Astoria

Astoria Queens, April 2018

As I sit in my can driving through the city, I feel both anxious and calm. Queens- I have a foundation here, even if it’s hard at times to claim. There’s a part of my history that was born in these streets. The city makes me feel at home, but I also want to run away from it. Today, I claim it. No matter how prickly my roots may be, they are mine. And part of that includes you, Queens.

New York was a place that I always wanted to go to as a kid. It was a place I felt an immediate connection to. A place that felt familiar. And the first time I was there I had an innate sense of direction through it’s streets. I understood the vibe of the people and I felt like it was a second home. My multiple trips back to the city have left me with different lessons. This trip leaves me with acceptance. Accept the good of myself and don’t be ashamed of it. Accept your deep sensitivities because they are not a curse, they are a gift. They may seem annoying at times, but you are capable of such great depth- cherish it.

So much of the person that I am is because of the people who raised me: my mother and my grandparents. I owe any goodness in me to them. But I also owe my existence to the others who did not raise me. They are part of my make up and are in my bones. And so is this city, because it is an extension of them. And it is an extension of me.

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The Road

She lived not too far away from a busy road. One where people used words like “hip”, “funky” and “unique”, to describe. The culture of the road, and its inhabitants, differed from hers; but she had an allure. Countless times she would pass the road and every so often she would walk the road herself. The stores and the people left an impression on her, making her believe that growing up would be full of adventure and excitement.

As she grew, she watched as the road changed. Different businesses were erected, different people began to frequent it. But it still held a place in her heart, as it was the road from her childhood and it was a place where she would go to imagine.

Finally, when she was an adult, she became a regular member of the road, visiting it multiple times a week. Walking up and down the street, smelling the air that was laced with fumes from a grill and cigarette smoke. She felt like an adult, like the ones she used to strain her neck to look up to when she was a child.

And she was right, growing up was full of adventure and excitement. But what she didn’t understand, or was unable to comprehend as a child, was that the adventure and excitement was often followed by pain and heartache. The street where she would go to dream became the street where she would see her life change, where she would question the very nature of her being and where she would look into the eyes of the man she believed to be “the one” as they said their final goodbyes.

The road that once represented a hopeful future now presented her with a painful present. The place where she would go to people watch then became the place where she would cry on a bench as she told her shameful secrets. And she realized that the road was no longer hers to travel.

So, she left and rarely went back. When she does, the energy from her past radiates through her body like shock waves. The place that was one made of dreams became full of nightmares. The road that represented forward movement turned into her stagnant prison.

As time goes on and wounds attempt to heal, she realizes the purpose of this road. It is meant to be used on her journey but was never meant to be her destination.

Material Girl

I was born in 1986 and for anyone who was alive during that decade you will know that it was a decade of excess. Movies like Wall Street touted “greed is good” and materialism seemed to be at an all-time high. I also happened to be an only child who was spoiled by my mother and my grandparents. I can’t fault them for that at all, they loved me and wanted to give me whatever I wanted. But, I can say that growing up in the 80’s and being spoiled gave me a skewed perception of the world.

A huge part of my notion of success comes from having “things”. So, I’m 31 and still live at home because I’m paying off student loans and don’t make enough money. Because I don’t have a place of my own filled with whatever I want, I brand myself a failure. Now, if I took a longer look at things, I could actually live on my own, I would just have to budget and would not have a lot left for savings. But I could do it. And if I did do that, then it would mean that I could not spend any money on anything that wasn’t vital (shelter, food, bills). By not being able to buy whatever I want, I feel like I’ve failed. How messed up is that? It’s really unfair on myself and others like me. And furthermore: why do I need a bunch of crap?!

I was shopping the other day for some things that I actually needed: bras. Yes, patriarchy, you shame us for boobs by making us strap them into overly priced shackles. I digress…So, I went into another store just to browse and I picked up an outfit that I didn’t need. But I wanted it! So, I walked around with this outfit in my hands mulling over whether or not I should shell out $75 on an outfit I don’t need, or put that $75 into my Roth IRA. The amount of stress that this whole decision caused me was unnecessary. I didn’t need the outfit, I have enough clothes. But the pure fact that I couldn’t just drop money on whatever I wanted made me feel restricted, sad and stunted. I’m 31, shouldn’t I be able to buy what I want? Watching movies as a kid, I thought a 31-year-old had their whole life together, had tons of money, owned their own homes, and were basically adults. I feel so far from being an adult.

