buy the time …

Me as Hobbit looking to graduate to Middle Earth (also known as graduating to high school)

Me as Hobbit looking to graduate to Middle Earth (also known as graduating to high school)

When a wonderful friend asked, “Hey – want to run a half marathon?”   I thought, there is a list of things that sound good in theory: smiley face icons, strapless bras, Brazilian sugar waxing, going from my couch to running 13.1 miles.  I love things that sound good in theory.  Who doesn’t?  So of course I said, “Sure.  Awesome.”   Since being part of the first DC Nike Women Half Marathon was contingent on a lottery selection, it was very much an “in theory” scenario.

The reality: training for a half marathon is far more difficult than I imagined…and so is Brazilian sugar waxing.  Once a year in high school we were required to run a mile. During my freshman year I was comfortable being the stereotypical overweight funny girl.  About half way thought the “run” my chest started to tighten and I began to have an asthmatic attack.  I was not asthmatic, just out of shape.  I spent the second half of that mile walking with my hands raised in the air alongside the gym teacher.  It took almost 30 minutes to finish that one-mile.

I’ve shed a few of those pounds and instead of my gym teacher I now have my cousin.  Ever since she became a mother it is increasingly difficult for us to spend some one on one girl time, so training together gave us a nice excuse to talk and then eat everything in sight.  Our training program consisted of working out separately through the week and then meeting on Sunday to clock in the big miles.  On a cold Sunday afternoon in Central Park we met for our first 8-mile run.  I’ve never ran more than 6 before I started training, so every week is a new challenge.  I didn’t know what I was expecting having her by my side until every other step I was met with – “So what are you listening to right now?”  “What are you thinking about?”  “Are you getting tired?”  “Relax.”  “Being first clarinet in band I had to make sure our line was straight and our chest was up.”  “Picture a string is holding you up by your head.”  “Snoop is not the best running music.”  I looked at her like she was crazy as I huffed and puffed up a hill, through the sweat, staring blankly at the runners ahead, all I could think about was the 8 miles – how fast I was going – how tired I was – how crazy it is to run this much.

I was pretty quiet (which I never am) until, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to run the entire time.  I’ll probably need to walk at least a little every mile.”  As the words left my lips, not breaking her stride my cousin put it simply, “You should try not to stop.”  After she could see the anguish in my face, she followed up with, “Slow down, relax, re-focus but you should try to just run it.  Fast or slow, just run.  Momentum is hard to build up if you lose it…and smile.  You can do it Marisa.”

Not exactly Eminem...or Detroit

Not exactly Eminem

We continued the run.  Even though she could run faster, she would double back to make sure she was never too far away.  She pointed to the first New York apartment we moved to 10 years ago, where we use to have football games for our birthday, where I took pictures with my ex-boyfriend,  she pointed out all the cute boys that ran past, where we saw the Dali Lama and Richard Gere, that great picnic spot on that perfect day with our make shift New York family, how we wished that our wonderful friend that got us into this whole half marathon thing didn’t move back to California, and the hospital where she brought the most amazing person into this world.

Running for long periods of time you learn a lot about yourself.  I doubted that I could run 8 miles almost every other step.  Every time I wanted to stop I looked to my cousin and just kept running.  “Marisa, you can do this.”  And I did.  I never walked.  I ran all 8 miles.  And last Sunday, I ran all 9.  Like in running, in life I always think I can’t before I think I can.  My cousin just knows she can.   It’s nice to have someone faster, stronger, smarter to be there every step of the way – reminding me of all the steps it takes to get there, reminding me  “you can do this”.

Join me in helping with this Nike Half Marathon race to beat Leukemia and Lymphoma by making a donation, so we can help kids beat blood cancers.  We can do this.

All Donations Appreciated

All Donations Appreciated

My Favorite Hat

At age 8, as a reward for being brave while getting my cavities filled, Dr. McDaniel bestowed 2 tickets to my first sporting event.  Basketball was literally King in Sacramento, because it was the only ticket in town.  We had “nose bleed” seats, but to my innocent eyes, they were the best seats in the house.  My father, an import from the Philippines, tried to explain the sport to his captivated daughter.  I marveled as the Sacramento Kings took the court in their red, white, and baby blue.  Despite the fact that they were terrible, I was hooked.  Twenty years later now living in New York City, I wore the same red, white, and baby blue at my local, the Abbey Pub.  I watched a better Kings team face the Knicks, a rare event since most Kings’ games don’t get national syndication.  While screaming, clapping, looking like a fool (as good fans will do), a gentleman approached and asked if I was a Nets fan.  I barked at him to look at who was playing.  “Oh, you’re wearing the throwback colors.”  My response, “Throwbacks are for posers, this is about being a fan.”

