My Unedited Thoughts On ‘Stand. Up.’

I was so lucky to see Michael Kimmel’s new play Stand. Up. in a pre-production stage on Monday night. You can read a more formal review here, but for my blog, I want to talk more in-depth about the characters. This is not a spoiler free review. This is also not proofread by any means. Just me and word vomit, the usual.

In this reading, there were five characters seated across the stage. From left to right were Tommy (Michael Cyril Creighton), Lance Banks (Zachary Levi, light of my life), Frank Patton (Ben Shenkman), Donald (Graham Rowat), and Mara played by the wonderful Quincy Tyler Bernstine. As the scenes play out, they each take to a music stand and read from a script. It was so incredible to see. I had never seen anything like this before. Very cool. Anywho.

As I stated in my review, these characters all have depth. They are all main characters with storylines that unfold throughout the play. Of course, Lance and Frank have the most complex dispositions as the play’s center roles.

Frank Patton is a character I relate to emotionally. He’s a two-time divorcee in AA (not me), struggling to keep his sobriety through life’s curve balls, aka depression (me). He’s hilarious as he degrades himself (me) and uses his self-hatred as his muse for his art (also me). But it’s not easy for him. He’s constantly facing triggers as he meets with talent agent Tommy, who carelessly offers to buy him a drink at every rendezvous, or at comedy clubs where he performs in front of an audience that probably has a healthier relationship with alcohol than he does.

It’s a persistent fight, but he continues to give it his all throughout the entire play, which is so inspiring. He rebuilds his career through his podcast and even scores a late night talk show gig. As the play closes, however, he’s faced with the trigger of losing control over his material–thus, losing his ability to write his own bits in exchange for a career. The play ends with Frank debating his eventual relapse into alcoholism. And I love that. I love that it’s not easy for him, that it’s depicted as a goddamn hardship in his life because it allows the audience to feel sympathy for him. To understand his addiction and depression, and empathize with it.

I loved seeing that on stage. Real, raw, explicit.

On the opposite side of the spectrum sits Frank’s best friend, Donald. I think of Frank and Donald like Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter from Boy Meets World. If Frank/Cory is the main character with the main plot, Donald/Shawn is the comedic relief, the sidekick. Donald’s character has flawless comedic timing. He’s vulgar when he insults Lance, calling him a prick or motherfucker in almost every scene. He’s dramatic and angry, and it drives the play forward and gives it a kind of humor that’s different from what Frank gives. He’s relatable because he only wants basic things in life: a career that’s blossoming, some sex from Mara, and enough money to live on easy street (which he gets by opening for Lance’s comedy tour). He wants happiness, ultimately, and you know, for motherfucking Lance Banks to admit to stealing his jokes. Prick.

Speaking of Lance Banks, the failing, but extremely arrogant movie star. Despite having a really hard surface, even Lance has some amiable aspects, especially when it comes to Mara, his ex-girlfriend. When he’s with Mara, there seems to be a crack in his hardass shell from which rainbows and cupcakes seep out. Sure, there’s tension between the two, but he’s vulnerable with her. She knows him better than most people (except he would never talk about the damn accusations, stubborn man) and she can make him open up, if even for a moment. In those sincere instances, the audience has a chance to sympathize with him.

Lance’s agent, Tommy, even has some underlying issues the play touches on briefly. While he’s extremely outgoing when talking with potential/established clients, and especially when talking about his job and what he does, there’s a sliver of anxiety that shows through sometimes. He can be easily intimidated by anger, but he ultimately regains the upper hand by remembering that it’s his job to make his clients successful. Without him, they’re nothing. Toward the end of the play, the audience also learns that despite having a seemingly glamorous occupation, Tommy does struggle financially.

Personally, my favorite character was Mara. This is coming from somebody who stans (see Stan by Eminem) the absolute fuck out of Zachary Levi’s ass and worships the ground he walks on. Mara is a hardworking woman who loves sex and loves comedy, but hates love, stating blatantly that she’s committed to comedy. She embodies feminism in such a beautiful way. She is confident about her talent and has learned how to be tough in order to get where she is as a female comedian, to be taken seriously in a profession made up of mostly men. I’m unsure if it’s Bernstine’s portrayal of her, or the character herself that’s so charismatic and endearing. Mara is a character that helps normalize independent and successful women in today’s society. SO IMPORTANT.

This play is so much more than just a story about some washed up comedians. I cannot wait for it to move into a final presentation stage so I can see it again. I tend to obsess over shows I see, so this should be entertaining in the months to come.

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An update, and a possible break in my writer’s block.

I haven’t written here in a really long time it feels like, and I don’t really know why. Writing is something that comes so naturally to me. I write so many things–literally, everything from poetry to fiction to magazine articles. I’ve strayed from blogging, though, and I miss it.

So, here’s an update:

Depression is so hard to deal with. Sure, I’m stable. I’m not actively crying every single day of my life. I don’t have set plans to kill myself. I don’t self-harm or do drugs or binge drink. I don’t act on my self-image issues even though I want to.

