Monday, December 29, 2014

"Mental Health Issue"

It is totally valid to say the amount of violence in this country is rooted in mental health issues. But that doesn't mean guns aren't ALSO an issue. Surprisingly, large societal problems can have many factors! Who knew! People say the unwell will be violent if their mind is set. Sure, but I'd still much rather meet a crazy person on the street with a knife rather than a crazy person with a gun. Also, don't tell me people will have guns illegally no matter what. That's true, but the amount of guns all over the dang place WILL decrease with stricter policies, more background checks. They just will. Decreasing is important. Decreasing matters to the person who wasn't shot.

So, anyway. I have a lot to say about this topic, but my particular soapbox for this evening is no one is doing anything about the mental health issues. The only time I even hear about the mental health problem is when someone is like "Hey, consider supporting more gun control in this election." "Will you sign this petition?" And then people opposed to gun control are like, "Yeah, no because it's a mental health issue" and then they usually proceed to do nothing to contribute to better mental health. If you don't want to help end violence by writing your congressperson, signing the documents, etc. then fine. But, come on, do SOMETHING.

You walk by someone being strangled. The victim screams, "Help me! This person is trying to stab me with a broken bottle!" You don't say, "No, I'm pretty sure you're being strangled." You don't get into a debate about it. You don't make a Facebook status about if broken bottles or strangling is worse. You solve the problem anyway you can.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

PB&J Pop-tarts!

I actually gasped when I saw these sweet babies on the shelf at Jewel! Heard a rumor about PB&J tarts months ago, but saw nada. Until tonight!

Deets: Love the design. Big fan of the continued golden wrappers for pb flavored tarts. It makes me feel like I'm going to Wonka's factory every time I open a box. (In reality the gold is probably a happy warning for allergics. HALT. NON-PEANUT EATERS STICK TO SILVER FOIL.) Tiny strawberry sprinkles--cash money. A basically satisfying and tasty snack as, let's be real, all Pop-Tarts are. However, mainly, these taste just like little pb&j sandwiches. Perhaps a wee bit crunchier. So, not sure if they're my jam. (Har har--jam!) They're in a weird middle ground of not being hearty enough for a sandwich substitute, but they're too lunchy for breakfast. I'm sure I ate my week's sugar serving, but that's beside the point. There was something too...noontime about these. Two flavors. Plain. Obvs, I'm not going to stick up my nose at at Pop-Tart. Lord, no. Ultimately, still a delightful box of sugar, ya know? I see advantages. I see disadvantages. Overall, I see a B+.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lesson of Monopoly, Age 12

My sister was babysitting my best friend Fran and me. We decided to play Monopoly. After about an hour, I was just mopping the floor with Fran. I had so many monopolies, and hotels on hotels. Fran landed on one of my big money traps, and she just couldn't pay. Game over. But we didn't want it to be, so I, counting my fat stacks of yellow cash told her, "It's a gift." I didn't make her pay anything, and we played on. And the tide started turning for Fran. She got her own little block of homes, and eventually I even landed on them. The penalty was kinda a lot. Her investment had paid off. She, unlike me, didn't offer to let me go free. I got really defensive and a little snippy. My fee for her had been higher! And I had had such goodwill earlier! Hello!?

My sister, who was sort of lazily flopped on Fran's bed half-reading a YA novel asked me what I really expected out of the game. She pointedly asked, "Do you just expect a guaranteed win because you helped Fran out?" It sounded crazy, but I realized, yes, that was exactly what I had decided. Whoops. My sister went on to explain, "If she never makes you pay, you're just going to have to bail her out again." True. True. How come I hadn't thought of that? If you're going to be giving, you've got to be game. You've got to know good luck may come back to those you helped, but that means very little. No one owes you anything--especially if you were in a position where offering was a little thing, and for the act to be returned it would be a big thing. Even steven mindset will set you up for major disappointment in life, and it will be your own fault. Don't given what you can't afford to flat out loose. Don't harbor secret expectations of people. Just throw the excess you have to the wind, and forget, forget.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fall Semester 2014 in 26 Snapshots

