Friday, February 6, 2015

The day I discovered I didn't want to act, in the traditional sense--Also, turning 25 is F'ing weird.

"I'll audition for some shows eventually"

"Yeah? Do you want to though?" - A Professor.

Oh Shit. Do I? Do I?


I've always liked straight plays, but I don't think I have ever actually 100% had the desire to pursue acting in them as a career.

That was nice to say.

I have convinced myself that it's something I need to do. In the back of my mind, not doing it, made me feel like I was letting people down--that this was some sort of path I needed to follow--that I failed otherwise--that I somehow had given up. Maybe that thought comes from studying theater, or having all of my friends into it, I'm not sure--but I'm glad I am starting to figure this out now.

I know how I feel about comedy, and it is not what I feel for straight plays. 

I love theater, I respect theater, I have had fun performing, but ultimately it is not what I really love or want to do..

I love comedy. I love sketch. I love improvisation. 

All three of them terrify the shit about of me, and can be crippling, but ultimately it is what I came here for. I have had a desire to move to Chicago for three years. I took my first improv class in college and was pretty terrified. I couldn't stay still on stage. I didn't listen. I had no idea what was going on.  I sat in the back of the class trying to go unnoticed. But I kept showing up as difficult as it was. 

I had a friend say to me "Maybe you just like watching it, and aren't meant to do it"

Then I said. Fuck that, and reflected on my life. I was super outgoing and social all throughout middle school and high school. I grew up watching Conan, and comedy central, and loved performing and being goofy with my friends and family. Then I got to college and was not myself for a year or two. I was a sad, crippled, mousy version of myself constantly being manipulated--looking for validation from other people because I never got it at home. 

I think, for a very long long time I have had blinders on. It's been very difficult to accept or believe nice things people have told me about myself, or my work. It's difficult to recognize my progress whether that be with my comedy show, or health and fitness--I know I have improved but I have such an emotional block that I can't feel it, or step away from it and say "holy shit look how far I've come." I have trouble accepting compliments from people because I don't see these things in myself. 

It's such a difficult way to live. Beating yourself up, hating yourself, not feeling worthy. It's awful, and it sucks, and I know it's irrational, but it's where I'm at right now, and it isn't easy to shake off. 

I am thankful though, and I'm glad I am beginning to realize that this is what I really want to do. I do want to be on a stage, just one where everything is made up. And...there is nothing wrong with that.

I moved here a month after graduation, and am taking three classes, tons of workshops, interning at a theater, am on a team, and I'm performing. I'm constantly listening to podcasts, inspiring stories of people I look up to, and reading--a lot--probably more than I ever did in college. I'm studying my craft. 

This is what I want to do, and I'm doing it.

I need to let go, and realize that I am doing the right thing. More than anything I need to work on my attitude about myself in order to fly. I know this, and now just need to start implementing positivity into my life and realize that my thoughts and opinions are valid and matter. 

I constantly talk about how conflicted I am, but I really think, deep down, I've felt that my opinions don't matter, or won't be accepted. Probably a huge side effect of being manipulated for so long. 

Kathy Sarra--an amazing professor I had in college told me that deep down we all know what we need to do, we just need to listen to our bodies and act on our impulses without judgement. 

I'm going to start standing up for myself--saying when something is wrong--and not feeling bad for how I feel. Most importantly, I'm getting help, and excited to shake this shit off. 

A wonderful improv teacher I had last year said that we should play the scenes we want to play not the ones we feel like we need to play, now it's time to live the life I want to live and not the life I think I need to live. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brutal Honesty during Improv: My dad

When you have a rocky relationship with your mom, it's really really easy to wish you had a dad.

I'm not sure if I've written about this, but after a brutally honest Improv class tonight, (which was fucking amazing and life changing by the way) it inspired me to write. I guess I'm kinda-sorta starting to realize that I'm interesting.

I'm interesting.

Something I've never thought, or said out loud, but I need to start believing it, and being confident in that statement. We are all interesting, and as Jason Shotts said tonight "you are enough, know that you are enough."

The first time I left the country seems like a freak accident. If I didn't have touristy proof that I went abroad, I wouldn't believe it.

In 2010 I was dating this guy and things went to shit. While I was hating myself and too young to realize that I didn't need another person to be happy, I got a letter in the mail. A letter from my dad's mother. I hadn't seen her since I was ten, and we hadn't spoken since. She SOMEHOW got my address. The letter said that she was hoping it was in fact my address and that she hoped to hear from me. I immediately responded and received a letter about a week later. I had mentioned that I had never been out of the country and would love to travel but never had the funds. She responding saying if I could make the dates work she would pay for everything.

