Thursday, December 31, 2015

Twenty Nickel Dime

When I reflect back on my year, I don't feel very nostalgic. I don't feel much wiser. I feel more successful. I haven't reached the height of success (obviously), and I don't even necessarily feel I have accomplished more than I I usually do, but I have been recognized. The image that comes to mind is a bullfrog in a swamp with only her eyes peeking out. Slowly, by wiggling in the muck, more and more of the creature becomes exposed. That's 2015 to me.

I didn't make many friends this year (I think literally two), I didn't have any life-changing emotional realizations. I read a lot of books, mostly for pleasure. It's probably the year I have grown academically the least. I didn't become a good teacher, but I honed my good teaching. I flirted with a new career. It wasn't for me. Valuable information, for sure. I didn't fall in love, but I grew in love.

I achieved 2.80 of my 4.00 resolutions (visit my aunt, get a regular show at SC, get a piece produced, do the splits every day). I am not more limber. It is difficult to make resolutions for next year because what I "want" is an ameba. What's possible is a few amebas. The basics are covered. I work out 6 days a week, I stock the fridge with good food, I take in all the culture I can get my paws on, I journal, I keep up with old pals, I don't go in the red. Keep doing what you're doing--that's 2015 to me too. The amphibian and Keep Doin What You're Doin.

The best part of my year was June. I only taught one class and worked part time. Everything is amazingly easy after winter. You can shove on shoes and walk to the grocery store. You go running. The tourists are out, but the sidewalk isn't snowy, so you're happy they're there. I made time for People. Bisque and I splashed around that rooftop pool. I was in a good show. There are no deadlines in summer--just little trips here and there.

The worst part of my year was February. I was sick, sick, sick. Too tired to lift a three pound weight, too tired to buy groceries, I ate candy for lunch every day and Cheetos for dinner. I cried because I hate People, and I wondered if my eyes would ever make it out of the swamp.

Me in Maine! Summer! Cranberry Island in the distance.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Proud of that Joke

We all know the feeling. The shot of pride that comes right at the tail end of a joke telling. The tip off at the top of the coaster. Whoosh, they're off--chuckling, smiling, it doesn't matter. Everything is orange.

But did you create that joke? Did you? Or did you hear it from your dad or someone else's dad or The Internet? You there who swallowed a puffin are you actually feeling accomplished? You're an envelope--dry mouthed and all.

Now if you did create it--I'm not sure what do say. Sure, how many elements of the world meshed together to compare two disparate ideas into one humorous conclusion? And how many could you control? Sure. But conduits are important. Conduits aren't born. And still, what if you see someone in that tangerine glow basking in your own joke, what to do, what to do?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top 15 TV Faves in '15

15. The Bachelor
14. Last Man on Earth
13. MTV's Catfish
12. House of Cards
11. Better Caul Saul
10. Unreal
9. Scream
8. Louie
7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
6. Mad Men
5. Girls
4. Master of None
3. The Jinx
2. Inside Amy Schumer
1. Broad City

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Oh "Merry Christmas"

I really don't mind "Merry Christmas." I know I celebrate Christmas, so, obviously I have a comfortability bias. But, I guess I think Christmas is a national holiday. Our nation, for better or for worse, was founded in Christianity. It's American culture to say "Merry Christmas" around December 25th.

"Merry Christmas" is not (and should not be) mandated American culture by any means. People who are offended by "Happy Holidays" can choke on a candy cane. Who honestly cares? Your holiday/beliefs/religion are not tainted when someone different than you does not choose to reflect a casual intended-to-be-cheerful sentiment. But, why not say "Merry Christmas" if that's what I choose to celebrate? "Celebrate" is even a loose term. I watched Scrooged and had an apple pie, ya know? I have no plans to view a baby Jesus tomorrow.

I would not be offended if someone chose to wish me a holiday greeting of their choice (any time of year, not just in winter). I'd be totally a million percent happy to hear "Happy Purim!" from Jewish friends (or strangers). One of my students last term asked for Eid off this fall, and I enjoyed learning about it. For sure, she could write the in-class essay remotely.

But, I suppose I know that being a non-white non-Christian person in America is inherently difficult at times. Perhaps casual reminders that the majority of your culture believes something you don't is suffocating. I check my privilege here. I get it. I think I'm dreaming of the world I wish we lived in--where people would all openly say what they believe and how they choose to do so and we're all in awe of each other and how unique we all are...not the world we live in where people don't want to wish anyone a pleasant Ramadan because someone may want to kill them in response.

Monday, December 14, 2015

How Much

How much honesty is too much honesty? My answer: none. I'm trying to understand why that's not everyone's answer. It's difficult for me.
Castmates on a 2 AM train.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


The hardest part of this whole artist lifestyle I'm trying to live is not the pay, is not the rejection, is not the constant creativity. For me, the hardest part is the scheduling. It's not just about finding opportunities, it's knowing that once you accept them, you've shut out three other things. It's realizing you can't take any random weekend trip you want. It's RSVPing "no" to weddings and seeming flakey when someone asks you a simple question like "Can we get dinner?" It's having your planner open for literal hours penciling in which dates the show should be vs. when rehearsals for that other thing will be vs. when should you reschedule that one appointment to keep yourself open for that potential audition...and all of that is minimum two months away in the first place. AND every person who is working with you on everything and every person who is your friend are all doing the exact same hair-pulling planner-scribbling stuff.

And yet, this is the dream. Maybe its the part of the dream no one told us about and we couldn't possibly have guessed, but this is it. I was stressed about this project I have coming up in February and pitifully slouched on the couch. Bisque said, "I dunno why you're not happier when you just got CONTRACTED TO WRITE YOUR OWN SHOW AT THE S______ C____." And I was like, "OH YEAH THE DREAM I FORGOT FOR A SECOND THAT I AM LIVING IT." Tomorrow I am going to wake up and think, "Ohmygosh. How incredibly wonderful I have so much to do today."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

All In

Go all in or don't go at all.

HOLD UP. I just wrote that, but I don't believe that. I wouldn't do any dang thing if I asked myself "Am I all in right now?" and if the answer was "no" I didn't go. WHAT. Stupid advice, Alice. What about--

"Go all in or keep going until you are"?

