Antsy

I am not living in the now. I am living in the future. To when I’ll graduate, to when I’ll go to New York, to being out of debt and to performing in shows. I usually don’t look forward to things, so this is a big step for me.

I am nearing the end of my second to last semester and I just want to be DONE with school. I don’t really care about my grades, as long as I pass. I just keep thinking of how awesome life is going to be. I’ll have time to work normal hours and write and perform. Only 6 more months and I’m free forever!

I decided that I am not going to walk at graduation. I don’t do well in crowds and I have been in school too long for it to mean something. I’ll be 29 and I don’t want to walk with a bunch of 24 year old kids. Instead, I am taking a trip to New York with my sister in May. We will be there for almost an entire week and I am beyond excited!

I have been paying off bills one by one, focusing on making larger payments. I probably won’t be out of debt by the time I graduate, but I’ll be pretty close. Then I can save for a house and a new car and get more pets in my life. Pets make life so much happier. I adore my pup Rusty who loves me more than anyone on the planet. (Except if my mom has food. Then he loves her more.)

Lastly, I was just cast in Hunchback of Notre Dame and I am literally dying to get started. I’ve known for a couple weeks but we don’t start rehearsals until after Thanksgiving. I just want to get started! I’ve been listen to the music for months, I’ve been working on my range, and I just picked up the script and libretto and have started looking things over. It is an AMAZING show and the cast list is fantastic. I just know it is going to be beautiful and probably one of my favorite theater experiences.

SO

You see why I’m antsy. I can’t live in the moment because the future is so exciting! Oh happy day, I am actually HAPPY! And no one is gonna bring down!

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This is Real

I watched This is Us this week, so SPOILERS.

Randall was adopted by a white family. They took him in as foster parents and a year later they went to court to make his adoption final. The judge was black and didn’t want them to adopt a black baby because Randall wouldn’t have anyone he could identify with as a black man. Luckily the story had a happy ending.

My story also had a happy ending. I was one of the first children my parents adopted. We lived near L.A. and I was born in Martin Luther King Hospital, which had a horrible reputation and wasn’t in a good part of town. My parents fostered me first and we had a black social worker. This woman did NOT want my white parents to adopt a black baby. They thought I should be with my own people. (My parents did consider running away to Canada so they could keep me.)

My birth name was Crystal Camille Phillips. I am pretty sure I had siblings when I was given up for adoption. My birth mother said not to try and track down my birth father because he wasn’t a good man. If I had stayed with them, who would I have become? If I had been adopted into a black family would I be any different? I believe in both nature and nurture and I think I would have become close to the me I am today, no matter what.

The me I am is a geek. I am a child. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am an aunt. I am a friend. I am a singer and an actress. I am a reader and a writer. I am so many things and they outweigh the bad in my life. So, maybe I would have been a little different but I think I am who I am at my core and being raised by white parents of black wouldn’t have mattered.

Together Forever

Last night I lay in my parents bed and talked with my mom. Then my 18 year old brother came in and talked to us. Then my dad shouted that he was going to pick up some rent and the three of us randomly decided to go with him where, conveniently, my older brother Jacob lived with other people in the four plex, so we got to see him too.

My family has a great relationship. I sometimes forget that. We can all gather together and get along, for the most part. We are very honest with each other and I think that makes us close. It could have been so different. My parents adopted eight kids and had two of their own, and we love each other. Sure, we have our little fights and arguments, but we always end up back together.

I live with my parents right now, which means I get to see them and my brothers Nik (18) and Mike (15) every day. On the next cul-de-sac over is my sister Beth with her husband and  six kids, which we get to see fairly often. They stop by or we drop in. Down the street a ways is my sister Katie and her husband and three girls. They also drop in regularly. Five minutes away is my bro Justin and his wife and son, but they are always busy so we don’t see them as much. Maybe eight minutes away is my brother Jacob and he has his two girls sometimes and he will drop by every couple of weeks. Maybe ten minutes away is my sister Christina and her husband and four boys and I like to drop in and hang with her when I can. Twenty minutes away is the oldest child, Debbie, and her husband and three kids and we don’t get to see her much, but we stay in contact through texting. Furthest away, in Florida, is my brother Matthew and his wife and baby girl. We miss the heck out of them.

