Rage and Rapture Tour

(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 7/29/17)

Last night was the Garbage and Blondie show in Red Bank, NJ for the Rage and Rapture tour at the Count Basie Theater. And I got there at 5pm for the meet and greet Push It Package, where I got to attend the three song sound check and got to take a photo with the band!

There wasn’t as much waiting around or standing around like at the show last summer in Starland. They had the same concierge this time, Emily, who had a short hair cut and her hair was dyed a bright blue. I was kind of hoping the meet and greet group of fans would be smaller, so I could ask more questions, but there were about 11 or 12 of us. Maybe more.

We went into sound check where I sat in the front row to hear them and watch them check the sound of Bleed Like Me and No Horses. And again I can’t remember the third song. I think I was just too excited. The band greeted us all very warmly as usual, and afterwards, we were led outside for the Q and A. During the sound check, one song didn’t go well and Shirley looked over at Duke and made a pouty face and said he looked sad. She also looked at each of us fans and I got so nervous when she looked at me, but somehow I was able to easily ask questions during the Q and A.

It was very humid outside but there was still a nice breeze now and then. We all waited anxiously for the band to come out. Glancing at the doors over and over, I saw Shirley’s bright red hair as she tried to open up the left door but it was locked, so she went to the other door and opened it and kind of rolled her eyes at herself. It was sweet and pretty funny.

I ended up seated directly in front of them which was great! It’s rare when you truly feel that you are in the right place at the right time in the universe. The band all sat in front of me and I was so happy. It’s always amazing and surreal to see them in person, as real people just talking to us. They asked if anyone had any questions, and Shirley said, ‘who came up with the best question?’ I raised my hand a little before she said that, so I said, ‘I don’t know if it’s the best question, but how did you decide on the lyric for the title of the book?’ (Their new autobiography is titled ‘This is the noise that keeps me awake,’ a lyric from their song, Push It.

Shirley said, ‘How did we decide on it?’ while looking at Duke. Duke said something about looking for ideas and trying to pull something from the lyrics and they thought that that lyric from Push It would be the perfect name for a band biography, for people who enjoy creating noise. Shirley mentioned that they had a working title for it at one point which was ‘Awesome something.’ I can’t remember, but they all giggled about it. I asked if they thought there would be more books, Shirley said that they have learned in their career to never say never, and Duke said that it was very optimistic for me to ask that and that he would be taking that in (and he gestured with his hands as if to take something upon him) which was cool.

I raised my fists and said ‘I believe in you guys!’ and Shirley also raised her fists and smiled, saying ‘yay!’ which was such a great moment for me. Other fans asked questions like what the band had been watching on TV on the road and what some of their surprising musical influences are. Shirley was wearing a long, black flannel dress with white stripes which buttoned up, and her hair was all down. She had eye shadow on and pinkish lipstick. She looked so beautiful as she always does.

She looks captivating because of her eye color, her confidence, her presence, her brilliance, and everything about her. I felt like I was in some interview show on tv, but it was actually in person and I could see the breeze blow her hair around. She was wearing black nail polish.

Other fans spoke about Blondie and Debbie Harry, and how Garbage had hooked up with them. Shirley spoke about Debbie Harry when another fan commented that she was 72 and still rocking. Shirley said that it was so inspiring to have someone like Debbie, an older woman out at the forefront doing something so impressive and incredible. And she said that she, herself, at 50, has the same insecurities as any woman. She said ‘I felt it when I was 30,’ and she looked at all of us and said that we are so much younger than they are and it’s great for us to see women like her and Debbie out at the forefront of society and doing shows like this together.

I said ‘it’s inspiring’ and I felt a deep admiration and appreciation for Shirley in that moment because she understood and sympathizes and relates to all women in that way and it was beautiful to see her say that she has the same insecurities as any woman. She continued, ‘Not to exclude any gents here, but it’s harder for women I think.’

I also asked where their favorite place to visit has been, of all the places they have seen in the world. Steve said, ‘there hasn’t been a bad one’ and Shirley said ‘why is it so hard for us to come up with answers?’ which I thought was funny and I think she actually apologized! I said ‘take your time.’ She mentioned several places, one I think was Iceland, and it’s so hard to remember the the others! Then she thought a moment and said ‘Colombia.’ I smiled and put my hand to my chest and said ‘my parents were born there.’ She said she had been afraid to go there but that she was amazed at how beautiful it was and how great the people were.