Friday I won an award! I submitted to a sketch festival and felt luke warm about what I wrote. I tried a new vibe. (Read: fewer vegetarian rants, more hugs.) Sometimes I was like "Hey, this is pretty good." Other times I was like, "This is schmaltz barf."So during the festival, I didn't go all in. I think I gave a solid B+, but I was so busy questioning the lines, I was never fully invested. Bisque says he didn't notice, but I did. I took away a little piece of something great for myself. And then I won. I mean, huge happy success for sure, but why did I hold an umbrella over it? It was too late to do anything but enjoy the dang show, so why didn't I?

When I worked as a summer camp counselor in Maine before my junior year of college, there was this adorable, spunky, wonderful head counselor named Jooj who loved every minute of her job. She gave this super irresponsible but hugely important advice to me. I give it to the teaching artists I manage now. She said, "Follow the class. If it's hot and no one wants to learn, go have a water ballon fight." I took this to heart, and I really try to remember it in the stressful bursts of life. At a certain point, the bed is made, you know? All in.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


My college English teacher told me women look for patterns and men see a scatter plot. Huge generalization, but I have found it to be mostly true. This summer Clara described the exact same phenomenon. Her new husband will do a teeny thing, and she explodes because it wasn't the teeny thing, it was a million teeny things that all mean X. To him, it was still a teeny thing. I don't think either side is necessarily right.

I see patterns. It's very useful for analyzing film themes. Maybe not as useful for analyzing myself. However, I have found it helpful when analyzing the pickles I get into. If I look at the major difficulties I have had over any one year, it seems like common morals of the story follow me out. Two years ago it was, "Know what you're getting into before you get into it." Every month it felt like I had a problem that could have been avoided if I had been more patient to jump into a situation. It took me numerous experiences, but finally, I think I know. The next year, I think, was "Failure is information." This year, I know what the pattern is but I am putting it into words. I think it might be, "Unapologetically stand up for yourself." And while frustrating to keep getting into the same jams, it's almost as if life gives me the same test until I pass, and I can move ahead. Like a pinball game, the conflict with end only so long as I'm inside the same box. The metal ball always rolls down, ready to be smacked back up.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Time Traveling Moon: Pt Two

"But you CAN get too caught up in Love! You can, and then you've done nothing for anyone! You must do the work!" Stripes was practically screaming int he middle of Maggie Daley Park. That happens sometimes. She gets overwhelmed with ideas and starts whooping without knowing it.
"But," I barely interrupted. "But, on the other hand--"
Stripes' huge eyes spun on me. "BUT, you can become engulfed in the structure, and then you're devoid of anything real! Your heart is gone! Your purpose is squat!"
We hoof on the silver brick road.
"So how do you balance the two?" I ask.
It's warm for November. I didn't even wear a coat. People are playing frisbee in shorts.

Later Bisque shows us photos of the universe. Galaxies, black holes, all of it. My brain starts shutting off because it's all so unbelievable. We talk about the moon. It's so bright, but it's a rock. We say there is moonlight, but there isn't. There is only sunlight, and the moon filters the good stuff to us who need it. The sun is sending light all over the place, but the moon's structure shows us the shine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Time Traveling Moon: Pt One

My freshman year of high school there was a lot of to-do around the phrase "Get it." It's hard to know if that particular slang was a widespread phenomenon or if it was akin to other phrases particular to my southside Chicago experience. IE "Salt yourself" means you were acting stupid. Usually the phrase would be accompanied by a faux-brush of salt off one's shoulders. "Treated" I still say, which means kind of, "OH SHE TOLD YOU!"

Anyway, people on the Speech team were always telling each other to get it. Broke to finals? "Get it, Erin!" Made cookies for everyone? "Get it, Mary!" You get it (ha, no pun intended). One night Henne was driving me home from something and it was one of those special "we're young and happy" nights. Perhaps spring was just springing. The moon was big and glowing out the car window. He said, "Get it, moon."

Last night I was taking the brown line from downtown to Old Town. I love when I get to do that because I cross over the Chicago River and generally enjoy watching the city whir by. Henne happened to be texting me about our writing processes, the future, etc. when I noticed the moon. Giant, vibrant. I thought to myself, as I often do, "Get it, moon." Then I told him about this that I have kept in my brain for a decade. I took a picture of the white orb over the skyline and sent it to him. You know what he said? He said, "Get it, moon." And sometimes time has barely passed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Normal in the City

I'm the type of person who never feels like she is doing enough. I feel positive about my first year in Chicago, but I still have a voice nudging me, "You're behind. Giddy-up." And then Stripes visits and asks what I have been writing, and I say, "Pfft. Not enough." But she presses what I did from August 2014 to August 2015, and I wrote two screenplays, three ten-minutes, a musical, and two-full-length plays. Plus a sketch show at SC. Yeah, when I list it, it sounds like a lot, but since only two of those things have been produced so far, it feels like close to nothing.

Yesterday I had a "regular" day. I was taking the bus home thinking I wish I had accomplished more, that I should really carve out some time on this holiday weekend to work, and I cycled back through my day.

6:30 - rise, drink water, brush teeth, wash face, stretch
7:00 - read the news, some spirituality articles, answer a couple emails
8:00 - set off for aerobic step and muscle sculpt class
10:00 - make yogurt parfaits and watch an episode of Portlandia
10:30 - grade English 101 papers
1:00 - have pb&j lunch
1:20 - off to school, listen to an improv podcast on commute
2:00 - teach English 101 (grammar quiz, essay feedback, facilitating discussions)
3:30 - meet with two students struggling for different reasons during office hours
4:15 - scarf some egg salad while watching clips of Mindy Kaling on talk shows
4:30 - scoot out to meet up with TQ for a skillet cookie
6:00 - a Q & A with Aidy Bryant at SC
7:00 - grab a cab to attend my coworker's interactive theatre piece about mushroom caps
9:15 - take a bus home, thinking about my day
10:00 - recap the day with Bisque, send some night emails
10:45 pass out, have a stress dream about auditions

This is a GOOD day, no matter how normal it feels to me. I have to remember that while I am rolling my eyes at someone yelling about mushrooms stroganoff in a a small theatre space, or while I'm clutching my coat tight around me as I walk into work muttering, "why do I live here," or while I nearly gag on my dinner because more students needed time to debrief than expected, I am living a v. cool existence. It would be the highlight of some people's week to do even one of these things! This is why I live in a snowglobe and slush through muck and feel the stress of possibility.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Backseat - The Gaslight Anthem

And in the wild desert sun
we drove straight on through the night.
We rode the fever out of Austin,
dreamed of California lights.

