Shapeshifter

I’ve been laying around mostly like I’m doing Robin Williams’ impression of a hot dog. I’ve had quite a lot of time to reflect on the last 3 years being some of the hardest for me. No wonder my body is forcing me to rest with HFMD,  I was long due for a vacation and rest. Of course something tropical would have been preferred instead of contagious, bubbling blisters on my hands and feet but I do have to say I’ve been sleeping better during this illness than I have in the last three years.

 
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If I could sum up those years with titles they would be as follows:

2016: The Year of Many Heartbreaks

2017: The Year of Me Building Up My Strength

2018: The Year of Self Care

So as for the upcoming 2019, I’m looking at it as : The Year I Rise Up From The Ashes and Kick Some Ass.  Or perhaps more appropriately in my case, dead skin flakes. (We’re in the skin peeling phase of the illness, gross! )

Life is tough and not always chipper and sunshine. I know I come off  most of the time as being the sunshine girl and very optimistic. Which of course I am but I am also human and know that when the struggles are real, boy can they be real. Could I get some fake struggles here for once? I don’t even know what they would be…

I’m also so grateful for the amazing friends and family in my life. I’m truly so blessed with so many that truly care about me. Being this sick has really given me a reminder of this and I’m so grateful. You want to see who really cares about you, get hand, foot and mouth disease. Then see who reaches out to you and who cowers away.

I am also grateful to be reminded that even though the first two days of having HFMD for me were full of burning, excruciating pain. Seriously I’ve never experienced anything like it and I have a decent tolerance of pain. This though was like fire from under the skin and Tylenol nor any other pain killer could help. I knew then through it all that this is going to pass and go away with healing. Just like that year of heartbreaks. When I felt like sadness and events of sadness were constantly happening to me one by one. Like a domino effect, stack after stack just knocking down. It threw me into quite a depression quite honestly. I pulled myself out of it with time and healing. I’m certainly better today than I was almost 3 years ago. There are other people all over the world suffering far worse illnesses and losses. I swear that one year I worked at the Children’s Hospital as a volunteer in the 6th floor play room changed my perspective on life forever. I still will reflect on the precious little lives I saw in their fighting battles with cancer, some on life support relying on a machine to help them take a normal breath and other terminal illnesses that I know I wouldn’t be nearly as strong to fight. There are kids who have never known a world outside of that hospital since the day they were born.

Now I’m not down playing when I am sad or sick I shouldn’t feel those feelings of the time. I mean I’m pretty bummed this year my Christmas will have to be spent in quarantine in my small studio apartment. Away from human life. Thank God for my two cats and turtle. Oh my cats, let me talk about how those two have snuggled up to me without a care that I look like some kind of chewed up piece of meat. They also don’t care about my germs although they don’t like when I spray myself with calamine lotion.  They just know when I am not well and take shifts snuggling up to me. Animals seriously are the best. Otherwise without them, I really would be getting cabin fever. It’s like my friend Christin said it best, “You’re like a Disney Princess in your own little cottage. ” Well there are some days I feel like a Princess locked up in her tower. It’s okay though, I’m giving myself apartment cleaning assignments here and there. In anticipation for the big sanitization I’m going to have to give this place when it’s all over. I’m tired thinking about all the laundry that lies ahead for me. I’ve also had time to watch many great shows and movies. Check out Bird Box on Netflix. Damn, Sandra Bullock you made me clutch blankets worrying for you every time you removed that blindfold!

I’m also so grateful for my sense of humor. That has helped me get through this thing by making fun of it. I compared myself to Robert the Leper from Braveheart meets some kind of reptilian woman. That’s just a fact of how I felt and looked. I didn’t mention the entire swarm of blisters that bubbled on the back of my head did I? That’s when I started to feel like a reptile. Also I was eating pizza one night and looked down and seriously my hands camouflaged with the pepperoni and cheese. I had to proceed this one with caution as I went for my next bite.

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I guess the point of this blog is to share a little snippet of the thoughts I’ve had lately from this illness. I have cried a few times during this but I also have had moments of laughter. Seeing myself struggle to open a pill bottle or even a bottle of ginger ale made me laugh for some reason. Or the time I couldn’t pull my pajama pants up from the pain in my hands. Wait that one wasn’t so funny actually. Oh and the drugs I’m on for this illness are fantastic. I have so many entries on my dream journal to catch up on after this I can’t even tell you. Perhaps another blog. They have been trippy and full of cameos of people in my life that are so random. Don’t take your health for granted. Always put self care first. I truly believe that has been my lesson from my illness. So 2019 I’m coming to kick your ass with fresh shed skin.

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A Pug’s Life

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“You need to leave or else you will get shot. Do you understand me?”

These were the words coldly shrilled towards me  by a woman in her door way as I attempted to return her dog. This is a story about an elderly pug I came across yesterday and it escalated into an unexpected full day rescue to get him to safety. This all occurred while walking one of my dogs.

As a side note to those who don’t know, on the side from acting and working a night hosting job at a restaurant, I walk dogs for extra money. It’s actually been a life saver for me financially and has saved me twice from times I’ve been laid off from other survival jobs. I’ve been building up a nice little side business through word of mouth with friends. Plus I enjoy  the dogs company way more than most people I come in contact with, which leads us back to this story.

