Sunday, October 30, 2011

Día de los Muertos

When Steve Jobs died, I didn't care. I bless his mind that bore me this MacBook, my black iPod named Troy, products for my father to sell many rainbow-striped apples ago. But, Steve Jobs was just a guy.

Today I read the eulogy his sister gave. It was very good. But, you know, she's a famous novelist. Get a great writer to deliver anyone's eulogy and he will sound saintly. Despite my cynicism, this choked me up:

"Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed."

The man was creative and driven literally until the day he expired. And what did he have to gain at that point? That's magic. That's tragic. That's life, or, I guess, death.

It's Halloween weekend and spirits of my youth, of college haunt me. I try to focus on this Bakhtin essay on carnivale--well-timed--but I just eat all the orange creme Oreos. I just open my heart a little more. I make another list, and another, and I wish that burning leaves weren't bad for the environment, and I wish my body were still small enough to snake through them raked.

My grandmother passed away five point five years ago. When the paperwork was dug out, someone noticed a doodle in the corner. It was a cartoon apparition that said, in Gramps' handwriting, "Boo! I'm a ghost. Boo." He saw it, chuckled. Things didn't go as he had guessed they would.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stayed Up

When I come home from parties, there's no one to greet me.
I climb up the stairs, I strip to underwear, I brush my teeth for longer than might be necessary. It feels so good.
I get to sleep however I want in my bed big enough for two. Sometimes I put my head at the feet. I can journal at night--or not. I can blog. I can hum exactly one verse of "How to Save a Life" that has been stupidly stuck in my head.

I have no backrubs to give, no decompressions to share. I leave the small pile of clothes on the floor. I sleep immediately when I want to, no pawing or jabbering half-awake.

And I would have stayed up with you all night
had I known how to save a life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Coincidence, Convo, Computer

On my bike path from home to school.

1. "Bloodshot" came up on my iPod while I was biking in this sunset last week. It was too coincidental NOT to take a photo.

2. This morning--

CHELLE: I have an apple juice problem. I love it so much. If I had my way, I'd be hooked up to an apple juice IV at all times.
ME: You wouldn't even be able to taste it.
CHELLE: I'd be fine just knowing it was running through my veins.

3. My computer is having some malfunction junctions, which is annoying. But, then, I think about all the things that make my computer tick, and how many of them are tiny and plastic and WHOA all the stuff my computer actually does for being a machine I can just carry around and how I schlep it all over tarnation in the sun on my back and I'm like, "How does it still work at all?"

It's just so high, and I'm so tired.
Come on look up at the bloodshot sky--
the clouds are all on fire.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


May 2011.

Today is my sister's birthday. I love my sister a whole lot. She makes me really happy for a lot of reasons, but I will compose a partial list about her past year of life:

-Pookie made me so many desserts last year. It's unreal. Cookies, pie, even non-dairy/egg treats during my Vegan April. Desserts are the fastest way to my heart--figuratively and literally. <3s for Pooks.
-She let me be a complete slug on her couch when I needed a week to get over a break-up. I wore the same button-down shirt and red running shorts for literally eight days. She cooked for me and rubbed my back.
-She drove my lame booty to musical rehearsals sometimes.
-We watched a lot of good and bad movies and TV last year. It was all enjoyable because we were together!
-She made a lot of really cool videos for work. She's really good at her job.
-Pookie places a high importance on fun stuff. We realize often that if something fun is happening Pookie will say, "Yes!" and I will already be halfway out the door, trying to run away. But, a lot of the time, at the end of everything, I am glad my sister made me be fun with her.
-Last year was such a gift--just being able to go to the gym together, catch a movie, grab a milkshake mid-day--I honestly feel blessed.

Happy Birthday, Pookie.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kashin' In

October 2010.

I love this picture because it's so normal. It's just Muff and her mom driving alone like any other day--except THIS DAY Muff got married. I like how seamlessly this big things just HAPPEN to us. We meet someone, next thing we know, we're married, we're dead, we're angry, we're addicted.

