lost and found

Do you ever have that feeling of being lost, but not really knowing why?

Because theoretically, it doesn’t make sense as to why you should feel lost. You have a great job, some great friends, a supportive and loving family. Your future is on track to hold a lot of promise and is just getting started – you’re getting married in a few months, and you get to start your life! You have every opportunity available to you to really make your life great and coast into this next chapter on a new high. For the first time in awhile (if you can forget about your age and how long it’s taken you to get here and how you wish this is where you were 5 years ago), things are really, really great.

And still, you feel lost. Sad. Incomplete. Uncertain, like something is missing and you’re not sure what, and you’ve got no idea how to fix it.

I think, at the very root of it all, I’m homesick. I’m homesick for home – my real home, Boston, my parents house and the city that I never thought I cared about living in until recently. Change is good, and judging from my sister’s recent comments (she’s been there all her life and is having the same stagnant feelings), I’m glad I went away. I don’t think it’s good for anyone to stay in one place for too long. But for some reason, whether it’s the lingering thoughts of my parents getting older or a lot of emotional attachment from wedding planning/child planning, all I’ve felt lately is a longing to get out of New York and go back to my roots. (It’s almost laughable to me that I’ve been half-seriously considering a move to California after all these years, because if I can’t handle being 4 hours away from my parents without feeling emotional, how would I handle moving across the country?)

I’m homesick for New York, for the love that I’ve always felt for the city that’s seemingly disappeared. I know I go through periods of discontent – everyone does, especially after 10+ years of living somewhere. The subway pisses you off, summer’s too hot, winter’s too cold, Times Square is too crowded, midtown lunch is too expensive, EVERYTHING is too expensive. I’ve been here forever and I’ve known people for so long, but I still feel like I need to do something different. Or just…find a way to like things around here a little more again, however that happens. The feelings of “I’m over New York” aren’t new, but I am starting to think about them a little more than I usually would. And I think right now it’s less “I’m over New York” and more “be honest: am I done with this chapter of my life for a little bit?” I don’t know if it’s because so much has changed over the years, or maybe it’s just that I need some sort of shift to keep myself moving forward. Maybe it’s because so much has changed – friendships and relationships have shifted, even Broadway’s gotten too expensive. Maybe it’s the fact that for some reason, the professional “family” I’ve slowly (and kind of unintentionally) started to cultivate over on the West Coast feels more like a family than what I’ve had in any job so far.

I’m homesick for my friends, because even though I know I have wonderful people in my life – people I don’t need to see or talk to every day to know they’re close – I feel removed from a lot of friendships lately. Part of it is on me. I know wedding planning has taken up a lot of my time, as has a general busy-ness that comes with my job and where my life is going. But I used to be around for a lot of things, and I feel like I used to be a lot more social than I am now. And I can’t help but feel like I’m isolating myself, drifting from people or places, because I’m just not there all the time and because I have other priorities that make me not able to go to a dinner or a movie. I miss seeing people more. I want to find a happy balance of feeling included in things and also having enough time to cultivate my own path, the path that I’m trying to get on pretty quickly – marriage, kids, a house, etc. I want to feel more confident about people in my life always being there, despite the fact that I am – my brain just isn’t letting me see it.

I’m homesick for the times I would feel okay about everything in my life, when not everything was cast in a shadow that seems like it can’t lift. Even when I’m taking meds, having a great day, or feeling fine and optimistic, it also feels like I’m forever waiting for the other shoe to drop – waiting for that moment to feel uninspired, frustrated, stressed, worried. I don’t know if it’s the general state of the world or just a combination of a lot of personal things in my life right now, but I wish it would go away.

It’s hard being homesick for things that are hard to change. And for some reason, I thought I had it all figured out. It took me awhile to get here…but I’m here, finally. I’m in my dream job, I have an engagement ring, and I’m getting ready to plan out my future. In October, I’ll be married. I want to start looking for houses, talking about kids, putting myself on a path.

That’s when life gets you, though. Or at least, my life. Just when it seems like things are finally falling into place the way you always wanted them to, the way you asked them to for so many years, that’s when you turn around and are suddenly hit with “but…maybe this path isn’t so straight after all.” And feeling like you’re “locked in” to a certain path or life isn’t the best way to think about things, I know. It’s never been the way I’ve thought about things, either. I’ve always put myself first when it comes to opportunities. But now that I have someone else to contend with — someone whose values and life experiences are so different from mine when it comes to things like wondering if you should pick up and start your life somewhere else — it’s harder than just thinking about me.