“Being a fan” now a days seems to be lost amongst politics, syndication, money and Mickey.  As Sacramento Mayor Johnson, an ex-NBA player, sadly announced last week that he felt the relocation of my Kings was eminent.  After a valiant effort from my boyfriend to keep news of a possible move, my mother was the one who broke the news to me.  My mother, who would watch games in a separate room from my father – she couldn’t stand how he would yell at the TV, but refused to miss a game.  My mother, who called Mike Bibby – “My” Bibby.  Like shattering the illusion of Santa Clause, my mother, heartbroken, told her daughter that there would no longer be a home team.  I cried.  Even though the talks were still early at the time, I knew that my nightmare was becoming a reality.

Can our city really cry loss when the team didn’t belong to us in the first place?  One of the oldest franchises in basketball, the Kings were once the Rochester Royals, who then moved to Cincinnati, and landed in Kansas to become the Kings.  And just like the current problem in Sacramento, Kansas did not pull in the revenue, so they moved to the California capitol.  The team is marked with migration, following water from an under franchised well.  Even with the state of financial woes, Sacramento will face more without a professional team calling it home.  Like Kansas the revenue depleted and as Sacramento falls into a greater financial funk, there is little water left to feed on except for the drops drenching the faces of the fans.  I am crying, I am lost – the city is crying, the city will be lost.

Surrounding all the chatter, it seams everyone has some choice words about the city that embraced the Kings and the fans that have stood by a team through over twenty years of turmoil.  I have some words for you –

To the sports radio host who alluded to the lack of dedication from the fans as a reason that the team is leaving: Sacramento is a place with hard working families who proudly took on the nickname of “Cowtown” when mocked by Phil Jackson.  It was a hit on the city in an effort to belittle the fans. The fans reacted with cowbells and posters exchanging Phil’s face for the KFC Colonel.  This “Cowtown” has one of the better attendance rates in the NBA considering the lack of “Nike” stars, where some teams have two major commodities and their fans don’t even bother showing up to the first half of the game (hashtag – Heat, Lebron, Not liking you now).  It is difficult to measure the fans who gather together with their families to watch the games on TV because the cost of a ticket is a luxury they can’t afford, or the father who saves from meager earnings to purchase his first American born son a Kings jersey, or the fact that fans still cheer despite having ex-players, bitter that they blew their knee, mock the people of Sacramento and where they call home. The city has been hit hard economically, but to say that current attendance reflects on our fandom is pile of cow dung.

My Parents - St. Patrick's Day 2011

To the Lakers fans who mock us: You know you would bitch and moan as much as we did if the 2002 Game 6 calls weren’t in your favor and shrouded in controversy.   That’s what fans do, but you wouldn’t know much about that since it seems like calls are always in Laker favor.  What if your team was taken away? You would still have the Clippers or are they not good enough to cheer for or serve blue-cheese fries at their games.  You could wave your rings around all you want, I just want my team.  “Beat LA” is a cheer that bonds, so I might not always have a team to root for but I’ll always have one to root against.

To the Maloofs: I understand you tried.  I appreciate Turkey night for the Thanksgiving games.  I know you tried to make the tickets accessible when there was an economic downturn.  I know your investments have taken a hit.  I know that talks have existed between you and the city without a favorable outcome.  Thank you for Slamson.  But be honest with us, was this your plan all along to move?  Since you purchased the team there was always a whisper now a roar about you moving the franchise.  Back when the Maloofs were just prospective owners, people thought an inherent move would happen in the hands of real-estate moguls.  The Kings could move into the Palms pent house.  All the talk of wanting to work with the city, were you just buying time so the NBA could grant your wish?  Is this what “happens when people stop being polite and start getting real?

To the NBA: You have given up on fans and have turned to corporate sponsors.  The skill of a player is only equal to how good they look while chugging down electrolytes.  In reaching out to children, is the lesson in teamwork equal to the lesson in market shares.  The NBA is defunct.  If after all these negotiations, the answer is “we’ve done all that we can.”  What does that mean? The authority should lie with the NBA Board of Governors.  If the NBA can no longer tell the players, the owners or the sponsors what to do, why is there a board?  Will you allow the Maloofs to hold an hour long special about Le Decision to announce they are bringing their talents to Anaheim?  Out of professional sports in America, basketball has the biggest issue with finding an audience because there is a major loyalty issue in the NBA.  Basketball is no longer an American sport; it is becoming an elitist sport.  Basketball is moving in the direction of Broadway: tickets are expensive, scalpers are taking over, and everything is being sold off to Disney.  There is no longer a division of talent, just which market has the most money.  There are no longer teams in Buffalo, Minnesota, and soon Sacramento because they moved to southern California.  But Minnesota still has the Vikings, the Wild and gained the Timberwolves while Buffalo has the Sabers and, for the time being, the Bills.  Sacramento will be left with nothing.  Screw “National,” soon it will be the LABA.

