Saturday, May 13, 2017

Beep Beep

Yesterday was the last day of Spring term. I am writing this from a cab on my way to the airport.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Failing, Flailing

There is a bad day that happens once a semester in English 101. I have to give students the results of their Exit Exams. A third of them fail. Maybe one or two bombed, but the rest have been failing pretty consistently all term. They didn't show up, they didn't do the revisions, they didn't pay attention during grammar review. They're in high school brain. It is a shock to many that just because I like them and they like me, they can still get Fs. I tell them about the grades on Blackboard, but they don't look.

It doesn't feel good to tell anyone they can't progress to 102--even when I know it will be a total disaster for them to go to 102. I worry that they'll give up and stop school altogether. I worry they will stop speaking English. I worry they will feel like dumb dumbs.

Last week I was rushing to work. At the el, I stood in a big line of people waiting to pass through the turnstyle. When I was next in line a woman shoved herself in front of me and tapped her pass. She was very professional looking and did not make eye contact. She wore ear buds so any fussy comments I might sigh would not be heard. HMPH. I tapped in right after her. Then she had the nerve to walk slowly up the middle of the stairs. I grumbled behind her watching my train disappear right as I reached the landing. I would have made it if I had had 30 more seconds. I stewed watching the stuffed cars fly by. And then, one minute later, another train showed up. It was almost empty because everyone was crowding into the previous one. I got a seat, which is a rarity on morning commutes. I could read in peace, and got to school but one minute later than expected.

Friday, May 5, 2017


I was never temped by the food in the freshman cafeteria. All the freshman at my high school ate in their own secluded mini-caf to...I don't know, bond as a class? Not be intimidated by the upper classmen? The food choices were chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, some dumb snacks, pizza, fries. My first semester I packed my lunch. I think I ate a lot of pb & j and bags of potato chips. Off-brand Oreos. My second semester I had an early lunch right after swimming. I remember swallowing a lot of chlorinated water and always feeling winded from having to get ready in five minutes after laps. My look that spring: wet slimy hair, a bloated tummy, and hastily applied lip gloss. The only thing I could even imagine eating for some unknown reason were pretzels and Kit Kats. So that's what I ate. For five months. Very occasionally (like, three times) I bought a donut from the lunch line, and I would be given a free fruit cup. Everyone always got a free fruit cup. It had something to do with the school being able to get government funding for balanced meals. I spent around 100 hours total in that dumb room, and I remember very little.

A rando from the town everyone made fun of shared my lunch seat with me for two weeks. He asked me to write him notes but only drew pictures in response. A boy in my history class asked to see my homework "just to check his answers" and I let him have it. I watched it circle his entire table, everyone copying. I tried to drink Brisk Iced Tea like a club of two new friends did, but I thought it was very gross. My friend Smidge and I would quietly sing Les Mis to each other when we were bored. One girl gave up junk food for lent and ate it every day, making tally marks in a notebook. She said, "I'll make it up later."

My iced coffee got warm yesterday. I was at the Writing Center, so I asked around if there was a soda fountain somewhere in the building. There was one in the cafeteria, I learned, so I walked in for the first time and was immediately struck with a flood of nostalgia. It smelled EXACTLY like that freshman lunch room, and as far as I can tell, nothing in my life has ever smelled the same. I wanted to eat all the food even though I hadn't eaten it when I was fourteen. If I ingested that tray of fries, would I be fourteen again? As if being fourteen is so great in the first place.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Other Alice

Last night I met with a gloomball for dinner. I was late because of the rain, and I felt bad. I apologized a lot and then had to choose my order quickly.
"Okay, come on, Alice. Get it together and pick what you want."
I was between the s'more brownie and an order of guac.
"Hey, it's okay, Alice," my friend said. I looked up quizzically, "Oh, not you. I'm talking to the other Alice you're putting a lot of pressure on."
She had a point. I got the brownie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Coke Cutting Jobs

It's always framed as a bummer when people get laid off. But Coke is cutting like 1,500 jobs because they're not selling as much pop, which is, ultimately, a good thing. I don't doubt there are many many sad realities ex-workers of Coke are currently facing. But big big picture? Aces.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Unlucky Stars

I've noticed I haven't been writing about comedy very much, which in interesting because that is my life more than teaching. I guess I have been doing the comedy and thinking about the teaching.

This Sunday was a very special day for me. I graduated the training program at Comedy High. I started the program as an intensive in 2012--before I even lived in Chicago! Wow! It took me almost five years to complete, but not a moment too long. The drawback of not working through the program step by step concurrently was not having a solid "group," but the flip side is, of course, I got to get in a little with like four different groups. I learned a ton--about myself as a performer and a person, and I was offered so many incredible opportunities because of those teachers. I thank my lucky stars. And my unlucky stars even.