I’m still putting myself first. I’m just trying to figure out how to do it in a way that I’m happy with. And that’s a lot to think about.

a happy new year

Well, since we’re basically halfway into 2018 and I’ve done a rather terrible job of blogging in the last few months, I should write about those reflections/goals/resolutions I mentioned awhile ago, right?

Right.

Last year, I adopted the practice of throwing the word “resolution” out the window because I didn’t want to be held to making myself “better” by doing certain things. That’s something of a different beast, independent of whether I eat less or drink less or save more money. I wanted a list of things that I could potentially accomplish and work towards, whether it was something small (drinking more water) or big (write a book/comic.) When I wrote out what I had in mind for the year, I titled it “2017 Things To Accomplish” so it would stick in my head more like actual goals and not pressured improvements.

If I look at this page at a glance, it’s easy to see how many blank boxes there are instead of ones that are colored it. And yeah, I put a lot of lofty goals on there, not knowing if I’d actually accomplish them – but why not?

I may not have interviewed all of my “dream core four” (Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans) or covered an awards show, but I DID interview Scarlett Johansson! In person! At a premiere of her movie, on a red carpet! I stood in front of someone I’ve admired for ages, one of my favorite actresses, and talked to her and asked her a question and she directly responded to me – and I didn’t even fall over! I may not have published or sold a book, but I queried, got an agent, and started submitting to publishers. I may not have completed the “Coast to Coast” challenge because of timing and laziness, but I did run my second half marathon at Disney. I may not have written a story at my “dream” publication, but I did write numerous celebrity cover stories for a luxury magazine, in what has become a great anchor client, who have allowed me to continue to write for them every month. I didn’t read once a day, but I did read more this last year than I have in awhile, and I’m so glad I got my head back in the game where good literature was concerned.

And just because there were things that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean that I won’t stop doing them – or trying to do them, even in a year that will be otherwise filled with wedding planning. I still would like to try to get myself in a position where I have the opportunity to moderate or sit on a panel at a con. I’d still like to travel overseas or to somewhere fun (at least I’ve got my honeymoon destination, if nothing else). I’d still like to do things I’ve always wanted to do even though my career has shifted in a way that they’re not readily associated with them anymore, like visit a movie/tv set or write a comic.

This year, I took a page from my friend’s book and divided my goal list into different categories: personal, financial, professional and mental health. I may add more as I think of them, I may not – but as I learned last year in getting my dream job and interviewing one of my favorite A-listers – nothing is impossible. (Also, apparently I like running so much I put it on there twice by accident…whoops.)

Oh, and I promise to be better at blogging. Promise.

a year in reflection

I know 2017 wasn’t a good year for a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons.

But in that same different way, it was a good year for me.

I got a job — my dream job, in my dream company — after over a year of unemployment. I got engaged. I started to write a book, got literary agent representation, and went on submission. I interviewed Scarlett Johansson in person on a red carpet, fulfilling a long-standing professional goal of talking to one of my favorite actresses face-to-face. (I still listen to the audio file and kick myself because it’s REAL.) I finally came out to the whole wide world as bisexual, something that was a long time coming but that I felt like I didn’t have the courage to embrace being open about, not until Supergirl showed me that I wasn’t alone being older and open about my sexuality.

2017 wasn’t great all the time. I had some major mental health setbacks. I’m still in major debt and struggling with those consequences, and angry at myself for not being able to make headway on anything no matter how hard I try. Before I got my dream job, I took a job at place that made me miserable. Friendships that I thought were long-lasting drifted away. My book got rejected from publishers in two separate rounds of submissions. I felt in some ways removed from my friends I loved so much due to different reasons.

And the world at large just flat out sucked. Comics twitter was exhausting, and there seemed to be dread everywhere I looked, and I saw it manifest itself everywhere: in my friends, in text messages, at work. I buried myself in writing, in newfound obsessions like Critical Role, in the fandoms and happy places that I’ve always turned to. I cherished the moments that I got to spend with the people I loved.

I’ll post eventually with a summary-type thing of the year, based on my goals and stuff that I set back in January. But in my Passion Planner, there’s a section where you’re supposed to keep notes of the good things that happened during the week. While I was unemployed, I used to lament to Shelly that I had nothing to write about that was good, and she reminded me it didn’t have to be something like “did good at work” or “got another freelance job.” It could something as mundane as “had a nice conversation with a friend” or “petted some cute dogs.” As I went through the year, I tried to chronicle things during each week — some mundane, some not — and while I’ll eventually post a summary-type thing based on the goals and stuff that I set back in January, I decided compiling those things in one large list here is the biggest way I can give insight into my year.

