Vacuum

All I wanted to do was clean with as much impressive vigor as I could possibly muster. But this vacuum… it had so many little moving parts. I happily managed to vacuum the carpets of the house, but I needed to get the corners and crevices. I stared at the hose, pulled out the nozzle from the back of the cleaner, and pressed on a button with a “hose” symbol….

No suction came out of that hose.

Why wasn’t this working?

I stared at the couch and wondered if I could just lift the entire vacuum all the way up onto the couch… but … no… it won’t reach all the crevices in between the cushions.

I tugged and pulled and this pipe, and that brush thing, and looked for the button I was so clearly missing. I tried again.

No suction.

Joaquin was at work and we are leaving in a few days on our first week-long trip together. He likes to keep the house clean and in good, comfortable condition when leaving so that we can return without feeling stressed.

He is right. I am easily stressed. And so I agree! A clean house would be a delightful thing to return to after a five hour flight! Let us clean the house together!

You see, because I am between sources of hourly income right now– all four part-time jobs put on Summer pause… I choose to do my part in the house, something I don’t normally get to do too much of because I’m always… always… ALWAYS.. working.

But, you see, this was my choice. I chose the noble path of “following my dreams” because “It’s not about the money, it’s about what I get to do.” I put a lot of time, money, and effort into being able to live a life that is fulfilling, does not leave me sitting at a desk, and adds to my wheelhouse of all sorts of life experience! I’m a performer, an educator, a comedian, a singer, and a community outreach activist! I have three hundred dollars to my name right now! Aren’t you PROUD?

 

The clock showed there was about forty five minutes until he returned home and I wanted to show that I could be good at cleaning. I could be domestic.

But I can’t figure out this goddamn vacuum.

I can see that this little curved end of the hose is meant to lock into something… it’s not a nozzle… or the stretchy- extendable pipe thingy that helps you clean ceilings.

Is there a name for that?… Whatever, it’s stretchy- extendable pipe thingy now.

I push another button. Still. No. Suction.

A bead of sweat starts to trickle down my mid back as it nears noon and the house is growing hot. It’s supposed to get up to ninety degrees today… Good thing I went for a run in the early morning! I always try to run in the morning because it helps me stay goal oriented for the rest of the day. Nothing balances out a stressed out mind like a good cardiovascular workout!

Why. is. there. no. suction?

I have a degree… I am a feminist…. I believe in equal pay for equal work… I preach body positivity… I believe that I am just as smart as any man AND I CANT FIGURE OUT THIS VACUUM CLEANER.

I could wait for Joaquin to get home and help me but that would make me a failure. I would have to sit and watch him do exactly what needs to be done in 1.6 seconds while I hang my head in shame, looking dumbfounded. I can’t change a tire, I can’t remember the names of all the actors in any movie except for ‘Titanic,’ I can’t eat grilled cheese without getting heartburn, and I can’t properly vacuum my damn house.

 

 

Look, I never played with legos as a child. I never dug around in the dirt! I never really learned how to use a computer. I can’t memorize the years of important events in history. I never received any praise for taking things apart and putting them back together again… I was told to put on pretty dresses and stand there and sing songs because that’s what young ladies do…

 

Suddenly, the entire torso of the vacuum cleaner pops right off, the flat thingy that goes across the carpet is sitting on the floor, the rest of it in my hand… I BROKE THE FUCKING VACUUM.

 

And then I realize… It’s supposed to do this! I was pushing the button that separates the two pieces by accident … what a clever design! The pieces separate so that you can carry the thing around while you suck up filth out of the stretchy-extendable pipe thingy. I’ve seen white, brunette ladies with bob haircuts do this in commercials for Swiffer and Oxyclean! I didn’t know our vacuum did this! .

Ok.

Progress.

 

I’m still sweating and I still haven’t figured out how to make the suction thing happen. I’m starting to feel like the biggest idiot this world has ever seen. What a fool I have been all these years…  I am the reason America has a glass ceiling.