In my final graduation shows, at times I felt self-conscious. I have worked as a professional comedian for a while. Many people in classes were just starting out. I got nervous I wasn't doing as well as I should be considering my experience. Or, I did okay but didn't have any fun. I think learning humility to always try my best, expect the best of others, and no matter what, leave it on stage (I'm sorry, barf) was invaluable.

Sunday was our last show, and I felt so fortunate to feel like a baby improviser again staying at the bar until one and giggling with friends old and new. A-Ro was talking to a cute guy. As we left I asked if he had her number. He texted her on our walk to the Red Line. We were three blocks from home when we ran into two other gals outside smoking. She told them she was texting a boy and we all crowded around the screen watching it happen. Now we're on a group text. I don't remember their names.

The other wonderful thing about Sunday was that I was invited to sit-in on one of my dream teams. I mean, seriously geek-out, my idols play on this team. And I got to play too! I ran from my student show upstairs taking two Oreo truffles from the greenroom in my pocket. I will remember every scene from that set forever and ever. I took a stupid selfie at the end of the night for Instagram and tried to write an appropriate caption multiple times. I ended up just stringing some emoji and posting so that when I scroll backwards in a couple years I remember why I moved here, why I love improv, that Chicago is the greatest city in the world.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Some Writing Center Fun

I love when students come in with papers about legalizing medical marijuana and try to avoid telling me (but like, I'm gonna read the paper?). I'm like "what's your topic?" "we could choose one" "okay so what did you choose?" "oh, something political" "okay what" "um, about medicine" "uh huh" "..." "..." "..." " some people with parkinson's use an herb I guess for their pain?" OHHHKAY I SEE. When I finally push it out of them they're like, "Yeah, I dunno, I read an article about this marijuana stuff and it seems interesting..." I'm like o rly? With your Jamaican flag patch backpack? And then once I'm like, "Yes, it's a very undervalued topic in our political system. Very interesting and important--especially when considering repercussions in our prison systems!" they relax and we can work.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Have Done the Thing That Made Me Feel Alive

Those motivational quotes and social media posts, "Do the thing that scares you," "Now is your chance," "This is your sign." I don't see them because I have done it. I have chased the things that make me feel alive. I also keep doing them. There are no more leaps to make. And what are the motivational posters for that?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spring Break (Finale)

My visit fell right on the eve of Jimbo's final MBA project. He was high off the relief, chattering and springy, so we walked to St. Louis pizza. A new door opened. More proof that you don't have to be around The Institutions for magic to happen. In fact, that's likely a recipe for unhappiness -> disaster -> closed doors.

On Friday I met with undergrad students to talk about working in comedy/writing/whatever my dumb life is. P weird because I am trash 95% of the time, but in answering their questions I was like, "Oh I kind of know some things it turns out and also have been paid to do all the things that were once my dreams, so who knew!" I tried to write in the library, with a homemade poptart as my prize, but I thought about it so much I just ate it and then opened up a word doc and closed it. It's vacation.

At night my mom and I walked around campus. We noticed an observatory tour starting. I noted strargazing was something I did while visiting the college, but I never went as a student. (Ditto eating a giant waffle.) We looked at Jupiter from the singing lens. At the house she whipped up a huge bowl of cream. I put it in a bowl of strawberries. The air is flower-heavy. Mom holds onto a sprig of lavender. In the morning it is brown.

I get ready slowly, taking photos of the dogs, doing a flat abs workout (sunglasses emoji), packing, shoving deviled eggs into my face. We walk to the general store. I'm on the train now. I feel unproductive, but I'm outlining projects and reassessing my focus. That is work I could not bill but work that needs to be done nonetheless. Summer is shaking out and creeping up.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spring Break (So Far)

My cereal bowls are piling on the nightstand at my mom's house. Cinnamon Toast Crunch while I watch 13 Reasons Why in bed. Everything became green in a blink. I am optimistic. Then I worry if I am too optimistic (RESIST). But maybe being a libertarian society wouldn't be so bad. Mia says, "Oh yeah, kids will go to McDonalds High School. Whatever." She's wearing a t-shirt from work. She wears the same bun as she did ten years ago. My drama teacher is expanding to work with sports broadcasting students. I ask if it was hard to give up professional theatre. She tells me it's not even about the theatre--it's about being able to do everything at once.

I didn't open my computer for two days. I ran around my old college campus. I ran down the river road. I ran in an undetermined direction guessing it was two miles. If not, eh. Kath and I in the Guest House cutting up. I often can't believe I'm old enough to rent a hotel room.

I get to watch Survivor the night it is on. Ooh boy was it a good one. LC and I went to the pub I worked at for four years. They added sprinkles to the shake menu. I ate them. My mom reads at church. I walk there just far enough behind my old professor that it would seem foolish to catch up. Her shoulders are heavy. She is a new widow. She gives me great advice about academic journals and wears a very smart blazer. I'm jazzed about a collab with a friend. We plot in a 50 minute window. Once I say I will do a thing, I know I am going to do the thing.