  • Lunch with Eileen twice
  • Got a cover story assignment
  • Shelly’s back!
  • Paid bill hanging over my head
  • Planner date with Shelly
  • Went to the gym twice/ate healthy
  • Women’s March
  • Skype date with Jill
  • Positive feedback about my writing
  • Got responses from book queries
  • Spent time with Eileen
  • Had serious boyfriend talk
  • Got asked to write more on proposal
  • Got another job interview
  • Long lunch with Eileen
  • Had engagement talk
  • Got good response from agent/publisher
  • Set up call with publisher
  • 2 interviews!
  • Agent phone call
  • GOT AN AGENT!
  • SIGNED WITH AN AGENT!
  • ANNOUNCED MY AGENT!
  • GOT A JOB!
  • Started a new job
  • Buffy Burlesque
  • Margs with Hayley
  • Snow day (slept in)
  • Got package from mom
  • Sent proposal to agent
  • INTERVIEWED SCARLETT JOHANSSON AT THE PREMIERE
  • Got to see Margie
  • Finally paid a lot of overdue bills
  • Brunch times with Candice
  • 80 degree weather
  • Got to spend time with Ali and Kayleigh
  • Saw mom and dad
  • Got lunch and wine twice with Cate and Eileen
  • Hopeful interview at Marvel?
  • GOT MARVEL OFFER!
  • STARTED WORKING AT MARVEL 🙂
  • Got to see my back-up bunnies
  • Good week at work
  • Felt better about stuff at work
  • Got to see dad
  • Got to see Eileen, Cate, Alix and Christine!
  • Booked Disney trip!
  • Saw Wonder Woman!
  • Drinks with Eileen
  • Had a good night with Esther
  • Black Panther trailer was AWESOME
  • HeroesCon and my back-up bunnies
  • Finally posted fic
  • Eileen’s birthday!
  • Saw Chip and Candice and Bri
  • Ran 3 miles
  • Good interview with Danika
  • Got official SDCC confirmation
  • Good email from my boss about work stuff
  • SDCC and seeing my slothes!
  • Cuddles with Jill
  • Got good interviews/reviews from colleagues at SDCC
  • Jill’s Facebook post about friends
  • Turned 35!
  • Spent birthday with family and friends
  • Good vacation weekend with family
  • Disney planning night with Katie
  • Had a good chat with my agent
  • Drinks with Sina!
  • Went to Disney!
  • Noelle’s birthday
  • Saw Groundhog Day
  • Got to see dad
  • Spent Rosh Hashanah with Shelly and Ziv
  • Fun XWP podcast recording
  • Ren Faire
  • Critical Role essay getting love
  • Laura’s DMs and Matt’s tweets
  • Jess and Danielle got married!
  • NYCC!
  • Saw Chip and Marvel friends
  • Wine night with my girls
  • Finally ran
  • Got some good book work done
  • Saw some cute dogs
  • I GOT ENGAGED!
  • Meeting Ashley Johnson at the Blindspot event
  • Celebrating with Eileen
  • Everyone congratulating me on my engagement
  • Ran my SECOND half marathon!
  • Boss was in a good mood at work
  • Saw Becca and Dan
  • Family time at home
  • Booked wedding stuff
  • First wedding dress shopping trip
  • Got wedding stuff done
  • Took a mental health day
  • Met AlphaFlyer for dinner!
  • Got a wedding photographer
  • Had a good therapy session
  • I SAW A STAR WAR!
  • Won the raffle at holiday work party
  • Made progress with wedding planning

So, yeah. In the words of Lin-Manuel, it was a “bit of a year.”

wait for it

This is a post about many things, but the subject title can apply to all of them.

Wait for it.

Roughly a week ago, I got engaged. No, I didn’t cry. Yes, I kind of expected it, but I was wary of believing my suspicions, so I was still really surprised when it happened. I’m just not used to things actually working out the way I envision them. It’s strange when you spend so long thinking of things associated with huge life moments and then they happen and you’re forced to confront the fact that suddenly, all your thoughts are REAL – your daydreams of your dance with your dad, how you’ll feel when you’re wedding dress shopping, the things you’ll buy for your bridal party. The next few months are going to be a whirlwind of stress and money anxiety and things happening really fast, but it’s HAPPENING, and I finally feel like my life is slotting into place in some way.

Wait for it.

