Friday, December 14, 2012

I Don't Understand

I don't understand.

There was a school shooting today, at an elementary school in Connecticut. I know don't that the final count is in yet, but at least eighteen children were killed.

Eighteen children, between the ages of five and ten years old.

Children who were learning their ABCs. Children who were trying to make sense out of adding fractions. Children who were making little clay turtles in art class. Children who had play dates or dance classes after school. Children who went to school today to learn things, talk with their friends, and swap peanut butter sandwiches at lunch.

And all I can say is I don't understand it. I don't understand the mindset that would compel one human being to take another human being's life under any circumstances. I don't understand the universe wherein depriving another living thing its right to existence is justifiable. I don't understand the circumstances of the shooter's life that made him think opening fire on a room full of five year olds was his only option. I just don't understand it.

A lot of people online are calling for greater gun control laws, and crying out to the government to step in. Shouting, "See? We've been right all along. Won't you listen to us now?" I don't want to do that. This, to me, is not a political issue. This is an horrific day for the parents, friends, and loved ones of everyone who was in that school.

I know for the greater social consciousness, it is probably better that the perpetrators of such horrific crimes die at the time of the crime. I know I would not feel safe knowing he was still alive. But oddly, I can't help but wish we had just a few minutes to try to find out what was going on in his head, in his words. What brought him to this conclusion. What was going on in his life that at 20 years old, he felt he had to go kill children. How does someone get so messed up so young?

My guess is that he is going to be painted as a loner, somewhat anti-social, though maybe very bright. I was somewhat anti-social growing up, sometimes considered a loner, and very bright. Yet I somehow managed to make it this far knowing that taking the life of another is not okay. Hell, I'm vegan and feel guilty killing bugs. But I wish we could have known what it was about this boy on this day at this elementary school. Maybe if we had more information, we could have helped him make a different choice. Or maybe if we had more information, we could reach out to other kids in similar circumstances before the idea of mass murder enters their heads.

Or maybe I'm just being naive.

I don't understand it, and my heart aches for the friends, families and loved ones of the victims.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


I basically have two things on my mind as of late - boys and boots. I'm not going to talk about the boy stuff on this blog, so let's talk about boots.

Sadly, I'm  not talking the fun kind of boots, though. I'm talking the big, clunky walking boot they give you when you break your ankle. Because yes, I broke my ankle. Saturday, November 24, I took a fall exactly wrong during the derby play I'm in and snapped my ankle. I finished the scene and stayed on stage until it made sense for me to exit and then cried like a baby. I didn't know until the following Monday that it was actually broken, though. It's not a terrible break - it's not the weight-bearing bone that broke which is why I get a boot instead of a cast - and the bones pretty much stayed where they should so my podiatrist is expecting a fairly easy recovery.

It's just going to take a while.

The sort of fascinating thing about the boot is that I get to take it off and see my foot every day. I am watching the swelling go down, the bruises appear and start to fade away. Okay, only one bruise is starting to fade away and for the most part, my foot looks like a zombie foot, but it is an interesting process to physically watch a broken bone heal (from the outside anyway).

But when I'm not being fascinated by it, I'm largely annoyed. The boot is not comfortable. Getting around is not fun. I did laundry last night and had to do it in pieces because I barely trust myself on the back gangway stairs in broad daylight wearing normal shoes, much less in the dark wearing a boot. I think I made six trips up and down those stairs last night and it wore me out. I keep wondering if the extra effort I have to put into such simple tasks like walking is burning extra calories.

And probably the worst part is I feel like I can't talk about anything but the boot. What it's like trying to get around in it. How I hope it doesn't snow before I'm done with it. How it's not a very good all-terrain boot. How no matter how hard I try, sometimes there just isn't a single comfortable position in which to sit while wearing it.

I apologize right now if boot talk dominates my conversation for the next 4.714 weeks.

So that's that. The ankle really hurts today, despite the three Advil I took before I left the house. But the sweat-absorbing socks they gave me to wear under it are both sparkly clean, thanks to the six trips up and down the stairs. I'm more optimistic some days, thinking, "Well, these are the cards I've been dealt for now, so let's make the best of it." Today is not an optimistic day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I know a woman who is rather intuitive. Recently, she said that she has a feeling I will meet my life partner someday, but it will likely be a while. I, apparently, need to finish my self-reliance process first.

