What is the word for home
that is no longer “home”?
No longer a base, a fortress
or a regular destination.
But once, it was.
Where your dreams were planted
and your life was
changed, once and again, and again,
shaped and molded and pushed and prodded,
challenged and changed.
The place that was once your sanctuary
and is now…
A place of memories, old familiarities.
New faces, new storefronts, new routines.
New. Different. Changed.
But yet the same.
Same blinking stop light, same broken harbor, bridge under construction.
It once was home.
A place of myth, nostalgia, the place that was,
A placebo, a pattern, a reflex.
Home that was.
The salt air smells the same.
I did something strange today.
It wasn’t a plan, wasn’t a decision, or really thought about in any way.
I make time every day now to meditate and pray before bed. To both listen and talk to God/The Universe, whichever title sits right in my mouth at that moment.
I sat in child’s pose, my body didn’t feel like rising up after stretching today and I chose to listen to it. I slowly felt my body sinking into the pose, my hips and chest opening and my breathing slowing down. And I open my mind and my mouth to pray and offer gratitude as I usually do.
But what came out of my mouth wasn’t thanks for the blessings you would expect, that I had expected.
I started to thank the Universe for the blemishes and curses and struggles I was dealing with. For the lessons and consequences of my mistakes and bad choices. That all of them were curable or reparable or temporary. That God had given me the consequences I deserved for my actions, but also the chance to move on. None of them would follow me into the distant future.
I had to struggle, fight, be embarrassed, and broke now but it would end. As long I learned from my mistakes and choices now, I wouldn’t have to carry them the rest of my life.
It was a warning from a benevolent partner or parent. You screwed up, you nearly screwed up badly, but you didn’t this time. Here are the consequences, the struggles, and the tools to fix them yourself. Now go and do better.
The Universe/God and I are partners in this life. They want me to succeed. I have been blessed with the struggles and challenges and reminders of how I have veered off the path and blessed with the tools to get back on it.
So I stayed there on my knees offering thanks for every difficulty I had been handed, as a result of my actions or not, because I was in awe of every one of them is pushing me back in the direction I want to be, and into the person I hope to become.
At the end of the day, I am so very blessed. By both the gifts, opportunities, and privileges I have received in life and by the very things that I fight against every day.
Anxiety can make you braver, Depression can make you kinder, carrying both can make you stronger. Obstacles can make you more determined. Illness, death, and injury can remind you that you do not have time to waste.
These all have the potential to stop you. They also have the potential to empower you.
I’ve been back from my 6-month stint in the Middle East about a month.
I’ve noticed several changes in my body and temperament.
To put it mildly, I came back from Dubai an Emotional Wreck.
I got off the plane and wanted to cry. My initial thought upon entering JFK that morning was “I want to go home”
But I was home. I was coming home after being gone for so long.
The boy who had waited for me brought wine and cheese to my house, all waiting for me when I arrived. I wanted to cry again, for all the wrong reasons.
I have an event that day. I sit with my business partners and run our tech rehearsal. The performers were so good, again I was nearly in tears after our Hamlet spoke.
I went to dinner with these partners and friends I hadn’t seen in 6+ months and wanted to cry in relief at being with them again.
At the event I gave a speech and raised over $400 in donations for #TimesUp and felt so alive in my skin, skilled and connected, I was brimming with pride and love and ready to cry in sheer joy.
My best friend and roommate reunite again. It’s not instantly joyous and we slowly adapt to sharing our lives again. We get there, but it takes time. In that time every bump, every brush off, feels like a burn. I forget how to live here. I feel out of place in my own home, my own city.
This is all within 18 hours of my landing in the USA.
This does not go away.
A boy who is not the boy I am dating messages me. We met in Dubai and are now 8,000 miles apart.
We talk about life and love and our separate futures.
He tells me how he misses me. He describes a woman I do not recognize. But a woman I desperately want to be.
And I realize something. I realize why I am an emotional wreck.
Because in Dubai, amidst the stress, the chaos, overstimulation, and drama, I was happy. I had a purpose and a job I enjoyed. I was eating well and doing yoga daily, I had a supportive network and professional team and was surrounded by friends and some really good people.
Somehow, I had become a happy human being. And had not recognized it.
I had spent years in NYC struggling through my anxiety and depression, finding pools of sunlight in the murky dark of my mind for so long that I had confused contentedness for being happy.
But in New York, I had been merely surviving.
In Dubai, in this job, I had thrived.
And now, my entire physical being was fighting against going back to the familiar murky depths of my broken mind. Against going back to the patterns I’ve kept up for years because they were safe, small pockets of light that allowed me to ignore the dark,
I will not be put back into survival mode.