2016 was one of the hardest years of my life. I was the lowest I’ve ever been in terms of my mental health. I was miserable, even after I got on medication to help my depression. Freelancing was only taking me so far, and I was the only person I seemed to know who had left my current job and couldn’t get snapped up by a new one (even after interviews where I came so close, but not close enough.) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, or what  I was supposed to do. I was broke, in my mid-30’s, and yeah, I had a serious boyfriend and great friends but I had no job, no savings, no ring, no kids, and no hope that any of that would happen in the immediate future. There was a point where I couldn’t see any kind of way my life would improve, and I spent a lot of time angry about decisions I had made in my past, where I had let people control my life in some way. I was never entirely suicidal, but I did think about what would happen if I just never amounted to anything, and what if I just walked into traffic one day? Would it be so bad? Hey, maybe at least my student loans would get paid with insurance or something.

I was really, really down. I started looking for any kind of job, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I felt like I was out of college all over again — just trying to find someone who wanted me. I finally took a job that made more money than I had ever seen, but I was absolutely miserable and hated everything about it. Two weeks after leaving that job, I lucked out with my dream job, through a series of events that can only be described as serendipitous. Sometimes I think about how long it took to get here – the long hard waits of being patient while other people got their due, working all my connections, never giving up on pursuing what I truly wanted. I still have issues with the fact I’m here later than I was supposed to be — an obsession with my age will forever be a cog in the wheel of anxiety that slows down my mental health — but I recognize how lucky I am to be where I am. After a long time, I’m finally where I’m meant to be. I’m happy. I love most of my coworkers. I love what I do and I feel like I can work towards a brand and a career.

I’m also a girl working professionally in comics who is being taken seriously. And that’s pretty rad.

Wait for it.

When I started my journey to get published, I got some luck in a way most people don’t – I had immediate interest from a publisher and got an agent pretty quickly, despite not having any experience selling a proposal or a manuscript. After months of working and revising, I was excited to hopefully have some bites…and got rejected by all publishers that looked at my project, including the one who initially seemed interested. Going back to the drawing board and feeling like I had nothing to offer sucked, and getting back on track took longer than I wanted it to. But I hit the ground running, revised, and months later, I have revisions that my agent praised as the strongest so far. My proposal is currently on its second round of final edits, and hopefully will be sent off again soon. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I can’t predict if I’ll be any more successful, but I do feel more confident about putting it out into the world.

Wait for it.

Last year, I went through a period where I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be. I wanted a life that I saw reflected in other people, religiously and otherwise. I still want that life — I still want things that are harder for me to have because they won’t come naturally — but I think I’m getting better at realizing I don’t want to be the person I thought I wanted to be in certain ways. I don’t need to be like other people who I think have it all together. I like my life the way it is. And yeah, I wish there were things that were different about it. But it’s my life and what I know. I can accept that. Or try to.

Wait for it.

Reflecting and looking at my life as it was a year ago, it’s amazing to realize how different things are. Nothing is perfect — there are a lot of things that aren’t perfect, and there are things that still aren’t great. But there’s also a lot of stuff that’s good. And yeah, it took awhile for things to swing up, but they did. I’m glad I kept fighting, even when it was hard. I’m glad I kept going, even though I know it’s going to continue to be hard.

I’m glad I waited for it.

 

medium blog: critical role

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This show has been one of the things that has saved me, and my biggest regret is that I didn’t find it when I was unemployed and going through my lowest points of depression, because it probably would have saved me a lot sooner. It’s my own fault, really.

But I did find it eventually, and it didn’t take long to get obsessed with it — the show, the characters, the story. I couldn’t ignore how it made me feel and what it started to mean to me, and I decided to do the only thing I could do to explain myself: write.

Because I’ve kind of graduated from the journalist lifestyle with my current job, I didn’t know where to put this. I didn’t really want to put it on my personal blog because I felt like it deserved its own separate platform, so I pitched a few places I had contacts at. They seemed interested, but nothing really happened, so I posted it on my Medium account – which was not where I had wanted to post it, but in the end, it was the only place that worked.

The response that followed was on a scale I couldn’t imagine or prepare for. Aside from the cast themselves sharing it and reading it (something that awes me and that I am grateful for and overwhelmed by), dozens and dozens and dozens of fans came out of the woodwork to tell me how much of themselves they saw in this piece. What I wrote was supposed to be a thank you to the beautiful cast of Critical Role as their Vox Machina arc came to an end after 2+ years, but people were thanking ME for putting their feelings into words.

Maybe Critters just really are the best community ever, or maybe what I wrote was better than I thought it was (we’re all our own worst critics when it comes to our talents.) But if I had to reminded that I’m not alone, Critical Role has done that in more ways than one.