I am literally just living. But living is so hard when everything good in your life is ripped out from under you all within a month. From car accidents, to fights splitting up your family, to losing your job because of the previous two things.

It’s…hard. And I take a lot of time to reflect on things when all I can actually do is lay in bed and stare at the ceiling.

I miss people. I miss experiences. I miss last year when I felt my happiest. I find it really hard to look back on who was in my life on February 25 last year and who isn’t in it this year, where I’m at career-wise and my mental health.

Sure, I’m happy. I love who’s here now, I love waking up every morning physically healthy, and I love what my life has given me up to this point. But I’m still depressed. And that’s what depression is. It doesn’t stop because you suddenly have someone you love deeply in your life, it doesn’t stop when you have a good job and start back up when you lose it.

It’s always there, like summer gnats on a sweaty forehead.

I guess I just wanted to write to complain and get it out. I can’t even focus enough to end this.

Life Update: A Change in Pace

Life is crazy sometimes, and more often than not, I’m not in the mood to write about it. Which makes no sense because I literally have a blog.

I haven’t truly written about my life since June. I’ve made blog posts about my tattoo and my view on religion, I’ve written reviews on Sabrina Carpenter’s new music and Walker Stalker Con. But I haven’t explained what’s going on. So I’m going to.

  • I got a new job! At the end of June, I was let go as a temporary medical assistant position at a hematology/oncology practice, and on July 5, I started a new job at a podiatrist. Feet aren’t that bad, honestly. And I truly love my job. I love my patients, I love what I do. I’m given so many new opportunities I’ve never had before, like assisting with minor surgeries and getting my x-ray technician certification (which I’ve yet to do but it’s offered). My coworkers are pretty awesome and the practice is almost always extremely busy, which makes for a quick day. I (mainly) never feel stressed at work and that’s such a good thing.

    At the end of June, I was in a really dark place. I didn’t feel like I was worth anything. I lost a job because the company didn’t want to buy me out of a contract with a temp agency, not because I wasn’t capable of doing the job proficiently. But it sure as hell felt that way. I work so hard as a medical assistant, so that felt like such a slap in the face. But today, I could honestly say that I’m happy. I’m not happy with how the election turned out, but in my personal life. I am happy. I feel wanted and appreciated. It’s shocking to reread some of my earlier blog posts and relive those emotions.

  • I was going to move out–and then I didn’t. I lost friendships over this, but I also grew up a little, too. Which…when it’s written out doesn’t seem to make sense, but I realized who my true friends were. I realized my love for my parents (even when I don’t agree with their political and social views). I realized how unready I was to make the move and I’m so glad I came out of the situation unscathed.
  • I rekindled old friendships and strengthened current ones. It’s a process that’s extremely annoying, but I believe it’ll be worth it in the end. I know it will be.
  • Since June, I’ve lost almost 15 lbs. I know my highest weight was 180 lbs, and on June 9 my doctor has me at 174 lbs. I haven’t weighed myself in awhile, but I know I hit 160 lbs a week or so ago. I’ve stopped weighing myself obsessively because I’m doing some weight training for my upper arms, and I know that’s going to throw off my weight completely. Instead, I’ve got goal-clothes I’m gonna work myself into.

    Exercising has always helped me mentally and physically. I don’t swear by it, which is why I still take my medications, but since I’ve started working out and somewhat watching what I eat (gazing lovingly at the Wendy’s burger as I shove it down my throat), I’ve had fewer panic attacks and I feel happier overall. Nothing, not even cardio and buckets of water, will make me feel less tired, though. That’s impossible, but I’ll work on it.

  • I got a second rabbit and she brings me so much joy, just like Kodaly does. Her previous owners named her Galadriel and I kept it because that’s a perfect name for her. She was a pet therapy rabbit, so she’s very comfortable with being held. She worked mostly with patients who suffer from anxiety because while being held, her feet tend to tremble, and the whole point was for the patient to calm her down and hold her tighter–which in turn, calmed them down. And it works. I know from experience.
  • I started writing for a friend’s magazine! It makes me so incredibly happy to write for something other than myself. The magazine isn’t huge and it’s mainly online, but it’s still something I am so proud of. I’m given so many opportunities that I am so thankful for. I cannot wait to see what else I get to do. You can keep up with it here: https://momentszine.com/
  • My dad recently got neck surgery and it’s completely changed his life. I’m so grateful for it, and modern medicine in general. Before the surgery, he had so much pain in his neck and back. His pinched spinal cord made his hands and feet numb and tingly. He would constantly drop things, like money out of his pocket, because he couldn’t feel it and his fingers couldn’t grasp it. His surgery was in the morning and by the evening he was up and walking. He came home the very next day a new person. The pain he feels is nothing compared to what it was because it’s actually pain from the surgery itself. The feeling is coming back in his extremities slowly, but the body has to regenerate those nerves. And he hardly drops anything anymore. It’s truly incredible.