Graduated in May, but the semester life is far from over. This was probably the hardest semester of my life. Long train trips to the south side to bring a playwriting program to an underserved school, the neverending stream of late work from community college students, the lower paychecks, the higher rent, the days of inherent 4 mile walks, the beginning of the blistering cold nights. But I MADE IT. And, even, I am emerging from the swamp I felt I was drowning in back in August somewhat...victorious. Good student evals, a promotion, two new works on stage, opportunities to perform. There's gold in these hills, folks, and I am leaving the apartment everyday with my pickax and my bus pass, grammar books, and my hot pink mace.
HS boy with a high top explains how it hurts to hear men are jerks.
Screaming about soup with a vocal fry in the cabaret space.
Eating two baked potatoes across from my mom, janky steak house.
A billion cheese cubes in the VFW hall.
Droopy eyes at Bisque, Spiff dances wildly, Ogie the monster.
Bisque in the snow holding cocoa under the A. McMahon moniker.
"It could be so much better." I feel a mirror behind me.
Fall trot with Pookie to the shopletts on Broadway.
Sittin' at the southern kitchen table talkin' educational loans.
My dad takes photos of me getting the high score on Pac-Man.
The barefoot audition.
The Daily Burn, parfait, Friday Night Lights tradition.
Sneezing my face off in class. Gel making me use it.
Sitch and I are the annoying people on that Wednesday night bus.
Oopa! All the saganaki with aunt 'n' uncle.
Crying at what was to come in the New Mexico desert.
Kicking my feet in bed after opening the congrats email.
Using poofs as chairs for living room improv sets with Meat Gang.
Eatin' a ghost cookie on the hottest October (makeshift birthday) day.
The wannabe gym coach putting up his hood to read a poem in 100.
The quiet gamer pretending to flip a table in the 101 debates.
Ripping on the sweetie pies of Tuesday/Thursday.
The pros and cons of living in Saudi Arabia with my tutee at the library.
Wooden post painting where we are members.
The longest and most literal Labor Day ever.
The lightening machine at Science and Industry.

This list was so much harder to make than usual. I barely scratched the surface of things that are monumental because things are packed! Packed, I say.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Saint Over-Save

A childhood friend's mom put together a huge Easter extravaganza for all us kids. We had a fashion show of Sunday best and bonnets followed by an egg hunt where we tore through the yard like Whoopi Goldberg in the Lion Kind (read: hyenas). There was a lot of tiny plastic booty, but there was also one very special prize: a giant white chocolate rabbit. And who do you think found it? That's right, the little kid who dug through a bush in  her grandmother's old mink shawl (read: me). I was supremely proud of my win. The rabbit sat on the kitchen table for a while, but when I was prompted to eat it, I couldn't. I wanted to save it for a really special occasion. I mean, really really special. The thing was eventually moved to above the china cabinet. Then it was eventually over a year old and thrown in the trash.

This was a common habit of mine as a child. I saved. I saved money in Altoid tins and Dean's milk bottles. I saved all my best Halloween loot "in case." I owned three blank books and never wrote in them because what if I got a really good idea, better than my usual? This might be considered over-saving.

Two days ago I smelled something familiar on State street. I couldn't place it for a while, but the scent stuck with me. It was this specific Bath and Body shade! A shade I knew well because for Christmas one year my mom got me dissolvable bath bubbles with the same smell. I really looked forward to using the gel bubbles. "One day I will take the sweetest stinking bath ever," I plotted. I would open the boxed container and sniff the soapy orbs. I would do this quite often actually. I never took the bath.

But. I felt so peaceful and wistful on the street niffing that memory. I knew it so well because my hopes were so high. I've heard the happiest you are is actually right before a vacation--not during. I don't think the over-save is always a crime.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Cereals!

