Zan's Blog

Purple Sneakers

Throughout life, I've felt I was consistently "not getting the memo," so to speak.

For example, in the second grade I was invited to a "girls only" birthday party, for Caroline, the prettiest girl in class, who lived in a mansion. She had perfect hair, perfect clothes and a perfect older sister who had Barry Manilow posters hanging on the wall. My family was different. My Dad cut my hair, my favorite sneakers were purple and my sisters listened to the Beatles. We were trying to keep up with the Jones's, but were often a day late and a dollar short. In fact, we were about an hour late getting to this particular birthday party. As Mom pulled into the long driveway of the mansion, all the girls had been lined up on the front steps, in front of what looked like a Plantation, getting a group picture taken by a photographer for the newspaper. It was a sea of white frilly dresses and bobby socks. I did not get the memo. I was rockin' polyester pants, a cow boy shirt, and my purple sneakers.

zan hat300"Oh please hide me," was all I could think. But I couldn't even talk. My mouth just hung open. Mom stopped the car abruptly at the entrance to the driveway. We both stared at the obvious social train wreck about to happen. The realization, that I was about to be the only Tom Boy in a world of perfectly appointed rich girls, made my brain freeze. I turned into an ice sculpture and was hoping for a heat wave so I could melt and disappear.

My compassionate mother, who could see I was nearly a puddle on the floor boards said, "Do you want to go back home and put on a dress?"

Shrinking down in my seat so no one would see me, I muttered "Yes."

Now, the last thing on Earth that I ever wanted to do, as a little girl, was wear a dress. They didn't make any sense to me. If the wind blew or you jumped the wrong way, your under wear was exposed. Come on, that's crazy. They made you vulnerable, and you couldn't even play in them. I guess you could play house (yuck) but kick ball and soccer were out. Heck you even had to check the way you bent down to sit on the floor. Give me a break. Back then, given the choice between wearing a dress, or digging a ditch, I'd say "hand me the shovel" every time. At least then you'd get to be playing in the dirt. But I desperately wanted to fit in, so I went home, picked out my least annoying dress, and Mom helped me into a pair of tights. She got them up past my knees and then grabbed the waist of them and bounced me like a cement yo-yo. I felt like my dogs must have felt when I dressed them up in people clothes; I had their same pitiful look. Neither the dogs nor I enjoyed a minute of being a doll, but our sweet torturers just loved it.

I don't remember the drive back to the party, but I remember that when I got there, everyone let me know that I had missed out on the group photo that was going to be in the newspaper. Big deal I figured, who wanted to read about a kid's party anyway, and besides, I felt bad for the photographer. Surely he would have rather been on assignment in Africa. Then, someone asked if that was me in the car that pulled into the driveway and then left. Uh oh. My plan was to say nothing, act casual, and avoid eye contact. "Nope, wasn't me. Don't know what you are talking about."

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Apartment shopping in LA...not for the faint of heart.

It's a bad sign, when someone's showing you an apartment and turns around and says "Oh by the way, this place totally isn't haunted."

What! Why would you say that if it wasn't?

Let me back up. So I'm in LA with nothing more than a borrowed car and some false hope. Cheapest place I can find to live is downtown (no one lives in downtown LA, it's like a burned out post apocalyptic urban nightmare). Name of the place is The Alexandria, a renovated hotel, glamorous back in the 1920's, a place where stars mingled. My full name is Alexandra. It's on Spring Street. I'm now full of real hope and ready to lay down a non-refundable deposit. I've no doubt it's all part of my dreams coming true.

Read more: Apartment shopping in LA...not for the faint of heart.

Black Sheep

Career wise, I'm the Black Sheep of the family. My sister is a doctor. My brother is a lawyer, and I'm a stand-up comic. She got dropped off at ballet. He got dropped at a tutor, and I got dropped on my head. I was glad when that family story finally came out, because it made a lot of my career choices make more sense. I mean, I was a mascot - for a bank.

It was Red Key Bank, so I was a big Red...Key. I might have scared some children. Big clown shoes, red tights, suspenders held up a red cylinder with the tooth part of the key sticking out sideways from my knees. Big clown gloves, and my detachable head was the rounded part where you'd hold the key to turn it. I don't think I even had a name. I was just a red key. I'd go to the Indy 500 Parade luncheons and shake the hands of parade princesses and astronauts. The disparaging difference in aptitude is embarrassing. Hey, not everyone can be a key.

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Letting Go...sure, but how?