Happy anniversary to Muff and Jamba. Today it rained in Arizona. It felt like spring at Prin.

We both have regrets, those roads we never drove.
But it's pointless to dwell in the "what if"'s.
I mean, what if we had never met?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Perfection: Part IV

Sushi remains. The Loop. March 2011.

In Dramaturgy we were discussing how we can go forward as the next generation of theatre with good marketing plans. Theatre is so important to society, but it will vanish if we can't get more money! We agreed big time. We nodded.

Then, Brunnel laughed. Brunnel is from Brazil. She explained, "This is all we ever talk about in Brazil. This exact same conversation. 'How do we get more money? We have no money. What are we going to do?' I was excited to come here to hear a new conversation. But, no, it is the same."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Perfection: Part III

A couple years ago I had to attend a motivational sports talk. It was mainly supes lame, but the speaker said one thing I really liked. He said the stereotypical, "Perfect practice makes perfect! GO ALL OUT IN PRACTICE, DUDES." But, he unpacked that explaining we often hold back just a smidgen in practice because we're worried we will somehow preemptively burn out for game day. But, he explained, that defeats the whole purpose of practicing! The point is to slowly get better with every practice. How can we ever get better than our best if we never even get to our best to excel past it?

This is how I feel about writing. For a while I would get ideas and hold on to them, stockpiling. "That's a good idea," I'd think. "I'd better save it away for when I really need it." But, then, I gave myself the goal of updating this blog every day, so I use up my ideas as they come, and guess what? I don't run out. Writing begets writing. When I started writing sketch again after a couple years hiatus, I had the same worry. I made a small list of sketch ideas in my notebook, and I thought I'd better parcel them out throughout the semester. But, then I just wrote whatever I could think of, and, guess what again? I get more ideas every week. So many I don't have time to write the things I think of.

I have a suspicion this is how all things work, but my experience kind of ends with writing. And perhaps loving. Because I think loving begets loving too.

I stayed up all night writing my final midterm paper. When I arrived at today's sketch meeting, Chelle had this pumpkin latte for me! She used my name because hers is hard for people to hear sometimes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mulan Fireworks

10 PM on Saturday
October 22. October's almost gone--
I can't believe it.

I was cozied into my blue flannel,
that once belonged to Kay.
Brownies in the oven, batter splotches on my shorts, I sat
clicking at my Theatre History mid-term, books of Stanley Fish and Philip Zarelli filleted,
splayed, across the kitchen table.

October's almost gone.
This afternoon I was reading Isabel Allende
poolside in my two-piece and sweating slow
while my sister and father wore sweaters to purchase pumpkins
in rural Illinois.

October's almost gone. It's
my elementary school classmates in puffy Bulls jackets,
miniature Snickers bars, a Girl Scout overnight in Eagle Cave.
It's walking back from Marine Fisheries senior year
with a cup of hot chocolate in my hands. Nip nip
with fresh break-up wounds.
"My love for you feels like the fireworks at the end of Mulan,"
Kay told me when I had visited him seven months into our relationship,

October's almost gone.
And then November will be.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Perfection: Part II

Hein Shrine. Kyoto. 2008.

There are two options:

1. Act, even boldly, and be able to defend your action to anyone that ever asks.
2. Don't act if you cannot defend that action. Even if you only can't explain it to one person.

And I took you in right then and there,
and life took on a new form.
No more stayin' out all night.
No more killin' ourselves just to make ourselves feel alright.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Perfection: Part I

"Perfection is gained only by perfection."--Mary Baker Eddy

It's like DUH. How else would that work? Yet, it's so tempting to wait for perfection to materialize in us, isn't it?

St. Louis. New Year's Eve 2011. Photo by Pookie.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Well, I've made it through the worst of the theoretical analysis/write a new play/historicization storm. Sort of. I won't ACTUALLY be out of the storm until May 2014, but let's not think about that right now, okay?

