Friday, July 29, 2011

When You least Expect It

 I don't know when exactly it happened, but I realized recently that I am extremely happy. Despite not getting into EATM this year, something I was relying so heavily on and working towards for the last 2 years, I am happier than I have ever been.
I would never expect that I could be this happy considering the numerous rejections I have gone through recently(not only EATM, but another more short term animal keeper program at the LA zoo), but I really am. I adore living in the home Ryan and I have created. I am enjoying just being alive right now - cooking wonderful food, snuggling with my cats, watching my garden grow, and spending a lot of time with my friends. 

I have always considered myself a pretty pessimistic person. Though I do put on a rather good "optimism" face for the sake of others, I have a horrible temper and react impulsively when things go poorly for me. It usually takes a lot of self coaching to slap the stupid out of me and look at the bright side of things. I don't like to let others see this side of me because it is embarrassing, self absorbed, and childish. 

I feel that for the first time ever I am truly optimistic. It is easy to be optimistic when you get everything you want and everything is going perfectly as planned. I am used to getting what I want. In the last couple of months I have had to deal with a lot of shitty things(school-wise and personal wise that I don't really want to lay out here). I have learned a lot about myself and the kind of person I want to be by not getting what I want. It wasn't some sort of conscious decision I made. It just snuck up on me one day when I realized how extremely lucky I am in all the places that really matter. 

For a while there I was feeling guilty about where I was in life. I am 25 and still in school (and not because I am getting anything fancy like a PHD). Even "worse", I was going to school at a community college. Taking classes with 18 year olds can really make you feel like a senior citizen... which is entirely ridiculous because I am by no means old (...right?). Now I know that in reality the program I am trying to get into is one of a kind and astounding... but it is hard to explain that to people that don't know about it. Other friends of mine are making good money, moving up the career ladder, getting married, having babies, doing "things". I felt like I was in some sort of stunted life.

Whenever I get the dreaded "please donate money to the Alumni fund!!!" calls from students at Northwestern, the conversation usually goes like this...

Well meaning NU student: *insert initial greetings and pleasantries* So can I ask you a few questions about what you are doing now for the student newsletter??!!???!!?? They showed your animation in my class that you did with the Elephants and circus people and stuff, it was great!!! *giggle* *high pitch tone*" (note... there were no elephants... but it was in the title, so maybe they assumed?)

Me: Oh, um, sure.

Well meaning NU student: So where are you working now?

Me: I am an Outreach Ambassador at a college. 

Well meaning NU student: Oh, at a college? How did you go from being a film major into doing that kind of work?

Me: Well, I started going to school again, so I work on campus.

Well meaning NU student: Oh that's great!! It's great to see our alumni going off to higher education!!!! *giggle* What Master's Program are you in?? Or is it a PHD program?!!!

Me: Well... actually... It's not exactly a master's program... hey I'm kind of busy right now....

Well meaning NU student: Oh, that's ok, I'll call back later!!!!!!!!


And they really do call back later. Consistently. Every couple of days. Right around dinner time or when you are most likely meeting up with friends. Over. And over. Now, don't get me wrong. I may come off as a douche, but this has come after the last 3 years of being fooled into 15 minute conversations with these students, chatting about life and thinking they legitimately are interested in what I am doing in life now.... to then be slyly cornered into the importance of "donating to the alumni fund". I innocently yakked on and on "bonding" with the first girl to call me. We chatted about the joys of stop motion animation and the yuckiness of 3d animation,and how fantastic Triplets of Belleville was("OH YES!! HAVE YOU SEEN WALTZ WITH BASHIR??" she had said after some flattery about one of my senior projects). She really did her homework on me. Impressive. I had to say no about 5 times before she let up on the donating. 

Anyhoot, my point is that for a while there I was feeling a tad behind where I felt like I should be by this point in my life. And I am here to tell you, fuck that. I am the happiest I have ever been. Life is less about what you are doing and more about how you are doing it, if that makes any sense.

