Finding Motivation

Taps mic–“Ahem–IS THIS THING ON?!”

It’s been a while, you guys, I know, but I figured as the holiday season nears, why not dust off the old blog?

Where to begin?

Actually, where did I leave off? Oh yeah–I was exiled in NYC, working on the Upper West Side commuting from the Lower East Side, wallowing in self-pity (and daily torrential downpours).

I’ve been back in LA for months, working hard for the money, and making the futile effort to get my life together. Once I reasoned that that takes time, I allotted some leeway for this thing called “having fun and being social”. I’ll catch you up on all of those things I’ve been up to as time goes on, but I wanted to write this blog (aptly titled) about how I’ve recently been finding ways to kick myself in the pants and actually DO SOMETHING besides day dream about when I’ll be a filthy rich housewife.

Here are some of my rituals to get the old Think Tank chugging along:

First things first. Breathe. So easy–anyone alive can do it. Literally, if you’re alive, you’re doing it.

You’re on your way to greatness, Champ.

If you’re not breathing, you probably aren’t alive which means you’re probably not reading this. If you ARE alive and you AREN’T breathing but you ARE reading this–seek medical help.

Second. Make lists. Lots of them.

  • Make lists of things you need to do;
  • Make lists of financial goals;
  • Make lists of goals you want to accomplish by the end of the week:
    • the month,
    • the year,
    • two years,
    • go CRAZY and get that 5 year plan going;
  • Make lists of whatever it is you enjoy making lists out of–just do it, because it feels pretty darn productive and gives you a visual THING to hold yourself accountable.

Third. Budget your time. Look at all of those lists and decide when and where in your free time you can squeeze in each individual assignment. The key, here, is to try and be as realistic as possible.

Lastly, and this is honestly my MOST FAVORITE motivator: try and look at your life from the viewpoint of YOURSELF, but 5 years ago. For me, it’s thinking back to 2009 Short and Feisty:

I was a first semester college senior dealing with a new diagnosis for my anxiety & panic issues while navigating the dissolution of several friendships, struggling through some precarious housing struggles, gaining newer (read: healthier) friendships, and JUST TRYING TO MAKE IT TO MAY AND GRADUATION-CAN-YOU-PLEASE-CUT-ME-SOME-SLACK-UNIVERSE?!

I knew that the following year, I wanted to become a live-in nanny in DC to pay off my student loans (which I did end up doing and I did end up paying off a large chunk in those 1.5 years) while doing acting on the side (which I did not get to do). I already had my sights set on NYC or LA, though I had no clue how I would get there with no money, a 20 year old car I’d purchased from my neighbor for $300, and not a connection to my name (I took out a loan, which I paid back almost as soon as I got to LA, I bought a new car from the money I made nannying in DC, and I’m now in LA with both friends, friends that feel like family, and a few genuinely good connections to the industry which I hope to make work for me sooner rather than later). I’d started writing a blog during this time (one that I’ve now abandoned for this shinier, newer model) that eventually helped spark my love of writing (that’s just plain ironic since I was already an English major–you’d think writing as a career would’ve crossed my mind once or twice by then).

In short: I wasn’t in a good place, but my sights were set on the future. THAT’S what kept me struggling through papers, that’s what helped me side-line the drama, that’s what made me actually want to wake up the next day and toil through what had become a monotonous cycle of school, sleep, clubs, school, sleep, clubs, etc.


I like to think that if 2009 Me were able to catch a glimpse of what 2014 Me was doing, she’d probably end up sobbing uncontrollably.

You know, “the ugly cry” kind of cry.

I just think she’d be so incredibly relieved to find out that:

“Hey! We’re doing ok! More than that, we’re still moving forward. We’re still chasing that dream, we haven’t thrown in the towel. We’re still working our butt off and not making excuses. We’re holding down a stable job and supporting ourself, we’re blazing a path to living debt-free, and best of all WE ARE NOT HOMELESS LIVING IN A CARDBOARD BOX ON THE STREETS OF NYC/LA!”

Albert-Einstein-Quote-Happy-Life

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From Out of the Rain, a Bit of Sunshine–

It had been an arduous day for the nanny–one filled with refereeing sibling wars and healing boo boos with ice packs shaped like teddy bears.

She walked the half mile to the subway station, readying herself for the 40 minute commute back to her apartment on the other side of town.

Her first train ride was relatively uneventful, save for the various and sundry commuters bumping into her as she attempted to squeeze out a small space to fit her body while the car jostled along down the track.

As she made her transfer for the second leg of her journey, the next train slowly creeped into the station.

“This does not bode well,” she remarked as she was bum-rushed from the platform into the railcar.