Come July, we'll ride the ferris wheel--
go 'round and 'round and 'round--
and if you never let me go,
well, I will never let you down.

And you know the summer always brought in
all those wild and reckless breezes,
and in the backseats we just tried to find
some room for our knees.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Best Chicago Theatre I've Seen in 2015

1. Grand Concourse - Steppenwolf
2. Book of Mormon - Bank of America Theatre
3. Rapture, Blister, Burn - The Goodman
4. Improvised Shakespeare - iO
5. Little Foxes - The Goodman
6. Soul Brother Where Art Thou? - The Second City
7. Trust Us (Screw You) - The Neo-Futurists
8. Ride the Cyclone - Chicago Shakes
9. Mr. Burns - Theatre Wit
10. Yellow Dress - Silk Road Rising

Monday, November 9, 2015

Not Helping Feminism?/Submitting to Misogyny

A couple years ago many of my Arizona comedy pals had a mass exodus of our improv group. It was time for me to go too. I knew my final year of grad school should be spent focusing on my thesis, and the group was getting younger anyway. The director put together a final send-off show on a Sunday night. It was pretty packed, and it was a great night for all of us. We bowed, and I felt a bittersweet twinge for these four other guys who were moving on. And then something "organic" happened. The director took the mic and thanked the huge crowd for coming out. But then he went on to say how much the group meant to him. Hm. And then he rambled about the legacy of the group. (At this point the audience started squirming a little. They just watched an hour plus of improv and were kinda ready to scoot.) Then the director starting giving personal shout-outs to guys who had been in the group when he was just starting. Then he gave little speeches about each of the guys leaving on stage. He said something like, "These guys are the funniest people and my best friends, and the ladies are lovely as well." It was pretty embarrassing. I was hurt too--I considered this person my friend. Oh well, it was almost over. NOPE, PSYCH. He handed the mic to someone else onstage. The audience let out a collective discomforted sigh and waited while three other dudes gave basically the same speech calling out the same dudes from previous generations. Not a single guy recognized the female director who had cast most of them initially. Not a single one called out any of the women who had been on teams with them. My female teammate took the mic and gave gratitude this is how she met her boyfriend, an ex-cast member. The whole goo-fest was probably fifteen minutes strong when I got the mic last. I, again, was feeling bad for the audience who was listening to this pretty self-referential sludge, so gave a polite shake of my head and the night was over. I had been thinking about what the group meant to me though. I just chose to appropriately tell the important people I met in-person, not assuming a crowd of strangers wanted to hear about it.

Some of those important people (specifically three other girls I formed an independent group with) were in the audience that night. I hugged them and told them why they meant so much to me. "But you didn't say it onstage!" Kale said. It was such a trap, I realized. I wasn't egotistical enough to sing my own squad's praises, and therefore, they went unsung. I didn't mean to submit to misogyny. I didn't mean to quiet the very few and underrepped female voices in comedy. I acted rationally as a person regardless of gender, but.
Shellz and I writing sketch comedy years ago.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Picking Up A Winterfresh Wrapper

Yesterday a Winterfresh wrapper flew out of a girl's bag about ten paces ahead of me on my walk home from the el. I could see my apartment window. The one I put the little ghost in. I guess I need to take that down now. The wrapper flew out and bounced in the wind a moment. I had about twenty seconds to decide what to do. My first instinct was to pick it up because litter. Then I wondered, "Why should I?" After all, it wasn't my trash. After all, I am a pretty good eco citizen. Then I wondered if anyone was watching me and if possibly I might make some money. (This is a very common irrational thought I have potentially spurred by my dad's staple bedtime stories coming from The Children's Book of Virtues. In those stories, good is always rewarded--even tiny good. In fact, it almost seems as thought the more inconsequential good deed bears the most fruit. Like, there were at least four stories about a little sweetheart helping a mouse in the forest and then the mouse gives the chick, like, a million diamonds. Idk it's more complicated than that, but regardless, there is a small part of my brain reserved for impossible possibilities like leprechauns popping and giving me a pot of gold as soon as my hand touched the discarded plastic.) THEN, I wondered if I would have to split my fortune with litterbug up there. After all, she's a big reason why I got to be so rich. Drat. That's obnoxious.

So I picked up the wrapper. Nothing happened. I stuffed it in my pocket and threw it away in my kitchen. I understand the sudden buck at cleaning up after others. We like to think, "But I clean up after myself!" And, sure, most of the time that is true. I don't think I've ever flat-out littered. But, what do I know?! The girl in front of me didn't know.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Back Pocket

Everyone knows there are things money can't buy,
but there are also things success can't give you.
There's always the back pocket plan.
Friends since 1999.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"I'm Old"

Last night was my second class of a new term at Improv High. A very sweet and funny pixie sat next to me. I started asking her about Phoenix. I remembered she mentioned in our "getting to know you" circle that was her home base. I gathered from our discussion that she went to school out there for some time and then moved a bit and ended up in Chicago. I started finding common ground when suddenly she kind of got awkward and said, "Yeah, well I'm old. I'm pretty old. I'm, uh, 31 now." And she nodded sort of embarrassed. I nodded back without words. There were a lot of things I could say, but I was stalled out. Class began.

