Over the last half year, I gone places I’ve only dreamed of, and I’ve reached heights that seem larger than life itself.
I should probably begin with the biggest thing first, as it was pretty much the inciting event that started every other change over the last few months. It was a tough decision, and that decision was leaving what I consider home to venture out.
Trouble in Paradise
I used to see Arizona as my paradise and I still do. I wish I could be back everyday. I miss the mountains and the palm trees. I miss the warm sunlight, and the tan that came with it. I miss my family and the friends I made there. There’s nothing here that quite matches the feeling of the desert and city life. It feels like home to me. But I also felt like I wasn’t changing there.
Sure, when I first arrived, I experienced a change, one I really needed. I healed myself greatly from the worst pain I ever felt, and I faced many challenges and tests (I slayed some metaphorical dragons I guess). After a bit, when everything settled down, when I had finally mended my broken heart and shattered soul, I began to feel something, or rather the opposite I should say. The excitement and adventure was fading. I started feeling alone, and my efforts to fill in that loneliness only made me feel more alone. My friends had things to do, and my family was always busy. I began to feel like a burden, and the problem I came to Phoenix with resurrected itself in a new form. I was once again heart broken.
I tried to find things to keep me occupied, like trying a new martial arts school or working at a new theater, but none of it felt the same as it did with my old dojang and old job. I began to realize that the reason I was beginning to be faced with so much pain and hardship again was because this was a sign I needed a change. This was my chance to get out of my comfort zone and improve something, even if I honestly didn’t know it at the time. I definitely didn’t want to start this journey, but what came next was something I’m proud of, and something I quite honestly didn’t expect from myself, so let’s get into it.
Setting the Scene
As I said, I didn’t want to leave Phoenix. I’m more of a city guy, I love the excitement and the people, and all of the different foods and music that come with it. With the city you get so much inspiration for new or current projects. The country is pretty much the opposite, at least for me. I actually hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent a lot of time here in this town, I love the people here. This place is actually where I spent most of high school and college. Even with that, I still don’t want to be here. It’s just boring. It’s flat. No tall buildings to look up at and admire, no special events like comic con’s or concerts. The most we have is the Corvette Museum, and I don’t care much for cars. What is here however is the theater I work at.
I’ve spent a total of nearly three years here at the theater all together. I love everyone I work with. To be honest, I don’t see them as co-workers or managers, I see them as family. I love working at the theater because I love film, and I love story. I feel like it’s something that connects us all as humans, just like love. My favorite part about working here is being able to help people.
As simple or as cheesy as it may sound, I love helping people carry their food to their auditorium, or holding the doors open for them, honestly anything to allow them to have a better experience. I like being able to calm angry guests down, and to see how much of an impact I can make by simply connecting with them as a human being. That’s all any of us are. Human. And each and every one of us has the desire to be understood and respected, so if I can do that for someone and improve their day by simply listening to their problems, that’s great. Sure the money I get helps, but apart from getting to be around film all of the time, the biggest reason I work at the theater is people. Something else here in this town, something very important to me, is my martial arts school.
Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been working as hard as I can in martial arts, developing my skills even further than before. I just recently earned my red belt, and today I’ve started some kind of special training. For one, I am officially starting weapons training. I mean I’ve used nunchucks and bo staffs in class before, but nothing like what I’ll face here soon.
Initiate Training Sequence
My instructor, Master Vo, has begun to teach me how to use swords. I’ve seen the black belts use katanas only once, but I have never used one is class myself. It was cool. He showed me how to hold the sword over my head before swinging, he showed me the correct stance, where to slash at on the opponent’s body, etc. Apparently my tests going forward for new belts contains weapons and hapkido moves, about 25 different combinations. It feels like a lot but I’m sure I’ll get it eventually.
He also showed me this old looking book today. He called it the “Black Book”. I made a joke about it being sacred, and apparently it is. It’s also honestly a little confusing. I was looking at some of the words, and the Korean had been translated to English by what looked like Google Translate. There was pictures to explain what to do, so that helped.
Master Vo is awesome, he’s been a great teacher and mentor over the years, I’ve known him since sophomore year of high school. He’s honestly one of my favorite people. I feel like I could really tell him anything. He has a couple black belts at his school (about four), but only two of them are his. the other two transferred to his school after earning their black belts somewhere else. This means I will be his third blackbelt from his school. Now that I’ve earned a higher rank recently, my red belt, he’s been treating me slightly different. I mean he treats everyone with respect and love, but I feel like he holds me to higher standards. He doesn’t tell me what to do as much, he usually just has me go off and do my own thing, or to read from the Black Book. He’s also having me teach lower belts a lot more I’ve realised. Either way, I know he cares about me just as much as I care about him and all of the friends I’ve made at the dojang.