I can’t really think of anything else huge that has happened besides Walker Stalker Con, but I’ve written about that. So, there’s my life update. I’m going to try and keep up with maybe monthly posts? We’ll see! Now I gotta go catch up with my youtube subscriptions and sleep.

Walker Stalker Con: Atlanta 2016

This post is in no way revised. I simply wrote my experience and I don’t plan on proofreading this. Enjoy ❤

One of my absolute favorite television programs is AMC’s The Walking Dead. I’ve been a fan of the show since 2011 and if you’ve never seen it or have no idea what it’s about, I advise you to get your butt on Netflix right now and just give season one a try. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.

This isn’t a review of The Walking Dead, though, so I’ll keep my opinions on the horrific season seven premiere to myself.

About four years ago, a group of TWD fans got together, talked with AMC, and started a Kickstarter in order to put on the very first Walker Stalker Convention (WSC). In short, it’s a convention much like Comic Con, but for all things Walking Dead. The founders have coined it a convention that’s “for fans, by fans.” Just like Comic Con, you can find artists, vendors, panels, photo ops, autograph booths, and even cosplayers at WSC. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to meet your favorite cast members, make new friends, and nerd out on all the zombie apocalypse universes from The Walking Dead comics to Zombieland.

I have personally been to four Walker Stalker Cons now, and each one continuously gets better. However this past weekend, I went for the big one in the heart of where the show takes place: Atlanta, Georgia.

My sister Nikki and I have dreamed for years of making the trip down south for the biggest WSC. Atlanta is the only city that some of the cast members including Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and Melissa McBride (just to name a few) will go to. The convention spans from Friday to Sunday, with the last day being the very busiest day. Nikki and I drove into Atlanta on Thursday morning and attended the con for all three days with VIP passes.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28

Nothing much happened on Friday. The vendors and artists are setting up their booths. The panels are small and usually not interesting enough to attend. If there are any cast members present, they are minor characters because the major ones are still filming for the show. In fact, my sister and I went simply to get a feel of the floor.  We physically mapped out where the panel stages were, where photo ops would be, which vendors we’d like to go back to the following day, and most importantly, where the food stands were set up. Nikki and I had the option of moving two of our photo ops to Friday, but we decided against it.

Instead, we headed into Senoia, Georgia, which is where season 3’s Woodbury was filmed. Right beside the town of “Woodbury” is Alexandria (another filming location for the show). And cops were everywhere. We later learned while enjoying dinner in the Woodbury Coffee House that they were filming within the walls of Alexandria. So, we were sorta present for filming. In a Can’t See Anything, Can’t Hear Anything, Just Know It’s Happening kind of way. But it was still so magical.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29

Day 2 was a much busier day. Nikki and I got to the convention by 7:30 am in order to get in line for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s “It’s Negan!” panel at 10:45 am. I actually had to miss most of the panel for Emily Kinney (Beth Greene) photo ops at 11:25 am (WHICH I WAS EXTREMELY LATE FOR).

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Because I was late to photo ops, I was slipped into the general admission line and given exactly 27.4 seconds to ready myself before the picture. Photo ops are quick because the actors are always on a tight schedule. But…the actors are always accommodating for that, too. While the Celeb Photo Ops team tells you not to waste time, all of the actors will thank each and every person for coming. They’ll make small talk despite their schedules being strict.

So, I walked in breathless after speed-walking 3 miles from the main panel stage to the photo ops area, greeted Emily with a smile and a ‘how are ya’, got my photo taken, and left. It’s that quick, but it’s almost always so worth it.

Just two awkward white girls tryna look nice #wscatlanta

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After meeting back up with Nikki, we went to our Austin Amelio (Dwight) photo op, and then got right back in line for our Jeffrey Dean Morgan photo op. And again, even though the photos are quick, JDM still made conversation. He commented on my sister’s bag and thanked both of us.

TAKIN IT LIKE A CHAMP 😅😅😅 #wscatlanta

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Then we could breathe. Because of the tight schedules, some of our photo ops overlapped, like JDM’s and Austin’s. The volunteers and the team at Celeb Photo Ops are so conscious of this happening that they will make it work for you no matter what. I was actually signed up to volunteer for the Philadelphia con in 2015, so I know that the volunteers’ #1 goal is to make everyone at the convention happy. That is literally Rule #1.

With our spare time between photo ops, my sister and I hopped into Emily Kinney’s autograph line for my friend’s birthday present. Emily is always so sweet when I meet her. She kindly signed my friend’s Bethyl (Beth and Daryl) photo and personalized it to them with a birthday message.

Oh deer!!

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Again, we parted ways as I headed for Denis O’Hare’s (American Horror Story) autograph line and she headed toward photo ops for our Danai Gurira (Michonne) picture.

Denis was very very sweet. I got to talk to him for a little bit before taking a selfie with him. I used Snapchat to take the picture, and he noticed it, so I was like, “Wanna use a filter?” to which he replied, “Oh, no. I’ve had enough dog filters today!”