We improvised for three hours, and then everyone was kind of hanging around the bar. The pixie's husband was there, so I very weirdly asked to talk to her alone. I said, "So, you're not old." And she at first thought I was kind of pitying her and being like, "Awww, not THAT old! Buck up!" But then I was like, "Okay, I feel self-conscious about being old because so many people in this community are 22, and this community says that's the only age to be, and I feel like it is impossible to move any higher in this community past 29, so when someone says she is 31 and basically old and dead, that scares me. I don't want to think to myself I only have X many years left." I didn't know if she was agreeing with me or not or if I was making sense. My face was flushing but it was too late to turn back. "And guys don't apologize for being 30! They don't say they're old! They become cool veterans. So don't say you're old. Because I think it makes it worse. So don't do that." Now she was stalled. I hope I didn't attack her. I hope I empowered her. It's weird how those two things are so easy to mistake. She said, "Yeah, thanks," and smiled very awkwardly. I went to a show using my student ID and ran into Pinker, who was celebrating his birthday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Meat Causes Cancer, World Hates Vegetarians

The World Health Organization announced Monday that processed meat definitely causes cancer. It has been officially proven by the most credited health source out there. True, the amount which bacon contributes to cancer is less than smoking, but it still DOES. Do you want a little cancer? Heck, people banned red M&Ms because of Red40! It is amazing how people hold on to their meat. Virtually nothing else in the world could be announced it CAUSES CANCER, and people find a way to dismiss it. Quick google search of "meat cancer World Health Organization."

"If meat causes cancer, what can we eat?"
"Eating red and processed meat isn't going to increase your risk of cancer by that much."
"The WHO links processed meat to cancer and vegetarians get smug on Twitter"

What about the "Let's stop eating meat" headlines?! What about those?! Instead, somehow, a blatant fact against meat becomes yet another way to rip on vegetarians, who, to be clear, only do the ABSENCE of a thing. Even Stephen Colbert knocked the vegetarians this week. I am so disappointed. He said "smug vegetarians" is redundant. Come on, dude, you're supposed to be a bastion of wisdom and social change, and instead you're a kicking a group of people who are only trying to make the world a better place.


Friday, October 23, 2015


One thing I promise myself is to do my things. This seems simple--do the things I committed to do, I am supposed to do, I am paid to do. I do the things. Last winter I told myself yes, I hate the cold, but I will never not do my things. And I didn't. Even if I was sick or it was actually negative nine degrees and going to work meant a twenty minutes on a train platform, I did my things. I didn't miss a single day of class during The Program. I cancel social plans only in extremity.

Yesterday Bisque asked me if I was feeling better, and I said I was. Mainly because I did things. I had some meetings which require me to smile a LOT and be very optimistic. I planned a development chat for the sake of my comedy, and even though by 10 PM what I really wanted to do was sit in my underwear and maybe eat raw cake mix, I went for a run to perk up, pulled my hair up, and went out to learn about how I can be a better artist. I ran into some people I met last week and even stayed out to watch an show with them. I graded papers on the ride home and ate some candy corn in bed until I fell asleep.

In a way, I feel like a fraud. Like I pretended myself into being happier. The fake it 'til you make it. Bisque reminded me that the happy parts of myself are not a lie--they are true too--they were just covered up by some darker, bitter shades (also true) for a while. Again, I circle back to my favorite KVJ quote:

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Deprezzed Pep Talk Texts from Bisque

ME: I hate my life. I am sitting on the ground in Englewood.
BISQUE: Peak act of depression right there.
BISQUE: Sitting on the ground in Juarez might be worse.
BISQUE: If you keep thinking things are bad and won't work out, then by golly that's how things will be. But if you're grateful and positive and put love into the world, then that's what you're going to get back. So you can either sit on a disgusting sidewalk and or you can get your cute ass up and go get a donut.
BISQUE: Which sounds better?
BISQUE: The donut is always better.
ME: What donut are you talking about?
BISQUE: Any donut!
BISQUE: Donut is a metaphor for all donuts and being happy.
ME: There are no donuts in Englewood.
BISQUE: That's racist.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Waiting for News

Are there ways to never experience rejection again? I'm going down the check boxes and really wondering. Once you have a steady job forever and ever (tenure, that type of thing) I guess you probably won't be fired. And you certainly won't apply anymore.

You can saddle up to a lover for all time and never hear "no" for the flick Saturday night. Make a gang of besties with standing dates who are so close to you even a "next time" is so painfully opaquely not a rejection. No new friends.

And mostly you are never a writer, and you are never a performer, and you never have a dream, and you never try to do anything ever again.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cheers 2 Joni 2nite

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty,
though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true.
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, and plenty
before the last revolving year is through.

And the seasons they go round and round.
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We're captive on the carousel of time.
We can't return we can only look
behind from where we came 
and go round and round and round 
in the circle game.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What to Do

People say life is short, (Read: Take the wildest chances, go for it.) but maybe life is long. (Read: The chances come back.) Especially in goodbyes, he tells me. Goodbyes seem so hard. Goodbye forever, but when the next Hello blinks into life, and it's like no time has passed. Because life is long.

The older I get, the longer time feels, but the shorter each experience does. Like how driving to Grandma's house for Christmas was once an eternity requiring several books, a Discman, and maybe my eraser collection. And now, what do I do in an hour? Sometimes commute, sure, with nothing but ear buds.

I feel the "I'm not moving fast enough" slipping away, as it should. I'd like to replace it with, "Good for you. You moved."
Atlantic jumpin'. Summer 2015.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

They Could Be Calling Your Name

Two new girlies tried step class today. Step is a different language. The bass is bumpin (today was "Heaven is a Place on Earth!), the shorts are short, and the instructor doesn't have time to dilly dally. He calls the moves as we go, and we follow right behind. "Reverse ham hop! Sashay, over the bench, three knees, hop and box!" It makes no sense unless it makes sense.

So the girlies were floundering. I always want to go up to new people and say, "Really, don't be embarrassed. No one has a good first day." But I don't want to be condescending. Our instructor did such a great job with the ladies. He called the advanced moves while demo-ing the basic combos. Amazing, I think. It was incredible how much the class became about them. Really, all about them. Never-ending extra thumbs ups and encouragement. More reminders, tips, and advice. "I wish I had gotten so coddled my first day!" I thought indignantly. It was St. Patrick's Day, and I was failing hard. I sweat a lot, but I sweat twice as much that day from being a complete doof while old ladies bopped circles around me.

