My mother was a sweet, stubborn, petite lady who always called me ‘Punky’. I have no idea why or where she got it from, I just know it was very embarrassing when said aloud in public.

My mother and mi Abuelita were best friends and the two of them raised me. When Mi Abuelita died, my mom was in the hospital at the same time and couldn't be there with her when she passed. A few days later, I asked my mom how she dealt with that and she said, "It doesn't matter if you're there at the end Punky, what matters is the relationship that came before".

My mother was a single mom from the time I was 5 years old, and for most of my life, my mom was sick with MS and Lupus. She was a workaholic engineer who would be happy to solve your math problems or poke you with her cane. If she was gonna have to walk with the damn thing, she was gonna make it a pain in the ass for everyone else too. She always worked under the most dire circumstances, and was always trying to “keep it together.”

She loved to hear me sing, and she’d constantly ask me to sing for people, no matter where we were. She'd ask me to sing in middle of an Olive Garden, where we ate way too much, and she taught me to always tip 20%, even if we were counting pennies. She'd also be surprisingly understanding anytime I'd get a speeding ticket, because she got just as many. Like that one time in 5th grade when the super popular girl scout woke up to sirens in the back seat of my mom's v-12 Thunderbird. I knew then and there that I would have to leave popularity behind because, based off her expression, Katy White was not capable of rolling as hard as my mom and I.

As an only child with a sick mom, I had to grow up really fast. I had to be the kid who'd spring out of bed in the middle of the night and confront that weird sound with the bat. My mom couldn't defend us, her hands were full trying to combat MS and lupus.

As much as we liked each other, like any typical mom and daughter duo, we fought, but it mostly revolved around her sickness. As I got older her sickness became harder to deal with. I was taking on extra responsibilities, which took up a lot of my time, which as a teen, was very frustrating for me. At a young age I got really good at building walls and I grew into becoming quite the fortress, aka the Rambo of the household.

Skip to 2015, I snagged an acting gig to play a reporter, reporting on the Zodiac Killer. This job was going to allow me to fully pay my rent and keep my car. I was super excited.
They were putting me up in a hotel, paying me really good money on top of a daily per diem. The per diem that meant I could finally buy at least 3 fried Oreos on Fremont Street and not feel guilty that I was spending $20 on something so small that i would also, deeply regret. It also happened to be conveniently located in my hometown of Las Vegas.

A few days before this event I got a call from aunt saying my mom was in the hospital. I could tell by the sound of my aunt's voice that this was it and I needed to be there when it happened.

At this point my mom had already lost her ability to walk and was bed ridden, which was torture for her. My mom was not one to not work, but her body eventually would not allow it. Let's just say her work ethic rubbed off on me.

So, I drove down and took one look at her and saw that she was not the same. She looked like she just wanted out of that body and that endless pain. I knew that she fought for me, her only child, so it was time for me to allow her to stop fighting.

By that afternoon, she was in hospice care. It sucked and was weird seeing them clean her up basically to die, but I really wanted to be with her when she did.
By that evening, friends of hers had gone and it was just me and her.

Because I knew she would like it I started to sing. She was out of it, but I knew that she could hear. So I laid there by her side and sang Traveling Soldier by the Dixie Chicks to her.
At one point that night, I remember pressing my hand against her heart and just saying "It's okay, you can let go now mom. I'll be okay." That was my moment of hopefully giving her enough comfort to finally just let go.

Eventually it was 4 am and I needed to get back to the hotel to get some sleep, before the big gig, because I had no other option. I was just girl who took after her mother and went to work even under the most dire circumstances.

I don't remember a lot of things but that night on that drive, I remembered her laugh, her letting me get away with speeding tickets because she knew I got my lead foot from her, her precious moments collection and her banana bread that I'd get every holiday because she knew it was "Her Punky's favorite".

