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*

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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…