And then I remembered all the talking on the mic. The instructor was chatty, but I wasn't attune to the reverberations of a gym yet. I could barely hear him. I was so focused on my feet I could barely hear the music. In hindsight, I know I was just as cared for, encouraged, talked to on my first day, but I literally didn't hear it over my own concerns. This has some meaning.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekend, mid-twenties

First I grade papers at 5 AM. A dance work-out and racing out the door. New camel-colored coat. Square Potbelly sandwich and the creamiest Dunkin coffee. Class begins at 8 AM. Today's to-dos are grammar and style review on the second in-class essay followed by brainstorming and peer-editing on the persuasive issue assignment. The happy chef plans an essay about why churches need to pay taxes. Lots of teen programs for the South Side. Russian exchange student has decided to write a persuasive essay about why there should be a washer and dryer in her apartment.

AStanSr and I walk Maggie Daley Park. The bop around the city slopping through time. Eventually I must go home. I must write a letter of recommendation and recap with Bisque over crackers and cheese. I walk a mile and a half on Friday night holding a giant comforter and pillow because it is girl's night. TQ and I gossip dipping pretzels into frosting. Gala arrives, Puppy Chow. We put on glitter tattoos and watch Coyote Ugly from the hardwood floor. It is misogynistic. You can't fight the moonlight.

My alarm goes off at 6:30. I catch the bus home, run three miles at the gym (glitter tatt dissolves), and throw my junk together for a long day. Another Dunkin coffee praise allah and Lyfts. I rehearse four hours for the Halloween sketch show. I really like comedy. Korean lunch. I like how the hard eggs looks, chopped in two. I take an unfamiliar bus to David's Bridal. Hell is David's Bridal on a Saturday. Nothing is there, everyone is busy, no one is helpful, everyone is happy and spending disgusting amounts of money. This is not the point. I leave angry rushing to the downtown theatre. I show up late to the solo show with a new friend. A simple and wide-eyed friend. "I like you," I think, "but I also am not in this place right now." Bisque heard my bits over pizza. I did an open mic. So far, so good. It's late, and I feel it.

Running on the lake. Raspberry scones from a terrible waitress. I feel frustrated. The city rage is strong. In improv class I play a woman so in love with life she ventriloquists a dead body at a wake. I buy ear warmers. I meet Kam at my favorite woody bar. The posse, we are called, byt someone I admire. Kam and Nep and me, all watching subpar improve from the back row. Back to Kam's apartment to pump Nep up. She has to quit her job, we all have to feel confident about ourselves. Yes, I have lots to do, but I'm done done, honey bun.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Welcome to the Good Life

I am blogging from a sun chair on a rooftop pool! It is a perfectly Vitamin D sufficient day. I'm waxing nostalgic about summer ending with the new Mindy Kaling on my left, a new iPhone in my hand, and "Still Fighting It" in my ears. I am extremely privileged. Sid is visiting from New York and literally complained about drinking a warm smoothie this morning. I mean, a warm smoothie would be gross, but come on.

This girl I know is a waitress and does acting here and there. (Pretty common Chicago lifestyle). I follow her on Instagram, and every other photo is some fancy or gross food and a caption like "I deserve this." Or "hard week." I don't know her inner-workings that well. But I do know her finances. She projects them. She's poor in the way privileged people can be poor. Rich poor. The kind of poor that means you don't make good money but you do nothing to save it either because you're young and you want to drink like a fish and ultimately you can always be bailed out, if it comes to that. Whether or not you come to that, eh, the option changes your life. It does. I'm not looking down on this mentality. I know full well I've been able to take risks in life because if I really really hit bottom I have many family member guest rooms to crash in, some possibilities of cash flow.

Anyway, I've started getting annoyed with her attitude (I could always unfollow her, or stop going on Instagram but). It's like, dude, your week was not that hard. But also, okay, say it was. Say relatively it was hard. Say we're entitled to believe that. Still, your life is GOOD. You can be decadent fairly regularly. Why must you make splurges based in some negative correction? What about a celebration in honor of the fact that you CAN splurge?

I had an important audition Tuesday so I bought a GD ice cream cake for myself! Is that not the most bonkers thing you've ever heard? Talk about over correcting. I was able to take the day off work for an AUDITION of IMPROV no less and I "treated myself" with an entire cake sufficient to be the center piece of a birthday party. This is very cushy. This just be acknowledged.

Say it with me now--

1. I am privileged.
2. It doesn't matter if people are "more privileged" than I am.
3. I will cherish my privilege.
4. I will do something good with this hand I've been dealt.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Losing Not Free Things

Last night Bisque's bike was stolen from our third floor balcony. I came home from sketch rehearsal to find him somber and shirtless, missing that mint green zip machine. I loved Bisque's bike. It was hip and cute and accompanied my loved one on the lake shore trail, to music in the park, to Potbelly. It hunkered down in the snow. It was purchased in the desert.

It hurts. It hurts to know something was taken from you. Something with a lot of personal value that is now irrelevant to the thief. It hurts to feel like these things happen. It hurts, or some feeling like it, to recognize this happens all the time in this dumb city. People are jerks, they do not watch out for each other. I get honked at for using the crosswalk designed to be used. We get shoved. People crowd around the el doors, fighting before the cars even stop. Why do we live here? I call the appropriate government office to ask when to buy the appropriate vehicle stickers. I get an answer, I sit on the hot train, walk half a mile, get told I'm in the wrong place.

And I am trying to be empathetic. Before bed Bisque starts, "I'm against the death penalty but..." I laugh because I know what he means. If you steal such a happy seafoam fixit, perhaps you should die. When people steal they think they need something more than you, they have to survive (in some sense of the definition). I should understand at least my life isn't in a place where I must steal to make it all happen. But that hurts too. The amount of times I get asked in one day to help. The shaking change cups and the cardboard signs. The people who launch into their stories while I'm waiting at a red light. That guy who swore he'd pay us back the $25. That guy who tsked at me like I was the rudest person alive for not buying him a new amplifier battery?(!) The woman who stands in the same spot on Belmont asking surprisedly for a dollar, her little play of pretending this is the first time she has ever needed anything. It's not fair that when some quiet skinny man shuffles into Taco Bell Bisque buys him dinner only to come home to a porch rail ripped off.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Losing Free Things

I'm learning to be okay with lost free things. It's very hard, I think. Particularly for someone with a very good memory.