After Thanksgiving I was completely spent. I told Bisque, "I am having cereal for dinner tonight." He dare not stop me. At the Jewel I found not one but two cereals contending for my taste buds, so, what the hay, I got them both.
They were gone in 48 hours. I ate cereal for two days straight and I do not regret it even a little bit.

Sugar Cookie Pebbles - A+
Presentation - Delightful! Like a bunch of happy holiday twinkle lights. Bonus sparkle from the truckload of sugar involved.
Taste - Like the actually promised sugar cookie! Seriously! A heaping spoonful tasted like a dozen tiny sugar cookies. What is not to love?
Substance - Airy. Hard to make a complete meal (but not impossible, as evidenced by the fact that I did it). Did I check the nutritional chart? Oh absolutely not.

Christmas Crunch - A
The exact same as regular Crunch Berries...except said berries are red and green. Is this a problem? As someone who would be cool eating C. Crunch as a final meal on death row, I say no. A change in presentation alone ain't bad. How can you really improve perfection, ya know?

"At this point, you're major Crunch." - Bisque

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hoku 4 Days

Writing with some humility this evening. On Friday I had a little bit of a grumble fest. I had just been featured in a real fest--a good, cool sketch one--and it was just really hard to see my work for some reason. It was so imperfect. It always is.

Hunny and her new husband plus Blake and Da had come out to see this silly thing I wrote. We went to the bar across the street. I put on a happy face (half-earned because I like those people a lot) and shouted over the music, but concern stewed in me. After moping home I let it go because otherwise the ghost of failure yet to come would eat me whole.

There are good times and okay times and times of survival lately. Yesterday I was sitting in the library. I love libraries. Especially tiny ones like the one across from my apartment. I eavesdropped on the kid's corner and sat in an oak chair. I looked objectively at my weekend and wanted to slap myself across the face. I am living a very very good life, and I have got to stop grumping when one percent of it is imperfect. I mean, let me talk about my weekend. Seriously.

Friday I was featured in a sketch festival. Supportive, cool people came. We hung out. Bisque bought me a cranberry juice. Once home I popped some popcorn and chomped on a big block of Christmas gift milk chocolate from one of the beuff's work clients.

Saturday morning we did two intense workouts, ate greek yogurt parfaits, relaxed, planned some playwriting classes, read. I went to the library. I sat on the floor. I was in no hurry. Dunt is in town with her mom. She took us out to a super delicious Mexican dinner I ordered the nachos. We got home early since they were en route to a show. Bisque and I watched The Babadook. It was totally entertaining. Afterward I walked in the not-even-that-cold December night to Walgreens for ice cream and flamin hot Cheetos, which I ate before curling up with my laptop and MTV's True Life.

I woke up to happy friend texts. I ran five miles. I had a musical improv rehearsal. The grocery shopping was full of goofs and snickerdoodle Chex Mix. Dusty took me up on my offer to join us at a super discounted magic show. We sat in the Palmer House Hotel parlor and had our minds blown. I mean, I saw a man knife himself out of a balloon and pick the audience member's card tonight! Meanwhile I have the best boyfriend ever, immediate text contact with my whole family, can do laundry in my apartment, and Poptarts exist. THINGS ARE PRETTY GOOD.

Getting rambley now, but I'm so beyond guilty of seeing my life as a bunch of progress always always yet to be made. Enjoy the trash TV, the junk food, the fact that you don't have to do anything at all and still to live is beyond explanation in that very good way.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Strange, I do
feel there is such a thing
as fate. I know there are so many loose leaf
pages, threads, turn rights versus turn lefts--
that person you met at that office building when you were only half-sure you would show up because of that one thing you googled which caused you to email that guy who invited you there
is singing an NSYNC song with you at karaoke and you're like
out of all possible universal outcomes I am in this one?

