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?


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.


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.

Behind Paper Trees

Every once in a while someone says something that makes me re-ask a question I was assigned to answer several times during my time in acting school.

Who Am I?

During school we were required to play a piece of music that described where we were.  It didn’t have to be lyrically where we were, but part of where we were in our lives at that moment.  Sometimes people would pick songs from the seventies, sometimes it was on the current top ten of the billboard charts.  Something that spoke to the kind of person we currently were.  Like if you listen to a certain song on repeat, why? what about it is speaking to you RIGHT NOW? I do not remember every song I chose for these assignments.  I remember two of them, though.  “That I would Be Good,” by Alanis.  The other “Tracing,” by John Mayer.  During these exercises we played the song for everyone in class to hear, then read what we wrote in answering the question “Who am I?” then we played the song again.  Tonight, I was speaking to my mother.  Catching her up on the little pieces of my life, the day in and day out.  Then I told her a specific story and she said something so simple, and important I just kept repeating it over and over “You aren’t needy…be who you actually are.” And I sat back and just, repeated that a few times then glanced at my computer and said “who am i?”  Tonights answer shall be presented no different than the exercise that brought me to the question.

First, we listen
Due North, by Face The King

Then we read:

I’m able to rest more, lately.  I do not remember a time in my life…ever… that I didn’t have some kind of fear hovering over me.  They were only ever first-world-problems, for sure and I don’t want to get caught up in any religious dogma or political back-and-forth about my fears or issues, I only want to say that I have them.  Had them.  Have them.  But lately, I’m able to rest, more.

I was always on the go.  Always packing my schedule full of things that had to get done, and living in NY–I live in New York…–makes that schedule even longer because of travel time.  It’s something I have become accustomed to, and even appreciate at times, but it does in fact make my days longer.  I was always on the go.  Work.  School.  The first year I was out here I was in school to complete my degree in acting (which I did not end up completing, and that’s ok).  I also was lucky enough to live with my best friends so I had a support network here, that was helpful.  I quit school for a few reasons.  Some are my health became a problem.  My physical health, my emotional health, and my mental health.  And I struggled with a job I hated and days when I was scared to leave my apartment.  Literally, scared.

But lately, I’m able to rest more.  When I got my esthetician license (finally) in NY I immediately found a position working as one so I could leave the job I hated.  And for a while I worked two jobs.  The one I liked, and the one I hated.  Then it was just the one I liked, but if I didn’t have clients–I didn’t get paid and that raises a different kind of fear.  Eventually I found a good place to work, I made decent money and was content.  Then, I added school back on to my schedule.  I didn’t just enjoy having the one job that I liked, I had to add something on to my schedule to raise the stakes.  I don’t know why, but it felt like if i wasn’t always doing something, then I was wasting time.  And two more years of my life have gone by.  I had class, clinic, homework, and work, and rarely had days off.  I lived on coffee and 4-6 hours of sleep.  Some may say that’s plenty, this post is not about them though, it’s about me and who I am now, and where I am now.  So lets get to that.


I’m able to rest more.  I am able to be social.  I can go to concerts, and parties, and out with friends.  I can have friends over and just watch TV.  I can sit at home all day if I want on my day off, and do nothing but eat, watch TV, read a book and take naps.  It’s…unfamiliar territory.  And I again, and often, feel as though I’m wasting time.  But you know what? The other day I realized last year I had all these great realizations and this year was/is going to be the year I made certain things a reality and even though I’m not scratching things off that list–I’m able to rest more.  I’m unsure why it is so important that I use this time of rest wisely, but I believe I am.

Oddly, though, it’s almost like I’m hiding. Like I’m sitting still and watching.  I’m sitting still and listening.  I’m sitting still and feeling the breath come in and go out.  Maybe that’s not hiding from someone or something, but hiding in stillness.  Stillness I do not know if I have actually earned.

I am currently without major fear or anxiety.  I go to work when i should.  I take food with me so I’m not spending money on breakfast and lunch and sometimes dinner, every day out.  I get home at a decent time, because I’m done with work at a decent time, and then I go to bed at a decent time.

