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. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ugh, I'm 30.

In just two weeks, I am going to be a 30 year old. 

According to every 40-year-old and Oprah, 30 is the best year in a woman’s life.  It’s the age when you magically forget all of your insecurities and stop giving a shit what other people think of you.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that is not going to be the case for me, considering I have gone to urgent care twice in the last year due to panic attacks that were so intense I stopped breathing and had stroke-like side effects. (Yes, that was on two separate occasions.)


I always thought 30 would be the age where I had it all figured out.  Not to say that I don’t have it all figured out right now, I mean I’m really fucking crushing it with my zero children, lack of marriage prospects and illustrious career in Talent Management. Things are great!


I’ve spent the past decade chasing my dreams and doing whatever I wanted to do… because I could.  Because I had drive and passion.  Because I found something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I had these visions of myself as a successful writer with a great apartment full of West Elm furniture.  I saw happy relationships and everything working out and nightly happy hours and weekly brunches with all of my nearest and dearest friends that are basically my family.


Then I actually lived in reality and realized everything is bullshit and the show Friends lied to me.  The reality is life is hard, things don't always work out and achieving goals takes sacrifice and a lot of work. Also, I have depression, severe anxiety and a head of hair that will never do what I want when I really need it to. There’s always something missing in my life and that is what I will always focus on. So that sucks. The more I age, the more I realize that I literally have no control over anything at all.


What a fun world we live in!


Yet, whether I like or not, I’m forging forward into 30 with my hands up and my guard down.  And honestly, I’m feeling pretty hopeful.  The past decade has been great, awful, wonderful, terrible, all the adjectives - and somehow it’s shaped a pretty level-headed, albeit constantly emotional, ball of crazy.  I’m going to take it easier on myself.  I’m going to lower my expectations and put less pressure on myself to check every life goal off my list.  I’m going to go with the flow and see where life takes me instead of forcing it to be wonderful and perfect all the time.  

Because I’m fucking 30… and I’m too old for this fucking shit.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Depression.


I consider myself a sometimes overly optimistic human being.  I always hope for the best and I believe good things will happen and everything will work out in the end.  I often feel like I can take on any task and conquer the world. Sometimes, I even feel confident in my abilities and think my personality is a particularly good one and I’m someone worthy of love and respect. 

Sometimes I think these things.  And when I do, it’s really great.  Feeling good about yourself is honestly the best feeling in the world!  When I really, truly love myself - it feels better than it has ever felt to be loved by someone else. 

If only it weren’t so fleeting and infrequent. 

Depression is a monster that I’ve lived with since I was a teenager.  Most times, I try and I try and I blow its house down… but there are times it defeats me.  Lately, it’s been defeating me a whole lot.  I wake up every morning with it sitting comfortably on my chest and only goes away after a few cups of coffee, a shower and writing down a to-do list so I can feel as though I have a little bit of control over my life.  But it never actually goes away, it just stands by my side.  All day long. 

When I’m driving to work, it’s sitting in the passenger seat judging me for listening to the Hamilton soundtrack again.  It shares a desk with me.  It attends every meeting with me.  It spends the entire day trying to push me down.  And whenever there’s nobody around, it wins.  It forces me into the bathroom to cry, it takes me on walks to cry and sometimes when it’s really bad, it sends me out to my car to hide… and cry. 

The past few months, I’ve been working out every single day to combat it.  It works a little bit, and at the very least I’ve lost 30 pounds, but the high doesn’t last very long.  It feels like I can’t go a full hour without being overshadowed by my own mind.  

There are reasons I feel this way and some of them are even legitimate due to life changes and such.  But for the most part, it’s just being down on myself and refusing to give myself a break.  It’s feeling guilty for things I can’t fix, change or control.  It’s wishing I could turn back time.  It’s fear for the future and a heavy focus on things that happened and mistakes I may have made in the past.  It’s assuming people’s (negative) opinions of me.  It’s wishing for contact with someone I desperately want contact with.  And the cherry on top is how horrible I feel for feeling depressed over seemingly nothing when other people have it much, much worse.

It’s really fucking overwhelming.  And lately, I have really wanted to give up.  I go to bed every night super early because I can’t stand being awake and dealing with this.  I wake up miserable and it takes far too long to break out of it.  I’m afraid to take even a SIP of alcohol because of the even darker thoughts it brings out. I just want to throw in the towel and let the waves crash over me and be found washed up on a beach like that sea monster in Montauk

I won’t, but I want to. 

As hard as life feels, I’ll still get out of bed every morning.  I’ll go to work and say inappropriate things in an attempt to make everyone laugh.  I’ll sing parody songs that don’t make sense. (Such as “Quit Cigarettes and Vape Time” instead of “Heard It Through The Grapevine”).  I’ll listen to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel it out for the 160th time.  I’ll scroll through Instagram and only like pictures of dogs.  I’ll do the same old Pilates routine while watching Vanderpump Rules.  It’ll get better. It always does. 

There will come a day when I will suddenly feel hopeful again and I’ll happily swim with the waves instead of casually doggie paddling and hoping they swallow me whole.  But I think it’s important to talk about depression and realize it’s happening and that it’s going to be hard and I’m not just feeling sad for the sake of feeling sad. I have to stop feeling so guilty.  It’s a legitimate disease and as long as I’m doing all that I can to keep it at bay, then it’s going to be okay. 

