just stretching my fingers

Has it been two months? Oops. The excuse this time is simultaneously pathetic and wonderful. I lost myself in my work (work-work, y’know) and abandoned all semblance of time management in my personal/creative life…but I secured the job! They’re going to keep me as a full-time hire, so I will no longer be an outside contractor. Have I finished reading a book since September? No! I don’t care. Honestly. If I had to use all of my tentacles to desperately clutch only one thing for the past few months, this was the right choice.

I’m attempting to reintroduce balance going into 2020. We know I love a list, but my 2020 list (which is not yet complete) features more broad intentions this year that I think will lead me to develop some new and improved habits. Sure, there’s a dash of the classic “go to the gym!” and “make more art!” but the approach is a bit different this time. There’s less rigidity this year. I don’t want to fall into any “all or nothing” traps that I’ve set for myself, so I’m not setting them. With regard to my personal projects, I’m keeping some Austin Kleon quotes (from “Show Your Work!”) in mind:

  • “You don’t find an audience for your work – they find you.”
  • “Think about your work as a never-ending process.”
  • “Amateur – an enthusiast who encourages her work in the spirit of love.”
  • “Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts.”
  • “Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism on your sleeve.”
  • “Be a documentarian of what you do.”
  • “Focus on days.”
  • “Don’t let sharing your work take precedence over actually doing your work.”

So I should document and share what I do, but not let sharing overshadow the doing. Which means establishing some discipline in my art life – not in what’s being done, but just that I do it…at all…

…I think this is the right time to tell you that (at the time of writing) I’m the only person in this coffee shop at 10:00am on the Saturday before New Year’s, and the managers are 100% looking at me from around the corner with expressions that say “how nice that we’re remaining open for this one chick to sip a latte for an hour and stare at a wall.”

There will undoubtedly be some changes coming with this website and ideally with my engagement with others on it, as well. I’m excited. I’m still mapping out what I want to achieve, but it’s a very ongoing variety of work and in the meantime I just wanted to pop in and say hello, I’m still here.

One other timely thing I wanted to bring up: it’s that time of year when Instagram encourages you to share your “Top 9” (top nine most liked posts) from the year as sort of a “these were my best moments of 2019” tribute. Instagram’s algorithm allowed me to notice that Nina Agdal, a professional model with over 1 million followers, posted the following on the subject:

“I’m not gonna let Instagram tell me what my top 9 of 2019 is gonna be cus i know it would just be pics of my tits and ass so i made my own.” – @ninaagdal

Nina then included a self-made picture collage featuring shots of her holding her new nephew, a screenshot of a personal best on a run, and a selfie after getting her driver’s license, among others.

…I love this idea? I don’t know if she originated it, but big shout-out to you, Nina. I really doubt anyone’s most-liked posts truly reflect who they are and the most special moments of their year. Unless…no, I can’t come up with an exemption. So here’s my top 9 of 2019! Safe celebrating to all and to all a hopeful, fresh start. 🙂

2019 featuring a very well-executed surprise birthday party, my first sloth experience, moving in with Sean and starting our garden, exposing my blog on Instagram and being blown away by the response, acting alongside some of my favorite actors and TV characters, publicly posting poetry despite being terrified, getting my current job and 24/7 access to free coffee, standing up for a cause I love, and wrapping it all up at home & with family (and delightfully ugly sweaters).

reminiscing in towel pants

This time last year I was strolling around London, pretend-shopping in Covent Garden and wandering back and forth across Tower Bridge. I’d visited London once before this when I was 18, a mere freshman in college, and had never before travelled alone. This time was different – I was 24, had a little money in the bank, and knew how to curate a perfect day of sightseeing and coffee stops.

I was only able to take this trip because June 15th of last year was my last day of work at the job I truly thought was going to be my “finally!” job.

I started working at my first sit-at-a-desk-for-9-hours job in February of last year, after a looong break in employment (the Christmas market had ended in December) that had me craving stability and routine. This particular position involved handling client schedules, coordinating freelance artists, and most importantly – handling client complaints. I know that this is an inaccurate percentage, but it really felt like 95% of the day revolved around resolving complaints. I enjoyed the sense of purpose I found in helping people and troubleshooting their issues, taking angry and often accusatory phone calls from negative to positive.

