It feels like every planet imaginable is in retrograde, and I broke a mirror while walking under a ladder with a black cat in front of me. The apartment of my dreams slipped through my fingers, and I don’t know where I’m going to live in a week. While the prices of living in LA constantly make me feel like I need to get a “real” job or sugar daddy ASAP, the stubborn free spirit within screams, “ I LIKE FREEDOM AND BABY FACES!”
As some of you may recall, about six weeks ago I said I was going to change my life. Through meditation, affirmations and self discipline, I was determined to improve myself and my life. Well, so much for that. To be fair, I had many triumphs during that time, especially with insights on my relationships and setting boundaries. However, this last week shit hit the fan and it’s time for changing my life take 2…. Or take 973,694,761.
So, what went wrong? Nothing. Everything is as it should be. Yet, it feels like absolute SHIT. Why? Maybe because comedians love to suffer on the DL? idk. In all seriousness, I feel like a big part of my work in this lifetime is self mastery. The ADHD, depression, anxiety, addictions, and plethora of other goodies my hand was dealt in this lifetime, is really a royal flush.
It’s like getting socks for Christmas from Santa. When you’re a kid you’re like “God damnit why the fuck did Santa go to Costco for these off white socks when I asked for a slutty Bratz Doll??” Then, years later, you get socks and smile while the Bratz doll would have gotten a buzz cut and thrown in the trash years ago.
This is my path, and my sensitive bitch ass will find my success no matter how many takes I need. I will find my success because of these challenges I move though. They are not here to try to stop me, but to heal me. These obstacles are opportunities for the self mastery I was designed to experience and transcend. Take 2 (or 973,694,761) starts now.
At the time, I had my imaginary chefs hat on while preparing breakfast for the dogs I was taking care of for the week. I swear, it takes more time to prepare their meals than my own.
I glanced down when I saw my phone light up.
“Panna left the planet last night. He is free. I’m on phone with Dan now.”
I went from Gordon Ramsey to Forrest Gump as I raced to feed the dogs.
As soon as I could get my hands free, I responded.
I didn’t know what else to say.
I wanted to keep it positive so my dad didn’t think he just lost his father and his daughters mind in the same morning.
On my way down the stairs I left a voice memo to my friend, Lily, to update her on my ever changing, ridiculous life.
I then sent out a generic but sincere “I love you” text to my mom, dad, Uncle Dan, and sister, while I laid down on the couch. That’s where I am now, processing the last 10 minutes of my life.
I only got emotional towards the end of my voice memo to Lily, while thinking about what an incredible, funny, beautiful soul, just finished his time on Earth.
I’m surprised how I’m feeling, but it’s probably not why you think.
For years now, I was certain that at the news of my grandfathers inevitable passing, I would feel a certain type of way. Guilty.
Not the guilty feeling you get when you see someone has something in their teeth and you watch them walk away as your question your morals. I mean the guilt that stays with you for years.
Guilt for not calling more. Guilt for not making more of an effort to spend time with him. Guilt for not asking more questions about his extraordinary, inspiring life. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
So the fact that I don’t feel that emotion right now is beyond me.
If I could describe how I’m feeling right now, the first thing that would come to mind is tired if I’m being completely honest.
I also feel annoyed, but that’s because of a boy. When are boys not annoying though? They have the emotional intelligence of one of the dogs I’m watching after, that eats its own shit, tries to swallow rocks, and bumps into walls. 72% serious. Maybe I just need to start talking to different men. That’s besides the point.
The main feeling I have in regards to the passing of my grandfather is peace. Peace for his sake. He’s free, and I’m happy for him. His biggest fear was death, but I believe it to be a blessing for him. At 96 years old, he could only do so much more living. In fact, at that point it was more existing than living.
I feel gratitude. He was such a cool dude (my grandfather, not the boy I’m annoyed with) and so many of my talents I give him credit for. He was a standup comedian, voiceover actor, and followed his passions while bringing joy and laughter constantly to those around him.
I hope to follow in his footsteps, not his posture. Too soon to be making jokes? I think he would have laughed.