The dogs have just gotten haircuts. They're fuzzy and I like to pet them, but lord do they bark.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Not Syria

I am reading The Things They Carried--a high school classic that was never on my syllabus. It's beautiful and sad. There are reasons the canon is the canon. I worry about the future like I'm looking through a cloud. I know I could walk through, but I can't see right now.

I figured out the tack to take with the troublesome third grader. He yells, "OBJECTION BORING" in the middle of activities. I used to remind him it is hurtful to talk during other people's scenes. Now I deadpan, "Overruled" and he clams up.

No matter what depths of hell a student pulls their grade from through late work and office hours, they always manage to grub for a B. "Focus on writing the paper, not doing the math," I say. This guy was in prison for years, and he still just wants to get a B for arbitrary reasons.

Three scenes in a row I wasn't in in last night's show. I put my forehead against the backstage and waited. This is not what I had imagined. I like groups of people, but I dislike large plates of food. I know we eat that much individually, but all at once it seems scary. Where will it go? Inside us? Like a reverse alien shooting out of someone's chest. Instead we swallow it down.

I'm reading about Syria and Puhg watches a Vice about plastic in the ocean. I can't move. I live here, I should be happy every day. Jury still out on how we can save the world.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One Shake at a Time

It was a Friday night during my freshman year of college. A girl from my dorm and I were working on the "shake side" of our school pub and grill. There was some huge event that just let out right as we got to work and ticket after ticket kept wrrring from the teeny printer. We'd rip them off and shove them, crammed, onto the order line.

Making a milkshake involved a seven-step process. 1. Dip seven scoops of ice cream into the metal cup. 2. Walk to the grill side and add a little milk from the cow. 3. Add requested toppings. 4. Using a machine, forcefully blend everything in the cup. 5. Empty the ice cream into a paper cup. 6. Add a spoon. 7. Rinse the mug immediately. Start to finish each shake was about five minutes of work.

There were two of us and around fifty shake orders fifteen minutes into our shift. They kept coming. I kept racking up math. 25 shakes times five minutes per shake divided by two people plus five shakes times five minutes divided by two...I worried. And then I stopped worrying. There was literally nothing I could do to speed up the process. My coworker was audibly squeaking and hemming. She was rushing. But so what if you crumble a Reese's cup in 20 seconds instead of 40? You can hastily slosh the water in the mug, but then it's kind of slimy and you just have to go back and do it again when you need a new cup.

We would not finish the work cut out for us. People would wait an hour for a milkshake. But guess what? Oh well. I didn't slack, but I worked at a steady, relaxed pace. I was paid by the hour (I think $6.25). I did what I could do. I probably even sang quietly along to the Top 40 radio.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Five Teaching Standards I Stick By

1. Turn Papers Back the Class After They Are Due

Students forget so fast. They think about my class in the exact hours they are sitting in it and rarely dedicate outside time to reflecting on what they learned. Even asking, "What did we do last class?" elicits widespread chin-scratching. With every minute that passes from when students put their pencils down, they forget more and more what they wrote about and how they felt while writing it. Immediate feedback is key. Two-week old feedback can be like reading comments on a stranger's essay.

Also, how can students move forward taking what they learned from the last assignment if they don't have feedback on said assignment? I think it's practically cruel and unusual to ask students to write more without the knowledge of their current progress. I would be livid if my boss asked me to do a project, I finished it, he said he would get back to me on how to improve the project, but in the meantime he told me to do a very similar project that should be better than the first (based on his and not my own standards). That's lunacy. When I work with students at the Writing Center I usually start with "What kinds of feedback do you usually get on papers?" and when they answer, "I haven't gotten my other papers back yet," I want to pop someone in the kneecap.

2. Give Students Time in Class to Review Paper Feedback

Many teachers give students papers back at the end of a class. I understand the desire to do this. Grades can be emotional--for both teacher and student. Students can feel sad or defeated after a bad grade. Teachers can feel nervous about a student not liking us after a harsh grade. But! Put the emotions aside to best serve students. I find the tension that can come with a bad grade is better dissolved by letting a student ask questions immediately rather than letting them stew.

No one wants students distracted reading comments during class activities. That's why reading comments should BE the activity. In really only takes fifteen minutes to let students read every comment while I circulate clarifying comments or answering handwriting questions. I've also found I literally must go to every student and say "Can you read what I wrote?" I used to always let everyone know I was walking around to answer questions, but a surprising amount of students say "Yes" when I ask "Did you get it?" but then if I ask, "Could you read everything I wrote?" they say, "Oh, no." They're worried I'll be offended. In reality, I know I grade on the train and my pen slips sometimes. If they don't have time to read the comments, they won't. They'll see a good grade and be happy and never think about it again. They'll see a bad grade and be miffed and never think about it again.

3. Have Each Student Speak within the First Fifteen Minutes of Class

If students don't directly engage with me within the first few minutes, there's too much likelihood they're in their own brains for the entire period. They need to feel like part of the class right away to later join in the day's lessons actively.

