Thursday, May 18, 2017

My 10 Year Drinking Anniversary

Today, around 4:00pm, I will be a 31-year-old woman.  

That means I have been legally able to drink for ten full years.  And I never took that right for granted for even one second!  My 21st birthday party was actually celebrated bar crawling around Boston in the pouring rain and wearing a black hoodie with jeans.  My life is a bit different now than it was ten years ago.  The biggest change, of course, being that I only own one pair of jeans and I’d never wear them on my birthday.

To be honest, I’m not even remotely afraid of aging.  I’ve got good genes on my side.  And even if I didn’t, I’ve watched enough Real Housewives episodes to know that if there’s one thing you can aggressively fight, besides your closest friends, it’s age.  And if living in Los Angeles has taught me anything, it’s that you should start with a smaller amount of injection units in your early twenties.  And get some lip fillers while you’re there.  

I haven’t though.  Not yet.  I have a couple of wrinkles, but I deserve them due to the way I have lived my life… laughing, repressing and excessively drinking through my problems.

I was reading through this old blog last night, reading words I’ve posted on past birthdays, and I realized that every single year I reflect on lessons I’ve learned.  And every year, they’re basically the same.  And every year, I prove myself wrong because while I have learned plenty of lessons, I don’t always do better the next time.

I’m a predictable work in progress.

What I can say is this:

Being in your thirties is much better than being in your twenties. I have far more confidence, way more fun and I even look better now than I did back then. Go figure. I’ve very much come into my own and I’m happy with who I am.  However…

Being in your thirties is much, much harder than being in your twenties. When you’re young, and stupid, there aren’t a ton of consequences. It’s kind of a designated “figuring shit out” time in your life. But in your thirties, the pressure is on. You can’t keep starting over (well, I guess you can, but it’s harder) and you can’t keep fucking up without severely screwing with your life.  

The past year or two has been really hard.  I don’t know where I want to live or what I want to do. I’m trying to figure all of that out while also battling heavy bouts of depression and anxiety.  But, that being said, these have also been really formative years for me. I’m dealing with things I don’t think I’d ever have been able to handle in my twenties. But here I am, handling them and growing from them with maturity.  Sometimes.

The past ten years of my life have been awesome, which is something I only realize right now at this moment and God dammit, it’d have been nice to know it was great while it was all happening.  I’ve made a lot of bad decisions and taken a lot of wrong turns.  I’ve fallen in love, gone through breakups, moved across the country, got a concussion and sprained my ankle at the same bar on two separate occasions and I’ve even tried a fried deviled egg and decided against partaking in that experience ever again.

And, fine, here are a few lessons learned:

Get a pet. Or a friend with a pet.
Exercise and eat healthy. At least every now and then.
Outsource annoying shit. For me, that’s hiring movers and not relying on friends/family. And also gel manicures because I can’t do my own nails and don’t have time to wait for drying.
Acquire less stuff. Clothes, knick knacks, furniture… Muppet stuffed animals.
Find your people. The ones with positive vibes who make you laugh, will drink after bad days with you and can put together a good cheese plate.
Live alone, or learn to be alone. Because alone time is the best.
Be true to yourself. Even if "yourself" is an introverted, creative, outgoing, procrastinating, Muppet-loving weirdo.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Letters To Myself

Dear Patty, mistakes you have made in your past have no place in your present/future. Stop dwelling on them. (And if other people still care about them… not your problem. You’ve apologized/rectified/done what you’ve had to do, and that’s all you can do.)

Dear Patty, when you say really nice things to people after a glass or two of wine, it’s not that big a deal. In fact, it’s kind of a nice thing to do. Stop feeling stupid the next day. You have so much else to feel stupid about. (Like wearing dumb shoes that cut up your ankles. Your ankles hurt enough on their own!)

Dear Patty, if your gut tells you it’s not a good idea, it’s probably not a good idea.

Dear Patty, it’s OK that you didn’t listen to that gut feeling that told you it wasn’t a good idea. Move on. You can try again and do better next time.

Dear Patty, we get it... you like Muppets.

Dear Patty, who cares what other people think of the decisions you make in your own life? Everyone is different, goals change and success looks different to everyone. If you keep holding yourself to someone else’s standards for success, you’re going to be miserable.

Dear Patty, maybe stop referring to yourself as a “garbage person” to the owners of the company you work for?