The next morning, as I'm walking into the convention, I got the call. "Hey Tara, I wanted to let you know your mom passed at 7:12am this morning". In that moment, it was just like it is in the movies, where time completely slowed down and I specifically remember picking up a Nature’s Bakery Fig bar at the snack stand, which is weird because I can barely remember where I parked my car most days. It was as if my body just went into survival mode and was like “KEEP IT TOGETHER. Buy this fig bar, say hi to the cashier, give away nothing and just keep walking”. Then I remember quickly calling my aunt. I told her to help take care of things because I HAD TO WORK. I couldn't be homeless AND have a dead mom.

I looked at my phone at lunch and had 29 missed calls needing a confirmation from me for the morgue to take her away. I quickly called back and said, “This is Tara Erickson, her daughter, and I give you permission to take her.” I then hung up and stood looking at the buzz of life surrounding me at this convention and then, no joke, the song “Eye of the Tiger” started playing in my head. With a blank stare, I took a deep breath and I walked on.

In my life, her sickness made me resentful, but it also made me grateful because it gifted me with strength. Something I would soon come to realize was the thing we shared the most.

I remember looking up at the ceiling saying "Keep it Together, Keep it together, keep it together" and then my Rambo instincts kicked in. Not one tear was shed. I had prepared for this.

What I had not prepared for was not being there with her at the end, but as I sat there staring at the ceiling I remembered what my mom had told me when her mom died and what I now truly believe, "It doesn't matter if you're there at the end. What matters is the relationship that came before". 

Disneyland

Disneyland is indeed a magical place, but if you’re not prepared to take on the day, should it start raining while you’re waiting in line for The Haunted Mansion, you can find your magical headspace slowly slipping away and that, my friends, is not the Walt Disney Way. I’m just going to allow us some time to both revel in that sweet rhyme I started us off with.

Thank you for the applause, please sit and let’s get prepping!

1. Bring your own water and snacks! Wouldn’t you rather put that $7 towards a Goofy hat than a bottle of water? I thought so! There’s also nothing like snacking out the wait in a long line. I recommend baby carrots, sliced oranges and peanut butter pretzels. That way, when you go ham on 13 churros later, you won’t have to feel bad because your snacks were pretty healthy. Also, many meltdowns can be avoided with snack bribes. There are also water stations specifically for water bottles that make refilling your super eco-friendly, neon water bottle with your company logo on it, super easy. Saving the environment while engraining your brand at Disneyland? Tax write off!

2. Get the Disney Max Pass! This allows you to snag your fast passes for your favorite rides from your phone! No more sending Chad on a trek with all your tickets to snag everyone a Space Mountain Fast Pass. Download the Disneyland app, add your ticket, then buy a $15 Max Pass. Max Pass is good for both parks per person. They also make it super easy to form a family Max Pass, so all your tickets are in one place. That way Chad can be in charge of all the tickets on his phone and not have to wear out his new Nike’s.

3. Bring hand wipes! There’s nothing like being able to freshen up without having to trek it to a bathroom. Washing your hands keeps you healthy and the last thing you want is a cold from that kid coughing all over the handrails. Also, Chad probably has nacho cheese on his face and a dry napkin just won’t cut it.

4. Bring a portable phone charger and a USB cord. Do you plan on cultivating your artsy side by taking pictures with every Disney character? Want to play some of the group games they have on the Disney app to make waiting in line less dreary? Want to text Chad that his fly is down? Then you’re going to need more battery life. HOT TIP: Put your phone in airplane mode when you’re close to getting on the ride. This will save your battery from searching for a signal in a dead zone.

5. Bring a Poncho! You don’t want to end up having to ask around if they sell underwear in the shops. Splash Mountain will get you pretty soaked and unless its 100 degrees out, you’ll waste time trying to dry your shirt with the bathroom hand dryer. If you forget a poncho, they do sell underwear and socks in the shops... I’ve been there.

6. Bring spray on sunscreen and a hat. There’s a lot of lines that are directly in the sun and if you want to look 21 forever then you’ll need to protect yourself from those UV rays. Also, it’s much easier and quicker to spray a kid down with sunscreen, than try to lather them up. I recommend Banana Boat Kids Max Spray. It’s got that island smell!

7. Pack a sweater. California weather can go from 85 during the day and drop to 59 degrees once the sun takes its leave. Some of you may think 59 degrees is perfect, but for some of us, being cold can ruin a magical day. Stay cozy, with a hot chocolate and your favorite sweater, while you enjoy the Magical Light Up Parade.

