November – The yearly reminder from The Great Lakes



Something happened that November right after my grace period was over. I inducted myself into an Income-Based Repayment plan, now known as Income-Driven Repayment plan or IDR. Ever since, I’ve been fortunate to pay only the mysterious amount up to 10% of my monthly income. So for a while, I was repaying anywhere from $49 to $300 per month to my loan provider, The Great Lakes. But this is calculated provided your income is above a certain bracket. Once I became a full-time freelancer, my income has yet to reach the point where my monthly payment is above $0, and thankfully because I’m not sure how I would afford it – or why I would spend 10% of my income on that instead of ever saving to have home of my own. To this day, I still live paycheck to paycheck, for the most part, salvaged in big part to the fact that I now am part of a family of 2 incomes where my boyfriend and I share everything. But a day will come when payments will have to be made again. Payments may be $0 today, but my annual interest of about $6,000 keeps piling up for FREE!

Oh, dear Higher Ed, I cannot believe I once thought you were only giving me “financial aid” (or should I say “burden”?) because you were going to take care of me to pay it back. I was such an entitled little fool. I remember my mother warning me about how the loans were too big and questioning how come they were offering me that much money. Of course, my parents had failed to teach me a lot of lessons about money by then, and I wasn’t about to take one from the people who had accustomed me to depend on them only to one day call me to say they could no longer pay all my bills for me – which in another story caused me to go into my first maxed-out credit card debt, fun. At the time in my life when the decision was to be made, these loans were going to allow me to a)move to the city of my Dreams: NYC, b)enroll in the ONLY master’s program I was ever interested in, and c) become fully independent from my parents. I firmly believe nobody could’ve talked me out of that moment except my future self, who is now financially fucked – even then I probably would’ve done it anyway because “lo cantado y lo bailado nadie me lo quita” (what I’ve sung and danced nobody can take away – Mexican proverb). Sorry, I didn’t intend to be so mean to myself.

You get the picture.

These days, November comes with an expected wave of unbearable pain, sleepless nights of stress and shame. Ironic enough, because my grace period for repayment was over on November 21st, and now my deadline to re-apply for my IDR is November 27th. Having to pay $0 monthly is beautiful all year round until I get to face the accrued interest on my loans, the new total balance on my debt, and just let it sit with me for the minutes-to-an-hour that it takes me to fill out my application. IT FUCKING HURTS.
And if I could scream it to the registrar or whomever at NYU, I would. Many times, I’ve thought about posting myself out there and just shed all the tears and yells I have for them. But I’m not trying to get arrested or labeled insane, so here I am, blogging about it instead as the very civilized person I am.

This year I’m trying not to procrastinate and let the process hurt more than it needs to. I received a “friendly reminder” from The Great Lakes today, and I’ve decided to schedule a date with myself and my loans on the coming Monday. I’m not jumping right on it because I am reflecting on the situation (hello, here we are), I have work to do tomorrow, and much needed resting to do this coming weekend. After all, I am glad I have prioritized self-care and living my best life despite the burden of my debt. By the time December rolls around, I will forget about it all once more. I only hope one day all my hard work will be reflected by me throwing cash Wolf-of-Wall-Street-style at my loan provider so I can forget about this nightmare all together and never shed a tear of debt ever again.

Enter Title Here


It gets in the way of everything,

Even though it’s here for the exact opposite,

There is a balance to everything

Until you consider thought,

Because thought is what has allowed

Life to get in the way


We are born already drowned in

Oceans of systems,

Lost within

Ranges of conflict,

Indebted to

Constellations of expectation.


We get only one chance

With every passing second

With every taken decision

With every step forward.


The rest is an amendment


Tonight there is a full moon,

As I begin to see it

It will start disappearing for others,

It is already tomorrow somewhere

And the cycle will start over


I got only one chance

And I can only chase the moon with my eyes.

Contemplating it

Has been the most irresponsible use of my time

Given how much I ought to do,

How much I am expected to do,

How much sleep my body needs.


Thought just got in the way of me and

This natural state of beauty

A free luxury from existence

Which now gives me a little bit of regret

Having had it


But we get only one


And then

The rest is an amendment



It was like a song,

one day the dreams you didn’t know you had came true

the next you are poor and left alone and what are you supposed to do?

you can do or not do,

you can make or not make,

you can struggle in one way

or another

or another

or another

Sing to me

tell me how you want me to hurt you

for I will

I will hurt you with all your permission

I will hurt you with the accumulated anger of my generation of starved geniuses

I will

I promise you

We will pass the stage of tears

We will make this all so pleasurable

Until you pay me for your pain

And you will

Because we are under a contract

And we will pass the stage of tears

by so much
That is what I am told

That is what I was sold 

when I graduated,


when I enrolled
You’ll be an artist

you will struggle

it will hurt 

and you will sorrow
but oh it will be worth it

one day tomorrow

when you succeed

or when you give up
but oh it will be worth it

because at least you tried it

because at least you had a taste of it

and at least we’ll get our share
but oh will it be worth it?