Lastly I feel relief. Not only for him as I mentioned before, but for myself! I spent so much time abroad worrying about my grandfather leaving this planet and me being swamped with guilt.
How ironic that my last moments by his side, I sang to him “Guilty” by Billy Holiday.
I don’t feel guilt. I feel growth.
I’ve come a long way. I know we all do the best we can and I am no exception to that. Yes, I wish I did do more with him, but there’s no point in feeling guilty. I’m worthy of feeling good and having a good life, guilt free, just as my grandfather would wish. So was he. So are you.
I’m happy that I give myself permission to witness my grandfather transition with ease, not guilt.
After the heartache, the mess, and the challenges that occurred two days ago, I’m feeling the light breeze from my open windows, thinking to myself “I needed that.” Seems bizarre considering a few days ago, what I thought I needed was a therapist and a sedative. To be fair, I probably still need both.
Rewind to one of my first weeks as a LA native. I open up an unread message in my DMs on instagram that I had been ignoring for days.
I read “Hey there I think we had a little chat on okc about your mesmerizing eyes and smile haha How are you?”
I told him I’m not on the dating app much, and gave him my instagram. I didn’t think he would actually send a message. He created an instagram account just to talk to me, which gave me some serious serial killer vibes.
Initially, he seemed like the type of guy that would send me a random friend request on Facebook and I’d think, “What in the no mutual friends do you want from my life?”
Then, foolishly accept the request, only to receive daily cringy messages and maybe an unsolicited dick pic.
He’s Israeli. Dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes, and a bright smile. He had been working at a summer camp in California, and was spending his final month traveling America until his flight back to Israel.
Eventually, my judgments of him being a creepy serial killer faded. I knew that we would have a good time if we met up, so we did.
We met at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I wasn’t nervous. I was happy to have good company in this new city.
When I first saw him crossing the street, I wanted to take him shopping so he could buy a new wardrobe. His jeans weren’t doing it for me. However, that’s not my job. He can call Queer Eye for the Straight Guy if he wants help.
Instead, we walked up and down the outlandish crowds and buildings on Hollywood Blvd. We talked, laughed, and teased each other until the California sun inspired us to take a seat at a table in the shade.
After 45 more minutes of fun in no sun, a man who had been sitting next to us walked over with the wrapper to his sandwich, and a nearly empty soda.
“Sorry to interrupt, but I overheard your conversation. I just had to say, you guys have such amazing chemistry! It’s beautiful.” The stranger said to us with a smile.
That moment my friends, encapsulated our connection that day, and week to follow. However, that connection didn’t last forever.
He spent the following week traveling with his pack of Israeli friends. All the while, texting me all day, and FaceTiming with me every night. He would tell me daily how much he missed me and thought about me. I generally don’t miss people, but I pretended I did because I liked him.
He came back to LA early just to spend his final week with me at my apartment. *Insert dramatic impending doom music here*
We had completely different ideas of how we wanted to spend our week together. I wanted to explore the city. Maybe walk to the Hollywood sign, or take a trip to the beach. I thought about going to new restaurants or a bar in Hollywood.
He wanted to stay at the apartment all day, eat ramen in bed, and get his dick sucked. Our differences became more obvious each day.
On the fourth day, we were laying in bed, once again.
He put down his phone and said, “Change of plans. I’m going to spend my last few days with my friend in Pomona.”
I instantly felt a rush of emotions. Old trauma of abandonment issues and unworthiness began to bubble up within. I looked over, confused.
“Okay.” I said as I rolled over to face the window.
I couldn’t fathom having a conversation with the aching in my chest. I knew if he liked me the way he did before, he never would have wanted to leave.
After about 45 seconds he asked “How are you feeling?”
He knew something was wrong because my mouth usually doesn’t stay quiet for that long.
“Sad.” I said, as my eyes began to tear.
I could have played it off like I didn’t care, but I didn’t want to.
I didn’t want to act like a little bitch to make him feel bad. I wanted to feel my aching heart so I could give it the space, love, and attention it was desperately searching for.
