Tuesday, March 29, 2011

straighten up and fly right

It's morning. You're running late, again. You always do this, don't you? Hit the snooze button fifteen times, let the alarm clock play alternative music intermittently for over an hour. But you're tired, of course you're tired. You didn't sleep again last night. Same as the night before. And the night before that. The nightmares, the anxiety, the fact that your brain never stops racing, the fact that your body stops breathing when the anxiety gets too bad and you wake up, panicked, gulping for air that you don't even let yourself breathe.

The commute's not too bad this morning, sometimes it can take over an hour to drive down Santa Monica Blvd from one side of town to the other, with you sitting in the car, trying to not wonder how much the stop and go traffic is gleefully murdering your car's engine, trying not to get hit by SUV's full of one person, reading their iPhone and steering with the hand holding their latte, who ends up swerving in and out of your lane. You try not to think nasty thoughts about people who can't be bothered to just focus on driving. You try to appreciate the fact that the radio is playing the same ten songs it always plays. You try to appreciate the fact that your iPod plays the same ten albums it always plays because you don't have enough money to buy new music, because any extra money you're earning these days is going towards filling your gas tank to get you to your job that gives you the money to fill your gas tank so you can get to your job. Because life is cyclical like that.

Work is okay, nothing special, you sit in front of a computer all day long and do what it is you do, the sort of menial task you get paid well for but it's not like you majored in it college and want to do it for the rest of your life. The window view is nice, your boss is kind and not that demanding and lets you play Pandora in the background, the clients are polite and respectful and things could be a lot worse, you could be one of 14 million unemployed Americans who would kill for your job, but you still wish you were out there, auditioning for acting roles and feeling like you were actually getting somewhere with the career you actually want, the thing you DID major in college for. But then you remember that you've still got time, there's always time, and things can change in a day out here in bright and sunny Los Angeles.

You get home, and your cat, whom you swore was a cat when you adopted it, has turned into a dog, a whiny, needy dog that shrieks if you don't pet it immediately, and you think to yourself, I swear I thought cats were supposed to ignore you, and your boyfriend, your wonderful, sweet, kind boyfriend is already making dinner, even though he's made dinner the last eight nights and it's probably been your turn to make dinner for at least a month now. He's making dinner, and he's twirling around in the kitchen doing eight things at once, and you drop your stuff and come into the kitchen and he stops whatever he's doing (unless he's carrying something hot to the sink) and pulls you into his strong arms and he smells like home and everything you've ever loved, and the cat twirls between the feet of the two of you and begs for food. Because she's actually a dog.

You sit on the couch, eating another amazing dinner compiled mainly from random things your boyfriend found in the fridge (you do not have this gift, alas) and you wrap your fingers around his as you both watch a funny television show that takes your mind off of the fact that your career isn't where you would like it to be, and the late afternoon sunlight dips through the window and hits at just such an angle that it feels like you are actually witnessing a memory or a photograph being created before your very eyes, and you look over at this boy, who makes you so completely and fully happy, and you look at the food sitting in front of you, that you had enough money for in your checking account when you bought it, and you look at the apartment that you love and have decorated with love, and you look at the cat that is now ignoring you as all good cats should do, and your heart fills with warmth and love about how every single thing in your life is amazing, even though it wasn't a particularly amazing day, because you realize just how truly loved you really are, and something expands in your lungs, and it's hope, hope that things will get even better, hope for the future, hope, hope is the thing with feathers, hope floats, hope springs eternal, hope hope hope hope hope....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

balancing act

These are the words I'm forcing myself to write.

I have not written a post in the last couple weeks because I literally had no idea what to write about. It's not that there's nothing going on in my life. There's actually tons. Producer session callbacks for major tv shows, hanging out with friends, throwing a Dr. Seuss themed baby shower for friends who are set to have their first baby any day now, a second semester of American Sign Language that I'm taking, events, trips, surprises... you name it, it's been happening, and I've been high on life. I've been so deliriously happy and grateful.

And yet.

I can't help but feel so saddened by the events that are going on in the world. Earthquakes, tsunami's, floods, drought... from Haiti to New Zealand to Australia to Japan...

What right do I have to post about my little life when there is so much loss and sadness in the world? What right do I have to be happy with my Stuff and my Things when I go to bed at night and when I wake up the next morning there are ten thousand less people on this planet?

It seems like there is a huge lack of balance in the world right now. And because of that, I've been feeling unbalanced in my own life. I swing from joyous about my own life to discouraged about others. And I have been trying to share my "wealth" with others, in the form of money donated, time and energy spent, gratitude and graciousness towards others expressed... but everything still feels so extreme and out of balance.

What on earth could I possibly blog about that could make whatever I have to say anything less than trivial?