Amy Poehler says in her book
(I read it at the library. I was waiting for a parent of a child
I might tutor.) she always knew she would be on SNL.
She had toured the studio at a young age and knew.
There are a lot of ways to explain this.
Motivation is one. The fact that many people have had the same knowing
and not the same outcome
is another.
Or maybe
the fate thing.

And sometimes you know things.
And it is useless to argue them.
Like, maybe you get these flashes of someplace warm
and it feels homey
and you end up moving there.
Or maybe you just know that person will cancel.
Will I tutor this child?
Those inexplicable interviews bombed,
jobs granted. Because you knew. Or, you thought not, but
some little grainy piece of mind knew?

Ask you, "Could I be in any other city today? Could I have any other job?"
Whether I like it or not, my answers are always no.
And that makes me feel something,
like I'm in a big hammock.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stop Talking about How Cold It Is/Will Be


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Two Piles People

Monday and Tuesday my school held department-wide exit exams. All my classes had v serious essays scheduled. I set up a pile of prompt papers on the podium and finished exams on the chair adjacent. I didn't make an announcement about the two piles as to not disturb the silence. I did write "PROMPTS" and "EXAMS" with coordinating arrows on the whiteboard. There are two types of students.

There is the type of student who sees the piles and quietly places the appropriate papers the appropriate places. But the majority of students (like by a lot) shuffled toward me eyes glazed holding out papers like they were babies and I was a doorstep. I would often (trying to keep quiet) point to the piles, and even then many people would look, turn back, "Should I...? Where should I...?" It's pretty obvious. Being empathetic, I could consider the fact that this is an important exam, and everyone wants to be double sure. But being realistic, you can figure it out. You can do it. Do it.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Tuesday my aunt took me on a special weekday treat! We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art to explore the David Bowie exhibit. What a morning. We wore headphones that pumped interviews and music through us for the whole two hours we enjoyed the costumes, artifacts, and music videos. No photos were allowed, but I jotted some ideas in my iPhone notes:
"Everything went into my mind as being an influence."-D.B.
Constant theme of Bowie's work is that he was forever devouring art, culture, trash, whatever and grinding it all up into what he made. Truly we all do this--we just don't always know where our influences are. Bowie on the other hand recognized the strings in his brain, and perhaps that made those strings sing.

A major influence of his early in his career was "The Happy Prince," a story I had forgotten about. I used to read it often from an Oscar Wilde treasury from my grandfather.

"The medium is the message."-Marshall McLuhan

"That's the point of contemporary pop music. It spits of the past."-D.B.

Inauthenticity made up the 70s. And here we are in the 20dimes, living in irony.

DB was maestro of his work. He worked with designers, sure, but there were sketches upon sketches for every level of his showmanship. Pages of his boyish handwriting scratching lyrics, little notes for music, clothing concepts, storyboards...He said it was better he do it all himself. I'm honestly glad there's a lot of stuff I don't trust myself to do. I trust others' opinions much more. What a terror that would be--to know you could do everything better. What a terror, and, yet, how important it must have been for DB.

A wall exclaimed, "You are an engineer."
Advice from the man himself: "Define an area as safe and use it as an anchor."
Finally: "No authors give voice, but instead a rich body of work for us to admire, ponder, and make our own."

But the film is a saddening bore
Cause I wrote in ten times or more.
It's about the be writ again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wedding Ruminations/ Continuation of Friendship

My brain was very busy while I watched Spiff and his lady tie the knot this weekend. The talk of forever and faithful and love is sometimes just a lot, and emotions can creep up the ol' windpipe. But sometimes you're just kind of biding your time until you can get a big glass of pineapple juice.

Seeing two people in this vulnerable romance cloud made me love them. I know that's not the point of weddings, but it is what happened. And then there was a moment of grief. Like, there they go, off into the sunset, leaving all of us here who have loved them with the scorpions I guess.