I let myself cry. Yes, in front of him. I wasn’t about to shove my feelings down and not give myself the opportunity to heal because of some 24 year old, ugly jean wearing dude.
I wasn’t Kim Kardashian’s ugly crying face sad. My eyes filled with tears, and in between my wavering words, I sniffled.
“I can’t see you like this.” He picked up his phone to book an uber instead of staying one more night.
He continued “Look, I’m just a 24 year old….”
“This isn’t about you.” I interrupted.
“I’m not mad at you. This is not about you. This is old shit coming up for me.” It felt good to say.
I selfishly didn’t want him thinking he was that special. He wasn’t. We had a special connection, but he definitely was giving himself far too much credit.
I had a line of guys out the door waiting for him to leave so they could see me. If he thought all my eggs were in his basket, he was sadly mistaken.
He did not create this feeling of unworthiness. He was the catalyst for this trapped trauma to resurface and, with my willingness, heal.
This was not about him. This was my father leaving when I was a child. This was my first and biggest crush choosing to be with someone else. This was me, looking myself in the mirror every day as a kid thinking “You’re not good enough.”This was me, taking a knife to my body in middle school, and developing additions to cope in high school, because I wanted to escape the internal pain rather than face it and transcend the trauma.
Wasn’t expecting this to get so dark, but here we are. Don’t worry, it lightens up.
I acknowledged that it wasn’t about him and I did nothing wrong. Ever.
This is life. I am worthy of a good one. My worthiness is not dependent on the actions or feelings of others.
I let myself feel all of the past pain, and gave it the space to exist without judgement.
By the time the uber arrived, my tears and aches passed.
I’ll never forget the sad look in his eyes when we hugged goodbye. I made a lighthearted joke which I can’t remember now. Then, with a smile, I turned around to leave his sight for the last time.
We haven’t spoken since and I’m genuinely fine with it. I truly believe he was brought into my life to help me heal, and help both of us grow in profound ways.
…But for fucks sake, I was only the second person he had ever been with romantically. I should have at least gotten a written thank you card after all I taught him, if you ask me.
Jokes aside, I didn’t expect it would end this way. I will say, when it’s all said and done, I am beyond grateful for how things played out.
Sometimes the experiences that feel bad, are the ones that bring you what you are needing the most.
My first comedy open mic in LA, reminded me of the expectations vs reality of a middle school dance. You’re pumped and get all glammed up, but once you’re there, you feel awkward, are afraid to talk to the boys, and forget how to dance.
It all started by finding the location of a LA open mic online. I showed up early to secure a spot on stage. The only other person there was a guy who is the definition of a California surfer bro.
He had bleach blonde hair that looked like it hadn’t been brushed in weeks, a baggy shirt, and talked like Totally Kyle from Nickelodeon. 10 minutes later, another guy showed up saying the open mic was not happening, and we were given the location of another one close by.
I show up to the new location alone, in a sketchy part of town, and asked the first person I saw where the open mic was.
He shrugged and said “Down that alley maybe?”
His response sounded as promising as an intoxicated sorority girl trying to put together a piece of Ikea furniture. I trusted him anyways.
As I turned the corner to proceed down the dark alley, I thought… “Well, if this is where I die, at least I gave this thing called life a pretty good run.”
I saw a small crowed of men outside an open door and instantly felt like I got another 50 to 60 years added back onto my life.
After signing up for a spot, I looked around to start introducing myself and befriend some fellow comedians.
This however, is LA, and apparently the whole socializing thing is different in this part of town. Every time I made eye contact with one of the guys, they would look away as if it was a mistake.
My new surfer friend showed up, and as he approached I said “We made it!”
I’m aware I could have said something cooler, but I was just happy to talk to a person who didn’t seem afraid or too good for me.
Almost instantly, another guy approached surfer dude and asked him how he was while completely ignoring my existence.
“I’m good too, thanks for asking.” I said, playfully.
I then introduced myself. Whatever the opposite of love at first site is, was how I felt about him. Noted: We will not be friends.