I notice the accordion- like hose dangling from the back of the vacuum now. It has a hole on the end. I turn the motor (is it a motor? I don’t know… a car has a motor… what is this part called? The tornado torso? The windy inner demon? … I don’t know…) Air is sucking out of an open pipe— AN OPEN PIPE.

I turn the vacuum off, and slide the little nozzle of the hose sideways, and screw it to that beautiful open pipe….

On button.

 

SUCKAGE!!

 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE HAVE SUCKAGE!!!!

I have never been so happy to clean ceilings in my entire life! Couch crevices? SUCKED. Oh a cobweb? SUCKED. Dust around the moulding? SUCKED.

Drenched in sweat and as if a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, I used all of the little moving parts of that glorious vacuum cleaner, and BY GOD I did not ask for help!

I am a sad, privileged, woman who JUST figured out how to use her vacuum cleaner, and I will CLING to this moment of adulthood glory for as long as possible.

 

 

As a side note, I also broke my french press today while doing the dishes.

Domestic realness.

 

Later dudes. xoxoxo

“Die, Vampires.”

Has anyone ever been tormented in their head by the things others have said about you?

Actually, you know what, that is a ridiculous question.

EVERYONE HAS BEEN TORMENTED BY THE THINGS OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEM. 

We all have had this experience, even if it was back in the third grade, when Johnny called you a stupid-face and told you to eat dirt. Johnny was an a- hole. I really hope you didn’t eat dirt… I would have been the kid that ate the dirt in silence, not told an adult, and then cried about it at home. But I digress….

Anyway, this really got me thinking about the narrative we have in our heads when our tormentors, bullies, relatives, coaches, etc., tell us things that are completely detrimental to our well-being. We may not be able to control what people say or do to us, but we have 100% responsibility for the way we react to it, and how it controls our behavior in the future.

Unfortunately, I have been a pushover most of my life. I’m still grappling with the terrible things that have been said to me. But recently, I got an idea. I read in a book that if you can imagine yourself achieving a goal as vividly as possible, you’re WAY more likely to achieve it in your life. So I thought, maybe that could work the other way around as well. Maybe I could replace my responses to the jerks with something else, something I wish I had said, and that can make me stronger now.

So lately, I’ve decided to change my narrative. Entirely through the use of imagination (yay Theater Degree!) I’m working on replacing my memory with something the a stronger, older, wiser me would say the the A-holes.

 

The following is a list of things things that have been said to me in my past, how I responded then, and the new narrative I am now using so I can move the eff on with my life.

Hater: “You’re too fat for the standards of this performance group.”  

Old Me: “Yeah I know, but it’s fine I’ll just be in the back where I can sing. I’m good at singing anyway, I’m not here because I’m good-looking.

New Me: “Hey! F*CK you! I made it just as well as anyone else. Also, I’m a beautiful, talented goddess, and my body is not your business.”

 

Hater: “I’m cutting you from this dance. You look like a horse.” 

Old Me: Continues to rehearse in silence until the tears pour out of my face uncontrollably.

New Me:  “You know, it takes a really specific kind of person to look a twelve-year-old in the eyes and compare them to a barn animal. Although, horses are majestic! So I guess that means I’m majestic! Would you like to do something else in this scene? Or can I call my mom and go home?”

 

Hater: “Do you think you could lose ten pounds before opening night? None of these costumes fit you.”

Old Me: (Awkward laughter) ” I’m sorry. I could try? ”

New Me: “I hear crash diets are really unhealthy, especially for fifth graders. So, should I put your name down for being held responsible for my early onset anorexic tendencies? I’ll just give you my therapist’s address and you can write her a check directly.”

 

Hater: “Your body is fine, it could just be… you know… firmer. More toned.” 

Old Me: Oh yeah, I agree. That’s why I’ve been trying to lift weights and eat more lean protein. Firmer definitely is better.

New Me: Continuing to eat cake. We’re breaking up.

