On My Bruce Wayne

Buenos Diaz!

Holy shitake mushrooms, people. It’s April 23rd. That means I’ve been 30 for exactly six months. Six! WTF!? I guess time flies when you’re busy shaking up everything about your life.

If you keep up with my blog or are a member of the People Vanessa Texts Entirely Too Much Brigade, you know that I’ve been living that Funemployment life. It’s not all sunshine and roses admittedly, in fact it’s a little bit terrifying. I firmly stand behind my decision though. I needed to be uncomfortable. 

Why? Well, it’s like Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises. You may recall that painful scene where Bane kicks the living daylights out of Señor Bruce, finishing the brutal beat-down with a crippling blow to the back. Rather than killing him, Bane has his mercenaries dispose of Bruce’s broken body at the Pit, a cavernous prison where Bruce is meant to rot with the knowledge that he could not save his beloved Gotham. Legend has it that only one person, a child, has ever escaped the Pit. After months of recovery and training, Bruce resolves to make the climb.

He starts off strong then reaches the infamous spot where the would-be escapee must take a giant leap to proceed up. Bruce attempts the leap twice but falls short each time, saved only by the rope that tethers him to the side of the cave. A wise old prisoner has some words for Bruce here:

Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible, without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death?
Bruce: I do fear death. I fear dying in here while my city burns with no one there to save it.
Prisoner: Then make the climb.
Bruce: How?
Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.

Now, not all fear is healthy. It can sometimes make you do some really dumb sh*t. For example: when I was seven years old, I burned the hell out of my hands on a hot stove. I endured a 20-minute car ride to my tap dance lesson in tortured silence with second-degree burns, but I refused to admit I was in pain. My skin bubbled, my eyes watered and little beads of sweat dripped down my forehead. I sat there screaming on the inside when I should have been getting medical attention, all because of the fear that I'd be punished if I admitted I'd touched the dang stove. Smart, kid. 

In my adolescence, the burns were of a different nature. Fear made me reluctant to take chances or believe I was worthy of certain affection. It made me keep emotions bottled that ate away at my self-esteem. It made me lie to cover up people's transgressions, and even worse- ignore them at a detriment to myself. Let me tell you, one can only take enough of that before a) people tell you to stop being crazy, and b) you get tired of feeling crazy yourself.   At some point, you have to hold yourself accountable for rising above your issues. If you carry old fears around as an excuse for not bettering yourself, that is the real tragedy.

Right now, fear is triple-dog-daring me to live the life I want to live because I have in order to survive. I know I've taken a risk, I’m reminded of this all of the time. I’m asked if I think I made a mistake, if I should try to turn back, if perhaps all those years of expensive schooling have all been put to waste if I'm making less money than I could if I'd stayed where I was. Sure, I'm hurt by these objections, by words said hastily and hurtfully though coming from a place of love. The temptation to give into the fear of being loved less or seen differently is a potent one, but I'm too damn old to give into it any longer.

So! That's today's lesson from life in my thirties: fear doesn't always have to be unhealthy. Harnessing my fear is giving me so much fight right now. It's my impetus to try harder, do better, and think more clearly. It makes all the clichés I've ever heard (and gagged at) suddenly speak to me powerfully, pushing me to imagine the impossible, strive to achieve it, and Pinterest the heck out of way too many quotes.

I'm ever thankful for my super supportive friends, companions who remind me on good days and bad that naysayers come with the territory. I thank them for reminding me that I can in fact do this. As one friend reminded me, I am indeed MexiCAN, not MexiCANT. On that note, I recently won a contest to have a story published in the San Diego Reader! I will also be contributing to a couple of local newspapers and get to write about the San Diego communities I love. Thank you, Fear. Thank you very kindly. I'll just be over here on my Bruce Wayne game- I'm using my fear to climb.

Bookishly (and writerly!!) yours,


New Year, New Me... or Same Me, but Better

Buenos Diaz! Sooooo, it's 2015. New year, new me!!!! (That was for you, CAG). That phrase always makes me laugh. I will however be totally cliché and tell you that I am indeed so flippin' excited for this year (yes, excited). Know why? I will tell you. Then I'll throw in some caveats.

