What Do You Want in Life?

Recently, I had a conversation with someone that has been eating at me. It’s been less than a week and I found myself focusing on the conversation when I didn’t have any music at work. It was a simple question, one that I wasn’t prepared for and I didn’t realize why until I drove home today.

“What do you want in life?”

A completely simple, straightforward, and direct question threw me completely off guard. To be honest, it kind of depressed the shit out of me. It gnawed the ever living angst out of me before I realized that I HAD answered their question, only I was vague. I didn’t explain things, and I think I left something out for fear of being judged by someone I’m attracted to. Hell, I think all of it was curbed slightly to prevent myself from thinking that someone was judging me (when they were probably just thinking about elevator music).

So I have decided to expand upon what it was that I said those few days ago.

Ali, What do you want in life?

  • Adventure – While the idea of jet setting or backpacking across Europe sounds fantastic to me, that isn’t the only kind of adventure I want. I want the adventure of trying new things, learning new things. The majority of my life I have lived in this self-created bubble and spent so much of my time afraid of letting people watch me fail. It prevented me from auditioning for roles. It prevented me from approaching a possible career in music. It has even prevented me from learning how to play an instrument (and I desperately want to.) All of my friends here love camping. I think I might give it a try some time to see what the hubbub is. I want to try surfing. I want to try ski blading. I want to hike somewhere and watch the sun set (and not die or be eated by a bear. That’d be super.)
  • Challenge – I want something to challenge me. I have never really gone for something that I haven’t been good at, so the idea of trying something and failing is absolutely terrifying. I want to not be afraid to rise to the challenge.
  • Romance – Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a sucker for the guy getting the girl and vice versa (or guy/guy, girl/girl. I’m a fan of love not gender). I am a romantic. Sadly, the hopeless kind. The books I read, my Netflix queue, some of my own writing… It’s moderately embarrassing to me, as a woman who is perfectly capable of doing things on her own, to want someone to come in and do something for me. It’s not that I need someone to do it. It’s the feeling that comes with watching someone do something so inconsequential (i.e. Taking out garbage, cooking dinner, rubbing my back) and being completely moved (and ladies, let’s be honest, a little turned on) that they did it because they didn’t want me to have to.
  • I want to finish my book by November of next year. I rarely ever give myself a deadline, but this has been sitting in my brain for years now. It needs to come out.
  • I WAAAAYYY DOWN THE LINE want to be a mom. I have had the opportunity to be an “auntie” to many a youngin, and I find that it plucks at a particular quadrant in my heart. Not an “aww look at that. How cute” sort of way. More of an “I’m going to make you feel like you’re on the verge of a panic attack” sort of way. I know that I’m not ready now. See the next bullet for reference.
  • I want to love myself the way my friends love me. One of the worst things that ever existed in the human psyche is that… The people you loved in childhood start this domino effect clusterfuck. I don’t blame anyone from my past for how I feel about myself in the present, I feel that my perception of other people’s judgments directly relates to how I feel about myself today…

 

Example: Who I was in 2008 vs who I am in 2012: Most times, I don’t see the difference in appearance. I still feel like me prior to 2009. (I am clarifying this for a friend who is going through a similar experience.)

 

… So… Everything that is told to me now by new friends is tinged by the experiences of me so many years ago. It is hard to differentiate who I was then vs who I am now as I don’t feel like I have changed much (except for the fact that during this dip into depression I am STILL happier than I ever was on the East Coast). I STILL feel like I constantly need to apologize to people. It took a complete stranger in Studio City, CA to tell me that I was loveable before I realized that I was justifying the negative reactions towards me in the past. If I don’t have a grasp on this mindset I do not think I will be a parent because there is no way I would want to subject a child to this.

 

You all know that I do not make New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead, I will tell you what I have missed since July of this year.

 

I miss the feeling of touching people (in a completely non-sexual way).

I miss sitting with Paddy on the porch at the InSiana Asylum (not a typo) and just talking and staring at the stars** and bouncing creative ideas off of each other. I also miss family holidays with the family S.

**OH MY GOD PATRICK! The stars are brighter here! Brighter, clearer, and they will dry hump your periphery if you get on a hill too!

I miss walking Bro out of an “IMMA STAB A BITCH” stupor.

I miss sitting on a couch with my bestie, drinking coffee and telling life tales.