And finally my dearest Sacramento:  We are not without blame.  When led to a vote for building a new home for the Kings with tax dollars, the city voted no.  As a collective, not everyone needs to love basketball.  As a city, people need to be informed about what ups the value of the place they live.  Did the lawmakers, the politicians really stand up for what was best for the city or did they mouth what voters always like to hear, “No new taxes.”  The state is in debt.  It is easy to turn to the citizens and say, “Well you voted against it.”  Thriving cities have thriving professional sports teams; it’s a way to draw people in, to show the vibrancy of the community.  I know that Sacramento is a great place to grow up, but that doesn’t bring in conventions, tourists, corporations.   Is it really the responsibility of the city to carry the burden of monetarily holding up a team when so many of its citizens are hurting financially?  Where are the local investors, the politicians rallying the community to make a move, a prospective season subscription drive if there was a new stadium?  I’m not an economics major, but taking away a team that provided the city with so much life can’t be good financially either.  It definitely won’t help property value.

The fans are begging to be told what they can do and the response: silence or apologies from politicians, the NBA, and the Maloofs.

When I was in London I mentioned being from Sacramento and a Brit got all excited because the Kings/Lakers battle made him a fan of basketball.  While in the Philippines I saw a young boy in Manila proudly sport a makeshift Kings’ jersey. And in New York, I cheered so loudly at the Garden for my Kings that a New Yorker turned around and said, “You need to cheer for the home team.”  I looked at her, “That is home, Sacramento!”

Please don’t take away my home.

From Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins pleads his case to an official after a foul call against him during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, March, 14, 2011. The Kings won 129-119. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

I’m not losing my team without a fight and I’m not alone.  I know that Arco Arena is no longer Arco and the Maloofs have registered the name Anaheim Royals, but I’ve got to try.  Here are several sites from fans about the Sacramento Kings.  I would love a little back up, so please post a link to this post on the NBA’s site, any Sacramento government site, sports sites or tweet/facebook about it.

With your help maybe there is a sliver of hope for the NBA to tell the Maloofs to give Sacramento one

more year to get something together.

Here We Stay.

Websites to link this post to, but feel free to post anywhere or respond here:

Facebook: Here We Stay, Kings Fan Page, Power Balance Pavilion, Good Day Sacramento, Sacramento

Sports Websites:,,,,

Local Government:, Mayor of Sacramento

Blogs:,, SacBee,

Part 3

Do you enjoy Latin beats? Dancing? Shaking your booty?  Slightly awkward accents? Then you’ll enjoy Zumba with Beto.  My opinion is strictly based on the $64.95 I spent with and not the live classes.  I hear there is a huge difference, but with most classes going for at least $15 a session, I will have to stick with pressing the replay button.

Many of the moves remind me of salsa class and dancing at my families’ Big Fat Filipino Weddings.   Most of the moves are fairly easy and a lot of fun to do.  While they are meant to make you feel sexy, “letting the rhythm move you” – DO NOT LOOK IN THE MIRROR WHILE PERFORMING THESE MOVES.  It might just be me, but I never thought I could look that disjointed while shaking my own ass.  And like Zoolander, I found out I am not a ambi-turner. Every time I tried to shake my ass, hold my arm out and turn left, it proved to taxing for my hips to twist while stepping to the beat.  Regardless of such hardships as not knowing my left from my right, the workout always made me sweat and I look forward to working out.

Quirky things about this workout, mind you I have only been doing it for a little over a week now, but there isn’t much variety in the DVD’s.  There are only four of them and many repeat the same moves.  The Cardio Party disc has the most amount of material with a lot of variety, but if you are doing the “10 Day Drop a Dress Size” challenge, you do that particular workout 5 times alternating with the Sculpt Tone disc with Abs disc.  You don’t have the option to turn off the instructions so when Beto, the creator, encourages you for the umpteenth time in a lilted Brazilian accent saying, “You can do it” – you know he’s just dialing it in.  The other instructor, Tanya, who does most of the instruction, is a little more direct but what she says becomes obsolete after the 3rd time doing it.  The music is much lower than the instruction, so the repetitiveness becomes far more apparent and additionally annoying when they start singing along.  Also I am constantly made to feel uncomfortable by the very curly red-head in all black who seems to be seducing me; either that or she had a very familiar relationship with the cameraman to get that much face time.  I find myself envying Gina, her body, the way she moves – that envy however motivates me more.  Then there is the random guest appearance by Flaviana “the International Pop Sensation”, can you call someone international when they are only known in Brazil.  I thought Flaviana was the crappy instant coffee served in offices.  She immediately grades on the nerves with her tiny waste, perfectly wavy blond hair, huge breasts, and the fake and bake that accentuates the G-string tan she has going on.  Now with all that cattiness, I still am moved when she points out that I should keep my shoulders up and suddenly we are friends.

Getting up and moving is the main issue here.  Right now I’m not turning them off or running back to Tony and his grueling twisting and contorting, so for those of you who like breakdowns, here is a pro/con list:



–         Very Fun

–         Relatively Easy (Except for the crazy jumping bean workout from Mexico)

–         Easy enough to stick with every day

–         The girls are great eye candy (boys you can just fast forward and watch Flaviana over and over)

–         Makes you sweat



–         It is not as challenging as P90X so it might not make a huge difference on people who are fairly fit

–         You can’t turn off the instructions

–         The batter between instructors is awkward and totally campy

–         The music is fun but is two low

–         There isn’t much variety in the workout

All this said, I am sticking with Zumba.  Because it is lower impact and I want to get back to my P90X body without using P90X, I have supplemented my workout with Kettlenetics with Michelle Khai.  I don’t feel I’m getting enough strength training and muscle building, so the kettle bell workout will help with that.  I’ll talk about Ms. Khai in my next blog.  In just 7 days, using both, I have lost 4 pounds and my jeans are already feeling better.  I guess the best part of waking up, is Flaviana in my cup.


