Saturday, December 31, 2016

In 2016 I Got Seven Manicures And Four Massages

-Accomplished my New Year's Resolution. I can now do the splits.
-Wrote and starred in a sell-out original sketch revue.
-Toured the Caribbean and Bermuda doing five shows a week.
-Did a major revision of my musical.
-Once I didn't eat desserts for a week.
-Nominated for "Employee of the Month" by my students.
-Got a new job tutoring writing.
-Got a new job teaching kids improv.
-Was published online four times.
-Was published in print twice.
-Finished revisions 4-10 of my screenplay.
-Started a new screenplay and play. I didn't finish yet. Sigh.
-Was a semi-finalist in a playwriting contest.
-Won the first JRC scholarship at i_ theatre.
-Disney World.
-Recorded on a podcast I admire.
-Cast as a sit-in in two long-running improv shows I admire.
-Went to Spain.
-36 short-form shows in three weeks (Maine).
-Performed at two new teeny improv theatres.
-Performed at The Lyric Opera of Chicago.
-Performed on the mainstage of S______ C____.
-Performed in three comedy festivals.
-Wrote for and acted in an original S_____ C____ House Co revue.
-Wrote a solo show.
-Wrote a (crummy) television pilot.
-Wrote a (pretty decent) TV sketch packet.
-Ran a 15K.
-Mastered the "changeover" in Power Step.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Why do you write like you're running out of time?
Write day and night like you're running out of time.

I locked myself in my bedroom for 30 hours. I started writing at noon on Tuesday. I ate a bunch of toffee and outlined as if my life depended on it. In some ways, it did. I hated myself and tried to find the muse. She didn't come. But I can push something out still. I wrote torturously. One page per hour. Second guessing ninety times per hour. Back to the drawing board. I was supposed to finish by night. I texted Puhg to bring some Pringles. I didn't come out for dinner. I ate half the can and he told me I'd regret the rest. He went to take a shower and I downed them quickly. I fell asleep defeated, woke at 3 AM, still stuck in bed, I wrote more. I don't know when I was awake or not. I went to the bathroom around 8. At 11:30 I saw the finish line. I sent a draft at 12:05. I ran two miles at the gym feeling almost free. I rewarded myself with my monthly mani pedi. I felt like part of the world again. I had a kale salad for dinner and saw Hamilton. I was worried I wouldn't be able to focus on it because my insides were shredded. My brain toasted. More nerves firing than anyone would need in a cyclone. It took me a minute, but I could embrace it. Thank you, me. Still hard to stay out after curtain call. I wound up again trying to sort through dialogue on the train ride home. I'm never not working.

I am exhausted. Still. I could have thrown away my shot. Someone ("important") asked to see my sample. It wasn't ready. I asked for more time. Is it better to get it in and fine or waiting for it and...maybe it will still be fine. I don't know. It's hard not to feel embarrassed. It's hard not to wonder if it will always feel this way and if I should get out now. We get into this because we love it. But do we?

Before bed I ask Puhg's sister if she empathizes with Eliza when she asks Alexander to go away. I see that so clearly. Leave him alone. He has a country to create. You're ignorant if you believe in vacations. But, she countered, that's when everything fell apart. When he didn't get a break. Never gonna be president now.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Jigsaw Holiday

8:30 AM Spin class. Amy Grant's Christmas album. Watching the Amy's episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Drinking grape juice from a bougie tumbler. Being genuinely excited about my new egg cooker. The annual money tree. The cutest vegan roast. A rousing game of Secret Hitler. Ho ho ho. Stuffed in a car with dogs. Mom's homemade fudge. Serious discussion about Survivor: Gen X vs. Millennials. Moving around gift puddles. And then there were two, with one cookie candle.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Losing My Mind at a Third Grader

I had to halt after school improv class on Friday. My brain imploded, and I literally put out my hands like tiny stop signs to give an internally steaming (hopefully externally only rigid) lecturelet (mini lecture).

We were doing an ensemble monologue. Someone would stand in the middle of the circle and give a monologue. After a line of two I would pause the student and ask, "Okay, who has an idea about what might come next?" And then all the 9-year-old hands shoot up. Usually, honestly, they're already up--no matter how many times I explain, "When you raise your hand before the person has even finished their sentence, how can you possibly have an idea for what you will say next?"

People wax saccharine about the purity of children, the darling, the unconditional love. In improv, the most experienced teachers gospelize "Play like a child!"But every week I do see children improvise, and, man, they are selfish little pufferfish. Some things that are normal in the classroom: students who talk endlessly when others are on stage, students who refuse to play games they "don't like" despite never having heard of them before, students who refuse to have a three-line scene with the physically disabled student, students who refuse to stand near the hilarious and brave autistic kiddo, students who are disappointed literally every time I do not call on them, students who kick each other. I teach twelve children. Two are the exception to these behaviors. The others openly show disgust for even the suggestions of their peers. This is not all children. This is one class of third graders in Evanston. Still. We discuss respect every week, we have "positive" rules ("hands to yourself" vs. "no hitting"), I congratulate good behavior, I ask politely, I ask sternly. I try to proctor ensemble exercises. They won't.

I pump myself up before class hoping that despite the climate of the room, perhaps the lessons of teamwork, listening, and self-awareness are being internalized? Maybe specks? So, we're doing this monologue thing. B, one of the most challenging students I have ever had, is playing. He waffles between playing and not playing. He likes to sit behind the teacher's desk (not allowed), roll in her chair (not allowed), and make fun of other people's lines (not allowed) when he is not the star of a scene. The new rule is that anyone is allowed to sit, but then they're not allowed to participate until the current game is over. B usually starts sitting, then screams, "I wanna play!" and whines when he is not allowed to jump in a scene immediately. He was playing this monologue game. A girl volunteered to start. When I asked for a new volunteer, every single hand (as usual) went up. Then I chose another girl to continue. He screeched, interrupting the piece. "THAT'S TWO GIRLS IN A ROW." So I said, "STOP." I asked, "B, how many boys in the class are there?" He answered four. "Yes, and how many girls in the class are there?" Eight. I said, "Right, so in this class, girls will always be performing twice as much as boys. If boys performed the same amount as girls, that would be extremely unfair. Why should we go boy-girl anyway?" He shrugged.

I know the answer is probably that in his homeroom class his teacher calls on students boy-girl (which is disgusting and ridiculous). I don't think I snapped. I think I maintained cool, despite having to restart the activity. I know this child is merely a reflection of glass shards from the world we've given him. I'm just so tired of women being marked as to when they can and can't do things. My tolerance is waning.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Last week someone jumped in front of my train. I didn't see it. I wasn't even on it yet. It was the train that I take home after teaching children improv. I got to the train station but it didn't. The attendant told me, "No purple line." I watched literally hundreds of people walk briskly to the turnstyles (5 PM on Friday no less) and be brushed away. They were mad (I was before I knew what the hold up was).