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As I was in line for Denis, Nikki let me know that they lined us up for Danai’s photo op, so I hurried my short legs to the photo op lines again. Meeting Danai Gurira was so wonderful. She’s so beautiful in person, and so so so sweet. She greeted both my sister and me with a wide smile, making the entire 15 second experience so personal. There’s something about her demeanor that made my nervousness over meeting her melt away. It was on my walk toward Jeffrey’s autograph line that I realized most of the cast members made me feel that way. Comfortable and at ease with them.

#wscatlanta

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My sister and I got into Jeffrey’s line at 4 pm on the dot. We didn’t leave the convention until 8 pm. Even with VIP tickets, which gets us ahead of the general admission line, we had a 4 hour wait. The convention ended at 7 (so all lines were cut off), and Jeffrey stayed until 10 pm signing for his fans. Just like during our picture, he was as genial as ever. He smiled brightly at each and every fan, signed their things, answered questions, thanked them, and finally hugged them. Every single one. Even across the table, his hugs were warm and enveloping, like a sweater. A cozy snuggle to end a perfect day.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30

Sunday, the convention’s final day, started with Nikki and me carrying very heavy groceries for at least 3 miles from our car all the way to Michael Cudlitz’s (Abraham Ford) autograph line. Walker Stalker Con and Michael have been running an ongoing food drive called the Bisquick Challenge, in lieu of one of Abraham’s now-famous lines from the show. While most people bring boxes of Bisquick, my sister and I bought 50 dollar’s worth of non-perishable food. And since Michael was up bright and early, and already signing autographs, we hopped into his line.

Right when it was our turn to talk with him and get a selfie, Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene) slipped into his booth and stole him from us for a good five or so minutes. We didn’t mind at all. We had time before our first photo op, and it was honestly kind of cool to stand there listening to their conversation. Once Scott decided to leave him be, Michael came back to us with an apology and hugs, and during out selfies, he asked Scott to photobomb us. Buy one, get one free. I’ve never met such a loving and giving cast before.

I LOVE DADDY AND GRAMPS #wscatlanta

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After Cudlitz, we went into Christian Serratos’s (Rosita Espinosa) line. As we waited, I told my sister that I planned on asking Christian what lipstick she was wearing during the Talking Dead the week before because it was such a gorgeous color and texture. The moment I greeted her, she gasped and asked me what lipstick I was wearing. I thought it was hilarious because then we gushed over makeup for a few seconds as she signed her portrait. She was wearing Kylie Jenner’s lip kit, and I’m not sure of the shade, but I’m guessing it was Kourt K. And I was wearing Katy Perry’s Katy Kat Matte, shade Cosmo Kitty. I received many compliments on it, actually, and I think it was because my lips were stained with her shade Cat Call from the day before, so the mixture made a very vibrant purple. A vendor actually commented saying it looked different from how it looked on herself. I’m not a beauty guru, though.

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Nikki and I planned to go to Josh McDermitt’s (Eugene Porter) line, but he’d just left to go to a photo op, so instead, we got some food before heading to the most important photo op of the entire trip: Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes).

I’d met Norman three times prior to that day, so I had a plan to head straight for Andy. Nikki and I decided on our line up weeks in advance, so upon entering the photo op booth, we went directly to our places.

I don’t get starstruck often. The last time I remember being completely starstruck was meeting Norman Reedus the first time. But seeing Rick Grimes in the flesh with only a few inches between us really hit me hard. I felt like a babbling idiot as I said my hellos to each of them and placed myself on Andy’s left. And then he did it. He did the thing I didn’t want him to do. He said something other than hello to me. He commented on my lipstick.

“Nice lipstiiiiick.” A drawn out vowel in a soft English murmur. I was all smiles, a cheese fest as I thanked him and the flash blinded us. The four of us exchanged our words of gratitude and as I left, Norman held out a hand for me to shake. Our eyes met, he thanked me and called me sweetheart, I looked around for the cameras because I was sure this entire moment was straight out of a movie.

#wscatlanta

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Immediately after Norman and Andy, we had Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene) and Tom Payne (Jesus) photo ops. Between those and our last three, we met Camille and Kennerly Kitt, YouTube musicians, and Katelyn Nacon (Enid). Our final photo ops were with Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), JDM (but my sister went alone for that one), and Josh McDermitt.

#wscatlanta

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Our lord and savior, Jesus. #wscatlanta

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😍💕🎵🎶🎵💕😍 #wscatlanta

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😍😍😍 #wscatlanta

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I CANT BELIEVE HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE IS IN PERSON #wscatlanta

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And that's a wrap! Thanks @joshmcdermitt and #wscatlanta 💕

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During the con, I learned that Andrew Lincoln will only do Atlanta’s con, and will only do it for one day because all of the money he makes off of it goes to charity. So the percentage he makes off of his photo ops, and autographs, and entry to his panel goes completely toward his charity. Which I think is really admirable.

The convention was so worth all the money we spent on it. It was worth the 13 hour drive from New Jersey. It was worth the blisters and heel pain. It was worth the time spent waiting in lines. It was worth everything. I never have a bad experience meeting the Walking Dead cast members because they are all so genuine and kindhearted. I will never stop going to these conventions as long as they’re still happening.