I was walking Rolly, the adorable Welsh Corgi who is one of my every day clients and saw an elderly, obese pug walking around in a harness and a leash dragging on the ground. No owner in sight. My first thought was he some how got out or maybe the owner was not far behind so I looked around. No one in sight.  The dog began to defecate in front of an elementary school and a group of young boys were laughing and pointing hysterically at the poor dog so I ran over with Rolly dragging behind me. I grabbed the leash while the kids were continuing to comment on this dog and his abnormally large amounts of defecation. I grabbed one of Rolly’s bags and cleaned up after the poor guy. Then proceeded to take him away from the cackle squad of school boys. We walked back towards his apartment building and I actually asked the dog out loud, “Hey boy where do you live?” I wasn’t actually expecting a Lassie like response it was more a comment to myself if anything as I was trying to figure out where his person was. The dog proceeded to lead me right to this apartment front door. This door looked nice, clean and had a dog face as the door knocker. Of course my first thought was, “Oh, these must be dog people.” Who else would have a dog face for their door knocker? So I knock on the door and then immediately I hear an angry, older woman’s voice.

“What are you doing here? Go away!”

I look around and see a face through lace curtains. I start to get an uneasy feeling. She looked to be in her fifties maybe sixties. Very pale, sickly looking. It was hard to tell exactly. I just had this feeling in my gut something abnormal was going on here.

“Excuse me, I’m a dog walker in this neighborhood and I found this pug just wandering around. Does he belong to you?” I asked with as friendly a tone I could, considering I already felt uneasy with this situation.

Very emotionally and continuously angry she says, “Yes and he’s been stuck in here for days without going to the bathroom so I let him out so he needs to do that. Now leave.” Or something along those lines.

Of course this is a totally unexpected response and situation. Most normal people are grateful to have you return their dog if he is wandering around by himself on the streets. Plus who the hell just lets their dog out by himself on his leash to go poop without supervision and it’s not in a backyard it’s by a busy street? I started to figure out quickly this lady did not have her marbles all together. So I on a hunch just flat out asked.

“Do you not want this dog anymore?”

She then said the most unexpected thing to me with both a paranoid and threatening undertone, “You need to leave or else you will get shot. Do you understand me?”

Okay message received, time to leave with this dog and go to safety. This woman is clearly a psycho or schizophrenic or perhaps she has dementia? Who knows mental illness in America is a real thing. I don’t know but she is not my monkies or my circus. So I left quickly, she closed the door and I walked with the two dogs to Rolly’s place which I was at this point grateful was a gated, secured apartment building. What the heck was I going to do with this poor sweet, very over weight pug who now appeared at least by Crazy Woman #505 to be abandoned? I couldn’t take him home to my place because first off my cats are awesome and have had positive sniffing interactions with dogs at the vet clinic but I have no idea how they would do with this pug stranger. Secondly my landlord is a Nazi when it comes to having dogs in our building so if I tried this I would have to pull some Ace Ventura kind of moves and hide the dog in my bathtub? I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was at a complete loss and I was scheduled to go to work in 6 hours. So the clock was ticking.

I ran into a nice lady in the apartment building who I have seen often walking her cute little scruffy terrier mix. I told her my story and wasn’t sure what to do and she called her friend from work who is involved with dog rescues. I dropped Rolly off into his place so I had one less dog to worry about. Then we proceeded to walk up the street while waiting to hear back from her friend, Patricia about the rescue plan. Tracy, was her name and she also knew of a dog rescue up the street so we proceeded to walk there. As we were doing this the poor pug was pooping and peeing non stop. I seriously have never seen a dog poop this frequently. I think he really had been locked up in that apartment for several days with no bathroom breaks. At this point we had no bags so we were using Kleenexes from our purses to clean up the dog’s poop. Poor guy. I’m sure he was starting to feel better from getting all that out of his system. He then got tired and wouldn’t walk any further. Tracy ran up the street to talk to the dog rescue. Apparently they rescue dogs from all over including in Asian countries so that was neat to find out about. Unfortunately though they couldn’t take our pug but gave us phone numbers of ASPCA involved rescues. So we kept calling but all those numbers went to voice mails or led us no where. I even called a place I volunteered for and they went to voice mail as well and I guess now require a donation with dogs being rescued so that wasn’t helping us right now.

Patricia, Tracy’s friend got in contact with her and was in the process of checking with the Glendale Small Animal hospital if they would temporarily take in this pug over night while we work on rescuing him. In the mean time Tracy had to go to work and I decided to give my own vet clinic a try or maybe they would have a good suggestion of where I could take this senior citizen pug. I found out if you take an elderly dog to a humane society they will euthanize him quicker before getting him adopted so that was not going to happen to this little guy today. Not on my watch. The staff at Best Friends Animal Hospital where I take Jack and Willow were very sweet but gave me the same information everyone else was giving me. The name of dog rescues to call and animal shelters. So I decided maybe I should go file a police report since I was after all threatened by Miss Crazy pants. So I went over with the pug to the North Hollywood Police Department and there was a line for police reports. They were saying to everyone it’s going to take a while. I chatted with a sweet father and his daughter about the situation. They were touched by my efforts in helping this dog so far.  Then of course my phone died. So I was crouched over by the wall outlet trying to write text messages to Tracy and they officially had the go from the Glendale Small Animal Hospital. At this point filing a report was going to take centuries and the clock was ticking and I also had limited time to get the dog to the animal hospital in Glendale before they closed. Plus I had to get ready for my night job in two hours. So I took the dog on the road trip and might I add this little guy seemed to like car rides. He was just game to jump in the car snort breathing, panting and wagging his curly tail. He really was a delightful little guy.