Last fall A Jar visited. He was wrapped in a stylish coat and scarves. He was talking about his drinking and how it gets out of hand. "And sometimes you get really drunk on St. Patrick's day and give your iPad away," he said. Pretty interesting when people say "You" when they mean "me." I got a pretty good laugh yesterday while lecturing about how "you" mucks up essays. I read aloud an essay that began, "When you're growing up as a young black man..." I explained, "I will never grow up as a young black man." Grammar jokes, ya dig? Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.

So A Jar is, reasonably, sad about this lost iPad. Then he reveals it wasn't his. It belonged to a school he teaches at! A school that apparently just lends stuff out and never asks for it back? Idk. Point is--he lost a free thing. I mean, he possessed it, at no cost, and stopped possessing it, at no penalty. I see how one would be upset, but should he really be? Logically? Nothing ventured, plenty temporarily gained.

It became a mantra that weekend. "We only lost a free thing"--in regard to plans falling through or the immaterial gifts of junk like friendship. Maybe I can say it, but I don't feel chill re: losing free things. I didn't know what CVS ExtraBucks were (basically just free money) until three years after they had been piling up, expiring, in the back of my scooter! I accidentally used my free "Welcome to Uber" ride on a $4 trip. That kills me. I still think about it when I swipe by my app. Those other $26 wasted. (The $26 I didn't have.) I think the solutions lie in 1) recognizing other people deserve goodness and money too. It's not all about ME. 2) This is practice for not caring about the big fat missed opportunities. 3) Hopefully, I don't have those.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fall, Stay Slow

First morning of hot cocoa at the farmer's market, but afternoon iced coffee.
I walk to the library after class and pick up one DVD, two books, and linger in the sun.
Windows open weekend. Car windows down tonight, the new M Night.
The scary can't come fast enough.
The people are out, the bus trips are long, there are birthdays, there are scarves,
lots of football jerseys, and a street festival winding down. Reggae band for no one.
Open the sharp block. Spin class Saturday. Rehearsal for the Scooby Doo sketch.
New hardware and old feelings
in the gut. The smoke smell is coming.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"It Gets Better"

A year ago today, lesson plans at Daley Plaza.
A year ago today I might not have believed I'd still be teaching community college. That first semester was so difficult--learning what the students could (and mostly couldn't) do, feeling so alone, hours upon hours teaching myself what I take for granted in grammar.

I've been thinking about what to say to the struggling heart. "It gets better," is bubblegum lately. Has been. At first it was meaningful, and then it was viral, and now it's even beyond irony. It's old. So what is there to be said? So many suffering peoples. Many inside that large square I call work. The first essay prompt is "What is an experience that changed your life and why?" My student asks if I can look over his outline about his divorce. Lord help me if I had been a college freshman with one marriage come and gone under my belt!

I imagine that student from last spring who needed help coming to my office. What would I say if he did? It does get better? Then I think, I'm not sure it does. I surely can't promise that. It could get better. Maybe it doesn't. But, I thought, you do. IT might never get better. It might be the pits for your entire life, but YOU get better. You learn and you grow and what was once The End is now an ant hill.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Let Me Know

If I have the capability to haunt after I die, who is interested? Also, what degree of haunting would you like (assuming I can choose)? I'll do my best. I'm hoping to have powers ranging from leaving notes via Scrabble letters and turning on the TV when MTV's Catfish is on. If you just want lights to flicker, don't bother. That's really not worth it. You'll never even know it's me! Anyway, hit me up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Importance of Cleaning the Whiteboards

When class ends I say, "Goodbye! See you all [next class day]," and I always get up to clean the whiteboards. Every teacher is supposed to clean the whiteboards before leaving classrooms because it's annoying to show up to class with some previous professor's scribbles everywhere. But even if I am staying in the room a bit longer to grade papers, or even if I know the janitor will be visiting the room shortly after class, I always slowly wipe down everything from the day immediately after releasing the students. In the year I have been teaching community college, a lot of really key conversations have happened while I cleaned whiteboards. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I've heard that many gay high school students come out to their parents in the car because they're side by side instead of facing one another. Also, the teenager knows he won't be beaten. Not at that particular moment anyway. In a similar, less dire vein, I like giving students time to talk to me while my back is turned. It's funny. I'm very aware this is happening. I'm not sure if they do. If they get why suddenly they feel ready to explain the absences or admit they really don't know what the heck they're doing when it comes to next week's exam. On the flip side, while I clean white boards is often when the little sweeties make themselves known. The quiet kids who want to be my friend, who are looking for a mentor-figure to share a piece of good news. I think these students typically see authority figures as very busy and perhaps uninterested. But, ah ha, "those five minutes she's not grading or teaching or really doing ANYTHING. I can swoop in and show her my drawing right then. When she's just wiping dry erase dust into the air." The days I haven't written anything (and thus don't erase), fewer people linger. The days I haven't written anything I don't usually hear any stories and no one unravels apologies. Again, I don't think they know this. I'm not sure if there is a larger metaphor at play or simply some useful teaching advice for those interested.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Much?

This morning Bisque called out from behind the light of his phone, "Did you see this article about the couple who quit their jobs to travel the world and regret it?" I hadn't. "Yeah, they're janitors now and are totally broke." This is pretty funny because what you always hear is, "You won't regret it" and the term "priceless." But sometimes there is a price.

We watched Another Earth yesterday with my hair wet from the rooftop pool and my hands full of leftover pizza. Very reminiscent of summer days at Peppermint's house growing up. We'd sit dripping on our towels while Spice World played for the billionth time. Without any spoilers, there is a lot of dramatic action surrounding a 3 million dollar travel ticket. The stakes are high, very high. There is deep dark guilt, love lost, love found, repentance. But even so. 3 million dollars. Sheesh. That's a lot to be tossing around.