I miss Elfie, V, Marissa, LL, and the other ladies of the Stitch and Bitch.

I miss being able to call my mom and dad when I’ve been in a car accident and not freak them the fuck out because I am 3,000 miles away and there is no way they can pick me up.

I miss bonfire friends and dapper dressed gentilefolk that would fill my hours with amusement and my belly with Scotch.

I miss my sister-in-law and my brother.

I miss sitting on the jagged rocks at the beach near my friend’s house. I miss talking to the waves and feeling like I had just let it out to a therapist.

I miss driving to New Haven and taking the train into NYC to see Mel.

I miss having the $$ to visit friends all over the country (and out of it too!)

 

I didn’t mean to end this with such melancholy. Honestly, the conversation with this person inspired me to write and that hasn’t happened in quite some time, so that’s much appreciated.

 

I constantly feel the need to reiterate that I am HONESTLY the happiest I have been in years. I have just hit a snag, but the snag is manageable.

 

Oh and Wendy? Go fuck yourself. I miss you, wifey.

I honestly had one of the most beautiful dreams I have ever experienced.

It’s been a rough two weeks, but I’m still happy. It’s strange how being exactly where you’re meant to be affects your ability to react to the little things that are shitty, but happen when you least expect it.

Last night was a night of insomnia. It wasn’t bad. I wasn’t upset about it. I do, however, have a tendency of forcing myself to stay in bed when I am having a bout because I’m very much like a child and will pass out eventually.

And I did.

In my dream, I was living in a house with a bunch of friends from the west coast. It honestly had the feel of a commune. There were always people around and they were talking to each other and I didn’t understand any of the words coming out of their mouth. I think a part of me knew that they were speaking English because I stared in abject horror and wondered what was wrong with me.

A few people talked to me and I could feel the reverberation of my jaw and hear the timbre of my voice, but I had absolutely no idea what I had said. I think that I may have excused myself and walked to what I could only assume was my room. For some reason there was a sink and mirror against a wall (like they do in hotel rooms sometimes). I leaned against the chilled porcelain and it felt like an eternity before I could look up at myself.

I saw the saddest flicker of light in my eyes. I even spent time looking at them. Icy blue iris with almost gold flecks around the pupil. It’s jarring to think of how many muscles were at work while I stood there trying to change my expression. I would shift to a smile, frown, make a monster face… but the sadness still remained in the coloring of my eyes. It was like a filter had been applied to them to dull their brilliance, but it was only appearance. It wasn’t my vision that was clouded.

I could hear people talking through paper thin walls and couldn’t understand anything that was being said. It was as if I was a character in the Sims that didn’t belong in the game. I grabbed a set of headphones and put them on.

They weren’t plugged into anything, but as soon as they settled over my ears I heard Calexico – Frank’s Tavern. Before I realized it, I was dancing with my back to the door. My movement was fluid and almost ballet-inspired. I closed my eyes and danced for a little bit until I felt pressure against my right palm.

I lifted my lids and found myself falling into my eyes again, only to realize that they didn’t have the flecks of gold mine did. I pulled back slightly and recognized the face of the man that was leading me along. He pulled back with my hands in his, allowing my legs to stretch. He pulled me back into a tight almost-waltz and finally spun me out. When I stopped spinning and the music ended I smiled and bowed.

I took the headphones off, but music continued. It was the voices of all of the friends I have made on the west coast. One-by-one, each of them danced with me and after each time I found myself understanding their words.

I have no idea what any of it meant, but I woke up wanting to thank that first friend. Without his help, it would have been a different dream. A terrifying dream.

Compassion Paralysis

It was momentary, but the feeling jolted through my body like lightning. I went to work and one of my co-workers was selling bracelets at her cubicle. One of her friends passed away and she was trying to get money together to go to Wisconsin for the funeral.

She is typically a bubbly and giggly woman. She had even come in early and decorated her cube for the holidays because she loves them so much. She consistently greets you as you walk by and smiles. She did all of that today…

… until about 3pm.

I thought I had heard her sneeze, but then realized that it hadn’t ended. She was sobbing uncontrollably and I could definitely tell it wasn’t manufactured. She continued for about thirty seconds before someone asked if she was okay and she quickly excused herself and ran to the bathroom.

Being one of the last people brought into the office, I didn’t know whether or not I should have approached her. Instead, I felt like I was encroaching on an incredibly private moment (even though I didn’t move).