Change Is Good.

If you Google the definition for evolution, you’re given two different denotations. The first explains how organisms evolve or change over a vast period of time; and the second takes a more broad approach, explaining instead the development of a single being within no time limits.

ev·o·lu·tion
evəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/
noun
1. the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.
2. the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
When a dedicated fan asked why she chose the word evolution for her second album’s title, Sabrina Carpenter tweeted a simple reason in response:

While she is obviously writing about how life changes and her personal evolution here, it’s evident that her music style has its own evolution as well. With the release of two singles from her new record, it’s clear that Carpenter is experimenting musically and lyrically.

Sabrina’s first album Eyes Wide Open, which she released through Hollywood Records when she was 15 years old in April 2015 had an acoustic pop vibe to it. Many of her songs felt unplugged as they were created using only non-electric instruments including the guitar, ukulele, and piano. She drew from two major singer/songwriters and producers, Meghan Trainor and Chris Gelbuda, for this album, both of which are well-known pop and country enthusiasts. Trainor herself plays ukulele and co-wrote two songs on Eyes Wide Open.

As many artists who are just getting their toes in the sands of the music industry, Carpenter’s first album was almost completely written for her, with only a handful of songs actually co-written by the singer herself (four out of twelve, to be exact).

EVOLution, however, has a completely different sound so far.

Sabrina’s first single “On Purpose preserves the singer’s previous style as it opens with a strong piano instrumental through the first verse. As the song crescendos into the bridge, a vocal effect is added, giving the song an echo-y and rounded sound that’s best listened to through headphones. With the chorus comes a fabricated symphony composed of a few synthesizers acting as strings, drums, and percussion instruments. The song continues down an electronic path away from Eyes Wide Open and into the mind of an evolved 17 year old Carpenter.

“All We Have Is Love” which is the second single from EVOLution, mimics the first one as it uses strictly electronic instruments and a pulsating beat that’s hard not to dance to. There’s a layered effect to her vocals that gives the song volume and an overall techno energy. This song could easily be heard on the radio between Nick Jonas’s “Close” and Demi Lovato’s “Confident”.

Along with her sound development, Sabrina Carpenter was more involved with this album, having written and co-written more than half of the record.

Like most artists, Sabrina is using her medium to tell her story, show her growth and maturity, and evolve into the singer she ultimately wants to be. Because with life comes change for everyone and change is good.

EVOLution is set to release on October 14 along with the addition of two more singles out on September 30 and October 7. You can pre-order her album on iTunes and through her website! Be sure to check out Sabrina on tour this fall!

The Girl With The Gnarly Tattoo

I’ve written about this subject before, but it has so many aspects to it that I haven’t even dented the surface of it.

Self worth.

It’s the hardest thing to develop and maintain, in my honest opinion, but it’s something I’m working on diligently because I believe it’s the root of my depression. So, I’m going to be writing a lot about it.

Let’s start from the beginning, and why I even decided that my own self worth was the most important thing to work on*****. I’ve even written about this on my other blog, but here we go.

Zachary Levi. Angel sent by God to MAKE PEOPLE FEEL REALLY GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES. And a nice man to look at, double win. He’s incredibly smart in a way that just…makes sense. Maybe it’s his religious background. Maybe he’s just super experienced in saying the right things. Maybe he’s got the part of life figured out that I haven’t yet. Either way, he’s a role model for me. An inspiration. The reason I find reason to get out of bed in the morning. Long story short, he’s got this quote floating around the internet from NerdHQ one year about self worth and knowing about it.

“Know your worth and value your own worth because so much of the value that people give to you or treat you with, you dictate to them.”

When I first heard this, I was like “uh what???” Then I thought about it. Then it made sense. The reason I have such a high respect and love for this stupid 35 year old actor with nice facial hair is because he presents himself as a smart 35 year old actor with nice facial hair who also seems to have a really good head on his shoulders and seems to also have his life figured out. Maybe he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. Maybe he hates himself and doesn’t see himself as someone worthy of praise, or love, or respect, or whatever. But because he puts himself out there as a guy with a clue and some self love in there, that’s how I perceive him.

So I thought about it. If I present myself as an idiot and I constantly degrade myself verbally and I show no self respect, love, worth, etc, then everyone else around me will start to believe that, too. And soon enough, everything I truly am (which is a lot, and I hate admitting it sometimes because I hate sounding like an egotistically prat) will be gone. No one will see it, not even me.

I’m wrapping this part up, I swear. So back in April, I went to see She Loves Me (surprise!!!!) with a good friend Donna; and at the stage door, I asked Zac if he’d write out the words “Know Your Worth” for me. I showed him my other tattoo of Tom Hiddleston’s “Love Your Life” quote (which is a completely different story, different post), and I explained to him how much it’d mean to me if I could have it written in his own handwriting. I’d been wanting it for awhile.