I wonder about how important it is to visit. Friends. Okay, kinda. My parents. Sure. Sometimes I don't want to. Well, it's rarely that simple. I feel like I'm just not up to it. Planning, traveling, and mainly all those dancing dollar signs. But anyone could die at any moment. And then how would I feel about those dollar signs? Pretty dumb. But, also, sometimes I'm thinking about what it would be like if I actually just did everything I want. Oh whatever, I'll take more cabs so I feel up to a big trip. Let's go out and celebrate more. Who knows when we say goodbye. If we did, would I not empty my bank account to go back in time and have that weekend getaway with you? But what if I emptied it now and credit card debts strangle me and I am nothing, and every time you see me for the next twenty years (because goodbye didn't happen) I am sad and sick and mainly oh so poor. Oh so, oh so poor.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


S     T     E     P

B      A      C      K

Selfie at Clara's wedding.

Pro photographer's shot.
I found gold in the wreckage/
put it on a necklace.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Brownie Batter Oreos

Tired Oreo selfie because Bisque and I just played a three hour game of Monopoly.
There are so many dang kinds of Oreos out lately! These were the only unhealthy purchase in our grocery cart last Sunday. How could I resist, you know?

Authenticity: Yes, these do smell and taste like brownie flavor.
Enjoyment: Yes, an Oreo mixed with a brownie is a good idea. Of course. Duh.
Taste: Somehow Oreo has captured that slightly burnt taste of brownies, which I don't love. I get it's part of many brownies, but ultimately, it gives the Oreo smokey vibes. I understand without this, it would merely be a chocolate creme Oreo. I get it. I'm just saying.

Overall: B+, a good time, but the regular (or even chocolate) Oreo reigns supreme
Idea: I bet these would be EXCELLENT smashed into a bowl of vanilla ice cream

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Getting Paid to Make Things Up

Summer is ending. Cobra was here--an excuse to go to the Art Institute twice in one week. She's en route to a Fulbright and I'm wondering how many people notice I'm trying to pull off gym shorts as fashion. Yesterday afternoon I closed the bedroom door on me, UnReal on Lifetime, and some Oreos. This is August dinner.

I walk longer distances because why not. At rehearsal I say unabashedly, "I'd rather gossip than plan anything." Is the whole reason for doing art the dishing in-between? Eh. Or I go to Kam's studio to gab. Or it is nearing midnight but Tulsa is on the street with his green backpack. He comes over for water in huge plastic cups.

At Cirque de Soleil, our one planned date, Bisque and I see my old castmate. We split a cab home to the Northside. Bisque tells me Wrigley Field is important, and I say "Do not even." because Southside pride is strong. My shoulders are very brown, I notice, when I run in the sports bra only. Fish tummy. A Jar looks good, better than usual. Trimmed and hip. He is so vigorous with life and opinions I think about being a polarizing person and how truly wonderful it could be. I finished my screenplay. This draft anyway, and the things I dislike must come to an end soon.
Paychecks for improv!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Questions Surrounding the Trash Dress

Dollar told us last summer he discovered the local DJ in town was someone named DJ Jeff Buffington. I literally laughed just typing that. I love dancing, and I don't do it that often, so I was on board. So was Tulsa. Even the theatre bartender.

I packed two huge bags for this trip: show clothes, hiking clothes, exercise clothes, casual summer club clothes. It's so hard to be a girl. I fairly consistently don't know what to wear. What does one wear to any given bar? I decided what I'd really like to wear is a trashy dress. The kind all the girls on MTV Real World slither on every Friday. I tell Tulsa at heart, I am a trash person. If I had it my way, I'd be eating daily Taco Bell and listening to Kelly Clarkson on repeat. He didn't seem to believe me. "No I am!" Later I mentioned how much tanning beds appeal to me. He blinked, "Wow. You are a trash person."

There's a huge wreckage store in Maine--a warehouse of granola bars that have fallen off trucks and sport socks for fifty cents. That's where my trashy dress is, I knew. I asked the guys if we could stop there before the show. In the dressing room I tried on two leopard print minis and a hot pink thing with fake jewels for 9.99. Bingo.

Oh, the dance floor was hot and sticky. We had just finished two shows. Time to cut loose. And after lots of sweat and bumping and jumping we were propelled out of the bar by way of "Hit the Road Jack" via DJ Jeff. I liked the Maine air on my legs under a synthetic pinched cape. The one strap and the tight chest piece. It's comfortable for me.

We wound down in Tulsa's room. I thought about the dress, how I kind of wish I could wear it every day. "Tomorrow," I said. "Why shouldn't I wear it tomorrow?" Dollar said I'd look like a freak. "But who cares?" I asked, "You guys know me, and everyone else will never see me again." He shrugged. He was sitting on the floor in the doorway. I am still thinking about this puzzle. Of course I wouldn't dress like a Jersey mouse for a job interview, but why not today? Why would I still be embarrassed. Tulsa says perhaps the mental energy of knowing people are judging you is a time-suck, but who says we would need to pay that mind?

Saturday, August 15, 2015


1. If you think you are incapable of not screwing something up, the news is, you will screw it up. One of my friends dated a very nice, very committed girl and said he only thought it was "fair" to tell her he would ruin things "with bad communication." What do you think happened?

2. If someone thinks you are incapable of a job well done, and perhaps they don't tell you, but they send the brainwaves out into the abyss, what do you think will happen?

3. Beyond belief. Knowing.

4. Because someone told us there would be a meteor shower we stood on a beach at 1 AM watching the sky fall to pieces, waves lapping up footsteps away from us. But last night on the ride home, "Only the Good Die Young" blasting one more rocket shot down across the horizon of chain stores and fir trees. All three people in the car saw it, and I squealed, like "What are the odds we all hit the jackpot together?"
Lighthouse at sunset with my mom and aunt. Maine!
And I don't know what's the right way
to make them see that, see that. 
Cause in this maze, yeah, we're all flames, we're all flames.

Say there is a fire in the dark when I close my eyes 
And it's keeping me up at night and it's making me feel alive
I got a flashlight summoning up the stars 
And it's showing them where we are.
We'll be lighting up the dark. 
Oh oh oh flames. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Grapefruit Body Wash

Was only going to be in Boston for two days, so I used the grapefruit body wash in Bex shower, assuming two squirts would not be missed. I rarely eat grapefruit because it's so obnoxious, but if it's on a brunch menu? Some brown sugar-crusted magic? Sigh, sigh, I have the luck of remembering the first time I ever ate grapefruit. I was 3 or 4 and up tootling around the house as my childhood insomnia had me to do. First stop was usually my grandmother's recliner. Sometimes I could shake her awake and ask for a story. One this night, I'd like to think it was summer, but who knows, she grogged awake and asked if I'd like to try grapefruit. I did because what is that. She took me to the kitchen and explained the two halves, the special spoon, the tartness. I slurped it up. From then on every time I visited her I asked for some, but it was never in the kitchen again.