In dramaturgy tonight we had a serious discussion about children's theatre being dumbed down in the United States. It's actually pretty gross. Nothing should ever be dumbed down. Ever. That's what I really really believe. Dumbing down or "being simple" are simply sneakier forms of lying. Lying is a distraction from Truth. Truth is equal to Love. Love alone is Life.

So, as you can tell, I have some strong opinions about stupid children's theatre. I scribbled this angrily in my notebook:

"Only write for your ideal audience."

I put down my pencil. It's really that simple. If you make children's plays, don't imagine the little squirmers and the little goobers, imagine the mini-Obamas and Mindy Kalings.* HECK, extending the concept, you shouldn't do anything for anyone but your imagined perfect audience!

Sometimes Clara is my imagined perfect audience.

You know a lot of girls be thinkin' my songs are about them.
This is not to get confused, this one's for you.

*Yeah, I went there. I put our president and my fave comedian on the same level.

Monday, October 17, 2011

True Texts From My Dad



ME: Two hours of sleep. Here I go!
DAD: Duct tape to hold the eyelids open is what I recommend.
ME: I might fail grad school, Dad. Major Boop.
DAD: You still get an A-plus as a great daughter!
ME: There's always workin' at Jimmy John's.
DAD: A good place to regroup.
DAD: Just do your best.
DAD: Enjoy your life.
ME: Good advice, Poppa.
DAD: Take out any frustrations on the anti-abortion zealots.

Today I am really grateful for my family--my mom, dad, and sister who support me despite having no expectations for my success. In a good way.

If I Should Die Before I Wake...

...At least I won't have to finish my two remaining papers, my history presentation, and my new play revisions.
So, kind of a win-win.


Remember when this is what Arizona meant to me? Instead of staying up all night working?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Poop, Fart, Getting My MFA

Lowsta and Me post-meeting Wednesday. Photo by Sid.

This week's sketch show included a runner called "Alice S------: Dramatic Writing Masters Student." It was Lowsta's brainchild--a bit on how, as a grad student, I sometimes justify stupid things via critical theory. Complete with an upbeat snappy jingle.

When we opened the sketch last week in the comedy GMail account during our writer's meeting, the subject was "Alice the Dramatic Writing POOPHEAD"--real mature, Lowsta. I laughed though.

Then, that night, we were doing edits, so I downloaded the document to my computer only to see that it was saved as "Alice Stanfart." So, this is graduate school.

The sketch ended with me and Lowsta screaming and crying about how useless English degrees are while shoving donuts into our mouths as the peppy jingle played over us. The wreckage.

Four years of college and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useless degree.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Big Girls Don't Cry

When I felt the tears welling up, I was surprised and then really proud of myself because it dawned on me that I haven't cried since moving here. I have never shed a tear in Arizona. I mean, that's pretty cool, right? Like, I left everything, have been alone, have had bad days, have had mondo amounts of work, have gotten sick...and, yet, I've still never cried.

Previous things that have made me cry:

-Not being able to find the pizza restaurant I wanted to eat at (2009).
-The movie Harriet the Spy (2005).
-Koon calling the Spiderman movies "gay" while we were in Tokyo (2008). non-tears are actually pretty remarkable.

But, yesterday, I was right on the edge. As I was beelining to my improv show, I was halted by HUGE twenty-foot posters of bloody fetuses with captions like, "Real feminists don't support abortion." I was disgusted and immediately so so angry. I marched right up to one of the men handing out flyers and said, "Excuse me. I find this extremely offensive." He assured me it was necessary, and we argued, my temperature boiling, before it came to this--

Me: The world is over-populated.
Him: You need to check your facts.

Then, another student came up to us and interjected, "Excuse me. Are you a vegetarian?" The man paused. "No," he said. And that's when I felt* my throat begin to close, my eyes begin to redden, and I looked down at my watch and realized showtime was in ten minutes, and I really didn't have time to fall apart in the middle of the student union commons. So, I left. And fifteen minutes later I was playing "Say What." And twelve hours later I was eating ice cream out of the carton during Girl's Night with Bug and Kale. And 24 hours later I'm writing this to you after a morning of running and writing and writing in my gratitude journal.

