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.