I was in Evanston. No other lines nearby. No buses. We were told shuttles were on the way. They came, full, unable to fit a single person on. I waited for half an hour. I was supposed to have dinner with MB--visiting town--but she canceled on me just a few hours earlier. I had been sad, but weirdly it worked out because I wouldn't have made it. I was stuck.

A guy announced, "Anyone else want a lift to the Red Line?" I said, "Yes, I do!" Other people hesitated. He sort of sweetly pushed two older women to accept his offer. A Lyft came. Me and the grannies piled in the back. The guy wouldn't accept payment. He just didn't want the seats to go to waste.

One person displaced a thousand in a matter of an hour. Flood was texting me. Or was I texting him? We were trying to make plans for the next week, but I couldn't. I asked, ready to be denied, what he was doing right then. Nothing. He was even near my neighborhood. We went to Taco Bell, Marshalls, and Forever Yogurt. It was a great night. I had two auditions slated for the next day. One was cancelled. I wonder if the woman cancelling felt bad. I was happy. I already had a rehearsal and two shows to think about too. I got a headache during the first and dipped on the second. Something I've never done in my whole comedy career. I felt bad, but what do we know as to how things work out?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Peace Islands: Coping, Week Two

It's now been two weeks in this new weird world. I started tutoring part time in a writing center. This is the type of job I would have once found fulfilling, but my first day working one-on-one with students left me hopeless. How will these students ever learn how to write? We spend fifty minutes together, and that's only enough time to revise the introduction paragraph. This guy can't focus. This girl doesn't understand articles. At home I blobbed into the couch. What's the point? If half the country is garbage, if it takes people three failing grades to make it out of English 100, if I enjoy pizza date night, but I shove the huge cardboard box in the dumpster. Why are we walking as if everything hasn't been exposed as slop. "This isn't you," reminded Puhg.

As a professor of a city college, I have access to the wellness center, which means free counseling. I called yesterday to see if I could get an appointment. I was offered 9 AM today. My counselor wore a hijab. She asked how I was, "I'm sad," I said, "about the election." She said, "You're not the only one." I've heard normalizing pain doesn't usually help, but in this case, it did. She kept reminding me "More than half of the country feels like you." That encouraged me in two ways. One, at least half the country isn't trash and two, we'd be 100% trash if I (and all people like me) gave up.

We talked about how she was feeling because I asked. Because she's Muslim. And she seemed happy. It was really helpful to hear her experience. A) She did not follow the election. As a non-citizen she couldn't vote and so preferred to not get wrapped up in all the hate Tr*mp was spewing. I don't think ignorance is the answer, but sometimes we must focus on other progressive things besides politics. B) She feels empathy with the US because she is from Turkey. She fled to avoid Erdogan--Turkish Tr*mp (she says). But he's much worse. Not like "it could be worse" is a valid argument, but it can make a person at least attempt gratitude. C) She says she's never been treated poorly as a Muslim. She recognizes she is in Chicago and there are places she probably shouldn't go in America, but as of now, here, people are really nice to her.

She told me I'm not the first person to express hopelessness about the future. She gave me the visual of "peace islands." Maybe the world seems bad. Maybe it is even mostly bad, but there are places of peace, and we should expand those, instead of letting them fall into the sea. I can buy that for today. Tomorrow I might ask, "But what's the point of making peace islands bigger anyway?" But today, okay.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Worst Day

Two days ago, Tuesday November 8th, I was happy. I played "Proud to be an American" while I was in the shower and "Born in the USA" as I walked down the streets. I emailed Dizz to tell her how I thought of her child, my goddaughter, growing up with a woman president every time I passed the early voting site across from my apartment. There were lines a block long.

That afternoon I wore my sweater that reads "A woman's place is in the House and the Senate." A little girl in an improv workshop I helped with told me she really liked it. That night I went to see my friend Tob in an improv show. I watched his set, and during the break before the next team came on I checked the news. My stomach dropped. Trump was getting votes, a lot of votes. I was floored. I had never believed. And then here was this little map of the US lit up red. I took my purse and ran out of the theatre. I bumped in Tob and slurred "Good job I'm scared." He held my shoulders and explained this was expected. "Conservative states were coming in first, Hillary will win Pennsylvania, Nate Silver says..." and I breathed. But my heart was beating at an alarming rate. I watched for a few minutes with a cast member I bumped into and then went home, refreshing the page the whole train ride. People around me were doing it too. We were silent and staring.

I walked to Walgreens and bought a can of ranch Pringles. I got home where Puhg was under a blanket like a boy who believed he say the boogeyman. "The Boogeyman," one of my Mexican friends had told me, is what Latino children in his family have been calling Trump. A scary creature threatening to rip them away from home. We watched as it got worse and worse. Girlfriends texted me, "What is happening?" I am usually optimistic and I had no words. When it was being projected with 99% accuracy I tried to voice what had been building in me. I said, "I just really thought--" and then I could not stop crying.

There are things I don't love about Hillary, but there are things to criticize about everyone. No one in the history of the world has ever been perfect, and yet we have demanded our women to be. She is too qualified to not have been involved in something that could be spun as "bad." She has had too many complicated, intensely rigorous jobs to not have ever been a piece of a death or a technical snafu. She has been cleared by the FBI. She has never committed murder. She has forgiven her husband for infidelity. She has worked every single say of her life to create the exact smile people want to see. She is SO SMART. She is SO ACCOMPLISHED. She knows government like literally no one has ever known it.

I don't need to say what Trump is. If Hillary has said ONE of his top 25 most offensive sentences, she would have been banished from this election immediately. Yesterday I cried my eyes out all morning. My dreams crushed, the textbooks of the future explaining how we just weren't ready. People say it's not sexism. No one believes they are sexist. True sexism is transparent. True sexism is how a girl in middle school can be called a slut or a brat or stuck-up and how everyone will just believe it. No one is asking, "What's your proof? According to what?" And then later when people ask, "Why don't you like Tiffany?" You can answer matter-of-factly, "It's not that I'm sexist, it's that she's a brat." He said Crooked over and over. That's all it took.

Racism. I do believe not every Trump voter is actively racist. But supporting a racist is tells POC "I do not care that you are scared" and THAT IS RACIST. There is no counter-point to this argument.

So many horrible memories of my experience as a woman keep sliming their way up to my brain. A group project where no one listened to me because they didn't want to be bossed around by a girl. I had to wonder for a year if I was unlikable when they elected a new group leader. I had done nothing but asked to make a spreadsheet of who should do what and by what date. The new leader said "We're all mature enough to get this done." I was inc charge of compiling. Half of them emailed their materials and half didn't. No one had edited. I did the whole thing myself in one night.