Here pretty soon I’ll be moving into my own apartment. I’m nineteen and in march I’ll be turning twenty. I don’t like the idea of being twenty and still living with my parents. I’ve done some research and I’ve found a couple places I’m interested in signing a lease to until I move to New York in over a year. Not only will I finally be living on my own, but I’ll gain some experience in paying rent and stuff, which is great before I move to NYC. Finding my own place is not the only thing I’ve done to become more independent however.
I’ve never really cared for driving, as my main goal right now is to move to New York. I’m sure you understand the fact that it’s hard to drive in Manhattan. The thing is, I don’t live there yet, and I can’t continue to rely on my parents to take me places, and that’s why I bought my first car.
The car I bought is a green 2004 Mustang. Sure the green paint isn’t ideal but it’s a mustang, how could I complain? I have some new body modifications I need to apply to it, such as a new front bumper, side skirts, door panels, etc. By time I install all of these new upgrades including a new paint job in Nashville, my car will look epic.
I’ve been driving a lot recently in hopes to earn my drivers license soon. I have a permit which allows me to drive with another adult in the car and stuff, but so far my driving skills are pretty ok. In the end, I may not care so much for driving, but I can’t deny the fact that having a mustang is honestly a clear lady magnet.
The Ordeal of Love
Love is something a lot of us find hard to understand, or at least to explain. I don’t think I could describe it perfectly in words, but I can try to convey the feelings through my memories and experiences, both good and bad. Love is truly something special, but it can also become something intoxicating, and you can overdose if you’re not too careful. I wrote this without thinking too much, this is simply the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve gone through with love.
Death of a Beating Heart
I haven’t let this stop me. I think love is something that connects us as people. But with love comes a responsibility. At least to me. I feel like I should never be anyone’s responsibility, but when I know someone loves me, I don’t want them to feel the pain I’ve felt. I want to love them unconditionally, till the end. Of course, not every relationship will work out. It can often be difficult to tell the difference between lust and genuine love and trust, but you get better at it as time goes on. The thing is, your partner is just a person, just like you. Sometimes you learn just as they do that you’re not quite as compatible as you thought. Sometimes that bond can be broken by a mistake. Sometimes bonds aren’t as strong as other bonds. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still love someone I used to hold so close to my heart, but like I said, sometimes a relationship doesn’t work out, and you learn from it. Plus there are so many girls I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet/ date if I was still in a relationship, so you just gotta see the positive in a tragedy.
Ever since I’ve been back in this town, I’ve dated a lot of people. Sure I started dating new people in Phoenix, but my dating life didn’t fully pick up until coming back here. Now I would say I go on about two dates a week.
I’ve met so many cool people, all of which are vastly different. Each person I was grateful for, as they showed me new parts of myself and gave me that experience I’m sure I needed in the dating field. lot of people I’ve dated over the last couple months I still talk to, and we continue to be good friends even today, but I still have yet to find that special person to share my life with.
Completion of a Quest
If I had to say I had a main objective in mind while being down here in Kentucky, it would be visiting New York. Even before coming back here, I knew I wanted to go to NYC this year to prepare myself for moving there in the future. I’m glad I went through with it.
I want to live within NYC within my twenties, preferably moving there on my twenty first birthday, as I already have a couple thousand dollars saved up to do so. Sure, I could risk doing it right now, but I’m not necessarily worried about failing or doing it as soon as possible, I want to enjoy the journey of getting there, and to understand what it takes to do it right I suppose.
This October I finally visited NYC for the first time. I took us nearly thirteen hours I think to drive there, but when we finally seen the skyline in the distance, it was definitely something to marvel at. I managed to book a pretty sweet hotel for the weekend in advance. Yes, we were only there Friday, Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday, but it was still an awesome experience. As a family we walked all over Times Square, Midtown, Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn, etc.
I would have to say my favorite spot was… actually…
I don’t know. There was honestly so many cool spots. My parents wouldn’t cross the Brooklyn Bridge so I went across it myself and into Brooklyn, exploring a lot of Dumbo myself. If I had to choose one place as my favorite, It might be Dumbo, but all of NYC is amazing. I love Midtown and the Financial district definitely has that rich business feel to it.
I have a lot more to talk about when it comes to NYC, but I may save it for a future post as I’m sure I’ll continue to talk about it until we visit again next year before I move.
Accepting Responsibility (Sort of)
When I first got here in July or August I enrolled into college. Before I left for Phoenix, my world felt like it was caving in. I had even dropped out of my first semester of university. I still don’t like the idea of college, in fact I still continue to wish I was somewhere else, but in two days I will have officially completed my first semester of college.