Part 2

Last summer, I was convinced by multiple infomercials and a picture of a friend of a friend on Facebook that P90X was the answer to my workout woes.  I purchased the 12 DVD program that promised to transform my body into a lean mean muscle machine…or at the very least get me slightly more in shape than I was.  It came with both a workout and food guide.  I read both, but honestly following a food guide for me is equal to following the stars while sailing, I get the gist, I do the best I can but I get lost at sea.  Instead I try to glean the basic information about nutrition and try to remain healthy, eating less of the pizza and more of the salad.

Trying the first DVD on the lean program was a disaster.  I couldn’t believe what I got myself into.  Core synergistics, feels like a made up word, is all about working the core.  I worked on falling on my face, realizing that my body doesn’t fully grasp the concept of a pushup and I disliked Drea and her stupid roll.  Drea, a trapeze artist there to set an example, made me feel a bit on the inferior side.  Thankfully every video has different people working out with the host, so you aren’t made to feel inferior by the same people.

The man at the helm of these workouts, Tony Horton, like most workout junkies turned guru, says he use to be out of shape. I found him likable because of his quirkiness and a genuine attitude in wanting to get me fit.  He is good looking but in an asexual kind of way.  My roommate and I would often discuss his sexual orientation.  Most women I talk to thought he was gay or maybe he is on a higher plane that doesn’t acknowledge sexual attraction.  Most guys I asked simply responded with, “Nah, well he isn’t gay.”  I haven’t asked any gay men, so maybe there is another level of insight I am missing.  With workouts like these they are developed with attraction in mind, buff sweaty bodies making you want to look as attractive as the people you see or you hope to attract the likes of the people who are making you sweat.

Advertising plus the success stories on the website are difficult to argue with, so I continued to work through my lack of coordination and balance.  The 90 minute yoga workout is worth the purchase of the entire system.  Extremely challenging and works every part of the body.  After 4 days of workouts and then a 90 minute Hindi enlightened body breakdown, you pretty much feel like a pretzel of tensions.  Then you workout for 2 more days and for the 7th, just like God, you could rest.  It felt painful to move, to sit, to laugh.  Something was definitely happening, progress was being made.  Everyday the workout would change, every 3 weeks the schedule would very, but you were still working out 6 days a week for 12 weeks.  I made it through 8 weeks.

There was an obvious change; 10 lbs went missing in exchange for muscle.  I’ve never had anything resemble muscle on my body.  The weight loss wasn’t dramatic but because I was getting sculpted it looked like I lost 20lbs.  I went down almost 2 dress sizes but my boobs stayed the same.  I had a wedding to go to and my now disproportionate waste to “my hump” ratio made for a very happy boyfriend but was not made for retail.  After trying on every dress on 5th Avenue from 14th street to 42nd, I found the perfect dress.  I finally understood the phrase, “Fit like a glove.”  My roommate thought I looked like Selma Hayek.  I felt amazing.

Then you realize how difficult it is to go back to a 6 day a week workout regiment after being off it for a few days.  Then when you start getting back into the mood to workout, you remember how hard the workout was and aren’t in a huge rush to get back into it.  Then life happens and you have to find a new place to live, you have more weddings to be apart of, your cousin gets pregnant, you hate both of your jobs, you don’t know where you’re going in life.  You forget all about Tony and his magical DVD’s that can have such a transformative power over your body and would rather see what Steven Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream could do for your crumbling mental state.

After life settled back down, I returned to Tony once again for guidance.  Then I realized I wasn’t as motivated the second time around.  Most of the motivation for the first time came from getting my money’s worth. I didn’t feel like I could “Bring It” like Tony wanted me too.  I needed something new and fresh, so I purchased the next craze in infomercial workouts, Zumba.

Part 1

Seriously, who looks this good at the gym?

Losing weight, getting in shape and trying not to hate yourself or the process is a major challenge for anyone, especially when your chosen field requires being looked at and judged.  I can not afford Equinox or the fancy celebrity Reebok gym or the freaky demonic/vampire boudoir /club like gyms that the Kardashians belong to.  The alternative, going to the over packed slightly funky smelling Planet Fitness or no gym at all.  You reach a plateau with working out at gyms on the same equipment over and over so it is time for something completely different. 