February 26th 2014: Financial Burden

Financial burden. I still don’t get it, until I find myself crying inconsolably as I receive my paycheck  just to distribute it among all my pending bills. I still don’t get it. Sorry dear, you still can’t get a real mattress, you still can’t get a comforter, why are you even thinking about how much you’ld like to renew your wardrobe? I’m so sorry you don’t have a decent pair of classic stilettos.

I find it hard not to be a cheap person and yet not being able to afford basically anything outside of my needs (and yet, sometimes managing to acquire some things). Just this past week I have been acting out the following performance score:


Which of course failed after 1 week.
Which of course failed after 1 week.
And more than anything, score or no score, I cannot live any other way. That is as far as I can stretch my earnings. I chose to live under the poverty line but I really don’t know how to. I have been trying and I have pushed myself, but my stupid privileged muscle memory keeps thinking that $500.00 is a decent price for a dress or a jacket. And it should be a decent price, provided I could afford it and the people who made it got paid fair wages. The saddest part of my weekend, and I mean saddest as in I feel sorry for myself even feeling sad, was running to a window at a shop to see a pair of sunglasses that was simply fabulous just to see the price tag and knowing that I was nowhere near being able to afford them. They were one week’s worth of work. Damn. I’m for sure happy with the $5.00 shades I bought on the street during black friday, but I can’t help thinking how long or why have I been ok without shopping much lately? I receive this e-mails from my favorite stores, they’ve had some great deals, like 40% off and 60% off, and I can’t even afford the discounted products. It’s embarrassing. But c’mon, obviously I don’t need anything else! I have clothes, I have a home, I have foodstamps, what else could I possibly want?

Financial burden. What? And then I receive those emails with deals on flights. I see an incredibly great deal on a flight to where my family lives. Well, can’t do it. Except, of course I could, instead of redistributing my check among my financial responsibilities. That’s when it all becomes really dehumanizing. That my financial responsibilities must take over my…oh no, wait, people don’t really have emotional responsibilities to themselves or their loved ones.You can totally disappoint yourself or someone else, and there is no real consequence for that, so we, of course, do it all the time. But you can’t fall behind and disappoint the bank or the government, or else… Well, I might lose the bank but at least I’ll still have a family to presumably love me, hopefully.

I guess this year has been harder than I expected simply because this “burden” has caught up with me. I can’t afford this lifestyle but I live it, and I am yet to figure out what that means. I of course do not live by any means near to the standards I was used to only a few years ago. This has nothing to do with translating economically into NYC (which of course demands that [almost] everyone adjusts to some extent), this has to do with me not having the means that I was used to have, this has to do with the choices that I have poorly made for myself for feeling entitled and trusting every promise made to me.

Financial burden. I remember taking that mean survey that your borrower demands from you when you are about to graduate.

Financial burden. I still don’t get, until I find myself crying inconsolably as I receive my paychecks just to distribute them among all my pending bills. I still don’t get it. Sorry dear, you still can’t get a real mattress, you still can’t get a comforter, why are you even thinking about how much you’d like to renew your wardrobe? I’m so sorry you don’t have a decent pair of classic stilettos. No baby, you can’t afford to visit your family.


OK let me go out and drink my few spare bucks away.


What do you want to do with your life?

Why won’t your fancy private school degree make your life better already?


Because you haven’t even paid for it yet!


Think of why you decided to study art.

You always thought (very romantically) you would rather be poor but make art. But be honest, you never really believed you would be poor. But no. You are not poor. Poor would be a person who has just a little bit of money. You are below that. You will be poor the day you have paid off your debt, and then you’ll have the chance of growing out of poverty…right?


I haven’t figured out anything yet. I often feel lost in how to approach my own situation. I don’t even have to pay anything for my loans, but the number keeps growing. If only my income would grow at a 6.8% rate day by day. If only I would’ve been money-smart instead of book-smart.

Still, I don’t regret having given myself the opportunity. I don’t regret and I wouldn’t change the friendships that I’ve made, the lessons I keep learning, this experience of incomparable vulnerability that I am going through. And maybe slowly, but I know I’m beginning to figure it out. I just need to trust my dream.


Katy would tell me I’m just doing “entitled bitching,” and it is true, because I can, because yes I bitch but also I apply for jobs, while working 3 jobs, submit proposals to festivals, get rejected, I find time to work on my art, also to support my friends’ art, I make time for meditation, for taking care of my body, for fun, for my internship, for rehearsal. I’m not just sitting here bitching.

I originally wrote this text on February 26th 2014, with the intention of posting it on this blog. But then, for some reason, I didn’t post it, until today. A lot of this was incorporated in The SM Cabaret Script, I realize now. Well, my life is in such a different situation than it was a year ago, or even 5 months ago. More of that to come next.