What would have been a 20 minute journey soon turned into 35 minutes of slowly chugging along the underground pathway. She was lucky enough to get a seat–but then she realized that this put her face in prime location for a milieu of butts for a view.

“I hope these people don’t give into the urge to fart,” she prayed silently.

As she arrived at her station, the Nanny stepped onto the platform, climbed the first selection of stairs, and stopped dead in her tracks. The landing leading to the second staircase was flooded with grotty looking water. The travelers descending the stairs were quickly closing umbrellas, shaking the water from them before they stowed them in backpacks and purses.

The Nanny realized that she’d just encountered another cultural difference between Los Angelenos and New Yorkers–it’s customary to always be prepared for inclement and unpredictable weather in the latter. In the former, precipitation happened maybe once every few months.

She exited the subway and entered the rain logged street scene before realizing she was close to a sporting goods store.

One long line of customers making similar purchases and $26 later, she was armed with an umbrella.

“Geeze,” she exhaled, “the cab ride home from work would’ve been cheaper than the umbrella.”

She was just about to begin to list the things she hated about the city, the fact that she hadn’t chosen to attend this sojourn into the wild concrete jungle (it was, after all, a requirement of her job), about to dwell upon the fact that she missed her apartment and her friends back West–

BUT–

She looked around her and saw all of the different umbrellas and was reminded of a video she once saw, where two umbrellas meet and fall in love–and she perked up a bit before continuing her trek home.

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NYC Adventures: Books of Wonder

It’s my first full day off in 14 days (FOURTEEN DAYS) and I’m starting it off by writing a blog for you people. Because I love you and truly want you to come along with me on this whirlwind adventure in NYC.

And also I wake up insanely early and there’s nothing else to do because 1) Everyone is at work or 2) People who don’t work day jobs aren’t up yet (it’s 7am EST, btw).

I went to a really cool place, one in which I had a hard time extricating myself due to the massive amounts of awesome sucking me into the building.

First, a little background:

Due to the fact that I am a second child (outpaced by my older sister by a span of 16 months) I spent a significant amount of my childhood playing “catch-up”. I needed to prove to the world that I could do anything she could do and that included teaching myself to read by the age of 4.

From then on, if I had a choice in where my family spent a leisurely Saturday or Sunday, it was always one of two places: the public library or Barnes and Noble. I dragged my mom and my sister to both places, though I can bet my mom was less pleased with the effect of B&N on her purse. “HURRY UP” was often yelled by both as I sat strewn across the floor with a number of volumes in my lap.

The cool thing about being an adult (one of the only cool things since, largely, adulthood stinks) is being able to spend as much time as I want, anywhere that I want.

I remembered seeing a crowd-funding effort by an independent children’s bookstore in NYC a few years ago and knew I wanted to check it out.

I was not disappointed–Books of Wonder offers a massive amount of board books, picture books, middle grade and YA selections, workbooks–anything and everything geared toward the literary desires of young humans. Most of the picture books were also signed by the authors and illustrators, to boot!

photo-15

Off to the far left corner of the shop stood the rare and antique selection of books, these costing an insane amount of money. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie “You’ve Got Mail” while perusing this section. Meg’s character owns an independent children’s book store called “Shop Around the Corner” which houses a selection of antique and rare finds. Tom Hank’s character Joe Fox (Eff-Oh-Ex), the owner of a bargain books chain store, talks to one of the indie shop assistants, George, about the enormous expense of the rare book:

George: The, uh, illustrations are hand tipped.

Joe: And that’s why it costs so much?

George: No, that’s why it’s Worth so much.

**Obviously, value is in the eye of the beholder.**

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books behind those few panes of glass.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books behind those few panes of glass.

It was thrilling to see such monetary value assigned to simple ink and paper–the thought of one day penning a novel that could accrue what amounts to a yearly income for someone was mind blowing.

I knew I’d be seeing one of my all-time favorites counted among the stacks:

1st Edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone signed by J.K. Rowling and with the signature of the illustrator, Mary GrandPré laid in-- $8,500

1st Edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone signed by J.K. Rowling and with the signature of the illustrator, Mary GrandPré, laid in– $8,500

Such simple stories by A.A. Milne have become classics over time and the price of these editions confirm it:

Complete set of "Pooh" books-- $8,500

Complete set of “Pooh” books– $8,500

Many of the volumes sheltered from sticky fingers and the elements were worth more than what I am paying for my college education:

"A New Wonderland" by L. Frank Baum from a private collection of an Oz historian in a dust jacket-- $45,000

“A New Wonderland” by L. Frank Baum from a private collection of an Oz historian in a dust jacket– $45,000

One of my nanny kid’s birthdays is quickly approaching and so, after an hour…or maybe 2…I wrenched myself from the stacks, paid for my selection (signed by the author and illustrator), and stepped out into the harsh light of the city sun.