I said there are a lot of touristy parts now like Cartagena where my mom was born and that the people are very warm and welcoming. Shirley listened to me and nodded and then Butch said ‘that’s where we had the police escort.’ I looked surprised and he explained how the police had to escort them down a road of very erratic drivers. And the police escort would speed up and then stop suddenly and then have to speed up again. I agreed that there are some areas where they drive very recklessly. And I think they mentioned that the escort had just made a mistake, or the driver had taken them to the wrong place. I said ‘well, that’s an experience’ and Shirley said ‘Yea, it was an experience but the great privilege of being in a band is getting to see all kinds of places and all kinds of people and in every place there are loving, kind and beautiful people, and in every place there are also assholes, which is a given.’ And I nodded and agreed, saying that was very true.

Another fan asked how they decide on which songs to practice during the sound check, which I thought was a great question. And they said they try to go with softer songs that are not too taxing on Shirley’s voice, and they usually try to end with the first song they will play during the show, which last night was No Horses. They said it sounded good to them, Duke then said ‘we should knock on wood’-and then knocked on the arm rest of the bench they were seated at. Shirley then did the same.

I asked if they have been doing any writing while on tour. Shirley said she had done a little bit that morning and then looked at Duke. He said ‘yea, it was good.’ Shirley went into a story where she had been asleep and suddenly had a dream, or woken up with a complete verse in her head. She had her eyes closed and said ‘Usually when that happens, I think to myself, Oh I’ll get up and write it down later, but this time I actually got up and wrote down the words.’ I couldn’t believe I was having an actual conversation with her, she was answering my question and seemed to be enjoying doing so! I was so happy at that moment, just looking at her and listening to the dream verse story and kind of relating to it in the way that poetry used to come to me in my sleep, and once even a song when I was really young.

One of them looked over at Emily and said, ‘should we take photos?’ after mentioning that the new video for their song, No Horses would be coming out next week.  We all got up one by one for photos and when it was my turn I said, ‘can I have hugs too?’ Steve hugged me kind of awkwardly. Then Shirley hugged me and gave me a tight squeeze, which I couldn’t believe! I was scared to hug her too tightly because I wasn’t sure if she’d be open to that but she hugged me tight for moment and I was so happy and thrilled!

I was so nervous that I didn’t even think of hugging Duke or Butch, which I wanted to do. We posed for the picture and I stood between Shirley and Duke. They are my two favorites in a way, and the picture was taken. I thought I blinked, but Emily checked and said the picture was perfect. I turned slightly to Shirley and she said ‘Thanks baby’ and I just smiled and was so embarrassed that I couldn’t even look her in the eyes. I sort of only saw her mouth when she said it and she smiled slightly but she said it was a lot of warmth and intimacy, and I was so surprised and stunned and happy. I think I said ‘thank you’ to them and walked off.

It all went by so fast but I still remember the hug Shirley gave me. And having this woman who has inspired me in so many countless ways, hugging me and being so close was just out of this world. It was a dream come true. It was perfect. I will never forget that moment. I loved it.

I later went to the merchandise table where I bought a shirt from Garbage that’s black and says ‘when I grow up, I’ll be feminist’ with the words ‘I’ll be feminist’ written around a photo of a woman’s uterus covered in flowers. All the proceeds of the sale of the shirt go to planned parenthood, which Emily had told us before the sound check. The older man at the merchandise table asked ‘have you grown up yet?’ after I asked for that shirt, and I replied, ‘No, not entirely.’

I went in to find my seat and waited, watched the opening band, Deap Valley and then waited impatiently for Garbage. They sounded incredible as always, perfect, and put on such a surreal and beautiful show. I am always in awe of Shirley’s voice when I hear it live and am in awe of the way she performs and moves on stage. I was so glad I had a second row seat. They sang Even though Our Love is Doomed, which Shirley said was a sad song. During the intro, she looked down and started playing with the red microphone strings. I love to see those little moments. She was in shadow but I could still see her because I was so close, and the spotlight was on Duke.

She introduced Empty by saying ‘this is the saddest song we have ever written.’ I got a video clip of that song, which I was really happy to get. I thought it was funny while introducing Even though our love is Doomed, Shirley said it was a slower one which was good because the fan was right by her mic and she said it would cool her down for a bit. She also apologized for singing a dark song because ‘some people get upset when you bring them down.’ Then she said the title of the song and gave a big, hearty laugh.