There technically isn't anything magical that happens at midnight on December 31st. At the stroke of twelve just a few nights ago, I didn't lose twenty pounds or inherit a million dollars. A tall, green-eyed, full-lipped drink o'water holding a stack of books and the keys to a private jet didn't suddenly materialize to whisk me away, nor did a publishing entity ring my phone at 12:01AM to tell me they'd like to forward me a book advance and publish my first work. I didn't lose all of my insecurities, my heart wasn't suddenly free from any and all hang-ups and I still had worries and fears just like everybody else. My sore throat didn't even go away! Those things *could* happen though. Could. That little sliver of possibility is thrilling. It's sinfully delicious.

We all know it by no but I'll say it again: I quit my mother effing job! I still can't believe I've done this. I'll be around until March but then shit is getting real, so I'm officially on the job hunt for something that will help pay the bills but be more in line with my passion while I pursue my writer dreams. This is a giant deal for me. I've worked for the same company since I was an intern in college which was almost 10 years ago. Ten years! Holy hell. I'm seriously insane for doing this but nothing has ever felt so right. I don't know what the future holds but I'm excited to find out. This change is welcome and supported by the most amazing group of family and friends. I'm lucky to be able to shake things up like this, which I recognize and celebrate every chance I get. Which brings me to...

This week I was reminded of what an absolute blessing a solid network of friends is. I started the week on a high, then it got a little low in the middle when I got inside my own head a little too much and allowed myself to feel some type of way about sharks, bats and girlish things. That little low feeling didn't last though, because I am surrounded by so much love and laughter that I have no choice but to remain hopeful, positive and appreciative. I have beautiful handwritten letters to read, photos to peruse and laugh over, memories to wrap myself in and smile about. Lucky me. Lucky, lucky, lucky me.

Pero... on the flip side...

While starting a new year feels like a great thing to get excited about, let me make something clear. Yes, I am excited. I expect this will be a year of personal growth and new beginnings. However, the things I'm looking forward to aren't blessings I expect to receive passively as they fall from the sky just because the "4" at the end of the date I've written for the last 365 days is now a "5." Like I said earlier, I was the exact same person on 12:01 AM on January 1st as I was at 11:59 PM the night before. So were you!

There is a lot of promise and opportunity for fresh starts with the passing of a new year, but this restart button everyone can't wait to slam so emphatically is symbolic and not literal. If you're taking this opportunity as a jump start to better yourself, to better the world or just try a new hairstyle: awesome! I salute you. If you're expecting miracles from a fairy godmother to just start happening for you with no active effort on your part- you es crazy. Bad things do happen and sometimes its hard to shake them off. I get that. Really, I do. I've been a resident of Hang Up City. In fact, I still visit from time to time. In the last few years though, I mustered up the strength and will to finally pack up and leave that sad little hamlet. I have good days, I have bad days. I know I've grown as a person though when even on the bad days, I can look around and recognize the pack of blessings light upon my back. You can do the same, I'm willing to bet. Try to remember that and look on the bright side- for most of us, it really will all be ok.

One last piece of wisdom I will attempt to impart will be this: just like you shouldn't expect magic and miracles on New Year's Day, you also shouldn't beat yourself up with so many goals and resolutions to the point that you forget to live. This involves treading a fine line, one that I'm not always so adept at traversing. One the one hand, success and results come to those who hustle and stay on that grind. On the other hand, it's altogether too possible to set so many goals for yourself and make so many to-do lists that you lose track of time, space and the beauty of real-time experience. You forgot to look around and smell the proverbial roses because you're so wrapped up in your plans. You forget to be here because you're so focused on trying to get there.

So. I vow here and now to view the new year as a symbol but not as a crutch or as a panacea. I am pledging to get my daily exercise and eat well; but if I want to cheese or wine or chocolate with friends, I'm going to have it. I want this new career and I will strive tooth and nail to get it, but I'll be ok with rejection when I face it with the help of my support network and will not lose sight of the value that is my entire journey. I will be open and ready for love and work on being more approachable, but will still just let it happen to me when and where it needs to and not view the world through a desperate or time-sensitive lens. I will sip slowly, savor every bite, laugh harder, feel deeply and perhaps even use my eyes, ears, nose and skin instead of my iPhone to capture more memories. I vow to enjoy my life more now than perhaps I ever have just by being more present. I hope that in 2015 you will do the same- not because you have to, but just because you want to.

Gaaaah I ended a sentence with a preposition. Sometimes you need to do that.

So, about this NYE celebration and these friends of mine..... that tale will have to wait until Wednesday.

Thanks for following, for reading, for supporting my little pipe dream. Here's to 2015!