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.