We get to the hospital after about twenty minutes in Los Angeles traffic and the proceedings began. Walking in the office everyone was informed of the rescue story including some patients waiting to take their dogs in for vet visits. The whole staff of the animal hospital were caring, compassionate people who  were upset to hear of the dogs’ treatment. I met another lovely lady named Carolina who was ready to check him out and scan for a microchip.  He was not only overweight but also his nails were extremely long and in need of a good trim probably making it hurt to walk. We found out the pug has a microchip from the scanner and began to look up the owner’s contact information. So the rules are if the dog is microchipped the owner of the dog must be contacted and given five days to come claim the dog with a retrieval fee from an animal shelter before the dog is able to be put up in foster care and found a new home.

“You can always tell about somebody by the way they put their hands on an animal.” —Betty White

I know there is a lot of bad people in the world but with those bad people there are also those unsung heroes who are there to lend a helping hand, even for a little pug’s life.

24993150_10101112863275593_1138353416522497821_n                                Me pictured here with Rolly the corgi.

 

UPDATE:

I am happy to inform you that the original owners of Norman the pug never came to claim him. So Norman was taken in by a foster from Pugs N Roses which is a non profit rescue in southern California that helps pugs, mix breeds and dogs on death row find forever homes. It took only a couple months before Norman found his forever home. So below are the pictures from this happy news for the pug I helped out one day. I’m so glad he found a home that will give him the love he deserves.

Unwanted

Over a year and no blog written?!? Crazy, I am long over due. Where do I even begin? I’ve been through a lot quite honestly. I was laid off from my theatre job as you probably know from my last blog entry. That was a hard hit, I can reflect on the good experiences I had working there but they were very difficult making an ends meet financially. Garry Marshall got to be my boss for two years and I have some cool memories from that I will take with me for the rest of my life.  My friend helped me get a hostess job at KOI in West Hollywood which is this really nice Asian Fusion restaurant. Yes I swore to myself after my days working at The Waffle in Hollywood I would never work in restaurants ever again. Nope, never say never. Since I am now working in restaurants again. Everyone I work with are really great and fun, we’ve all become fast friends for sure. I’m also making more hourly there than I have at any other job I’ve ever had so that’s a definite bonus. The thing that is hard for me to deal with is the anxiety I get from the people in that place. We get so busy on Saturday nights that I find myself almost in a claustrophobic state by the time 9:30 P.M. rolls around and not quite the 300 people we have reservations for have come in yet. It’s also some of the most obnoxious, rude, and entitled L.A. type of people you’ve ever seen in your life. Layering on the thick skin and testing my patience that’s for sure.  I don’t think I can ever see myself move up to server there so I do wonder what this means as far as my future with the place. But for now it’s a great night job that helps support me with flexibility during the day for acting and auditions. So that is the most important part right now.

 

Acting has been going alright. I am with a new commercial agent and they seem to send me out quite a bit so I am very grateful for that. Working on getting a theatrical agent and looking into taking voice over classes and dabbling into that world. I’m pretty excited about this since it’s another great skill to build up and I do have a range of voices to work with including my own which is quite marketable. Plus it’s always something I have wanted to do. I’m also still working on my comedy duo two woman show with my writing partner, Christin Jezak. Unexpected Crowns, we play over 14 zippy, quirky,  goofy characters. It’s aimed towards self-esteem and positivity towards women. We’ve been focused on getting our audience built up on social media platforms. So that’s been exciting and fun with keeping the creative juices going while auditions may be slow. I’m also working on rewriting some stand-up and hoping to get back up and hit some open mics. I also have a western short film I’ve started to write with a character for myself in mind. Perhaps as that gets in more development I will discuss more on my blog about it.

As for my personal life, that’s where my biggest struggle is still today. Just ask my therapist! Seriously though I usually don’t share it often but I have been going to a therapist for about 3 years now for self-esteem issues I’ve battled with for most of my life. It’s actually been quite a wonderful thing for me especially to have someone else to talk to about things I’m going through, the ups and downs. Well lately the major down for me has been relationships. I’m so tired of getting hurt and having my heart-broken. It’s reached the point I don’t have the ambition to try much any more. I’m sure that will change one day but for now I am just fed up with it all. I’m actually not even trusting of anyone wanting to be with me. Which I know is ridiculous but I’m just too broken. I also sometimes feel like I don’t fit in with my generation and how they date these days. It seems to be all about brief hook ups and no real connections. No one wants to stay committed to each other and I always eventually  feel underappreciated. Like I said, I’m done with love. I so long to find someone to share a life with and will be home to give me hugs. Wow how I crave those and someone to laugh with, go on adventures with and just grow old with…is that so wrong to want? I have come close to finding this but alas they did not want the same I guess. Anyways there’s my moment of getting real.

I have a broken car that almost is a metaphor to my life right now. I crashed it on my way to Candy Crush the game show that I was doing audience work for while I was unemployed. So now it is held together with white duct tape and who knows when I will ever be able to afford to fix it.

So since the blog last year I am still going through quite a bit emotionally, quite a bit circumstantially but when it comes down to it you know what I still have my health, my cats and turtle, and my passions for acting which really are the back bone to me. So I will keep trekking there, keep trying to find the humor in all my situations and keep just being Karah. Some day that will be appreciated and some day that will pay off in my future success. I just know it in my heart and soul. Maybe that can be the overall purpose in this blog, someone reading this may be going through the same thing. Maybe you have had your heart-broken, over and over again. Maybe you’re like me, down on your luck just know you are not alone. Things will get better, you always find a way. This struggle will be behind you one day. I also have been telling myself lately as I go through the pains of feeling unwanted and undesired that if I exist and I am a person so willing to love and give my all there has to be someone out there with the same compassion and caring heart looking for the same thing. That’s what keeps me going through the loneliness and keeps me going. 13718541_10100705115909583_3693966041153621354_n