I liked the body wash so much the day I got lost walking through the city (making a 2 mile journey into 5) I stopped in a CVS to alleviate some of my back sweat and bought some. It's what I have been using here in Maine. A happy, fresh way to start my day. The new cast member Dollar arrived Sunday. I started noticing something in the tub--sometimes my pink bottle was suddenly open. I had left it closed. But then I started noticing sometimes I would walk into the bathroom to find the cap open, then closed, but I hadn't showered. Last night while brushing my teeth I asked both the guys to come into the hall. I asked, "Who has been using my grapefruit body wash?" Dollar admitted it. He seemed embarrassed (?) to be caught in a way that made me wonder if I should have said anything at all. "I don't care!" I said. I just wanted to know. Then, Tulsa: "Wait, what does it look like? Pink? Yeah, I've been using it too." It was like the time Hill and I were hanging out at our guys' house and we realized on the way to lunch we were all wearing the same deodorant. It made me feel gushy, honestly, that my castmates and I all pump the beady syrup into our palms once a day. I shouldn't have said anything, I thought. This doesn't matter. "You can use as much of my body wash as you want!" I exclaimed between spitting my toothpaste out. Dollar walked into the bathroom, picked up the soap, said, "excuse me for a moment," and opened it over the toilet. "No!" I whisper-yelled at 2 in the morning. He put it back. This morning I got the third shower. The pink line was lower.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Last Blueberry Days

TQ texts a text I have been getting a lot lately: “How’s Maine?” I tell her I’m loving it and I am sad to leave. She tells me she’s glad I have liked it, bummer I’m sad, but it’s “good you’re coming home.” I respond, “It’s magic and I get a free brownie sundae every night.” (Everyone on cast gets a free menu item after each show. Most get a beer, or some whiskey. But, oh, not I.) I see the three dots. “Whoa whoa whoa. I did not know about that.”

I learned a lot when I read the memoir of a woman sentenced to life in prison—terrible details,  but the thing that has stuck more than any other scrap is how adverse to change the writer was. Of course she didn’t want to move to a new prison or switch jobs, but she also didn’t like happy change. She didn’t want to celebrate a holiday and have a differently scheduled afternoon. She didn’t want the food schedule to change—even though it’s all disgusting.

My friend Bug doesn’t seem satisfied unless things are changing. Rapidly and harshly even. She starts to get restless three months into relationships ("Can we get married yet?") and can't watch twenty minutes of a movie without also watching YouTube videos. But so many of us, I think, are like the penitentiary’s leading lady. When I first arrived on this lobster island, it’s not that I didn’t like it, I just had to adjust, and that felt uncomfortable. But, I’m a morning person, but these strangers (they seem nice, and yet), but this style of play, and the air tastes much too fresh.

Snail friend on my morning run.
When I took the job I started saying this granola thing about leaving Chicago and clearing my head, kind of knowing it was just one of those things to say--akin to "can't complain" or some trite slop. But low and behold, if you build it, they will come. I feel better at improv (a bit), more centered, special, focused, ready to snip away fat and be. It was a thing I said until it was a thing that happened.

I am not ready to leave. Two weeks from today I will be lecturing, probably about thesis statements, and that image plus the image of me on an island waking up to gull caws and whoopee pie signs is not computing. We performed an improvised musical last night called “Why is my cucumber purple?” and then I thought on the sidelines about those emails I have been meaning to send. I accidentally opened my Bus Tracker app today and almost threw up.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Two Weeks In, Three Week Contract

The green digits square out a 3:40. If this were any other home, in any other profession, we would only be awake because of a terrible emergency. But. Tulsa quotes a Billy Collins poem--the one about angels. The one that ends, "and now it is very late, even for musicians." He gives a resigned smile: "it is very late, even for actors."

The men who have passed through these nail-up halls are all so physically fit. I see a lot of squats happening. In the yard, in the living room, on the deck outside the theatre. They drink ice cube blue liquor on lit patios but somehow eat chard in the morning.

Everyone is working on "projects" that are loosely named and lightly described because it all sounds moronic, but we dare not judge lest we be judged. And sometimes I stare for thirty minutes at this screenplay while the jack and jill door is the only thing between another tortured soul scribbling madly on a pad sketch ideas for a podcast. What possible words in the English language are more embarrassing than "podcast" and "sketch." We all toss up and serve the worst offender of all. "Comedy" we say. And we do bits in the parking lot. Writing that it sounds like a euphemism for drugs, and to some extent we have numbed ourselves and simultaneously depressed. Or upped.
I hope the fences we mended,
fall down beneath their won weight.
And I hope we hang on past the last exit,
I hope its already too late.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

3 3 3

I feel like a quote out of context
withholding the rest,
so I can be for you what you want to see.
I got the gesture and sound,
got the timing down.
It's uncanny, yeah, you think it was me.
Do you think I should take a class
to lose my southern accent?
Did I make me up, or make the face till it stuck?
I do the best imitation of myself.
The "problem with you" speech

you gave me was fine.
I liked the theories about my little stage.
And I swore I was listening,
but I started drifting
around the part about me acting my age.
Now if it's all the same
I've people to entertain.
I juggle one-handed, do some magic tricks, and
the best imitation of myself.
Maybe I'm thinking myself in a hole

wondering, who I am when I ought to know.
Straighten up now, time to go
fool somebody else. Fool somebody else.
Last night I was east with them

and west within
trying to be for you what you wanna see,
but I can't help it with you,
the good and bad comes through.
Don't want you hanging out with
no one but me.
Now if it's all the same,
it comes from the same place.
And if my mind's somewhere else,
you won't be able to tell.
I do the best imitation of myself.
Yes, it's uncanny to see
you'd really think it was me.
The best imitation of myself.
The best imitation of myself.