And you can read the piece here: https://medium.com/@andrea.towers/heres-why-critical-role-is-my-natural-20-28714309fdea

this is the story of a poster and a dream

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged (my fault) and I’ve realized that with a few exceptions, most of my blogging lately has been — though positive and optimistic — not quite “upbeat” in terms of subject matter. So, today I’m going to talk about something that’s both personal and fun, because with Spider-Man: Homecoming on the horizon and press junkets circulating, I’ve been having a lot of feelings about Robert Downey Jr.’s career trajectory as Iron Man and what that means to me, personally.

I’m going to talk about this poster.

This poster used to hang on the walls of Entertainment Weekly. It now hangs in my living room, but that’s not where the story starts. The story starts a few years earlier, at Northwestern, when I was in graduate school. Going back to school was something I had wanted to do for awhile, but it took some time, because I hadn’t known what I wanted to do. By the time I settled on journalism — having gotten some cred as a freelance entertainment writer/blogger and realizing I wanted to pursue the career full-time at someplace like Vanity Fair (or, my dream publication, EW) — I was old.

To be fair, there was a good range of age in my cohort, and some of my best friends are people who are my younger sister’s age. But I had just turned 30 when I went back to school, and while I tried to embrace the good things that came with age (experience in work and life, having lived on my own and made mistakes with my independence), it sometimes felt like a setback. Here I was, restarting my career all over again — I had worked in publishing and spent five years in non-profit — and most people who entered the publishing industry did so right out of college, becoming senior editors by the time they were 27/28 years old. I was doing things so late, and I couldn’t help but feel anxious about that, even though I was proud of myself for being in one of the top-rated programs for my career.

My Master’s program started in January of 2013 and lasted for a full year. In May of 2013, Marvel released Iron Man 3. I was a fan of comics and a fan of the Marvel franchise, having seen other films throughout the years. The difference is that aside from The Avengers, which at the time warranted a long analytical Tumblr post about my favorite parts/actors, I watched and enjoyed and that was it.

I’m still not sure what it was about Iron Man 3 that made a difference. Maybe it was just that it was a really good film. Maybe it was the fact that it made me feel so good, and forget everything I was stressing over, and gave me enjoyment the way a superhero movie should. Maybe it was because that movie demonstrated Tony’s very human vulnerabilities, including anxiety and depression and PTSD, at least one of which was lingering in my body at the time when I didn’t fully realize it. Whatever the reason ultimately was, it made me walk out of the theatre, snap a reaction picture for Twitter, and then return over the weekend — for a double feature, when my roommates asked me to go with them, unaware that I had gone to an earlier showing. (I lived directly down the street from the movie theatre, which was pretty sweet. Also, Midwest prices as so much nicer than NYC prices. Also, STUDENT DISCOUNTS FOR MATINEES. Bless.)

I saw the movie at least twice more while it was still in theatres. When I needed a distraction from my work or stress at school, I loaded up on press tours and interviews I had missed because I hadn’t been paying attention. I knew RDJ as an actor, I had seen dozens of his films, and I was aware of his “less than savory” background. But somehow, thanks to timing and feelings, RDJ and Tony and RDJ’s journey to becoming Tony became my greatest motivation and biggest influence.

As my obsession with Iron Man 3 grew, so did my renewed interest in the MCU. I re-watched all the films I hadn’t seen since they came out in theatres with a new appreciation for the characters and the actors that played them. Throughout it all, RDJ was a constant inspiration, especially the more I learned about his rise to the top of the industry, and how he became confident despite his age and despite coming back into the game so long after everyone had considered him done.

I entered graduate school with one long-standing goal that had been in my mind for years, since I started receiving the magazine as a young teen: to work at Entertainment Weekly. I knew that involved getting an internship, so I kept a close eye on Ed2010 for internship openings. When applications opened in October for a January 2014 start, I set my sights on applying. I walked to the post office to mail my application with Sam Jones’ Off Camera podcast playing in my ears. As I dropped off my envelope, personally handing it over to ensure it arrived in one piece, RDJ talked about anxiety and perseverance and taking risks despite your fear.

A few months later, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview. Never content to do things halfway when it came to getting things I REALLY wanted, I flew to NYC for the weekend to be there in person (hey, I got to see my friends as well.) Nervous as all hell about interviewing for my dream job, I stepped off the elevator and was greeted with a foyer/hallway that housed an array of oversized covers from years past…including this particular poster.