Photo by Roger Gana James Photography

Poetic Reflections

I looked through an old poetry book tonight. I’ve had it since I was about 12 years old. It seems the only time I wrote anything down in it was when I was feeling sad or lonely. I guess it was my outlet for those emotional moments. What was interesting as I delicately turned each page which quite honestly was being held together by black electrical tape. I was validated that all these years I have battled with feeling like I didn’t fit in with the world that I’ve always been this misfit looking to fit in and find  some form of acceptance when really it’s my own uniqueness that I now fully embrace. I also have always been searching for a special someone to share my life with but constantly was not succeeding in that department, ha I still am not succeeding in that department.  Dating is hard! Not that I’m complaining I do enjoy the freedoms of being single at times. It sure is nice not to always rush and clean up my place every night before someone comes over. But I have taken on the role of the single woman for so long. I’m in my 30’s, I would like to have someone to love and support and get that in return. These are not abnormal things to be ashamed about. I know I can rely on myself and I do have to say I have been quite a scrapper when it comes to relying on myself and getting creative. So reading through the poems where my heart aches I sat there with tears in my eyes thinking wow I still feel this way. I still search and long through my own loneliness. I can still laugh and have amazing memories and moments with friends but that lonely streak does hit once in a while. Especially when I go home. Okay truth be told I do live with two cats and a turtle now so I am not going home totally alone. But human connection is needed too. Why do I feel like I have to explain myself in a blog? Let’s change the font shall we?

Anyways the other thing I noticed reading through my poems was the longing and fight I seemed to have even back then in my teens with my dreams. How I felt so far from them or I was dealing with people who doubted my abilities or that I could accomplish these goals and I was going to prove them wrong. I still deal with that constantly. I’ve dealt with the questions and the criticisms. The people who doubt you and think you should be going for a different more stable career. Believe me it’s a constant and if it wasn’t for my own passions, resilience and belief in myself. I don’t know how I would get through or I would probably have given up long ago.

Life has thrown its hiccups at me for sure, especially in the last few years. I’ve been tested so much. Right now I’m dealing with a bumper on my car hanging on literally by strings and bungee chords. For some reason my driver side sun visor is broken now too and so it flops down and smacks me in the forehead. I got laid off from my survival job at the theatre a week ago. So having gone through a similar lay off years ago, I have taken charge since then going back into looking for a server type job. Yep going to go back into that cliché but you have to do what you have to do. But as I’m fighting for all of this I can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

So I look back at the girl who use to journal in high school that one day she would be like Katharine Hepburn and have lots of affairs on yachts…which I think she only had an affair with Spencer Tracey on a yacht so I don’t know why I made that plural. But I look back at that girl and say keep swimming. Keep going. And to anyone reading this blog I say to you no matter what life is throwing at you. Just keep doing what you have to do for you. No one can tell you how to run your life but you. It’s how you deal with those circumstances I think is important. If I ever have a daughter some day or son, I will tell them to always go for those dreams. I will always tell them to go for what makes them happy. For whom makes them happy. If they feel like an underdog, a misfit, or a lonesome ranger that’s okay. It’s just their uniqueness that they need to let be and accept themselves. I guess these are just my thoughts perhaps my guidelines that have always been there shaping me my way through my journey through life. Or I need to start writing poetry about my happier moments of bliss. Either way for now I’ll just do what I have to do.

 

Ruminate

Sometimes I sit and reflect on things in my life. You know as one does in their own. We all need to have a human moment once in a whiile. I find myself always reflecting on my past accomplishments, memories with friends or family and even looking through pictures of those nostalgic moments. In some way I feel maybe I’m always re-centering myself and reminding me of where I’ve come from and where I am headed to and who knows what tomorrow will bring. I’m not even sure what this blog topic is really leading to as I let words flow through the typing of my fingers.

Let’s face it, I don’t live the normal life most live. I am not alone in being a struggling actor, artist or whatever you want to call folk such as myself. Gypsy people? I get that I chose probably the most difficult career pursuit with so many odds set against me. I also knew how hard this was going to be and how much creativity I was going to have to  have in paying those bills and keeping a roof over my head and you know what? I always seem to figure it out but it doesn’t go without fighting against stress and all the uncertainty. I guess the struggle I am having is wishing I was at least in some heap of improvement and in a better place for myself as an actor. Work! I want work! I work part-time, with not always consistent hours at a theatre for my “survival job,” and I treasure the job and the people I work with. Never has a job been more cool with me leaving and coming back if I have an audition or shoot. Not even when I waited tables…which I still get anxiety thinking of those days and fear I will have to take one of those jobs again some day to help with my money situation.

It’s just so tough because every month is a scramble for me financially. I max out this card to pay that card or send a loan to my bank account to pay rent or pay that bill after the credit card bill is paid and it is just a never-ending cycle of struggle. I keep telling myself it’s not forever but maybe there’s a part of me that fears that it is always going to be this way. I mean in some ways I handle it as best as I can but in some ways I just get by. I keep looking for that other job or second that will help me but at the same time I don’t want anything to jeopardize my flexibility for acting opportunities. Then on  top of that those opportunities seem more like teases than they do anything else. I walk dogs for extra money but those gigs aren’t always steady and sometimes not enough. It’s just a constant search. It’s practically a hobby of mine. Of course on top of finding acting jobs. My life consists of finding jobs! Always searching, problem solving, and you just need a moment to take and be like, who am I?