I have always had to struggle with my weight.  Like many teenage girls I indulged in everything fried, I swore that the Dairy Queen Chicken Finger Country Basket was calling to me.  Eating an excess of fast food and rice with every home cooked meal earned me the label of “heavy set” or “big boned”.  I was neither – just unhealthy and fat.  Call a spade a spade, or in my case, a heart set on top of a spade.  When I got to college I started dropping a small amount of weight being away from home and running around in my new surroundings.  I was still very aware of the extra love around my midsection when I was cast in the musical Pippin my senior year.  The show was about discovering a more grown up world of sexuality and mysticism.  The costumes were ornate yet transparent and skimpy.  Half the cast was half naked.  The costume designer described my outfit as a “Valkyrie Brittany Spears”.  I wore a bra with a skirt sewn into it that barely covered my butt.  The bra was made to look like coiled up snakes and the free flowing skirt look like a bubble gum disco ball – it was actually pretty awesome.  There was a lot of skin showing and I felt like I had too much skin to show. 

I decided I was going to change how I looked and did it in the unhealthiest way possible.  I lost 30 lbs in 2 months.  Eating next to nothing and exercising a minimum of 6 hours a day while maintaining going to class.   My friends took note and tried to have an intervention, but I brushed it off saying I ate more when they weren’t around.  The concern was as real as my weight loss.  Vanity is what got me to that unhealthy place and vanity is what saved me from continuing down that unhealthy path.  Because I didn’t want straps of a modern bra to clash with my snake bra, I went to Victoria Secret for a strapless.  The sales woman approached with her measuring tape in hand floating towards me in her black smock doctor’s coat uniform, looking very official for our second base encounter.  “You’re an A cup.”  I was perplexed by the words coming out of her mouth – I had been a D since I had breasts.  I went from bug bites to boulders overnight when I hit puberty.  I was lost.  She looked confused as well, since I was wearing an ill fitting D sized bra at the time.  When I got home I finally saw what I was doing to my body.  I stared at the mirror, my deflated memories begged for a sandwich.  When I was heavy I felt my best physical feature was my love lumps, the girls, Breast 1 and Breast 2 (I actually put name tags on them my sophomore year to greet the incoming class of freshmen into the theater department).  I loved my boobs and I was starving them. I ate a sandwich. 

101 USES For an Empty Bra

Years later my breasts have bounced back, but it took me awhile to not slip back into those bad habits and the fears that consumed me.  I still often see the 40 pound heavier 18 year old when I look in the mirror, but then my boyfriend wraps his arms around me with a kind compliment about my ass and the image dissipates.  Now it is not about losing weight but feeling healthy and wanting to wear a bikini for the first time in 30 years.  To do it in a healthy way is the challenge.  The gyms are no longer my friend so I have ventured into the wonderful world of home videos.  Mainly because they focus on strength training to help you build muscle and I can look like a fool at home.  And trust me, I look like a fool.  There is nothing pretty about home video workouts.  You never look like the happy people bouncing in unison on the screen.  No one ever looked good Sweating to the Oldies.  The days of sweat band wearing Richard Simmons are over and now it is all about a sexually ambiguous meathead, Latin booty shaking, an uncomfortably flexible man, and a hot Asian aunt.

This is a 5 part series exploring the wonders of dvd workouts in all it’s glories, triumphs and the comfort of being at home when particular digestive postures really work.

When I went to my ten year high school reunion (a few years ago), I was ready to see girls that let themselves go and all the social hierarchy broken down.  I was greeted with the opposite; girls look the same if not better than the class photo of 1999 reflected and people still not breaking the clique ranks.  Somehow I escaped being grouped in or cast out because I had two things going for me I lost a bunch of weight and I was now a New Yorker.  Leaving Sacramento California did not happen for many of the beautiful bright group of women I attended prep school with.  It was not a high school reunion like you see on TV, with malice filled angst carried over, it was drunken catching up.  What surprised me was the astonishment and jealousy which people had for me simply because I moved to New York.  Anyone can move to New York – pack your bags and say goodbye to your money, your love of space and prepare to be stepped on or pushed.  One of my ex-classmates from all the way back to elementary school,  kept punching me, “Oh my God, I’m so jealous.  It’s like Sex in the City right, like Sex in the City?”  I’ve never earned enough in a year to own a single shoe from Jimmy Choo.  I wanted to tell her – Look the grass isn’t greener, it’s just pavement.

The difference was that she had two beautiful kids that she loved, but wished she had lived a little.  I guess that means I’m living a lot for the both of us.  I thought of this past exchange when I walked by a woman on the 123 platform in the famed Time Square 42nd street subway stop.  This slightly blond curly haired young woman leaned against a garbage can reading a book.  There was a baby blue sign moderately decorated with colored pen that read, “Seven months pregnant, my boyfriend left me…”  There was a whole lot more written but I stopped to look at her belly for confirmation.  If she was lying she found an amazingly accurate prosthetic.  As I have become more dependent to the power of the credit card, I had little to offer in cash.  I dug deep to find a dollar clinging to crumpled receipts in my wallet.  When I went back to her to give my meager findings we had a slight hand shack in our exchange of the single George Washington, “God Bless” she said simply.  My response, “Best of luck.”  Blessings in exchange for Luck.

Surprisingly similar but not an actual picture of the woman I met.

