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.

running away to the Highlands

I’ve been wondering if I should write about the actual Bible-sized package of health records that one of my hospitals sent to my doorstep. Or my anxiety attack from earlier this week. Or the fact that I re-injured my ankle, ah ha! Who needs ligaments? Not me.

However, I still feel a little on edge, like talking about anxiety might be enough to send me back into the dark. I’ll get back to the health records ordeal, surely, but I have an overwhelming sense that it’s not a topic for right now. Therefore, I’m going off-theme. I’m going to tell the tale of what I did in October that made me very, very happy! After six years, I took a solo trip back to Scotland.

Months and months ago, I bought myself a round trip flight to Edinburgh for my birthday. It was a very sober decision/purchase, made at home on my computer and not while I was still at the bar. Anyway, after moving the tickets around three whole times, I finally settled on 17 days in October. I used a handy app called Tripline to plan a route from destination to destination, since there were plenty of cities and towns I didn’t visit back in 2012. I knew I wanted to see Inverness, Aberdeen, the Isle of Skye, and many others, so I booked hostels in the following loop:

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I started in Edinburgh, which I had visited before back in the ol’ college freshman days. I don’t want to pretend I’m a travel blogger, though, so I’m just going to give you the best moment and a picture from every city.

#1) Edinburgh – Reading my library book (“Rabbit, Run” by John Updike) in the Princes Street Gardens with coffee and an extremely decent sandwich.

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(This picture is from Greyfriars Kirkyard, not the gardens, in case anyone was thinking “that garden has tombstones!”)

#2) Aberdeen – Taking the longest walk ever to find Aberdeen Beach by Queens Links, seeing all the dogs and hanging out under the bluest sky.

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#3) Inverness – Okay, I’m in love with Inverness. At this point in the trip, despite everything being lovely, I have to go with my trip to Culloden Battlefield with my sassy German (Hi Sophie! I miss you.)

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#4) Isle of Skye – Hiking the Old Man of Storr with my newfound friend, who was kind enough to let me hitch a ride from Inverness to Skye, and even more kind to spend the entire day with me. Nothing like speeding down a single pass road in a German vehicle, putting me on the left side of the road but on the right-hand side of the car. Not terrifying at all!

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#5) Inverness – Okay, so I had a slight health panic in Scotland. I stayed up all night on the couch at my hostel in Portree because I had such strong pain, and when it was just as terrible in the morning…I decided to ditch my plans for the rest of the week and go back to Inverness. I almost felt guilty about it, as if I wasn’t “brave” or “adventurous” enough, but…it was my trip. I knew my brain and body would benefit from staying in the same place for a bit. So I headed back to Inverness, to my same hostel (the best hostel of the trip, hands down). My friend who went to Culloden with me even came back to Inverness for a day as well, and we had a great dinner together. Look at this hostel and tell me you wouldn’t want to hole up here for a while with coffee and a book.

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(New) #6 Stirling – Visiting two of my pals from freshman year at Stirling Uni! Plus Stirling was golden the entire time I was there.

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#7) …Anniesland? – I thought that the new hostel I booked for Glasgow was in Glasgow, but I goofed up and ended up staying in Anniesland outside of the city. This was a weird one. I’d say the best part was watching inspirational YouTube videos in my hostel. Don’t hate me, Anniesland. I’ll give you another Inverness picture because I ❤ Inverness.

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#8) Ayr/Turnberry – I went to Turnberry to visit a friend who’s working there, and I have to say it’s a tie between walking around barefoot on the beach near the resort, and our mini night out in Girvan – one of the most entertaining nights out I’d had in a while. I promised a woman named Linda that I’d take her to “the hood” if she visits New York. Linda, if you’re reading this, it’s an open invitation.

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I have to add that I ended up in Ireland for the last two days of my trip, where I didn’t take a single picture because I was too busy enjoying warm meals and fawning over the most adorable baby. I have a feeling I’ll be back in Ireland, so I didn’t stress about photographing everything at the time.

This is sort of a selfish post, since I want to have this to look back on when I lose my motivation. That, and to remember where I was October of last year versus this year. It really is true that you can never imagine how far you can come in just a year, until you’re looking backwards in time. I know that a year ago I thought a return to Scotland was ages away. Then it happened. A lot has happened this year, things I never could’ve dreamed of. I guess if anyone has made it this far into this post…don’t wait for the “right time” or “perfect” conditions to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Don’t be afraid to do it on your own, and don’t compare your journey to the journeys of others. Let your fellow travelers inspire you, but not pressure you.

And go to Scotland.