I’m decent, that’s important.

I am still a daughter, sister, cousin, auntie, and friend.  I am still single, and this year I hit that last year that states I’m in my “mid-thirties” next year I will have to admit to being in my “late thirties” or straight up start lying (or you know, continue to lie…hey as long as I can get away with people thinking I’m younger, I don’t see why not). I have my name on a lease in an apartment in Manhattan, NY.  That seems pretty important to be able to say.

I have not been exercising.  Kickboxing was my thing for a while, and I miss it–I do, but something about finally being able to rest for a while is what won and I won’t apologize for that.  And I believe when i am ready, I won’t make an excuse to not go, I won’t talk myself out of it, I believe when I’m ready I’ll just…go.

Thing is, without any high stakes, or any kind of fear hovering over me I’m almost at a loss.  Do I just become one of those people that gets up and goes to work, and comes home and hangs out with people she likes–is THAT the life? Is THAT living the dream? Is THAT…enough?

This year I unblocked people from my social media and allowed more people in, or back in, to my life.  (Granted, that block list is still long, there’s bad people out there with ugly hearts and I won’t stand for it. Ever again) But in opening up, and becoming a bit vulnerable I allow myself to be seen.  I allowed classmates to become “friends” with me on fb.  Some people may find it odd that I would keep people separate, but it just worked better for me.  My social pages were for family and people I was social with, not co-workers or classmates.  And this year, I changed that…just to see.  Made me nervous, but it seems to still be working out okay.  And someone I had blocked is gently moving back into my line of sight.

Fear can be a dreadful, horrid thing.  It was out of fear, originally, that I separated people anyway.  It’s out of fear that I block them.  Not just fear of what they will find of me, but of what I will find of them and I sometimes like the idea of ignorance.  If I don’t know, then I won’t have to deal with it.  Whatever “it” was.  If I put up that shield, I’m not only protecting me, I’m protecting them–mostly me, though.  And in lowering the shield, and being vulnerable I do set myself up to become afraid again.  So as I do that, I try to remind myself to breathe, stay present–and rest.  I remind myself, I give myself permission, to rest.

Soon I’m going to up the ante on my vulnerability shake-down and do something I find outlandish: I’m going to go to an open mic night, and sing & play a song that *I* wrote.  I may go in to cardiac arrest shortly there after, so I may invite some local EMT’s.

But ultimately, right now, I think I’m somebody who is taking her time to see what happens next.  I stopped planning super far ahead.  Part of that is because I no longer need to plan that far ahead, another part is I don’t want to.  Because i don’t want to create expectations and then be let down, that’s never fun–and I’ve already done that.

So, somehow I find that right now I am…preparing.  Preparing to turn all those realizations n 2014  into realities.  Quietly, while at rest it’s like I’m creating the space and time and energy desired to climb up that wall.  I’m drawing it in to me.

I do not yet wonder what I will see once I get up there, but what’s different here is I do not feel as though I am simply moving forward.  But that I’m heading forward, like that’s the direction I’m pointing towards I’m just taking a break.  I’m standing there looking.  I’m observing.

Then, i realize that I’m actually already on the wall.  I’m watching.  I’m noticing who is on the wall with me, who is at the ground watching to make sure I get there; to root me on or catch me if I fall and have to start again, and I’m noticing who is at the top reaching down and intentionally holding their hand out to me to help me, only if I need it.

I’m feeling it out.  I’m getting grounded, I’m taking the time to feel it from within, before continuing up.  I’m testing the energy and preparing for any bad juju.  I’m observing.  I’m learning.  I’m hoping.  I’m accepting.  I’m wondering. My senses are awake though I am at rest, and  am preparing.  I’m climbing.  My eyes are open, my ears are listening, my mouth is slightly parted, and my palms are opened.  I am present and I am still. I’m focusing.

I am not sitting, stagnant.   I’m getting ready to launch

It will happen soon.  Be careful.  Don’t be afraid.

Now, we listen again: Due North

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