But the most amazing thing that happened was during Only Happy When it Rains. During the verse, ‘Pour your misery down’ – when Shirley held the mic to the crowd for us to sing that part, she looked right at me and as I sang ‘pour your misery down,’ she very clearly mouthed the words ‘bless you’ to me, which I couldn’t believe! We had a real moment of connection. I knew this because I had given Emily a card earlier to give to the band, she would leave our cards and gifts in their dressing room. And below is what I wrote in the card:

Dear Shirley, Duke, Butch, Steve,
Thank you for all of your artistry and music, which has been a great source of strength, happiness and inspiration to me. I am so grateful to you and I wish you every blessing from the universe. Attached are some of my reflections on when I bought your first album, its profound effect on me, as well as some impressions of past shows of yours that I had the pleasure of attending. May you always be blessed and happy, and continue to create beautiful, magical music. I love you all! Enjoy the rest of the tour!

With love always,
Karen Delasala
karen_socorro on instagram.


Since I used the word ‘bless’ several times in the hand written card, I knew that when she mouthed ‘bless you’ to me at the show, that it was meant for me. At first I couldn’t believe that it happened, but she did look me directly in the eyes and stressed the word ‘bless’ making sure that she mouthed it very clearly. It was surreal, beautiful, magical, a moment that touched my heart and my soul, and which I will always remember and treasure. It will never be diminished.

(Edited to add that I found a Youtube video online of this performance! And you can see when she says ‘bless you’ to me. I will try to find it and post it below. The moment is at 2 minutes, 51 seconds into the video)

August 5, 2017. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Strange Little Birds

(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 7/28/16)

Last night was the Garbage concert on their tour for Strange Little Birds. And as usual it was epic, incredible, amazing, beautiful, inspiring, uplifting and so fulfilling and entertaining. I bought a VIP package in which I had access to a three song sound check, and a Q and A with the band, along with early entry access to the show. Also as part of the package, I was given a Garbage bracelet, a poster and a VIP laminate necklace. It was so much fun and so awesome. It was a long wait but I started getting excited listening to the sound check.

Before we were allowed in officially, I could hear the band practicing ‘Night Drive Loneliness’ which sounded so beautiful live, I tried to just block out everything around me but the sound of Shirley’s voice. While I was in the lobby, they were also practicing ‘shut your mouth.’ It was just so cool, I always love hearing Shirley’s voice in person. It is so powerful and just one of the most gorgeous sounds on earth.

We got access to the sound check and that was great too. They sound checked with ‘Beloved Freak’ and ‘Stroke of Luck’ and I’m trying to remember the third song. Then the band sat on the stage in front of about 13 of us VIP fans at the front.

A female couple from Brazil was front and center and one of them started to cry. Shirley asked if she was crying and then got up to hug her. It was sweet. A few people asked questions but it was a bit hard to hear them. Garbage mentioned not wanting to take part in 90’s band package tours, as they prefer to be on their own tour. Butch was not there due to being sick, so it was just Shirley, Steve and Duke on stage.

Then at the end I finally got to ask my questions. I said that I had heard them say in interviews several times that New York City is one of their favorite cities in the world, and I was curious about why they loved it so much.

Steve answered my question and said that he grew up in Westchester (which I didn’t know) and as they stayed in NY currently, they loved taking a boat to see the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks I think, and that there was a particular place that they liked to go to eat. I told Steve I didn’t know he grew up in Westchester.

I asked my second question to all three of them, which was- what was their favorite song on Strange Little Birds. One of them said ‘favorite track on the new record’ which I think was Steve to Duke, and Duke said he loved all the songs but especially ‘Night Drive Loneliness.’ Shirley then answered, first time ever that she spoke to me!! She said that they meant for the record to be played from beginning to end and be heard as one whole piece and they considered it to be a vinyl.

She mentioned that it’s very dangerous the way society has been moving towards not having any attention span and that everything is in bits of information and consumed in 140 characters (for example). I said, “Exactly.” She ended by saying that she would have to agree with Duke and say that every song is her favorite, and then she smiled at me. I smiled back,  tried not to look too nervous and then looked at Steve for his answer. He said his favorite song was ‘Sometimes”  because it was interesting to see everyone collaborate on that song and agree to have it on the record.

After he was done, I said to them all, “I just want to say thank you…for everything you do, and everything you are.” I made sure to emphasize my words and speak slowly. And I sort of made a gesture of my hands over my heart. They all smiled and looked a bit embarrassed and then Shirley looked up at me and said ‘Thank YOU while raising her eyebrows and with a serious expression and it was just a surreal and amazing moment that I will never forget. I don’t think I ever smiled so hard in my life.

After that, the band got up for the meet and greet pictures with the fans who had bought that part of the package. I unfortunately hadn’t, which I was really regretting, so me and one other girl were given our posters by the concierge, Emily and sent out to the lobby. I thought how incredible it would’ve been to have my picture taken with the band.