Walking into the first day of 8th grade Reading class. Our teacher was a 20something skinny blonde woman. My classmate said, "Looks like a real bitch." She had only said, "Hi everybody!" My classmate repeated this several times to all the boys in class. He was the only black student. Maybe he had a really rough experience and was trying to fit in. He used blatant sexism to do it. I was scared to be a girl. I was jealous not to be a boy who only had to snicker.

In graduate school a good friend of mine started ranking girls in our sketch comedy team by numbers of attractiveness. He called me an 8 and said I could easily be a 10 if I stopped eating so many desserts. Another woman there scolded him and he replied back why should we be mad he was honest? I begged my castmate on the cruise ship to stop objectifying women's bodies when we were in the pool at Costa Maya. I teared up explaining how hard it's recently felt to be a woman and he he responded, "It's hard to have someone not think you're funny too."

I didn't know how much I needed it until it was taken from me. I am devastated. I have been texting girlfriends from all times of life and we are all mourning. We are baffled. We are sad. I saw a student on the street and I cried in her embrace. I cried in my improv class. I said, "It seems offensive to be doing this." My teacher said, "It's not." He was very supportive, but I don't know if forgetting is the answer.

I cannot imagine how Muslims feel. I recognize my sadness is nothing compared to many more marginalized people.

Dusty is mad in a way I didn't know Dusty got mad. How is it possible the world is continuing on as though nothing has happened, he asks. And he has a point. Someone who has spoken out against other people in our country is now in power and we put him there. And we're all supposed to go on supporting this system that is so rotten and wretched by trying to find our own happiness and moving on? I am torn between trying to be joyful in the face of Trump stealing happiness and trying to never forget how terrible this is. I keep refreshing my Twitter to see more and more accounts of hate-crimes. Puhg asks why I am looking. I don't know. Maybe it's my duty? Just by knowing I don't end it, but by not knowing do I dishonor it? I usually know what to do even if it's hard or even if I'm not doing it yet. But I do not today. I truly do not know.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Flying the W

Pretty amazing time to be a Chicagoan. I mean, this has been the most beautiful, most fall of all falls ever. And then the World Series. Holy smokes.

I don't follow baseball. Also if I did, I am a "Sox fan."But how magical and exciting! Curses being broken and people waiting lifetimes for this and parades--what's not to love? WELL BUCKLE UP COS I'VE GOT A COUPLE THINGS NOT TO LOVE.

Puhg and I walked over to Wrigleyville on Wednesday during the 8th inning because, I dunno, we wanted to be there when it *happened*. I am into communities in that sort of clutching, creeping way. What a game! There were barricades and people just EVERYWHERE and flags and blue and blue and blue. People yelling scores out windows, people drinking and falling. We ended up in a pool of a hundred people watching the game from outside a sports bar. I think I felt sort of euphoric for a moment watching everyone be so happy, but then a crushing weight of "but what if all these people came together to care about something real?" hit me. Like, what if all 6 million people who went to the celebration Friday all spent even one hour trying to end gun violence? What if all 6 million people had spent ONE HOUR learning about religious tolerance or volunteering at an after school program? Not that those people don't do those things, it's just, it's just...

I've never understood sports. It's so made up. How can we care about something so fabricated? (SAYS SOMEONE WITH AN MFA IN PLAYWRITING OMG, ALICE). I don't have the long family tradition some people do. I wasn't stuffed in Cubs attire in first grade. And honestly I'm jealous. I will never be as passionate about literally anything happening as some of the people I saw in the streets last week. Like, MAYBE if meat became illegal I would understand what it feels like to be a Cubs fan in 2016.

And everyone at the parade has all this new Cubs junk--hats and sweaters and flags--and I know they'll have it forever (heck, maybe I'll buy some shirt to commemorate the weekend I really did think I would die on the Red line), but what if that money had gone to Greenpeace instead of a mondo corporation?

And, like, you had to be stinking rich to get into those games. It made me sad. Once my brain remembered that tickets were literally thousands of dollars (where else could that money have gone?), for the rest of the night every time the cameras panned to spectators I was thinking "super rich old guy, super rich child, super rich twenty something." And all these (probably) more die-hard fans were standing in the rain in Chicago. Maybe I am cursed--I ruin all lovely things?

I will say happiness is a power. This win was powerful. Even though it was just a bunch of dudes hitting white orbs with sticks, it meant Something, and that Something inspired joy. Perhaps with more joy to propel us, we will improve our world? Does that count? Am I not a complete snowbeast?

Monday, October 31, 2016


Last night we closed one of the coolest shows I have ever been part of--a p sweet collab between comedy and opera. I was so fortunate to be cast in such a unique process. New work development, bits, singing, tiny green German hats--these are a few of my favorite things.

Also, what a cast. Also, we were treated with such care--from free opera tickets to the wardrobe guy getting new inserts for my character shoes, I felt cherished? (Gross.) I ate a bunch of fancy cheese and two cookies in my gold sequin dress at the closing party. Walking to the train, I felt relieved in that way that ending anything makes one feel relief and a tinge of sadness, as ending anything makes one feel a tinge of sadness.

For some reason I couldn't shake this feeling of falling back in time to the prop loft of my high school. I was up there putting away stuff from the spring play my freshman year. The boys I idolized for being so hilarious would clomp up the stairs and try to rile me up by flashing their boxers or imitating my squeaky voice. I would have stayed in that final day of strike forever if I could have. "I am part of this thing," I thought, about a cruddy stage-version interpretation of a campy movie. And I could practically feel my insides glow, even sitting in the dust, even alone.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Who Loves Ya

The cool thing about grad school workshop is that people are super accountable to reading your garbage and giving you feedback. Also your group doesn't meet in coffee houses and get distracted by gossip and sometimes half the people don't come. In school you are going to meet every Wednesday at 2 PM for three hours. But in school you do not pick your people. Not at all.

I wish I had realized this as a wide-eyed candidate: if you don't like someone's work, it's probable they won't like yours. That is definitely okay, but maybe don't care as much about their opinions? By year three I knew what feedback to love or leave. And yet, I still forget this base lesson pretty frequently. And it's not just about writing. Or art.

Happened to reach out to some of my old comedy squad recently. People I think are funnier than anyone I've met in Chicago. But I had flecks of gold in my eyes then, so I could be remembering everything wrong. Initially we weren't talking about comedy at all, but eventually. I expressed I've been slumped. Immediately, my friends pummeled me with support and memories and ideas and advice. I could breathe again. I knew who I was. I remembered what I do right and what I don't care about. Duh duh duh.

For some reason we are built to strive to meet the standards of people we don't even mesh with. (Or, at least, I am.) Just because they are there? No, no, who loves ya?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Black Mirror's Nosedive, an Allegory of Racial Privilege (Spoilers)

My body went from relaxed "Hey I'm watching TV on a Friday!" lounge pose to ready-to-pop pretzel knot over the course of the hour-long Black Mirror episode I watched last night. The first episode in the third season is called Nosedive and depicts a sunny, pastel world in which people have the ability to rank other people on a five-star system. Like, if Uber grades happened for every interaction. Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a 4.2 (not too bad) but dreams of becoming at least a 4.5 because of the perks (namely admittance to a new upper-crust apartment complex) the rank will bring. She tries SO hard to be liked by literally everyone in the world (baristas, mean coworkers) we know narratively we're about to see some major chaos unfurl. Naturally, as she tries harder, she becomes more manic plus some bad's inevitable.

