Tag Archives: friends

….But You Gotta Have Friends (and Family)

imageSo I’m kind of an “independent woman,” whatever that means. Like I’ll go eat a meal by myself at a restaurant if I want to so I’m told that makes me independent. Whoop dee doo. And I like being like that. I like being able to say – hey, I’m going to hike to the top of that hill tomorrow morning, and then doing it. If someone wants to come with me, that’s awesome. If they don’t, that’s okay too.

Then I took this really long trip, and I was traveling mostly by myself for an extended period of time. Though I visited friends in all the cities that I traveled to, I spent a lot of time alone while my friends were working or while I was in between places.

Sometimes it was awesome, like when I discovered this secret park next to an Episcopalian church in downtown Charlotte on a Sunday afternoon. It was sunny outside and I just sat under a tree, ate an apple, and watched water coming from a fountain with a statue of St. Someone. Or when I was traveling on the night bus to Boston from D.C. and I was looking out the window at the signs all lit up as we were going through some random town, and I thought that I could do this forever, just never get off the bus and go through towns at night when they’re all deserted and that would be my life.

I did a ton of reflecting on the trip, which was great. How often do you get to flip back through the pages of your life and try to get some perspective on your own story and what it sounds like when you play it back? I’ve also had time to do some reflecting post-trip on the trip itself, which has also been good. In fact, I’m about done reflected out. So I realized something, and I think I’ve known it before, but I think I know it more viscerally now than I have.

Without my friends and family, my trip would have been pretty lame. Those relationships made everything worthwhile. Sure travel is awesome, but after a while it’s just you in a different city sitting at a different coffee shop and you’re wondering why you wanted to do this in the first place.

Before this trip I was seriously considering moving to New York or Chicago in a year, kind of to pursue acting and improv, but mostly because I felt like I was “done” with San Francisco and getting  bored here. Or I thought of moving to Portland or Austin or Asheville, anywhere to see something different, to be someone different. Then on my trip I saw a lot of places and recognized those kinds of thoughts for what they were: a chasing after the wind, an external solution to an internal problem, which was my fear of missing out on something “better” and my fear of commitment.

People, community and relationships are what give places depth. And community takes a while to build, and it can be difficult, and there’s a lot of fear. There’s always fear.

That said, I believe that community, relationships, and love are the best and highest pursuits in life. Without this, everything I do or want is empty, a chasing after the wind.

I am extremely grateful for my community and I feel undeserving of their support and love. My friends and family housed, clothed and fed me while I was traveling and I am lucky to have such incredible people in my life. I’m also extremely cognizant that I didn’t get here by myself, and by here I mean in San Francisco setting off to pursue dreams of improv and comedy and God knows what else.

At every piece of my journey, step for step, someone supported me. When I wanted to go out of state for college, my parents said “Right on.” When I went to Egypt, they were like, “You gotta do you.” When I got lonely or sad, my friends were like, “You’re going to make it.” When I moved to San Francisco, I stayed with my friends for almost two months without paying rent because I had no money. When I felt like I was failing because I wasn’t following my dreams, my then boyfriend had more faith in my abilities than I did. When I thought I couldn’t do it, my friends and family said that I could. I owe them more than I’ll ever be able to repay, and the thing is, they don’t expect me to.

This is the kind of love that no one deserves. I don’t know what the rest of my life holds for me, but I do know this: that I have been blessed beyond anything I could imagine, that love has fueled any kind of success I’ve had and that my claim on it is so small as to almost be negligible.

And I am also extremely conscious of the fact that so many other people have different stories than this. In place of love and support, they’ve had abuse and negligence. They’ve been told they couldn’t do it. They’ve been told they were unlovable and unworthy. They’ve been cut off from the kind of resources I’ve always had access to because of situations outside of their control.

So I look at my life and what I’ve been able to do, and I see now that I’ve been set up for success where others have been pushed towards failure. Like I said, I don’t know what my future holds but I want to live to see a different world, one where so much doesn’t depend on whose womb you come out of.

That’s what I want.

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Dear God I’m Becoming One of Those Crazy Dog People

imageThe only living thing I own besides the millions of bacteria in my gut is my plant Deb, who is a succulent. She prefers to be watered about once a month but can live forever without any moisture whatsoever, because she’s a badass. She’s not like other pets.

In contrast, Rosie – my sister’s dog who I’m taking care of for the weekend – needs to be watered daily, even multiple times a day. She’s an English Springer Spaniel puppy that is part demon, part beauty queen and completely adorable.

I’ve enjoyed spending time with her and cuddling with her and all of that, but I’ve noticed that I’ve taken on some of the more annoying mannerisms I see in “dog people,” the kinds of people who throw their pooches birthday parties and refer to themselves as the dog’s mom or dad, which I find disturbing. Here are some of the most pressing ones:

1. Referring to my sister and brother-in-law as Rosie’s parents i.e. “Rosie, do you miss mommy and daddy?”

2. Talking to Rosie is a high pitched sing song voice and saying thing like, “Rosie, do you see the birds? Do you know what a crow is? I bet you wish you could fly.”

3. Taking bad pictures of Rosie and then posting on social media.

4. Telling family both what you did during the day and everything that Rosie did and ate and how cute she was and wondering why they don’t care that much about Rosie.

5. Bragging about how pretty Rosie is at the dog park in an underhanded way. “Is that your dog? She’s beautiful!” “Yeah, Rosie’s my sister’s dog. I’m just the dog sitter, but yeah she is gorgeous. Purebred.”

6. Planning my day and life around the dog, avoiding staying out too late because I need to go back and give Rosie night cuddles.