October 6th 2014: Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

From Imagining O. Photo by Marina Levitskaya @ The Alexander Kasser Theater From Imagining O. Photo by Marina Levitskaya @ The Alexander Kasser Theater

Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

I am most recently dueling with the withdrawal from the last show I was involved in. And by involved, I mean as involved in a relationship with about 20 people that became my artistic lovers, siblings, and mentors. Artistic in the same quality of life. After 7 weeks of what one could only taste in dreams, of exchange, of inspiration, of rage, of love, of pain, of confusion, of growth, of clarity, of politics, of physical, emotional and intellectual stimulation and exhaustion: what now? I am back to the question that has haunted this blog from its very beginning a year ago. What now?

But I prick myself deeper with the question: what now what? What should be or happen now?

Now being both the time and place I live in, does not realistically paint a pretty picture to me. I don’t need it to. If in anyway this recent experience has marked my life is in restoring my hope in the limitlessness of my mind, of my creativity (and everybody else’s!). Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.

Imagining O, the production I am processing about (nor writing nor talking seemed enough to describe what I am doing here), was all about, well, imagining. And not really all just about that of course,* but imagining was obviously so central to it that its title takes on it. And it is in my experience of imagining through Imagining O that I want to make a/some/no point here.

A couple of years ago I found this book called Environmental Theater; it would shape the rest of my career, more, the rest of my life. Not only did I recognize in it many of the ideas I have been exploring and struggling with through my somewhat traditional undergraduate training in the theater, but it revealed an exciting world of possibilities that had been in the making since long before I was even born. How come I never knew of this other world and boundless way of creating? I found my privilege in finding this world myself.

Was it not a challenge, reading this book? It was! I wanted to agree with it all and yet I couldn’t, but as I read through its pages the lessons taken from its author’s experience in creating this other kind of theater, I kept imagining myself as a part of this wild all-encompassing process. This book gave me something to pursue both artistically and intellectually (if I decide that those two are separate things), but not just this book, its author did. I decided I needed to learn more about these artists, these ways of creating, so that my own creations could be richer than whatever otherwise they would be. It was a moment in which I was truly disappointed in art and the world. It made sense at the time that academia would save me; but not academia in the traditional sense, academia in the sense that the author of this book who is both an academic and an artist had coined in the shape of what is Performance Studies (to him): a field, a methodology that “must refer to, come from, and refer back to embodied behavior” and that has “no fundamental” so that “any list of established text or performance must be revised and changed.”** And so I dived into getting my Masters in Performance Studies, romantically seeking to be saved.

I was probably more troubled than ever before in my life through my grad school experience, not to mention it is at the very heart of my financial headaches and the parent of this blog. Yet it has saved me in many many ways.

Not longer than a year after graduating I was sitting in a dance studio in New Jersey with my scene partner by an awkwardly large table, 2 porcelain cups filled with coffee in front of us, and in the presence of the director and his assistant. We were rehearsing.


“You have the talent, you just need the courage” tells me Richard Schechner, creator and co-director of Imagining O, author of Environmental Theater, and founder of the Performance Studies department at NYU. He tells me not in one of my preposterous sentimental dreams, but in that dance studio, 8 weeks ago.


And he tells me over and over again in my head as I now walk in the now of the “show is over” and “now what?” I do need the courage, we all do, and nobody can give it to us, it is only from within that we may build it or find it. I knew right away what I needed my courage for, and it was for imagining, and not for imagining just for myself, but for him, for my scene partner, for the entire company, for my family, and ultimately for the world. Throughout the process of Imagining O, we were constantly reminded of how harmless and fruitful it can be to just let one’s imagination run. There’s a pleasure and a horror in going there, so what? Just about two years ago I was imagining myself in the middle of a workshop for an environmental theater piece, and there I was just a couple of weeks ago diving in slow motion into my own death at the last performance of Imagining O, which according to Richard is “the most environmental piece” he’s ever done. And while I had imagine these moments wildly, more often than not the actualization of those fantasies exceeded any dreams I could have had about them. The immediate feel of trust among the company, the generosity with which we all arrived to our first rehearsal-workshop, the love that we shared, the intimacy we created, the inspiration we exchanged, is incomparable to anything I might have imagined would happen. Now I have more to imagine. The piece is about our collective imagining of the characters, authors, and texts that we explored; our collective imagining: from the designers, to the directors, to the production team, to the cast. So, with higher standards for imagining, now I imagine more, and I know, I will be fine.



I originally wrote this text on October 6th 2014 with the intention of posting it on this blog. But then, for some reason, I didn’t post it, until today. Maybe I just needed the courage.


Insofar as I can imagine, I will be fine.



*More about Imagining O:

**From: What is Performance Studies? Interview with Richard Schechner


The maximum IDR amount of $1184/month.

“Based on the information you provided, you’re no longer eligible for a reduced IDR payment and your payment will eventually increase to the maximum IDR amount of $1184/month. Review your payment schedules for the exact date your payment will increase. If your financial situation changes, you can check your eligibility and renew here at any time. If you want to leave IDR and select a different repayment plan, please contact us. ”

What is funny is that in a matter of a couple of weeks I will be so unemployed (as far as I know; I mean I might start playing lotto and attending church for divine help).

What next? What now?