Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting out of Dodge

The last two weeks have been exhausting. If you've been reading this blog, you already know this. Since I don't really want to rehash anything at this moment, let me just say that I needed to get the hell out of dodge.

Saturday night, that's what we did. Jason and I loaded Indy into the H3, threw on our hiking boots and headed out of town. We drove halfway to Vegas, and stopped at the Calico Ghost Town as they were closing, just in time for the spectacular sunset. Then we checked into the Motel 6 in Barstow (not super classy, but clean, cheap and Indy friendly!) and had an awesome Mexican food dinner.

Sunday morning found us hiking 3 miles at Afton Canyon in the Mojave desert (Afton Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Mojave). Next we drove further on highway 15, grabbed a quick lunch in Baker, and headed back into the Mojave. First we drove into Kelso, and then up to Hole in the Wall, where we went on a short 1 mile hike on the Rings Trail and climbed up out of the Slot Canyon (with Indy - he's quite the rock climbing dog!).

Jason and Indy at the entrance to the Slot Canyon at Hole in the Wall.

Then we headed to the Kelso Dunes - the 3rd tallest Sand Dunes in the United States.

If i needed to physically exhaust myself to match my state of mental and emotional exhaustion, Kelso Dunes were the place to do it. We started the hike at 3:30, giving ourselves enough time to climb the mile and a half straight up in deep sand to the top in time for the sunset. The Kelso dunes won the battle - apparently we went up the wrong way, for when we reached the last stretch, it was too steep to climb - for every step, you slid back two. Still, exhausted, we found a great spot to catch the truly majestic sunset before hiking the mile and a half back (still in deep sand) in the dark and the cold. Well worth it, but we wish we would have conquered the full dunes. Maybe we'll try again someday.

Either way, I needed the sheer physical exhaustion to help me cope and remind me of how good life is.

View from the Kelso dunes just prior to the start of the spectacular sunset.

Not to mention the fact that Jason and I have committed to getting out of town at least once a month so he can shoot photos. Plus, it's so healthy for our marriage just to get away and be together. We had so much to talk about - and we had a great time together.

Hopefully we'll get back out of town again soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Grandma Joan passed away today while I was teaching at a local Elementary School. While there will be a whole second post to come about her, this is about a little girl. God must have known that I needed a laugh today. :)

I was subbing Kindergarten, and during recess a little girl (let's call her Alexis) asked me to open her carrot package for her. While I was opening it, she decided to make conversation.

Alexis: "I'm allergic to peanuts."
Alexis' friend: "And she's allergic to peanut butter."
Me: "Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but it's good that you know what you can't eat!"
Alexis: "Yeah. Peanuts are no good. My daddy has a peanut. It hangs right here" (she gestures to her crotch) "and it's all furry."
Me: (Trying not to laugh) "You know, that's probably not what we want to talk about at school. Here are your carrots."

See? God knew I needed the laugh. I hope you did, too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Grandma Joan and I - Christmas 2008

My Grandma Joan is dying. The hospice nurses say that she could go at any moment - they thought she was going to go last night. To see a woman who was once so active, who has travelled the world twice over and hiked Macchu Picchu in her 60s to be bedridden from a combination of emphysema and brittle bones, fractured vertebrae and bad circulation is so difficult. To watch my grandfather, who has been by her side for nearly 61 years, and has been her primary caretaker during this year of pain, say goodbye to his wife, to know that she could take her last breath any moment, to hear him whisper to her "Take the angels hands and go, my love. I'll come along after.", to see him cry when he knows she can't see him - is heartbreaking.

To realize that this is not LIFE for her, and that what comes next is so much better. To be sad, but almost hopeful that she'll go and find relief from her chronic pain. This feels morbid - but it's about her, and not about the rest of us.

The whole family has been gathered around, singing to grandma, praying for her, waiting for her brief moments of lucidity to say our goodbyes. And while it's sad, it's not devastating, because every time I come back to the fact that life in her shell of a body is no life at all right now, especially not for a woman as active as she was.

But then, I look at my Grandfather, still spry and active despite his 87 years and I wonder what he's going to do when she's gone. Will he ramble around in his big house all alone? Will he stay active? Still swimming daily and sunbathing his brown skin? Still driving to the grocery store and preparing meals, cleaning the house, and gardening? Or will he give up and ramble? I don't know - he's always been so vibrant, but Grandma's deterioration has taken its toll on him, too.

What I do know is that Grandma wants us to celebrate the life she lived. To have a big party at the house in her honor, and to live fully.

I can do that - for her, and for me.

And I can only pray that Jason and I will have 60 amazing years together full of adventures and family. That we will still have good stories to share at the end of it. That we will still be so tenderly in love.

I love you Grandma. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Life as a Newlywed" or "Broke as a Joke"

Yes, I said it. Broke as a Joke. And we are. Jason and I are trying to get out of debt and save as much as we can, be responsible with our money.

This is tough. Why? We live in LA. We rent a two bedroom home. We are paying for one car. Two sets of student loans. The rest of the credit card debt from our honeymoon. Cell phones. Insurance - health and car. Cable and internet. Gas- in the house and in our cars. Electricity. Groceries.