4. Do Not Be Disappointed

Very cliche, but on the first day I say, "I am not your mom, and I am not your girlfriend. I am your teacher. I'm never going to be offended or disappointed by how you do in class." When I had teachers who told me they were "disappointed" by me that just made me never want to look at them again. That's weird. Why would a teacher have the emotional investment in me to be disappointed? Being supportive but emotionally disconnected means a) a totally appropriate classroom relationships and b) If I'm not going to be personal about a student's education, they don't have to feel guilty to me if they miss class or don't succeed. That's on them. They can be honest with me about their real struggles not coming to school, for example, instead of having to make up a huge story about their sick grandma.

5. Learn about the Class

At the start of the term learn who these people are. A simple writing assignment will do. Basic questions: why are you here, what are your goals, etc. Halfway through the class one-on-one meetings are necessary. Students need to know I am paying attention. I need to know what they need.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


1. Let it be. Are you humble enough to float, to move with the stream? Submit your will to the sea.
2. Be a salmon.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


7:30 AM - rise, read the news, check email
8 AM - research train tickets for Spring Break, journal, read spirituality essays
9 AM - run four miles at the gym while reviewing a new screenplay
10 AM - shower and shove my life together
10:25 - run to the 22 bus, eat yogurt on the bus spilling on leggings
10:50 - jump off the bus and go to Dunkin for a vanilla cupcake coffee for me and a large regular for my mentor
11 AM - arrive at mentor's house, he greets me with pastry cake, continue outlining our new pilot
12:45 - walk to work at T Community College
1 PM - meet with a student to tutor her in paragraph sturcture
2 PM - catch the train to Lakeview, read The Things They Carried
2:20 - get a pink manicure
3 PM - sit in a table read of a new screenplay
5 PM - give feedback to famous writer (!)
5:45 - go home to Puhg, buy train tickets, organize papers/plans for tomorrow's classes, eat kale bowl
6:30 PM - improv class at The A________
7:50 PM - Lyft to i_, answer student emails in the car
8:15 warm-up with Dollar in the green room, other castmate brings cookies in a Ziploc
8:35 do two-person set with Dollar about high school detective duo
9 PM watch rest of show
10 PM sit at the bar with Pookie & Had, chatting
11 PM ride train home, walk the wet sidewalk
11:30 double-check lesson plans, snacks for full-day ahead
11:55 sleep

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Seven women. A witchy number, a holy number. It started as a Galentine's party but as the plans deepened and the email chain wore on, it became Coven Weekend 2017. It was routine to receive  messages like "The black flame candle has been lit."

The first five to arrive in Sprite's woodsy family cabin unpacked quickly. There were kimonos for everyone and foam crowns to bedazzle. We all showed off our snacks. I told the group I felt like I was in 4th grade again, bringing a literal suitcase of doll clothes to a friend's house just to sort of marvel at it all and not really to put it on my Bitty Baby, or even, for that matter, hold my Bitty Baby. I ate a bunch of fancy cheese. I ate like I had never eaten before. Hoof said, "Me too. I am so snacky! I wonder if its because I am in a safe space." It's a joke and it's not a joke.

When the final two arrived we played a game that involved drawing cartoons with dry-erase markers. In between we chattered about our lives and Roxanne Gay and singlehood and pain tolerance, and wow are women amazing. A medical head of Cook County Hospital. Four JDs. 6 out of 7 of us have been into prisons?! An all-star roller derby champ. We flipped the sand timer and also discussed the Chicago police chief. I said I have been thinking about becoming a cop, and no one laughed at me. "You would be a good cop," they said.

After the glitter tatts it was time for the fire. We wrote out what we want to rid ourselves of and went around the circle burning the scrap papers one at a time. Strained relationships, Catholicism, the fear of moving, the error of being a failure. Into the pit. A marshmallow got stuck in my fur hood. I don't want to wash it. Every time I put on my coat I smell firewood. One house far away on a hill, we blared femme pop music and danced. We channeled the Crucible. I always felt someone was missing. Hunny, drunk, slurred about her passed grandma who she believes haunts her. There were no wrong answers. When my teammates were too wine competitive for charades I sat on the carpet and had my tarrot cards read. The message was clear. It soothed me. "I guess you shouldn't become a cop," Nasty said. I guess not.

We all skittered to the basement. A large room with bunk beds. I chose a top. In the middle of the night, time unclear, I had to throw up. It was pitch black. My period had started. Summoned? I felt empty in the good way.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dream, March 16 2017

I was on the cruise ship again. We were at port. I was on a beach with MB. She was, characteristically, being very social and bouncing about people partying. Someone I know treated me strangely and I asked for advice from a woman walking by. It helped. I went inside a sunken ship. I could not remember who our third female castmate was. I asked MB. She couldn't remember either. We tried everything (rereading emails, asking dancers), but everyone had forgotten.