One day I will do so, but I think would prefer that Butch were present as well, so I could have a picture of myself with the entire band. I took the chance while I was waiting, to buy two band t shirts and to roll up my poster and secure it with a hair tie I had around my wrist.

I wish people could understand my love for this band, the people in it, and the treasure of their musical catalogue. They have very sincerely blessed my life, made me feel like someone out there was like me and sees and processes the world the same way that I do. They are totally insightful, eloquent, and articulate in each of their interviews and it’s just a revelation. I am so happy that they all exist and have blessed so many with their gifts. Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig, I love you with all of my heart.

There are no words to describe the feeling I got when at the end of the show, Duke came close to the end of the stage to hand guitar picks out to the fans up front. And he handed one to me! So much joy! My life felt complete at that moment and I probably could’ve died happy. I was so excited it was kind of crazy. I loved him for that and thanked him on Instagram, I will try to tweet him as well.

I left them several comments on their Instagram pictures saying ‘Your music lights the way for us all, thank you’ and also ‘Shirley, your voice soothes my aching soul. I hope you never stop creating beauty in this world that needs more.’ I hope they see my comments.

After the fact of buying the VIP package, I learned that I could’ve brought a gift for the band, like a card or a letter and handed it to Emily the concierge, to give to the band. She said she’d make sure the band got the fans’ gifts. But I didn’t know that was allowed, and therefore didn’t bring anything and that made me sad. But there is always next time.

One of the fans I met outside, Jason, said that the band was planning an anniversary tour for their Version 2.0 album, in which they would sing that album in its entirety, like they did with the 20 Years Queer tour for the Garbage album. I really hope that happens.

Shirley was absolutely amazing on stage- energetic, so forceful, so emotional and so beautiful. She is true, genuine, and beautiful on the inside and out. She is flawed and able to laugh at herself. She is at ease with herself and confident, while also just being a woman, real and at times jealous and insecure. She is just all around wonderful. And I think at one point during the show she looked at me directly and smiled. I simply adore her.

I adore her as a human being, I love all that she stands for, the meaning and beauty and comfort she has brought to my life over so many years, the way she thinks, her insights, her love for her fans and her constant appreciation and the way she stresses that the band’s work is not a one way street, that we are all a part of it. I also love that she pointed out to us that although the world seems dark and dangerous, there is still so much beauty in it and good things in it to enjoy.

I think the band mentioned the possibility of releasing a book at some point, maybe an autobiography or a memoir? I couldn’t hear the fan question too clearly but Steve said something like ‘it’s going to happen’ and Duke made a joke about them all getting in a room and writing together. It’s lovely to see them laugh and joke around with each other.

They are just down to earth and the coolest people alive, in my opinion. I hope they really do write a book! And I’m so happy that they are releasing music on their own label now- StunVolume, so that they get to decide the course of their careers and aren’t told what to do. I think this has led them to their best record to date- Strange Little Birds.

 

 

 

 

July 29, 2016. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Garbage 20 Years Queer Tour

(Entry below was handwritten on 10/25/2015)

Last night was the Brooklyn stop on the 20 Years Queer Garbage tour, where they are performing the entire first album for the first time as well as all the b sides released between 1995 and 1996. The show last night was in Flatbush Brooklyn at Kings Theatre, a historical, huge theater that was recently renovated.

It’s a pretty spectacular place. Even Shirley Manson had to comment on how it all took their breaths away when they walked in the first time. I was in Section 3, row Q, seat 14. I had an extra ticket so I gave it to a guy who was standing outside asking if anyone was selling a ticket. I offered it to him for free, just so I could have someone accompany me. He was nice and normal enough, and bought me a drink to thank me.

My seat was pretty good, but I still wished to be closer to the stage to get a better view of Shirley. Those spots are always difficult to get. I missed the opening band, Torres, but I didn’t mind that much. I was there for Garbage. Dom, the guy I gave my extra ticket to, said he saw Garbage the previous night in Long Island and that their set started around 9:10pm. But the band came on pretty much on time in Brooklyn.

Before they came on, a large projection showed a short clip on how life was in 1995, and everything that was happening in the world then, along with some clips of Garbage in candid moments backstage. It ended with their most recent publicity shot, one band member appearing at a time, and the white screen stayed up throughout the first song, a b side, ‘Subhuman’.