If this year is not the year where I begin my career, it is the year where I will nurture my relationships, indulge in my artsy hobbies, and travel. I have always wanted to go to Thailand, seeing it as some far off dream that I couldn't afford. I am gonna do it. Ry and I made up a savings plan so that next June we WILL go to Thailand. I have already planned out a wonderful 3 weeks with a detour to stop in Hong Kong to see my Uncle, Aunt and baby cousin that is being born there in September. I also planned a weeklong trip exploring some villages in southern China(Yangshuo, Longsheng, Guilin... might as well since we are making the stop in China). If I can't have one dream come true this year, by golly, I will find another one to put in its place. I am beyond excited. I am a thorough believer that we are responsible for making our own happiness. I will have to wear the same holy pants and stay home to eat instead of going out for dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant to do it, but damn it it will be worth it.

Not getting what I wanted may be the best thing for me this year. 

In other News... 

My grandma moved away to Arizona. I feel like my umbilical cord was cut. I love my family to pieces, so this was very difficult for me to accept at first. I now feel so happy that she finally has a house where she can grow tomatoes and can live within a few miles from where my baby cousin is growing up.

I never talked about it, but I had an amazing trip in the Desert with Ryan and my Uncle Tony back in March. It was a treasure hunt adventure of epic proportions that no real description could do justice to. Lots of hiking, backpacking, galavanting in old Silver mines and caves, reading ancient languages... It was like a real life Indiana Jones adventure. My uncle creates these massive and elaborate adventures with hidden puzzleboxes, archaeology sites, full handwritten journals full of fantastic stories and crazy scenarios. No one does anything like it. The guy welds his own puzzle boxes using rare earth magnets and inscribes ancient languages on them. It was wild. 

Houdini laid two more eggs this summer. She thinks Ryan is the Dad.

Beanie/Romeo died after the move to Arizona with my grandma. I almost didn't want to type this because it still hurts. He was killed by a coyote after escaping from the new house.

Boots, my rat, is very sick. She has a mammary tumor and can't walk very well anymore. Hard to imagine that just a couple of months ago she got me 100% in class for doing this....

Here is a Snail Teapot. I got awarded the Ventura County Potter's Guild Scholarship this year (mainly for the Chess set I made - I will take pictures soon since I finally got my lens back from Nikon Repair. Woot!). So I am now a member of the Ventura County Potter's Guild. Yay :D

Yes, he is missing an eyeball. Some asshat decided it would be a good idea to lay their mask on my teapot while they were on the cart to go into the Bisque fire. Juice/Tea come out of his mouth.
I finished the 4 ceramic classes at school. I am going to miss throwing on the wheel so much. I did sign up for Figure sculpting next semester though, so I will be using the same clay and glazes, just focusing on more sculpture instead of pots etc...

A very big portion of joy I have been having comes from seeing my garden grow. I grew this cherry tomato. My squash plant is growing comically large. 

I went with a totally different plan for this year. I am staying a full time student since a) I get to take classes for free since I have a fee waiver,  b) I can keep my job as a student ambassador, a job where I feel appreciated, enjoy my coworkers, and have a lot of freedom in my schedule, c) No animal/vet job wanted to hire me since I have a film degree(not even as a receptionist)   d) I can take kick ass classes like Figure sculpting, jazz dance, choir, and Anatomy of a murder(taught by a real homicide detective!) for fun, e) It allows me to postpone my undergrad loan payments if I am still a full time student, and f) I have my weekends free to volunteer at a wildlife rescue, rehab, and release in Ventura County. I am uber excited to help nurse Racoons and Bobcats back to health so they can be released back in the wild. How cool is that?


  1. Ness, I am so proud of you! I call you this weekend cuz I want to hear more! Love you! (exclamation point!)

  2. "Life is less about what you are doing and more about how you are doing it, if that makes any sense."

    Amen. =)

    Ness, you've always been inspiring to me, and I know you're gonna be amazing wit dem animalz one day. Hope your optimism grows every day!