So how do I keep going? How do I keep the belief in myself and my dreams? How do I keep the persistence? The drive? How do I pick myself back up after I’ve been knocked down? These reflective moments do it for me. High school drama club pictures and the academic theatre award I have hanging on my apartment wall. Going into my closet and grabbing a wig or costume piece and becoming a character. Something or someone I want to portray.  I think of my sister and our silly spontaneous memories where we stayed up too late and made mom mad because of us not going to bed because of our giggling jokes. I look at my model portfolio from the age of 14 and 15 when I started out onto this day where I still find myself dabbling back into modeling gigs as a 3o something. I think of the volunteer jobs I’ve had. I think of the times I’ve helped people or animals. I think of who I have become and all the work I’ve been really working on with my self-esteem issues. I think of the nice things people have said to me, maybe even involving their support and how they think I’m going to make it. I continue to dream. I may shift my approaches but I continue to keep on keeping on. I snuggle my cats and play with them. They really are the sweetest and loving. I think of my best friend and maybe send her a goofy text to see where she is flying to. I’ll call my mom and get a good pep talk and laugh about something that happened to us that day. I’ll talk to my dad to catch up on family gossip or some silly conversation. I google over a new crush. I think about the good and bad of a past lover. I watch an I Love Lucy rerun or maybe a Hugh Jackman or John Cusack movie. Movies help me escape my own criticisms and I just absorb.

At the end of the day, I really think my purpose in life is to make people happy. Whether from making them laugh, through acts of kindness, entertaining them through my acting or just being there when someone needs me. If I can make someone at least smile every day, I am satisfied. But maybe there is always going to be a part of me looking to achieve more and maybe that will be a hunger I will always have. The struggle is here, it is real but I know in my heart it is not forever. I am grateful for the opportunities I am blessed with achieving.

In the end I think what matters most is that I am happy and how I am as a human being to others. Kindness is in my religious beliefs and I will spread that kindness as much as I can. I’ll rake through the rest of this stuff in this gypsy lifestyle with a smile on my face.

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The Ones Who Dream

Now that the Oscars are behind us and La La Land took home quite a few winnings, Best Picture not included. This blog is not about that snafu moment but wow that was crazy, am I right? Anyways, I’ve been wanting to touch on this movie and what it meant to me when I saw it. I’ve stayed silent as I’ve seen many of my acting  and film maker friends harp on whether they thought it was a unique artistic film, a love letter to Los Angeles and the creatives who chase their dreams or if it was absolutely loathed by the musical theatre proficients or people who think there’s not enough accuracy of how it is pursuing a career in show business and they refuse to like it.

I loved it for it’s beauty, telling of a story of two people intertwined in their lives as a Jazz muscian and an actress who can’t catch a break. I loved the musical numbers. I’m not a child of musical theatre by any means. I most certainly enjoy them and consider myself a fan. When it comes to the skills myself. I am a mediocre, alto singer and can keep a tune…most of the time and if I work extra hard I can keep up on the dance moves but it tends to take me longer than most everyone else. I know this because I went to a college who’s theatre department was favoring to musical theatre shows and BFA students and I was a silly theatre BA trying to find her place in shows. Which if there wasn’t a straight play to be in, I was in the chorus or ensemble of the musicals. So therefore I appreciated the movies musical numbers and I loved the escapism. Honestly so many movies are wonderful escapism into another world, someone’s life or point of view. Even if you related to their circumstances or their feelings in the situations they go through. Sometimes I think people expect too much perfection in a film when a film can be just as amazing for it’s imperfections.

What hit me the hardest in this film, was relating to Emma Stone’s character Mia. The struggles she was going through working her survival job, rushing off to auditions and just trying to deal with the constant rejections day after day. Closed door after closed door. The feeling of hope and the let down of it not working out constantly. The dissapointments are what I live with every day. I’m going through my own struggles with that and it can be quite painful. It’s enough for anyone to go absolutely nuts and sometimes I think I am to continue going through it but yet the dream and passion keeps me going after it.  Some have said the movie didn’t have her going through struggles enough or showcase the sexism, ageism and constant other paradoxes thrown at us on top of it all. I can see that point of view, absolutely, but I also think they showed how hard it is especially in the length of time of the film. I got it, I felt a piece of my life was being displayed on screen.

The scene that hit home for me (slight spoiler alert) was the moment  Emma’s character was leaving a call back audition that didn’t go so well and she was cut off by the casting director. She walks out into the waiting room full of other red head actresses who looked just like her and getting in an elevator with two red heads on each of her side and the lack of individuality and isolation that scene portrayed her character feeling. This particular scene I have lived several times in my life. I can remember an audition I went to and sat town surrounded by actresses who looked exactly like me, same hairstyle and color. It’s a very strange, humbling experience. You go around your day to day life embracing your individual style, your uniqueness. I definitely still feel like I’m very unique in my personality but experiences like this can be an odd surreal experience. So that scene really resonated with me.

Therefore of course I was routing for Mia. I also am a big Emma Stone fan, I enjoy everything she’s in and enjoyed this performance. Her and Ryan Gosling have great screen chemistry as Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks did. They make a great pair on film. I enjoyed Ryan Gosling, although I’m pretty sure I dated that guy at some point in my twenties and it didn’t end well for me. None the less his performance was amazing as well. He’s just so fantastic!

This blog has started to feel like a movie review, which is not my intention so let’s get back on track with what this movie meant to me. L.A. is a city that is both incredible and bursting with culture and amazement. It can be a lonely city even though it is so heavily populated. A place of dreams and hard workers. It can also be hardship after hardship. It’s incredible to be here and it really is what you make of it. I recently was talking to a friend about how nice it is to not have roommates, well you know except my two cats and a turtle. But it’s nice to have my own little studio apartment, a space to call my own. She agreed since she lives in her own apartment as well. She said, “Sometimes you need your place where if you need to, you can just cry, create, and just be.” I totally agree, any time I ever lived with other people I felt like  I censored myself of my true emotions. Strange, perhaps that’s the introvert part of me. Anyways L.A. can be this all big, consuming city and when you need that safe haven to come home to it’s nice to have it there.