It’s always a real treat to hear them play live. The music just fills my body and makes me feel so joyful and alive. I wasn’t as close as I would’ve liked to be, but I could still see Shirley’s face and make out that it was her. Her hair is short again, almost to her shoulders, and is dyed a bright pink. She wore a pink sheath type dress with black stockings and black arm cuffs, and a long necklace with what looked like a jeweled lion’s head pendant.

She was sweet and humble and funny as usual, saying how she was told once that Garbage is not a Brooklyn band, to which she replied, ‘What the fuck does that mean?’ She told the audience that they were now playing in Brooklyn, which proved that person wrong, and she said something to the effect of “That’s why you must never think of yourself, the way other people think of you. People try to keep you defined in this little box of their idea of who you are.”   And she is right, of course.

That is the whole philosophy of the band, to be an individual, regardless of whether or not that makes you an outsider.

It was strange and wonderful to hear Shirley sing songs from the first album, like ‘Not my Idea,’ ‘Dog New Tricks,’ ‘Sleep,’ and b sides like ‘Trip My Wire’ and ‘Driving Lesson.’ Many of those songs I had never heard live and had only seen them performed on old VHS tapes of concerts from their first tour that I bought on Ebay.

Listening to all those songs: ‘Supervixen,’ ‘As Heaven is Wide,’ ‘Stroke of Luck,’ transported me back to being 16 years old and discovering the band and so many other things back in 1995. It was a strange feeling because I instantly remembered the mindset I had back then, all my longings and insecurities, and all my naiveté about the world- the real world outside of my school.

My world, mentally was so small and limited at that time. And while I have grown considerably, that lost, lonely 16-year-old girl still exists inside me, the one who just wants so desperately to experience love and maybe even more-so, lust and passion. Garbage vocalized all those desires I had so perfectly in that first album, as well as all of my frustrations about feeling misunderstood, a misfit without any idea of what it meant to have friends or enjoy my youth.

I was way too busy intellectualizing it all the time, trying to find rationalizations for things, and trying to express a mass jumble of feelings and emotions through journal writing and poetry writing. The lyrical content of those first Garbage songs just really spoke to my soul, spoke the words that I couldn’t find a way to say myself, and resonated with my heart on a very deep level.

Shirley Manson always amazes me, she always puts on a killer show and entertains the hell out of her audience, and does it always humbly and with grace. She is a beautiful person, but still real, and she has more energy on stage than any 25-year-old would have.

I watched her and realized that she lives in a world separate from mine. Mine is mundane, while hers is full of creativity and self-expression and glamour and fantasy. I despaired knowing that even though this band and their music has had such a profoundly positive affect on me throughout my life for the past 20 years, they will never know who I am or acknowledge me in any way. And that I can only admire them from afar.

I thought about what I would do or say if I had bought one of those meet and greet packages where you get to meet the band, get something signed and take a picture with them. And I imagined that I would be so starstruck and tongue-tied that I’d barely be able to string two words together coherently. But it would still be so amazing and a miracle to actually speak to them face to face. I think the excitement of that would totally overwhelm me, but it would definitely be worth it.

Garbage is supposed to come out with a new album next year. If that happens, I hope I’ll muster up the courage to buy one of those VIP meet and greet packages so I could finally meet the band that I have idolized and adored for much of my lifetime, and which I will continue to love and find the deepest comfort in, in years to come.

This deep connection I feel to their music and their message will always be a fundamental part of who I am . And will always be a major source of joy and inspiration in my life.

“you must never think of yourself
the way other people think of you.”
-Shirley Manson

October 26, 2015. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

RM486

(Entry below is an excerpt from one that was handwritten on 9/26/2015)

I’ve really been into listening to Rose McGowan’s new song, RM486, and watching the video. I find the song inspiring and thought-provoking and the video as well. It’s unapologetic-ally in-your-face artistic, and I respect and appreciate that. I love people who are not afraid to be themselves, and express themselves.

People who are true artists don’t care what anyone thinks of them. They just do whatever they are compelled to do. I love having this whole weekend for me, to do or not do as much as I please, to meditate, appreciate where I am in life, and feel hopeful for a positive direction for my life to take.

There is a lot of potential and possibilities for me, and I wasn’t seeing it. Suddenly, something like a new, beautiful song can awaken you, and make you see things from a different perspective.

I try to tell myself that instead of change being scary, it can be refreshing. It can invigorate you and wake you up to reality and truth. Rose McGowan is 42, has no children, and is a total badass. She is an artist, living on her own terms only. There isn’t any set formula for how a person should go about living their life.

A person can explore many identities if they choose to. They can choose to throw away all the old things in their surroundings and start fresh. It’s really a simple thing to realize. But there are options in life, everyone’s life.