Still. I would leave the house at 4:50am to get to work by 7, and despite getting out at the nice early time of 4pm, I was so rattled and tense after work that I’d go to the gym (plus I felt the need to use my legs after all that desk-sitting) until 6 and end up home around 8pm – enough time to make a quick dinner and shower before going to bed.

It was a routine. And the job helped me develop some critical skills. Plus, I met some of the best ladies there, whom I still like to see whenever I can. It just wasn’t a routine that worked for me.

I’ll admit that at first, it was worth it. It was so nice to finally have money – and health insurance! But no matter how happy I think I am, if my “stable” life leads to an unstable mind, that is the most important red flag that I have to listen to. I had hours that changed on a week-to-week basis, but it wasn’t enough flexibility that I could go out for an acting gig here and there like I had wanted to. I was finally able to afford the tons of specialist appointments I needed at the time, but didn’t have a schedule that allowed me to get to those appointments. Remember the stroke story? All of that happened about a month into this job. I didn’t find time to follow up with the neurologist until at least a month later (…it was supposed to happen right away. They were not pleased with me).

After a quick five months, I said “I’m off to do other things” and went to London. I drank a lot of (mostly free) coffee and stared at beautiful buildings. I bought my mom a royal baby-themed dish towel. I took a trip to Oxford and laid on a bench in a shopping mall while my kidney had a meltdown. (Worth it. Gorgeous weather.)

I meant to get my life together again when I got back to NY. I started working a combination of super part-time and seasonal jobs. I started applying for acting gigs again (I did a lovely little 3-night show in September). Then came the trip to Scotland, which was the greatest head-clearing break I could have ever hoped for. Over the course of the fall and winter, I scrimped and saved and had to be bailed out more than a few times. I got sick and got better and got sick again. I boldly tried living on background acting alone, for a bit. Then I dipped a toe back into waitressing and absolutely lost my mind.

And here we are.

You know how people say “did you ever think a year ago that you’d be where you are right now?”

Honestly? Still a little bit broke? I could’ve predicted that.

BUT. I think saorza circa June 2018 would never have guessed the following:

  • I had my first speaking, solo role (as myself!) for a well-known company’s promotional shoot yesterday. You might actually see my face places come July.
  • I’m mostly through with the application process for my master’s – finally! And also, again! I’ve applied for 4 master’s programs over the years (acting, tourism/preservation, counseling, and now, nutrition) but this one feels the most right. It isn’t a new idea – just an idea that has simmered a long time, finally ready to be put into action.
  • This blog! It’s alive! This sweet, frighteningly public journal which I so carelessly abandoned for about a month (due to working ALL OF THE WAITRESSING SHIFTS and spending all my non-waitressing time meditating on how to get through work without strangling anyone) is connecting me with fantastic people, and looks pretty freaking decent if you ask me.
  • I moved in with a human ThunderShirt. Or, like…a human lavender candle. It’s absurd how this guy manages to calm me down. He doesn’t think that he does it very well but hey, you! (He reads this sometimes.) You do.
  • I have made peace with not going after every. single. dream. At least, not right now. A little more focus and direction is much needed in my life and I’m finally cool with taking some things off the table to give more of my attention to those which I want to prioritize.

Also – I have a great to-do list on my fridge that keeps me going, which reads as follows:

  1. JOB
  2. GYM MEMBERSHIP
  3. HAIRCUT
  4. CREDIT CARD
  5. FIND A LADY OBGYN

Number 5 isn’t on the fridge, actually, because I like how the first four look all on their own. But it’s there in spirit. I have a strong gut feeling that #5 will be a key move in nailing this wacky pain situation. Also, perhaps I should say hi to my primary care doctor sometime soon. The poor man hasn’t seen me in…a year and half? Possibly more? Oh dear.

Things were just restarting this time last year. And so they shall restart again. You have to look back sometimes to see the progress. Yes, I’m drinking cold coffee and wearing a beach towel for pants, and so might you be. It doesn’t mean we aren’t determined badasses out here doing what we have to do.

And what I have to do right now is continue my job hunt, which just to note, started in 2016.

I’ll be back SOON. Promise.