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.

when your pain isn’t travel-sized

Last week, I shared some lovely, Instagram-able pictures from my Florida trip. Now I want to get into a detail of the trip that I didn’t bring up before – the fact that health issues don’t necessarily take a chill pill just because you’ve headed away on what is meant to be a relaxing vacation.

I love traveling, but for the past few years the excitement of an upcoming trip has come paired with nervousness regarding how my body will handle the changes in my day-to-day life. When I went to Scotland in October, I had some very sore days that left me curled up on my hostel’s couch with single-use pain relief hot packs all over my body. I wasn’t upset, though, since I had given myself plenty of time to go exploring on days when I felt well enough. Plus, I was thrilled just to be in Scotland. Freakin’ love Scotland.

The stakes were a bit different with Florida. A lot of the aspects of a typical warm-weather getaway involve exposure to things that make my specific symptoms worse: being out in the sun & heat, spending a lot of time walking around, drinking (the fun drinks), eating outside my normal diet (the fun snacks), and sleeping somewhere I’m not used to. I knew that completely “letting loose” would be a bad idea, but decided to allow myself a bit of indulgence, since my symptoms play by no one’s rules, anyway. I can sleep 9 hours a night and eat salads all week and still end up in pain, so I wasn’t about to turn down a $0.99 margarita. (Note: I would like to update my research to reflect that my body gets along with tequila juuuust fine.)

Looking back, I’d say the most challenging part of this trip ended up being how hard it was to stay hydrated, but also not wanting to take too much fluid at once. Drinking a lot of anything too quickly is rough on my kidney, even if my body needs it. The day Sean and I went to the zoo, we could not drink enough water no matter how hard we tried. Granted, we spent an absurd amount of time at the zoo. It was wonderful. The day that followed the zoo visit and the day we wandered around Del Ray not knowing that the UV index was at 11 were hands down the hardest. All my body wanted was to lay down somewhere cool, but I also wanted to see and do as much as possible, and of course, make sure Sean got to do everything he wanted to do. Thankfully, I’m comfortable enough with him to say “no” to things. I did turn down some of his suggestions for the sake of not being miserable for days to come. While we were in Fort Lauderdale, a huge music festival featuring artists we both really like was going on, and Sean suggested we could go to that. Typically, we are “let’s DO IT!” people. However, the purpose of the trip was R&R and a full day of festival debauchery in the sun would not only be a huge, unplanned expense…but would likely leave us sunburnt, sick and exhausted. I’m grateful that each of us was able to remind the other that we don’t have to do it all and to find satisfaction in downtime somewhere a little more exotic than home.

While my body only misbehaved a little, my attention-seeking anxiety brain found lots of reasons to make an appearance in Florida! It started early – I had painted my nails a bright white before leaving to catch our flight, but I didn’t even make it to the place we were staying before I had peeled/scratched it all off. (This is one of my biggest anxiety tics. Do we call them tics? I can’t really paint my fingernails because the slightest chip or imperfection causes me to destroy all of my hard work.) Anyway, that’s what I get for making myself look trendy for the ‘gram.

As the trip went on and more money was spent on car services, sunscreen (so much sunscreen), snacks and various expenses, the more panic started to grow in my mind. It’s extremely normal to worry about finances, I know this, but anxiety takes everything to the next level – where one small unexpected purchase can push me to question/distrust everything…and then I’m itchy and lose my appetite and all in all it’s just not a fun me to be, or be around.

All flashes of pain and panic aside, the trip was a huge success in my book. Sloths were pet, oceans were splashed in, TONS of hockey and soccer games were watched, and Sean got some sleep. Maybe this is a weird comparison, but I feel a bit like a mom to my bratty toddler of a body. See, if I make sure I have some snacks and water packed when I leave the house, that I build time to rest into the daily schedule, and that I’m paying attention to red flag situations like expensive adventures or places where I’m going to feel pressured to push myself…everything goes pretty smoothly!

…I’m realizing now that not going on my college spring break trip might have saved my life. Y’know, being the type of person who is always trying to keep up with the rest of ’em, especially in those days. Thankfully, I am slowly but surely letting go of my need to please and impress other people. What matters is how proud I am of myself when I do something good for my body or mind, or when I pass on a night out and end up finishing a book or chipping away at a writing project.

Speaking of projects, I’m going to go ahead and spoil what would have been a cool surprise – I’ve decided it’s time to make an Instagram account for saorza! However…someone already has the account name “saorza”. I’ve done about all I can to try to get the username for myself, since the account is very obviously inactive. (If anyone has any friends that work at Instagram…let’s talk.) It doesn’t look super promising.

I’m open to suggestions, pals. Does anyone have an idea for a variation on “saorza” that would make a good Instagram handle? Alternatively, any ideas on how to overthrow Instagram? I mean come on. It’s a made up word. I don’t understand.

I appreciate any thoughts/suggestions and hope everyone has a wonderful weekend doing whatever it is you need to do. And stay hydrated. x

hey hi gotta go

Have I not posted this whole month? Oops? It has been a busy April, let me tell ya. First of all…

I moved!

I’m not going to go into too much detail about where I moved to, but I’m essentially in a better, more convenient version of where I previously lived. Also I have a new roommate. It’s Sean. We’re still figuring out groceries and laundry schedules and such, but I feel like we’re only really starting to live together today because for the past week we were…

…on vacation!

The two of us just came back from Florida last night. I didn’t take my laptop and there was no wifi most of the trip, and it was so NICE. We bounced around between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, but man does it feel good to be home. I’m not cut out for Florida. I like to be inside & cozy, or outside in the sun, but the Florida sun gets so oppressive that you have to stay inside and hide from it. I’ll retire to Scotland and read books to the sound of rain. Y’know, when I have a job to retire from. However, item #3:

I’ve been getting work!

Background work is such a nice option to have while I look for something steady, and I’m happy to say that it has really picked up since the start of this month (which is saying something, because I’ve just been gone for a week. Hair flip.) I’m actually in a slight rush to post this because I have to run off to a job later today and I need to squeeze in a nap so that I can function all night. Naturally, I’m a little under the weather after a week of different eating/sleeping habits and splashing around in all sorts of bodies of water. I was that gross sniffly person on my flight last night and the poor woman next to me, who was so kind and great to talk to, had no choice but to use my phone to organize her pickup at the airport. Honestly, I’m surprised she didn’t try to nonchalantly bathe herself in Purell afterwards.

Speaking of the woman next to me on the flight, I managed to learn about a very interesting malady from her. We got on the subject of weird health issues starting with heart problems, and ended up swapping tales of our experiences. I was so inspired to hear that my seat-mate, a woman of about 70, had somewhat recently happened upon the exact doctor she’d needed to see. This doctor knew to perform a test that involves eating (eggs and toast, in this case) and then laying on your side for two hours. The test proved the doctor to be correct in her assumption – my flight friend has gastroparesis. A paralyzed stomach. Her stomach just doesn’t do its job in a timely manner. How freaky and fascinating is that?! She told me that gravity is her best friend, to which I had to reply that gravity seems to be my mortal enemy.

I leave you with pictures to make up for the short and disorganized nature of this post, but it’s like the first workout back after a long break. Maybe you only manage ten minutes of cardio. Maybe your form is sloppy. But it doesn’t matter – you just gotta get back in the ring, right?


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.