This is what Rose McGowan said in an interview about her new song, RM486. I love her response-

Interviewer- ‘What do you want people to take away from this song?’

Rose-‘I just want people to take away freedom. That you can be free. You can do anything you want, you can create anything you want, you can be anything you want, and it’s completely okay and better to be different, in fact. I think if we’re just 10 percent more artistic in our lives, great things can happen. That’s all!’

September 28, 2015. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Live One Day at a Time

(Entry below is an excerpt of a handwritten entry, written on 12/6/14 a little after 1am)

I try not to fear having many regrets in my old age about my life. I feel I’m doing the best I can with what I have been given. It’s not in my nature to be an extrovert with many friends and constant social outings.

It’s not in my nature to be a thrill-seeker. I prefer the quiet and contemplative side of life. I enjoy observing the world and wondering of my place in it, and I need to stop telling myself that there’s something wrong with that, or with me.

I get so happy when I have a free weekend with no social obligation to attend to and no work to do. I can just be free and enjoy being me and doing whatever I want to do. No one can tell me what to do or not, and I don’t have to answer to anyone.

For me, the written word was my first true love, and there are always more books to read, more things to learn, more experiences to write about, more writing topics and prompts to discover that can inspire more reflection.

There are always people around to observe, and to learn from. People complicate things, expect life to be perfect but it never is. So I take note of the little things- the little pleasures and luxuries that are wonderful but are often taken for granted:

Like the gentle beauty of nature, a beautiful song, a delicious meal, a good nap or a good night’s rest, the unconditional love of family, sleeping in, working out, reading a good book or article, watching a movie that makes you think, discovering a new interest or talent, throwing away old junk and clutter, helping other people in some small way, having a healthy mind that can learn and absorb information, having a healthy body to carry you through the world.

I know things are good for me and I have everything I need. So I just need to always remind myself not to compare myself to other people, and just live one day at a time.

December 6, 2014. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Feel Good Story

(Entry below was hand written on 4/20/2014)

Something actually worth writing about happened today. It’s Easter Sunday, so I went to Mass. It was crowded as expected. The priest scolded everyone, saying we should attend Mass every Sunday, as it is only one hour out of the week. I was glad that I went and prayed.

After Mass, I wanted to buy myself some flowers so I walked to ShopRite but it was closed. So I decided to look for someplace open on Broadway. I headed up a side street towards Broadway when I passed by a house.

On the ledge outside of it was an open, black purse. I passed by it, thought it was strange that a purse was just sitting there hanging open for anyone in the street to see and snatch, so I walked back and picked it up.

Looking in the wallet, the address was of the person who lived in the house where the purse was left. I rang the doorbell but no one was home. I looked up the address for the police department online and it was close to where I was.

I went there but all the lights were off and the door was locked. I called them but got an answering machine. I texted my mom, she told me to wait to see if anyone called the cell phone in the purse. There was a missed call. I called the person back but got a voicemail.

I left them a message, and sent texts as well. The purse was a black, Louis Vuitton bag that held this woman’s whole life. She had her cell phone, wallet, train tickets (a big stack), some pay stubs, her keys, photos of children, papers and receipts, a social security card, a hair brush, loose change, her phone charger, a box of tissues, etc

It was full and very heavy. She was lucky no one had taken anything out before I found the purse. So I took it home, waiting for someone to call the cell phone. I went online to check the police department’s number again. I found it and called, this time someone answered.

I said my name and that I found a purse outside of a house that was sitting wide open, and no one was at the residence. The police asked me for the person’s address and I gave it. He said that someone had just reported the purse missing.

He asked me again “You found it?” and I said “yes, I just found it.” He told me an officer had just been sent to the home. I said I would go over to the home and return the purse.

I rushed over, holding this heavy purse, back to that side street. I saw the police car waiting there. When I walked up, I saw a lady, very upset and crying, looking so on edge. I walked up and held up the purse and said “Is this yours?”

The police officer in the car was on the phone with someone and said to them “Oh, never mind.” I guess they were getting ready to trace my call and call me back. The lady saw me, asked “It was you?” and I said yes. And she smiled a huge smile of relief and embraced me tightly for a few moments.

The policeman came out of the car and said “Do you know each other?” And I said no, and explained how I had found the purse while I was walking past the house, and I thought to myself, ‘that doesn’t look right.’ So I went back and picked it up and waited for someone to call the cell phone. I tried the police station but couldn’t find the entrance, it seemed to be closed.