The next day she was gone, replaced by a guy on a saxophone blowing a medley of pop songs from the 70’s that drunken foreign tourists could dance too while vaguely remembering the words.

I thought about that woman, wondered where she was and who would be there for her when she brought her bundle of love into this world.  I was there when my cousin brought her son into the world last week, so was her mom, dad, boyfriend’s mom and dad, a good friend, and her boyfriend who barely left her side.  Her child, my nephew, perfect.

Living in New York is a constant bombardment of the extremes of life.  People have kids young here too, but you also have playboys who never marry and simply date women who they are old enough to father.  I’m sure leaning against a garbage can pregnant amidst the bright lights of Broadway wasn’t a far escalated situation from where this young woman grew up.  After almost eight years of being here, this is the first year I have felt like a real New Yorker, jaded, cynical, tired – hopeful. Even though I have not chosen an easy route, I have been lucky enough to choose my route, to rest my head in a city that never sleeps and more or less make it here, which makes me feel blessed.

It’s 2008; just weeks before my 27th birthday, my cousin and I sat down to plan our double-birthday March madness bash.  With only five days separating our birthdays, March becomes an all out assault on being single and getting older in a city that makes it possible for you to never grow up.  Anywhere else on earth the likes of a 34 year old single person who never married and never had a kid would be deemed broken, in New York they are revered as Gods – untouchables.  In fact there is a growing number of twenty-year-old women chasing down the elusive “untouchables” to change their unsettling ways.  George Clooney has made this chase an art.
My cousin and I thought we were going to be “untouchables” – never wanting to settle down.  Our sign, Pisces – difficult fish to catch.  We sat there at an Upper West Side dinner planning on inviting everyone we know to the swanky second floor midtown bar for our celebration.  The drinkathon would be the Thursday night on the eve of my actual birthday.  I told her how my  mother concerned said, “I was married by your age.”  That’s when we came up with FBA.  FBA is a bet and stands for First B*tch to the Aisle (FBTTA didn’t sound as cool).  The rules – who ever walks down the aisle first is the loser.   If you got married first you were deemed Dead Bitch Walkin’.  The loser was at the mercy of what the winner wanted them to do.  My cousin new immediately what my punishment would be – a tattoo.  I hate needles.   She loves tattoos.  I had to think about mine for a bit, but it takes awhile for coal to become diamonds.  If my cousin loss she would have to name her first-born child after me – Marisa could be a boys name.  After hearing this, my cousin upped the ante, the tattoo had to now have her name or initials in it.  She didn’t stop there – if one of us got pregnant before marriage we had to get a tattoo with the other person’s name and name the child after the winner.  This scenario was never going to happen.
Now about nine months ago on the 4th of July, I helped my cousin pack to move into her new apartment.  We were both nowhere near an aisle, but close like sisters.  We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of weeks, something that rarely happened since we moved here together almost eight years ago.   I asked the same question we had asked each other a million times, “What’s up with you?”  Her response a bit unusual, “Do you really want to know?”  Jokingly I responded, “Let me guess I won the bet, your pregnant.”   Calmly, with a subtle excitement in her voice, “Hope you’re ready to be an auntie.”  I was excited, scared, jubilant, more scared and relieved that I didn’t have to get a tattoo.  Little Marisa was on her way!  Ever so ready, she looked at me, “I wanted to have kids by the time I was 30.”  It hit me like a ton of rocks, I always thought we shared similar paths and all this time we veered in different directions – from thinking kids were just fun to look at from a safe distance, behind the glass of contraceptives.  
It didn’t really hit me until a few weeks after, it was a Saturday night and my boyfriend was out of town.  It was time for a real girls night. I was already out and dressed for some good ol’ bar hoping debauchery.  I looked at my phone to find all my girls were now doing stuff with their husbands or fiancés.  I called the dwindled number of single friends, called the two and neither picked up their phone.  But there was always my partner in crime, my cousin.  I went to dial and realized my drinking buddy was now creating baby buddies.  My New York was changing; nothing was untouchable.  
The nine months flew and there we were, two ladies of Manhattan, sisters created from the beating that this city throws at you, standing amidst the lighting fixtures at Home Depot.  My cousin’s boyfriend was off with her parents looking for a drill while I stood there pushing the cart as she waddled beside me carrying 40 weeks of life inside of her.  “Come out already, your auntie wants to play,” I sad as people eyes darted around us trying to figure out if we were a couple or sisters.  “I’m ready,” she says with little care that people are looking.  “Eight years ago when we moved to New York, did you ever think we would be walking through Home Depot while you were ready to pop.”  My cousin is special, beautiful while being bloated, without looking at me responds, “Yes.”  Her baby might not have been planned, but it’s what she had in plan.  
She is getting the tattoo, she won’t tell me how my name is involved.  Her boyfriend has vetoed a son named Marisa.  The bet was still won by me, but my cousin really has the prize.  
Now if the baby would only come out!

There are no funny pictures of ovaries.

