Sunday, February 18, 2018

Special Lil City

Apologies for bitter me trolling out in that last entry. I was walking from a gig to the train yesterday with another comedian talking about how much non-Chicago friends complain when they visit. I live on the third floor, but I never think about it until I have guest from out of town (huff huff huff). You've gotta leave a half hour of public transit wiggle room. Yes, you have to wait for a table at brunch. Yes, you can go somewhere else. Yes, there will be a wait there too. Buy the tickets in advance. It does smell like pee right here.

I remember it too. My first two? Three? Four months? I was so tired. I realized all my shoes were $10 Forever 21 flats, and I was coming home hobbled and aching. I walk at least two miles a day just getting to and from the train. I was hungrier and there was less affordable food. I didn't realize I was overwhelmed with the people around me all the time. I was a person who acknowledged others on the train and in passing, and it exhausted my senses.

Now it's just life. I more likely to take a hack anyway. I eat more snacks at 7/11, Lyft Line exists, I wear a backpack, a tank top all winter so I don't sweat in foyers. But. All the daily difficulties are still there, and while I rarely think about them, they accumulate and bubble and infrequently burst and maybe I hassle a stranger on social media look, I'm sorry.

So the flip side is that this place is still so special. Last weekend for instance, on Friday I went downtown to meet a friend for fancy tourists-love-it icebox cake and free advanced tickets front row tickets to the hottest play of da year. And Saturday I graded papers before doing two shows at different theatres (in one I played a narcoleptic hedgehog and in the other Tara Lipinski). Sunday I had a meeting for a showcase and a 10 PM. This weekend I saw a dark new play in Edgewater, kicked butt in step class, did a celebration show for a wonderful charity, followed by a 9 PM, and today I will see another new work (dang!) matinee and meet with a writing partner before my 10 PM. Good Chi, grateful Chi.

Friday, February 16, 2018

People I've Fought In My Head This Week

-the student worker who is always on her phone when I entered the English dept office before class stood up and blocked me from my mailbox firmly stating, "students are not allowed back here"
-the woman who opened the office door between the hall and bathroom who said "you should have gone around" "around where" I asked "to the other side" "this huge sign says BATHROOMS THIS WAY" I said "well this door was locked" she said
-my coworker at the Writing Center who makes 50% more hourly than I do because the school enacted a pay cut right before I was hired who said when I walked in the office yesterday at 2:06 PM, "you're late"
-guy at dept. meeting who reiterated a smart suggestion a woman made back to her, acting like he was giving her advice on her own suggestion, for a solid two minutes
-every elected official who takes financial support from the NRA
-myself for not doing enough about gun violence
-other people for not even feeling guilty about not doing enough about gun violence
-the gd founding fathers
-anyone taking phone calls on the train
-anyone listening to audible music in the elevator
-the theatre company that had me write a third of a new musical over Christmas who didn't even bother to send a rejection letter until I asked
-the guy who grunts during HIIT
-my teammate who toed the line of explosive accusation and backpedalled to angst
-excessively talkative salon owner who didn't let me peacefully enjoy retail therapy
-CTA helpline person who refused to give me the office number to check if my favorite pair of gloves were indeed left there
-the whole educational institution that pumps us with spam and vital information via email one and the same
-the comedy theatre that informed me my class was cancelled only after I took off work and was standing in the foyer
-a nice aquaintance who threw in an Obama jab over tea
-my favorite student who acted like I was insane for upholding my late work policy
-waitress who teenily rolled her eyes because I didn't order wine

Honestly, when you think of how many fights I avoided, it's a modern miracle the most ridiculous thing I did this week was comment on a friend's cousin's tweet about wanting a huge engagement rock, "Diamonds are murder."

Friday, February 9, 2018

Worked on My Book for the First Time Since October

As long as you write something everyday. I agree and I disagree. I don't count journaling. I don't count blogging. Outlining. But then I start to not count just a page or two.

It seems like there should be priorities with projects, but you can't make yourself make yourself. I have tried. I have failed. My main fear is that in my patience, someone else will write it. I remember a girl on the volleyball team in college saying she never misses a practice because somewhere out there her opponent is practicing. And I still think about that. But then I try to remind myself we don't have opponents. Not like that. That's what neutral me believes, at least, until I see a movie trailer and think, "That's...a lot like my XYZ." But as a lover of things that I love, I would go to all movies about things I love, right? Several people watched this quirky Netflix film and texted me about it. "It's so you," a thing no artist hopes to hear. I avoided it until I was home alone with lots of snacks and no more papers to grade. I sucked in a huge basket of air and pressed play. It wasn't me at all. Or, rather, I would never have made it. I have rarely known such relief.

It's not about what I want to do. It's really not. It's about what I can do. Okay and a little about proving something. (To be honest.) But what I want has never been what's going on. It seems so beautiful and fortunate that I have rarely wanted. What an enormous gift.

Anyway, I finished another chapter of my book just now. Chapter 8 out of 12, to be exact.