The lady stood with a young man who said “fijate” to her (which sort of means ‘you see?’ in Spanish) while she was crying and so happy. The police asked her to check that everything was inside because someone may have taken something before I found the bag. She checked and saw everything was there and gave me so many thanks and said “God bless you!” with such emotion.

It touched my heart to see all the gratitude in her eyes. The policeman thanked me and said I did a good job. I said it was my pleasure, when he shook my hand. And I shook hands with the lady, and her family members as well, who thanked me many times.

I told her not to worry, to relax, that everything was OK, and told her to be careful about not carrying around her social security number. I said ‘don’t worry’ again, and walked away. I guess she was lucky that I was in the right place at the right time.

If my mom hadn’t pushed me to attend Mass, I probably wouldn’t have gone, and wouldn’t have had the chance to do this good deed for this woman. It gave me a great feeling to do something so positive, it kept me smiling for the rest of the afternoon.

I returned someone’s peace of mind, and that feels really amazing. It made me remember that it’s possible for me to be a force of positivity and kindness in the world, and have an effect on it, in a good way.

April 23, 2014. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Prompt: Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.

My Response:

I know that I should try to make new friends, meet new people. And sometimes I get a weird urge to, but I don’t do it. I know that I will eventually, maybe when the weather becomes less extreme because I don’t tolerate the cold well. But right now, being on my own is fine for me.

I’m not the kind of person who needs to have other people around. I’ve always been this way. I remember once reading about how Shirley Manson finished her latest tour and went out to a grocery store and freaked out because she was by herself. She realized that for 15 years, she has had someone around.

And it was funny to me how I am the opposite. When I have people around, that takes an adjustment on my part. It drains me mentally at times. And I feel that I need to be on my own again to recuperate for a while. I do like having company, just not all the time.

There is the danger of getting lost in one’s own head, which I tend to do, so I do see the value in pursuing friendships and hearing other people’s thoughts and opinions. Constantly focusing on oneself makes you a bit crazy and unstable and unreasonable. It’s healthy to realize that it’s not all about you.

I think I realize this more as I get older. There is a great big world out there and I’m not the center of it. I’m the center of the world inside my head, but other people are going on about their lives, oblivious to me and what I think or feel every day. Their own lives are what’s most important to them usually, just like me.

Social situations make me nervous, especially when no one is drinking and everyone is kind of tense if they don’t know each other well. I find this kind of thing a nightmare. I constantly wonder if I’m saying the right thing, if the other person gets me, if they find me strange.

I tend to recall stupid things like when I threw a baby shower for a coworker (because others pushed me to) and while everyone was gathered, I attempted to speak now and then and be friendly.

Whenever I would say anything totally normal, two of my female coworkers would look at each other and laugh. And I was just left thinking, what the fuck did I say that was so funny?

These kinds of memories get in the way and anger me when I feel the most vulnerable. I don’t like to be judged or laughed at for no reason. Social anxiety is a very real thing for some people.

My mother tells me that having friends is easy. Maybe it is for her, and the majority of the population. But not for me, for some reason that I have yet to understand.

January 23, 2014. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Lost Child

It completely breaks my heart to see that Avonte Oquendo, the autistic 14-year-old boy from Queens, is still missing after so much time.  I can’t imagine what his mother must feel like with the holidays approaching, knowing that her son is out there and she doesn’t know where, and she can’t be with him or take care of him.

Stories like this didn’t used to bother me too much, but now they do because I know how terrible it would be if my niece or nephew were missing. It’s unimaginable and the worst nightmare for a family to have to endure. I don’t know Avonte’s mother, but before he went missing, we worked for the same company. She hasn’t been back to work since, obviously. I read in an interview that she is not looking forward for Christmas and the only thing she wants is her son back.

When I was little,  I got lost a few times. I once walked out of my day care, calm as anything, and tried to walk back home. Luckily, the principal/director of the day care was late that day and as she was getting off the bus, she saw me standing on a street near the school and  recognized me.

She brought me back to the woman taking care of the children and asked, “Isn’t this girl from this center?” and the woman screamed, “Yes, Kari! Thank goodness!” She called me Kari instead of Karen. That was my last day attending that day care. My mother took me out of it and cared for me herself since she was not working at that time. Who knows what would’ve happened to me if the principal hadn’t been late that day by chance.

Another time, I was with my parents at their friend’s apartment. I was playing with a few other kids and when it was time to go, my parents couldn’t find me. They searched the entire apartment, turning it upside down and I was nowhere to be found. My mother said she was paralyzed with fear and couldn’t move.