8. Make your reservations for the amazing Blue Bayou restaurant, set alongside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, right NOW, like while you’re reading this. You can also reserve your spot at the new Star Wars Bar online. Don’t be that group who’s standing on the outskirts looking in on all the cool people who made reservations. Snag your spot and enjoy some unique dining or themed cocktails to top off a magical day.

9. Bring a pain reliever and Tums! If your kid isn’t having a meltdown, someone else’s is, which could lead to a splitting headache. Also, those 2 lollipops and full bag of cheese popcorn could lead to some indigestion. Don’t be the one crop- dusting everyone in line. Your mom raised you better than that.

10. Wear broken in shoes with insoles. For those blisters that may form, bring some Band-Aids just in case. I’ve walked over 19 miles on a Disney Day, so be sure to take care of your feet while your Health App freaks out at how many steps you’ve taken. Also, Chad will probably need a Band-Aid at some point, because, it’s Chad.

Enjoy a full day and night, while everyone else who didn’t read this blog slowly loses steam while you ride Indiana Jones for the 3rd time. 

The trouble with wanting to become numb is that it's arduous and not an easy task. It's the task that keeps you distracted from the pain, but it's not a task that can fully erase what's come before. It's most often in those times you will try to force a vacancy to save yourself from the pain and then realize after building up all those walls, you're still stuck missing something. More often than not you'll be stuck missing the thing you were working so hard to forget in the first place. Working so hard to forget the matters of the heart.

No matter how hard you try to have a defunct heart, it is a muscle that remembers. A muscle that feeds off a little thing called love.

Yet, you recognize that love was the very culprit that left you yearning for the ability to become numb. Love was that little thing that crept in and crept out so quickly that you settled on... trying not to try. It left with you with an ache that you told yourself you'll learn to avoid at all costs.

Love turned you into a wandering soul. The soul that tried to stop longing, because the pain of never getting to the finish line was too hard to bear. Love became your enemy and the very thing you craved most.

So there you sit, arguing with that little frenemy, that sits inside you. Disputing the idea of building higher walls or giving love a possible encore. The muscle that remembers and the muscle that wants to forget, leaves you at a crossroads.

Do you follow the broken pieces down the path of the iron- hearted in the hopes of consuming the pain, or do you follow the path with whatever you have left and a little thing called hope?

Know this, that whichever path you choose pain will still be present, but take a look around... we're all pretty much broken.

Life should be spent with walls down and with desire. It shouldn't be spent with the wanting to become numb to consume the feeling of pain, but rather the wanting to become susceptible to consume the feeling of life. You only get one. Don't convince yourself you are too broken to actually live it. Type your paragraph here.

The Business of being 

The Want to become numb to consume the feeling of pain 

10 things you need to know before you go 

 "What matters is the relationship that came before" (A story for the moth)

Tara erickson 

Sometimes, you can’t know how harshly this biz affects you until you’ve hit the open road & Elton John comes on Spotify, which leads you to thinking about your next birthday and your increasing age in an ageless city. Then you think about how you need to be making more money if you ever want to progress to real adulting, yet at the same time all you want is to be able to get paid for the thousands of hours you spend creating content, writing and editing laughter for your audience. Then, for a moment, you think how real adulting can go fuck itself and if you run out of time, then you run out! At least you’ll be living life on your own “Follow your heart” kinda terms, right? Because there is no plan B when it comes to matters of the heart, there is only a plan of attack. One must attack daily, even when the exhaustion takes over, even when you don’t feel talented or funny enough. Even when you feel simply, broken. Life is a series of waves and sometimes the ride is an amazing one and other times you’re just straight up floating out there being like “Damn, why couldn’t I just have wanted to be ANYTHING else?”

Then the tears come...

Then you settle for a bit ... and wipe yourself up.

THEN you’re like SCREW ALL THAT, IM F^&KING GREAT! Where’s my damn glitter!? I need to throw it in todays face! Because I am made for this and this is just another day!

Actor