My family stays together through drop ins and group texts. It is nice to know that I can have a conversation with the majority of my siblings in a group text. We know what is going on in their lives, what they need, and when we can hang. We have Skype for the further away people, Facetime when we want to talk but can’t stop by, and phone calls. Technology really helps us keep close.

On Monday night we had a Halloween party at my sister’s house and all but three nieces and one nephew were there. That is A LOT of kids. We are so lucky to be able to hang out, for the kids to be friends with their cousins, and to keep those relationships. My family keeps me sane, though they sometimes drive me insane, but that is what family is for. You just have to love each other, no matter what. I am so lucky. My life could have been so different. I wouldn’t trade my family for the world.

Roberts Clan Forever.

What People Think

I have reasons for wanting to succeed in life. I mean, besides the obvious ones. I want to be wealthy enough to help take care of my family, take care of myself, be able to live comfortably.

The main reason that I want to do well though, and may not be a healthy reason, is that I want to prove to the doubters that I can. I want the people who think I’m weak or crazy or that I’ll never be anything to be proven wrong.

Those people are out there. I know a few of them for sure. Some ma even be in my own family. I wish I could cut all ties with these people, but I can’t. We know the same people, have the same friends, work at the same theaters.

I would LOVE to get a lead in a musical at the Hale theaters and prove I am more than a quiet and self doubting girl.

I would LOVE to get my book published and for it to be a huge hit just so I can show that I can do what I set out to do.

I would LOVE to lose weight and suddenly be stunning and shove it in their faces.

I know this isn’t exactly what I should want. I know I should want to do these things for me. And on some level I do, but I feel like proving people wrong is some kind of vengeance…and I like vengeance. So if that drives me for right now I’ll take it. And maybe when I do all of these things I’ll love myself more and not care what others think.

Leaving the Church

Yesterday I went to a church “function”. My niece, whom I love and adore, wrote a play with her activity days group about obeying the prophet. For those who don’t know, activity days are where young girls, typically still in elementary school, gather once a week for church purposes. They learn church principals, do service work, and other things that are church related. ( I always hated it). I wasn’t going to go, but my mom caught me as I walked in the door and said that no one else was going, not even the girl’s mom or siblings. So, being the supportive actress and writing aunt, I went.

I skipped out at the end of the play of course. It was cute, it was about emergency preparedness. The church is always telling the members to be prepared for natural disasters so Mormons usually have food storage. It was also about charity. There wasn’t anything to be offended by. But I just don’t like to stay around church people for very long. I was just not in the mood to be fake.

A couple of weeks ago the Bishop called me into his office to have a talk about the request to move my records. He said he wasn’t supposed to convince or force me to stay in the church, but discourage me from removing my records. My dad found out that I had requested this (he had accidentally opened and read my mail) and he pushed his way into the meeting to make me feel guilty about choosing to leave the church.

I told the Bishop I’d think about it and get back to him with my decision by the end of the month. Of course, I know my decision but I didn’t want to say it in front of my dad who can get emotional about church things. See, Mormons believe that when we die we go to heaven where we can be a family forever. But I always knew that if it were all real that I wouldn’t go to the same tier of heaven as the rest of my family. There are three tiers and you go where you feel you fit in. I was never going to get to the highest of highs because I wasn’t going to get married. I think many believe that those in the top tiers can come down and visit those below, but the ones below cannot go up. So even when I believed in the church I didn’t actually think my family was going to be together forever.

I am not the only “rebellious” child in the family. I have three brothers who do not actually behave as or consider themselves Mormon. Some of us drink, one or two do some drugs. I like my life the way it is. I like wine and I like tattoos and I don’t want to waste my time going to church meetings every week where my parents won’t even let me use my cell phone. I think on some level that they think making me pay attention will save me. But I am certain of my course and what I want to do. I can still be a good aunt, sister, and daughter without being a member of a church that I don’t believe in and don’t agree with on so many levels.