At this point I thought I was being punked.

I got a new passport and a Russian visa, and counted down the days. My asshole ex boyfriend ( who happened to be a magician, and wasn't actually an asshole, but he did find a new girlfriend pretty quickly so I'm allowing the name calling this time) issues seemed so small now. I was going to Europe! Fuck yeah!

I mentioned that I heard St. Petersburg was beautiful in the summer and would love to go. My grandmother mentioned that it wasn't exactly in the itinerary but she would see if we could work it in.

The first couple of days I stayed in a fancy hotel. A double king bed all to myself, amazing view, I had never had this kind of luxury before. The world outside of my hotel was frightening. I didn't know the language, Russians CANNOT DRIVE..FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TRAFFIC LANES DO NOT EXIST, and I was spending two weeks in this place.

I met my great grandmother the night I got in, she was 97, and I heard that she was my father's favorite person in the world. She knew not a word of English, but my grandmother translated and told me that she was happy to meet me before she died, and that my father would of loved me very much.

My grandmother then told me that she was able to find the contact information of a friend of my father's in St. Petersburg and arranged for us to meet for a few days. I was to take a four hour train ride alone to meet this man I had never even heard of or seen a picture of. I was terrified. My grandmother handed me a piece of paper with my name written on it in Russian for him to identify me with.

I sat on the train next to four lovely people from Helsinki. We talked about culture, food, politics, perspective....we were almost to our destination when I told them I was terrified and they offered to help me find this mystery man. We got off the train and my eyes anxiously wandered. Then, this man approached me and said "are you Sacha?" I didn't even have my sign. He told me I looked just like my father "it's like looking at a ghost from the past"

Did I mention he was wearing a Helsinki shirt?

I was in Russia with a man I barely knew and yet it felt right, it didn't feel foreign. A rush of comfort came over me. I felt like we had been great friends for many years, my dad had good taste. We drank and drank, and hit up all the non touristy spots, including an amazing doughnut shop with cardboard napkins, shitty ten cent coffee and swastikas carved into the walls.

The next night he showed me a DVD that he said no one else in the world had a copy of. It was about an hour of footage of my father and his friends. There was heavy drug use, footage of my dad playing and singing strange music, tons of his artwork. I'm not sure I took a breath the first time I saw my dad on screen. I was waiting and waiting for him to appear. When he did, I wanted to cry. I wanted so badly for him to be real, to be in my life, in this moment and always. I used to think my mom was lying when she told me he was dead. I never believed her until I had a copy of the death records. He passed from carbon monoxide poisoning that leaked through shower pipes. I mean what the fuck.

There was a point in the video where my dad spoke into the camera. Behind him was a sketch of a baby with big blue eyes. My dad's friend asked,
"Do you know who that is?"
"That's you."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What if I don't want to start a new chapter?

"You are turning a new page!" "It's not goodbye, it's see you later!" 
Give me a break.
"It's a new chapter in your life!" 
Well shit, was the last 24 years one big run-on sentence? 


I want to be happy for all of my friends living in different states, taking different paths, but at the same time I am so incredibly selfish in the sense that I want them all surrounding me at all times. If I had the money, I would buy a Hilton and fly all my friends in for an extended stay. We would have dance studios, and film studios, art studios, etc. We would establish a creative powerhouse and rule the world. Ugh, but unfortunately I didn't win the lottery this week, or learn how to count cards for casinos--fuck me. 

Who you surround yourself with and where you are, are so so so important. It can ruin your life, or do the opposite--And my friends are the best, so I WANT YOU ALL HERE NOW.

I want to create. I want to improvise. I want to write sketches. Luke- I am serious about starting our political humor jazz band. I want to go to open mic nights. I want to inspire people, and pump out as much quality work as possible. I'm so thankful that two of my best friends are moving to this city with me, but I am so incredibly sad that I won't have access to the rest of my friends like I used to. Educational institutions are like prisons, but I have been so incredibly lucky to be trapped with some bad ass bitches. If you can survive theater politics together--you can probably breathe under water too.

I still haven't adjusted fully to this post-grad life. Sometimes it's awesome--I've accomplished a lot in the past couple of weeks (NOTE: I still have not paid my overdue library fees, so I don't even have my diploma yet....ha....ha......ha but hey! Uf thinks I tried to get a minor in packaging science! WTFbut now I need to find a new "safe place" to create work, and it's a bit overwhelming. Everything is overwhelming.

The thought of my friends going off and getting married and starting families is overwhelming. It's a beautiful thought, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking WHEN WILL WE HANG OUT.