Monday, February 5, 2018

First Sunday February

I made a big fuss about no alarm clocks, but I rose at seven. I did the good morning writes and sits and reads on the couch. In HIIT I did the most burpees in the class. I did box jumps like a true beast fueled by the previous night's gig in Indiana and the oatmeal creme pie I ate on the way home. I was so spent I couldn't imagine eating yet. I texted Puhg and we walked through the snow to the grocery store. Everyone was buying chips and dips. We passed a pop-up brunch at our favorite veg cafe. Cruelty-free chicken & waffles. I don't remember what we talked about. I responded to a promising email. I organized my sweaters and laid down. Lesson plans over two eps of Big Love. A little watching the guy play Until Dawn. My bus didn't come, so I met my girl on the train platform. We were both late for our own meeting. I saw three other comedians standing at the Red Line. Sometimes Chicago is the smallest. The bar we walked to was closed, so we sat in the balcony of Whole Foods with serious faces and then outlining our new project. Oh, it's good. I can tell. I walked across the street to i_. My Harold team goes on every week, but there's a jubilance when we arrive to the same green room. I cherish the night and play an overbearing marketer. Our coach says, "I'm glad you worked through the Winnebago scene" and if that's not priceless improv garbage, what is? I couldn't interact any more, so I sat next to two people riding home, not speaking. The bus would take five minutes. I was cooked. I stood looking out for it. It arrived, empty save a man sleeping on it with a six pack next to his head. The driver got up and shook him. The man took his sweet time debarking. It was fine. There but for the grace of God. I forgot my keys and had to call up. I wasn't just ready for bed. Reddit posts until the blanket of tired tucked around me.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


It is painful to avoid distractions, but I am more committed than ever to it. I've officially gone a month following my first New Year's Res. Every day spiritual study & journaling before phone. Less and less do I even want to engage in social media. It hurts or it distracts. I like learning this slowly instead of insistently. I like waiting three minutes for the train and looking at the track. My counselor has noted I give myself little homework assignments all day, and it's refreshing to know it is not only okay to end that, but vital to my peace.

I've been distracted since I got here, although I don't regret most of it. I reached for the lowest apple, then climbed to the first branch, then sat in the tree. But don't worry, I was scoping other trees while I was off the ground. I was making my grape net and even harpooned a mango or two. There is power in saying what I actually want to do and what I don't. It is difficult to jump down and walk away. This might be related to social media. Who knows.

I feel a yellow rush about February, or pink to match the CVS displays. What I truly am is more complicated, obtuse, but I keep getting these good signs and these interested emails and that is more than most people ever get (not to be full of myself, but to be grateful and honest). It's so regular now I only have to follow through. I have some schemes and I have accepted the investment.

That's where I will sit and make my new play. As early as I can. With an open body. That's where I will sit and finish my book. When I'm done, I'll stand in the shop and order four fancy chocolates. At least. We will make our thing. My calendar will be full of deadlines over call-times. I have two scary goals for 2018. One I have little control over, but two potential knocks. The other I have all the control over. I only must avoid the crunchy distraction.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

My Show, Here We Go

January has been headachingly busy. I opened and closed my solo show remount. I want perfection, and that's just not fair to wish for. My final show had a bevy of technical issues, which crushed me. People loved it. They gushed, they hung out at the bar, they said, "I could barely tell," and "the important thing was--." I appreciated all of it, and based on the anonymous post-show surveys, I believe the responses were honest. But. I held Puhg close and told him I needed to cry. He said, "Okay," even though he was in the middle of sweeping the stage of debris, and took me backstage for a hug. Why was it so important? A time and money investment, uh huh, but really I believed in what I said and did, and I wanted that to be crystal. It's never going to be crystal. I'm too accomplished to ever confuse my work with magic. I'm too consistently good. It's an odd problem to have. I don't mean to brag. I don't know how else to say what I feel.

There's been such a heavy weight on me since I signed the space contracts in October, and maybe it's naive to think it would lift. It will dissolve slowly in the bleach of new projects. As people filed out of the theatre with their free vegan cake, they were joyful. I forget how infrequently adults can be joyful. And all they had to do was spend $8 and an hour in a small dark room. A white-hairs man and a woman on his arm sat in the second row. As they left he pointed proudly to his chest and said, "14 years strong vegetarian." I was sincerely happy.

I could have had more choreography. I wish I hadn't skipped that line. How did the timing work on that bit? And then I have to be understanding that good theatre gets workshops and previews, and who am I? The Queen? I googled how to deal with biffing and got an article about how to forgive one's self after a bad interview. (Ugh, you'd think I bumbled around in a potato sack the way I'm describing this experience. I watched two minutes of the recording, and it looks good. Better than it did in my brain. This is some weird massive female humility at play.) The article encouraged the downtrodden to consider what they learned. Yes, yes, I've learned.

I've learned the tiny things--always bring a flashdrive and print the full script, review the cue sheet. I've learned it's not about the number of people under a platform, it's about the sincerity with whoever is around. I've learned what holds people back. I've learned to calm down. More more more than anything I haven't learned but recognized the people who love me. My family who came and loved. My Puhg who left tulips on the counter for me after closing, who ran home for forgotten props, who set up chairs, who sat in the back corner, who tore down stage dressing and carried costume bags down the street. Everyone who came. Period. (And yes, it's hard not to feel bummed about who didn't.) But everyone who came! From the stranger who chastised me as I waved goodbye to the girl I sit-in with who saw the poster on her way home and said why not.

Kale visited Chicago for this show. I am stupid grateful for three days with an old friend. I will probably break even financially--a modern miracle as I paid everyone. I go to experience a dream of doing a scene with Cher Horowitz. I saw someone's jaw drop. I saw someone cry. I felt a calm. It's still breathing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018