I will not let these small lights and glimmers of love distract me from the gloom trying to take me back.
I know better. I can be better.
I am better than my complacency and laziness. I am stronger than my darkness.
And I have a freaking awesome support network.
A week later, I end things with the boy in New York.
I admit to myself (and him) my feelings for this boy halfway around the globe in Mumbai.
We start talking about finding each other again.
I roll out my yoga mat and I attach a pen to my physical being at all times.
I start to rebuild my body and sharpen my mind.
I start to pray again.
I’m learning Hindi.
I’m writing every day.
I get a small contract to pay me for my writing and PR assistance. I’m learning how to sell my mind and get paid by the hour.
I surround myself with love. My friends, my roommate, my chosen family, my books, my stories,
And I celebrate them.
I am still far from free. But the happiness and hope I am cultivating and working on every day are real.
And they are still beating back the darkness.
I am still a weepy mess at happy news. because joy and hope in this world are so important. Sometimes the only way I can honor it is by blessing it in salt. ❤️
Don’t tell me I’m beautiful
I don’t care.
Tell me I’m brilliant,
Tell me I frighten you,
Tell me something about my
eyes that isn’t lovely.
Or better yet,
Tell me how you notice that I notice
Tell me you love watching me work,
watching my mind untangle the knots
and people I wrangle daily.
Don’t tell me I’m sexy in cargo shorts,
That my headset hair is hot.
Haven’t you noticed?
I don’t care.
I don’t want to be beautiful.
I don’t care about pretty.
Anyone can be pretty.
Beauty is not a thing to achieve,
is not what I have worked so hard for,
it is not what I want.
And the more you tell me I’m
before you tell me I’m
The less I want it.
The less I want you.
If there is one thing from my early start in theatre that I am grateful for now, it’s the lack of weekends and limited time off.
(Now, this sounds like the start of a post glorifying burn-out culture. Stay with me, it’s not. I promise.)
Because since I was a 16, I’ve had work on weekends. If I wasn’t rehearsing a show, I was rehearsing a dance routine with my partner. I looked forward to the weekends only because it meant I go to focus on work that I wanted to do, instead of calculus or bio.
College was the same, tech majors had weekend lab classes, rehearsals, and technical assignments. Then my post-grad internship in Art Administration was the same, as was my apprenticeship, my first “real” job gave me weekends back but after working 50-75 hours a week at a university desk, I was desperate for a creative outlet and I started producing theatre on the side and gave up the weekends in exchange for my soul.
Relaxing is clearly something I have never been particularly good at doing.
I finally hit my breaking point of long hours at office jobs and came back to Queens last year. And started to do this freelance thing for real while finishing grad school.
The thing about freelancing and holding down multiple contracts is that you don’t follow a regular schedule, there is never a set “weekend” or “day off” that I’m holding out for, I’m not working for the weekend, I’m working to get the job done.
There was a moment when I was working abroad. My final paper for the term was done and submitted, no meetings or writings to finish, I had the entire morning off before work. I had hours to do anything I wanted. I wasn’t used to this. But I didn’t want those precious hours to be wasted in my apartment.
I packed a book and went to the infinity pool upstairs that I hadn’t seen yet. The next time this happened, I packed a lunch and went to a beach across the city, then to one of the markets, later it was on a yacht ride through the marina, or a last minute charter bus out of town arriving back in time for my 3pm bus to work.
I stopped waiting for the time I was told was my “time off”, I stopped hanging on for my one day off a week to be the day I could actually enjoy my life. TGIF was always laughable to me in the past, now it made me a bit sad.
Why would I ever want to wait until Friday night to do what I wanted to do?
If I can get there and get my work done, who says I have to wait for the weekend or the day off to have an adventure? Who made weekends sacred? Who said I can’t have a lovely adventure on a Monday morning?
I was lucky that my workaholic nature and industry never let me take time for granted. I was never able to sit still for two days, I always wanted to be doing or experiencing something. I’ve been so blessed that because of this urge I have gotten to experience so much in my 27 years, more than many people experience in their lives.
I’m off today and most of this week. My savings from abroad means that I can afford to experience life a bit more slowly than I’m used to these days, at least for a while. While I’m enjoying the time to ease back into life in NYC, I’m already looking for the next thing to try.
Today is indie bookstore day, I’m planning a walk through Queens to hit up a few of my favorite spots and find new places to read my finds. I have new museums on my list, I have things to see, I am so lucky to live in a city where it is inexpensive to explore and see and try new things.
I’m not working for the weekend. I’m not waiting for Friday, for the New Year, the new job, the new reason to start over or try something new. Or try something I’ve always wanted.
