Monthly Archives: December 2014

Good Morning

Sometimes it’s hard to say “good morning” to someone.

Sometimes it’s just simply not a good morning. And saying anything of that nature betrays the reality of what that morning actually is.

Four years ago, it wasn’t a good morning at all. I was woken up by my mother tapping at my bedroom door. And before I could yawn a “good morning” to her, she said “I think your grandma passed away last night while we were asleep.”

Good morning, indeed not.

Upon waking the whole family, gathered for Christmas and still shaking off the slumber, we discovered she was in fact deceased and set about making the necessary arrangements. My grandfather, stoic as he is, shook as he cried in a huddle with my mother and I.

Sometime shortly afterward, waiting for the coroner or something, I went to the fridge and immediately started pulling any cheese or vegetable that might go well in scrambled eggs. Even then, I kind of smirked at the self-realization that I was cooking because I was trying to cope. Something had to be ok this morning because absolutely nothing was ok. Something had to be normal, so I created the normal. I made my family breakfast.

Now, the sun is rising and my car is packed. My grandpa is checking my tire pressure. My mom is tossing a ball to our dog. I’m getting ready to leave and when I saw my parents this morning I said, “good morning.” But there’s something in everyone’s voice that’s kind of lying about that.

It’s a sad morning. It’s a nervous morning. It’s an exciting morning. My parents are going to miss me. My friends are going to miss me. I’m going to miss all of them. I’m still threatening to smuggle the family dog somewhere amongst my entire life that is packed into my car.

But I am also determined not to let the sadness and the homesickness stop me from leaving. I have a dream to chase and a life to live. Life is for the living. So away I go.

When my best friend joined the Peace Corps in May and was sworn in at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, I called her on the phone to find out how her pre-service training was going. She was so happy to hear my voice and I was happy to hear hers. Only a portion of the conversation was spent on Mongolian life and Peace Corps training. The majority of what we discussed were the kind of things we always talked about; relationships, feminist-twentysomething concerns, people we knew from high school, how good a bowl of macaroni and cheese was. She told me she was grateful for my call because it felt like everything was normal again. This was our “new normal.”

So begins my four-and-a-half day journey to a foreign land called California. Instead of waking up to the morning routine with my parents I will be making lots of Skype calls. I will be handwriting letters as well as texts to derby teammates in a rink I used to call home. I will be stopping to take pictures and meet people and document it all on my blog, calling home every night to check in, letting my family know I am safe. I will be sharing my new life with the world. This is my new normal.

The Route

I will be leaving within the hour from a small town called Pine Island, NY. Never heard of anyone famous from Pine Island? That’s ok, you will. I will be driving roughly 12 hours each day (stops included) from about 8am to 8pm.

My journey takes me through Pennsylvania, home to a number of wonderful people on skates but in particular, the Penn Jersey Roller Derby league, most all of whom I consider to be extended relatives in my ever-growing derby family. They are a part of derby history. I won’t be in Philly tonight, but I recommend my readers to check them out.

Next up I enter Ohio, following I-80 through Youngstown and Toledo. If you pass some weird chick with a bunch of stuff in her car on I-80 today, it’s probably me.

I sleep for the night in South Bend, IN.

Day 2 begins again, leaving Indiana on I-80 through Illinois. I hit 17 hours when I reach Iowa City. I-80, which apparently goes on forever, takes me through Omaha, NE, which is undoubtedly the funniest caller ID my phone has ever tried to mispronounce. I will close the day somewhere near Grand Island, NE.

Day 3 I set sail for an old friend in Glendale, CO. I-76 should get me there roughly around 2pm on the 29th and I will spend the rest of that day with one of the coolest girls who went to my high school, and bravely made her own move from our little small town several years ago.

Day 4 I will attempt to avoid the Rockies. Beautiful as they are, I’m not prepared to make this December journey any harder than it has to be. Instead I’m taking I-25 and making my way south to visit a friend of a friend who makes a wicked green chili in Albuquerque, NM. After refueling, I’ll venture westward another 5 hours or so and sleep for the night in Flagstaff, AZ.

Day 5 brings me to California when I pick up I-15. I’ll be passing through the San Bernadino and Los Angeles area before I finally reach my new home in Pasadena. I will most likely find a place to ring in the new year, three hours later than my parents, and sleep like a baby.

So that’s my approximate route. Aside from a couple of planned stops, this whole thing is really subject to change. Everyone knows Siri is a drunk who doesn’t know what she’s talking about and needs to go home. I’m also going to be attentive to the weather and road conditions so I may alter the course if need be. Feel free to comment if you think there’s some place cool I’ll be passing by on my way out there.

Time to get going. Good Morning everyone!

Blank Space

While I have recently become quite fond of Taylor Swift’s ode to relationships and self-awareness (blame my new roomie) this post has nothing to do with the song about long lists of Starbuck’s lovers.

Half of my last post, if I’m being completely honest, was typed up almost a week and a half ago. I just never made it past saving the draft. I was glad I waited on it when I got cast in the music video last week. It only added to the experience. But, almost as soon as I posted about my sudden confidence boost I became increasingly aware of a different emotional state setting in. For lack of a better word, I’m calling it blank space.