And God is so good - somehow every month we make it, and we put the extra down on debt, the rest into savings and start fresh for another month.

It would help if I had a regular salary and/or I was paid more than once a month. I'm working on that.

It would also help if the cost of living in LA wasn't so damn high.

So every month we suck it up, we make it happen, and we pray that someday we'll be able to do more than rent a home. And we pray that God will provide me enough work that we can pay all the bills next month.

Today, ]subbing Art at a local high school became one of the longest days of my life. It felt like an eternity. It was paid babysitting - take roll, make sure they're working on their projects. Do not teach a lesson. Sit on your butt and entertain yourself for SIX AND A HALF HOURS. Torture. Longest day ever. I have to get a new job.

Beyond being broke and hating my job, life as a newlywed is beautiful.

I love my husband more and more every day. My heart is so full sometimes I feel like it will burst.

I'm adapting to having free time in the afternoons, evenings and on the weekends. Last Saturday, I turned to Jason and said, "Honey, when's the last time I had an entire weekend off?" We couldn't think of one except for during our Honeymoon. I can't think of more than a single weekend here and there for the past four years. But here I am, with endless weekends off in front of me. Weekends are something to look forward to! Who knew?

Having lots of matching time off for the first time in our relationship has been so incredible for us. We have dinner together in the evenings (Yes, I cook! And I'm getting better and better at it!), we've been working out together and then sitting down for a movie or a game before heading to bed.

It's so good. So sweet. So comfortable.

And since being broke seems to be a rite of passage for young couples, I'm going to embrace every moment.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pounding on a wall

Welcome to 2011! Following on the heels of 2010, the best year of my life, I can only wonder and pray about what's next. 2009 was the year that I got my health together. 2010 was the year that my personal life came together and I married my love. That leads us to 2011. My professional life is my focus for this year.

I always wanted to perform. From the time I was old enough to speak, I performed. First as a dancer, then as an actor, finally as a singer. Along the way, I started to direct and choreograph. I got my degree in Acting from one of the best Universities in the United States. I interned at one of the best major theatre companies in LA. I performed professionally out of college, then came home to direct some more and to find an agent. I auditioned - I got really good feedback - got called back, put on hold, time and time again. Always so close, but never booking. The agent went cuckoo, I moved on. Found another agent. Still no bookings, and now even less calls for auditions. I got tired of the rejection, of the enormous financial and emotional cost of new headshots, acting classes, driving to auditions, and never having it pay out.

I put acting on the back burner. Focused on teaching, something that I was good at. And found myself in the bottom of a well, staring up, not finding a way out. I've discovered that just being good at something doesn't mean you love it. As Cassie in A CHORUS LINE put it, "I'm tired of teaching others to do what I should be doing myself!"

Caroling at Christmas again this year re-confirmed it. I am a performer. That's what brings me the most joy right now. That little flicker of obstinate hope inside of me has never been put out - I am still the dreamer that I always was.


As I wrack my brain for possibilities of things I would like to do, reasonable things, I always come back to performing. Sad thing - I am so frustrated and jaded with the industry that it makes me want to vomit. Then, I wonder, would I be happy if I didn't perform again? The answer is definitely no. Do I need to perform for my living to be happy?

That answer is debatable.

But I do know that I would like to ENJOY my work. To not dread waking up in the morning and going to work every single time. To avoid working 60 or 80 hours a week just to support an LA lifestyle. To ENJOY my life, enjoy my husband, and do something that makes a difference. To have the freedom to explore the world, to try new things, to see new places and not do it on a "two weeks of vacation per year" timetable.

There is something wrong with the American work ethic. We work 40, 60, 80 hours a week with two to three weeks of vacation per year, barely making ends meet until we're 65 or so. Then we retire, maybe do a few of the things we've always wanted to do (provided we're still physically capable enough) and then we die.

I'm sorry, but we were not designed to live like this. Who says that we have to work so much to pay for THINGS? Who says we have to throw away our dreams and find something reasonable to do?! Who says we have to spend our lives waiting for the weekend and our few measley weeks of vacation?


Which brings me back to 2011. I don't want to do what I've been doing for the last ten years anymore. Just getting by. Doing a job I'm good at but that I hate. Living a life of pipe dreams.

I want to live vividly and lovingly. To explore all that this life has to offer with as few hindrances from the demands of society as I can manage. To enjoy my husband, family and friends.

To pick up and move to Europe for a year if that's what we want to do. Or to move to the backwoods somewhere.

To look back and not say "What if?"

Then I come back to Earth and am afraid. Afraid to live the life I dream of (although the specifics are unclear) and unsure how to ever make that a reality anyhow.

Pray for me. Changes are coming. I just have to sort through the possibilities, and pray for a glimmer of something.

And in the meantime? I'm happy at home. Waiting for the mostly non existent sub calls. Hanging out with the dog. Cleaning our house. Baking gluten free goodies. Living at a slower pace for the first time in my adult life. Feeling like I'm not missing out on life for the very first time.