Saturday, May 13, 2017

Beep Beep

Yesterday was the last day of Spring term. I am writing this from a cab on my way to the airport.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Failing, Flailing

There is a bad day that happens once a semester in English 101. I have to give students the results of their Exit Exams. A third of them fail. Maybe one or two bombed, but the rest have been failing pretty consistently all term. They didn't show up, they didn't do the revisions, they didn't pay attention during grammar review. They're in high school brain. It is a shock to many that just because I like them and they like me, they can still get Fs. I tell them about the grades on Blackboard, but they don't look.

It doesn't feel good to tell anyone they can't progress to 102--even when I know it will be a total disaster for them to go to 102. I worry that they'll give up and stop school altogether. I worry they will stop speaking English. I worry they will feel like dumb dumbs.

Last week I was rushing to work. At the el, I stood in a big line of people waiting to pass through the turnstyle. When I was next in line a woman shoved herself in front of me and tapped her pass. She was very professional looking and did not make eye contact. She wore ear buds so any fussy comments I might sigh would not be heard. HMPH. I tapped in right after her. Then she had the nerve to walk slowly up the middle of the stairs. I grumbled behind her watching my train disappear right as I reached the landing. I would have made it if I had had 30 more seconds. I stewed watching the stuffed cars fly by. And then, one minute later, another train showed up. It was almost empty because everyone was crowding into the previous one. I got a seat, which is a rarity on morning commutes. I could read in peace, and got to school but one minute later than expected.

Friday, May 5, 2017


I was never temped by the food in the freshman cafeteria. All the freshman at my high school ate in their own secluded mini-caf to...I don't know, bond as a class? Not be intimidated by the upper classmen? The food choices were chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, some dumb snacks, pizza, fries. My first semester I packed my lunch. I think I ate a lot of pb & j and bags of potato chips. Off-brand Oreos. My second semester I had an early lunch right after swimming. I remember swallowing a lot of chlorinated water and always feeling winded from having to get ready in five minutes after laps. My look that spring: wet slimy hair, a bloated tummy, and hastily applied lip gloss. The only thing I could even imagine eating for some unknown reason were pretzels and Kit Kats. So that's what I ate. For five months. Very occasionally (like, three times) I bought a donut from the lunch line, and I would be given a free fruit cup. Everyone always got a free fruit cup. It had something to do with the school being able to get government funding for balanced meals. I spent around 100 hours total in that dumb room, and I remember very little.

A rando from the town everyone made fun of shared my lunch seat with me for two weeks. He asked me to write him notes but only drew pictures in response. A boy in my history class asked to see my homework "just to check his answers" and I let him have it. I watched it circle his entire table, everyone copying. I tried to drink Brisk Iced Tea like a club of two new friends did, but I thought it was very gross. My friend Smidge and I would quietly sing Les Mis to each other when we were bored. One girl gave up junk food for lent and ate it every day, making tally marks in a notebook. She said, "I'll make it up later."

My iced coffee got warm yesterday. I was at the Writing Center, so I asked around if there was a soda fountain somewhere in the building. There was one in the cafeteria, I learned, so I walked in for the first time and was immediately struck with a flood of nostalgia. It smelled EXACTLY like that freshman lunch room, and as far as I can tell, nothing in my life has ever smelled the same. I wanted to eat all the food even though I hadn't eaten it when I was fourteen. If I ingested that tray of fries, would I be fourteen again? As if being fourteen is so great in the first place.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Other Alice

Last night I met with a gloomball for dinner. I was late because of the rain, and I felt bad. I apologized a lot and then had to choose my order quickly.
"Okay, come on, Alice. Get it together and pick what you want."
I was between the s'more brownie and an order of guac.
"Hey, it's okay, Alice," my friend said. I looked up quizzically, "Oh, not you. I'm talking to the other Alice you're putting a lot of pressure on."
She had a point. I got the brownie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Coke Cutting Jobs

It's always framed as a bummer when people get laid off. But Coke is cutting like 1,500 jobs because they're not selling as much pop, which is, ultimately, a good thing. I don't doubt there are many many sad realities ex-workers of Coke are currently facing. But big big picture? Aces.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Unlucky Stars

I've noticed I haven't been writing about comedy very much, which in interesting because that is my life more than teaching. I guess I have been doing the comedy and thinking about the teaching.

This Sunday was a very special day for me. I graduated the training program at Comedy High. I started the program as an intensive in 2012--before I even lived in Chicago! Wow! It took me almost five years to complete, but not a moment too long. The drawback of not working through the program step by step concurrently was not having a solid "group," but the flip side is, of course, I got to get in a little with like four different groups. I learned a ton--about myself as a performer and a person, and I was offered so many incredible opportunities because of those teachers. I thank my lucky stars. And my unlucky stars even.

In my final graduation shows, at times I felt self-conscious. I have worked as a professional comedian for a while. Many people in classes were just starting out. I got nervous I wasn't doing as well as I should be considering my experience. Or, I did okay but didn't have any fun. I think learning humility to always try my best, expect the best of others, and no matter what, leave it on stage (I'm sorry, barf) was invaluable.

Sunday was our last show, and I felt so fortunate to feel like a baby improviser again staying at the bar until one and giggling with friends old and new. A-Ro was talking to a cute guy. As we left I asked if he had her number. He texted her on our walk to the Red Line. We were three blocks from home when we ran into two other gals outside smoking. She told them she was texting a boy and we all crowded around the screen watching it happen. Now we're on a group text. I don't remember their names.

The other wonderful thing about Sunday was that I was invited to sit-in on one of my dream teams. I mean, seriously geek-out, my idols play on this team. And I got to play too! I ran from my student show upstairs taking two Oreo truffles from the greenroom in my pocket. I will remember every scene from that set forever and ever. I took a stupid selfie at the end of the night for Instagram and tried to write an appropriate caption multiple times. I ended up just stringing some emoji and posting so that when I scroll backwards in a couple years I remember why I moved here, why I love improv, that Chicago is the greatest city in the world.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Some Writing Center Fun

I love when students come in with papers about legalizing medical marijuana and try to avoid telling me (but like, I'm gonna read the paper?). I'm like "what's your topic?" "we could choose one" "okay so what did you choose?" "oh, something political" "okay what" "um, about medicine" "uh huh" "..." "..." "..." " some people with parkinson's use an herb I guess for their pain?" OHHHKAY I SEE. When I finally push it out of them they're like, "Yeah, I dunno, I read an article about this marijuana stuff and it seems interesting..." I'm like o rly? With your Jamaican flag patch backpack? And then once I'm like, "Yes, it's a very undervalued topic in our political system. Very interesting and important--especially when considering repercussions in our prison systems!" they relax and we can work.