MB and I went to the bathroom, and when we came out of the stalls we saw a man's face peeking in the door. I froze in fear. MB's instinct was to run after him. In a large, dark room of junk we saw a cabinet door creaking. She walked to it. I wanted to leave. Right as she was about to swing it open the man, middle age and Chinese, walked out. He didn't speak English and pretended he was looking for cleaning supplies.

We discussed him. Maybe he was just waiting to clean the bathroom. Or maybe he was a creep. We would never know. I remembered something in real life that connected to the fake world and woke up suddenly at 5:40. It came to me--there was no third woman on my cast.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Front Door

My front door doesn't look like my front door anymore.
Why? Is it the snow? I don't know. I don't know.
There's been a color change, like someone painted it in the night.
Has it always been dark wood? I thought so, but now I'm unsure.
It's the simplest thing, the entering point for everything else.
It should be easy--this is where I go. But
instead I look back. Then again. Did I pass my building?
Is this, in fact, where I belong? Walking in
to this door that doesn't look like my front door anymore.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


"Is that true? You served in Kuwait and Iraq?"
"Unfortunately," he replied. I had spent the majority of the past hour looking at his army leather jacket while he toiled over scarps of notes. He gave his life to the country and now here he is in community college writing a paper on koi ponds. I was assigned to work with him because he uses disability software, but he had no trouble with the software. He mainly needed help double spacing and saving to his flash-drive. Finding the parentheses was difficult. I asked him why he indented every line. He did not know what a paragraph was. We had fifteen minutes left and he needed help citing his sources. He had a pile of articles carefully printed and underlined but forgot a lot of the titles he had used. We're supposed to encourage the student to take the lead in all their learning, but he was getting nervous. I had another appointment soon, and besides that, the library was about to close. I sat with the APA stylebook on my lap and told him what info belonged where. I did not make him look it up. Even with me guiding the ship, he would forget punctuation or leave things blank. He dropped a paper and told me he has mental trauma. And I swear the whole scene went black and white. It's no surprise that academia can seem ridiculous sometimes, but oh my god this human does not need to learn in-text citations. He taps a million spaces to correctly right-align the professor's name. I ask if he knows how to do that any other ways. He says, "Ma'am, I don't know nothin'."

Friday, March 3, 2017


This week I spent a few days at my dad's. Major events include visiting the new healthy protein shop. I had a Captain Crunch 180 calorie, 4 grams of sugar shake, and I can't stop dreaming about it. Walks through main street, past the new blinking movie sign and into the teensers coffee house. I feel at ease out of the city. I get the high score at the pizza parlor Ms. Pac-Man. I watch King of Queens while grading papers and journal in the room above the stairs, train horn blowing by.

Puhg came, and we ended up at dinner on a very gloomy night. We ordered a big pretzel and salads while the sky went black. Soon everyone in the restaurant's phone started going off. Warnings, warnings. I, usually calm about these things, felt nervous to be next to the window. It was headed for our town. The trees whipped around. The manager led us all to the basement, where some guy brought his beer and an angry woman complained. There was no cell service and soon the power went out. The street held tubs of water. I said I felt safe, and someone near me said maybe the ceiling would collapse. I doubted it. But I imagined my computer--probably not backed up since my last play revision--being lifted from the living room of my dad's house. I am first a writer.

In a half hour the lights weren't on, but we were welcome to go back upstairs. Our food had finished. I ate the warmed, icky salad. Everything was on the house. Puhg got two craft beers while my dad looked furiously for info online, prepping for the onslaught of work at the paper. Small towns ain't bad. It had been the plan to see Get Out, but the theatre had no projectors running, so we watched Arrival in the living room. Things change but they're still good. The tornado destroyed a nursing home. Only one person and a lot of property dead. The governor came out the next morning. I had the most peaceful night's sleep I can remember. The window was open, and everything smelled like rain.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Open Sesame

Most of us have had the thought, "That person is pathetic." I'm not proud of when I've felt that way, but it's cautionary. If we're using Inside Out as a framework for emotions, judging another person is Disgust protecting us from being so aloof, broken, disillusioned. I never pity others because I don't like them. I do it because I want to tell myself to avoid their fate. But what's so weird is the more I pity others, the more I feel pitiful. Base logic tells me if I am putting myself a step ahead of someone I don't want to switch places with I should feel confident. But that tactic is just so blatantly corrupt. Instead when we set ourselves on ledges, we succumb to the concept that there are ledges. And if we're in that mental playground, we then must recognize everyone on ledges higher than us. Life is not a ladder. Life is not a track. Life is not even a hamster wheel.

