It’s funny how the story goes

Kinks Us

I was reluctantly moved to Calgary from Winnipeg when I was 13 years old. I remember hearing the news and being completely unimpressed. “Why would I want to leave my summers at the beaches, my friends and my family for some hick town like Calgary?”, I sullenly asked my parents.

We moved and I was a total stroppy asshole about it until about I was 15 and I miraculously found a group of friends and my way back in a theatre. Drama class and socializing made high school and Calgary a bit more bearable despite the occasional flare up of teenage bull shit drama.  No matter the teenage angst, self confidence issues or anything else getting me down I had my escape… drama class. The opportunity to lose myself inside a character and focusing on their problems was a welcome relief for an awkward girl who was just having trouble being herself. Along with being a regular audience member at the Loose Moose Theatre when it was at the Garry Theatre, I was deep into my Saturday Night Live obsession during this time in my life and found a deep love for comedic performing and writing. There were far too many lunch hours I would hide in the back of the library, avoiding mean girls, listening to my Jewel CD and reading about Saturday Night Live and Second City. Yeah, I was pretty cool with my Oscar the Grouch backpack, pigtails, plaid pants, value village grandpa sweater and platform shoes. I counted down the days I would be out of high school, free to leave Calgary and go chase all these big city dreams I just knew were my future.

It is always funny to me how different our lives turn out from what we imagine it will be when we are 16 years old. When I was 16 I thought by the time I was 30 I would a successful television actress and producer, living in New York City, counting my Emmy Awards with my equally successful and incredibly handsome husband. The dots to get there all seemed so easy to connect back then.

Reality swept down into my life and made me feel like I had to settle. A bad audition here, some money problems there and constant rejection to suck away any self-esteem I might have had. My twenties in Calgary, with a short stint in Saskatoon, battered me up. While I went to broadcasting school to work in television, I ended up working for four years as radio copywriter, to becoming a government copywriter and then four years as an oil & gas event marketing writer and manager. I was doing well, yes. I was making a good living and developing a decent career. I had my family nearby. I had a ton of amazing friends. I should have been happy but all I have been feeling for years and years is restless.  Something was missing.

For most of my twenties I thought what I was missing was a guy. This lead me through many wasteful years living in a cycle of rejection, tears and heartache.  I was never enough for them and they were never enough for me to fill up that restless feeling inside of me. Well the last wonderful guy to completely shatter my heart actually did me a huge favour. He brought me back to improv when we started taking classes at Loose Moose Theatre in 2011. It was the first time I had been up on stage in years and I remembered how much I loved it. After that wonderful gentleman saw himself out of my life, I threw myself into improv. I went to work, I did improv and that was it. I noticed that restless feeling found an appetite for improv, telling a stories and making people laugh and it was always hungry for more. That hunger drove me to eagerly take every class I could and I have treated improv and comedy like an art I am trying to master. I took every opportunity to learn, produce and play and while doing this I finally found my home and place here in Calgary. I found a community of people who have saved my life, woke me up and reminded me who I am. Every time I am in a Kinkonauts’ class, show or just hanging out having a beer with them, I am always amazed at the love and respect I have for these people and the level of support and encouragement they show me. The Lab is my favourite place in Calgary because it the most warm, comfortable and safe place to learn, laugh or play. (AHHHHH I AM GONNA MISS IT SOOOO MUCH!)

I have spent a lot of time talking about how I wanted to get out of Calgary and move to Toronto without successfully doing so. I am now so glad that all my attempts were unsuccessful because that took me on a journey that I needed to go on. A journey where I would encounter all these weirdo improvisers that are now my great friends, my amazing teachers who each gave me tools of the trade, time with my hilarious and supportive family and a way back to my self esteem.

In all these years I have grown to love Calgary and consider it my home. But when I got laid off the first thing that I came to my mind is that I can go to Toronto. I think that is how I knew I am ready to go. I don’t want to go to get away from a city that I hate or guy that broke my heart. I want to go because my soul is hungry to learn more, to have more opportunity to master my art and grow into that person I hoped I was going to be when I was 16 years old. I am not going to make the same mistake that my 16 year old self made and put any expectation on this next leg of my journey. I just hope that I am open to whatever lies ahead, driven to work hard for the things that I want and find the support there that I am lucky enough to have here at home.