The most "oh make it stop" moment for me is when she has three negative ratings in a row (a tift with her brother, bumping into a stranger, a cabbie who doesn't like her) and thus falls to a 4.1. When she arrives at the airport, she finds out her flight has been cancelled. The attendant tells her there is a ticket on another plane, but only 4.2s and up are eligible. Oh, my heart. The attendant and Lacie smile sweetly to each other and bicker in sugar until Lacie snaps, curses, and then gets dinged big time from security.

So, this is where I started thinking Nosedive is about race. Visually, the people putting Lacie down in this scene that leads to her inevitable demise are black. The attendant, the security officer...even the cabbie and the stranger she bumped. To a black person living in a white world, does it feel like this? Make a few mistakes with people who are smiling at you and your status lowers, and lowers, and then suddenly people have reason to believe you deserve worse treatment. "You did it to yourself," you know? From being loud in a cab, from being careless, from losing your temper. And of course, once people start turning away from Lacie because they see her 3, her 2 coming, she can't help but act more mad, more wild, more crude. From the moment she wasn't perfect (or, rather, someone else decided she wasn't) she was dropped so far down the ladder of human empathy, how could she resist taking a, well, nosedive?

By the end of the episode, Lacie is in a jail cell. Having hit zero, her status is completely taken away. There is one other prisoner across from her (a black man). They scream obscenities at each other, finally absolved of all consequences. They are rude but their attacks aren't personal. They are free, both near smiling at how unbound by the tethers of cotton candy world they've become as they curse each other out. Primal counterculture that someone still swimming in the system would see as barbaric.

Okay, maybe I'm taking the casting way too literally, but also the first person we encounter in exile is a black man trying desperately to bump up from his 3 status after a breakup. He is walking around giving free smoothies to people at the office. Lacie takes one, gives him a happy rating, and is berated by a cubicle-mate. Turns out the poor guy went through a breakup, and everyone is on the other half's side. Lacie is downvoted for simply accepting the guy's nice gesture. Um, this is what it was like to be friends with black people in the 50s, yes? To protect their own status, white people could not help raise the Other's.

As a white person, I DO think I gained a lot from watching the story through a racial lens. I don't think I'm racist, but who does? I am packing up the idea that an individual's status is not created by Self but rather by a huge surrounding mass of people, most with little understanding of the Self, and keeping it with me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Goodbye Disabilities Center

It's been almost three years since I worked at the Disabilities Center. Proctoring tests to disabled students was my part-time job in grad school. I am immensely grateful for the experience. I worked daytime only, on campus, and sometimes I was set in duties where I could read or write. The position helped me become a better teacher and certainly a much better person.

I was let go at the start of my final semester of school. I was devastated. My boss fought to keep me, but I was already a halftime instructor for ASU, and with Obamacare looming, the school was was paranoid about providing benefits. In a truly demeaning manner, the HR person for my graduate program wrote me saying I was being forced out of other work because I needed to focus on my studies. (After providing proof I had maintained an A average during my entire tenure at school she admitted, "Okay, it's about not giving you health care.")

I remember one of my last days at work. I was scribing for a student in a wheelchair who didn't have the use of his hands. I wrote out the short answers for him on his history exam. He coughed and asked if I could reach in his bag, get the water bottle, insert a straw, and give him a drink. "Sure," I said. I was holding the water to his mouth and thinking about the exam topics. I was remembering some stuff about Britain's empire I had forgotten since high school. (Another thing I loved about the job--insight to so many subjects!) He said, "Okay," and I put the bottle away. I had a conscious thought, "That would have felt weird two years ago." Even interviewing with my boss, a woman who was very slow to speak with, what seemed like, little control of her head, had set me on edge. I want to believe I was simply concerned in an interview scenario that I wouldn't nail it because I was having some trouble understanding her, but truthfully I had never spent an extended time with anyone much physically different than me. On that Arizona cool December day, while jotting down answers about British opium trade, the bitterness of being forced from my job melted. I felt a swell of thankfulness for the empathy education I had slowly accumulated without even knowing it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Last Night I Had Caramel Corn for Dinner

With these wonderful people from Arizona. Beyond everything there are still old friends.

Pocket change and subway cars.
Our big ideas filled empty bars.
You might be from the moon or mars.
Either way, I'm never going home.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Boss Friends

Omaha was lovely. I went last week to visit Lavender in her new home. She has a boss job out of grad school, lives in a tiny house alone, is working hard to create a new life at 29. We talked for hours and hours and hours. I saw her theatre, her program, her hip neighborhood.

We went out for sushi one night and died to see they had vegetarian lettuce wraps which are usually chicken-involved and we miss terribly. We split two rolls--a crab thing and a vegan bbq thing. Oh divine. There were eight rolls of crab and five bbqs. We each are our halves. She gestured at the lone bbq left--the non-half, the fifth. "Do you want that?" Usually that's where I would say, "oh you have it." And so would she. Usually. But in light of being on a desert island/ inside a parachute we created with our theorizing of feminism and progress I said, "Yeah, I do." She said, "Me too." So we paper, scissors, rocked. She won and said, "Does this means I choose who gets it so I should be gracious and give it to you?" No! I said. "I won it fair and square!" She announced while plopping the bite into her jaws.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It All Fades

The other night on the train a teenager was telling his friends casually he was an only child but his mom miscarried twice before he came around. They hung on the loops hanging above and chewed gum.

When I was in 1st grade? 2nd? a girl in my town died unexpectedly of an aneurysm. It was sad but beyond my grasp. It was within my grasp in high school. The family with the late daughter moved from their home, and my wild friend Knoze's family moved in. She had the girl's old room. Complete with bathroom, where the child died. We would often take turns pretending to have brain aneurysms on the toilet and laugh and laugh.

I'm watching this garbage documentary about JonBenet Ramsey while I write lesson plans. I think of "Jon Beignet Ramsey." I imagine a pastry with a curly blonde wig.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

For Posterity

Texted with Ru today to pay homage to a party we went to just about four years ago. It was at Bug's house. Skars showed up as if they weren't broken up. My gang gossiped in the garage. The night ended when this group of three girls who had all taken turns making out were rolling in the gravel outside the front door. One was crying and couldn't stand. One was wearing a skirt with no underwear--flashing to goods to everyone. One whimpered, "This always happens to us." Yikes.