I like to believe in signs. I like to think that after all that, getting off the elevator and seeing RDJ’s face on that poster — when it could have been any cover poster on that wall — meant something. In any case, I got the internship, and then a few months later, I got a permanent job at EW. When it was announced that we were moving at the end of the year, and that due to a new and smaller office space everything had to go, I didn’t entertain the idea any of the posters would be up for grabs. It seemed too unlikely that the art department would want to part with things that had been around for so many years. But the week of moving, my friend walked by my desk with a large framed photo of Heath Ledger, her favorite celebrity. I jokingly said that I didn’t want any posters except the RDJ one, which they probably wouldn’t let anyone take. My friend then said everything was up for grabs.

Yes, everything.

I ran as quickly as I could, like someone running through one of those supermarket sweeps programs. I was terrified someone had realized this before me and taken it. But it was still there, and I grabbed that poster off the wall, even though it was twice my size and heavier than I could manage. I propped it up by my desk and somehow, thanks to a very nice cabbie who took pity on me hauling a huge oversized framed piece of art down 50th Street during rush hour, I managed to get it home. I felt like I couldn’t explain to anyone what bringing this poster home meant to me, and how much it meant to have it. It didn’t just represent the fact I was a part of a company I dreamed of working at. It represented so much more, and it had been with me for longer than anyone would be able to understand.

I love looking at this poster and reminding myself of how far I’ve come. I love reflecting on the fact that in a way, RDJ got me to where I am. And I’ll never forget that.

mental health month: a year of medication*

There’s an astrik next to the title of this entry, because it’s been technically over a year. It’s something I forget, though, because when you’re first getting on medication, it feels like forever until you find your groove. Start with a low dosage of Xanax, go to the doctor, talk about your problems, get prescribed a new medication. Maybe the new medication works, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you need to go back and give updates. Maybe you need a higher dosage, or a different dosage. And then, you see if it works. You see if it makes a difference past the two days where you totally feel 100% better, and you see if it sticks.

And then, maybe, you start to feel good about yourself again.

And then maybe, you get the courage to become more open about saying you take pills, or you need pills, and you put it out there more on social media, and you become more comfortable accepting your mental health.

And then maybe, you think people won’t see you as an anomaly.

Anxiety and depression were in my life for a long time, but medication didn’t come into the picture until last year, for a lot of reasons — I didn’t think I needed it, I refused to admit I had a problem that wasn’t easily “fixable,” and my parents certainly didn’t provide any real support. They say things have a way of working out, and given that I ended up unemployed shortly after committing to medication, I’d say it was a very, very lucky thing that I got myself slightly straightened out before my health insurance went away. Because it was a hard year. It was a long year. Even with medication, my anxiety and depression reached their absolute lowest points. I didn’t know how to pull myself out of these funks, and it affected my relationship, my work ethic, and my motivation. I talk a lot about how comics saved me, but it’s true. When I was at my lowest, there was something comforting about being able to understand creators who worked their asses off to show the world beautiful things, who did so in an industry that is unforgiving and doesn’t pay well, and they still put their best foot forward and created things that gave me hope and courage.

Self-care and love is so important, and it’s something I struggle with. Even when I tell myself I need to give myself a break, even when I write it in my planner, I still let my mind get the best of me. I have a hard time not sitting in silence and not letting go of things. So sometimes, the biggest self-care thing I can do is allow myself to be hateful. I allow myself to hate my life, my writing, parts of my relationship, my current financial situation, my creativity, my inability to finish a project. And it’s not because I’m trying to demoralize myself, despite my low self-esteem issues. It’s a way for me to clear the air and admit to myself that I do feel a certain way, even if I’m getting better at believing in myself more. It’s a strange form of self-care, but it works for me. Mostly. Because what happens then is you feel the reality of what you’re saying, and you watch your reaction in a mirror, and it causes you to put things in perspective. You’re not hiding from your feelings or your emotions, which is often how I choose to deal. Despite being in and succeeding in professions where being pushy and visible is a requirement, I’ve never been a particularly confrontational person, always more content to play it safe and shy away from addressing things that could cause conflict.

I’m proud to say that I feel better about myself, but that I also understand the things that make me not okay. Part of that is due to finally having a job I love, and part of that is due to me being easier on myself (something I work on with my therapist weekly), but compared to where I was a year ago, that’s progress.

And the fact that I can admit that means a lot to me.

i’m gonna spend my time this way

The last time I sat down to write, I was adjusting to going back to a full-time job, working 50+ hour weeks, and generally struggling with a balance between knowing I had to take work for financial reasons while also wondering if no permanent bites on my dream career outside of freelance for over a year were a sign that maybe I wasn’t meant to do what I so desperately wanted to do.