To feel less judged, stop judging. To feel less alone, be loving. To follow your dreams, believe fiercely in others'. At first it doesn't seem to make sense. If I want apples, why would I give people apples? My apples. Well, I guess because then more apples would be out there, seeds dropping into soil, accidentally planted. The love for and thus demand for apples would be higher. Hand pies and slices by the wheelbarrow.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Here and Now

Most famous psychics in New Orleans.
I just want to know. This has always been my fatal flaw. I just want to know what will be so I can know if it's all worth it. I write the Voltaire quote, "Life is a shipwreck, but don't forget to sing in the life boats" up on the board. The students freewrite to it. I sit. There's that stupid exercise, "What question do you ask the most?" Then you figure out how to make your (probably) negative question positive. I know many people ask, "What's next?" They should rather ask "What's happening now?" I used to ask "Will this fit?" At some point I tried to shift it to "How will this fit?" But I'm tired. And less naive. Maybe things don't fit. Maybe use is an abstract. Maybe it's nothing more than a slop pile.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

G v G, Age 9

I'm not sure how you felt about your girlfriends growing up, but there was an intensity between mine. I did not form supportive bonds until I was probably in college. I loved my girlfriends, but we also hated each other. In hindsight, I don't know why I didn't question this more or even ask for help. Maybe because my tribe was still a tribe--despite having inward slashes? At the end of the day, we would still always be against other girl tribes (a whole different issue).

When I sniffled because I thought another girl was better at cheerleading than me, my mom said, "Well, she's a dog." Meaning, maybe she can do a backflip, but in ten years I would be beautiful and she would still be woof. I googled her two years ago to see if it was true. I don't blame my mom. It was her job to make me feel better, and in desperation that's what she landed on.

In middle school it was always someone's turn to be hated. I didn't mind this cycle because I had about six friends, so five weeks would be good and then one would be bad. That was okay odds. I had respite in my summer camp group, but there were weekly awards we all secretly hoped for, so? Once a girl in my bunk said she struggled with math. I told her I liked math and she said if I went to her school I'd probably have worse grades than her. When I was 17 one of my camp friends exploded at me yelling I always when were 12 I always purposely ate dessert slower than everyone else to make them feel bad. Ridiculous if it weren't true.

My gang was academically-driven, so we competed with grades and whispered when someone turned in homework late. We wanted to be the best. I'm trying to determine if the media influenced me in this way. I guess. It was always Christina vs. Britney never Christina & Britney. Betty v. Veronica. Most TV I watched didn't have girlfriends. Patti Mayonnaise. Rugrat Angelica. Spinelli. Lisa Simpson. They were loners. I read Betty Tasty and Tib or whatever those dumb books about growing up in the 1930s were. Samantha the American Girl had a friend, but she was mainly a metaphor for poverty. The Disney Princesses were loners.

Anyway, the world is different now? Frozen? Is Frozen saving us yet? Well. In improv class the students' favorite game is Four Corners. I stand in the middle of the room with my eyes closed, count to ten, and then call out a corner. Anyone in the corner is "out." I recover my eyes and repeat until one student remains: the new caller. So this Girl wins the round and excitedly stands in the middle of the room. After she counts to ten she spins around surveying the room with her eyes "closed" and then calls a corner. I ask her to put her hands over her eyes. She puts them up, gaping cracks between each finger. I let it happen. I watch her pick off the people she doesn't like corner by corner. Until its her best friend, someone she doesn't care about, and a boy I suspect she sort of likes. Her friend wiggles in excitement of potentially winning the game and then, boop, Girl chooses her corner. Best Friend Out. Girl poorly acts surprised and then tried very hard to hide a devilish little smile. I don't judge her. I remember feeling so horribly happy when I was hanging out with a group of girls I didn't know that well and they started making fun of one of my tribe. It was completely base--I'm better than her, but still so shameful. The Girl then proceeds to make the boy she likes win. He jumps around and screams, very proud of himself, announcing he is the best at this game.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Los Angeles Winter

The vibe is so aggressive. In Chicago I get catcalled like one might actually speak to a pet cat. It's obnoxious but at least it is gentle. In LA it was gross. The highway was not only jammed but mad. Tob and I snagged the last tickets for an overpriced comedy show, but the theatre was too small to hold us so we sat in a stairwell. A lot of Yelping even for locals. What to do, what to do, where to go, where to go. How long will it take? (Long.) I don't think I'll ever like it. But that's not the real question. It's "Would I ever even be okay with it?"

I had a great trip. Don't get me wrong. The trip was the trip. But my life is my life. The pros are the pros: the sunshine, the palm trees, the beach. There are many more, but not really. The people, like Yosh, A Jar, a slew of other comedy friends--even Skars. But would I see them? It seems nights are more free there than here, but still. Something is amiss.

The food. Okay, yes, I ate an astounding curry pot pie, one of my top five donuts ever, cashew parfait, a churro waffle. But it's all so far away. I just want to putz around town and come upon things. I don't want to drive an hour for a scone. I would drive an hour for a scone. There are neighborhoods. So, that, I think, I could do. The mornings I ran through Highland Park, trotted about to read in a local coffeeshop--those were okay. I could make that work.

The opportunities. I can't deny those. But I can be denied those.