At the time I felt pretty busy working full time and going to school full time, but in hindsight all I remember is pulling up to the party on my brand new scooter, reading in the condo hot tub, dusting my glass desk, and over-wearing my brown floral dress. I know one day I will look back on these early Chicago years and feel just as rosy. For myself on that day, for posterity, an outline of October 1st:

8 - wake up and finish/revise a piece for my sketch class
9:30 - advanced aerobic step class followed by steam room
11 - shower and race around packing my backpack with show clothes and scripts
11: 30 - take $4 Lyft to theatre for sketch class
11:55 - run through Whole Foods across from theatre buying fast lunch/breakfast ($9)
12 - unapologetically eat chili throughout first twenty minutes of class
1:30 - on a break from class buy and consume spinach smoothie and Cliff bar ($10)
2:55 - run out of class
3 - check-in to an audition for a new show at same theatre
4:40 - dash out of the audition and once again into WF for a sushi roll ($8)
4:45 - Uber to SC ($3), scarf wasabi
5 - rapid-fire rehearsal of archived sketch show
7:10 - run to the bathroom, lock the door, flat iron my hair and throw on a dress
7:30 - perform sketch show
8:10 - get notes from director
8:20 - take the train home while answering student emails
9:05 - eat pretzels and hummus, change into casual performance attire
9:15 - Uber to comedy theatre ($4)
9:35 - orchestrate a brief hangout with and old friend from the scene in STL
10:10 - call time for improv show downstairs
10:30 - perform my first sit-in show for WNT
12 - show's over, sit in the greenroom
12:10 - walk to the train
12:40 - arrive home, exhausted but heart still pounding
1 - try to read, pass out

In summation: I spent truly all day yesterday doing comedy. I got paid zero dollars. I spent $46. I should buy stock in Whole Foods. For my first two hours of consciousness today, I stayed in bed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Survive It

1. It is important to watch the political debates.
-1. In preparation secure a small bag of caramels and go to your favorite places, the library, to feel relaxed and be productive before your brain is clogged by hatespew.
2. Watch the debate and also keep peeping Twitter to cut the tension via Lindy West's tweets.
3. Donate money to Hilary's campaign after Trump interrupts her for the tenth time.
4. Discuss what you saw with a loved one.
5. Out down your phone.
6. Watch a scary movie (The Boy) and get creeped and forget for two hours about this election.
7. Keep the windows open. Let autumn on in.
8. Sleep tight, sleep right, go back to the fight in the morning.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Decade of Fall Memories

Walking home from The Goodman with my cowboy boots on. A blast of chilled wind ruffles my braid. I see corners I've seen for two years and wonder how they will look in ten.

The sun shined for Stripes' visit. We walked Maggie Daley holding hot eggnog lattes begging the universe for anything beyond the squat we got. "I would let out a cheer to even be formally rejected," she yelped at the green lions.

Pulled up my Halloween socks and wore fuzzy leggings to Dusty's musical improv show. I couldn't afford the non-student price, but I forgot my ID. My face got hot, and the ticket girl let me go in anyway. On the way home I picked up a pint of trick-oreo-treat flavor of the month from Baskin. Puhg and I ate it in bed while watching Erin Brockovich until 2 in the morning.

I had this grand plan to do a specifically creepy thing every day of October. The 1st, although it was probably 80 degrees, meant a box of Entemann's pumpkin donuts. I ate them in my yellow room before I had to hop on my scooter and work at the testing center.

The year of partymania was old hat. Now it was time for me to spend Friday with a green face mask on reading.

The car radio told me it was a wild weekend ahead--what with the holiday on Sunday. Bars and dress up for three nights straight. I was driving because I had to do my monthly stock pile of Target groceries. The traffic was terrible because of a football game. The carton of napoleon I had in the bag next to me was melting even with the AC on.

Before smartphones we were very lost. East St. Louis actually. It was meant to be a fun girl's night, but we couldn't get home. The light was sucked from corners. So dark, so dark. We were on our way to a haunted house, but we missed it. A cleanup crew met us at the door. It was okay.

My bio lab partner shuffled his little boots a bit after class. There was a nip in the air. He never had much to say but a lot of sass about saying the simple things (HI!!! WE HAVE A TEST!!!) "I have some chocolate in my room?" I tried. "OH I WOULD LOVE CHOCOLATE." We walked back to my dorm and I showed him the Fannie Mays. "HMM," he pondered loudly. He took one small piece and was on the edge of telling me something. But it was too quiet and too chilly.

It happened finally--my polka dot skirt was splayed around my chunky legs as I walked down the street in Kyoto for the final time. The maple leaf cookies were on sale, so I bought some to eat on the train. I think I whispered to what I'm not sure.

Two guys were in the hallway. I thought they were my friends, but they stopped inviting me places. Everything was dying, but I knew it would all become green again soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016




Friday, September 16, 2016


A few years ago a boss-type figure gave me a directive that sincerely improved my life. I was on the teaching staff for an improv theatre. We had a teacher's meeting one night and he started by explaining he was very annoyed no one had responded to his email. He had emailed us a week earlier asking about the date of next month's meeting. I didn't know when would work next month. I didn't respond. When I explained myself he said, "Okay, why didn't you just say that?" UH DUR. I mean, this was an alcoholic who was usually living in motels and he had to teach me that an unsure response is better than no response.

Sending email can be scary. It's so non-committal. You blast this information into the void and it feels sort of inhuman to be ignored. Did it ever reach the other side of the web? Does the silence mean anger, confusion, complete disregard? It makes me want to apologize for trying to correspond with a person I know. So backwards. "I'm sorry for communicating." I can't think of a sadder and incorrect yet common feeling.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Women Underground

Watched 10 Cloverfield Lane last night---a pretty good flick. Without spoiling much, the concept is a young woman wakes up from a car crash in an underground cellar being held captive (?) by an older man. She freaks out, but he maintains the world is under attack either by another country or aliens, and everyone outside is suffering a fatal skin disease. So, is she safe or is she prey? I will talk about this movie--with spoilers--in another post.

What occurred to me as the credits rolled is that this is the 5th piece of media about women being held in a bunker underground I've seen in the past one year: 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Room, Ex Machina, Stranger Things. Oh, and. There's a new movie coming out this fall called Morgan that is also about a girl with special powers trapped in an underground bunker. It's not truly a repetitive "problem" as all five of the works I have seen are actually really good. But, huh.

Being a drinker of the critical theory Kool-Aid, I can't believe this is coincidence. These stories are all slight variations on the current zeitgeist of American feminism. We have been down here with people who say they are helping us when they actually are harvesting us: for our intelligence, for our innocence, for our unique abilities. Most sexist men do not know they are sexist. They become funnels between women and power believing they are protecting women or helping them. Women made huge strides in the earth 20th Century, and then again in the 70s, and now...we reach a new age. Without being an expert in the field, I champion Twitter for bringing women together instead of lashing them apart with catty magazine headlines and lonely kitchens. Not even concrete can contain us and everyone knows it.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Guilt Fees

Can there be a Not Drinking tip that's implied if you get nothing at the bar? I'm writing this on the train full of guac and chips. Fine chips but guilt chips for not ordering alcohol but wanting to be out with my new cast. They were the cheapest appetizer and still eight dollars. I tipped 1.50. I would have rather had no after midnight calories and given the waitress a five spot. I used to get cherry Diet Cokes before caffeine started making me into a wind-up hummingbird.