A part of me feels incredibly guilty for letting my discomfort at the situation hinder my ability to offer compassion to another human being.

Have you ever had a moment where you felt this way?

Obligatory Thankful Post for Thanksgiving

I made the foolhardy attempt to blog something I was thankful for every hour last Thanksgiving. This year, I am keeping it simple.
– I am thankful for my family. Not just the family I was born into. The family that my parents added in and the family that I have added in myself.

– I am thankful for people that have never given up on me, even though I have done quite a few shitty things in my life. I am even thankful for those that HAVE given up on me. I do not regret the friendship, even though some days it’s bittersweet.

– I am thankful for my new friends that have embraced me into the fold and have shown me nothing but love and warmth. For me to feel safe after only being here four months is staggering. I love my PDX dragons, Cuddlahs, and Bettie.

– I am thankful for my bestie, and always look forward to whiskeying with him on Sundays.

– I am thankful for podcasts, podcasting, and all recordings of every type.

– I am thankful that I got to attend the LA Podcast Festival this year. So many memories jam packed into a three day period.

– I am thankful for music, musicians, and being able to use my voice in a melodic fashion.

– I am thankful for my ability to write. I haven’t done it in quite some time, but my palms itch.

– I am thankful that I have grown to appreciate my body and that I have a tattoo parlor here that I love enough to call it my own. (Come visit. We’ll get tattoos together!)

– I am thankful for taking a huge risk and moving across the country. Though I miss my family terribly (today and every other day), I feel more like who I was meant to be here.

 

And to end this small post, I want to tell anyone reading this that I am thankful that you are reading my blog. You may be a new visitor, you may be a regular. It means the world to me that people actually enjoy what it is I’m doing.

 

Oh… and I didn’t win the powerball so if you shop Amazon this holiday season, can you start through my link on the right hand side of my site? It costs you nothing, but maybe I’ll get a penny or two for referring you. Every little bit, loveys!

Everything Counts

My friend posted this on a private forum a few days ago and I asked her for permission to post this and she accepted. The thing is, this is a woman that I feel incredibly honored and blessed to have met. Anyone that helped her in her darkest days immediately has a fan in me. 

Sadly, I do not have the money I would like to donate. That is why I am asking you. I rarely seriously ask for things, but if you enjoy this blog, please stop by the link at the end of this post and donate what you can or RT the crap outta this post. It would mean the world to me.

“In 2002, I left my husband after taking years of abuse from him. He kept everything. I moved into an apartment with my bed and my radio, and one of our two cars. That was later repossessed and I found out that he had been pocketing or spending the payments for over six months. (We used money orders for everything.)

After a month of that empty apartment, I got depressed. Then, I started thinking that it would be very easy for someone to clean out my apartment if I was dead in there, since I had no furniture.

One night, I sat on my living room floor and filled about half the pages of a dollar store spiral notebook with goodbye letters for everyone I could think of. I wrote each person a note because I am thoughtful that way.

The next day, I went to work with a plan to pick up refills of my prescription drugs and swallow all of them when I got home. I was not afraid or sad. I felt fine. Numb, maybe.

I worked in a tiny office. We shared long folding tables instead of having desks. There were about ten of us in one room. My boss had to take the employees outside to talk to any one of us privately. Which is what she did to me around 10:00 that morning.

She knew. She knew something was up, and she was the only person in my life who said a word about it. She put me in her car, and we drove up to Fountain Hills, north of Scottsdale, and sat by the fountain at this little park and had a beer. We smoked cigarettes and she got me to tell her everything. She said she thought about suicide before, but she couldn’t stand the idea of leaving her dogs behind. She made me promise that I would never do a thing like that without calling her first.

That little bit of caring made a huge difference. We had not been friends at all up to that point. Now, we have been very close friends for over ten years. I moved to Utah, and she has no one to be there with her.

Which brings me to the begging. She’s been in the hospital and back out, and had to miss time at work. She’s gone back to work (at Home Depot–impressive for a woman missing a bunch of connective tissue in her shoulder, thanks to Lupus) but the bills have gotten too far out of hand.

She has help coming in a month, so she needs help for one month. Her car is broken down and she needs help with the deductible. I am not good at this kind of thing, but I have to try for her sake. $5 would be awesome. More, better. I don’t have it to give to her, so I’m begging on her behalf.