Thank you to every single one of you who has supported me or rejected me, who has been kind to me or have been a complete asshole to me. The good, the bad and the ugly of my almost 20 years in Calgary has taught me valuable lessons, brought me my dearest friends and made me this person I am today… and you know what? I don’t totally hate her, she’s alright. So bye for now Calgary…

(Well bye on Monday… after one more Saturday Night Lab….and Sunday. So…. This is the most drawn out goodbye ever)

*awkwardly moonwalks away*

My familia

Family 2This past week I spent in San Francisco celebrating my Grandpa and Grandma Marston’s 60th wedding anniversary. It has been just over 5 years since the last time I went to San Francisco and to be honest I am sad to say I don’t really have the opportunity to go down to visit with my Dad’s side of the family.

My Dad moved to Canada from Pakistan over 40 years ago at the age of 19. Needless to say this is still mind-blowing to me, the 33 year old freaking out about moving across the country in about 3 weeks here. Every now and then he tells me stories about the culture shock he experienced and how hard it was those first couple of years here on his own. He lived with relatives and friends all over the country until he settled in Winnipeg and returned to Pakistan to marry my Mom (Happy 35 years Ma & Pa) and bring her back to Canada and about a year and half later, I was born. All of my Dad and Mom’s families immigrated out of Pakistan to join us in Winnipeg or move to England and San Francisco.

My childhood in the lower-middle class was not often filled with the riches and spoils of some of my friends. We didn’t go to summer camps, fly off to many tropical destinations and were not involved in a ton of extracurricular activities available outside of school. My childhood was filled with playing pretend with my cousins, trips to the lake with my big weird Paki family, the best stories from my Dad on long greyhound bus trips to San Francisco and a lot of love and laughter.

Visiting with my family in San Francisco, seeing my frail Grandparents so excited to tell all their old dirty jokes and songs to all their grandkids, getting to know the fine young humans that I am blessed to have as cousins and my hard-working and uncles and aunts; I realize that I am made from some pretty sturdy stock. It gives me faith in myself coming off a year where I spent most of it doubting myself, and sending me into a year where I need to believe in myself more than ever.

I have been playing it safe for too long because I just don’t believe in myself. I worry that I am not capable or worthy of my dream. This week,however, reminded me that I am the daughter of a badass, hustler of a Dad and supportive, loving and strong Mother. I belong to a community of insane, neurotic, hilarious, beautiful, talented and strong people that I am blessed to be tied to by blood and all the comedic material they supply me, is icing on that sweet cake. Every time I worry that I am not worthy of all the things I hope for in 2016 and the years beyond, I am going to remember WHO I am and WHO I come from.

2016 is already shaping up to be a year that is going to change my whole life as I head off to Toronto soon. I  am so excited to break free because this weird, funny, smart and creative human being is ready to live her passion and not doubt or deny who she is and what she wants to do with her life anymore. My New Year’s Resolutions is to honor my family by positively contributing to the world with my gifts and passions. I want to use my words to help those less fortunate than me, make people laugh and maybe even inspire someone.  I want to add that light to the world for my family.

23 days and counting…
<3

Free to be me

I wrote this song, poem or whatever you want to call this…

I woke up and can’t play this game anymore
I know there’s more for me outside that door
My soul is aching to break out of this damn rut
Time to follow my instincts and trust my gut

The wind whispers to me
The sky sells me on dreams
It’s my time to be free
To find out what it all means

There has to be more than to settle like this
How can I find my way towards my bliss
Because I’m tired of living for nothing at all
My soul longs for light and love afterall

The wind whispers to me
The sky sells me on dreams
It’s my time to be free
To find out what it all means

So I’m setting out hoping to find something
Brave enough to change and inspired to sing
To create a life I have been waiting on for so long
Adding memories to my days and lyrics to my song

The wind whispers to me
The sky sells me on dreams
It’s my time to be free
To find out what it all means

I got laid off!