I have no excuse to not start right now.
So what are you waiting on? What’s your excuse for not starting today?
I had a strange recollection today. In the middle of the mundane task of doing my nails, I remembered something from Jr. High School.
I was in a carpool to rehearsal with a group of girls we would call the “In Crowd” (of which I was not a part). Our mothers were all friends so by default we were all forced to tolerate each other regularly. One of them grabbed my hand to look at my nails, I had recently cut and buffed them myself. “Oh my god your nails! Look at the shape! It’s so pretty! Do they grow that way or do you have to cut them?” I was startled by the question. I said I had cut them but immediately felt her disapproval and covered saying I trimmed them along how they grew naturally. She made a noncommittal noise and we went back to riding in silence. I remember being humiliated that my nails didn’t naturally grow perfectly and that I had not lived up to expectations of this high ranking social crowd.
Remembering it now, it sparks different thoughts. Imagine, being shamed because something doesn’t come naturally. Work or any effort in doing my nails was being shamed because my body didn’t naturally fit the shape it was supposed to.
I feel as though this mentality carried over to other parts of my younger life. What hobbies or new things have I given up on because I wasn’t immediately or naturally talented? What else have I convinced myself that I just wasn’t built for?
How many other girls and women have grown up with this thought that work or developed skill isn’t as valuable as being naturally talented or beautiful?
In what world do women have nails that grow in perfect half moons, already shiny, with hair that never knots, muscles that appear in all the right places, and skills that just magically arrive when we hit certain ages?
I know a girl recently out of university who has never cooked before in her life and was confused as to why, when she tried to cook for the first time, she failed spectacularly. Like sauce on the ceiling spectacularly. She was distraught and didn’t understand. She was now an adult woman, she was supposed to be good at this stuff. Why was she, who had never chopped an onion in her life, not able to cook a basic meal the first time she turned on a stove by herself?
I hear similar stories like this all the time. Even from a few men embarrassed that they know nothing about cars, that I had to show them how to light a grill, that they haven’t magically developed “manly” talents.
How did we get to this point? Where did this world come from where we all expect ourselves to magically turn into our best selves, to pop into adulthood with all the necessary skills and appearances?
It starts young. These lessons we see as children never leave us. We feel the pressure to be so innately perfect that we fear trying, we fear failing, we fear never being good enough, so we don’t even try. Or worse, we expect the skills to just arrive without warning and beat ourselves up so thoroughly when they don’t that we spiral into further self-doubt.
We need to stop this cycle. With ourselves and with the future generations. Failing is learning, natural talent or beauty doesn’t trump hard work and effort in our appearance.
Easier said than done certainly, and I know I still beat myself up when I don’t pick up something new as quickly as others. But I still push myself to keep trying instead. So when I tried to learn poi for the first time and whacked myself in the face, I got some ice, sat for a minute, and then tried again. And learned to dodge faster.
It’s a process. It’s always a process.
I gave advice to an intern of mine several years back, I try to remember it for myself as well.
Does it get easier as we get older? No. But I can promise you, it gets more worth it.
Of a place where laughter
Where boredom has shrunk
to a four-letter word.
Where my mind is stretched,
my body worn,
but my soul still smiles.
outweighs the good?
And what good
will cause the bad to shrink?
How much will money matter
when there are stories to be told,
adventures to be had,
mouths to be kissed,
lessons to be learned,
and fun to be had?
outweigh the cost?
outweigh the risk?
Has stable become
yet so overrated?
What freedom can be found
become such friendly, familiar words?
Take a deep breath,
Eyes wide open.
Hand in hand with fear and fate,
In. Out. Up. Over.
Whatever is next.
You’re not a writer, not anymore.
You’re not a reader, not anymore.
What are you that is more than just
a girl sitting there with stories in her head?
Stories to tell
Words to share
The page stays blank.
The blog unfilled.
Your mouth stitched closed.
The books gather dust;
too embarrassed to face their words that come so freely.
Nothing comes without change.
So what are you willing to chance?
Yo soy la mujer, que debe temer.
I am the woman, you should fear.
A frightening thing to behold.
A woman in charge.
Unafraid of the challenge.
Unafraid of you.
Not another trophy for your case.
I know all your games,
And I play better.
Winner take all.
Make no mistake.
Woman I am, but
Meek I am not.
Not your doormat, scapegoat, or pawn.
This is my world, my time.
Bow down to your queen.
You saw only the roses,
Let’s show you the thorns.
I gave you fair warning.
We play by my rules here.
You just didn’t believe me.
I am the woman you should fear.