75 days in Arizona and still dry.

*I can't quite tell you what moved me to near-tears. Ignorance? Death and people's concepts of it? The meat industry--still plugging away under everyone's moral radar? Or, I could be starting my period soon. Dunno!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Makes Me Think I Know?

Me and Kath. One year ago.

Sometimes when I'm getting antsy or worrisome about things not going the way I think they should go--from arriving to work on time to affording another year of grad school--I have learned to stop and ask, "What makes me think I know?" Because we get antsy and worried based on the foundation that we absolutely are certain how things are "supposed" to be. When, uh, not to be a jerk, we really don't.

Everybody is a part of everything anyway.
You can be happy if you let yourself be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bullet Wounds

Recently I'm really excited about making a spoof of Momento with Abraham Lincoln as the main character. If you think about it--he never did find out who killed him. Can't you just picture him shirtless, wearing his top hat, staring into the mirror at the huge "JWB" tatted on his chest?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rituals: If I Must

No, I suppose I don't have much ritual to my name. What is constant when your family splits and reshuffles when you're fourteen? What can become ritual across state lines? When my fifteenth birthday was a surprise party, sixteenth alone in my father's apartment, seventeenth listening to Jonathan Larson when Clara and her brother crossed the moat to show up with a cactus.

My anti-roots please me. Truthfully. I can be a dandelion spore. Look!

I wrote a list of personal rituals today in Theatre History. We discussed the performance ritual of the Hopi people. My list was tiny and barely existed beyond 2004. It said, "Oldies, Groundhog Day, Tremblay's Candy Shop, Malcolm in the Middle, my grandmother's house near Gurnee, celery stuffed with sharp cheddar."

If I must bring children into this world, I will run with them each fall. I will eat with them each morning. I will enforce a strict policy about attending theatre each spring, Christmas pastries each December, and reflective birthdays. Stargirl is required reading. Diana Ross is figurative king. Quiet. Listen. That train is saying "Hello! Hello town!" If I must.

And, if I don't have to, I will be my own children. And I will fill myself with Hopi hopey.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Chomp chomp chomp!

Last Saturday I went to the performances of a 24 Hour Play Festival and then to see some of my improv team dudes' longform group do a set at a tiny artsy venue. I really liked having a night of watching people perform. I've been onstage so much lately, I forgot how nice it is to be an audience member.

Chelle told me I was going to be surprised post-show. As promised, I got into her car, closed my eyes, and started singing "Super Bass." When she told me I could open my eyes, there was a warm box of thirteen donuts on my lap. LOCAL LATE NIGHT DONUT SHOP! We were headed to a party after, and I biked, so my only option was to eat all the donuts before going home. Can't bike with a box of donuts, you know?

To make a long story short, I managed to give 4.5 away, but the party ended for me sitting in the driveway with Chelle and a couple other girls, as I nommed through 8.5 fresh donuts. People would come and go--sometimes they took a donut, sometimes they didn't. One guy, who had done improv that night, passed, and I said, "Great show tonight." He was hopping into a car. "Thanks!" he yelled back.

This guy was at my improv show Friday night. Afterwards he was hanging around with my cast. I said, "Oh, we haven't officially met." He said, "Yeah...I saw you at the party, but I was leaving, and you were, like, having a girl pow wow..."

"Oh, I was eating a box of donuts."

"Haha! Yeah, something like that!"

"...No. That's what I was doing."


The moral of the story is that I love Chelle. She's undergoing surgery right now, so, this one's for her. <3

I said, Excuse me, you're a hell of a guy.
I mean, my, my, my, you're like pelican fly.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oreo Pie Monster

Pookie. Baker's Square. June 2011.

Same old graduate school song: I am sinking in quicksand. Sinking, sinking, SINKING!

Papers to grade.
Emails to answer.
Sketches to write.
Research to do.
Presentations to give.
Plays to revise.
Plane tickets to buy.
Living space to clean.
Restaurants to try.
Haunted houses to scream in.
Rehearsal to attend.
The Grand Canyon to visit.
Phone calls to make.
Letters to mail.

