Monday, November 13, 2017

Everyday

I write every day. Journaling, blogging, a hefty email--these things count--but besides all that, I also strive to work on a play, my book, or a script every day. Two pages is the rule of thumb. It's been hard lately. I'm now in five ongoing improv shows, coaching a team, teaching four classes, tutoring eight hours a week, and my list of my day staples keeps growing. Read inspiration every morning, workout, eat a protein-rich breakfast, put away my clothes, do ten minutes of Japanese study. It's been a No Time for Fun Fall. I am perhaps too honest to peripheral friends. "I would love to hang out, but honestly, I have no free nights until December 17."

Tonight I got home from rehearsal and needed to sit and be with Bisque. And then I needed to read up on all the new sexual harassment allegations of the day. And then I needed to write, but, oh, what a long day. I finally began at 11. It's 11:50. It took me 50 minutes to get two pages on my new short. But I did it.

I've been stressed the past two weeks after somehow skating over all my obligations through September and October. I guess students are desperately trying not to fail, I have six weeks until my solo show reopens, I'm trying to run myself as a business, I eat too much candy. But some things I have liked about the past week: starting Big Little Lies, the sweetness of my new theatre, honest rehash on the Argyle train platform, playing a singing rat in yesterday's set, confetti canon at The House of Blues, inspiring a stranger, a chocolate fountain at my new play opening, when I am listened to, the student in the back row crushing his monologue, goofball English students, giving new improvisers easy information, never feeling embarrassed in front of a good friend.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Halloween Heart

Being scared is my favorite thing. I revel in the spooky season: movies whenever I can squeeze them in, horror blogs to fall asleep, I sat in a lawn chair in my apartment foyer to pass out candy over the weekend. This Halloween itself was a pretty standard day. I went to the gym, I tutored at the writing center,  I had dinner and graded papers, I coached a rehearsal 8-9:30. And then when I came home the hall lights were out. The apartment was pitch black, but sheets hung everywhere. It was ghostly, the billows from white rectangles. Silence. I slowly walked through one corridor to find another. I called throughout my home for Puhg. Eventually I paused in the bedroom and he leapt from behind a door. I was scared, but not as a scared as when I realized he was wearing a frightening mask. I laughed, he laughed, he took off the mask, then he bared vampire fangs and I yelped again. Then he was gone. I couldn't see where he ran beyond the haunted house-ness. He popped out of no fewer than four hiding spots--once emerging from the ground walking like a crab after grabbing my ankles. This is my dream come true.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Very Good Day

5:30 do a country line-dance workout in the living room
6:30 catch the Red Line, grade papers as I ride
7:15 grade final paper in Potbelly eating breakfast sammie
8:00 begin fifteen minute mid-term meetings with 101 students
1:00 meetings over, I sing "Ring of Keys" in the classroom alone
2:00 submit mid-term grades and post announcements to Blackboard
2:30 finish Difficult Women standing outside the library drop box
3:00 prepare bowl of lime kale
3:30 plan play revisions
4:00 Puhg serves me a sweet potato bowl and we watch Broad City
4:45 practice Japanese on the Brown Line
5:05 meet Sabarra and walk through a teensers haunted house
5:30 donate money to Puerto Rico
5:32 have a creative meeting about out newest screenplay
6:05 meet with Dusty for a chai at Eva's
6:50 relocate to a familiar Starbucks because we weren't done talking
7:30 Dusty drive me across town to i_
7:35 we talk in his car
7:55 I have to go inside for my calltime
7:58 run-in with my coach from three years ago
8:00 my Harold team warms up in a stairwell
8:30 we do an improv show as an opener for a magician
9:00 I make the audience clap for my sister who is there
9:20 Dbag, Egg, and I watch aforementioned magic from the back corner
10:00 LC hugs me in a big pink coat
10:05 Flood text asks if we can grab a Shirley Temple at the bar
10:20 Squid & Blanco and I laugh a lot on the way to North & Clyborn
10:45 Blanco gets groped on the train
11:00 it is very cold
11:08 I step into my apartment, Puhg looks drowsy with sleep
11:15 I choose two little chocolates I took from the break-room at the Writing Center to consume while watching S2, E12 of Scream