Even now I tick through the amount of free time I may have and wonder when I can go back and spend my life’s savings in such an inspirational place.

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How to Survive a Trip on the NYC Subway

A few of my loyal readers (thanks to the 6 of you) may remember a tale I told not long ago that took place in a popular hoagie store.

It seems like I can’t get away from intriguing subway incidents–this time, though, the new location is NYC and occurs several feet underground. Let me share with you my best advice to getting from point A to point Z on this particular mode of public transportation.

You wouldn’t think that riding an underground train would be so arduous: you swipe a card, board a train, get off of the train.

Au contraire, gentle reader.

Descend the 200 stairs to the entry level of the sweltering hot station.

Before you board, you have to get the actual ticket to get you through the turnstile. This either requires human interaction, should there be a booth in your particular stop with an actual human person in it, or some finagling with a machine that gives far too many options. Thankfully, being a child of this modern generation, the machine isn’t too difficult to navigate–opt for that. Do it quickly and make sure no one is hovering close enough to steal your purse/ticket/credit card while doing the transaction (this is key as predators can smell a rookie from a mile away).

Next, proceed through the turnstile and get it right the first time. Most are normal turnstiles like you’d encounter in a theme park–those are the easy ones. But you may be faced with a monstrosity like this:

Medieval torture device or entrance to the subway?

and then you have to make sure you’re as close to the entrance as possible or someone trying to EXIT while you ENTER will take your swipe. You can’t simply re-swipe your card, though. You have to wait something like 15 minutes or proceed to the next nearest station. Been there, done that.

Next, you have to make sure you arrive at the platform going in the correct direction (either uptown or downtown) and I swear to you that, in a number of circumstances, finding Platform 9 3/4 would be easier.

There are many a colorful character on the subterranean level of NYC and I advise you not to approach them at all or make any sudden movements. Avoid eye contact. Don’t even smile (because a true New Yorker won’t return it, anyway). If you do happen to break one of these rules, you may end up seeing what appears to be an older homeless man dressed like a priest click his heels and then walk behind you and check out your hiney.

Ew. Gross. Yep, it happened. 

Now, you must realize that waiting for your train is a tedious game that I haven’t enjoyed playing in the least. Most of the stations don’t have any signs to indicate when the next train will be arriving. Several people think it’s a good idea to LEAN INTO THE ACTUAL PIT of the station to see if there is a moving train barreling down the corridor. Guess what–people die this way every single year. Last year, well over 100 people were struck and at least 53 people DIED. Sure, some were suicide attempts, some were pushed by lunatics (see: SPOILER ALERT–House of Cards), but most were people accidentally leaning over the edge and falling in.

What a way to go. Your own stupidity sentenced you to death. Curiosity killed the cat–and the subway commuter.

Your train finally arrives, you’ve survived it pulling into the station, and you rapidly climb through the sliding doors hoping that they don’t close in the 10 seconds they usually remain open. If a seat isn’t taken, you plop down and try to contract all of your limbs into your torso so you’re not touching the (inevitably) obese person next to you that happens to be spilling into your seat–which is already pretty tiny. This is not because you don’t want to touch them because they repulse you (they’re perfectly nice humans, I’m sure); rather, because you think making contact with anyone else without their express permission is rude–even in tight quarters.

If there are no seats, you grab on to the nearest pole (infested with the germs of over 8 million people) and try not to fall over as the train jerks in every conceivable direction.

NOTE: the subway is not for people that like to daydream or easily zone out (ie it’s not for me). Because you may find yourself missing your stop at 59th Street on what you think is a local train and then end up at the next stop: 125 Street–66 blocks away from your missed stop because it magically has become an express train.

But you’re not a scatter brain so you get off at the right stop and head through those quickly closing doors and realize that there are several exits. Some lead you to other trains that you can transfer to (as there are multiple lines connecting all over the width and breadth of NYC). Others will lead to the street level–but which one is situated on the corner  you need it to be? Are you going NW, SE, or maybe you’re looking for a particular street on which to exit.

Now comes the ascent up 50 million stairs that’ll have your calves screaming for mercy after your first trip.

Why not take the elevator?

Because if a station has an elevator, you’ll probably have to wait 10 minutes for it (as they are all impossibly slow) or end up inside stranded, and alone, with a panhandler who has you trapped for the duration of the trip north.

I hope you brought change.

Walk up the steps, try not to hyperventilate at the excessive amounts of exercise, and breathe in the sweet smell of garbage and dog pee–you’ve reached your NYC destination.