When I took this particular job back in March, I gave myself the following reasons and reminders:

  • I knew it would be a temporary position (even if I found out I loved writing about finance, I didn’t want to do it for a career)
  • I knew I was taking it mostly for money and insurance (I had been unemployed for a year and needed to get back on my feet)

This place was a hard fit for me, but I did learn about myself. I learned I don’t like the start-up world and the general culture that it employs. I learned that I can’t work with certain types of people and managers. I learned that no matter how much money you make, there are things you need to make you happy — you need to love the work you’re doing, or at the very least, you need to like the environment and the people who you spend all hours of your day with. I knew I didn’t like what I was doing, but I was boxed into a hole of sorts, in that I couldn’t and didn’t want to leave until I had something else under my belt. And making that happen, enough to justify leaving a job that paid me a lot of money, was something that for a long time, felt out of my control. Something that I couldn’t do.

So when I walked out of the office, I felt relief: relief at not having to go into an office where I didn’t like anything, relief at not worrying if I was going to be cornered with unrealistic expectations and scolding that would cause me to be angry and upset. After I left, I went to lunch and drinks at my favorite regular bar in Manhattan with two of my best friends. We ended up talking/venting until late in the night. I couldn’t stop my internal alarm clock from waking me up early the next morning, but I took the time to be lazy, moving slowly to get the day started. I caught up on all the television I’d been neglecting on my DVR, and didn’t get out of my pajamas until my lunch and errand date in Manhattan. I cleaned the bedroom and bathroom and re-did my entire closet, I organized a lot of files and I did the dishes. I enjoyed having the time ease back into having some sort of feeling of control, mentally and physically.

I spent part of this weekend with a good friend and enjoyed the freedom of not having to worry about putting my personal energy somewhere that takes up so much mental space. I slept in, went running for the first time in forever, took walks outside, and worked on some personal projects. I spent time with my boyfriend without being depressive and bitchy. I healed myself by remembering what it felt to look to the future with more clarity, understanding, and optimism, thanks to new projects and new opportunities — some of which I hope to be able to be more open about here, very soon.

There’s a lot that I’m not sure about, but I do know one thing — I’m where I’m supposed to be. It’s just taken me a little longer than necessary to get there.

adjustment and change

I’ve written before that I’m not a fan of change. It has nothing to do with whatever the change is, and it can be as simple as my favorite bagel and coffee place closing down or my usual salon shuttering, but I just don’t like change. Adjustment is hard for me, and I’m someone whose anxiety gets worse when I feel out of control, or when things happen that I can’t control.

In the past week and a half, I interviewed, accepted, and started a new full-time job. While I’m obviously ecstatic to be employed after almost a year of freelance and part-time work (hooray, health insurance!) the timing was the worst thing that could have happened to me, mentally. I accepted my job on Friday, two hours after interviewing, and was asked to start Monday morning. I had a schedule during my freelance time (at least, I tried to have a schedule) for this exact purpose — so when I did have to get back in the game, no matter when it was, I wasn’t always sleeping until 12pm or lazying around. But no matter how you slice it, transitioning from a laid-back lifestyle to 50 hour work weeks, constant social interaction, and commuting, is hard. Not to mention that this job, while wonderful, requires a lot of mental concentration. It’s a field I’m not entirely familiar with, and a job that’s out of my realm professionally. It relies both on me being my own boss and on me being the driver of a lot of different routes. It’s an open office environment — something not new to me, but in previous environments, I felt like I could at least have things around my desk that made it a comfortable place to work and not just a boring table. There’s no one that really treats their desk as a personal space here, despite the fact that lots of people work late hours, and so it feels strange to me to mark my territory by bringing in pictures and books and small cute toys. And because the company only has a handful of people, it’s also the type of place that focuses on a lot of extroversion (daily group lunches and dinners, frequent meetings and check-ins). All of which, combined with my quick hiring, took a toll. Adjustment and change are a bitch.

I spent the first week of work being frustrated, tired, and anxious. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t used to getting up at 6am and not returning home until 8pm, sometimes not until 9pm if I was prepared to go home but got pulled into a group dinner. Every time I complained about things, I felt even more guilty, because who was I to complain about getting a great opportunity and well-paying job with a lot of growth (even if it wasn’t in the field I wanted to be in) when all I talked about for almost a year was being depressed because I couldn’t move my life forward since I was broke? Couple all of this with the fact that my book writing is finally taking off, and I freaked out over having to suddenly figure out how to manage my time in a way I didn’t think I had to worry about for awhile.

