Hiking Without Headphones: Why 2014 Was The Most Important Year Of My Life.

Today is the first day in a long time where I have absolutely nothing to do. Well until 5PM when I have to go to work. BUT during the day, there are no airport rides I have to give, no auditions I have to go to, no acting classes, no improv practices, no scripts I feel pressed to work on, NOTHING. Just me at home patiently waiting for the UPS guy to deliver me a new iPhone from my insurance company between the hours of 8AM-5PM. I thought to myself, what do I do now? Write a blog? Sure, but later. Binge watch TV? No, that’s what you do when you get home from work and can’t sleep. Hang out with friends? Everyone is gone. Work out? HA yeah ri—Wait. Yeah. Work out.

workoutI haven’t set aside time to work out in about a month now. A pathetic admission that I wish I felt worse about. So I decided to take my dogs hiking and on my way out I came to the crude realization that I did not have headphones. I lost them long ago when I hiked or ran regularly. Some historians argue that losing my headphones in the first place is why I stopped working out, but that is not a solid enough excuse without being paired to a busy schedule. Bravely though, I walked into the world without headphones on and started my hike at Elysian Park.

elysianparkFirst couple things I noticed. I am now only accompanied by the sound of my own breath. Do I always breathe this loud? Am I dying? Maybe I should just close my mouth. Oops no, then I can’t breathe. I also noticed that dogs are assholes. My dogs, other people’s dogs, all of the dogs were kind of assholes. I always take my dogs with me, but I didn’t realize that every dog we passed, both my dogs and theirs would growl a little bit as they went to smell each other… What’s all the tension? A man yelled at another man “Hey! Keep your dogs away from mine man, he’ll fight anything!” Whaaaat?? This took me a long time to process before I was able to give the man who said this the benefit of the doubt in the situation. I thought “Why bring an aggressive dog out on a public hiking trail, covered with other people and their dogs?” Well, I guess aggressive dogs need walks too, but I mean, HERE? Well, maybe he is trying to get the dog accustomed to being in public. Maybe that pit bull is rescued from a life of dog fighting. Okay that guy isn’t too bad. Next time though, scream “Careful with your dogs! Mine is a rescue and sometimes gets freaked out.” You are BASICALLY saying the same things without using the words “My dog will fight anything.” As if your dog is your big drunk friend in a bar that you can’t settle down.

Pit-Bull1As I hiked on I reached the one mile mark. I know this because the Nike Running App on my barely working current iPhone said it very loudly from my boobs where is was lodged in between my two bras. Yeah, I need two sports bras when I run. Fuck you. And then I heard:

“ugh, those apartment are so ugly.”

“What?” I said. And the woman in front of me with a giant sun hat who I was currently trying to pass turned around and pointed out towards the 5 freeway “Those apartments out there. They are so ugly.” and then we walked together and talked for at least 10 minutes. Is that weird? No of course not right? Living in LA for 11 years and being a self centered Millennial has altered my perception on what is normal, polite, friendly behavior and what is just weird. We talked about my iPhone coming in the mail, she told me she lived on the other side of the freeway. She asked if I bought my house in Echo Park, and I actually resisted the urge to lie and told her I just rented an apartment.

ronThis brings up an important side note about me, I highly recommend lying about your life to people you’ll never meet again. Not because you should be afraid of strangers knowing who you really are, just because it’s kind of exciting being a different person for 5-20 minutes. I had my car towed once from WeHo to the valley by AAA and had to sit in the car with this strange tow guy for about 50 minutes in traffic and I lied about EVERYTHING. Why the fuck not? Why can’t I be an engaged chef who lives in Seattle named Joyce? There is no reason I can’t be for that car ride. I’m a trained improvisor and actor and I know how to sell convincing realities. Do I lie to my friends and family? Absolutely not. I don’t even tell too big of lies to people I meet in bars just in case I end up growing to like them by the end of the night. I learned my lesson about that when I needed to have a British accent for and entire night (and the next morning). Random woman in park though? I should have told her I owned a house in Echo Park. But alas, I told her the truth. We reached the point in my hike where I typically start running. I didn’t really feel like running, but considering I was engaged in a small talk conversation with a stranger, and although I should be able to shake my LA rudeness and be able to talk to strangers, I was feeling uncomfortable the entire time. So I said it was very nice meeting her and ran away with my two dogs.

runforrestFrom that point on I couldn’t stop thinking about why she started talking to me in the first place and how lonely it is to be in LA for Christmas. There were more people at the park than I expected, but it dawned on me that this will be my very Christmas with no family whatsoever. My mom’s side of the family is in Washington, Dad’s side in Colorado, and I can’t afford to travel to either this year. My mom usually is in LA for Xmas, but this year she is spending it in Washington because she’s retired and she can do whatever she wants. Even my brother who I barely see isn’t in town and in Phoenix. No boyfriend with a family to spend it with. Plenty of friends who have offered kind open invites to their family gatherings or “Orphan Christmas” parties and I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do. I had a holiday party last week and since then I have sort’ve felt like Christmas was over. I have one friend that I will definitely spend the day with. I didn’t mean to sound depressed. I’m not depressed.

home alone2014 very easily could have been a year I spent depressed the whole time. I went through a pretty life shattering break up in the beginning of the year, followed by a month and a half of couch hopping before finally moving into an apartment that I can’t afford. I changed jobs and changed towns. Keeping some old friends but ultimately having to make a bunch of new ones. My brother fell on hard times resulting in me having a new permanent house guest in the form of his dog Athena. I had to get a new car, which brought on car payments. I have had my heart hurt, and I have hurt others worse. My best friend had a baby this year which made communication more difficult than it already was being three states away. I could go on, but why bother?

Every single thing that happened to me this year was a blessing. That breakup was very difficult to go through, but one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I remembered why I was here, who I was, and what I wanted in life.

Couch hopping proved that I have people in my life that truly truly love me. If I didn’t sleep on my friend Ranko’s couch for two weeks, we would have never pushed each other so hard and made all of the videos and sketches we made this year giving my website and his some actual content. Walking the walk rather than talking the talk.

My new apartment I can’t afford. None of us can afford it. We’re three actresses struggling to pay our bills, but every single moment of it with them has been amazing. These two girls are some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my entire life. The new friends I’ve made in my new Echo Park town have been some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. I loved them so quickly and felt so accepted as this new, improved, confident, older, and wiser version of myself in the world.

ashpuppa britpuppakristapuppaΒ  shannonpuppa

I do feel bad about the heartache I have brought some this year. I’m not perfect and there are still things about myself I need to improve. Using other people to fill holes in myself or offer distraction to more important problems and emotions is wrong. BUT I’m getting better and karma has already hit me a couple times with some vastly missed connections with other people that have left me feeling less than.

I love my new car, I love Athena, and I love my best friend’s baby. 2014 was perhaps not the best year of my life, but was definitely the most important year of my life. Here is to 2015. May I laugh as much next year as I did this year.

So why did this start? Oh right. Go hiking without headphones. It forces you to be inside your head and think about your life. Whether or not you’ll do something as self indulgent as write an entire blog about it, that’s your business, but let’s remember YOU’RE ON MY FUCKING WEBSITE YOU GOON.

Happy Holidays.

Cassandra

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