Dear Patty, give yourself some credit and think bigger picture. In your 30 years of life, you’ve accomplished a whole fucking lot. I mean, you've got a cat for a roommate! That's BIG!

Dear Patty, there’s been a piece of glass in your foot for like, months. Just… letting you know.

Dear Patty, it’s okay that you’re feeling a little lost and unsure of what your next steps are in life. Just make positive steps in the right direction and control what you can. Do more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t. Take more risks and stop making excuses. And sometimes, allow yourself to not have the answers and lie on the couch and watch a shitty Hallmark movie.  

Dear Patty, only 15 sleeps until Christmas!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mental Health Check

Remember earlier this year when I wrote a post about the depression I was going through and I received awesome comments and responses from so many people? I wrote that post in January. That was almost a whole year ago, but not quite because if it were actually a year then Christmas would be over AND THAT WOULD BE TERRIBLE.

This post is a follow up.

Depression is THE WORST. But thankfully, my depression has got a lot better this year.  There have been ups and downs, but overall I’m feeling much happier and more hopeful than I was earlier this year. I’m generally a pretty positive, optimistic person.   When that goes away, and I feel completely lost and hopeless and alone, it scares the shit out of me. Pair that with anxiety and you've got yourself a real fun time.

There were times this year where I thought about ending my life. There were times this year where I convinced myself every single person in my life hated me, including my family. There were times this year that I didn’t eat because I didn’t think I deserved to eat. There were times where I made really shitty decisions to somehow make myself feel better only to feel worse (like food-related or alcohol-related or boy-related decisions.)  

I also had several bad panic attacks.  One was so bad that my body LITERALLY shut down and went completely numb basically as a way of saying, “Hey Pats. You should stop and you won’t, so I’m going to stop you for you.”   I had to go to urgent care a few times and I even got an EKG because I thought I had a heart attack. (Nope. Just a really bad panic attack.)

But! Some days were great and I was really happy. I was really empowered. I did a lot of cool stuff for my career. I wrote a lot. I focused on the positive stuff in my life. And most importantly, I got help. I started seeing a therapist every single week. It’s not always convenient – and there’s not always stuff to talk about – but having that carved out time in my week to focus on getting my brain in the right place has really helped me.  (And it took a few therapists to narrow down the right one.)

Also, thankfully Xanax exists for those really bad days. And Christmas music. There's no greater joy than listening to Christmas music when it's not the season. No offense to those of you who subscribe to the "Celebrate One Holiday At A Time" mentality. I'm against that and pro-Living My Damn Life However I Want.

All in all, my mental health is getting better.  Because I took the steps I needed to take this year to get it all under control. I didn't just try to handle it on my own because that's what strong people do. Or that's what I thought strong people did. I went through a lot this year and it was a really tough one for me. But I will say that I feel good, strong, confident, and awesome MOST days and I feel useless, hopeless and terrible only some days!  Baby steps!

I'm so tired of the stigma surrounding mental health and being labeled "crazy" by others... and also by myself. I call myself crazy all the time! But I'm not. I'm anxious, I'm depressed, I'm paranoid, I'm obsessive compulsive, I'm... okay, you're right, I'm crazy. But that's okay. I'm embracing it. It's part of my many charms. (Nestled right in there with my clovers and blue moons.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

BEING MYSELF/YOURSELF/OURSELVES

"A selfie" by Patty Barrett

For a very long time, I’ve been afraid to be myself.  Which sucks because I love myself!  I love who I am, I love what I’ve accomplished, I love where I am in life, I love the people in my life.  But yet, I constantly make decisions based on what other people think.  I’m afraid to be honest because I’m afraid of how I’ll come off, or I’m afraid of what people are going to say.  

I remember a few years ago, Instagram was gaining popularity and I started to post selfies.  I saw other people doing it, and quite frankly - I liked the attention one specific person gave me for them - so I kept doing it.  Then a friend of mine felt the need to tell me that everyone in our group of friends made fun of me for it.  I cried for a very long time. 

I think it’s funny now because who cares? We all have different things that make us happy and that we feel the need to post about, and for me it is MY FACE. (Just kidding. Kind of.) But I remember being SO upset and imagining my friends all sitting together and shitting on me just made me cry endlessly. I still think of that every time I post one, but I care a little less. Just a little. 