Monday, October 23, 2017

Some Things to Love about Chicago (Very Partial List)

-calling everyone "you guys"
-when the River bridges go up
-those little yellow ladders on the lake
-everybody's a comedian (discouraging at first, homey at second)
-my nail place where they use java essential oils
-LSD at night by car, south toward the pink Drake sign
-the bakery cases at Mariano's
-nicest conductor on the Red Line who always ends announcements with "students: study hard"
-300 theatres
-the Picasso (hack, but true)
-State and Lake trash shopping
-the forever of a Clark Street walk
-the tallest movie theatre & reclining chairs
-my library--so hot and yellow with a familiar security camera
-the Lakeview rooftops at dusk
-spaceship church
-no one is too good for you

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Last Warm Day

Wake up late (8:15) cursing the headache from last night. I read S & H on the couch and hit the gym. I'm slogging through Ghost Story on the elliptical. I wear shorts. My sidewalk is covered in little yellow leaves. Puhg wants brunch. I wear a purple lip and my bat necklace. We think we miss the bus, start walking, and then grab it on the next block. It starts to rain as we arrive. A warm rain. It's summer but all the storefronts on Clark have fake cobwebs in the windows. The specials are all maple-y. I eat two veggie sausages. I forget what we talked about. We walk the mile home, in shorts, enjoying our neighborhood. I feel a special kind of Lakeview pride on Sundays. I can sense the visitors, but this is my home. We stop twice--once for the Target bathroom and again so I can buy artisanal popcorn. It's perfect out. Women walk to church in maroon dresses. I put Arcade Fire on and fold sweaters. The windows are open, maybe for the last week of the year. In the rain, we snuggle under blankets and watch the end of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I work on a screenplay, I grade two papers, I make a lesson plan, we watch the 6th Paranormal Activity. It's my mom's birthday. I think about next August. I do not think about December. I am not ready. I will drink a pumpkin coffee tomorrow. I will administer a mid-term. There is something unlike anything else I know in me. I try to name it and can't. Last night in my dream I was teaching a class and someone else started lecturing. I complained to the department chair. I threw a fit, really. I do not wince at the week ahead. I love the week ahead. I can't believe it's been fifteen years since fall meant putting on a little Express suit and delivering speeches in high school classrooms. I felt the same something stirring then. I try to sluff the guilt off. I know how good I have it and how Puerto Rico doesn't have power. I donated $20 and called Congress. I vow to call and write five times this week. We go to CVS. I get a bag of Reese's shaped like ghosts, filled with orange stuff.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I Wanted to Stay (A Sexual Harassment Story)

I had just been cast on my first post-college improv ensemble. We had real shows in real city theatres and I was working with a cast I had never met before. We rehearsed for three weeks before beginning a six week run. I was 22 and thrilled to be in a professional production. It was janky and we never ended up getting paid like we were told we would, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. Our director was a middle age guy who I thought was smart, funny, and nice. I owed him, let's call him Pete, big time. Everyone else on cast was a company vet. He plucked me from a sketchy bar jam and took a major chance on me. I took the opportunity very seriously and worked my butt off. After our final show we had a big cast party in the theatre. I was on cloud nine. I had new pals, my first non-school resume line, and, mostly, I had done it. I had become an adult who did art. I was so proud.