 

 

Hater: Good luck trying to find someone who loves you as much as I do. You’re a lot to handle and I doubt anyone else will understand how to deal with you. 

Old me: Cries.

New Me: Those two sentences make absolutely NO sense! And my worth is not defined by whether or not a boyfriend can “handle” me. I can handle myself, thank you very much! Giggity!

 

 

Hater: Ugh, you’re so irresponsible and dreamy. Why can’t you pay attention and be smart?  

Old me: I don’t know. I guess my mind wanders too much. I’m sorry.

New Me: I’m a creative person and I’m very smart about a lot of things. My intelligence is defined differently than yours, and maybe you would realize that if you actually attempted to listen to me once in a while.

 

 

Hater: Your involvement in the Theater Arts is making you vulnerable to Satan. You’re doing the work of the Devil and you don’t even know it. That’s why you’re not happy, and you never will be until you change your ways. 

Old Me: Frantically searches the Bible for answers, prays to God to take away my passions and to change my heart to love more “Godly” things.  

New Me: You’re insane. If you don’t have respect for my passions, then you don’t respect me. We’re breaking up.

 

 

 

You guys, don’t get me wrong. The experiences in our past that sucked make us who we are. They are a part of ourselves that give us the fuel to live out our passions and connect to others. But if the a-holes in your past are holding you back from anything in your present, try to change the narrative and see what happens.

 

xoxox

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

taco-memes-full-of-tacos.jpeg

 

 

In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

whatdoyouwant.gifnotthatsimple.png

 

Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

iliketacos.jpg

 

It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

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The Dragon’s Voice Needs to Be Heard

Panic attacks run in my family.

Let me rephrase that… panic attacks are RAMPANT in my family. And anyone who has ever had one understands how awful and ridiculous they can feel.

I know they are different and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are so massive they can make you feel like you only have a few minutes to live. Others feel like a heart attack. Mine usually start with a nervous feeling in my gut which spreads to my mind, makes me start feeling like the biggest failure on the planet, gives me the shakes and cause the irrational fear that I am about to vomit in public. Also I usually can’t stop crying.

 

Yeah. They suck.

 

But I have been working hard to have a relationship with the thing (or things) that ignite my anxiety. I try to figure out why they start in the first place. I ask myself—

What did I do today?

Was I productive or did I neglect something important?

Did I eat to fuel my body and soul, or did I eat poorly?

Did I get enough sleep?

Did I focus on the good things in my life?

Did I achieve (or set) any goals?

How is my relationship with myself right now?

Am I being self-deprecating, or practicing gratitude and self-love?

 

I find, more often than not, that the overwhelming feeling of dread and sorrow stems from not saying “Yes” to what’s happening in my heart and mind. It often comes from self-neglect– in other words, letting the Dragon roar as loud as it wants and letting it win. Whether that is from not giving myself a break from hours of work, putting junk in my body, not getting enough rest, or dwelling on past mistakes.

These things are all just anxiety fuel.  Sad Dragon meat and potatoes with a side of vodka and an extra large slice of cheesecake.

 

So, what do you do when anxiety is running rampant? Personally, I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to hate or ignore the panicky uneasiness. In fact, it should be looked at as a message that your Dragon is trying to tell you something important. Something is causing the hurt, so it would be detrimental to neglect it. Otherwise, it will just start roaring louder and louder until you cant decipher the messages.

Combating anxiety is different for everybody, but I’m going to start by saying “Yes” to the things my body and mind really need. And now that I’ve had an anxiety-ridden conversation (well, more like a kicking-and-screaming-break-up-fight with my Sad Dragon) with myself, I’m starting to hear what the Dragon is trying to tell me.