7. Picking up dog poop and forgetting how disgusting / weird it is.

8. Thinking life with a dog is better than any other life that could possibly exist.

9. Feeling very proud for very small things, like if Rosie plays with another dog at the park, or does a good job fetching. Telling family members about her small accomplishments.

10. Obsessively try to get Rosie to make friends at the dog park and talk to her in that high sing song voice, “Rosie, go play with that dog! She’s the same size as you. Be friends!”

11. Talk to Rosie even when there are other humans around. Ignore the other humans.

12. Thinking Rosie and I have a spiritual connection that spans species and life expectancies.

All in all, it’s been fun. I’m not ready for a furry pet yet, but I’m sure I’ll overwhelm Deb with attention when I get back to SF next week. She’ll need strength.

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Oh great, more introductions

this is an icebreaker

We had part one of our orientation today, and for the first time almost all of us assembled and together we

attempted to absorb the mundane details of  the CASA program. To my great dissatisfaction, there was no formal introduction process. I was like “Come on, throw us an icebreaker or two.” Just because the majority of the people in the program are over 25 doesn’t mean we can’t get to know each other through excessively awkward games where we have to sit on each others’ laps and crawl through each others’ arms while introducing ourselves. I’ll suggest some games for tomorrow. My current line, “So you study Arabic?” isn’t as great as it could be.

Because of the lack of icebreakers, we left at around 4:00 after an incoherently planned orientation still unknowing of who exactly we are going to be dealing with for the rest of the year. They could be ax murders and I wouldn’t have the chance to get to them first.

The lunch was okay…I enjoyed the sweets and drank some kind of white juice. It wasn’t milk, and it wasn’t coconut. It may have been pear…more on this later.

On a different note: when walking through the market, one often happens upon cages filled with rabbits or chickens or pigeons. These are not pets, they are dinner. Sometimes when I see a bunny I want to yell “WHY FLUFFY WHY!” But I restrain myself and instead think about what a scene it would be if I brought one of those home and slaughtered it as a gift for my roommates. It’s a religious thing.

More o-tation tomorrow, but at the new campus out in the middle of the desert, about an hour commute outside of Cairo depending on the traffic. Apparently there’s a pool party afterwards, but I’m not going to it unless Pizza Hut is catering.

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At least we had the stuffed parrots

I’ll be honest. I’ve done nothing interesting for the past 48 hours, unless you count cooking dinner and going to a hotel bar interesting, in which case both you and I need to get out more.

The roomies and I made #lentilsoup last night and the tomatoes we used tasted like they came from the fields of heaven. It was like I had never tasted a tomato before. Every tomato will now turn to ash in my mouth as I remember the sweetness of the day my eyes were opened. But really, they were pretty good.

Afterwards, we went to the CASA fellow get together at the Happy City hotel rooftop lounge. They had done a fair job of wrapping the entire place in strands of lights, however, I only counted three that were actually functional. This slight fault was made up for by the strategically placed stuffed parrots hanging from the ceiling. There were also things that looked eerily similar to precious moments figurines, but alas, they were of a different make.

One of our critical mistakes of the evening was not eating the #lentilsoup we had made, since we thought there were going to be free appetizers which could easily turn into #freedinner. The free appetizers turned out to be a lone bowl of beans and so we simply drank dinner (beer)/starved until we got some late night Egyptian t-bell before going to bed. It was fun. We talked a little about jelly beans.

There will be more adventures later on, I think. I suggested going to the pyramids last night for an illicit after-curfew excursion but there was hesitation for some reason. I was like, “I’ll bring my saber so it’s not like safety will be an issue.” But there were no takers. And then I screamed, “No really, I have a freakin’ saber right here,” and I whipped it out of my purse but everyone got all weirded out. People can be strange.

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No boys allowed part 2

The apartment hunting process was stressful to say the least. Not only was there intense pressure to find somewhere to live, we were also completely thrown to the wolves regarding the entire endeavor. When we (I and my roommates) set out today, we had the names of a few brokers we had gotten from random people and places and only a vague idea of what we were looking for. We took the Metro to Doqqi and met up with our first broker, who marched us through the sun, us huffing and puffing behind him as he glided with disdain through the middle of the streets in the face of oncoming traffic. As soon as we walked into the building and I could see way too many wires in the ceiling, I knew there was going to be a problem. Sure enough, the apartment he showed us appeared to be oozing dust and decay. I set my hand down on the railing in the stairwell and when I picked it up it was covered in soot or something equally difficult to remove. Gross.

We left feeling defeated and option-less since all 47 CASA fellows were using the same sources to get housing. Luckily, after sitting in a neighborhood coffee shop for literally 3 hours, we got a call from another broker we had contacted. He came and met us at the coffee shop and brought us to an apartment he had found, which instantly felt a hundred times better than the previous place. I didn’t feel like coughing would bring down a ton of drywall. I felt a shower there would both be feasible and make me a cleaner person.

We all liked the apartment, but in the end, we went with a very similar place upstairs in the same building since we would be able to do a short term contract. The lady we talked to, our neighbor who is also the niece of the owner of the apartment, was very nice, spoke English well, and had two adorable boys. But she was also a very firm lady, who knew exactly what she wanted. And she did not want any men coming into our apartment. “You will not be able to bring your boyfriends here,” she said. Our romantic state with any gentlemen callers wasn’t the issue…it was the fact they were men.

Unfortunately, this is not unusual in Egypt. People are a little conservative, a little nosey. And this is annoying, but at the same time, we liked the apartment, and we were not willing to have this be a deal breaker. So, the end game is that we will be imposing on the hospitality of our guy friends (which we don’t technically have yet) in order to host any events we might have otherwise had in our apartment.

I also petted a puppy today.

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