So he did. And I cried for a good 15 minutes after he did so. Then the next day, I went down to a tattoo parlor and got it done.

Why? What’s the point? It’s just ink on your skin, Rhia. You can’t even see it, it’s on your foot? What a dumb place to put it.

If I’m down, if I’ve gotten knocked down to the ground–metaphorically speaking–my foot, my feet, would be the first things I’d see getting up. A reminder that even in the deepest of my depression, I’m gonna try and love my life, know my worth. It’s stupid, yeah. It’s pointless, okay? It’s just ink in my skin, but it means so much to me. I look down at my feet and I nod, I take a deep breath and I nod, and somehow I’m okay.

My tattoos are nothing more than a constant reminder to me to love what I have, who I am, everything about my life. And it works. It actually works. So when Zac’s asked in an interview about stage door gifts and he brings up not a gift for himself, but a gift for me, I find myself so overcome with emotion and respect and love and happiness. My tattoo doesn’t only give to me, but it gives to others as well. It doesn’t only make me feel good, it makes him feel good too.

All in all, I’m changing bit by bit every single day. Every morning, I wake up loving myself a little more. Every night, I go to bed a little happier. It’s working. And I will forever be grateful to that stupid 35 year old actor with pretty good facial hair and a pretty nice brain in his skull. I don’t think ANYTHING will make him understand the gratitude I feel–not a letter and a box of Schmackary’s cookies, not a hug, not me weeping at the stage door. He will never understand.

This blog is a trainwreck, but I’m not going to proofread it because I’m honestly typing from my heart. I’m putting to word my thoughts and feelings over the entire thing. And it’s not even where I wanted it to go, WHICH IS A GOOD THING. I started this post with full intentions on hating myself for ruining a friendship of mine, and my struggles to forgive myself for it, and I wrote instead about how happy I am, and how much I actually love myself.

It takes time and effort, but it’s so worth it. I close this post with a song.

Word Vomit 2: An Agnostic Atheist

Religion has always been a touchy subject for me.

As a child, I was forced into Sunday school classes, which I hated with a passion. Even as a child, I didn’t like not having my own opinion, my own say in things that involved me and my life. I didn’t like getting up early on a Sunday to go to school to learn about a book that I was so convinced was a work of fiction. I lived logically, and the bible just wasn’t logical to me. It didn’t make sense to me, none of it made sense to me.

I didn’t understand why I had to memorize prayers, or why I had to recite them, or why I had to go. Church, to me, was a waste of time. Praying didn’t help anybody. HOW COULD A HIGHER BEING, IF HE ACTUALLY EXISTED, HEAR ME AND CARE ABOUT ME ENOUGH TO LISTEN TO ME.

But then I believed. In middle school, a friend of mine took me to her youth group and for the first time, I was exposed to Christianity. It was…different. I wasn’t asked to recite 10 Hail Marys, or confess my sins, or even believe in God. I was taught how to live through guidance that came from that fictional book, and if I was lucky enough, I’d establish a relationship with God, with Jesus. Something personal that I didn’t have to explain to a priest behind a waffle-esque screen. It was suddenly mine and I could control how I believed and how I lived…and the best part? If I didn’t want to get up early on a Sunday morning to go to church, I didn’t have to.

My faith was finally forming, bricks securing a foundation built on trust and lenience. Built on my experiences and my own prayers. It was something beautiful, and it was mine. And I believed in God and I spoke with Jesus, and I was able to express that through worship and music and friendship and happiness. I lived my life the way I wanted to, with guidance from God. I lived for me.

Unfortunately, I’ve since lost that faith. Throughout high school, it faltered and finally broke once I graduated, once I didn’t have a youth group to go to. Once I realized how agnostic I’d become. I needed to see proof, scientific reason–and until I do, I’m unbelieving.

As a woman who’s seen every side of Christianity, I see where it goes wrong, too. I’ve seen friends of mine crumble under it. I’ve seen them so disappointed in themselves, because all they could think about was what God saw them as. I’ve seen this religion fail people, and it honestly hurts to watch.

I have a friend, well…ex-friend I guess now, who is struggling with this. She’s trying so hard to gain her faith back that it’s ruining her as a person. Everything she does is for this God that she is trying to impress, trying to gain forgiveness from. A God that, honestly???? Probably doesn’t exist. She’s pushing people away in her effort to find her faith again and it breaks my heart because she’s doing this all wrong. I support her and her desire to do this, but I wish she could see it my way. If this God is so unconditionally loving, then why does it matter what He thinks of her? Why is she trying to impress Him rather than those around her?

I hate comparing her to other Christians that I know, but I tend to do it. There are people who take their religion and form a lifestyle through it, not around it. They speak and live for themselves, in a way that would make their God proud, instead of living for Him. I can’t cohesively put my thoughts into words right now, but there’s a difference between living for God and living through God. There’s a difference between genuflecting for God, and reflecting God for other people. Some people absorb God’s light for themselves, and others radiate it through to others.

I just hope that if I were to ever regain my faith, I’d live through it rather than for it.