I walked a ton today. Two and from two theatres, the grocery store, around the neighborhood. Everyone is out enjoying these last summer moments.

Last night I decided to see the musical show I've been cast as an understudy on. It was weirdly diagonal from home, so taking a train is barely worth it. I shrugged and trekked on foot. Down Halstead I listened to The Mountain Goats and was reminded of Oh Yeah That Place Why Don't I Come to This Neighborhood More? Brown rust, broken ATM machine, the jazz club, the teeny prairie homes.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Day of School Jitters

Today I made up my new office at school. I start classes again tomorrow. A sign on top of my papers in the adjunct drawer. I wrote it myself last December. It said "ALICE'S DRAWER COMING BACK FALL 2016." Fall 2016 seemed very far away at the time. I go through the papers--extra grammar quizzes, a reading or two, and a lot of student evals. Memories of all my old students came rushing back. I'm not disappointed to be back to work. I love teaching. I love community college. I love English. But for the first time in my whole life I am scared.

Any time I start something new I know I won't be great right away. The bar is low, and I make progress. Not bad. I wasn't nervous for my first classes at my current institution or even my first classes ever. But I'm nervous today. Because a year ago I had it down. I knew every day's lessons and how to make them fun and exactly how to talk to the student who simply can't write complete sentences. I have forgotten a lot. I have my notes for tomorrow, yes, and my old syllabi, but so much is hazy. What if I haven't budgeted enough time? What if I budgeted too much? What if I accidentally skip over important steps in the essay process? What if they don't like me? There's so much more to lose when you're doin' pretty good. You know what it's like.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Emergency trip to Target to buy a curling iron, both of mine are broken, the bus was twenty minutes late, so I walked in the rain, getting sweaty under my slick jacket, while there I also better get a notebook for lessons plans, oh god I still haven't finished the syllabus, school is in five days, later later later, do a Jillian Michaels workout, it's hard, I whimper, "I'm dying" but gotta get the energy out, use the new curling iron, it's not that great, did I keep the receipt? I hope so I don't remember I have to eat a big breakfast, I'm going to be busy through lunch, spinach bowl and four strips--no eight strips--veggie bacon, pack my duffel bag full, now I'm really pushing it, I jump in the Lyft, I arrive one minute late to my first writing packet writing class, the teacher is three minutes late, he launches in right away and does not let up for forty minutes, shoot I thought I'd have had a moment to--apologize before 1 PM? I raise my hand an say I have to go, I do, my Lyft is taking a while I get a coffee at Whole Foods, it's too strong, I don't drink it, I arrive at SC, we warm up, we go right into setting the lights, setting the lights, run this group scene, last minute adjustments, makeup, hair, sitting for half an hour, not quite enough time to read, I look at my lines, I look at the running order, we get "places" so I'm in the left corner backstage by the mic I do the fire call, yes I'm doing the fire call, "In accordance with Actor's Equity there will be no photography of any kind allowed" and I'm on stage, you know the one like everyone ever performed on that one, we do the thing, I change, Puhg greets me with a bag of Old Navy shorts, he just went shopping, he was in the fourth row, I saw him, we meet my castmates sipping complimentary drinks, I have a big pretzel, I'm really hungry, in ten minutes my old company is starting their show, I run upstairs to the cab theatre, wait in line to comp myself in, at the front the girl tells me I'm waiting at a bar, who knew, I get in and sit with Flood's boyfriend, I laugh loud and proud I love them, I give all the congrats, I sit on a bench for ten minutes, go into a classroom, my new group, I've been plopped in, they're all thick as thieves, also everyone dressed up in 80s attire for the show, everything is strange, we warm up and talk about our form, in an hour we're doing it, it's weird, it's over, I run into Dum, we walk to the Brown line together and catch up, talk and talk until my stop comes, I text girlfriends and ask if they're out or if they have brownies, no one does, omg I am hungry, I make it home and eat crackers and cheese, Puhg is sleepy and sad (he watched The Pianist while I did an improvised After School Special), it's time for bed, it's time for bed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


-ate crackers and cheese on the couch
-Puhg shows me how he cleaned the shower, there is also a "Welcome Home" banner
-walked the neighborhood, seeing what's new and not
-Puhg dines on some buckwheat pancakes
-sleeping in my own bed
-lake walk while I talk lines out loud for next gig
-my favorite feel good brunch!
-appt. and green smoothie
-improv and sketch rehearsal with people I don't know who I now like!
-hugging a crying friend
-buying candy at Walgreens and then deciding I want different candy and no one giving me guff for exchanging DOLLAR CANDY (ended up with Buncha Crunch fyi)
-saw Lights Out on $6 Tuesday, some good scares, some good movie seat cuddles!
-unpack everything
-back to the gym, my step teacher gave me a sweaty hug!
-grocery shoppin'
-discussing comedy over fancy hot cocoa with Flood
-but also working my tail off, seriously my tail is gone because of lesson plans and writing contests and lines and emails but I am home I am home I am home

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Arizona was a magical part of my life. Specifically the first two years before sadness and success started creeping in. She sings you don't know what you got til it's gone, but I did. I read my textbooks by the pool and praised the sunset as I biked home every night. I ate cookie dough for dinner and had a Netflix account that allowed me two whole hours of streaming per month.

Some days my life is even more magical than it's ever been. Period. But other days I wake with Ambition, and sometimes I suck it down and fall asleep easy. Other days I'm scrambling or can't scramble and lay down in a pit with my Instagram and a loaf of loathe.

Everything has become a countdown when actually THIS is the time of our lives.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Becoming a Woman

In Bossy Pants, Tina Fey explains that most women, when asked to identify the moment, usually realize they have "become a woman" in some relation to men (either they were hit on, or kissed, etc.). I don't know exactly when I "became a woman." I appreciate the recent movement for ladies above 18 to be called "women" and not "girls," but I would  (myself) rather be called a girl? I guess in the comedy community I don't know, like, ANY people I would refer to as full adults. I call "men" guys and "women" ladies or gals.

I do, however, know that when I was in high school and SNL did a cold open that mapped the FRIENDS finale over George Bush and Dick Cheney in the oval office, I had to explain what all the jokes meant to my mom. I think that was a decent mile-marker entry into adulthood.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ocean Reflections: Long Distance

Getting restless to see Puhg. We've been apart so long, and we've reached the level of longing where we daydream about going grocery shopping together.