I walk into the comedy club. It looked cool esthetically, yet I felt cold. The energy was dense. Although I wasn’t nervous at that point, I was uncomfortable.
No-one seemed mean, but they didn’t seem particularly nice either. I had been warned about the cutthroat entertainment industry in LA, and now I felt it.
Fast forward to me moments before I was called on stage. My breathing started to speed up and I could feel my heart beat under my black, strapless, velvet dress. Was I overdressed? Yes. Did it look cute though? Also yes.
I felt nervous which is unusual for me before a show, but given my current state of being, it made sense. Once I grabbed the mic, I calmed down because the stage is my second home. Yet, twice on stage I forgot what I was going to say, which has almost never happened to me before! I covered it up well, but it left me shook.
Not to my surprise, I didn’t receive the positive response I’m used to getting. It also didn’t help that the guy directly in front of me smiled as much as a Russian man who ran out of alcohol before he got a buzz. I brushed my shoulders off, and went outside shortly after my set.
Here’s where it starts to get good.
I went back into the alley and began talking with a cute model/actor boy. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a smile that would melt any heart. That said, his personality wasn’t enough to keep him around, even though he asked for my number and tried to see me this weekend. Mild flex, but I’m proud that I still got it at 30 years old.
Here’s where it gets better!
I didn’t let my uncomfortable and underwhelming first open mic prevent me from attending a different open mic the following day. Persevering is powerful!
The next day, I had a successful and well received performance and met much more welcoming comedians.
My first open mic toughened my skin and the second one softened my heart. Your past experiences don’t dictate your future ones. Life will make you stronger if you let it!
My heart felt dense. I was a half naked hot mess, sprawled on my bed like a deformed starfish. I took a deep breath. I was trying to be zen as fuck but feeling just fucked. Not literally fucked, because I would be happy if I was actually getting laid.
“What now?” I thought.
Have you ever felt like your world was falling apart and into place at the same time? It’s happening to me RIGHT NOW! I’ve lived in Vietnam for nearly two years, and they’re sick of me. My visa fell apart and I have to leave the life I’ve created behind, like now. If I hear one more person ask me to explain what’s going on with the immigration office, I might migrate my head into a wall. Anyways, I digress.
I was backpacking the world indefinitely, on my own, before I landed in Vietnam. I barely ever knew where I’d be sleeping the next night, or what country I’d be in the following month. Life couldn’t have been more unpredictable, but I loved it. I loved it because I was letting life take me on a journey of freedom and fun.
Now that this indefinite journey is leading me to back to my home country, I’m feeling like I need to have it all figured out as soon as I land. Of course, travel taught me to embrace the opposite: I have to let life take me for a ride and be open and willing enough to put one foot in front of the other.
Truth is, this is all happening for me not to me. Truth is, this is an exciting new journey that will no doubt make me evolve beyond anything I could have imagined. It’s not my job to figure it all out. What a relief! It’s my job to enjoy a new journey of freedom and fun. This is what I’ve been asking for. Now I have to line up with it and enjoy the ride.
Life is always going to be a journey, so how are you going to choose to ride it?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Not me
Generally speaking, Hanoi has been one of my most epic adventures, with maybe like two regrets. However, with those regrets, come lessons. Don’t trust fuck boys and take a chill pill. Now it’s time to go to the next place, with new epic adventures, successes, fails, lessons, laughs and love.
I love Hanoi, I love my friends here, I love the life I’ve created and all of the amazing things I’ve done and accomplished in this city. Saying I’m proud is an understatement. I came, I saw, I conquered… but now what?
I’m eager for growth, new challenges, and scenery. I crave stimulation and leveling up. I’m feeling the itch to move on, and I know I’d be living in stagnation and complacency if I didn’t do anything about it. So, Goodbye Hanoi!
To those wondering if I have a game plan, job, or place to live once I move, the answer is no. For me, taking leaps of faith is like a cat to catnip. It excites me.
Although I wish I could take parts of Hanoi with me, sometimes you have to give up the good for the great, and take the next step even when you can’t see what comes after. Jump and the net will appear so they say, so I’m jumping… with health insurance just incase. Get ready for me, Saigon!