Plus, I had this goal of ordering a piece of every pie from Baker's Square. In this mess of muddled brain-muck, I freeze with anxiety over the readings due in two days and the pies I want to eat and what to wear to KWall's wedding all at the same time.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 31st, 2002 (Are We Havin' Fun Yet?)

It's fall. No, the colors aren't here in the desert, but the feel is. Genuinely. It's cool at night. I bike, and the wind carries me the faintest traces of burning, of cinnamon. I'm wearing flannel right now. I fell asleep in a puddle of candy corn last night.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Halloweens. As a freshman in high school, October was a transition. I was getting close with friends from theatre and speech, but my middle school clique still caroused in the hallway during Honors Block breaks. For the holiday, a group of us--all factioned off into cultures of the musical, marching band, track, and underage drinking--came together to visit one of the best haunted houses in Chicago.

After our various practices/rehearsals, we piled into the grey Lumina, and my dad drove us downtown to an abandoned prison turned spooky. We all read our biology textbooks feverishly and wiggled in our seats singing Nickelback. (It was a different time.) We screamed our lungs out in the house and fell asleep on the ride home.

Middle school friends: Peppermint, Fran, SMG, Me. I know that at least Peppermint was part of October 31st, 2002.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cite Your Sources

It's amazing what we'll defend as true purely because it's what we've always known. Case in point: This morning over breakfast sammiches, after we ran a fiver together, Sid mentioned how cats jump. I said, "They're the most flexible animal." He said, "Really?" and looked a bit quizzical.

"Yeah, they are..." and then I trailed off because I realized I leaned that from an Animorphs book. So, maybe I shouldn't rattle off that "fact" with such dignity in the future.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Or Life Is Yours To Miss

There's only now. There's only this.

Yesterday I asked Chelle what she thought the purpose of life was. She said she thought it was to have no regrets. I think that's a pretty darn good answer. It covers all the bases really: treating yourself right, living life to the fullest, being respectful, etc.

I don't consider myself regretful. In fact, someone just asked me what my biggest regret was last week, and I came up dry. But, I suppose I do have mini-regrets (if you will). Teeny little guys, so today was "no regret day." It was pretty easy. I worked hard, I ate well, I was frugal, I was friendly.

And then I got hit with a doozy. I was in Dramaturgy. We had just watched Mouchkine's 1789. And then we had an hour and a half long discussion of theatrical heirarchy, which made me both giddy and disgusted. I literally sat up at one point and asked myself, "How did I get to the place where I consider this the best way to live?"

Literally everything in my whole day revolved around that class, that discussion--that discussion that mattered very much...on an itsy-bitsy level. I went to work at 8:30 to afford the Jamba Juice I would buy at 4:30 to power myself through the heavy class. I TA'd for a class at noon to earn my scholarship to afford the dramaturgy class. I spent the afternoon reading for class...Just about the only thing I did for myself was go to the gym...which I kind of did to align myself with peace before powering through the day.

My whole world is focused on this artistic theory...and part of me sometimes really does just want to scream, "WHY ARE WE ALL TALKING ABOUT THIS? WHO REALLY CARES!? WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE RELATIVELY SOON!" So...that.

But, honestly, no regrets about that. Because whether you're in a playwriting seminar or a practicing dentist, you ARE going to die. know. Who can say if it's not a waste of time/energy to do anything? Who can say it's right to do anything?

I've been mentioning here how I've been killing myself with work, comedy, and being social? Well. I declared an "I'm being cheap, eating healthy, getting sleep, and not being social" week. It's going pretty well. Especially today--the day of no regrets. And then my front door rang a ton of times and we found this on the front porch:

Yup. A pumpkin full of candy with a note reading, "Dear Alice, Be social."

ME: You know what?
ME: I think Russel Stover has a bad rap.
ME: It's not horrible.
POOKIE: hahahahahaha
POOKIE: it is
POOKIE: plastic chocolate
ME: Then why am I enjoying it so much?
POOKIE: there is no polite answer to that question regret after all. Maybe eating my weight in jack-o-lantern chocolate right before bed wasn't the best.