So the party has been going for a few hours and most people are tipsy (I am sober). The group has dwindled to six, and we're just sitting around telling stories. Abruptly, Pete asks for my number, which is odd because he has it. The mood kinda shifts and someone maybe even says, "Leave her alone" in potentially real/potentially joking way. I feel awkward. Did someone just accuse Pete of hitting on me? I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable on my account. Especially Pete. I have a lightening flash of what could happen: I imagine someone misconstruing the comment, Pete feeling ashamed, and to avoid any future misconception, never casting me in anything again. I smile as genuinely as possible and say, "Oh, everything's okay!" Pete says something like, "See? She's not scared of me!" The conversation continues. Phew. But Pete's not participating. He's chatting quietly to himself about how he's gonna call me. Party's over. We all start picking up bottles when Pete says loudly, "I am going to call you. I'm serious. When are we going to have sex?" I freeze for one moment and then let out the most immensely unnatural laugh. I think the laugh makes Pete think I'm comfortable, when my brain is screaming, "Walk out of this theatre right now and never come back." Pete says some more stuff to me that I really don't remember because I am playing a rapid-fire game of mental chess to decide how to make this thing a non-thing. New friend Dusty takes Pete by the arm and says, "Help me out upstairs." Pete gets pulled away while literally screaming about my dimples. I wish could say I'm on the road in five minutes, but the drunk tech guy insists on walking me to my car even though I told him over and over I was right in front and I'd actually rather just go alone. At my car he leans against the driver's door (blocking me from entering) and tells me how sad he is, how much he wants a girlfriend. I tell him I want to go home repeatedly, but he begs to just sit in my car with me. I am cold, so I let him sit in the passenger side seat while I am as far away as I can be and still inside the vehicle. He talks until he's sober-ish. I finally drive away.

So, what did I do? Nothing. Why? Well, mainly, I wanted to stay. That company was the only professional comedy theatre in my city. There was only one director. There was an owner, but he lived in LA and Pete was one of his oldest pals. I walked down the line of possibilities and didn't see one where I would stay at the theatre and Pete wouldn't. Also, I felt ashamed. Maybe I wasn't actually that good at comedy. Maybe this is what he was after all along, and casting me was the long con. I decided if I didn't mention it, maybe everyone would forget. And that's essentially what ended up happening. I didn't see anyone for the week of Christmas. When we came back for a New Years gig Pete never apologized or mentioned what happened. I kept working with him for six more months. Sometimes he was harsh with me in notes and I wondered if he was trying to show people he was boss after I had shut him down. I'll never know. Maybe he honestly didn't remember the incident and no one told him. Anytime he was around I was mathing out if there were any possibilities of someone leaving and someone else going to the bathroom and me ending up alone with him. And then I'd write in my diary, "Don't be so full of yourself. You're blowing everything way out of proportion." I felt guilty to be afraid of something I never voiced to anyone else.

I did meet with Pete once privately, at his request, in a pizza place. He wanted to talk shop. I was sharp with him. Mean. He looked at me like, "What is wrong with you?" I felt bad but then thought, "Should I feel bad?" I still felt bad. I moved away soon after. He accidentally called me a couple years later. I picked up. We had a nice catch-up. Maybe it wasn't an accident. Even now, I don't want to say he is a bad person. Overall, I really liked him. This is still confusing for me.

My story is an extremely tame example of harassment. I am so lucky the worst I've weathered is an improv teacher talking about my boobs, another one mooning me, a professor asking me about my vagina in a grad school class, this dude being a creep. I honestly wrote this a few days ago and then decided not to post it because I was worried someone might see it and think I just want attention or I'm a wimp because this was barely harassment considering what other women have been through. But last night after a show some ladies and I got to talking about creeps of our past. Nothing life-ruining, but still icky. We'd all been there. WNT ended at midnight. We sat in the greenroom until 2. E and I were the last ones in, waiting for our cabs. She said, "I usually don't talk about this stuff because I don't want anyone to judge me, but I feel less crazy knowing I wasn't alone." And if this is how I felt, god help the women who were attacked, coerced, exiled. God help them do what they need to do because they too want to stay.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Maturity

I. Waiting for the light at Clark & Belmont. Guy in front of me wearing shorts. Huge Heath Ledger Joker tatt across his calf. I don't think it's stupid. And I don't think he's got issues. I think, "I wonder why the Joker is so important to him."

II. In improv rehearsal we do solo scenes. I think about ways I could knock the exercise out of the park. I choose instead to do something out of my comfort zone that will challenge me. I flounder. I don't feel embarrassed or concerned. I consider what I have learned.

III. I just became a cast member at another theatre. A friend gave me a cute lil welcoming gift--three candy bars wrapped in tissue paper. I ate half a Twix last night. I thought about saving the other half for today. I didn't, but I thought about it.