Treatment #4

Arrived. Right. On. Time.
Hello Marsha!
Hello New Person who will be ALL UP in there. Nice to meet you.

I’m always impressed with good bed side manner. My theory is that it takes the same amount of energy to be kind or mean. And they choose to be kind. They choose to take the extra steps to express empathy and encouragement.

New gal was very friendly. Greeted me with a big smile. Asked the normal questions: new medications, antibiotics, pregnancy? All nope!

So we begin. You’re halfway there. How is it going?

Meh. Okay, I guess. We small talk about it. She reveals they increase the intensity of the laser every other treatment.

New gal says it can get spicy with coarser hairs. She means 80 of me. Ah, geez.

Spicy. Burning. Yep. I like her word choice. And it does.
Let’s just say my colonial ancestors have strong-hairy genes.

I looked down at the end. I was red. She was sweet enough to give me a bit of hydro-cordi-what before I left.

It’s true what they say. Once a lunar cycle– you’re more sensitive to the laser treatment.

Lesson Learned: reschedule. They give you that 6-8 weeks. Use it.


Career Day

I spoke at Career Day last week. This is what I told the kiddos:

Life is a Soap Opera. I recently heard someone describe your 20s as a series of crossroads. It’s very true. Crossroads. Being broke. That’s your 20s. And today I’ll describe mine. I want to share with you my failures. My lessons. My decisions. My rejections and redirection.

I’ve learned it’s good to confess. I never thought I’d be saying: THESE ARE MY CONFESSIONS. And I can only hear myself say it in Usher’s singing voice. My confessions are truths about me that my family and friends don’t know about.

I wasn’t the kid who always knew what they wanted to be when they grow up. I know I’m still growing up. I’m sure I’m not going to be one thing. I know I am working toward being more. And I know I am able to NOW identify what I want to be:

Fundraiser. Librarian. Writer.

In what order? Should there be an order? Should I just allow the order to come to light? Would a career in each be satisfying? Which one would pay the bills? What about my mental health? What about my quality of life?

I never wanted to leave academia. I loved being in college. I didn’t love the price of a higher education. But I loved learning. I still do. Critical Film Studies shaped me into a stronger person. Exploring representation made me a smarter person. But I knew I wasn’t ready for Hollywood.

I applied to grad school before graduating from undergrad. I wanted to be the first in my family to get a PhD. I wanted that broke-ass life. It wasn’t about making a high salary. It was about making a difference. I didn’t want to stop learning. It was about continuing to find peace in understanding systemic injustices and learning my role in dismantling them. That sort of satisfaction in feeling pulling back the curtain and meeting the wizard.

CONFESSION: I didn’t get in. So, I joined my own version of the Peace Corps. It was constant spiritual warfare. Outdoor education, yes! Giving back to the community that raised me, yes! Living and working with conservative Republicans, nope. But, I swore I wasn’t done. I would find a way to continue working with the community and marginalized people.

Then I choose, love. Miami was all for love. I moved to Miami, FL. I jumped around from being a Bank Teller, Receptionist and Administrative Assistant.

CONFESSION: I turned down a part time job as a Librarian Assistant at Miami Dade college. It was exactly what I wanted. But it meant working on Saturday mornings and night shifts. It meant juggling two part time jobs. Negotiating shifts with coworkers. It meant driving more in Miami. And I was already terrified of the little driving I was doing. Just the thought about the anxiety. I took a different path. I choose a better quality of life.

Spain was a priceless experience. I saw more of the world, than I ever thought I would see. I vlogged. I travelled. I ate. And drank. And lisped my words. Too many words. I also felt like I choose someone other than me, again.

CONFESSION: During my time in Spain, I applied to Masters program of Library and Information Science. I was wait-listed. Rejection is redirection.

Once back in the States, I continued to learn many lessons in the workplace. The first couple of years were most difficult doing administrative work in a field I had no interest in.

CONFESSION: I got an interview at Fox Studios for a coordinator position in Standards & Practices. This is it, I thought. My chance to get into Hollywood. And I didn’t. I didn’t get the job. I was so discouraged, I continued to work that miserable job for about another year. Back into my shell.

I finally had enough and I quit. I reached out to a temp agency. I met with them. They were very clear. You don’t have studio experience. You’ll never be asked to work at a studio.

Well, someone was desperate. I got a call on Wednesday afternoon at 3pm to work at 9pm on Thursday. I said YES.

The next couple of years at Fox Studios was learning experience. Was I in the industry, yes. Was I working in an environment I didn’t see myself in long term, yes. The darkest days brought me to taking a calculated risk: another leap of faith. It felt like my first leap of faith. I had forgotten. It felt like the biggest risk of my entire life. I left Fox Studios.

A true crossroads: to begin at the bottom as a struggling writer with that unpredictable freelance life? a new career in Fundraising while I write my heart out? Or would I be leaving my love of film and television behind for good? I had given it a shot. Hollywood chewed me up and spit me out.

I took an interview at back at Fox, but with a department I had never heard of. It was for a job I had forgotten, I had applied for. Always take the interview. It’s an opportunity to meet someone new. It’s an opportunity to practice the interview process and questions. It’s an opportunity to interview your future employer.

And I quickly fell in love. They charmed me. Their vulnerability to share they are in desperate need of help. Their humor. Their honesty. Their willingness to take a chance on me? But was it right? Was it too good to be true?

That, I’m figuring out.

Dear Dolores:

You give zero fucks. And I love it.

Before the DOLORES screening, I prepared what I would say during the Q&A:

My name is Marsha Rivera. I grew up in Porterville, CA. I am a first generation Guatemalan American. My dad worked in the fields when he was in between mechanic jobs. My question for you is more of a request. A request of you to speak to the pressure we feel to not waste our parents’ sacrifices. And to the internal conflict we feel of being thankful for having jobs in a corporate environment versus speaking out about the systemic injustices we face daily.