So, at the end of the month it will be final. I will leave the church forever and not look back. I like this part of my life. I like the new more confidant me. I am focused on doing what is good for me and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.

 

Book Update

I’ve gotta say, I am feeling pretty good these days.

Not for obvious reasons. I haven’t lost weight (in fact I’ve probably gained), my finances are still crap (spending hundreds at Comic Con didn’t help), and I still live with my parents. BUT

I am feeling SO GOOD about my writing! That really means something. See, I don’t usually let people read my stuff, but I’m in my second fiction writing class, so people have been looking it over and workshopping it. For our first round the ENTIRE class was going to read 20 pages of our work. And honestly, some of the comments I got weren’t the best. I got a few people who knew where I was going and who liked it, and a few others who said my characters were found lacking. BUT

My teacher actually likes my story! The next day of class, after we workshopped my piece and were supposed to move on, she kept bringing it up. She actually said that she’d been thinking about it. That is a huge compliment; having someone think about your work when it is not immediately in front of them.

Then over the weekend she messaged me and I about died. Here is the direct quote. ” I’m actually pretty certain that you have the makings of a really sophisticated storyteller. Looks like you’re in a pretty fast-moving evolution right now. Trust the ride.” WHAT?!

Now, she may have sent that to multiple people or something but it meant so much to me that my teacher, who prefers nonfiction, likes my work and sees something in me.

I didn’t expect much from this story. I started it a couple years ago, got 30 pages in and gave up. Then I picked it up again last year and know exactly where I am going with it and have mapped out the two others books in the trilogy.

I haven’t written much in the past few months because I have been a combo of busy and lazy, but I think I have about 100 pages left to go and the book will be done. Then I will edit everything and start looking for an agent. I think self publishing isn’t for me. Plus I want to go into a bookstore and find my book on a shelf, which doesn’t usually happen with self publishing.

Now, I don’t actually know how this is gonna go. I could never get this published. And I’m kind of bragging right now because I never have anything to brag about. Good things feel few and far between for me. But I am feeling pretty upbeat thanks to all of this. Good feedback is always a good thing.

The Fact of the Matter

To be honest, I am a huge geek. I may not show it very often. i mean, my friends know I love musical theater, but I am more than just that kind of geek.

I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love Inuyasha. I love anime and manga and magic and the supernatural. I watch a buttload of TV. TV is a form of escape for me, as is reading and writing. It takes me away from life and allows me to live some other life instead.

This is not me saying I’d like to live in those worlds. Buffy dies twice. The guys on Supernatural have died more. I don’t want to battle demons. I don’t want my life to be on the line. But escaping my own problems for fictional problems of someone else, problems that are usually solved in the end, that makes me happy.

I watch cartoon as, yes I have crushes on fictional characters. I can say the lines along with some of the shows I am watching. I sing along to showtunes. And I used to be afraid of letting people know this about me. Even some of my dearest friends have made fun of my hobbies. But I’m not ashamed. I finally learned how to love myself; every single quirk.

I get to go to Comic Con this Friday and Saturday and I am beyond excited. I am going to Meet Dick Van Dyke, John Barrowman, and Eliza Dusku. Maybe John Cusack, I haven’t decided on that. I am going to go to nerdy panels about TV shows, actors, and writing. I am going to dress up as Peter Pan and Mulan. I am going to spend a lot of money on fan art.

Because, who runs the world? Nerds!

What’s Up Doc?

I was diagnosed with depression as I served an LDS Mission in Brooklyn, New York. People say that serving a mission sort of ages you. That it is so much stress that it make unknown conditions flare up. I am sure I had depression before this. In high school I was quiet. I always felt like I was going to die somehow, though taking my own life was not interesting to me. ( Nice to know that I wasn’t always suicidal)

I was an emotional mess on my mission, even while I was in the missionary training center. I should have just left then instead of actually going to New York. But it was New York… how could I not go? I was only in New York for 4 months. I had a great companion and we shared an apartment with two other sisters who were also cool. I hated the mission basically right away, mostly because I was supposed to be a Spanish speaking missionary and I couldn’t learn the language to save my life.