Free

Guys,

The craziest, scariest and best thing just happened to me. I got laid off! I have tried my hardest not to bringing the doom and gloom of work to this blog. The truth is my expiry date for that job was long before today. I was way too scared to leave the security of my regular paycheque, even though I was miserable and working in a place that was no longer bringing out my best work but my bitterness.

This 9 to 5 version of myself was in vast contrast to the happy, confident and joyful person I have been allowed to become in my evenings and weekends, since I have gotten involved with the Kinkonauts. I would spend half my day feeling like a shitty version of myself to getting to be the best version of myself at night, it was exhausting on my soul.

Today I got laid off and that should be a bad thing or some sort bad reflection on me. The truth is I didn’t fit the mold of what was needed in my position and they did not fit the mold of the kind of company I feel excited to work for. And the thing about me is I LOVE TO WORK! I am a loyal, hard-working person to a fault and I would not have quit. I would have stayed there miserably secure. I would have kept threatening to leave but never have left.

So, much like the last time I lost a job after many years of employment at same place where I was happy, this punishment of getting fired is a ticket to the next part of my life. Last time I went on a European adventure and came back alive. Now I want to answer a question that I have had since I was 16 years old, Second City? Toronto? A career in television, comedy or marketing? I have no idea what is next and that is SO exciting and terrifying. But the last four years of working my way up in a career that was always a fight, meeting the people I have met and taking a chance on getting back on stage; it has all set me up and it all meant something. This day is the universe kicking me right in the ass to show me that I am finally where I need to be to answer those questions.

I am scared. I am excited. Most of all I am grateful that all the other attempts to go never worked out because I would have not known what and who I have come to know now. I would have not have met the Kinkonauts, my cat and all my lifelong dear work friends. It all happened to get me here and now my life is in my hands.

I feel free, happy and hopeful. What’s next? WHO THE HELL KNOWS? Stay tuned…

Lady Strap – Election Selfie

Linnea is one of my favourite people. It took me a while to get her because she lives on a different vibration than most and I was hesitant of that until I realized how fun it is up there. Linnea brings out a silly, weird and fearless side of me and she is one of my favourite people play with. It is free and fun! Linnea is also an amazing singer and a way better student of the uke than I am and she is kind enough to let me sing with her.Today we were doing crafts, doing improvised music and watching the election when we came up with this song. Looking rough and raw this Lady Strap’s Debut song…

Giving thanks

Thank-You-1-500x408Today is Thanksgiving and I am not spending it with my family because my parents went to Winnipeg and my brother is with his girlfriend’s family. In the past, when this has happened, I would have been alone on the couch, in my sweats eating take-out all weekend. Instead I am going to a friendsgiving dinner just four floors down from my apartment with a group of wonderful friends from work and friends I have met through them. And the last two nights I have got to spend with my improv family, doing sketch shows, improv sets and just being lucky enough to be in their company.

Last night in the glow of getting to play in my first Armando with people I have been huge fans of and getting to chill with them after, I remembered the sad lonely person I used to be just a few years ago. I was living on survive, I was heartbroken and beaten down by a lifetime of rejection… I felt hopeless and alone. I was in a very dark place for a very long time and after some self work and travel I was fighting my way back to the light. Then I connected with a guy and it was a tumultuous and I got my heart broken once again and I could have gone down the old hide away and wallow path. But for some reason, maybe just out of pure boredom of living my life on survive, I made different choices. I went to shows alone, I said yes to making new friends and I pursued something that I used to love and left behind (improv). Those choices made a world of difference in my life.
After a lifetime of being an outsider and insecure victim of bullying, I am finally finding my own voice and I have found people who support and love me for it. Life is far from perfect but today I am thankful for exactly where I am. I have always been blessed with a wonderful family but now I have a community of friends that I never thought I would ever be a part of. You have all helped me find a fire in my soul and joy in my heart that I never knew existed and for that I am eternally grateful.