The truth is, I can’t control anyone else’s thoughts or feelings. There are certain posts I see on social media that I don’t necessarily care for (like recently hunted bears bleeding out in someone’s trunk or posts about fall in New England when I'm suffering through a heat wave in Los Angeles ), but I choose not to look at it or “like” it. That’s my chosen view on things, but I can’t be mad at anyone else for choosing to think differently or having their opinions and expressing them to others.  It’s none of my business what people say about me, after all. 

But it becomes a problem when I actually let it affect my life. It’s a problem when I don’t do things because I’m afraid of what people are going to say, think or feel about it.  It’s a problem when I give people that power.  It’s not fair to me. And I've come to the realization that I want to be true to myself - and actually be okay with myself - way more than I want everyone to think positively of me at all times.

So, my goal for… I don’t know, The REST OF MY LIFE is to make decisions without fearing what other people think. I’m the only person affected by my decisions, so I should be the only one weighing in on them.  I’m not going to make the best decisions 60+ percent of the time, but IT’S MY LIFE AND IT’S NOW OR NEVER. I ain’t gonna live forever. (Bon Jovi seemed appropriate in this moment.)

So if I want to post selfies, I’m going to post some selfies. 

If I want to move (or decide not to move) wherever I want to move (or not move), I’m going to do that. 

If I choose tap dancing as my main source of exercise and being a sex phone operator as my main source of income, so be it. 

If I want to order a $25 burger by myself on a Saturday night after drinking just ONE sip of wine, undoing all the hard work I’d done all day exercising and eating well, I’m going to do that. 

It’s important to me that I take my own advice that I dish out to other people.  I prefer to not judge other people for the choices they make. I’ve done that in the past, I’ve weighed in FAR too much on other people’s lives behind their backs, and it always made me feel grimey.  So, it’s time to cut the shit. 

Recently, a coworker who isn’t very close to me said “Please don’t ever stop being you, Patty” and it made me very happy (and not only because I thought he didn't like me very much because he shows up everyday TO WORK and I show up to play with dogs and make jokes). But, how many times had I heard that from close friends? A bunch. How many times did I believe them? Less than a bunch. It took an almost stranger to make me feel proud of my personality and realize maybe I'm not half bad… 

I’M ALL BAD.

Okay well, that’s my time (and a stolen Muppet joke), so thanks for stopping by.  You can find me every day... being myself... at my desk in Playa Vista... taking selfies and eating diet popcorn for lunch.

Monday, August 29, 2016

On Taking Compliments

Every time I tell my mother that she looks nice, or that I like her outfit, she tells me how much it was and where she purchased it.  In her mind, I am complimenting the great deal she got at Kohl’s or TJ Maxx, not her appearance in said deal.  She is so bad at taking compliments that she has started telling us how bad her food tastes before we even bite into it.  She pre-shuts down compliments.

Naturally, my mentality towards compliments is exactly the same.  I am completely undeserving of any praise that comes my way.  If something I cook tastes good, it was the cut of the meat that did all the work.  If my hair looks good, I have “luck” to thank and not my own abilities to use a curling iron.  After a performance, I can’t even hear “Good job!” without responding with, “It was weird!” or “It was just a good crowd.”  Even lately, as I have lost quite a bit of weight, people compliment me and I jokingly reply that I gave up drinking and it’s done wonders - completely undervaluing the fact that I have been working out almost every single day and controlling portions and eating healthier bites of food.  Also, I haven’t even given up drinking… so it was a self-deprecating lie!

Sometimes, I even just say, “No.”  

“You’re funny.”
“No, I’m not.”

“Thanks for chatting with me, you give good advice.”
“No, I don’t.”

“You’re wearing pants.”
“No!”

Well, okay.

When a guy that I’m interested in tells me I’m attractive or any other sort of sweet sentiment, I brush them off as if they’re dumb idiots who don’t know any better.   They love that.  

Basically, I’m a real catch.

Why is it so difficult to accept a compliment?  I really don’t understand.  As someone who has a tendency to be really hard on herself, shouldn’t I show more appreciation when people go out of their way to pat me on the back? Especially when the only thing I need to say back is a polite, “Thank you” and not awkwardly fidget and word vomit everywhere.