 

It Just Ain’t Living.

I currently (and only for one more day) work for a hematology and oncology doctors’ office, and I only get one question when I tell people about my job: How do you do it?

It’s hard. I build such close relationships with my patients, especially the ones that come in several times a week for treatment. They brighten my days, even when they’re grumpy and tired and losing weight and giving up. Most, if not all of my patients come in with a huge smile on their faces. They ask me how I’m doing while they’re not doing so great themselves.

And when I can give something, be it care or a laugh or a hug or hope, this job becomes really rewarding. I know that what I’ve done for each and every patient that comes through here has left an impact on them. I know they go home and they think about me and the nurses and the doctors. I know that I’ve done something to better their lives, and what they have left of them. Maybe it’s selfish to think that way, but I think it’s really true.

My office becomes a second home for a lot of my patients. They spend more time here than they do at home–at least, I know that it feels like that to them. So for me to provide such a loving and caring atmosphere for my patients to heal in, or in some cases, die in, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Tomorrow is my last day and through this entire week, I’ve been receiving hugs from my closest and favorite patients. They’re wishing me luck in wherever I go; they’re complaining about me leaving; they’re begging me to stay; and I can’t. I can’t stay. I want to, I want to be here for them, but I’m not allowed to. And that makes me really sad because I don’t know if the kind of care I’m giving them will continue to be given by my successor. And that’s so fucking hard to accept.

I wish I could record every interaction I’ve had with my patients and coworkers. I mean, just tonight, I went over to the hospital to visit one of my patients who’s going on hospice. He is literally dying and on his death bed, he talked my ear off and told his daughter and granddaughter about me and how because of me and my smiles, going in for treatment wasn’t so bad. I want to package him up and give him to my boss, a “Keep-Rhia-O-Gram”.

I’ve never loved a job so much. I’ve never loved a branch of medicine so much. I really want to continue in oncology. I don’t ever want to work in another specialty ever again.

But I Never Dreamed of Second Place

I struggle with the concept of worth. Self worth, mostly. Am I worth being friends with? Am I worth the time and effort my parents put into me? Am I worth anything at all in this world? Is my life worth living anymore?

And right now, my worth is being tested more than ever. I’m struggling with not taking decisions about me and my character to heart. I’m struggling. Because nothing hurts more than loving something so much, and putting your entire mind and body into it, and being told you’re not good enough. You’re not worth it. Nothing hurts more than loving a job and knowing it’ll be ripped right out from underneath you in a matter of weeks.

Through a temp agency, I was placed in an oncology/hematology office to cover for a medical assistant when she went on maternity leave. My first day was February 15th. I was told she gets three months, and after that, she’d be back and I’d have to find a new job. I took this position because at the time, my family had plans to move to Florida (then I had plans to move to a different part of Florida) and this temporary position would be perfect. It’d end just in time for me to move.

But plans fall through. My idiocy and need to have the final word in everything ruined a friendship and I know I can’t get that back. I can try so hard and change, but no matter what, I’m not worth the hurt anymore. And I understand it. So Florida is out of the question. As for my parents moving? They aren’t. My dad’s health isn’t the best and they want to wait it out until he’s better.

And the girl on maternity leave? She’s not coming back. Which means they need a replacement medical assistant; and since February, I’ve fallen in love with my position, my coworkers, my patients. I want this job. I want them to hire me. I cry just thinking about the fact that they won’t. His words echo in my mind constantly.

“We want to keep our options open.” “We want to find someone with more skills.””It’s just ridiculous to pay an agency to end the contract and hire you.”

I was told it was originally $5,000 to end the contract. That’s steep. But I was also told that after negotiations, the fee was lowered to “over $2,000” which to me says that it’s under $3,000.

I did the math. This office pays the agency $25 an hour for me ($13 of which actually goes to me). Over the course of six weeks (allotted time to find someone), that’s $6,000 going out to pay me for my time. This doesn’t include advertisement of the job through the newspaper and various websites.

Two of those six could be for training the new person, and if they’re making $15/hour, then that $6,000 turns into $7,200 they are putting out to keep me on until they find someone new for me to train.

If they paid the $3,000 (rounding up because the way my manager said it, told me the fee was under $3,000) and hired me to start at $15 tomorrow, then after six weeks, they’d have paid $6,600 ($15/hour for 6 weeks is $3,600).

They are paying more money to find someone to replace me in the long run. And I spoke with the doctors about this, I spoke with the nurse practitioner about this. They all agree with me that it’s throwing money away.

But after a business meeting, they want to keep their options open. They love me, but they want someone with more skills. They want to keep me, but they don’t want to save $600 (or more because I rounded that fee) to do so.

And it’s a slap in the face. I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy enough to keep this position. I’m not worth the money they have to put out to keep me. Money that the doctors make per patient per visit. I’m not worth it.

And it hurts. Oh my god, it hurts. All this progress I’ve made learning to love myself and what I do and who I am, I’ve lost because of this. I’m second guessing my skills in this career, I’m second guessing their claims to adore me as their medical assistant. I’m wondering if everyone in this office has lied to my face about loving me and wanting me to stay.

