Every year I write a blog post on my birthday, typically from the Philadelphia airport because I somehow continue to stay in long distance relationships. Make sure to check out 2021’s birthday blog, Saturn Return. Is there a space theme? Are the stars aligning? What if I told you I’m a Mastermind?
This year I’m cheating and posting early because there is a high chance I will be sans internet on the real deal. I booked a trip 3 years ago and decided to worry about the details later. Now I am being hit with all those worries and obtaining vaccines, malaria meds, and safari pants as I head to South Africa for 2 weeks. Yes, I purchased pants that not only zip into capris, but also shorts. I am certain that I will be the coolest member of this trip once they see me zip these bad boys during the bush walk. Don’t worry, South Africa blogs will be coming once I am back with my computer and able to post in January. For now, you can enjoy me looking way too introspectively about the past year and how I feel about turning 29, with 30 looming around the corner. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Somehow heartbreak feels good in a place like this, right?
The strangest part of your 20s is that it is constantly evolving. One moment you are getting surgery on the opening of your vagina, the next you are sleeping on an air mattress in Hollywood, then onto Birmingham quarantining alone with a makeshift toilet in your back seat, all the way to NYC and filming a feature film you wrote while your therapist slowly ghosts you. I spent the majority of my 20s so focused on my goals and what I thought I needed to achieve by certain target ages. None of the targets were hit. Thank god. Every year is like waking up on Mars after falling asleep on Earth, yet somehow it is always where I needed to end up.
Your 20s is when you are craving ice cream, so you walk to CVS, but realize you’ve walked several blocks the opposite direction as you disassociated to a song that is hitting a little too close to home, then the dread of spinning around to go the right direction feels like it may kill you. My 20s have been about changing, adapting, and having to reinvent myself over and over again even through the dark and unknown periods. I moved to cities not knowing a soul, changed jobs multiple times, racked up debt, and tried to live out dreams no matter the cost to my body or mental health. It gets to the point where I will be several blocks away from the damn CVS again and I pray that maybe this is the last time I’ll need to pick myself up and turn it around. Somewhere down the line, you learn that unfortunately no one can pick you up out of your rut but yourself. As Taylor Swift would say, “You’re on your own kid. You always have been.” Luckily, she does throw in a “you can face this.”
I once was on a broken-down greyhound bus on I-76. It was back when the temperatures were in the negatives, freezing over runways at the Philly airport, causing me to snag an overnight bus to Pittsburgh to catch the only flight out of the north to Alabama in the next 3 days. The engine froze and the cold air started to seep in. After an hour or two, another greyhound bus came down to Amish country to save us.
I tried so hard to get to Alabama that day after flight cancellations, bus cancellations, and seeing someone trade a goat in their trunk at the Philly greyhound station (feels right for Philly somehow). It didn’t matter what I did or how hard I worked to get there. The bus broke down, and I found myself shivering in the seat at 3am, with a flight leaving in just a few hours. It was out of my control. Back then I was 20 years old and little did I know that this was what life was like in your 20s. Trying, trying, and trying over and over again, until you dizzy yourself into a spiral. You sit and wonder what everyone else will think of this broken-down mess you are on. Then 10 years later, you are in your studio apartment, staring at the ceiling, wondering if the decisions you made were for yourself or for creating a life that everyone else would deem successful. I started to control everything around me so no broken-down buses ever came, only I was just postponing the inevitable. The more I tried to control every knob and button, I was unknowingly causing an imminent shut down of all systems.
We finished filming “Lady Parts” this year and are continuing into post production. If you want to read more about that month of filming, check out my blog post “A Month of Lady Parts.” I did things this year I didn’t think possible. I produced a feature film on the tiniest budget possible, I drove and parallel parked a truck around Los Angeles, and I even faced my fear of medical supplies and picked up surgical props alone. There was so much to be proud of, yet when it all ended, the world around me felt like it was collapsing. Work was stressful, I took my back out, there were changeups on the feature film, my relationship went long distance, my credit cards from all the film funding maxed out, and my grandfather passed away the day after all filming ended.
For the first time in my life, I couldn’t find the will to get out of bed most mornings. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I had to go back to Philly for a few days just so someone could watch over me instead of being alone. I had to change therapists and ask my parents for money to help pay for toilet paper the following month. I’d cry every night, yet show up at every event with a smile on my face. I share all of this in case there is anyone out there who can relate at 29. They say with peaks come valleys, but the broken-down greyhound now looked as if another bus was never coming to save me. The cold air just kept creeping in. It was then I started to ask myself the hardest question. How was I going to pull myself out of this? I am so thankful for my supportive family and friends through all this, but in the end, it was only me that could fix my frozen engine.
Now before you stop reading and only think about my depressive episode and how that was a real bummer, valleys also come with peaks. It’s not just one big mountain and one big valley. It is a continuous up and down chain. Another bus eventually comes and gets you to the Pittsburgh airport on time for your flight. Unlike this bus metaphor I’m obsessing over, it doesn’t happen overnight. Healing is not a linear journey and it is one I will be on the rest of my life, well past 29. It’s the little wins, the little changes that turn into habits, the patterns you begin to notice and learn to perceive with a new mindset. Now let’s get back to that CVS metaphor that is now lingering on longer than their receipts.
I now notice the beautiful buildings as I walk several blocks in the wrong direction from the CVS. Instead I let myself get a little lost and stop at the new coffee shop as I pivot to walk back. Maybe even pop into the thrift store or divert on a walking path into the nearby park. It’s okay to take a step back and evaluate and let yourself feel the emotions you need to feel (okay it feels gross writing about feeling your emotions, but it’s important). If you are feeling like this may not be the path, it is okay to divert. Most importantly if you think it’s a win, then celebrate it, because you did it. No one can take it away from you.
To brighten up all these metaphor tangents, here are some of my favorite moments from 2022: Enjoying nights out in NYC, filming in a sex dungeon, finding photos of my Poppy that brought so much joy, reuniting with friends from near and far, and taking in all the little moments that made 2022 so special.
Now that we got the introspective bits out the way, I prepare to celebrate my 29th year around the sun, along with a midnight champagne toast, but this time in SAST (South Africa Standard Time). I’m so excited for what this year has in store and to maybe make it to the CVS, or maybe not. Who knows these days!
If you are feeling generous this holiday season or looking for the perfect birthday present for yours truly, please consider donating to the Lady Parts Indiegogo page. Your donations will help us cross the finish line of post-production as well as help us with film festival entry fees, marketing, and promotions. Any donations or even shares of the Indiegogo link on your social media accounts are greatly appreciated.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday!
Until next time, please enjoy this selfie of me getting a stress nosebleed while at work on a zoom with clients…
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