So, I’m focusing on three things for the next few months:

  1. Cutting Back on Work. I find that I don’t know who I am when I am not working. At any given time, I usually have five or six jobs, mostly because I am terrified of being broke. That is very unhealthy fear-based mentality and I need to let it go. If I focus on staying minimalist, and loving living on less, I will be absolutely fine. I must trust this process.
  2. Running My First Half Marathon I have been running now for a little over a year (mostly 5Ks and 10Ks) and I love it. It calms my mind, elevates my mood, and makes me feel like the Super Hero I have longed to be since I was a teenager. I have had this goal for a while now, and I need to stop putting it off because of work. In April, it’s on. I will be running 13.1 miles for the first time.
  3. Traveling and Seeing as Much as Possible because it’s FUN The last time I truly went somewhere far away and different from home was in high school on a bus with a chaperone. I am a theater-loving Californian and I have never experienced San Francisco, have only seen Yosemite once (when I was eleven), and VERY rarely get out to see live entertainment. I don’t give myself permission to see things, just for the sake of seeing them. Again, it’s usually because I’m working.

 

I need to stop saying that I’m too busy to experience my own life. I need to stop letting my Dragon win. I am in control of my emotions. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that, and that’s ok.

 

What is your Dragon trying to tell you?

.

 

Training Your Fat/Old/Ugly/Pimply/ Tall / Short/ Scrawny/ BODY-HATING Dragon

Much like practically every other woman in America, I have struggled with my body image for as long as I had body awareness. As I kid, I was on the chubby side and realized pretty early on that I was bigger than my peers. I was always very tall (a full head and shoulders taller than average) and was just thick. I had a belly and was uncomfortable in jeans because my baby muffin top would press into the button fly. I avoided physical activity because I believed it wasn’t meant for me. I would rather write and sing with my sister.

The funny thing is, once I hit my growth spurt around age 12, I turned into a bean pole with curves. I had no awkward adolescence. I went straight from chubby girl with dirty fingernails to woman-sized with braces. Now I was the only 5’9 7th grader in school, and though I realized I was no longer overweight, I did everything I could to try and take up less space. I hated that everyone could see me in a crowd. I was embarrassed and felt huge. In photos from middle school and high school, I am completely hunched over with the look I like to call the “vulture neck” to try and appear shorter. This stayed with me until… about last year. It took fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS OF VULTURE NECK!

I’m still 5’9, thick legs for days, and have a broad back. I’m not dainty. And I’m not small. What baffles my mind lately is how long I obsessed over how much I hated myself for taking up space. I gave myself back and vocal problems from how much I hunched myself over. I dieted constantly, deciding that if I had to be tall, maybe I could at least be stick-thin. I worked out obsessively. And though at one point I made it all the way down to 138 pounds, I was always exhausted, miserable, and anxious.

It hasn’t been until the last year or so before i realized that regardless of how small or strong I got, I still felt uncomfortable in my body, and thus uncomfortable with myself. My body is really all I have, and I spent my entire life hating it for what it is. Who cares how good I looked in a pair of jeans if I still envied other girls who were pretty, funny, strong, or successful? I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t stop hating my body and being jealous of other peoples’ bodies, faces, hair, skin…

This is my Sad Dragon. It’s loudest voice is the one that roars that I need to be thinner. I need to be smaller. I need to take up less space.

The change finally occurred when I started accepting that my body is awesome. It’s strong. It’s tall. It can make kids laugh. It can run 6 miles at a time. It can belt super high notes at karaoke. And it couldn’t do any of those things if IT DIDNT TAKE UP SPACE.

Through theatrical projects, conversations, meditation, journaling, and looking at THOUSANDS of photos of REAL women all over the internet, my thinking finally started to change. I stopped punishing myself with diet food and exercise, and instead I learned about how my individual body works– discovered which foods make it feel its best and which work out routines make me feel stronger and more available for the things that give me joy. If I’m tired, I nap and eat tons of brown rice and veggies. If I’m feeling strong and badass, I go for a long run with my favorite music. I set goals and try to meet them. But I never beat myself up if they don’t happen because the whole thing is a process. Some days are better than others. And that’s okay.