I appreciate anything you can do. The despair and hopelessness is eating her up.

Thanks.  Colleen’s GoFundMe page

All The Candy In The World

My friend Molly posted this on her Facebook in regards to going trick-or-treating tonight with her four year old daughter, Boo.

“So – took Boo trick-or-treating to the neighborhood behind us this year. I think she’s the ONLY child who, after filling her bucket about 3/4 of the way, peered into it, nodded her head, and then told me and Ali in no uncertain terms that she was done…
“But… There are other houses – we could trick or treat on the way back home…”
“No thanks. I have all the candy in the world.”
…walking down the road…
“Hey, Boo! There’s one. What about this one? Want to do just one more house?”
“I already TOLD you – I’m done. Thanks!”
*blink*”

 

To expand a little (because I am verbose. You know this. You read this blog), I hastily invited myself to Halloween festivities with Molly and Fred. Obviously, this seems like a strange thing for me to do, but I have never felt unwelcome at inviting myself to hang out with Molly. I am very blessed to have her.

So I asked her what she was doing tonight with the wee one, and she invited me to come out trick or treating with her. I haven’t been trick-or-treating in forever, so I was thrilled to be able to witness the event from a different angle.

We trudged outside, umbrellas in hand, and Boo held her little pink pail for candy. She skipped and sang and chortled with excitement. Her first house, she forgot what to say when the door opened. We had to remind her a few times to thank the people opening their doors and handing out candies. “364 days a year, we teach our children NOT to take candy from strangers…” Molly mused. We then burst into hysterical laughter as Sticky Hands McGee (Boo) took FOUR HANDFULS from someone’s bowl.

Because she can totally work the sweet, they smiled and said “no worries” as we shouted apologies.

Boo’s unbridled laughter is like a drug for me. She laughs loudly, with abandon, and has yet to feel self-conscious about the volume she can project. To me, it is the sweetest symphony. It is that last drag on a cigarette where you expected to suck filter and instead get a sweet pull. It is my west coast version of Vicki and Seth’s corny num nums (cornbread with jalapeno).

The sounds of her merriment traveled through the air as ghouls, ghosts, and goblins traversed Suburbia. Not even a ninja hip checking her into a brick wall took her happiness away. She was in the moment and that moment was GLORIOUS.

After a while, she looked into her pail, and the conversation we had (mentioned above) occurred. We strolled past houses we hadn’t visited and she shrugged them off, saying that she had plenty. We got back to the house and Molly relayed the story to Fred and he chuckled.

As I was driving home, I was hit with the thought “I wish I could have a moment like that”. It’s amazing to think that 75% is good enough (considering how hard I am on myself). I remember as a child mapping out the neighborhood to ensure maximum candy retrieval. I was methodical. I was organized. Hell, I separated my candy not only into brand, but flavor spectrum.

The idea that a four year old could see a bunch of porch lights on and have a bucket not filled to the brim and be CONTENT with what she had was so foreign to me. But… I want that. I want the moment where I am completely present and not trying to figure out contingencies. I long for the moment where I don’t think to open my phone to plan for the future and instead live blissfully happy in the present.

Getting a life lesson from a four year old is remarkable.

A Moment Of Beautiful Agony

Tuesday night, my friend Nikki took me to a jazz night at Coyotes in Hillsboro.

So we get into the bar and see things getting set up for the jam session. Nikki runs over to an older gentleman. I could have sworn he looked familiar.

He wore a bulky red 49ers sweatshirt and a pair of jeans that were just a little too loose to be intentional. His shoulders slumped forward, a permanent positioning from years of slouching. Wire rimmed glasses wrapped around his eyes and they seemed to magnify the happiness that lit up his weathered face as Nikki asked him how he was doing. She told him about her wedding, the puppies that her mom’s Jack Russell had given birth to less than two weeks ago, and random idle chatter.

I joined in to a certain degree, chiming in with upbeat things to say. He apologized profusely for missing her recent nuptuals. He had heart failure and needed to be cracked open and worked on. He lifted his shirt to show her the deep angry purple bruising along his side. I watched him make a weak fist with his left hand. He admitted that he could only feel two of the fingers on his left since the surgery.

At that, I would have expected him to curse the heavens or at least grumble a little bit. Instead, he smiled and asked Nikki who her friend (me) was.