I think I will end this post with some of the lyrics from one of the songs Mia sings in the movie called, “The Audition.” I think it speaks for who I aimed this blog towards.

Here’s to the ones who dream

Foolish as they may seem.

Here’s to the hearts that ache.

Here’s to the mess we make.

McIntosh Lake

Before I had the beach to run away to and do my deep thinking or therapeutic getaways there was a place in my hometown of Longmont, Colorado that I treasured going to for such needed moments. That place is called McIntosh Lake.

It’s a moderately decent sized lake with a spectacular and beautiful view of the Twin Peaks. I guess I’ve always been drawn to large bodies of water to recenter myself and put my thoughts in order. I have many great memories of walks around the trail that circles the lake and even once having awkward eye contact with a crane. You ever make eye contact with one of those tall birds? It’s intimidating and I don’t think either one of us knew what the other would do next in that moment. So we just shifted our eyes back and forth at one another. I mean those birds are always awkward anyways…then again so am I.

I’ve had conversations with ex boyfriends around that lake…usually they were good, maybe there was a sad one once in a while. I had walks with my dad when he came to visit and we’d talk about life or silly things. I use to hang out with my best friend on the swing set by that lake all through high school and my college years. I use to take my dog, Tootsie on walks there. My sweet little west highland white terrier who I lost 6 years ago to cancer. She would bark at the fish that jumped into the air, out of the water and sniff all the algae, stinky lake smells on the shore. It’s a place that was my escape, my haven of good memories. A place of solitude and where I could do all my deep thinking. A part time introverts’ dream.

Even when I go back to Colorado to visit my mom. I will take a little trip to the lake and rehash my old stomping grounds. Sometimes she’ll come along for one of our therapy rides with a sandwich. I mean sandwiches are always good even not on therapy rides. It’s a visit to pay tribute and maybe a personal way of reflecting on my life where it is going and where it’s been. It’s always been good to me, this lake located blocks from my old home. Sometimes I think of it fondly like an old friend.

I guess that’s why I decided to write about it today. Because no matter how many years I am away from that lake. It seems to stay the same. Even with new houses being built around it or the park nearby adding a sculpture or being refurbished. McIntosh lake stays the same and soothing currents brush the shore like a mini ocean. The mountain view seems to stare back in all it’s glory and depending on its season it looks like an artists’ beautiful oil painting. It always seems to remind me of the beauty I was so lucky to grow up being around. A Colorado girl treasuring a beautiful Colorado scenery.

The ocean is now my place for escapism from the hustle and bustle of life where I am now. It holds a special place in my heart. There however will always be a special place reserved for my lake I grew up with.

McIntosh Lake, I love you and always will.

Animal Amazon

I don’t know why it drives me nuts that friends or some acquaintance calls me a cat lady. It’s not that they are necessarily calling me a crazy cat lady, although that has been teased at me before, but it makes me frustrated because if they really knew me they would know I’m more than a cat lady, I’m a big animal lover. An Animal Amazon as I’ve stated in arguments. Especially to the snarky person who just hates cats. 635945323776138309-1850101306_crazy-cat-lady-color

Since I was a kid, I always brought in some stray or animal I crossed paths with…you could ask my mom and she would tell you I was little Karah and her critters. I always negotiated to get a new pet too. I just loved being surrounded by animals and learning to take care of them. So to this day I just like having animals in my life. Of course I think now that I’m an adult I take much better care of them and to many’s surprise who grew up with me, I did not become a veterinarian or someone who works in a non-profit. I have worked at animal sanctuaries or shelters as a volunteer.  The love, dedication and compassion for them is still strong.

Right now I have two cats and a turtle, that is what my apartment landlord will allow and I do go back and forth considering getting a fish again but I am holding off during my busy time as an actress for the time being. You can bet though if I had my way I would totally be like Ace Ventura and have so many animals living with me, even down to penguins in my fridge. Actually it’s probably good that I don’t have that many animals in my studio apartment. I’d come off as some kind of hoarder of animals. Three’s a company in my struggling actor’s pad for now. aceventura-862x485

So let me introduce the animals I have with a brief description. My red eared slider turtle named Ethel…aka Biggie. I usually call him Biggie but as a little hatchling he was named Ethel and his sibling was Lucy. Biggie grew real fast and his sex was later determined to be male. It’s hard to tell when they are so little. He’s about 8 inches now and two years old. I grew up having turtles through out my life and so far I must be doing something right keeping him alive. The sad story about little Lucy is she passed away last year. She never grew, even after I separated them in two tanks she didn’t grow. So I lost her, if she was a her…I’ll never even know.  I still have Biggie Ethel and he is a charmer. 14333652_10100744069296683_1628460538328425269_n

My first cat: Jack, he’s a big, grey and white, fluffy, very handsome sweet heart. Although taking him to the vet he changes and becomes a jaguar. He doesn’t do well at the vet and often has to be sedated when being checked out. He is four years old now and I and my old roommate got him and his sister Peach from two friends who rescued them out of an apartment parking lot. Sadly they and their other siblings lost a brother from getting hit by a car. There mom was feral and because of the risk of being hit by a car, my two friends took them in and nursed them to good health. Jack is huge, he’s a big cat. It can be intimidating to people who meet him at first. He even walks around my apartment like a cougar with the same stride. I love him and he is my buddy. 1229997_982933901143_854438657_n