I was stressed and upset and felt like a failure. I don’t remember how I ended up going to Manhattan to meet with a therapist from the church. I met with him a few times and he put me on some meds. THAT is a fun story. When I got back to Utah and met with my doctor he told me that the therapist had started me on a WAY high dosage. So of course I had side effects. Some days after starting my meds I was teaching with my companion when I felt sick. She said I looked pale, which is hard to do if you are black. I said I had to go home and it was SO hard to walk. When I did walk my legs were so shaky that each step I wobbled and my companion had to hold me up. I spent two days in bed and even then I was still wobbly.

I met with the therapist again and I decided that I needed to go home. I was hallucinating on occasion because of my meds and I kept thinking how grand it would be to step in front of a bus or fall from a subway platform. My family tried to keep my from leaving. I even spoke with my parents on the phone (that is usually reserved for holidays). Apparently the whole ward was praying for me. How fun that everyone knew my private business. I felt like they were trying to guilt me into staying so I decided to pray and get a response. After praying I still felt like leaving was my best option, so I got on a plane and came home.

If I hadn’t had depression I might have stayed. I would have faked being a believing Mormon and would have kept at it because I didn’t want to upset my parents. But because of depression I have learned more about myself. I have become stronger as a result of my weaknesses. I have learned to love myself and do what is best for me. So, it has been a rough ride, but I think I am the better for it.

Locked Away Again

The second time I was sent to a mental hospital it was my choice. One of the requirements for me leaving the first hospital was that I needed a therapist so I’d been meeting with a guy through LDS services. I spoke to him and made the choice to be hospitalized. This happened after my second suicide attempt.

I don’t quite remember what made this one happen. I was depressed about money, I know that. I got home to my apartment and got into a short argument with my room mate. Then I went and downed a bunch of pills after looking up on the internet how much it would take to kill me. Then I went to my room and lay down to die. Thankfully my stomach had other ideas. I threw them all up, told my room mate what I had done, he called my sister who took me to see my therapist.

My sister drove me up to Murray, a different mental hospital than the last one, and signed me in. This experience was a lot better. It was still the same locked away situation, but I made progress with my group therapy sessions and they gave me new meds to try that worked 9 (I am still on them now).

What I remember most was this girl, we will call her Jill. She was in for suicide attempts but she had also been living on the street. Her parents kicked her out for drug abuse. She was the crazy girl this stay, where as I was the crazy one at my last hospital. She seemed to have split personality disorder and had a problem with stealing. One night she stole from a very angry girl and hid in our room , she was my room mate, and I had to talk her down and into giving the stuff back while the workers tried to calm down the angry girl. I kind of took care of her during my stay.

This was a short stay as well, maybe five days, but I made a lot of progress that time. I didn’t feel like I was in jail, I got along with everyone there, and I did as I was told.

The third time I didn’t go to the hospital, though I should have. I had a huge fight with my room mate and with my best friend. I slept at my parent’s house and three of my sisters slept over to watch me. I had told them I decided I was going to kill myself close to Halloween, so I was basically on suicide watch, though Halloween was a month off. I got tired of being watched and wanted to run away, but my sister Katie jumped onto my car and called the cops so I wouldn’t go anywhere. Finally, I was allowed to go as long as she went with me and I pulled a Britney and buzzed my hair off at a salon.

I should have gone to a hospital then, but my family helped me get under control. It was at this time when I figured out that I was filled with guilt and anger towards myself for things I had done in my past. I felt that God shouldn’t love me because of what I had done and also that I wasn’t a good person in God’s eyes because I wasn’t doing the things I should.

This was the time when I decided that I didn’t believe in God at all… and that worked for me. Not having a judgemental all seeing being in my life made it easier to LIVE. And what have a done since then? I have become mentally stable. I’ve been able to go back to things I enjoyed, like theater and writing. This was all back in 2015 and I have never felt better.