A response to a compliment is not a fucking Oscar acceptance speech.  I don’t need to thank all the fine people at Nordstrom Rack for my dress, or the fine folks at TheKitchn.com for providing me with the recipe for a great dinner, or my awesome hairstylist at Fig and Third Salon on 3rd and La Brea (across from the Ralph’s) for highlighting my hair to perfection.  

I have to come to terms with the fact that thanking someone for their compliment does not mean that I’m an asshole.  Sure, there are some things that I don’t like about myself… but I probably don’t need to remind everyone that I think I’m rotten on the inside every time they say something nice about me.

It’s exhausting being a functioning human being sometimes, am I right?

So with that, I say thank you.  And yes, I did lighten my hair.  And yes, I have lost weight.  And yes, I am a decent cook.  And yes, Overly Botoxed Eye Doctor, my face does look better with glasses on.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Massage "Therapy"

In my opinion, a work event is the perfect and most appropriate place to do a split and severely strain your hamstring.  How else is everyone you work with going to know your full set of capabilities?  And boy did I show them.  I showed them ALL exactly how much wine one Irish girl can consume in one sitting, and how flexible I thought I was in comparison to how flexible I really am. 

The next day, I woke up extremely hungover and in so much pain that I immediately toppled over as soon as I stepped out of bed.  I live alone now, so there was no calling to the other room for help or ice packs or Gatorade or the tennis ball walker I should own.  So I crawled towards the living room to accept my fate and pity myself on the couch.

I thought, “I could really use a massage right now.”  And a few minutes later, a deep tissue massage was booked at a tiny little spa on LaBrea that looks terrifying on the outside, but is surprisingly cozy and wonderful on the inside (just like everything else in Los Angeles.)

Now, if you’ve ever had a deep tissue massage, you probably know that it’s a pretty intense, slightly painful rub down of your body… and it’s incredibly dehydrating.  So was it the best idea to do this while several of my muscles were down for the count and I was already under-hydrated?  Not even a little bit.

Nevertheless, I showed up and Robert, my masseuse, ushered me to the couples’ massage room.  I imagine this was some kind of sick joke as I was very recently out of a relationship and nobody would be joining me in the most romantic room on the planet.  Except a man who was almost overly adamant that I kept my underwear on.  I swear I heard him nervously mutter “please” under his breath.

I changed out of my clothes - keeping my underwear on for Robert’s sake - and lied face down on the table. When Robert came back in, he told me to breathe in while he placed a napkin covered in some sort of perfume or essential oil through the face portion of the table.  For a brief second, I thought it was beautifully scented chloroform and I was going to die that day.  

I lived. But barely.

As the massage began, everything felt lovely and blissful.  My neck and shoulders are always tense because of sitting all day at work, having bad posture and these dumb boobs. But then Robert started getting inquisitive.

“Do you sit all day at work?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I can tell.”

Well, okay.  Thanks for letting me know.

“So what do you do for work?”

I’m always one to prefer zero social interaction, but sure - I’ll talk to you about my life!

“I work at an advertising agency.”

“Nice! Is it far?”

“Yeah, it’s in Playa Vista.”

“That must be a rough commute.”

“Kinda, it’s about 30-45 minutes each way.  But I don’t mind, I have my music and podcasts and - “

“I can tell because you have a lot of knots throughout the side of your right leg.”

“Oh.”

“You should put the car in auto-pilot whenever you can.”

From there, I understood Robert’s game.  He didn’t want to know more about me, he wanted to find passive aggressive ways to judge me.

“Do you work out?”

Well here is where I can get you, Robert, because I actually do and there’s nothing you can say to prove otherwise!

“Yes! I do yoga or some sort of cardio every day.” I proudly responded.

“You don’t stretch before you work out.”

[Sound of balloon deflating.]

“Oh… well…”

“I can tell in your muscles, you really need to make sure you stretch your hamstrings and hips before you do any type of work out.”

“OK, well I do yoga… so I thought…”

“You really need to make sure you’re properly warming up your muscles.”

OK I GET IT, ROBERT.  JUST FIX MY BODY.

Finally, Robert got to my left hamstring/thigh/hip/butt/problem area so I could get that fixed and get out of there.  Until, of course, it hurt so badly that I could barely stand the pain.

“You need to stop resisting.”

“I’m trying! It hurts!”

“Nothing’s going to get fixed if your body keeps resisting!”

“I’M TRYING. My body’s just doing it!”

“Just relax.”

“I THOUGHT THAT’S WHAT I WAS DOING.” 

