Thursday, September 21, 2017

First Year Out of College

I've decided I'm going to be one of those people who has an empty inbox. You know. Delete stuff I no longer need. File things I want to save. Be reminded easy what I need to respond to.

I decided this somewhat randomly about two weeks ago. I was at The Writing Center and no students had come in for walk-in tutoring. I had around 17K emails in the the gmail I started in college. This isn't that much maybe. I also have a junk account, two school accounts, and a professional artist account. Maybe I'll deal with those sometime too.

So, first, I used the search bar to weed out advertising junk. I deleted all the "Groupon," "Twitter," "Jamba Juice" hits etc. After destroying as many spams as possible I started working through my cache starting with the oldest messages to the newest.

Right now I have 7,881 emails in my inbox. I have lurched from my freshman year to my first year out of college. It's been weird to my life snippets in a vertical list. That year seems so foreign to my life now, but it was actually incredibly foundational. A flurry of student notes from the Writing Center, navigating a weird boss for an after school program, running my first marathon, all my grad school statements of purpose, a community theatre musical rehearsal emails, indie improv team volleys. Some of it is embarrassing--advice I gave in a very knowing way, hatching my sense of humor, I had no fear, and I substitute taught an English 100 lab for free on Valentine's night.

But, oh, there are precious moments. Long chains with friends who were still friends, pictures from Dusty, and the most charming: a lesson plan for the first improv class I ever taught. The usual teacher for the Level One class at the comedy theatre I performed at couldn't make one week. He asked this other girl and I to cover. We were PUMPED. We went out for pizza beforehand and freaked out about everything we wanted to teach the class. The place was called Suds or something and we sat at a countertop and just gushed about all we loved and hated about improvising. We practically ran to the theatre screeching in excitement. We had both just broken up with our boyfriends.

When we arrived we found only ONE PERSON there for the class--a middle age woman who was pretty nervous. No idea why she took the class, but it was only her second attempt at improv ever. The other girl and I were not deterred. We went full-ham on our plan and took turns being in the scene with the woman. Toward the end of the three hours, I think we were both so eager to act, we just did a ton of three person scenes. We laughed and laughed in that shady, bunk basement room for rent.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I Love Study Hall

The athletes of T College are required three hours of study hall a week. This means as a Writing Center employee I have to be vigilant about clocking basketball & volleyball players in and out. This is the busy season. Maybe there aren't spring sports. I'm actually not sure what all the activities are at this school. I am a typical adjunct; I show up to my class, grade in my office, delete emails not of immediate relevance to me, go home. I don't know what the dean's name is.

Anyway, I love study hall. I'm sure if I was forced to do it I would be annoyed. These students are adults and should be allowed to do homework wherever and whenever they want. But here's whats up:

Many times I have seen four teammates come in and waste time quietly. They need to be shushed once or twice and then they get bored. One of them opens the assignment. They look at it. They raise their hand. "Hey, I actually don't get this. Can you help me?" And I do. I've also observed the one teammate who knows from the jump he needs a ton of help. It makes me happy that his friends are at the same table even if they're goofing off so the situation isn't reversed (they're all out goofing off and the lil nerd ditches his tutoring appointment). Also, they get used to see the other players all the time. I see guys congratulating girls on their games. They say things like "I see you strivin'." I am currently sitting across from a dude who just waved across the center at another guy. He said, "Yo, bro. You doin' study hall? Very cool." Very cool!? Very cool.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

So Long Sweet Summer

It's Dashboard Confessional. I am not embarrassed. I wish it had never been laughable--the boys screaming their feelings. The popularity of emo could have been an antidote to toxic masculinity.

For every bright notebook aisle at Target, there's a new orange leaf. The darker sky. Six years ago I started grad school in Arizona. I spent most afternoons by the pool with my Theatre Histories textbook and a highlighter. Today I went to the gym's rooftop pool and read Chapter Three in my teacher's edition Theatre History textbook. It was windy, and I could only bear the chill an hour. I call the Senate Committee and my House Rep to say I support the DREAMers.

I've officially lived in Chicago longer than I was in grad school. This saddens me. It's not a surprise. I've been here, you know, watching the planner pages turn, establishing myself, signing leases. But still it happened so fast. I steadied myself on the last thing I had done. I had just moved from the desert. The other people I meet here--some spent one, two, five years in their cities, but it gets washed away in the machine of big shoulders. I join the slop.

From the moment I stepped off the plane in high school, it was my spot. It's my laptop backdrop. My blue and purple scooter plate hangs over my window. Yesterday Puhg and I went on a Labor Day run. We stopped halfway through just to sit and watch the lake. A baby regatta of boats, a seagull, a plastic bag splat into the water. He says the way I feel about our old place is how he feels about his new place.

Some days I feel it too. The neighborhood abuzz with teeny shops and how I can get from my couch to the A____ for a lime & seltzer with Flood in less than ten minutes. People feel overwhelmed by the city, but when I was in Maine I felt so weird not being able to, at any time, walk to a Walgreens. I do not think about trotting four blocks, taking the train, going down Michigan Avenue, spending thirty minutes in an interview, reversing the whole thing. It's so easy I barely pay attention. I jot lesson plans and ding my Ventra card. I'm at the library now and then I will go back across the street to my apartment, eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch, watch Friday Night Lights, and go do a show at i_.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

First Saturday Back

First of all, I got to return to Step class at my gym. It was hard, as it always is after an extended absence. At a water break I asked the instructor to re-demonstrate the switchkick turn, and three women around me all (at the same time) told me how to do it. Isn't it infuriating to be told how to do something even when you have asked? And, by the way, why do people like telling others what to do? I don't. Which is funny because I'm the teacher.