Let go and let God. Sounds easy. If only there were a blue print for letting go...and there is...

Have you ever had trouble "letting go" of something? Maybe someone stole from you, broke your heart, sold you out, abandoned you, or maybe you can't let go of how you did something that caused hurt to another. Whatever the case is - you just can't seem to let it go.

Want a tool to know how to Let Go? Thought so -

Hold that person or event that you are thinking about in your mind's eye. Do Not Judge the person or event. Whatever happened, is part of a process, and you're looking at just this one moment. Hold that one moment, and simply do not judge it. If you don't judge it, you are not giving it any emotional weight. The thing happened. As my friend would say, "It is what it is." It just is - quick - catch yourself from judging it. Just accept the event, whatever it is, and say "I accept that this happened."

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My Dog Is My Problem Child.

sal in green jacketMany people know that I spent $9,000 saving my dog's life after she got hit by a car.

Ruptured bladder, blood transfusion, amputated leg and all that. That was a couple of years ago.

Now recently, she's taken to peeing on things when she gets mad at me (I assume she's mad) and lately, she has targeted my comforter!

And I just thought, how ironic that the $5,000 I spent on fixing her bladder, is what's peeing on my comforter. I SO need Caesar the Dog Whisperer...and a good dry cleaner.

Red Carpet in Hollywood

chanet and zan june 20 2010

First "red carpet event" where each photographer thought "Zan" was "oh, I get it - TED." No, Zan. "Oh, Sam!" No, um, Zan. "She said Tam!" Zan, it's...then in my head, I thought, how appropriate my name is, because a "Zan" in old Itallian comedy meant a "clown" and I'm a comedian and all this was FAR too much to Ted it is.

So how was my first red carpet event? Oh it was off the chain crazy; I was home and asleep by 11pm, because that's how I roll!  Honestly, it reminded me of a middle school dance, where you and your best friend hung out and chatted about life while watching some people dance.  I wasn't cool in middle school and I'm just barely getting my act together now! Ha! It was fun though - I'd do it again in a second, just to hang out with my bestie. Life is good, and it's even better when I get to share it with a friend.

Last Comic Standing under a pillow.

last comic standing with a pillow

I told myself I wasn't going to do it. I knew that standing in line to audition for Last Comic Standing was a joke! But I couldn't stop myself from chasing my dream. So there I sat, for 10 hours in the cold, mostly sitting on that pillow, but then it started to rain.  I look like the Flying Nun after she's been down on her luck!  

Would I do it again even though nothing really came of it? Yeah, I think so, because I really do believe that the Lord helps those who help themselves.  

Love and World Vision

There's a moment in my act, where I say that I believe in Love, that God is Love, and that Love is the answer, because what's the only thing that's going to bring peace to the Middle East and feed the starving children of the world? Love. So I finally put my money where my mouth is, and I "adopted" a boy named Aly from Mali.  At first I thought, how can I afford to do that when there's so much I can't afford in my own life? But what wins out, is my belief that Love will find a way, because Love Is The Answer.  And on a personal level, when you fall in love, don't you feel like you don't even need the average everyday things you think you need to survive? Like food? Or sleep? Or his social security number to run a back ground check?

If you've always had the urge to sponsor a child over seas, check out 

Invisible Obstacles

Ch 3. “I’m Livin’ The Dream!”

Invisible Obstacles

What’s next in this crazy world of dream chasing?
Facing the obstacles that stand between me and my dreams.

If you decided to go ahead and leave your comfort zone, then you’ve already faced Fear. One of the first obstacles after deciding to leave the comfort of your old home is something that you can’t even see, the “obstacle” is to only look forward, don’t look back.

Lot’s wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. She should have kept her eyes on where she was going. If God’s sending you out of one place, you shouldn’t look back or you won’t get to where He’s heading you. This is a tough lesson for me. I keep looking back and it causes no end of heartbreak and takes up way too much energy, energy that could be spent on getting where I want to be.  Now I see what this story of Lot’s wife means, looking back stops me in my tracks. It’s way counterproductive, but so hard to stop. When I notice my mind looking back over the same thoughts and images from the past I’ve left, I just notice them, and stop, and fill my mind with something else, usually an image of where I want to be, or a prayer.  I’m not great at this part of listening to wisdom, but I’m not going to give up the fight. 