Forget regret. Or life is yours to miss.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Theatre History Notes From Today

My professor:

"We want to be reaffirmed in theatre."
"There is something called genius that DOES exist."
"Art starts from chaos."
"Your voice internally is speaking in tongues. Even your own writing is a translation."
"To leave out the contradictions is bad theatre."

Classmate Wagon:

"For all change to occur, you need an impetus."

It should be noted that my prof is from Germany. She has a thick accent and frequently discussed her friendships with people like Tony Kushner and August Wilson. She was quoted in our theatre history textbook. She's so brilliant, I often forget she's speaking a secondary language in a secondary home. But then:

PROF: all [Americans] become the...tossed salad...or...
CLASSMATE: ...Melting pot?
PROF: Whatever you are now.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breakfast Advice

Friday morning Chelle and Bug came over for breakfast pre-sketch show. Emergency gal chat over some wicked tasty sammiches.

Look at all the color! They were supes tasty. Marble rye bread, avo, tomato, egg, goat cheese.

Can't go into too much detail here, but, basically, Bug might really want something, but she might not be able to have it, so she feels backed into the corner of apathy. I strongly advised against that attitude. She shrugged. I started putting our dishes in the machine, and advice tumbled out of my mouth that my brain didn't even put there. I said, "What you have to remember is that you're a person who is going to die, so you need to be going after the things you want."

And, immediately, I wanted to follow my own advice. Not to toot my own horn, but TOOT! WE ALL NEED TO BE FOLLOWING MY ADVICE THAT I DIDN'T EVEN THINK UP.

Bug chompin'.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Eating And Watching TV

What I'm about to say is not a joke: I think I am the happiest ever when I am eating and watching TV.

There are caveats obviously--the food and television need to be good. The Office plus a sundae. Boy Meets World plus Greek yogurt. Breakfast burrito plus 30 Rock.

Obviously, my life amounts to much more than watching TV and eating. In fact, I probably watch an average of 2.5 hours of TV per week since starting grad school. But, legit, if it were possible to scientifically gauge my happiness, I'm pretty positive the studies would show that I would be happier with an episode of Mad Men and a slice of cheesecake than I would be if I were sitting in the audience of one of my play's opening nights on Broadway.

Clara is a really really talented artist and individual. But somehow, she seems to be fine letting that sit inside her, peeking out when it feels fun. And, obviously, as I've written before, I feel like a tiny perpetual guilt machine about art. Part of me does believe Clara is honestly one of the best writers of all time--all the greats included--and she needs to share that. It's her "duty." But most of me sees her happy and thinks that's actually way better than any "duty" she is called to.

These two revelations--what makes me happy and that Clara is happy--make me wonder...Can I give this art stuff a rest already? I mean, I still like it all, but should I stop trying? I mean, I wouldn't have gotten into school if I hadn't forced myself to write a new play last winter, if I hadn't have forced myself to go beyond my immediate understanding of writing in college and pursue an independent study of dramatic writing, if I hadn't always shown up to rehearsals ready to work...And, ultimately, I'm really really happy to be here.

But would I be happier on a couch hangin' out? At the end of everything, am I "doing good" with art as a means to have enough money to watch The Biggest Loser over pancakes?

The first thing I did when I moved into my new room. Hung the illustrated lyrics to "Last Straw, AZ" my sister designed for me.


Hot Squirrels

JD post-my stand-up set tonight:

"There's really only one word to describe that set, and that's 'adorable.' That set was like...a mix of the cutest squirrel you've ever seen, and the first teacher you ever thought was hot."

You guys, I'm so tired...I keep staying up way too late and having to still get up at 6. Case in point...tomorrow I have to be at a high school at 7:30 AM to judge a speech and debate tournament...I hate everything! Just kidding. I love everything--it's because I love everything too much that I've been killing myself sleepwise. So...I kinda do hate everything...