Depression will always be the basilisk in my secret chamber that I need to stab with the sword of Gryffindor.  That’s a Harry Potter reference that also sounds vaguely sexual.  It’ll always be lurking in the background, ready to pounce whenever I’m feeling a little vulnerable.  I refuse to let it own my life, but I’ve come to terms that it’ll always be there and it’s my responsibility to take care of myself and let it know who it’s boss.

Angela. Angela is the boss.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Complicated Relationship With Social Platforms

Social media is going to kill us all.

Last spring, I gave Snapchat a try.  It was what all the cool kids were doing, so I downloaded it out of fear of being out of touch.  I’m still young and hip just like everyone else, I swear!  I immediately started receiving (what felt like) millions of snaps a day.  At first I thought it was cute.  Then it got annoying because I couldn’t keep up with it.  Then, it started making me mad.  

There was something not-so-fun about watching seconds upon seconds of people’s lives.  I feel like I didn’t need to be there.  I sort of missed being in the dark and having something to catch up with friends over instead of knowing what they were doing every second of their lives.  And, not going to lie, sometimes I felt left out.  I didn’t like taking it personally for no reason, so I just deleted it.  Easy!

Facebook is next on my list of things to rid myself of.  It has become a place for people to dump their political thoughts and fight and all it does is bring negative energy to my life.  So many times I have had opinions of people I really liked change because of the things they post on Facebook.  The judgmental bullshit is what enrages me the most.  Support Trump all you want, you’re certainly not going to sway my vote, but stop shitting on people for changing their Facebook profile pictures to rainbows or Peanuts characters!  Why do you even care?

Still, every now and then, people post interesting articles or exciting news about their lives, so I’m still hanging on (and logging in once a day) to catch those parts.  I really like hearing about your weight loss journeys, engagements and new jobs!  So keep sharing!  

Although, I did recently miss an announcement that my friend was going to be on a TV show and just happened to catch him on it while I was watching it and got very excited for him!  When I logged into Facebook and saw that everyone was talking about it, I was kind of happy to have just witnessed it in the moment and experience an unexpected moment of joy for my friend.  

Instagram, on the other hand, is my last remaining source of social love.  I love the filtered, curated moments of people’s lives.  I love every selfie, every cat, every dog, every meme, every quote that you feel resonates with your life in that moment.  In my opinion, people tend to think before posting on Instagram.  It’s the one platform where I feel as though people actually care about the amount they’re posting and make sure the picture they upload is a good representation.  This is not always the case… not even for me.  But hey, whatever, my Instagram page accurately represents my funny, messy life full of cats, dogs and my very own face.

However, some days Instagram drains me of happiness just like every other social platform.  Some days I’m homesick and I see people having fun in Boston, or even just a building in Boston, and I get really sad.  Some days I don’t want to see pictures of warm weather when it’s so cold.  Whatever the reason, pictures on Instagram can make me angry or sad.  So I avoid it like the plague and wait until my happiness levels even out.

There are times when I want to quit everything and just live my life quietly.  I want to enjoy the moment as it happens and catch up with people and not know everything about everyone’s lives.  I miss there being a little bit of mystery.  But, other times I want to post pictures of myself holding my friend’s dog and go through old profile pictures of high school acquaintances.

So, I’m going back to my original statement, throwing my hands up in the air and calling this confusing time in my life quits.  Social media is going to kill us all.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year, New Me?

I was dead asleep in my bed when it turned 2016.  In California, at least. 

In previous years, you would find me just getting ready for a full night of partying with all my friends and castmates. I used to perform on New Year’s Eve and my night typically wouldn’t even start until midnight.  Naturally, that had me stumbling up my apartment stairwell late in the morning after a night of drinking large portions of champagne-based drinks in a small apartment stuffed to the brim with sweaty humans.

But this year was different.

I originally had plans to go to a bar and spend a bunch of money on drinks and get really drunk with my friends.  And then I went back to Boston and did enough damage in one night that I don’t think drinking in 2016 is remotely necessary - or even possible.  

But aside from that, I just made the decision not to.  I didn’t feel like it.  I went out to dinner, ate some overly-peppered pasta, drank a little bit of wine and called it an early night.

I returned from Boston a few days earlier and was feeling pretty down.  A lot of my L.A. friends were still out of town.  Others didn’t want to go out or spend money.  Others just wanted to hook up with a bunch of random strangers.  I was not in the mood for any of that.

Then, a day later, I got food poisoning.  It was by far the sickest I have ever been and there were points in the night where I thought I was going to die on the bathroom floor from dehydration.  My cat circled my weak, grey body as I lied on the floor trying to seek comfort from the cool tile.  It was the most pathetic I’ve ever felt.  And I’ve put myself in a lot of pathetic situations.

So now, I’m convinced that I’ve set myself up for a good year.  I crawled into 2016 with low energy, a depressing outlook and a crippling stomach illness.  That has got to mean good things on the horizon!  Or it means that my youth is over as I age into my 30th year on the planet.  That’s the new me.  I’m the new Jan Brady.  Boring, brunette, blank.

Just kidding.  I have a trip to Disneyland planned.  DISNEYLAND.  

Here’s to a new year.  And a new you.  And a new do. And a new whatever the fuck you want.

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