My perceptions of the world are based on these hard criticisms that I put on myself and then allow to bleed out onto others. It’s wrong and putting this much pressure on myself is not helping my mental health. I can’t help that the economy tanked and I can’t help that I don’t want to be a doctor or engineer or some other high paying job that deals too much with numbers. I took my college summer job right after I graduated and have been here for 8 years. Does it pay enough? No, but it’s been consistent. Will I be here forever? No, but I’m in the slow process of transitioning and it will be the right time to leave when it is the right time to leave.

The amount of pressure I put on myself is astonishing. Having pressure to meet a goal is fine, but mine goes far beyond that into shaming and despair. It’s silly that I feel ashamed that I can’t drop tons of money on useless items, but I do. I was conditioned by a society to believe that things = worthiness. That things = success. And at the end of the day they don’t. I’ve found, on more than one occasion, that growing into an adult means shedding your childhood perceptions of the world. And that’s incredibly difficult for a stubborn person like me.

The old saying “you can’t take it with you” keeps playing on a loop in my head. Who cares that I don’t own a home yet, it’s not going with me when I die. And it would pretty much be vacant because I work every day.

Things are not the sign of a successful adult. Things could never quantify worth.

 

The Youth of America

February 14th, 2018

I was at a sports bar in a resort in Arizona waiting to get my shuttle to the airport to go back home from my work trip. There were multiple television screens displaying the winter Olympics and the news. A screen was positioned right in front of me, just slightly elevated. I looked up to see the “Breaking News” flash and a live feed of the school shooting in Florida. And my reaction was incredibly sad, “Oh, no, here’s another one”. But I was rather emotionless. It’s become so much a part of our news feed that I have, in some sorts, become desensitized to it.

At the airport, more news was breaking and the shooter was in custody. As I sat waiting to board the plane I thought of the first time something like this happened: Columbine. I was in the 8th grade at the time and I remember just how terrifying it was. Only a couple weeks after Columbine we were at play practice and one of the students thought they saw someone walking the halls. We were barricaded into a class room and the thought that something horrendous might actually happen was incredibly real. The utter terror could be felt in the air. We were lucky that it was a false alarm.

I was a stunned 8th grader, but after multiple incidences, I have become a relatively emotionless adult. And now the gun control and mental illness debate rages on. As someone who politically falls in the center and someone who has depression and anxiety, I have a lot of thoughts on both fronts. Yes, I believe everyone has a right to own a hand gun. But should anyone have a multi round rifle that I equate with Rambo films? No, absolutely not. And while gun control policies can help take these items out of the market place, there are already a lot out there that could be obtained illegally. But something has to change. And mental health issues, well, there’s a lot to be said about this and it was pure coincidence that I got a wealth of knowledge from my doctor today.

Today I had a follow up doctors appointment to go over a genetic test that I did to see how my genes and my mental health work together. I found out that I have a Serotonin defect and my body does not transmit Serotonin properly to my brain. As the doctor was showing me the results, she pointed out different medications and how they would work, or not work, in my body according to my genes. I sat there and instantly thought of the shootings and suicides in this country. And I thought back to a friend that I had in acting class who took his own life after being put on an anti psychotic drug. So much of our healthcare system, in terms of mental health, is a pure guessing game. Try this, see if it works, but they still have very little information with how these drugs work on our brains. I was lucky to find out today that the low grade of medication that I am on is a perfect fit for my make up. And then I looked at the long list of things that would not work for me. And the side effects varied from weight gain to aggression. It was eerie to see these things today. But definitely put things into perspective.

There is no way that I would want to be a child or teenager in this day and age. And while I’m not married, if I were to get married I’m not sure that children would be in my future. It’s just too scary and difficult. Going to school can be a struggle, but it should not  be a scary place where you think you may be shot.

For every time we talk about gun control, let’s also discuss psychotic medicine control. There is a link, I believe. And while there are an incredible amount of incarcerations in this country, let’s look at what should take precedence: is an ounce of weed more harmful than a semi automatic weapon? No, it’s not. Should these guns be sold? No, they should not. Should you be allowed to buy ammo online and have it shipped to your house in the same fashion you order clothing? No, you should not.

There’s a lot that needs to change in this country, and yes a lot of it has to do with policy. But we also need to change internally. We need to watch what we are consuming, whether it be food, alcohol and medication.

The youth of america has changed substantially in just the past twenty years. The pressures that are put on them are profound and what they, and my generation, will be left with doesn’t seem quite worth it.

We need to do better. We need to be better.

Busy Bee

Well, folks, I am officially a busy lady! But in a good way. Here’s a list of things going on in my life as we speak:

-Full time job.

-Studying for the real estate test.