The second cat, our newest member of the family is Willow: She’s currently only 7 weeks old. She’s a tiny calico princess. She too was rescued by another friend in a Mexican restaurant parking lot. I guess I’m prone to get rescues in need of  home from parking lots. Her story is similar to Jack’s, her mother was no where in sight, her siblings were hit by cars. When she came to me she barely had fur on her ears from my guess is malnutrition. Her coat is really developing beautifully now. You can bet she is spoiled in the Britton household. She is a little ball of energy. She is spunky, hyper and has the silly spontaneity of a kitten. She also likes to bite fingers which is a kitten thing but man those sharp teeth sometimes. Ahhh! She also loves to snuggle on your lap or on your chest whether while watching TV or in the morning in bed. She’s also a purr bucket. Jack likes to keep his distance unless on his terms as far as snuggles go but he does like to snuggle as well.

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I want a dog some day, really bad actually. That goal comes to mind before any children but I also would rather have a yard of my own for them. I dream of a ranch home where I can have more animals than just two cats and one turtle. I use to have a sweet dog, a west highland white terrier who was in my life since I was 10 and had to be put to sleep four years ago due to cancer. She lived to be about 16, which is amazing. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. In the mean time I live vicariously through other people’s dogs by dog walking and sitting. 23689_551246541073_5154062_n

I had many other dogs and pets growing up but I will leave them out for now since I need to return to the subject this blog started with, why does it bother me so much to be called a cat lady? It’s because I am more than a cat lady. More than being labeled and categorized in one genre. Sometimes that label comes with a negative tone which it shouldn’t. If you’re a cat person, who prefers only cats then good for you and that is wonderful. I just like the idea of loving all animals and I think they deserve to be loved and respected. Just because I have mostly cats at the moment doesn’t make me just a cat lady. What a silly pet peeve I know but dag nabbit I have never liked being labeled in one category. I just plain prefer that I’m labeled that I love them all. Yes that includes crocodiles or alligators or slithery animals although they aren’t my favorite, some terrify me, I still respect them and value their lives.

So I will conclude this, here are my labels: I’m an animal lover, animal amazon, dog walker and cat enthusiast. I love them all. Also I have never had a blog where I inserted so many photos. So friends or snarky acquaintances leave me alone as I smoke this cigarette, wearing a blue and pink mumu and rollers in my hair…I’m not a cat lady, I’m an Animal Amazon.

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Yelp, People Are Crazy

It’s probably because I’ve worked in customer service most of my life. Especially in restaurants and how reliant our managers and the owners were on Yelp reviews. Now I have made it my mission to help out a business when I have a good experience. I write a nice review of my positive experience and avoid writing one if it was awful. Here’s why I make the extra effort whenever I can. People will only review on Yelp when they are angry, had a negative experience or want to stick it to the man or the server who didn’t bring them their check fast enough. As someone who gets so annoyed by this entitled and angry mentality. I want to be that lower percent of people spreading kindness. So with that let me share a story that happened recently about a reviewer who decided to passive aggressively argue with me by email about my reviews.

So one day, not very long ago I went to a Starbucks close to my apartment. It’s a recently built one and it has a drive thru that is always backed up and busy. I went by because at the time I was craving a peppermint hot cocoa. Tis the season. So I go, stand in line for a while. I was on my hour lunch break and after checking on my cats at home I had the time to spare to wait for a drink. So I made that choice. There was a huge line of cars backed up. Once I got to the window the guy told me my drink was on the house since I was waiting so long. I told him, “Oh wow, well thank you very much.” I thought the way they were handling themselves during a huge rush hour was just fantastic and I felt giving a drink for my inconvenience, which really wasn’t that much of an inconvenience because like I said, I made the choice to stay around even seeing they were slammed. So after I got my drink the next day I decided I would pay it forward and write a nice review about that Starbucks as a token of my appreciation. Here’s what I wrote about them giving them 5 stars because their service was for me fast and friendly.

12/11/ 2016:

I came here yesterday (12/10/2016) really quick before heading back to work from my break. It would have been about 4:30 P.M. they were slammed. Cars backing out of the parking lot and people waiting for their drinks. However I have to say, watching and observing how they handled themselves I was really impressed. This time of year can be hectic for everyone. I was very impressed with their organized, speed and excellent customer service. They thanked me for waiting along with others but quite honestly it wasn’t a bad wait at all. I want management to know that the team I encountered there yesterday is fantastic and to thank you all for giving me not only a delicious peppermint hot cocoa but also a great experience. You all rock!

There you go, a simple, nice review mainly reviewing the customer service and positive experience I had at that Starbucks. Well later that evening I received a message in my email from my Yelp account from a Julie A. giving me her opinion hinting on why my review is wrong and how horrible that Starbucks is….here’s exactly what she wrote me:

Julie A. : I’m so glad you had a wonderful experience.  I had a very awful experience — staff was overwhelmed, very slow, and made so many mistakes while I was there.  I think you’re the first 5 star review so I’m happy for you and for them.  Most reviews have been 1 or 2 stars.  I hope they get better… just my two cents.  Or perhaps you caught them on a good day.