(For those in Hanoi that are sad or freaking out that I’m leaving, don’t worry, I’ll be around another couple of months!)
I’m making peace with my enemy. I’m not talking about my friends on again off again boyfriend who I loathe more than pretty much any other human I’ve ever met. Although, bless his fucked up heart, I wish him the best. The enemy I’m learning to make peace with is the one that keeps me from having peace of mind. The one that keeps me up at night. The one that prevents me from consistently living the life I know I’m capable of. A life of unwavering acceptance and flow. I’m learning to make peace with myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know I’m freakin’ fabulous. This is not to say I’m not good enough, or deserving or blah blah blah. Yet, there’s a little voice in my head that sometimes whispers “Hey hoe. You should probably start worrying about how you don’t know what country you’ll be living in in 6 months time and what are you going to do with all of your shit? P.S. that dude that you’ve been crushing on these past several months… He’s not that into you. While you think about that, I’ll be creating more content so you can stay up with me for the next 5 hours. Tootaloo!”
Not the ideal companion to have living inside my brain, but it’s what I’ve got, and the only way to make peace with it is to become greater than my mind. I’m going to be so annoyingly conscious, that whenever that voice in my head starts to bitch, I can be like “Yo Karen, the manager (aka me) couldn’t give less fucks, so just relax.” Then, without judgement or criticism (to the best of my ability) move forward.
I said that the enemy that I’m making peace with is myself, but my mind isn’t who I am, it’s who I’ve created. So, I need to make peace with myself for having created that, and focus on being greater than my mind so that I can start consciously creating a new and improved internal dialogue. That dialogue is, and will forever be, more influential than anything or anyone else ever will be.
Our thoughts become your personality, and I’d be lying if my fabulousness didn’t come with a side of stress and anxiety these days. This is a never ending journey, but if you don’t start walking down this path of consciousness and personal development, you’ll likely be stuck with a Karen in your head and Xanax on your bedside table.
Some, if not most people don’t even realize that they’ve created this toxic internal dialogue, and identify with it so much that it becomes them. Freeing ourselves and making peace with that part of us is not an easy road, but if you keep going, it will be the most rewarding path you could take.
For those of you who have been following my journey, you already know my life has kind of been like that meme of baby Yoda all teary-eyed, with the caption “When you think you’ve healed that part of you, but the world throws you a curve ball.” but then, like a fucking beast, I somehow manage to wipe the tears, put on a smile, and get better at catching the ball next time. Well, life just threw me a massive curveball. It scared the shit out of me, but here’s how I’m going to catch it.
I’ve been saving nearly half of my pay check every month for a rainy day. Then it rains, and instead of buying a new umbrella, I’ve been taking out my broken one, patched up with duck tape, leaking from every side. Obviously, that’s a metaphor, although my grandfather legitimately used to duck-tape the holes on his umbrella.
Well, no more of that. I’m investing quite a bit of money, and it’s going towards the most important thing in anyones life. Themselves. I’m hiring a personal boxing coach, a business coach, new decor and plants for my home, art supplies, not holding back as much when I go out to eat or shop with friends, weekend getaway trips, and the list goes on. Mind you, I have been working hard to have the means to do this. I’m not telling you to brake the bank and test your luck in Vegas.
In short, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and sometimes the best way to fill it is to go and buy some water (Or champagne, whatever floats your boat) instead of walking miles to a dirty well. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be lavish or expensive, but it does have to be done if you want to make the best of the life you’re living. Other ways you could invest in yourself is taking a nice relaxing bubble bath or painting your toe nails. I say that mainly because it’s on the forefront of my mind because I’m still sweaty from the gym and I so desperately need a pedicure right now.
Nothing in your life will come easily if you yourself are not at ease. Our lives are an external reflection of our internal world, so what’s even more important than buying all of these things is getting your mind ready for them. How are you going to invest in yourself?
I am not alright. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve been having severe sleep issues for months. To put things in perspective, when I went to the sleep lab to get tested overnight, during my 4.5 hours of sleep, I had 7 sleep apnea episodes and woke up a whopping 25 times. Imagine that. Actually don’t because it sucks, I know first hand.