Just this: that balance is achieved, one step at a time, not through guilt at the blessings we have, nor ingratitude of them, not through ignorance of what is happening to others, nor journalistic voyeurism, but through love. Love of each other, across oceans and tectonic plates and political parties and religious beliefs. And it is right, when we have been feeling lack, to receive joy and love into our lives, to celebrate. And it is right, when we have an abundance of joy and love in our lives, to share it with others, across oceans and tectonic plates and political parties and religious beliefs.

The sentences above is the only tiny, humble thing I have to offer right now to those of you who read my blog. I hope it is enough.

"I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality."

Balance. Pure and simple. And loving.

Friday, March 4, 2011

luck is the residue of design

I will just go ahead and say, without self-pity and without pride, that I have always thought I had weird luck. It's not always bad - Weird Bad Luck happens to my best friend Stacey - but I definitely have weird luck. It's luck that clumps together so it comes all at once and people shake their heads at my life and say, "What are the chances?" But having had weird luck for most of my life - I know exactly what the chances are. The chances are freakin' HIGH.

By the way - if you're wondering how exactly I define Weird Bad Luck I'll give you my favorite story of Stacey's. Being raised a Good Catholic girl, Stacey decided she was going to wait until marriage to have sex, and to avoid temptation, would never spend the night over at her boyfriend's (now her husband's) dorm-room during college. Except for that one rainy night, after they both got back late from a concert, when Stacey thought, What the hell, I'll just sleep here one night, and won't tell my mother, and then found herself confronted by her Even More Catholic mother a few weeks later. Are you having pre-marital sex?! Stacey's Even More Catholic mother screamed, and Stacey had no CLUE as to how her mother could have found out that she spent the (sexless) night over at her boyfriend's dorm.

Turns out, there was a drug bust in the parking lot of campus that night, and the police took photos of all the cars and then mailed them back to the registered owners to make sure the vehicles weren't stolen. Stacey's Even More Catholic mother got photographic proof from the police that her only daughter spent the night at a college campus. With a boy.

And that, my friends, is Stacey's Weird Bad Luck.

Two weeks ago, I decided I was going to take a majorly fat step towards my own happiness by paying off my car with my savings, thus allowing me more room in my budget to take every other Friday off of one of my two part time jobs. I drive over two hours a day, five days a week, and it was running my car (and my soul) into the ground. So I decided: pay off my car, pay myself with the money I save each month, work less, have the same amount of money, and be more happy. Sounds simple right?

The day I mailed in the check to pay off my car, my car died in the middle of the intersection I was driving through, literally on my way to my tire mechanic's because my front brake sensor was going off. I had just enough in my checking account to make room for paying for brake pads, and enough in savings to pay off the car.

What I didn't have money for was the distributor in my engine, which was what quit on my car the day I paid it off. Which was about $350. That I did not have. And after I finished paying the $350 to my regular mechanic, I drove straight to my tire mechanic's, where they happily replaced my front brake pads. For another $200. I will be honest here, guys - I cried. Like a girl. My money was gone, my car was working - for now - and I had very little hope that I would recoup my money losses.

Except that Thursday, three days after having one of the most expensive days of my life and a month after I'd asked my boss at one of my part-time jobs for a raise, when I'd just about lost all hope - my boss came back and told me he'd agreed to give me a raise. A $5/hour raise. He explained the reasons why, something about me being a great employee who works hard, but honestly, I didn't hear a single word because I was CRYING OUT OF JOY INSIDE MY BRAIN.

Then, on Friday, at my other part-time job, I told my boss how happy I was that I had received a raise at my other job after waiting to hear back for more than a month - and as I left that day and my other boss paid me, she included a note with my payment - that said she was also giving me a raise. I cried out of gratitude the entire hour long drive home.

And lately I've been thinking - all my life, I have taken responsibility for the bad things that have happened in my life, but I've chalked up the good things to luck. What if I got it wrong? What if it's been the other way around my whole life? What if there was nothing I could have done to keep my distributor from dying (which my mechanic confirmed), but the fact that I got two raises in two days IS something I made happen? I work hard, I'm loyal, and I'm damn smart. I've put in the work that caused me to deserve the good things that have happened in my life. And what if it's good luck that my car died while I was on a surface street, as opposed to going 70 mph in the fast lane on a California Highway?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that part of why I'm so happy, why I'm so deeply, incredibly grateful for my life these days - is that it's full of good luck, great people, and wonderful opportunities. And I'm beginning to think that almost all of that is my fault. It's a result of how hard I work to create my own luck, to maintain friendships and relationships with great people, and track down and explore new opportunities.

And every once in a while, when things get weird, I can just shake my head, laugh, and know that it's gonna pass.

(photo credit: I got it here)
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