“You’re giving me a real workout.” Robert had the audacity to say.

“Well, I hope you stretched first.” I responded to no reaction.

Robert kept pressing, my body kept pushing back and the tears streamed down my face. Then, the headache came.  Followed by dry mouth.  I was so afraid I was going to pass out right there in the hands of a man who did nothing but make me feel terrible about every life decision I’ve ever made in the most romantic location two people could possibly be in.

Thankfully, there was no passing out.  And eventually, Robert let up as soon as the generic instrumental massage sounds CD stopped playing.  He pressed the floral chloroform napkin to my face one more time and I begrudgingly breathed in the lavender scent one last time through tears over my aching body.  

Robert left me to “relax” for a few minutes before I got changed.  I lied on the massage table with oil in my hair, makeup all over my face and absolutely zero will to get up and face the rest of my life, nevermind the rest of my day.  I slowly lifted myself up, downed a bottle of water and left the candlelit massage room looking a little more disheveled, and in slightly more pain, than I was when I entered the room… which I didn’t think was even possible.

“You’re looking a little bit taller today, Ms. Barrett!”

I couldn’t even muster anything more than a grunt towards the woman at the front desk who was somehow taking money from me after the experience I just had.  I stuffed $20 in a tiny manila envelope and asked her to pass it on and give my best to my friend, Robert.  

I thought I was in the clear until Robert chased me out the door, thanked me and handed me a business card that had the word “Yelp!” written all over it.  

Sure, Robert, I’ll Yelp about you.  I’ll be yelping all night because of you.  And I’ll make sure to keep my car in autopilot the entire way home so I never have to go back and endure your painful hands and judgment again.

I finally returned home feeling more hungover and more in pain than I’d ever felt in my life.  I looked in the mirror to see mascara covering my entire face, which Robert naturally failed to mention as he ushered me out of the massage place.  And somehow, after all of that, my underwear was missing.

Just kidding.  But that would have been really funny.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Take Risks. Crash Hard. Repeat.

I am not big on taking risks.  Every couple of years, I get a wave of confidence and I go for something I’ve been wanting to do… but typically, I play it safe and keep all my dreams and feelings and thoughts as close to the vest as possible.

This is a quality that I really, truly despise about myself.  Mostly because when I do get those waves of confidence and try new things, it usually ends up working out!  And even if it fails, it still has a positive effect on my life in some way.  At the very least, I walk away feeling as though I accomplished the task of trying something different

Even just last year when I took risks, I got to write on a pretty huge advertising campaign and co-host an awards ceremony in an evening gown.  I acted in a pilot that was shown to executives at the E! network.  I’ve even moved across the country and survived!  I’ve submitted things I’ve written to be published.  For a while, I was a full-time improv and sketch performer.  All things that would never have happened if I didn’t take a risk.  Not everything worked out, but most did.  And I feel good about all of it. 

But lately, I don't know man... there are a lot of changes happening in my life and yet I feel so stuck. Maybe it's because I'm getting older (as a reminder, I'm turning 30 TOMORROW) and I'm less prone to take risks because now I have things to worry about paying for... like an expensive apartment and a car. I also have this pressure to pick one path and follow it because if I keep flip-flopping between careers/jobs, then I'll fuck myself over when and if I ever want to "settle down."

Even just typing that made me roll my eyes. Isn't it such bullshit to feel forced to do the right thing, follow an easy path and set yourself up for success later in life when your today sucks? 

It’s more exhausting to not take risks than it is to take risks.  I spend more time thinking about doing, or saying, something than I would spend actually doing or saying it.  If I just did it, it’d be over with… and things would go well or horrible.  But then they’d be over!  I’m just tired of miserably sitting still and watching life pass by. 

A few people around me lately have done the unthinkable and quit their jobs to pursue their dreams.  I'm not in any position to do that right now, but I'm not going to lie... it sounds amazing. And it's put a lot of things into perspective. I've spent too much time the past few years not doing   a single damn thing for myself. 

Except drink a lot of wine. A lot of wine. I once ordered four glasses of chardonnay when I found out there were only 5 minutes left to order for happy hour prices. I am doing great and everything is fine. 

So, as I enter my THIRD FUCKING DECADE, I'm vowing to do more shit for myself. Take a lot of risks. Fall on my face. Repeat. And eventually, die. 

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