Well about a year ago I started this blog in the hopes that I would write everyday during the year before I turned 30.  That experiment lasted 11 posts.  It wasn’t for a lack of material.  Everything crazy that could happen fell from the sky and smacked me in the face.  To my kind cousin Niki, who missed reading them, she made me miss writing them.  In the month leading up to my 30th, I would like to attempt 30 posts till I turn 30.

Now many people will say that 30 is not old.   “30 is a new chapter,” one might chime to break the levity that 29 years olds face.  Maybe it’s different for men than it is with woman.  As I am fast becoming aware, my body is telling me that I am getting older and parts aren’t going to work like they use to.  Mainly I am talking about my nether region, my south of the border, my sun don’t shine place, my baby making parts…I can go on.  The truth is, it is not that a biological clock is ticking and needs to make something happen, it has to deal with what is already happening.

A few months ago I started to complain to my boyfriend about stomachaches.  They started to become frequent and he felt I should go to the doctor.  I threw out every answer to avoid a visit to the hospital, “I ate too much cheese” was my favorite.  After awhile I think I just started eating cheese so I could blame it later.   While at work one evening the pain was so debilitating that I couldn’t get up.  My coworker said I should go to the ER.  I didn’t eat cheese that day, so I had nothing to blame.  I chose Roosevelt Hospital because it was closest to work.  I called my boyfriend to tell him that I had errands to run and that he should just go to his place.  Being that it was 11pm at night my lie was transparent and he knew I was going to the hospital for my mysterious cheese haunting.   After the first 4 hours and a second cursory visit from a doctor, he determined that it wasn’t my stomach at all but my ovaries.  For the most part a woman’s ovaries are a benign feature on the female form until they want babies.  They are more of a nuisance, part of the circuitry that makes us bleed for a week.  But when a doctor mentions your ovaries, they suddenly become very important, what defines you, what makes you a woman.  He wouldn’t go into what he thought might be the problem, but that I needed more tests.  After 4 more hours, the doctor came back to do a sonogram.  My boyfriend asked if I wanted him to stay, I nodded yes.  Then the doctor pulled out a blue dildo, that just happen to have a camera at the end.  My boyfriend and I locked eyes and almost simultaneously I nodded for him to leave and he kindly said he would step outside.  The doctor, was very good looking but we could not determine if he was gay, straight, metro began poking around.  It hurt like hell.  As I watched the handsome doctor and the kindly overworked nurse through the frame made by my spread knees and thighs, I did what anyone would do in my position.  I made Fraggle Rock jokes.  I decided that my lady area was a land where puppets could seek refuge.  I was nervous.  I was scared.  I was exhausted and all I could do was picture Technicolor stalactites shimmering behind furry creatures breaking out in song.  Thanks Jim Henson.

Let's go down to Fraggle Rock

Then he saw it.  A distortion.  Something that could not be explained and needed further tests as this sonogram was outdated and not very clear.  They wanted a gynecologist to have another look.   What were the Fraggles doing down there.  The doctor was trying to rule out if I needed surgery.   To do what?  The doctor then looked at me with a reassuring smile, “It could be a number of things but we just want to make sure.  One thing could be torsion.   We would then have to look into surgery.”  I had a wedding to go to in 3 days, I couldn’t have surgery.  After several hours passed an exhausted OBG doing rounds came in.  She happened to train with my OBG.  After a quick exam, the OBG asked how long I had been there, way too long, and then had a look of “this ER doctor is an idiot” when she told me, “You do not have torsion.”  “If you did, you would be in a lot of pain, you wouldn’t be sitting here speaking to me.  You wouldn’t be able to stand because your ovary would be twisted and that would result in us having to adjust it or remove it.  But you do not have torsion.”  She believed I had a cyst but couldn’t confirm till I got a more in depth ultrasound at 8am.

They allowed us to grab a bite to eat at 6am (which they’re not suppose to do), as we crossed the street my boyfriend eloquently suggested, “Never go to this hospital again, unless you’re shot on this exact corner.”  I hope to avoid getting shot and that hospital.  The specialist wasn’t even open till 9am, so our patience was running out, my boyfriend’s ran out four hours ago.  Then after the ultrasound specialist saw me, she thought they might be cysts but didn’t have the authority to confirm that so I had to wait for another doctor to diagnose that issue.  We waited and waited and one nurse tried to find someone for us to speak to.  She said someone was coming. An hour went by, someone is coming.  Another hour went by, someone is coming.  Thank god for the iPhone.  We looked up cysts on the internet and my symptoms, we didn’t need a doctor to confirm what WebMD explained.  I marched over to the nurse’s desk and said, “I’m leaving, if I’m dying you can call my cell.”  I had reached my limit and stomped out. It was a ridiculous experience only being seen 5 times, for less than 15 minutes a visit, over a 13 hour period.  I’m not going to go into a health-care debate, but the system was screwy.