I’m sure it’s completely normal. I’ve read about it happening in a number of situations, many like my own where a big change is about to happen. Relationships are changing. Distance and removal from everything familiar. Challenges ahead. The unknown. Aliens?

I’ve been trying to spend time with as many friends and family as possible before the move. And I’ve gotten a lot of love and support from all around me, which is incredibly awesome. But I can’t help feeling this blankness when it comes to saying goodbyes, moments that would normally be highly emotional. I’m not crying, I’m not panicking, I’m not being completely reckless or irresponsible or lashing out. I just…am.

I think this temporary shut down of waterworks and extreme emotions is a coping mechanism. If I over-think it, I might get scared or overwhelmed. That’s because this is overwhelming. I have to try really hard not to stress out. Worrying solves exactly 0% of anything. It’s like any moment I could tip over into a flood of feels. I probably will when it comes time to leave. but damn it’s weird right now. It’s just surreal. The end of one thing is imminent, so is the beginning of another.

This is probably just the calm before the storm.

Five more days.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Fail

One week until the big move…

Let me begin by saying that I’m not the Drama Club Princess you might’ve gone to high school with. I’ve had dreams of becoming an actor since I was playing with pokemon cards, but I wasn’t one of those kids with an aggressive stage mom or an agent, or even lying about having an agent to seem cool at rehearsal. I was not my high school director’s obvious favorite. I was a background character until I worked my way to supporting lead in my senior year. I’m not glamorous or skinny, never cast as the ingenue. I am an alto with no chance of a solo. I ate potato chips while I learned my lines.

When I started preparing for this move I did a little research and found out a few interesting things. I didn’t know what to expect, but from what the internet told me, I could expect a few things. I could expect to need a lot of funds saved up and a tight budget. I could expect some setbacks in finding housing, roommates, survival jobs, etc. I could expect no less than 5-10 mental breakdowns beginning yesterday and lasting until after I’ve been settled in for months. All of these things so far have appeared to be accurate. What I wasn’t expecting was this sudden burst of confidence.

During my last week at work a trainee asked me something like “What if it doesn’t work out? Aren’t you scared?” And from nowhere, this animal inside me just took over and said “well, I graduated from the best damn acting school in the English-speaking world so I’m pretty sure I’ve got whatever it takes!” I couldn’t believe what had just come out of my mouth but my chest was inflated and my lips were curled into a smile I have never smiled and I was all a-tingle with my new-found nerves. I’m not like that. I don’t ever say things like that.

But some part of me knows it’s true.

The other morning I woke up and after a cup of coffee and some face book scrolling decided to hit the bricks looking for a survival job in my new locale. I started with a simple Google search of restaurants in my area, knowing that my restaurant experience had prepared me enough to hopefully pay my rent. Then I stopped for a second to do a little mental math. If I worked part time, say 4 shifts a week, I would need at least $125 in tips to make my rent in a week. I thought, okay, that’s not impossible. It was even more doable if I spread it out over two weeks. Heck, if I only worked 16 shifts a month I’d only need to clear $38 a shift. I worked in one of the lower end chain restaurants in a town with pretty low-brow clientele. If I couldn’t pull in $40 a shift the restaurant had to have been on fire in the middle of a blizzard. Worst case scenario suddenly didn’t seem so scary.

And here again was this unexpected sense of confidence reigniting within me. Why aim so low in the first place? I narrowed my search field this time to only restaurants in the area with $$$ or $$$$ next to their listing. I realize I’m only talking about working a survival job in a restaurant but confidence is a muscle. It needs to be used and trained to be strong and beneficial. I’ve neglected my confidence for so long I think I forgot that I had any.

And to top it all off, I got a complete surprise in my inbox last Wednesday. A young director found me on Backstage (where I have not paid for a yearly membership since 2010) and asked me to be a part of a music video she was filming an hour north of my neck of the woods. Of course I said yes, but this was big. Part of the reason my actor dreams have yet to come to fruition deals with my lack of confidence. After graduation, I didn’t go on a single audition. I got caught up in the mundane and barely put my talents to use, save for a couple small projects here and there. When I decided to make this move, I was afraid to go in cold, but I knew I had to try. It’s kind of now or never, and my hope was that despite my fear, I could somehow make it work by jumping off the cliff and forcing myself to fly.

Once I got to the shoot, things just clicked into place. I felt like I was back in my own skin and surrounded by a tribe of like-minded people. It was a total rush. I wanted to go out and immediately find another project, another shoot or audition. My fear was gone, and here was my confidence. This is what I was born to do. This was meant to be.

They say that failing to plan is planning to fail. And while I’ve often been a fan of winging it in the past, I’ve looked at my future plans, knowing I need to work harder to make things happen, and knowing I may will still fail at times. What I didn’t know is how planning this huge change in my life would produce a side of me I wasn’t aware that I had or how amazing it felt. I still get down every now and again about leaving my home and my friends and family, and I still wonder if I’ll ever measure up to those born-and-bred ingenues that have been modeling and working since the age of two. But I’m holding on to this sense of confidence in who I am and just what I’m capable of.

Because I deserve to be successful and I can will be.

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