Throughout this semester, well, it’s actually been relatively easily. Except for the part where I didn’t turn in the rough draft for my history paper, losing 100 points. That day I went from an A to a C in that class. Luckily I’ve maintained my C till now (with the power of acing all of my assignments and projects) but I still learned my lesson on not turning in assignments. I just have to bullshit them and use my awesome writing skills to make it sound good if I don’t want to do it.
I did it for my final paper without reading the book or watching the movie and got an 85%. Same thing for my homework. But hey, at least I’m doing it instead of getting 0’s. Although I don’t really want to be in college, it has opened up a new opportunity for me, one I didn’t really expect but is something I’m glad I found.
A Whole New World
I think I’ve stumbled onto something here. Something completely unexpected but has always been something I was interested in. Throughout high school I was always interested in theatre, but I was too busy. I did newspaper, martial arts, speech and debate, science tournaments, etc. To be honest, I think another reason why I didn’t try theatre in school was because I was afraid.
Maybe somewhere inside my mind I felt like I wouldn’t be as good as people who have done this their entire lives. Looking back, I shouldn’t have compared myself to others. Something Master Vo has recently mentioned is that I was a completely different person back then, which I feel is very true.
Either way, a couple of months back, I received a message. The message was actually from Master Vo. Basically a group of WKU film students had contacted him. They needed a martial artist for their lead role, and they asked him if he could let his students know about the opportunity.
Master Vo sent out a message to all of his students, including me. Knowing that I had always had an interest in acting, I immediately messaged him to let him know I was interested. Long story short, after not hearing anything back for a couple days, I received a message on Instagram (by the way follow me on Instagram- daman_cusick_) from the producer of the film.
If you are interested in trying out for a short film for wku let me know.
My name is (removed for privacy reasons), and I am a WKU film student. We are currently making a short film called “The Art of Joshua”. Would any of your students be interested in auditioning in either of the roles below? Our film date is October 29.
Joe is a teenager being bullied by his fellow classmates. One day while at recess Joe’s bullies come up to make fun of Joe’s journal, and Joe uses his self-created fight style to defend his honor.
David is the teenager that is bullying Joe.The message I received discussing the film
She let me know about the role I would be auditioning for and sent me a copy of the script. Obviously they changed the character a bit to fit my age, meaning I would not be attending recess in the film. I was honestly so excited but knowing that I had never officially acted before, I admittedly got a little nervous. I started getting flashbacks to the time I auditioned to be Huckleberry Finn back in an elementary school play. It was a terrible audition, and I got made fun of by all of my friends.
Surely I had changed by now, and having the training from speech and debate made me feel a little better about it. So later that day, on a zoom call, I began my audition. I’ll be honest, even I was impressed. I didn’t expect it to be so easy, or even that fun.
A couple days later we began shooting the film. It was honestly crazy. For one, I had to change into a specific outfit for my character which was awesome. The set was also amazing. I had went from never being in a film/ having never acted to being the star of a professional student film. I had all of these expensive cameras around me, and all of these lights and screens. It was amazing.
I worked closely with the director and my co-star and the whole thing went great. What I learned from this experience was to open myself up to opportunities like this as they can honestly be life changing.
This wasn’t the only film I’ve worked on until now. Over the last month or two I’ve starred in five additional films, each of them with my previous co-star. We have this great chemistry as actors. We get along amazingly, joke with each other, play off each others improv moments very well, etc. and he’s also been an amazing mentor.
Throughout this entire process he’s offered so much great advice and knowledge that he wishes he knew before starting down this career path. He is a great friend and someone I honestly look up to. He’s just recently scored his first role in an actual feature film which he has to travel to D.C. for here soon. I’m honestly real excited for him.
With each film I’ve improved my acting skills and I’ve gained more connections and friends. I previously didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but now I’m certain I want to work in the film industry and continue acting. It’s so much fun and I’m really good at it. Hopefully when I move to New York or Los Angeles I’ll work on even more projects and make my way up.
Here are some of the friends and connections I’ve made along the way-
When I first left Phoenix I thought my life no longer had a future. What I’ve learned over the last couple months is that things are only truly beginning once again. I still hold my time in Phoenix as the best time of my life, at least that first initial year, but this time I’ve spent here has been very valuable and has unlocked many more doors for my future, doors that I hadn’t even noticed before.
I’m still working on myself and improving in any way I can, but no one’s perfect, and neither is the world. There are many problems the world is facing, and it seems like I’ve just been sucked into a new problem with the rest of my community.
I’ll be posting a new blog post soon regarding the terrible tornados the entire midwest has faced, mainy Kentucky and my town, but until then I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and I’ll catch you in the next one.
By the way, be sure to leave a like and comment; let me know what you think. Any form of feedback is greatly appreciated and helps me improve upon my writing and storytelling abilities.
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