Darlings of the Internet!
If you, at any point, were a “regular” reader of my blog, you may have noticed that my posts slowed to a trickle after moving to Washington, DC.
Well, Cat, you may have thought, amiably. You settled down in one place. You weren’t careening all over the face of the planet, having wild adventures. It’s ok, I forgive you for not updating your blog for awhile.
And I would say, NO, darling reader, NO. That’s not why I stopped writing. I stopped writing because my life after Asia back in the United States SUCKED for two effing years.
There I said it.
Think back to May 2015. I had just zipped around Asia in less than three months, visiting 10 countries. I felt so powerful and energetic, like I could do anything. I would just say X and have X happen. I honestly thought at the time, God, really, God, if I had the great misfortune to die on this trip, I would DIE HAPPY knowing that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing at this time.
(Up at 4am for sunrise at Angkor Wat, having a religious moment with the thousands of people also there with me. So. Happy. I. Could. Die.)
Then I moved to Washington, DC and I became afraid for my life.
My all consuming thoughts for two years were: I’m running out of money. I am not going to be able to pay the bills. I need to find a job so I can make money and live. I was in complete survival mode.
I worked one temp position after another for about three months at a time. Heck, at some point I even got a “real job” and then got let go at the end of the three month trial period.
It was bad.
But it shouldn’t have been surprising. That trip around Southeast Asia, waking up at whatever hour I wanted (and I’m crazy so that meant early), gazing at awe inspiring sights, eating fresh fruits and wild delicacies, engaging with something new and unknown everyday… it changes a person.
A day at the office to work at a computer, filling out spreadsheets, one day after another… I had come back to the US trying to fit into my old life (even in a new place) and I couldn’t do it anymore.
And that freaked me the fuck out.
Somewhere, deep in the brain meats, I was still supposed to turn out a certain way. I was supposed to get a proper desk job, dammit. I was supposed to work at a foreign policy international relations whatever, doing admin work, doing research, doing policy recommendations, working on hunger/health care/immigration/the environment or the political relations of the United States and the Republic of Korea.
But how the hell were you supposed to do that? Internships, right? But most of those are unpaid and only open to “recent or current college students.” Besides, I was an adult, I’d been paid before– I did not want to go back to interning. Networking made me feel manipulative, like I only cared about people so that I could use them to get a job. So gross, I couldn’t do it. (Spoilers: I know networking does not actually involve manipulating people– it only feels like that if you do it from an insincere place… which I totally was.)
Really, the dirty secret is and was… I already knew what I wanted to do.
It was a matter of being willing to do it and be about it.
And the last two years have largely been characterized by my sheer unwillingness to do it and be about it. THIS HAS COST ME A LOT. A lot of money. A lot of happiness. The stress has done a number on my physical health and my relationships.
What was the turning point? Was it the Communications: Access to Power course in February where I had to start dealing with the fact that if I just relaxed and stopped thinking the worst was going to happen, it wouldn’t happen, in fact really really good things could happen if I just let them? Was it when I broke off my long distance relationship and swore I was never going to do that to myself (and other people) again? Was it getting let go from the so-called “real job” a few hours after thinking to myself “I can do anything! So… why am I doing this???”? Was it quitting the second year of the Team, Management and Leadership Program, not once, but twice, when I finally said EFF this, this is not working for me, I gotta get my life back together, peace out? Was it finally getting so sick of constantly running out of money, feeling so stressed my entire upper body is deformed, hiding from my DC friends because how embarrassing is it to be broke, intermittently unemployable, and so so needy?
I’m doing that thing I hate when other people do it: being dramatic. Eh, fuck it, I’m dramatic.
For my 29th birthday, I created my 40th birthday, 11 years into the future: world famous, happy, healthy, rich, prolific, thought-provoking, confident and sexy as hell artist. Filmmaker, actress. Ragingly popular television show host. Sometime dancer, singer, painter to boot. World traveler. Wife and mother. (Ask me about my husband sometime: no, still haven’t met him, but I have a pretty good idea what kind of effing beautiful human being he is. Well, of course, he has to be able to go toe to toe with me. In tango– it takes two to win this couple sport.)
I got reconnected to my soul and it wanted color and art and culture and people and such things of beauty that would make you gasp, shudder, and jiggle down to your little atoms.
I revamped my entire life to fulfill on my destiny. In May, I told my friend Wayne that I’d pay him $500 if I ever took another office temp job. In June, I started a job at Trader Joe’s.
I could talk about how I make less money for less hours at TJ’s compared to my last office temp job… but the difference is life and death. Instead of driving myself to distraction in front of a computer screen for 7-8 hours everyday, I get to run around a store, organizing things while singing or dancing to music. The rest of my time is spent talking either to co-workers about anime or chatting to customers about whether they got everything they needed (and everything they didn’t know they needed) that day.
I just get to be a totally different person and I LOVE THE PERSON I GET TO BE NOW ABOUT A MILLION TIMES BETTER. There’s a financial gap to deal with, but it’s… a financial gap.
And most of the rest of my life is devoted to bringing about this amazing television show about the international community in Washington, DC with my amazing team. And whatever other art projects my brain could dream up. (And my brain will dream up a gazillion art projects if you let it: a Shakespeare summer workshop. A production of TITUS ANDRONICUS. Several films in cities on different coasts. God help me.)
So finally, FINALLY, after an agonizing lost-in-the-woods two years that are now in the past, I am back in line with my purpose. I am so present to the fact that this is what I came to DC to do. This is what I was born to do.
THIS IS SO EXCITING I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENS NEXT BUT IT’S GOING TO BE GREAT