Damnit. Maybe I just need to chill the hell out. Maybe I feel this way because I'm an only chid, or maybe you all should move to Chicago. I hear tickets are cheap in August.

I'll meet you at the airport.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My first week in Chicago: A Fresh Start

You know how some people naturally have a resting bitch face? I'm not sure if I was one of those people, but since I've been here I can't stop smiling. Graduating UF, leaving Florida, and moving here was exactly what I needed. I can't count the number of times I felt like dying last semester--It was stressful, and horrible, and purely shitty. A few days after walking the stage I was like "Wow. I like living again!" And being unemployed for a few days was actually pretty awesome. I had the freedom to explore. I spent the free-time reevaluating the last couple of years in my life, and I had an honest discussion with myself about what I wanted and needed to change.

I have worked extremely hard over the past two years to improve my health. I gave up processed and refined sugars/foods, I gave up all grains, I started walking more, and I made an effort to be healthy. I've lost a lot of weight, and it took me a really really REALLY long to realize that the number on a scale doesn't define who am I, and I don't have to let it cripple my being.

I've practiced Alexander Technique, I started taking Rolfing sessions, and I began subscribing to health blogs and videos, I started watching inspiring TED talks...and most importantly I am now using this move, this huge transition in my life to start fresh, to continue improving my life, my health, my being.

I had a really great conversation recently with my friend Lauren about Fear. Fear stops us from trying new things, from traveling, from exploring, from learning a new skill set, from..YOU GET THE POINT. And why? Why is it that we care so entirely much about something we haven't even explored. You know why? Because we are mean to ourselves and automatically assume that the result is going to be poor. Well hey, STOP THAT. Being inactive will kill you.

Failing is great. It brings you a step closer to not failing, or at least being able to enjoy it. It should motivate you, not defeat you. Blah blah blah.

I recently found this post on Humans of New York, that I think about everyday. It's important. Say it out loud a few times.

This is very true. Maybe you aren't trying something new because you are reminded of past rejection. Well you know what? WHATEVER. That was in the past, and this is NOW. Of course some days will suck ass, but then some won't. I can feel myself working more toward a "I don't give a fuck" attitude everyday, and this is something I couldn't even have dreamed of two years ago. I was a mousey, insecure, hunched-over mess. I'm still a mess, but at least my spine is straight now damnit! Thanks AT!!

Anyway, I have had a very productive week in this city, and it's all because I worked my ass off. Two weeks before getting here I obsessively read EVERYTHING on the business insider. I made my resume look badass. I spent days on it, refining it, and realizing "Hey, I've done some cool shit, and I should totally brag about it, because why not?" I tried to make myself stand out, I spent time on my cover letters, I personalized each of them, I did my research and you know what? I got all three of the jobs I applied for. (Gosh I sound cocky. Not intended. *Fist Pump*)

I have learned to motivate myself. Before each and every interview I ran around the house yelling, and I'm not kidding, "YOU ARE AWESOME. YOU GOT THIS. LALALALALAL"(sometimes the "lalala"'s would be "ahhhhhhh"'s but you get it.  Yeah I looked like a fool, but I made myself laugh, reminded myself to chill out, and it worked. Stop taking yourself so seriously. I'm 24, but whatever, the 5 year-old part of me is allowed to come out.

I also started a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge (I'm sure you are all aware via my annoying FB posts--whatever I do it to keep myself accountable.) I love it. I made it through my first week. I am already way more flexible, way more aware of my own body, and leave feeling mentally and physically drained in the best of ways.

I'm excited. I've accomplished a lot, and now that the stress of school is gone, I think that my drive to succeed is going to amplify itself. You have to go after what you want, and you have to put aside the fear. You have to find ways to motivate yourself. Literally EVERYTHING you could ever want to know, or learn how to do is online--start using technology to inspire you rather than waste time.

I really believe that human beings are amazing and capable of anything we set our minds too, it just takes a hell of a lot of work, positivity, organization, and---oh, remember not to be a dick.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm Thankful.

Alberto recently wrote about Family. His post has inspired mine.

As I approach the end of my Institutionalized education, I am terrified of the future, but I am also thankful for everyone I have crossed paths with, and I am beyond excited to move into the next stage of my life with two of my best friends, to a city that 150% supports everything I love and want to do.

College has been anything but easy. I remember getting into UF, I also remember getting rejected shortly after. I auditioned as a trombone performance major, got accepted, received close to a full ride, was ready to move back to Florida, and a month later I got a rejection letter into the University itself. What the hell? That can happen? Yes.