“Oh shit,” she replied with a shake of her head. “Dick. This is Ali. Ali? Dick Berk.”

I practically felt my knees buckle. Dick Berk? did she mean the Dick Berk that drummed for Billy Holiday when he was a teenager? Dick Berk, who played with Allison, Hubbard, Mingus and countless others? It was almost as if she had heard the thoughts in my head, because she leaned over and said “yeah. THAT Dick Berk.”

I stood in stunned silence for a moment, standing in the presence of a man with a prolific career in jazz as he talked with my friend about their mutual friend Laura’s applesauce.

A few moments later, Nikki pulled me to a table by the stage and we ordered a drink.

Without an introduction or fanfare, Dick stood from his chair and ambled over to the drum set. You could see him having difficulty getting himself situated behind the kit at first, but once he hit the seat, his pain on his face lessened. He took his wire brushes into his hands and I could tell he was getting frustrated because he couldn’t fully grasp the one in his left hand.

He laughed it off and he and Laura started playing. For fifteen glorious minutes I got to watch a man STILL in love with jazz after all these years. It was so beautiful, I wanted to cry.

When he was done, they took a quick break before the jam session started and Dick removed himself from the stage.

I turned to Nikki, practically in tears, and all I could utter was “thank you”.

It was poignant to see that someone in such agony could leave it all behind when doing something they are passionate about. It makes me realize that I need to let go of some of my pain and replace it with passion. I didn’t realize how much I missed jazz until that night.

My LA Weekend Recap: Monday, Final Thoughts, and EVERY Pocketbooth of the weekend!

I woke up a few hours later as Amy was getting her things ready. We hugged and sniffled a bit as she picked up her shuttle. Dana, Seth and I grabbed breakfast and then Dana picked up her shuttle. One by one everyone began to peel away from each other, like the end of the first season of Leverage or (as Amy said) Oceans 11. It was bittersweet and a little teary as everyone broke away. I really hope that they all knew that leaving them wasn’t fun and if I could cry in public, I totally would (but all of my crying is reserved for liquor stores and sex toy shops).

 

I let out a sigh as I slid into my rental and drove to Beverly Hills, exhausted but content. I parked and visited the Cupcake ATM (yes, it exists and they’re fucking delicious) before heading back to the airport. I initially hoped I would’ve been able to have lunch with a friend, but she was in meetings all day. It’s okay though. Airfare to LA isn’t too terrible from PDX, so there will be brunch.

 

I write this as I sit in the airport, trying to kill time. It would be awesome if I had wifi, because I would pull up the ending song from Doogie Howser, MD as I wrote this. OH! And I think I walked by Sean Penn. Whoever it was looked like Spicoli and Leatherface.

 

Initially my worries were that I hadn’t done enough during the weekend, but looking at the amount of things in this recap and the size of it all, I feel like even though I didn’t have the chance to see everything I wanted, I was still incredibly happy and cannot wait for next year.

 

After all of that, I still have more to say (of course I do. I’m verbose and opinionated).

 

I have ABSOLUTELY no complaints about the festival. Yes, there were a few bummers, but I was never angry or upset with anything they had set up. The hotel… They didn’t realize what to expect with this festival. I hope that if it is decided to be there again, they make the proper arrangements to provide exceptional service as we were shelling out a crapton of monies there.

 

Every podcaster/comedian I came in contact with was incredibly gracious, kind, and lovely when talking to everyone in attendance. Graham got a little choked up when thanking people for helping this get off the ground. It didn’t hit me how much these performers are fans of their fans. They engaged people in conversations, they paid attention to where people were from, they also made it a habit to THANK the volunteers every chance they got.

 

Everyone that came to enjoy the festival was polite, courteous, and genuinely lovely people. It was hysterical to see someone go “Oh shit, I follow you on Twitter!” to people that had bought passes for the weekend. There was an intense camaraderie. There was no turf war between the listeners, which I was disappointed about because I really like snapping fingers and dancing in the street.

 

This event was incredibly well planned. In one year, there were very little in the way of snags (that they let anyone actually witness. I’m sure there were things.) My biggest hope is that Graham, Chris, Dave, Andy and Jeff all had the chance to enjoy themselves as much as we all did.

 

Until next year…

… and yes, I will listen to at least 3 episodes of your podcasts, fellow attendees.

 

Here are all the amazing pocketbooths I got during the weekend!