Long distance is never ideal, but honestly, it hasn't been terrible. We have a very healthy relationship together, and, welp, that didn't change when I was at sea. We're both open communicators in terms of what we need, expect, and appreciate in our relationship. And we both (with very rare exception) follow through when the other asks for anything. It was important for me to hear from Puhg at the end of the day, so if my phone was eating texts, he would be sure to fire off an email to me. Puhg likes photos, so I was sure to send him four or five on my day in port. He wired me money to buy a new Easter dress. I delivered chocolate bunnies to the apartment. And at the end of the contracts I would always be going home. No amorphous blob of "future."

In some ways, I feel we have gotten closer. Because I went on a weird adventure, we shared a free Caribbean cruise vacation. We had the time and savings to visit Spain. We both encountered new challenges individually and were able to experience working through them as a team. After being apart for so long, we appreciate so much more about "regular" life. I miss the minutia. I am dead Emily in Our Town with a pang in my heart wishing I could hear one of his made up chopping vegetables songlets.

We've come across many could be perceived as obstacles forks from my artistic journey. Two and a half years ago some friends told me it was naive to want the dream and the love. How could I consider moving at all? But we love Chicago. It's made our lives incredible in so many unforeseeable ways.

When all I had was an invite to the ship audition, it seemed scary. If Puhg had told me "Don't go," I wouldn't have gone. But I suppose I'd also never be dating someone who told me "Don't go." It's too simple to reason, "If you're serious about this relationship, you won't endanger it with a wild experience." But, again, now that I am two short weeks from reunion, I know we are better for it.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Five Awesome Things That Happened on August 3rd!

1. Two mile walk while listening to This American Life!
2. I worked on my new screenplay fueled by a snickerdoodle iced coffee and a s'more muffin from a hut called "Deja Brew." The treats were a total of $3! Maine prices!
3. Met up with a woman I met on the cruise ship who happens to live in Maine and happens to be a high school theatre teacher and also happens to have been trained in Michael Chekhov which no one is ever trained in but I was!
4. Did two short form improv shows and entered the musical game as a Taco Fairy and sang a song called "With Great Tacos Come Great Responsibility"!
5. Dollar made us all go to a little beach on the way home, and I was annoyed, but then "Love Story" by T Swift played while we were lost in the woods and when we finally got to the beach the stars were incredible and I could see so much Milky Way and Jams kept seeing shooting stars and apologizing since we didn't see them so we all decided to look the same direction and the brightest shooting star ever flew down and turned GREEN AND EXPLODED and we squealed with delight!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Last Dance, Last Chance for Love

A perfect port day. Aunt P was in Boston and met me at a coffee shop with a sweet outdoor patio for sun-sittin’! We meandered to the contemporary art museum to enjoy shadow plays and photographs. Got some green smoothie, some internet, some phone time. No pangs of urgency getting back aboard. I ate dinner alone at the diner, ordering a hack mish mash of sides to construct lime fish tacos. I wonder what people around me think. “This person dressed in almost pajamas came on a cruise alone and is working very hard to make okay food.” I holed up in the cabin, writing, writing, writing.

Ideally this would be a “FINAL CRUISE! LIVE LIKE WE’RE DYING!” week, but it just wasn’t. I was pretty happy! But, no bucket list items dramatically checked, no wild risks to take, no things I loved so much that the goodbyes would be difficult. In fact, the only thing I could think of even remotely in the “I want to say farewell” category was the flourless chocolate cake served Saturdays at lunch. This week it just wasn’t there. I shrugged my shoulders and chomped a Pop-tart while watching UnReal. I felt like I SHOULD go to Hamilton one more time, and the places I wanted to visit were closed. I ended up eating overpriced avocado rolls and scamming some internet. The highlight was actually the ferry trip itself. Sun, wind, and Final Fantasy on my Spotify. I watched my favorite part of the magician’s act at night, was invited to a cabin party, went for ten minutes, realized I actually had nothing new to say to these people I see every day, and curled up with The Night Of instead. I did make it to Zum Zum class (Zumba rip off) after promising my friend who teaches it for the past month I would. I showed up and danced in the front row since no one else would. I shimmied and chirped when told to. The class was really short. My friend hugged me after and said, “I’m still drunk from last night you have no idea.” #Cruisin

I was productive—writing every day, finishing my solo show, starting new projects, jumping in deep to my next screenplay, reading Sick in the Head, listening to podcasts. I have gotten SO much writing done since February. I got four essays published, finished multiple drafts of my screenplay, made a big fat revision of my musical, started a new play, lesson planned, and wrote a solo show. Most days I wish I had done more, but looking back on what I’ve accomplished while in the middle of the ocean, I think I did alright.

Monday Folds, MB, and I made a trip to St. George with some dancers. A great day beginning with a pleasant ride over, crumpets, and beaching. I got lobstered, but I also swam to a cool rock, and read a lot of Ta-Nehisi Coates (keepin’ it light on vacation! LOL).

I’m very into Dan Harmon right now. I finished Rick and Morty and kind of became obsessed with hearing how this self-proclaimed alcoholic functions. The final days feel strange. I am getting curious about the outside world again because it will be within my grasp soon. I start to have a bit of an irrational fear. I wonder if I will die before my contract ends. Like a “this cop got shot one day before retirement” situation. I think if I voice this silly thought it will melt away. I tell Folds and MB. They tell me it’s likely. “No!” I say over and over. At farewell steakhouse dinner we discuss what we’re excited to get home to. MB adds under her breath, “if you make it.” I explain the bit to the table and Tail, stone face asked, “What do you want done with your cadaver?”

We had a very special gift—our last show ever was our best show ever. Every seat taken. People piling down the staircases. Standing far far away. At least 1,100 very happy people/fire hazards. I got one minuscule catch in my throat as we sang the finale. It was a dream afterall.

MB and I do a bit where she’s my annoyed teenager Penelope, and I’m her divorced mother. She does Soduku and hangs it on the bathroom door pouting, “I just want you to be proud of me!” I respond, “Doing a puzzle doesn’t make you special.” She says, “This is why Dad left.” After the show we were gabbing and changing when she sat down on the bed with wet eyes. “I’m gonna miss you,” she said. We hugged. She sniffed and added in a sullen voice, “I don’t think it was your fault Dad left.”

The last two days expand into infinity.  I start actually counting the hours, but they still don’t pass any quicker. I have exactly one friend from the ship I have made on my own. He's a bar server from St. Lucia--the one who started "Smart Alice." Without much to do, I hang around his post for a solid hour one night. I learn tons about St. Lucia, his life, his plans. It's hard to crack into a real relationship with people you see in passing, with a major cultural divide, sometimes language divide, but I am leaving with one real pal and an open invite to his island anytime.

