The Conundrum of 547 Days

If there’s anything worse than spending money on things you shouldn’t, its wasting your time on people you shouldn’t. But I guess at the time it doesn’t seem like it. It never seems like it. I will forever be thankful for people that come into my life just to teach me a lesson, the difficult way.

Atop the the U.S. Bank Tower

I used to have a very busy schedule. I had three jobs. My only breaks were my commutes from one job to the other. My toughest days were the days I had to work all three jobs. I was eating fast food quiet frequently, and getting paid almost every week of the month. This of course, made buying materialistic goods easier too. I wasn’t investing my money on things for the long run.

Then I got offered a job which offered me 60 hours a week. I quickly sought the opportunity to take this chance and make things easier for myself. I didn’t take much of my health into consideration. Truthfully, I don’t think I ever examined the situation with realistic thoughts.

I was ready to begin my new job after having a really busy and flustered weekend after just turning 24, and learning that at least one infatuation in this life time of mine was 100% INEVITABLE. Not only was I anxious to start working, but my bank account hadn’t looked that sloppy in a while. I suppose being in the three digits wasn’t too bad.

My left foot the following day after the permanent procedure

I abruptly cut many ties with a majority of people I was very communicative with. I was getting physically and mentally burnt out. My health as a whole was changing. After having two ingrown toenail removals within the span of eight months, the fourth week into my new job, I was looking forward to a permanent local procedure into the sixth week. The sixth week being my last week, due to current trauma to my entire foot I was not being able to wear shoes.

After having surgery, I found out my dad was going on a road trip to his lovely hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico the following week. I decided to join him, since I hadn’t done the 1,500 mile road trip with him since 2005. Even more so, since he said it was the last time he was driving, and that we would fly back.

The week we happened to be in Mexico it was one of the local towns’ carnivals.There were carnival rides, and beer stands and cocktail stands. You could see people started to gather near the stage for live performances. So much life was in the air. I felt like I was a kid again.

Patas De Perro on stage during their performance

We practically went out every day. During the days we would go to the city and explore the beautiful cathedrals, churches, caves, museums, theaters and go to our favorite restaurants. Then at night we’d go out and drink and hang out with our family at the carnival. A few times grabbing some food on the way home after one too many drinks.

The Theatro Calderon, in Zacatecas, Mexico

One night I was drunk, and when we got home I went on my social media and I started going through my Instagram feed and I remember looking on someones profile and thinking they weren’t pretty. I was just thinking many mean things to my drunken self. I started to ask myself “ What’s so special about her?”… “What does she have that I don’t?”… “What have I done in this life of mine that I can’t be happy for once?”… nonsense like that.

Slightly hungover the following day at the Abstract Museum of Art in Zacatecas

With a slight hangover the following morning, I thought those thoughts would be long gone, but they were engraved in my mind. After having lingered in those thoughts all night and day. I wanted to take this mini vacation as yet another start to something new. I felt the sudden urge to make a quick change. So I went to the local barber/salon who’d previously cut my hair years ago, and practically told him to shave my head. He wasn’t quite fond of that. So he just gave me a cute and stylish hair cut, that surprisingly looks great. I was cutting off the old me, the hurt me, or so I thought.

Moments after my hair cut

My mini vacation had quickly come to a end. Then in what seemed like the blink of an eye, my flight had landed and I was now back home. Back in Los Angeles. Back home. Back to reality. I came to the firm conclusion that I was completely unemployed.

I was unemployed for the next following weeks. I was fatigued most of my days and I would sleep for more than eight hours a day. I truly felt as though my life had zero meaning. I felt completely useless. The fact that I had been suppressing many emotions and thoughts for months, had begun to take a toll on me. The “Now what?” question didn’t seem to have an end.

I would constantly get migraines and headaches, that was followed by random low jaw pain and soreness. It continued to happen and my symptoms got worse. Then I started getting tooth aches on the same side. They were so bad, I couldn’t chew at times. Since I had had a previous dental procedure go wrong May of 2016, I naturally presumed that it had to do with my previous dental work and I proceeded to make a dentist appointment. I had x-rays done and multiples exams showed that nothing appeared to be wrong.

A few weeks later my left ear started to hurt and it felt like there was some blockage. That was followed by much ear pain and continuous ringing. I quickly went to see my primary doctor and everything seemed to be okay. After a few visits and being referred to a head, neck and ear specialist, there was finally a diagnosis. The doctor told me I had developed TMJ; temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and that the damage that had naturally occurred was irreversible. I felt deeply saddened that there was no cure, only ways to help my symptoms not worsen.

Enjoying champagne at Sora on the 69th floor of the Wilshire Grand in DTLA

Since I spent much time alone in my room being stubborn, and jobless, the stress made everything worse. Leaving one door open to employment when I left all my jobs, I made the effort to be scheduled to work again, after a three month “hiatus”. Truthfully I had to go back to work because I was constantly going to the podiatrist and to the head neck and ear specialist, and every time I went they’d prescribe me some high dose of Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Naproxen. I still couldn’t deal with the ear or jaw pain or with my solitude. I would take every opportunity to go out and drink and maybe for just a few hours get out of my slump.

Then during one of those weeks I was stuck in my room, a long time friend of mine text me. He told me about a wonderful opportunity to attend a week long writing and drawing workshop in the Sequoia Forrest. I was indecisive due to being rescheduled to work and also missing a great opportunity to be more knowledgeable in both of these things. Eventually everything worked out in my favor and I had the green light to attend. I wasn’t scheduled to work until the following week after the workshop.

A photo of the first bat of the night, I took the last evening we were in the Sequoia Forrest

At the workshop I got the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people. Especially the people giving and hosting the workshop. Both wonderful people, teachers and wildlife activists. I also got the chance to practice taking picture with a camera I bought for $700 that I had stuffed in the corner of my room. My friend along with another person we met at the workshop all got the chance to take pictures and use nature as our personal studios with all natural lighting. Coincidentally we all shoot with Nikons and it was a great experience learning from one another. It definitely gave me the confidence I needed to not be shy about taking pictures everywhere I go.

Of course when I came back home I came back to a clean bed with a clear mind and a better idea of things I wanted for me. I had a very minimalist mind set since I camped for almost seven days and had only showered twice in those almost seven days, I had worn no contacts, no make up, and didn’t have signal to use my phone, and had dreams every night due to sleeping on the ground by a river every night. Which by far has been the best sleep I’ve had.

It’s safe to say that week changed me and the mentality I have, both towards nature, politics, school, art, work, my hobbies, and my previous and current friendships. I try to implement more reading and writing during my down time from work and friends. I go to museums monthly and try to take any opportunity to take pictures. I try to look at everything in an artistic point of view. Having just one job with the minimal hours gives me time to focus on me, my finances and school the following semester.

A picture I took of a pool at The Getty Center in Los Angeles

It’s never too late to quit that job you hate. It’s never a bad thing to cut out the toxic people out of your life. It’s okay to not have a job for a while. It’s okay to not know what will happen next. It’s okay to evaluate your own situation and deal with it when you’re ready to ask for help. It’s okay to ask for a hand when you’ve fallen and can’t get up. Sometimes the only closure you’ll get is to strive for a better you in a better tomorrow. Taking time to better your health is okay. It doesn’t happen over night, and that’s something I’ve learned in 547 days (and counting. You’ll have great days, bad days, and good days, horrible days and everything in between. Always look forward to the better tomorrow. Always.

Selfie of me, with a stray hair from a brush on my forehead, in a better place than yesterday.