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.