My grades were great in high school but I’m a terrible standardized test taker. You’d think coming from a state that does nothing but teach you how to take a test....Anyway,  I never took the SAT, and I miserably took the ACT four times. 

I wrote a really shitty appeal letter (Which is terribly embarrassing to read now. It will probably do some good in a standup routine) and was told that the school received 20,000 appeals, and I had no hope. My mom made me audition at FSU which was a total abortion, and I just decided that somehow I would get into this damn school.

Eventually the head of the music department walked my appeal over, my trombone professor fought for me, and I got in under the condition that I would take elementary English (AKA learning how to write a sentence) and elementary math (AKA graph making! Look mom I’m a big kid now!)

Being a music major was serious shit. I miss it because I have never experienced that type of discipline in any of the other majors I explored. Every move needed to be planned and scheduled or you were doomed to fail or jump off a cliff. Living, breathing, and studying your craft was the daily motto. The thought of “IS THIS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO,” came up at least a few times a week.

I clearly remember my music theory two course, we had a temporary professor that semester and he was a genius. Pure genius. He pushed us more than ever. We were lost the majority of the term. No one got an A that semester, and I remember telling him that he made me cry more than anyone, but I loved him for it. I fought hard for a “C” in that course. I remember him saying if I resubmitted three assignments PERFECTLY he would pass me. You bet your ass I stayed up for 18 hours making sure that shit was perfect. I showed up the next morning looking like a homeless person, turned my paper in, and crashed on the couch in the music hall. I was dedicated. I often wonder why I changed my major, sometimes thinking it was a mistake,but without that change I wouldn't have the amazing group of friends that I have now, or the survival skills developed along the way.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I don’t have a good relationship with my mother. I left summer of 8th grade to live with my aunt in Maryland. I hated Florida, I was fat and unhappy, and my moms boyfriend got coked out and tried to attack me one night. Most of my friends were doing hard drugs (yes in middle school) and I really needed a change. I even remember going to a party once, and the kids told me I was “emo” because I didn't want to drink or smoke CRACK with them.

Maryland was a nice change. Crack free. It was challenging going from a very low rated education system to a much much better one, but I was instantly welcomed into the music community and felt at home. 

I think I ultimately left the music world due to stress. Living with my mother in college was awful. I had the constant pressure of finding a job, or three, eating off of less than 15$ a week, practicing my instrument 6+ hours a day in addition to taking 8-9 classes, it was just too much. I did everything I could to get out of the house—I became obsessed with working out, and got pretty skinny, but didn’t see it at the time and ended up abusing my body. My form of “dieting” was eating cabbage soup, or taking diet pills or worse. It was a bad environment, and I decided to leave. I showed up with three friends and moved my entire life out of her house in less than an hour.

I met Eric during all of this madness. We met on our birthday (twinzies) because our mutual friends took us to the same hookah cafĂ© that night. He could have sworn that we would never see eachother again, but being the fruitfly I was becoming…that wasn't an option. He was understanding, and dealt with the crazy that was rubbing off on me, and most importantly smacked me back into reality. He was one of the first friends I ever had that said “Sacha, you are being a bitch and can’t treat people like you have been.” The stress literally transformed my personality and I was turning into someone that I wasn’t, someone I never ever wanted to be. He helped me find who I really was again, and I will never forget that.

I moved in with him, without meeting his roommate Alberto, or Alberto’s parents, but as soon as I met them I fell in love. Alberto really brought a warm happiness to my life, introduced me to his wonderful friends, and his family was the long lost puerto rican family I never knew I needed in my life. He always tells me that I bring out the crazy in him. I would agree. I mean we did in fact dance with pillows to Frank Sinatra one night. We would have long conversations about the friendzone, life, the universe. We would watch movies and cry together because some movies "I just couldn't watch alone." 

Who you surround yourself with is extremely important to your well being. I couldn't of asked for better roommates. We are all three completely different people, but really completed eachother. Then of course there was Christa. She has been my everything this year. I think this has been the hardest semester of my life and she has always been there to help me clean up the mess I make of myself. I don't know what I would do without her or my current support system. 

Writing all of this has made me realize how much I have been through in college. I fought my way into this school, and will somehow work my way out. 

I have successfully dropped too many classes, fought with financial aid on a semesterly basis getting my way, recognized when things were toxic in my life and when I needed to escape, switched into the theater department and developed a wonderful bullshit detector and have learned how to treat people with respect--because if you can't even do that--you are going nowhere. Learned that not everyone will like you and that is okay. Learned that you do not have to like everyone, and that is also okay. 