I see the dancers do their toughest show for the last time, have a Bachelorette viewing party with some of them, visit the crew pool again, pack it all up, sign the paperwork, do the last improv show all together. It's a good one. Everybody has a shining moment. The cast wasn't the cuddliest I have ever worked with, but it was one of the most talented. Tops and professional at that. The debark process is terrible--waiting and waiting and lines and tired and we don't even say goodbye is the truth of it. We all go through immigration at different times and in a puff of engine smoke it's over.

My bus to Maine is twice delayed. 7 hours. Arriving at 11 PM. A meth head sits behind me and the driver is an angry, jerky driver. I throw up in the bathroom. Of a Greyhound. I can't believe I'm not going back. I arrive at my next gig so late, so hungry, on a rabid hunt for food. Everything is closed so gas station burritos will have to do. I don't mind. There's something wonderful about it all. The harsh bright lights, the aisles. I am free. I am different and free.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Penultimate

Island of Hamilton!
Guest entertainers only have to attend one crew drill per month. After our last one (first week in July) I said, “At least this is our last!” ZPill said, “Don’t. The ship will hear you.” I corrected to the wind and waves, “I take it back!” But, it was too late. On Monday night, around 10 PM, our manager calls to tell us the new policy is guest entertainers go to two crew drills per month effective immediately. So long Tuesday plans. The deck is on FIRE. I woke up early to workout before hand, which adds to my guts feeling boiled. I had drank about a third of a bottled water. Why? Because there is literally no more water being sold in crew areas. A new policy means passengers can’t bring beverages on or off board, so they’re (understandably) buying twice as much water as usual. Which means all the bottles in crew bar and mart have been brought upstairs. I have two big bottles and I am trying to ration them for the week. I drink two cups every meal at the buffet, but I’m getting increasingly suspicious. I’ve been sickly this whole contract. The men who come on board to work on the purification systems never ever ever drink ship water. Not even through two filters. They’re a strictly Aquafina gang. All this is to say, I almost pass out in the Bermuda heat. The lifejacket I am made to wear for an hour seems to get tighter and tighter around my neck. I sweat profusely. Something’s coming out of my shoulder blade—a bump. I ask MB to rub it and it feels like I’m a hunchback in training. There’s a stress lump growing. The drill ends, and I run to the buffet to guzzle three glasses of water.

The ferry to Hamilton is one of my favorite pieces of life. All the big island houses hiding in green hills. Sailboats. Breeze. Tail says he thinks the seats smell like mildew, but they smell like the ferry to me, so I guess I like mildew now. I tottled to a little coffee shop and had a “normal person day.” I wrote, gchatted, emailed, researched for hours. I almost caught the 6 o’clock ferry, but instead I spotted a teeny wooden restaurant called Devil’s Isle and the pull of a beet quinoa fennel cashew bowl was too strong. I drank a sour cherry soda and journaled about how to love more people. I walked back to the sea, sat on the balcony of the boat, listened to Keegan Michael Key on a podcast. Onboard I went to the gym, showered, and started Sophie’s Choice while eating ginger cookies from the local market. At 10:30 crew spa night started. I started a failed game of Marco Polo in the reflecting pool and closed my eyes in the sauna. It was almost midnight, but I was still up. I put on a skirt and made my way to nightlife. MB was out with a gaggle of peeps who all shocked said, “What are you doing out!” I danced for an hour or so before getting bored and wondering what the choice Sophie was going to make. I was watching Meryl when MB bust in with a gang of several people drunk and hungry. They ordered pizzas from room service and we all marveled at how everyone else sounds smarter to us (South African, British, American, Australian accents flying).

I spent a lot of time thinking philosophically about our sketch show while curling my hair. So many adults don’t laugh on a regular basis. We really get to bring a lot of joy to people. It’s something not to be taken lightly. And then we performed to the most tired, sunburned house ever. The lines fell painfully flat. The scenes barely moved at functioning level without the natural rhythm of pausing for laughs. Ten college kids sat in the front row, totally annoyed, not clapping as we bowed. Oof. But I don’t mind. I mean, it happens. And the show was actually still good—just not well received. It’s great practice to be disliked. And what do you know, the 9 PM was literally our best house ever. We performed the exact same show to roars and screams of joy.

Cruises remind me of high school. Your social patterns and status are so temporary and you KNOW they are temporary, but also, inside the bubble it seems like your whole world is ending if, say, you have nothing to do on a night you want to do something. You have to consciously step back and say, “Wait a minute, there’s only ONE thing to do right now that’s not watch a movie by myself. And it’s a fake dance contest I have seen twenty times. And it’s not really very entertaining.” Or, “I like my cast, but they are not my best friends. So maybe no need to get so upset about one of them hurting my feelings.”

It’s been hard writing my solo show. I have an urgency to do it, but just as much force in the self-doubt column. I need to send my next draft by Friday, and so much judgment crowds in. And so I fight! I fight very hard! I ask for text support from my spirit squad. I read Lean In at the gym. I pray. I do more research. I force myself to recall how I always feel this way and then sternly say, “And was it bad? What actually happened with the last thing you were afraid of?” I ask what will happen if I truly fail. Not very much. I keep writing.

After our first improv show Wednesday I have dinner with MB and Folds. He’s disappointed he wasn’t more productive. In some ways, no one should be disappointed in themselves here. Menial things take way longer, your mental state is stale, you’re lonely. On the other hand, if you haven’t done “it” in this environment, you probably won’t. This job is the perfect backdrop for any major goal. And if you can’t do it here, you probably don’t actually want to. I am relieved to find out I want to be a writer. I want to work out every day. I don’t want to be healthy (I had a free salad bar at every meal and I still opted for candy lunch.) I don’t want to meditate. I don’t want to keep an organized closet. This is the land of no excuses, only the harsh mirror of reality. At 2 AM MB and I are trying to sleep, but I keep starting 90s songs and replacing the key words with “scone.” She’s definitely over it, but I complete the entirety of Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Scone” anyway.

Our closing night show wasn’t good. Our opening was solid, and we closed with a great rap battle. So I doubt the audience hated it. But what happened in the middle was…just fine. It’s tough to shake the stink off. You just have to forget. Watch a castmate practice magic tricks, eat all the sour cream cheddar Pringles in bed with your roommate. Tail explains Native Americans would sometimes go to jail and be told it was for a year, but they had no concept of time. It felt like the end was never coming. They chose to starve.

A few of us walk the windy streets to the next island over to see the cemetery up close. Mostly sailors who drowned or died working on a ship. I whisper to stones I like best, “You can haunt me if you want.” Folds even dares me to lay down in a sunken plot of land. He takes us through a grassy path to a secret beach. It’s full night at this point, and the boys strip down and swim via moonlight. I decide to head back to the graveyard to get more time by the gazebo, but a few steps into the narrow trail I swear I hear someone spit, so I run back and wait for companions. On the walk back to the boat we come across some abandoned condos. I want to go in—fitting with the night—but right as Folds gets to the doorway he yells, “F*ck that, no way.” And we kind of take off, a bit faster than we came.