I showered. Pug and I sat on the couch and talked over morning yogurt, a ritual I missed. We keep up when we're apart, but the conversations are more like maps and less like landscape. I convince him to walk with me to a new coffee shop, where I set up camp for lesson planning. After an hour I head to the train. While I wait a man starts addressing people on the platform asking the question "Why?" a lot. It's hard to hear him. At first he is ignored since he's ranting. He's holding a Dunkin bag and a large iced coffee with cream. He lays down on the platform over the line folks are not supposed to cross. Another older man walks up and tries to talk to him. He is batted away. I get closer. I want to kneel down and say, "Don't do this here," but I don't know his mental state and am worried he might throw me into the tracks. The board says the next Red Line to 95th is in one minute. Someone presses the help button. Someone else is making a call. "They'll put me back in jail," the man says. The train is now arriving. Someone at the end of the platform waves his arms wildly to the conductor. I bark, "Sir, please get up." In the nick of time, someone the fella by the ankles, and pulls him to safety. The dude, still on the ground, yells, "You almost spilled my coffee!" to which his savior rolls his eyes. I get on a different car and practice Japanese on an app.

I attend a producers workshop for marketing one's comedy show. I learn a couple things. Several men, not running the workshop, offer a lot of unsolicited advice to everyone n attendance. Again, I wonder what the appeal is. I go across the street for a Whole Foods salad and purchase a scone to eat between shows at night.

While home I have a little time to work on my book before curling my hair, changing into a new blouse, and heading to SC. On my commute I think about how we use Twitter, how I use Twitter, microaggressions, and how important but also stupid recognizing said microagressions are. It's my first show in Chicago since mid-July. The audience gives us "IHOP: The Musical" as our title. The singing feels good. The singing brings renewal. I call an Uber.

At the next theatre's greenroom I am met by some unusual faces. People from New York and LA visiting, jumping in on the fun. We do two acts of improv. It is okay. I am happy to be there though. Puhg comes and during something particularly funny I look out at him to see if he laughed. He's munching a french fry. He is standing at the bar when it is over. We take a car home.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Think You Are Very Successful Now

At least that's what I surmise from bits and pieces of social media. I don't know what major success looks like in your field. I don't know if you still have mountains to climb. I think often about that sommelier documentary. I cannot name a single sommelier or honestly a single fact about wine. In the film some men became certified top-tier experts and some didn't. The ones who fell short are surely more knowledgable than 99% of the world, but ten feet from the summit can feel much farther.

I wonder if you are happy. I feel like I really know you because I saw you back when you were trying to get into your skin. You made fun of yourself for not understanding football and now you tweet about it a lot. I don't think that's fake necessarily. I'm only curious.

We used to talk about how we didn't have any money, how a muffin was a feast. I'm proud of you even though I am a small tick in your timeline. But I don't know. Sometimes I feel like a mark. Are you a mark in mine? I think so. I questioned what you actually liked and what you fronted then. I do now, if I think of it.

My theatre history class is divided into six units--directing, playwriting, tech, etc. We will study modern work and move backwards toward the significant elements of the past. I DO NOT WANT TO TO HAVE ONLY COVERED OEDIPUS TARTUFFE AND HAMLET BY MIDTERM. I have too many ancient playwrights to choose from, the timeline of how directing transformed and the dramaturg was born. But actors from 1800, 1900, even 1950--none come to mind.

That okay Dispatch song. Would you come running if I called your name in a crowd?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I am still trying to figure out why I thought the eclipse was so incredible. I didn't initially care. My mom lives 45 minutes away from totality, so she wanted to make a thing of it. There were cucumber sandwiches and brownie piles and eclipse pop in coolers. We went to a football field with 2,000 other people. I imagined sweating in a mob, but actually, 2,000 people on a huge field is not crowded at all. The dogs ran around, sometimes standing in front of an icy fan. I put on my glasses to see the crescent. Lenses up, lenses down.

It got cooler. Gradually I didn't need my sunglasses anymore. "It feels like evening." Globs showed up in my hand's shadow. At 1:13 I felt giddy. At 16 shadowy waves splashed on white ground. The crickets were a full orchestra. I held Puhg's hand. My mom said, "It's like that scene in Independence Day when they're all on the roof." She wasn't wrong. Everyone laughed at the idea that birds fly to their roosts and fall asleep, but I am certain something primal was itching at me too. Foreboding and magical. The moon covered the sun for less than two minutes. I screamed when I took my glasses off. The eye looked at me curiously. It sparkled. There was a pink sunset on every side of us. Jupiter was perched nearby. Tears welled in my eyes and over the loudspeaker the physicist began a count-down from 10. My mom gripped my hand and said, "I don't want it to go away." Me neither.

The day went on. I felt messed up. I fell asleep at 6 PM. My mom was on the couch accidentally watching Dirty Dancing twice.

When I got my tattoo I thought it hurt so awfully. I didn't know if I could stand having it finished, and I never thought I would get a second. But now I do not remember. I couldn't put words to it. I can't again now. I have seen every CGI tsunami and dragon under the sun but the real sun escapes me.