My mother said she felt sweat pouring out from her fingertips. My father ran outside and saw me standing at the corner in front of a bar, and this was late at night. I was casually strolling around in circles around some utility pole or something, oblivious to all the fuss.

I don’t remember how old I was, but again, I was lucky. Anyone could have taken me and that would’ve been the last I saw of my family. I don’t know what I was thinking both of those times when I got lost, but I just thank God that I was found and reunited with my parents.

It just makes you wonder why some parents are lucky that way and some aren’t. It’s so random how quickly life can completely change from one day to the next. That’s why I know not to take things for granted.

I am incredibly blessed to be healthy mentally, to be educated and cared for and have a job and my independence. Life is fragile and miraculous, even in the ordinary times. Being alive, safe, and sheltered is something to be grateful for every single day.

I still pray for Avonte to be found safe, and returned home to his mother where he belongs.

December 19, 2013. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A New Outlook

Last night, I fell asleep shortly after dinner. It must have been around 8pm and I slept all the way until the next morning. I woke up a bit here and there to sleepily text my mom who was asking me how things are going in my new apartment. The next time I opened my eyes it was 1am and my bedroom light was still on, so I turned it off and went back to sleep. I slept for maybe about 12 hours in all.

I guess I was still really tired from moving over the weekend. I took Monday off but I still spent that day not really relaxing, but opening boxes, doing dishes, and getting things organized. I also spent a lot of time changing my address everywhere I have an account online: credit cards, bills, bank, etc.

I was either overly tired, or just sleep deprived from never getting any rest in my old apartment. It was nonstop noise there, all day long and most of the evening and night.

So last night I just slept and it was really great. I didn’t go online, I didn’t watch television, exercise, or read The Help, which is a really great book. I just gave in to the exhaustion and rested. And today my mind is clearer and more focused. I had more ideas for writing today than I’ve had in a long while. And that was a nice change. I kept thinking I would rather be writing than working, but day jobs are unfortunately necessary.

So tonight, now that I have my energy back I will exercise, and write, and do a few chores. Sometimes you just need to catch up on sleep. I feel better in my new apartment. I threw away a lot of useless stuff and I have so much more closet space.

I actually have closet space to spare, and space in my kitchen pantry. I needed this big change. I was too attached to my old apartment and it’s nice to see a new block and new people when I go outside, and to use my own things in new ways and organize everything differently.

I loved it when I was growing up in my mom’s house and she would rearrange the living room furniture or my bedroom furniture in order to shift the energy around and allow us to look at something new. It was refreshing. I feel like my mind has been jolted awake because my routine has changed. I’m in a quiet house now with quiet neighbors, and on a second floor instead of a fourth.

I can hear myself think and I can sit on the couch or on my bed and simply read, without needing any background noise on to drown out the neighbors. The rent is higher here but it’s worth it.

I am much more comfortable and relaxed, and that’s the way you want to feel when you are home. Getting to go to sleep anytime I want to is also a great plus, because sufficient sleep is so important. I can’t function without it.

December 4, 2013. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Annie on Broadway

Last weekend I went to see the play, Annie on Broadway. I went with my sister, my little niece who’s only 2, my cousin and my aunt. It was a nice time since I haven’t been to see a Broadway show in forever. We were up in the second row of the balcony but luckily for me I have good eyesight so that didn’t bother me. I was glad we weren’t at the very top because then the height tends to make me dizzy.

The show was very cute and entertaining and the audience was full of little girls. While I was waiting outside the theater for my family to arrive, I overheard a young girl talking to her mom. She said “The girl who plays Annie rides her scooter here!” I thought that was so funny. I forget what it’s like to be a young girl of 9 or 10 years old without a care in the world.

My niece loved the show and sang along to songs like “Tomorrow” and kept pointing out Annie to my sister. It was her very first trip into Manhattan and by the last two songs of the show, she had fallen asleep. I was struggling to remember the movie Annie while watching the show, but barely could.

The storyline was changed a little bit for the play, but I didn’t notice because I could barely remember the original. It’s amazing how time and experience passes and makes you forget things. My sister and I used to watch that movie repeatedly as kids, and now I can only remember bits and pieces.

When the show was over, another little girl behind me called out “I want to be an actor!” I laughed and asked my sister and my aunt if they had also heard. My sister said, “Well, that’s how it starts.” Who knows, that little girl may be a big star one day, having been inspired by watching a young girl like herself play the lead role in a Broadway show.

The actress who played Annie was perfectly cast, her singing voice was soaring and perfect and just right. Those songs seem difficult to sing, but she never once faltered or lost her poise. It was very impressive.

November 15, 2013. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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