The best they could diagnose me with was sleep architecture disorder which I’m convinced they made up. They probably saw me and figure I looked like an architecture with disorders and called it a day. I’m pretty fucked up right now though, so they’re half right.
Fucked up how, I’ll explain. I’ve been managing this lack of sleep like a tank for so long. By that I mean I’ve been juggling my 4 jobs, social life, and passion projects miraculously well. I had myself convinced I could keep going, but at what cost and until when?
Well, I found out 4 days ago that my limit had been reached. It was pretty clear due to my historical crying and dwindling will to live. Sounds pretty extra but if you went months without sleeping well, you’d want to hit the restart button at some point too.
I say I’m not alright, but I will be. My sleep will improve. In fact, because of this, I’ll be better than before. That’s how hard times and struggles work if you adapt and make the best of it. When something knocks you off course, the only way to get back on track is to focus more diligently than before. Now, I have more determination and eagerness to thrive, and drive to do what it takes to do so. I have to conjure faith and confidence in myself that I will be able to be better and do better than ever, and I will. I know this because that’s the attitude you need to create a life worth living and I’m not letting mine go to waste.
Faith, focus, and fun…. and a bomb sleep routine. That is what I need to create now to ensure I make the most of this blessing in disguise. Sounds like a sign you’d see hanging on the bedroom wall, of a girl named Becky, who goes to Starbucks so much that they make her a pumpkin spice latte as soon as she comes through the door. Regardless, next time you’re in a rut, remember when you have faith in yourself, focus on the life you’re excited to create, and make having more fun and enough sleep a priority, in time, the results will be fucking fabulous. Just watch.
In retrospect, you begin to notice the breadcrumbs you’ve followed to get you to where you are today. Sometimes, it’s more obvious than others. Sometimes, it’s life changing. Sometimes, it starts with a right swipe, and sometimes it’s all of the above.
For those who don’t know, I’ve been having severe sleep issues for the past year. I’m talking an average of three to four hours of sleep a night and I don’t even have a cool night out or event to make up for it. Just me, living like Edward Cullen, but instead of my life being a romantic drama, it’s a comedy freak show.
I work four jobs, have lots of passion projects, and a big social life. My friends don’t understand how I’m still alive, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know either. With barely having enough time to take a piss, I’ve added dating to the mix because go big or go home, right?
I believe I was on the back of a motorbike on my way to work when I came across the dating profile of a Vietnamese American backpacker who got stuck in Vietnam due to the pandemic. 91 counties traveled, nice smile, and didn’t come across as a serial killer, so I swiped right. As a former backpacker, I’ve always appreciated the kind gestures of others, so figured I’d return the favor by letting him stay with me a few nights on his way South.
I told him about my sleeping issues. He actually seemed to care more about my sleep than me. He would make me turn off the lights and go to bed at 10, got me a box of chamomile tea, and literally spent over 30 minutes one night telling me a boring bedtime story to try to help me fall asleep.
It was appreciated, but ultimately didn’t fix much. After he left, he would continue to ask me how I slept every day. He encouraged me to see a doctor to get to the bottom of my sleeping issues. It’s never something I would have done on my own at that time, but he inspired me to take action by making me face the severity of my situation.
I remember the moment it hit me. Curious about my condition, he continued to ask me questions and I continued to make light of it. That is, until he sent me a voice memo saying “You know this is taking years off of your life you can never get back, right? You need to sleep.” Like no shit I need to sleep, but I was so in denial about it being such an issue until I heard those words.
Lo and behold, my nose doesn’t work correctly, my throat doesn’t close properly, and quite frankly, how I’ve managed to function thus far is questionable. This past week has been one doctor visit after the next, but I am so much closer to getting the sleep that will change my life forever. Sometimes, if you follow the breadcrumbs life gives you, you’ll be lead to the right person, in the right place, at the right time, to hear the right thing. I now care way less that he was really messy and sent my OCD through the roof. It was worth the right swipe.