But I couldn’t do it. I didn’t do it.

The guy to the left of me asked the first question. About current conditions for field workers. To me, he sounded like a city-guy asking about the country life. It was a great question for current workers. However, she’s been out of the biz for a while. Nonetheless, she answered flawlessly.

The guy to the right of me wanted to raise his hand too. I felt it. I hesitated.

A woman behind me spoke next. She thanked Dolores for her involvement in the 1968 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Which changed her family’s life for the better. Obviously. ME TOO- I wanted to yell. I didn’t do it.

The same woman asked Dolores’s son about his role in the organization. He answered. Dolores answered. And before we knew it, it was over. Q&A ended.

Why didn’t I raise my hand?

Seeing images of Police brutality from Delano officers during the strikes reminded me that little has changed within Law Enforcement. And better yet, I can’t be certain that my own brother is policing with compassion. Compassion isn’t taught in the Academy.

Feelings of shame and sadness flooded over me. I was too ashamed to raise my hand and ask for empathy and encouragement. Not when I’ve done nothing to speak to my brother about his role in changing relations between the community and the police.

But Dolores answered me anyway. She addressed the elephant in the room.

If you are feeling depressed about the current political climate, think of this:

You can cut all the flowers. But you cannot keep Spring from coming.
Pablo Neruda

And she didn’t let us leave until she lead us in a chant. Zero fucks about her press schedule. And we chanted:

Who’s got the power?

What kind of power?


Thank you for years of service. Thank you for today. And thank you for continuing the fight.

Nothing has changed.

Marriage doesn’t fix metal health. Marriage didn’t give me super-abilities. Marriage isn’t winning the lottery. Marriage doesn’t fix the relationship. Or any other relationship with your mother, brother, barber, mailperson.

How’s marriage? Same ‘ol. Same ‘ol.

But, what I should start saying now is: marriage is life after making a public commitment. And ours matches up with life before making a public statement.

Nah. That’s too long.

Same ‘ol. Same ‘ol.

So, are you having kids?

I got the A.

Overall, my time was better. Improvement. Relief. Speaking of relief. My dream the morning of was on point.

We woke up at 6:06am. There was no way we were getting to Zuma by 6:30 to add my bike and crap to the transition area. And I felt a wave of relief rush over me. I didn’t have to do it. I didn’t have to do it.

YES. So, what do we do now? We somehow found an farmers market with pancakes. We get in line and we see a few of my friends from home. Guess what? I was suppose to do a triathlon today? LOL. Not happening obviously. We made it through the pancake line and ate, before I woke up. It was just a dream. It was more than a dream. It was a fantasy come true. The best kind of peace and relief. My subconscious was telling me, yeah dude– you really don’t want to do this. You’re not questioning yourself. So, go get this bitch over with.

I was so incredibly nervous. And anxious about doing something, I had no desire for. It felt wrong. But I had done this race before. I shouldn’t have been nervous. My conflicting feelings battled it out until my heat started. And of course, the waves built up for my heat too. Like it does every year? But, I liked it. I like it when Mother Nature makes it a challenge. It’s her house, her rules. I’m just visiting.

Swim: better time from last year
Bike: better time from last year– yeah Cannondale
Run: worse. But I knew it would be. Forgive me, Santiago.

Overall: better. You did it. Pat on back. And moving on.

Treatment #3

Oops. Forgot to reflect. Forgot to post.

I was early. 12:24pm for my 12:45pm appointment. 12:40, We will see you next. Cool. You all better see me in a timely manner. 12:46pm I’m in the room. I strip quickly. I’m ready!

Progress? Does there feel like any at this point? Not really. She cranked it up. I smell the burning now. Burning hair doesn’t smell pleasant. It smells like satisfaction.

This technician is the kindest person. Always making sure I feel comfortable. Keeping conversation. Or not keeping conversation. She does a great job of reading body language. Reading my pain. Trying to hid my pain. She sees it. She is encouraging. In my personal progress. I’m sure, if I told her about my goals and aspirations she would cheer me on there too. She’s the ideal person at your side. At all times.

Which is probably why it’s taken me so long to post. She’s a caring person. She’s a person. Not an experience.

It feels like a new relationship that I want to keep private. It’s new and fragile. She’s the constant in my hair-loss journey. I can easy exploit myself and the system. But she isn’t the system.

I wanted to be able to speak critically about the facts and my experience. Now it’s evolved enough for me to see– that once again, people run companies. Companies are made up of people. And sometimes, the people you interact with are awesome.

Here we go, again.

I know I didn’t study, but I still want that A.

I didn’t give a fuck all summer, but getting anything less than an A would be devastating to me. I’m already disappointed in my performance tomorrow.

I’m mentally prepared for the day. I’m mentally prepared for anything really. Thank you 2017 aidsride/lifecyle. I have endurance. I have perseverance. But I know my behavior from the recent months: resentful.

2017. The summer of brunt. Being burnt out. Resentfully exercising. Resentfully waking up for morning swims. Showing up late to workouts on purpose. Not going HARD.

But I will tomorrow. I’ll go hard. I’ll give it everything I have. I want to. And I want to enjoy the experience. Will they come hand in hand? Maybe.

“What are you looking forward to making after the race?” asked someone I respect. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t deserve anything. I didn’t train enough. I didn’t eat well. I didn’t train hard. Not like last year.

I can now answer faithfully: having my friends over. Making Micheladas for them. Because they’re great. They’ve supported me. And I’ll try to repay them in a tasty alcoholic beverage– beverages. If that isn’t agape. I don’t know what is–