I believe I can do anything, but do I want to? I am feeling new. Reborn in the crack of November 8th. Recharged and reforming in the afterglow of my solo show. The world is open and the world is an open wound.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


This week's teaching word has been "patience." I subbed a rando English class on Tuesday. The lesson plan called for a symposium on singular vs. plural verbs joy of joys. Besides clicking the Powerpoint I asked the students to write example sentences. I asked everyone to write a singular sentence that started with "She (verb)" in present tense. I gave several examples. I asked a girl in the back row what she wrote. She didn't. I said I'd come back. I did a couple minutes later. She said "I just suck at this, so I don't know." I said, "No, you don't. Any sentence at all. Try it." It was uncomfortable. It was quiet for a full minute before she creaked "She...jumps." Hallelujah. In that quiet moment I'm always like "Oh no, why did I do this?" But the answer is because they can all do it, and if they can't, with twenty seconds of coaching they can.

Yesterday in the Writing Center I had a guy who had to write a summary of an article about liver transplants. I asked "Okay, so what do you need help with?" He said, "I can't write." So I asked what the first sentence should be, and he said he didn't know, and then I asked again and he said something that was a pretty good start, so I was like "Awesome. Write that down." He had slow motor skills, penmanship like a 4th grader, but his ideas were solid. We went on that way for the full hour. He would write a sentence for two minutes. He would look up. He would say the next sentence outloud and then I'd nod, he'd spend another two minutes writing. I mostly sat and looked at my hands. I itched to pull out my phone while I waited and could literally hear the clock ticking behind me, but all he needed was someone to sit there with their full attention on him. Fine.

Today a young woman wild catted in. What does the author mean by X, I asked, I DON'T KNOW she cried HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW. She read the paragraph again and I asked her to explain it to me. She did. She knew. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO HAVE EXAMPLES ABOUT AMERICA WHEN IM FROM CAMEROON she yowled. Oh, well talk about that experience vs. the American experience I said, as if I'd just thought of it, she beamed a million filaments I CAN TALK ABOUT CAMEROON? Yes, you definitely can and should.

Last night I was almost off the clock when I spotted a familiar face. A student who was in my very first class I taught in Chicago. She just graduated with her Associates. She's gonna be a nurse. We hugged. I felt so ancient. I wait on students all day. My life blood draining out my seat. Patience feels like doing nothing, but, you know, it moves in its invisible way.

Monday, February 6, 2017


i. When I was eight my mom took me to a production of Hello Dolly in which Dolly was played by a big black woman. This was normal to me as I knew nothing about Hello Dolly. I had limited interaction with black women. I was in third grade with a black boy and felt sort of hoodwinked when his white mom showed up to help with a Valentine's Day party. Besides museum guards at the Art Institute etc. my main rep for black women was a servant in Show Boat. Now I had Dolly--smart, giving, deserving of the best. When I caught a glimpse of Streisand belting in a big ol' hat a couple years later on TV, I was like, "That was an interesting choice. To cast a white lady."

ii. Last night instead of going to a Super Bowl Party (I used to dislike football because I didn't ever learn how it was played but now I kind of hate it for being a violent cover-up concussion swamp) Puhg and I saw Moonlight. It is a great film, done slowly and carefully, which didn't open my eyes to anything but did remind me of a couple things. I probably won't watch it again. I didn't cry. I was slightly moved. More importantly it is representation we didn't have. Should that alone win it Best Picture? Well, yes. Because representation matters.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Burger King Dream

In another dimension I don't care about politics. I really don't know about politics. I probably forgot to vote. I don't have a higher degree, and I like any movie. I saw Sisters on the opening weekend. I've never researched factory farms, and I didn't soak in short stories about the complications of love. I like being squishy and eat Jr. Whoppers from Burger King whenever I feel like it. I drive there in my jeep. I have a job I don't care very much about, but it is simple, and the birthday parties that close down on Fridays are fun. I go on vacation once a year to a place without museums--as far as I'm concerned. I lay in the hotel bed until it's too late to get breakfast, so I get a muffin and a venti frap at Starbucks. The DVR is set for Two Broke Girls. I like watching episodes I have already seen. I haven't written since my college English 101 class where I plagiarized a paper I wrote in high school about a fashion designer I (in this dimension) have never heard of. I'm no homophobic, but I don't know any gay people, so I don't follow their civil rights. I have a nice boyfriend, so feminism doesn't interest me. I lose track of time playing Candy Crush and feel satisfied when I've completed a level. I envy this version of what could be.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Things Are Also Good

On the plus side, say the government doesn't exist right now, I am doing my solo show. My weirdo dream concept I've plotted for a year. There is nothing like doing a thing you want to do in the exact way you want to do it. I am grateful. I am proud. I hope I'm making pitters of change as I put on pig ears and bake the pizza puffs. It is connected. It can't not be.