-Helping my mom start up her wellness business.

-Finishing up the edit of my short film.

-Freelance writing and looking to pick up more gigs.

-Working on a plan for my voice over acting and how to properly execute that.

-A couple ideas in the mix for more short films.

-Thinking about looking into coding as another side job.

-Looking for free events in the area to network and meet new people.

 

Sooooo… there’s only so many hours in a day. And I feel like I have all of these ideas that I’m not properly executing because I’m not picking one thing at a time and sticking to it. I’ve never been an overly busy person, I usually worked and came home and relaxed. So all of this is new to me, but it’s helping me feel like I’m working toward goals. The problem is that I need to target one specific goal and work on it totally, but right now I feel like a crazy person!

Being busy is good for my mental health, as well, because I really don’t have the time to sit around and worry about every possible disaster scenario. But, I just need to fine tune everything and manage my time better.

What are some of your tips for time management? Women get stuff done, but we need to take care of ourselves too. How do you manage?

I Wanna Be Like Andy

The holidays were not particularly great for me. I was going through a lot and dealing with some heartache. All I managed to do for 3 days was lay on the couch and watch Parks & Rec reruns on Netflix. Not exactly healthy, but if I wasn’t focusing on watching it I would find myself bursting out into tears. I had to do something to distract my mind and reruns of one of my favorite shows did the trick.

I’m sure everyone goes through that funk from time to time, but as someone who deals with depression I had to constantly catch myself from falling into a pit of despair. “I’m going to die alone”, “no one loves me”, “I’m not good enough”; all of those horrible and untrue thoughts kept popping up in my head. So I laid there and focused on the show.

This is probably my third go around with watching this series, but something struck me while watching it in my depressed stupor. I want to be like Andy Dwyer. No, he’s not that smart and he doesn’t have any money, but he has a will to carry on. If you are not familiar with the show then just imagine a bumbling idiot with a big heart who lives in a pit. Yes, in the beginning of the series he is homeless and lives in a dirt pit next to his ex-girlfriends house. Now, it would be easy for anyone to lose hope when you are homeless; but not for Andy. He turns the experience into a song and takes life for what it is. Sure, it’s uncomfortable and odd, but he just slowly works his way up, figuratively and literally.

I need to be more like Andy because when I’m in my “pit” I just wallow. Very rarely do I see the hurt I’m in and realize that it’s temporary or know that it will teach me a lesson, I envision it being the rest of my life. When I’m sad or in despair I’m often consumed by it. Feelings are just feelings, they are not facts. But my feelings become the authority and it’s a bad habit that I’m trying to break.

The lesson from Andy Dwyer is knowing that bad things happen, but they are not permanent. And when bad things happen, the level of severity is really determined by how you view and react to the situation. Was the holiday break easy for me? No. Did I potentially make it worse by thinking the worst? Yes. Learning to make bad situations into art or into a lesson will make the blow a little less excruciating.

So, yes, I want to be the next lead singer of Mouse Rat.

Case of the Fake People

A work of fiction:

 

“He’s a horrible person. You know that, right? You have to know that he is a self involved, horrible person” she said.

Christina sat and listened. But what struck her was the glimmer in her eye as she delighted in destroying another person’s character.

“She’s a bitch. I could care less about her, because if she’s lucky, she’ll end up being a prostitute who’s coked out and I might slip her a couple bucks for a ride” he said.

Christina sat and listened. He delighted in demeaning women and treating them like garbage. His face lit up as he described the horror that might be her future.

 

Years have passed and they all are living different lives. And they now smile in each others face. The ones who once spewed such hatred now act like they were once friends. The hypocrisy and falseness makes Christina physically sick.


“He thinks he’s God’s gift to the planet. I don’t want him knowing too much about my life, I just need to keep him at a distance” the other woman said.

But then she hugs him and heralds him as a success. Christina wished she never knew her true feelings, because seeing her behavior now has made Christina lose the little respect for her that she had left.


“Don’t compare me to that asshole, I’m nothing like him” he said.

Christina sat and listened. But she couldn’t help but notice the obvious similarities between both men. She wondered if the man in front of her hated this third party or if he secretly hated himself. He continued to lie, just like he accused the other man of doing. He was a womanizer, just like his sworn nemesis.


 

 

Christina spent a lot of time wondering why she couldn’t just let things go in the same manner that her friends did. She started to believe she wasn’t normal because she avoided people she didn’t get along with or didn’t like. She felt like she was being childish.

But she wasn’t lacking normalcy. She had something far greater than the people she once called friends. She had integrity.