Then I had coffee with Cobra who takes everything too far with "love." She can't seem to talk to a male without wondering if they will somehow become lovers. If he lusts after her. She has fantasies and stays too long in the professors office or questions her motives around coupled friends. It's exciting, but it's also highly distracting. She told me about how last year a friend's boyfriend started making moves in a hot tub. She said, "Well, what would you have done?!" I said, "My goodness, I would have said, 'Oops, you accidentally grazed my knee.'" It would not occur to me that someone was trying to cheat.

"What I could do if I were you!" she exclaimed, curly hair like a lioness mane. Leaned back, gulping for air. "I could have written so many novels in the time I've been wasting thinking about men." All of my relationships are professional. I always get to the point. I like males classmates and Bisque's friends and students and the guy ringing me up at Jewel because I don't have an interest in any of them. Really the only danger is what it can look like. Maybe it's leftover from my dinko college days when sitting alone at a booth with a new pal looked fishy and word spread like jelly.

In that sense, I have a newfound adoration for the institution of marriage. You are safe in there. You the married person and you the person who wants to love everyone. You are an innocent soul with a big heart and desire for friendship. That's all it has to be because the rings proves it to be true.

People don't die at the alter. They're under new conditions. Less vague, cut and pasted with someone, out of business in one sense and opening in another.

After I gave my speech at the college graduation a girl who had always been just on the outskirts of my friends and activities found me in the crowd. "I really liked what you said," she told me, "and I look forward to becoming friends one day." But this is over, I thought! You dodo, that was a graduation speech. Curtains! Moreover, that girl lives in Germany! Like, in what parallel land was there any chance or time for us? Still, nice thought.

That winter she went to a theatre festival with me. We were both going through strange break-ups and bonded instantly. We sang, advised, analyzed with each other for five days. She had said it could happen, and it was so.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Too Big, Too Fast

"It's okay. You were too big for it here." He told me. We touched down, and the tears started squirting. My place of dirt and stone, of mountains and prickly pear. I outgrew my own loved life like that pair of Old Navy tennies from high school, pea green and full of holes. My Japanese father picked them up and said "Gomi bako," which means trash can.

Bisque's mom made the stuffing veg. It was filled with pumpkin seeds, and I slathered on cranberry sauce. At the neighborhood holiday party Hill greeted me with a hug and news of s'mores. I didn't eat dessert for 30 days of November (!), and this weekend broke the fast in the way I imagine buildings explode--quietly and then with amazing destructive force.

On Friday Shells picked me up like a Jewish mother frequently interrupting to offer me snacks. I ate six donuts. The literal best I've ever eaten.Cherry chocolate, honey glaze. I ate them while we talked about our movie. I drank the peppermint mocha poolside. Meep dipping her legs in. The gang all together, I ate more with forks and knives, and we laughed like banshees at Cager's honesty and Kale's memory of that time four guys were trying to date her and she was taking up crocheting.

I was so tired at the wedding I drank ridiculous amounts of coffee. It was so sweet though--extra cold as I sat next to Ro in her sunglasses, like always. I can't believe it's been four months. It is so like always. Still managed to dance and dance. Sunset in Scottsdale, people and vows in a sun too bright I had to close my eyes. At the after-brunch there was light conversation and everything ending too soon. It was catch up the whole while. Wake up early to get five miles in. It's too gorgeous not to. Thighs dry and lumped as a result. Talking in advice like tickertape to Cobra, over biscuits with Lavender. So much has happened and I covered it all 80 times over. This is what I do, yes, it is cool, yes, I'm doing well, no, not THAT well, but yes, maybe one day.

And when all was said and done, after The Hunger Games tradition and new plastic cups and the 3:30 AM cab ride we were back here and shocked. I stood in the whipped cold and whined, mainly as a result of 180 minutes of sleep, but I did. The couch was too good. I made a promise to get through the day at school, buy cereal, and eat it until I fell asleep too early, which I absolutely did right after we watched the first episode of The OC.