Cast & Crew of Meat Cute

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Things Are Bad

The march was good. I cried, and I felt hope for the first time in months. There are a lot of people here. We are the majority. Bless the women marching in literal Antarctica. Afterward, I asked Puhg if we could get a fancy cocoa, so we took the green line west to a place that dunks a s'more donut in your cup. I called reps. I prepared for my shows that night and the following days.

I am shocked that so many awful things have happened in less than a week. The human rights, the health, all of it--need need need to be restored, but more than anything else, we must must must save our environment. That damage cannot be undone.

We tell each other it will be okay and then text the very same people "It will not be okay." We take turns now. I recognize I am going to lose a lot of things, and some of those I believe were too good to be true in the first place. So maybe we deserve it. But that doesn't mean I'm not scared.

When Obama won, a classmate of mine, sitting next to me in the computer lab wrote on Facebook "This is the end of America," and honestly he was right. Because Obama's win generated the hate that has made our current president possible. It is so sad. We are not as smart as we thought we were. We let our greed and our assumption someone else better than us was taking care of things end us.

I truly believe the billionaires know the planet is over and will rake in as much money as possible to begin the new world where their grandson's will be king of the remaining few. That's how insane I have become. Every angle I face I succumb to a conspiracy theory. I pray for a solution that hasn't crossed my mind any of these long dark nights.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues

I let you hold me back. We were going to do a triathlon together, and I waited until the very last minute to sign up. We ran a practice two miles and you said we were too out of shape to do it. I wanted to start my projects at 20, but you called them stupid. I didn't write a play until we broke up. You didn't come to my improv shows. You didn't even ask about them. I spent my Saturdays with a book at your swim meets so I could watch you freestyle for 90 seconds. You planned a romantic walk, but I wore new shoes because I didn't realize we'd be climbing in mud. You called me a baby when I went home. I had $100 left from my semester abroad because I was a rockstar at budgeting, so I bought us a fancy dinner on the wharf. You told me you were going to send me care packages as we had a tearful goodbye. I checked the front desk in Kyoto every day. Nothing came. You told me you didn't like responding to my emails because you were too busy with homework. You borrowed my car all the time. In fact, you held onto the keys. So then you let your friends borrow my car too. You acted like I was a nag when I needed to drive again. You wanted to spend 80% of our time in your room telling me about what albums Pitchfork deemed worthy that day. I found a list next to your lamp of my flaws. There were only two--which was nice--but they were that you didn't like my best friend and you thought I had bad taste in music. I wanted to giggle and goof, so I did. With other people. You told me you were jealous of them and that maybe it was even inappropriate. You punished me by going to parties I wasn't invited to and not coming to ones I was. You always found the counterculture people who treated me like trash, but they were cool, so just let them be. You pressured me to be someone I wasn't. You were disgusted by how much I studied for our Shakespeare final but during the last class discussion said verbatim something I told you over lunch. At the time I thought we were over because you lied to me and were battling a felony. Thank god because I would have died with you. I thought I was a bad girlfriend because sometimes I didn't want to be around you. I felt too needy. But now I know you didn't follow through. You went to a concert without me for our anniversary and sent me a text message on Christmas. You weren't funny, but you told me I was uptight if I didn't laugh at your jokes.

In your defense, there were things I liked about you. I thought you were cute, and I kept the voicemail of you asking me out at 2 AM until I left college.  I loved your family. Once when I had to pay $300 for an unexpected repair, you took me to breakfast and drew a smiley face on the napkin. Honestly that's about it. I was grateful for letters your wrote me at camp and the occasional footrub. I didn't know those should be minimal requirements. The whole history should make me sad, but I never think about you. And when I do--it's with this sense of cartoonish breeze. I float high to the sky. I soar with the weights cut. At the time I thought you were the best I could do.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Every Person Comes Out

As our cart chugged up the silver ball, I hoped I would get stuck on something while we were at the parks. I'd never been stuck on something before. And then we did, right as we were watching the invention of the telephone. Halted in time watching the animatronic operator pick up over and over again.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Episode of I Love Lucy With Ricky's Screentest

I watched it in 6th grade. In it Ricky is auditioning for the part of Don Juan. He has to practice his monologue, but every time he does it, it's so embarrassing. He can't cold read, he's nervous, the passion isn't there. Lucy tries to backseat direct him and he gets frustrated. At night he thinks he's alone, but she's creeping somewhere (kitchen?) and overhears him doing an amazing, passionate rendition of the piece. He just had to be alone. Most of us know we could do it alone.

My freshman year of college there was this super senior in the music department who made sort of a "deal" about not auditioning for 42nd Street because he was too busy working on his capstone. The practice rooms weren't ever super busy in the dungeon of the theatre building. Sometimes I would go on Friday evenings and practice playing Andrew McMahon songs. One Friday night down there I heard someone singing "The Lullaby of Broadway"--the lead actor's big number. But it wasn't the lead actor. It was that super senior giving it all he got in a ten foot by ten foot room alone.