I made a regular appointment with my gynecologist and she confirmed, what I did have, cysts on my ovaries.  Unpleasant news, but not at all life threatening.  I had entered the age where this is common and my body was changing.  This was now part of who I am.  A debilitating pain that would happen every time they grew.  It feels like continually being punched in the ovary, my back starts to hurt and then the tears come.  Hoping that it would only inflame the one time, my mother told me the same issue started when she was 25 and it was a monthly occurrence.   This would have been good to know beforehand.  This was just going to happen, part of the “new chapter in my life.”  It has happened a few times now, where the pain sets in and sadly my boyfriend has often been witness.

The pain hits.  I begin to cry and this sets off a four-part sequence of crying:

Step 1: Cry because it hurts.

Step 2: Cry more because you are embarrassed that you are crying.

Step 3: Cry because, no seriously, it hurts like a b*tch and you need it to stop.

Step 4: Cry even more because you are crying.

The good news, it fluctuates and it could be nothing except a monthly dose of pain.  The worse case scenario they grow really large where surgery is needed or it results in infertility.  If the pain really dose become unbearable that might mean the cysts have grown so large it causes torsion.  I’m not ready to think about my baby making parts.  I’m not ready to ponder that kind of future.  But my future started to punch me in the ovary demanding it was my present; they were not benign.  My 30 year old body is asking questions I don’t have answers to and the Fraggles have no song for.

I sit at my temporary receptionist job and all around me I here the clicking of keys. Typing in unison. For many, this job was not a second choice, not even a close fourth but it pays the bills. “You gotta do what pays the bills,” even at the expense of your soul. Three o’clock will hit and so will the expected lull. Those Five-Hour Energy commercials show people staring off into space then sprining into action, but they never show what really happens after one takes a swig. They should feature energized people at their computers doing word jumbles or launching hot-dogs into moving buns.

Often my compatriots will refer to themselves as drones. Amongst the definitions on, DRONE means: “the male of the honeybee and other bees, stingless and making no honey.” Useless. Impotent. Now the people I work with are not useless at all.  In fact they are a viable resource for the company. When we say drone we are referring to how we feel in our jobs – without the power to taste purpose. We find what we do empty and unfulfilling. On the other hand, there is a bond that forms amongst the artists, writers, parents, free-lancers of life, who have the opportunity to make money while striving for other things. That blood pumps through our veins, not electricity through fiber optic cables. We use AIM to remind our fellow bee brethren that there is more to existence outside of the hive. LOL does not stand for “laugh out loud” but “live out life” and BRB stands not for “be right back” but “Break, Refer, Beers.” We all look to see that clock tick six to set us free.

Life shouldn’t be the minuscule moments between work and sleep or the few years we hold sacred between clocking out and checking out. We are bombarded by phrases like “live life” and “get a real job.” I don’t want those to be mutually exclusive. Today I go in for a meeting with the big boss man to talk about how they will utilize me in the future. At this moment, I can not financially afford to give up anything that would create a little stability. At the same time, I refuse to let my stability get in the way of my illusive goals.

If the goal is to go from male without a stinger to the queen; then a Trani-Bee must make sacrifices in pursuit of sweet success.

The moment has come where bitching and complaining has turned into action.  The reason I’ve been non-blogging (how many ‘g’s go into this made up word) is a result of big changes in my life.  I said I wanted more money to get a new computer; so I took a temp job and now I have a new shiny MacBook.  Every time I use it I still wrap it back in its original packaging to be put away in a special cubby.  I said I wanted to break into films; I now have a job doing coverage for an executive producer.  I said I want to be a writer; I will be completing my first screenplay by the end of the month with Script Frenzy and a director/producer is interested in my plays.  I said I wanted to move in six months; I just got offered a second job that will help me pay off my debt and for the first time since 12th grade I will be building savings.  Things ‘are a changing.’

With my art I have managed to be focused with a fuzzy lens.  When convenient I say I’m an actor, then at times I’m a writer depending on the hoops I prefer to jump at the time.  Switching between the two then became an excuse for not succeeding in the other.  “I’m not really acting right now so I can focus on my writing.”  When the writing gets hard I look to acting again.  I run that treadmill.  The same can be said about grabbing the occasional well paid job over what I really want to do.

We talk about money so much in this city, how expensive rent is, food, quenching a growing booze habit to cope with living in the crux of human hubbub.  To me, and many, the word SAVINGS is like Narnia, it is something that only exists in fantasy.  We work so hard to stay a float, swimming from one part time job to another.  Snatching a few dollars between strokes in hopes of reaching financial paradise.  The idea of making money doing what we love is the dream we keep on the boat for.  Our growing fears about money and direction start to grow.  Hesitation begins to burrow holes in the hull.  When is it time to jump ship?

For the next six months I’ve decided to save and write, write and save.  Swim without getting swallowed by the waves, the sharks, or my own doubt.

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  • Jessica: LMFAO.. How ever, Flavianas ass is REAL! shes from Brazil they are ALL genetically mutated that way... and Beto, he is from brazillian ac
  • mia: Hi, cracked up! flaviana does appear randomly and knows how to hog the camera....but i must say she did have her "15 minutes of fame" in Latin America