Yes, I know I’m not a special snowflake when it comes to having these worries. Oh boy, do I know. Lots of people have full-time jobs, kids, health issues, and they manage to get things done. But I know what makes me spiral out of control, and I accept it, I guess.

I’m slowly getting better, and taking full-on control of my passion planner to help me organize and get my head straight again. I’m trying to take solace in small things that I can control, like settling into a morning commute routine — having time for coffee and Tumblr and maybe some writing, watching the news, knowing that I have to get up by 6:10 if I want to shower, but that as long as I make it to the subway to get the train that rolls in exactly at 7:30, I can get to work on time. I made an effort to find a favorite small independent coffee shop — something that’s hard to do if you work in an area like midtown where everything is so commercial, but there are loopholes. I brought in my Hamilton coffee mug and my small Star Wars box, despite the fact that there are universal kitchen mugs and I have no need for anything decorative. It’s minimal, but it helps, for now.

I’m also attempting to stabilize myself in bigger ways. As soon as my health insurance kicks in, I’m going to go back to my doctor and re-evaluate and change my meds, which is something I’ve been needing to do for awhile. I’m going to start going to therapy regularly again, now that I can afford it. (And boy, do I need it.) And once I start getting a paycheck and have a comfortable cushion where I can breathe easier about my finances, I’m going to set up a small rewards system for getting through the week, putting it in my planner to hold myself to it — a massage, or maybe ordering delivery and splurging on the good places, or buying that book that I really wanted, or getting a new phone case, or having a happy hour fancy drink or expensive beer at a bar. Even just writing some of this out gives me a sense of calm, knowing that I’m consciously taking control of my stress and anxiety.

Things will improve. Change will, eventually, be good and lead to other good things. But for now, I’m just trying to get through the day.

the big news: i’ve got an agent!

For the past month or so, I’ve been cryptically tweeting about progress on “I DID A THING,” which was my very, very vague way of getting out my excitement for a project I embarked on but due to a lot of reasons, couldn’t be specific about just yet. Some of that had to do with the fact that I had no idea if it would actually happen, so I didn’t want to put the cart before the horse. Some of that had to do with business.

Guys, keeping a secret of this magnitude, when all you want to do is shout to the rooftops about how excited you are about your dreams starting to come true, has been SO HARD. And the thing is, this very vague cryptic project has a number of steps involved. I still can’t talk about a few of them, but I can finally talk about one that I’ve been sitting on for awhile, now that the paperwork is officially signed.

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Signing my contract! Yes, that is a Black Widow shirt for obvious reasons. Yes, my hair is a mess, but that’s okay.

I have a literary agent. I am officially represented by Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary.

Writing that sentence out — even just seeing it in print — is still surreal to me. I wasn’t sure where this crazy journey would lead me when I decided to query P.S. Literary about a project that is extremely important to me, and I count myself eternally grateful that I happened to click right away with Maria, who is absolutely the right people to help usher this project into the world. Say what you will about the geek world, but it’s small and lovely, and part of the reason I even thought of Maria as a good fit for what I hoped to do was because I knew how much she understood this specific project. Within the span of our long conversation when representation was on the table, I realized how much Maria was invested in my ideas, and how much I would click with her as a collaborative partner. You can query a bunch of people and take the first agent that comes along, but it’s truly so important to be able to listen to your agent, understand their views, and recognize their intentions. Because they want you to be successful as much as you want to be successful, and that’s a team effort. Long story short, I instantly knew this was going to be a great fit.

I started this process at the beginning of 2017, but a lot of this has come together in the past few weeks, which has made February a month of ups and downs — ups where this project is concerned, downs where full-time job opportunities are concerned. But in the atmosphere of the current political climate, having something to focus my energy on besides job searching has been lifesaving, and I’m learning all I can about the publishing world from the other side…a place I never thought I’d be (says the girl who saved dozens of stories to her computer in middle school and high school with the file name “Novel[1], [2], [3], etc” but never managed to complete NaNo.)

I’m still learning the ins and outs — how the whole process works, what I can and can’t tell people at certain points, etc. I’ve even already made stupid tiny mistakes by being overambitious, because it’s me, and also that’s probably what Clint Barton would do. But Maria has been amazing to have as a cheerleader, and I can’t wait to work more with her.

So, yeah. I have an agent. And as soon as I can share some other good news along the same lines, I will.