I’m lost. I don’t want to go to work most days, especially now that I know it could be my last week. I’ve had patients tell me they don’t want me to go. I’ve had coworkers tell me the same. I just. I’m hurt. I’m truly hurt. This is the best job I’ve ever had and I don’t feel like I deserve it. I’m not worthy enough to have it. I love this job, but I want to just quit now. I want to rip the bandaid and never go back.

But I never dreamed of second place, so I’d rather just quit than continue to race.

Forever 22.

I am at a loss for words.

Every single time a celebrity dies, I always think of my favorites and hope to God I never have to experience losing someone I idolize so dearly. But the older I get, the more I’m faced with losing people I cherish, people I don’t even know on a personal level.

It started with Cory Monteith, and I wasn’t even his biggest fan, but it hurt me so much to learn about his death. I hurt for him, I hurt for Lea, I hurt for my best friend Jenn who loved Cory more than anyone else I knew. His death brought her back to me after a falling out, and I’m forever grateful of it, but it’s still so heartbreaking. To this day, I can’t listen to his Glee songs, to this day the only episode of Glee I can watch is the Quarterback.

Cory’s death made the deaths of celebrities feel very real for me. It became personal. I wasn’t a fan of Michael Jackson, and I only knew who Brittany Murphy was after googling her name and seeing her face. But Cory’s was the first one that made my heart stop, knocked the wind outta my lungs, made me sob.

I was in the car when I heard about Robin Williams. I found out on twitter and my only response was “oh my god.” To which my parents asked what was going on and I relayed the information to them. His death came as a shock to me, and I think it was the nature of it. It hit close to home. I understood his struggle, I understood his decision to finally give in. I didn’t cry because I sympathized with him. I knew he was at peace, even if that peace came from tragedy.

Learning about Prince was another story, however. It shocked me, it saddened me. I grew up listening to his music thanks to my mother who was and still is such a huge fan of his. His death brought his music back to me and for the first time, I saw my mother grieve for someone she loved, someone she didn’t know personally.

Christina Grimmie’s death hurts me in such a way that I cannot describe in words. She was only 22. I’m 22. I found her on youtube and my sister and I would send each other her covers constantly. She had talent I could only hope to obtain. She was kind and sweet and generous. She had so much passion in her music, so much hope to make it big, to be discovered. And when she was on the Voice, I literally screamed. I cheered so loudly, my parents didn’t understand what was truly going on. And then I explained to them how I had discovered her years prior. I explained that I was already a fan, I told them she would win the entire thing.

After the Voice, I didn’t follow her career too closely. I unsubscribed to her youtube videos. I never bought her original music. To call myself a fan right now seems cheap and fake, because I’m not an active fan of hers. I wouldn’t have gone to see her in concert.

But for someone to just. Go to her show, target her and only her, and shoot her dead before shooting himself. I just.

I can’t believe it happened. It’s such a tragedy. She was only 22. She had her entire life ahead of her with so much potential for a glowing music career. And someone took that away from her. In front of her fans. While she was signing for them and making their dreams come true. While she was being her generous and kindhearted self. While she was living her dream, and happy.

She will forever be 22 years old. And I just can’t process that because I’m the same exact age. I have plans in my near future, I have dreams for my distant future. And so easily, so quickly, my life could also be snuffed out by disaster. My life could also freeze at age 22 and never go on. It’s eye-opening, even more eye-opening for me than other shootings have been because I knew her. I knew who she was, I watched her grow up on Youtube. She wasn’t just a face tied to a tragic story, and I think that’s why it’s unsettling for me.

I went to Toronto in November 2015 to visit a friend. Together we went to a Finger Eleven show and outside the venue, we were pat down. I had my purse completely rummaged through. My medications were questioned, the bottles opened and sifted through. I had to explain to them what each one was used for and why I needed them at the show. I felt violated in that moment. But I also felt safe. I turned to my friend who was so used to this and told him that in America, they don’t do this. In America, they shine a flashlight into your bag, pat it a little, and send you on your way. In America, you can enter a venue with a concealed weapon because no one touches you and no one questions you. No one is a suspect here, while everyone is a suspect there.

I feel like this way of search should be implemented in the States. I’ve been saying it since November. Every time I enter a venue without my bag searched, I think about my experience in Toronto. I think about the possibility that someone could sneak a gun into a show or into comic con (where my bag wasn’t even looked through at all) and shoot up the place.

News reports are claiming that officials at this venue in Orlando have stated they don’t know how someone could get a gun (he had two, actually) in without their knowledge, but I know very well how.

It’s such a shame what happened to Christina Grimmie. I went to sleep praying to a God I don’t believe in to give her strength to survive her injuries. I went to sleep praying I wouldn’t wake up to hear that she died, and I did. That’s exactly what happened. My heart breaks for her family, her friends, her fans, and every single person like me who finds it unnerving because of her age, because it could happen to any of us.