annoyed with the people strolling and stopping mid stride to take a picture.  They didn’t know Rule Number 1 in NY (Get Out of the Way) I won’t miss Rule Number 2: You Have To Carry That. It was definitely rough toting around books for school, clothes for school, and kickboxing gear.  It was worse when I had to carry stuff, and walk with a cane because my back was hurting.

What I fear about returning to the Central Coast, CA?

* I am afraid people will think I am the same person that left five years ago and that they will treat me like that same person. I am not that person anymore.  I’ve grown a great deal.  Some things about me have changed.

* I am afraid *I* will treat people as though they have not grown in five years.  It would be unfair for me to think I am the only person that’s been moving forward.  I tend to trap myself in the “small town” ideas that everyone remains the exact same way, and I would be doing myself and others a great disservice by relying on that ideal as a truth.  I do not want to make this mistake, but I will not pretend I don’t fear it.

* I am afraid that returning means stepping backwards.  There is a difference, however,  between stumbling and falling backwards, and actively choosing a direction that appears behind you.

* I am afraid I won’t make money in my “field of expertise.” Out here I finally hit a place where I exclaimed “I am no longer just surviving my life, I am living it.” and money has a lot to do with that kind of ability, and capability.  I am not, and was not ever, making multiple thousands of dollars a week, or even every two weeks.  But my bills were paid, and I had play money, and that gave me a certain kind of freedom I fear will be taken from me upon my return.

What am I looking forward to?

* I miss my family.  I am looking forward to seeing them whenever I want, for as long as I want, and as often as I want.  It began being more difficult for me to be away when my sister had kids.  Her son has seen me in person maybe a handful of times now and it made my heart ache to see him so comfortable with my sisters friends, and not me.  I didn’t resent them (her friends), I  was (and am) so happy she has people in her life that care for her and her children.  But I felt left out and ultimately that is not something I could do for much longer.  Her daughter will be 1 soon, and I’ve seen her in person twice…My family means so much to me, I am often unable to express how much.

* Avocados that are larger than a chicken egg, and don’t cost $2 each  (yep.  right after family, is affordable and good avocados.  Good job CA. (wink) ).

* My friends on the Central Coast, and all up and down the state of CA ,have been in my life for years and years.  The history and memories we have I cherish, and instead of quick visits that echo in the shadows of past memories, we will get to make new ones.

* Better weather.  I mean, I know what cold is now.  I get it.  I’m okay without it now.  Looking outside and deciding if it’s sweater or hoodie attire-weather sounds great.

* Oddly enough, although I have claimed over and over and OVER that I am NOT a beach girl, or an outdoorsy girl (and I still stick by this to an extent), there is a peace I think i will find in nature once I return to it.  The city life has treated me just fine.  It did what it needed to do.  I’m willing to see the beach and the parks, and see what they have to offer.  Again, I am a different person now in 2015, than I was when I left in 2010.

* Life Changes.  These come out of no where sometimes.  Sometimes we are expecting the change, sometimes we are caught so far off guard we actually face plant.  I’m at a place where I am willing to see what the next change is, and I look forward to being in the comfort of my home town, and in the proximity of those I love most, when it happens.

And so, the countdown begins.  Central Coast, CA?  I’ll see you in September.

It’s now July, friends

It’s already JULY?????

What happened to June?

Let’s see, oh yes I remember.  I had a fun first week of June.  Said bye to a friend I met here in NY that moved to CA.  He’s gonna pursue writing for Television.  How cool is that? Then spent two glorious weeks in my hometown of CA visiting my friends and family.  Driving to Salinas to see more friends.  Officiating a wedding ceremony for my friends.  Celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday with a Beatles themed wine-tasting party. Seeing friends at karaoke I haven’t seen in almost a decade.  Slumber party with a few close, good friends.  Wine tasting with my mom and brother and friend Robin.  Having dinner at my Dadda’s house and playing with my niece and nephew.  I ate mexican food! Got a new tattoo, which all of my other siblings ALSO got.  THAT was really super cool and I love them sooooo much!!!  The only thing I missed out on that I wanted to do was go to the Drive-In.  Too much fun wine tasting….oh well.  Next time.

Then I got home, had a few days to recuperate from vacation.  Played tour guide for the sister of a close friend visiting.  (Mr. Gutter’s sister).  Then I got strep throat. BOOOOOO.  Vacation plus tour guide plus getting sick pretty much meant I didn’t work for almost a month.  Sounds stellar, my bank account REEEEAAAALLLYYYY disagrees with that.  heh

So I’m back at work this week.  I might pick up thursdays, turning my 3-days off to a typical 2-day.  But hey…At least I can be someone that gets days off, amirite?

I’m slowly getting back to my usual schedule.  I want to get back to kickboxing.  I want to do some meditation and yoga.  I’m a better person if I meditate.  If I take quiet time to breathe and let my mind wander and clear, I’m a better person.  I’m a better person if I blog and get out random thoughts that stir across my mind.

This blog post is not necessarily helping to do that, my mind is currently racing with new information, new questions, and no answers.  But I imagine, and….I hope…that the answers will come to me.  That they will either magically appear, or that God will answer them (yes God, I believe in a higher power. I could say the gods, or the Universe but this round I said God.  Get over it) in a way that I actually like and agree with…heh.

I hope the answers are not only good but strong.  I hope they are not expensive. If they are expensive answers, I hope that the money presents itself without much sacrifice.  I don’t know that I have much left to sacrifice in order to get the answers,

And so I’m here.  A successful July 4th weekend with a few friends.  About 15-20 people were invited.  Maybe 8-10 RSVP’d, and 4 arrived. It was nice to see the people that came over.  It speaks highly of the people that say they will come see me, play, visit–and follow through.  And I appreciate that.  I miss that in good friendships.  The followthrough.  It’s difficult, in NY.  I have flaked before, others have flaked on me.  Because time and money or travel is difficult.  I would like to think for the most part, that I am someone who follows through with something.  That I am a person of my word.  That I am a friend that followsthrough.  Friendships take work.  And it’s the ones we work for that stick.  We have to work for our relationships with our friends and family in order to keep them close.  In order to be vulnerable.  In order for trust and respect to exist in those relationships.  They are the ones that help you decide what is important and what is enough.  They help you discover what the true need is.  They tell you what you are made of, what you have given, what you have left.  They remind you how far you’ve come and encourage you to stay true to the path you choose.  They support you and encourage you.  They are a text away.  A phone call away.  The real friends and family will pick up the phone, they make time to video chat and return your text messages.  Real friends stay current in your life, because in my opinion….Old friends know who you were, Good friends know who you are.  And they help remind you when you forget or when you falter or stumble.

To my good friends and my close family: thank you.  For more than I can bullet point or verbally articulate.

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