Maybe I look back so much because parts of that past seemed so comfortable and good. But if they were all THAT comfortable and good, wouldn’t I still be there? I romanticize the past. It’s easy to do. I look back at the past because as an adventurer, we are always entering a new world of discomfort and mystery and this kind of discomfort hurts! It’s painful emotionally, financially, sometimes even physically.  Yes, there can be a lot of frustration in being an adventurer  and so one looks back and says “Ah, but what about that! Why couldn’t that have just worked out!?”  Because it wasn’t your highest calling, and you know it. You know you can do better. I know I can. Looking back is a bad habit. I’m doing my best to quit it cold turkey.

And man, this is where the courage comes in, to forge ahead through the frustration, through the disappointments of the new adventure of chasing your dream, because like I said, it’s not all roses and lollipops. Freddy Mercury said it best when he sang:

I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls -
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it.
I thank you all.

But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise -
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race -
And I ain't gonna lose -

We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world!!!

"Don't Worry Eddy..."

Ch .2  “I’m Livin’ The Dream!”

“Don’t worry Eddy…”

After you leave your comfort zone, where your stuff is comfortable, your weekend is comfortable, and your surroundings are comfortable…you are bound to face some fears. For me these fears came mostly from my insecurities, but also from people who have tried and failed, and others have pretty much laughed in my face.

Read more: "Don't Worry Eddy..."

To All Perspective Dream Chasers

“I’m Livin’ The Dream!”

Advice to all perspective dream chasers.

A lot of you who have been following me on Facebook, and know that I’ve recently moved out to LA. I heard someone recently asked about me, “Why did she decide to jump so quickly to LA?”

Answer: Because I’m following my dreams.

Sounds really “pie in the sky” doesn’t it? “Following your dreams” sounds like it’s all rainbows and happy challenges where you get to the finish line with a robust smile on your face. Those are the Kodak moments. They get captured for perpetuity, but what you don’t see is the day to day, hour to hour struggle. What you don’t get is that every day, I feel my guts up in my throat, I’m that scared and intimidated by this big city. Courage is facing your fears and moving forward, so this move to LA is the most courageous thing I’ve ever done in my life. This coming from a girl who has backpacked Europe many times by herself, walked along the top of a steaming live volcano, lived on a small island - in a tent on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean in the US Virgin Islands, walked through Harlem alone past midnight, given her mother’s eulogy and has the courage to tell the truth even when it’s not the easy thing to do. In fact, I think telling the truth, is one of the most courageous things we can do. So that’s why I have to do this, because my truth, and it has been since I was 10, is that I want to live in California and be an comedian/actress.

I’ve hid behind everything I could find to not do it. I moved to the other side of the country and gave up acting for 7 years. But that dream inside of me couldn’t stay hidden forever. And I feel like if I don’t follow it, then I’m not being true to myself.

The past year I’ve been in the most nurturing, nest of a place, where I’ve been allowed to just heal from the worst year of my life. And as I left that place of comfort and started my drive out west, oh did the fears start pouring in! I spent the first 6 hours of the drive crying. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, spending too much time looking at what I DIDN’T have, versus counting my blessings. But heck, all I could see was what I didn’t have. Fear had me by the throat, still does, but now I’m just used to it. Sure, it’s there but I’m not going to let it rule my life. No way.

It’s not an easy path. Here’s something I’ve learned so far – there’s a flip side to living your dreams. When you get what you want, there are a few things that come along with getting it, that you didn’t know were going to be part of the equation. For instance I got to be a part of a national tour, on a big Rockin’ Roll tour bus. Dream come true. Flip side? I’ve never been so isolated and lonely in my life. Imagine never being able to see any of your friends or family? Not having the love of your pet to make you happy when you are sad? Living out of borrowed spaces for over a year…I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, I just didn’t know there was a flip side to the dream album.

Now you do.

I scared a skunk and I liked it.

Today I ran down a river in New Mexico. I saw a skunk and he scared me. Now he smells like Zan. This 4 Corners area is something you have to see. It’s a part of America that is easy to lose touch with if you are like me. New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado meet in the middle of a gorgeous desert. It almost feels like another country. Perhaps that’s because of the strong presence of an entire race of people that I almost never see anywhere else in the world. But also the topography is mind blowing. It has one of the most beautiful cultures and awe inspiring land that I’ve ever seen in my life. To be here is to be moved on the inside, moved toward stillness. The formations of the desert humble me. How are the smells so sweet and soft, when the ground can seem so barren? Purity. That’s my answer. Seems so unadulterated in the desert. And as we cross the border into Colorado, the mountains in the distance speak to an America I’m more used to – ski towns and sunglass shops lay ahead. I miss New Mexico already.