I don’t go to therapy anymore, it is too much money and my medication balances me very well, but I do remember one thing a therapist said. I needed to focus on taking care of myself, even if it seemed selfish. Because I can’t care for others, like I like to do, if I can’t take care of myself. So I make choices that make me happy. I take my meds. I spend time with family and friends. And I don’t see myself being hospitalized every again.

Next Week: Getting diagnosed with depression while serving an LDS mission.

My Own Girl, Interrupted

I didn’t want to go to the mental hospital. But I’d said the wrong things when the cop pulled me over on the way to attempt suicide. He took me to a regular hospital where they asked me questions again and I was too honest. I wasn’t really aware of things at the time. I’d just gotten my first tattoo and I was more concerned with getting something to put on it so it didn’t go without moisture. I was also concerned about what they were doing with my car that they’d left on the side of the road because I couldn’t afford to get it towed or anything.

My parents came to the hospital and we joked around, because that is what my family does. My mom was upset but my dad got me a pirate eye patch and we laughed and took pictures. I was at the hospital for a couple hours and then they told me I had to go to the mental hospital and it was required of anyone who tried to take their own life. I talked with them some more because I had work to get to. I had a job. I couldn’t just be in the hospital. The guy, a therapist I think, said it was required that I stay for 24 hours. So I figured I could last 24 hours. (He lied BTW. I’m still mad at that.)

They had an ambulance bring me down from Heber to go to the mental hospital that is actually only blocks from my own house, on 800 in Orem between Harmons and the Riverwoods. The guys knew I was worried about money and said they’d find a way to cut costs for me. (I got billed $1,500 which I don’t think is cutting costs to me.) When we got to the hospital they wheeled me in because I was strapped to the bed. Once I was passed the door which locked behind me I was let off the bed and taken to a small room where another therapist talked to me. They had me fill out some paper work and then walked me down the hall when I stripped down to my underwear and they searched me to make sure I had nothing that could harm myself. Then I had to put on the hospital gown and socks.

The first day I cooperated. I went to group therapy and I went to breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria. The woman were in their own section and we had to have two people walk us to the cafeteria as they unlocked doors on the way. Think Orange is the New Black, but with less freedom. I met with ANOTHER therapist and I reminded them that I was only to be held for 24 hours because I had work. That therapist said that the hold was longer then 24 hours and they would have to see where I stood after a few days.

I freaked the fuck out. I am not proud of my behavior. I think I was still a bit crazed from my suicide attempt and in a new place that made me feel like I was even more crazy. That night I ripped strings off of my blanket when no one was looking and I hid them in my socks. I got in the shower and tried to form some sort of noose with the strings and tried to kill myself. (the strings broke of course). I went back to my room and tried to barricade the door. Everything was bolted to the ground and wall though so I basically took off the plastic mattresses and piled them in front of the door. Another embarrassing thing, one of my brother’s friends worked there and they sent him to push into my room and stand there and watch me. I started yelling “You’re the ones killing me because I need to go to work. If I can’t make money I get depressed and that makes me want to kill myself. You’re killing me by making me stay here!”

This is where things get crazy. I started to rip up the blanket I slept with and screamed at the top of my lungs. They decided to sedate me. It took four people holding me down to give me an injection in my butt and then everything became a blur. I was put into a room with just a mattress and someone was assigned to watch me at all times. I wasn’t allowed out of our little area so they brought me food. Apparently I attended group therapy, but I don’t really remember probably the next 24- 48 hours because of the drugs they gave me.

I stayed there for five days. It wasn’t productive at all because I was forced to be there and all I could think about was how I couldn’t afford this. Money is a BIG trigger for me obviously. They finally let me go because I didn’t have insurance. I hated it there. It was a place that kept a variety of people, (suicidal, anorexic, addiction recovery) and I thought they were all weird. We basically had our bedrooms and on community room to hang in, so I felt caged. We had to attend group therapy. We had to take our meds. There were too many things forced on us and no enough freedom. For someone as stubborn as I am, it wasn’t a good environment and it didn’t help, which is why I had another attempt. But that story will be next week.