I know that this is a huge problem for a ton of women. Often times I think that the Sad Dragon is pissed off about something we may not even realize, and the easiest pathway to roar at us is the one that attacks our body. Maybe we are hurting about a past relationship, so instead of dealing with that problem, we listen to the voice that says we are overweight and useless. Maybe we are struggling with finding a job, so we come to the conclusion that if we were just prettier that maybe we would be more likable in an interview (or audition, in my case). Maybe we can’t accept the fact that we are getting older, so we curse and try to cover our wrinkles and gray hairs.

Whatever the case may be, BEFORE you decide on a diet and exercise routine, make sure you are loving your body for where it is. Right now. It is beautiful and capable. It’s the packaging for your heart, soul, and mind. Love the SHIT out of it for what it is, no matter how it looks. The diet and exercising is secondary to this necessary part of your life’s puzzle.

To sum up, if you can’t love yourself when you eat a pizza, you can’t really love yourself when you run a 10K either.

So go run a 10 K.

And go eat a pizza.

And be proud of both.

Take Responsibility and Say “No.”

What is it about certain personality types (myself included) that feel this desperation to say “Yes” to everyone that needs them, to always try to coddle other peoples’ unhappiness, and sacrifice their own health for the sake of someone else’s Sad Dragon?

Why is it so difficult for the People-Pleasing types to actually ADMIT that they have needs and desires in their hearts? Why does the thought of saying “No, I’d rather not deal with your problem. I need to take this day to _________.” Fill in the blank. Rather, why is it so easy to listen to a voice that says “Yes, it’s more important for you to take care of someone else’s problem than to deal with your own,” when said person is perfectly capable of taking responsibility?

It’s not my responsibility to take care of other peoples’ happiness. It is NO ONE’s responsibility to do that. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAD DRAGONS.

And, for some, a massive part of that personal responsibility is knowing when to say “No” or “Enough is Enough.”

Let’s put it this way…

Imagine a scenario in which Person A is totally giving in to their Sad Dragon. Lets say Person A’s Dragon makes them feel fat, lonely, cranky, and tired. It’s not trying to get them to do anything desperate, just making them generally feel like poop. Person A then calls on Person B for a vent session, or a self-sabotage session in which Person A encourages Person B to drink, eat ice cream, stay up late, make less than ideal choices. Person B has been battling their own Sad Dragon because they just went through a break-up and they’re swamped with work. Person B has been feeling better, but is still on the fragile side. Person B would rather stay home and take a nap, but Person A guilt trips them into coming because Person B bailed last time. Person B really wants to say “No,” but chooses to listen to the guilt. Two hours later, A and B are now sitting on the couch with wine, scrolling through the Facebook pages of their ex-lovers and talking crap about everyone online. They get drunk. They fall asleep on the couch. Person A feels better and wants to have brunch. Person B is exhausted and has work to do, but feels guilty for staying up late and drinking. Person A and B go to brunch in their sweatpants, and spend too much money on crummy omelets  and toast.

Now there are TWO people with ravenous Sad Dragons, because they let them feed each other. They listened to the Dragon’s voice— anger, frustration, guilt, victimization, sadness, worthlessness— and the cycle just continues. 

Now, who is to blame in this scenario? The immediate reaction is to say it’s Person A’s fault, but Person B is the one who gave in. Both of them chose to give in to the Sad Dragon’s voices, and so they’re both at fault, and now it’s going to be more difficult for both of them to deal with their current problem.

To be fair, I frequently think that doing something stupid (like drinking wine and trolling Instagram pictures, or whatever it may be) will make me feel better, or make it easier to bounce back into a happier, productive state the next day. But it ALWAYS just makes it harder. Once the Dragon is just sitting it’s giant butt on my heart and eating an extra large bag of kettle chips, it takes extra effort to push it off and tell it to use it’s fire-breathing for some productivity fuel instead. That being said, it really doesn’t help when someone else’s Dragon is high-fiving my own. It’s hard enough as it is.

We’re here for each other.

Take responsibility.

Learn when to say “No.”

And know the difference between the Sad Dragon’s voice and your own.