I have learned that it is okay to ask for help, because you can't do everything on your own.  I have also learned not to rely on the kindness of other people--because what a stupid thing to do.

I have successfully started my own comedy show, and have SOMEHOW kept it alive, I have overcome a lot of self-hate, have gotten much better at improvisation--something I used to be absolutely horrendous at. I have slowly fixed my posture, have become more aware of my body and habits, have safely and successfully lost about 40 pounds, performed as much as possible, directed twice.

I have traveled the world. I taught in Italy two years in a row, went on a peace and love tour around Norway, met my father's best friend in Russia, experienced unbelievable theater in London and Berlin, watched the World-Cup in Amsterdam, volunteered on a healing garden in Denmark, and have met and kept in touch with some of the most amazing, open-minded individuals in the world. The 50,000 I have in debt doesn't seen that bad anymore, because school has given me these opportunities, that I would not have otherwise.  Most importantly, I think I am beginning to understand the difference between Pride and Egotism. I used to think it would be wrong of me to happy about everything I have done here, but I should be impressed and happy dammit! I still have a long way to go, but I am headed in the right direction. 

Candice, Ryan, Marissa, Lauren, Katie, Mike, Charlie, Amelia, Megan, Luke, Fernando, Eric, Alberto Christa...I don't know where I would be without you, or your words of encouragement. Probably not here, probably not in a good place--I am so incredibly lucky to have you all in my life. You are my family. 

I am incredibly grateful to be where I am. It's been such a life lesson, and challenge to have to support yourself fully through college. There was a point where I had three jobs, or had to donate plasma to get by. It has never been easy, and might not ever be easy. What is easy, is to take the time to stop,breathe, and be thankful for all of the amazing friends in your life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I graduate in less than a month

I can't say that this semester has been easy. I think I probably lost my mind more than once, and I apologize to all of those witnessing it, but I am thankful for you as well :) I don't know how I've made it this far--I've been way too much of a "Yes" man recently, and my plate is overflowing, but somehow I am making it through and happily creating some type of art. My last comedy show (in Gainesville) is coming up soon and I am both terrified and extremely excited. I have had writers block (that's a nicer way of saying trust issues with my creativity) for at least 6 months and consistently convinced myself that I couldn't write anything. You know, that "every idea is shit," phase. I guess I have a habit of putting myself down, however, I have busted out a few ideas/pieces that I am pretty happy with. I think it will be bittersweet to end my final semester with my best friends attempting to make people laugh. When I think back to our first show--it was a disaster behind the scenes. We were editing last minute. I didn't know what I was doing, (Do I even know now?) we never ran the show until opening night, and I swore that I would never do it again because I shaved about 6 years off my life from stress. Four shows later, we are still going strong. I'm starting to think that whatever you enjoy doing the most in life, as much as it might stress you out, and as much as you might beat yourself up over it, it's probably worth doing. Comedy has always been that thing for me. It's what keeps me going, and is probably what keeps me alive. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'm 24 and still a little girl

I thought it would get easier telling people you liked them as you get older--but it's quite the opposite. When you are younger you display affection by pushing boys off of swings, or yelling "I LOVE YOU," and running away. It used to be so simple! The biggest commitment you wanted was a valentine card, or getting chased occasionally on the playground. And then as you get older the fear of rejection lingers. I'm thinking to myself I'm 24 years old, and I feel like if I tell this person how I feel, the world will end. Right here and now. You know how in the old Zelda games, fire consumes the planet? Yeah? That's how I feel in this moment--I WOULD RATHER get engulfed in flames than talk about this. 

Oh god, oh god, oh god. Can I be 5 again? But I can't be five again. Is it weird that I'm listening to Chet Baker right now? Dramatic. Hey--I have to make myself laugh while I'm being a baby. Right?  

And isn't attraction odd? For me  humor just does it--if you make me laugh, I'm sold. I think it's one of the most important qualities in a person. It makes me feel like I've met one of several comedy soul mates--but sometimes they don't want to join you for the ride. It's like you're laughing at two different jokes, and when you realize it, it's awkward. 

Why do people have to date anyway? Couldn't we just live in world where everyone is in the friend-zone ? No one would be disappointed then. We would just nod at each other and say "Oh well." Actually--maybe everyone would jut be extremely sexually frustrated--you know scratch that--that kind of shit leads to war. 

Well the good news is---I'm not 5 again like I wished, that would be exhausting--I don't want to relive the last 19 years, and the world didn't engulf in flames. There's always something to be happy about. Sometimes you have to experience the fall.