What in the heck? Why does it matter? It was my review, my experience what is the point of this? So of course I responded with :

KB: Hi Julie, thank you for your two cents. Yes perhaps I did catch them on a good day. However as someone who has worked customer service jobs for many years, I look for and probably empathize for those who work these not always easy jobs, I notice hard work when I see it. I like to acknowledge it. It certainly isn’t acknowledged enough especially on Yelp. If anything only the disgruntled or frustrated review on here. When I was there, I saw a huge line not only outside where I was standing but also in the drive thru with a huge line of cars.  They however were kind, courteous and quite speedy getting me my desired, delicious drink. Also the same with the people waiting in line with me. Which really is all we ask for as the customers. That is why I gave them my five star review. I was pleased that day. I still made it back to work in plenty of time and even if not, no one is perfect, the world goes on besides that cup of coffee. Then again maybe I am the most patient woman in the world. Who knows? This is a newer location and if I am the first five star review for them ever that’s fine, maybe they have their kinks they are working out but we all move on. It was my perspective, my experience. I don’t know what more you expect from me than maybe not believing my positive review, that’s fine but I had a very good experience. I am so sorry you didn’t, my deepest sympathies. That was my two cents, have a wonderful day.

Then I blocked Julie before she could respond. Then a “James A.” wrote me a couple days later. Okay real stretch on the name change there James. You must have a twin. Yes I knew who this was again because it basically was a response to my response to Julie. Here’s what James A. wrote me.

James A:  This has gotta be the worst run Starbucks. Ever.  So I’m glad you were very happy with them.  I work in customer service and they’re a nice but overwhelmed bunch of people there.  Read the other reviews and you’ll know what I’m talking about.  How do we expect things to improve if we give them high, inflated ratings — let’s be truthful here.  This branch sucks!  Please read the other reviews to know what’s really going on.  I hope they get more support and assistance from their head office.  Thanks to those who posted fair, yet critical reviews!

Again, who cares?!?! This person clearly only likes to write negative reviews and in their twisted mind thinks they are helping that business by being a critic? So my coworker gave me a good response to give James right before blocking him….again. I posted the clip from that South Park episode about Yelp reviewers, then I blocked him. Bah ha ha! Here’s the clip….

So what have I learned from this experience with clearly a person who is coo coo for their Co Coa Puffs and after drinking their Starbucks  is angrily typing a review? I learned that yes people are crazy and you’re not even safe from writing a nice review of a place from your own experience. Especially if it’s a five star review. There will be arguments. I think it kind of sums up the kind of crazy that is out there in our world right now.

It made me realize the one negative Yelp review I ever wrote was for the librarian in the Sherman Oaks Library because that lady was a royal B and didn’t make me any change so I could print an important document because my printer was broken. Well, truthfully I definitely Yelped out of anger. So I deleted that post. I have had this discussion with friends that only angry people review on Yelp and it’s true. So that’s why I have decided to be the positive Yelp reviewer. Whenever I have a great experience I’m going to write a nice review for that business especially if I feel they are deserving of it. Recently I took my cat to a new vet who is fantastic so I wrote a nice review for him. I mean is it really so bad to be the positive person reviewing on there? I’m not a critic, I’m not an ass hat, I just think people and places should be recognized when they are awesome. So sew me…or write me if you think I am wrong because the Julie and James twin seems to think I am. I hope that J.A. enjoyed that South Park clip, I know I do. I give that response five stars.

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Phil Dadahue

I was a kid in the eighties, well mostly a toddler. I was so hopped up on Crayola’s back in those days man! Seriously, I was back then and I strangely loved the smell of them too. Then again I love the smell of many weird art and office supplies. Post-it notes, Scotch tape…I guess I am technically a glue sniffer. You should have seen how that got me through my job I had at Staples for a few years. Anyways, today I thought I’d talk about how back in the eighties I was about 4 years old and I was so convinced that my dad was Phil Donahue.

For all you younger readers who have no idea who Phil Donahue is Google is your friend but I will sum him up for you. He was a TV personality, writer and producer and his very own day time talk show called, The Phil Donahue Show. My mom at the time was a stay at home mom before she went back to work and while we were there with her during the day she always turned on his program. Now I was definitely too young to remember any of the episodes of his show but I do remember him very well because every time my dad would leave for work, Donahue would come on the TV.

As you can guess with my simple 4 year old mind, putting things together, my dad who happened to have the same style and white hair. Also was wearing similar glasses as Phil, but he had a mustache and Phil didn’t. I don’t know why this was not a fact for me to consider but I guess at the time I didn’t have a critical thinking mind. I just came to my own conclusions when things seemed fit. Much like when I thought my peanut butter and jelly sandwich should go into the family VCR because it fit perfectly. According to my dad, my parents had to buy a new VCR because of that logical moment. Would you believe years later I would end up working at a video rental store in my teens? Oh the irony. I also one time shoved a baby kitten under my dresser because it fit under there. My mom had to return the poor little baby because she thought I was too young  and obviously not ready to take proper care of it. Poor little kitten. Now I am proudly taking care of two sweet cats of my own now, one being a little kitten and I promise I do not shove them under tight furniture spaces. Eeep! I mean you would hope not for a 32 year old woman!

Anyways, I was sure that my dad’s occupation was being Phil Donahue because another thing that made it make sense to my mind was my dad’s name is Daune. (Pronounced Don not Dwayne.) So that just makes sense to me that dad leaving with his briefcase every day was going to be hosting his show as Phil DONahue.

So when did I find out the truth you might ask? Last wI actually don’t know for certain but I suspect it’s when my dad started bringing me and my sister to take your daughter to work days that we discovered he worked as a graphic design artist for AT&T, later becoming Lucent Technologies. So I guess my assumptions that my dad was Phil Donahue went away. It makes me laugh to myself today and also makes me realize how fantastic kids imaginations are and I miss that naïve innocence some times. Then again I’m actually really glad that my dad isn’t Phil Donahue. Nothing against Phil but my dad Daune Britton is a way cool guy of his own.

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