Now, I know this is not a prediction set in stone - it is something to be taken with a grain of salt. I find myself remembering that it has been quite a while since I've actually seen her, so maybe the timeline is skewed. But the bit about self-reliance has kind of lodged itself in my brain and I keep mulling it over and over and over.

I am an extremely self-reliant person. Just about anything that I need to do (or want to do) I can, will, and/or have done by myself. I've traveled domestically and internationally on my own. I shop alone. I go to movies, eat in restaurants, went to the ER after I fainted, hell, I even bought my car by myself. There is nothing that I feel I couldn't rely on myself to get done.

But then it occurred to me that maybe that's not the point. Maybe part of my self-reliance process is learning when not to be. I'm terrible at asking for help; I know that. I like helping other people and being useful, but more often than not, when someone offers to help me, I respond, "No, it's okay. I've got it." I forget that they like the opportunity to help and be useful, too.

I'm not going to go into why I have problems asking for help. I am all too aware of the reasons and this blog doesn't need to be a whine fest. But I know what the issues are. Don't worry.

So then life presents me with a broken ankle. What a perfect opportunity to practice letting people help me, right? It's a lot harder than one would think. When it first broke (I didn't know it was broken yet, just that it hurt like a mo-fo), the people around me offered to help me get home and to help me down the stairs and whatnot. I realized that I don't even know how to lean on someone who is helping me walk because I can't put weight on one leg. They kept saying, "No, really. Lean on me," and I didn't know how. How sad is that?

So I'm going to try to use this opportunity to learn how to ask for help and how to let other people do things for me. My first baby steps involve using the cane a coworker brought in for me, and calling the building guys at work so I can use the elevator to get up to and down from the third floor. Yes, I can get around without the cane, but it's nicer to use it. Yes, I can navigate stairs (I have to at my apartment), but if there is someone there who can help, I'm trying really hard to make a point of asking. Just so I get used to it and get over the associated feelings of guilt with asking someone to alter their normal schedule for my benefit. Most people are happy to help, and if they can't, they'll say so. Most people actually like you better if you ask them for help, believe it or not. So I'm practicing. I'm learning.

And I'm secretly compiling a list of things I would ask my Cabana Boy to do for me if I had one. Interested applicants should email me with qualifications*.

Tee hee.

*Nude photos are not qualifications, though a nicely sculpted chest is a requirement for the position.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Non-tradtitional Thanksgiving List

I am thankful for my need to diet because it means I have always had enough to eat.

I am thankful for the pain in my muscles and joints because it reminds me I am alive, I am mobile, and it is never too late to do something new.

I am thankful for my squishy tummy and round thighs because they provide a warm, happy sleeping spot for my cat.

I am thankful for the bullies who made my adolescence miserable because the freedom from them makes me appreciate my life now.

I am thankful for my acne scars because they showed me how to face the world even when I didn't want to.

I am thankful for every unkind word people have spoken to me because they show me what kind of person I choose to be instead.

I am thankful for the misery, frustration and irritation I face every day because it motivates me to learn new things, try new things, and push for a better future.

I am thankful for the sadness of loss because it means I loved.

I am thankful for the bad in my life, just as I am thankful for the good, because it is the combination of these experiences that have brought me to this place in my life and made me the person I am. And if I was not here, I would not know you. And mostly, I am thankful for you. Let me say that again.

I am thankful for you.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reclaiming Our Words

If there's one thing we've learned from the interweb, it is that the English language is kind of screwy. We pronounce things funny, our verb conjugation is all over the map, we make grammatical rules only to break them, and current popular culture dictates how many letters of a given word are actually even necessary to get one's point across. And for all of it's crazy, zany fluidity, I love the English language. I love watching it change and mutate and circle back around. I love using words that lots of people don't, or using them in an unusual context. I almost always say, "Morning," when I greet someone for the first time in a day, regardless of the time of day. I've gotten in the habit of saying either "brilliant" or "beautiful" before thanking people, as a sort of short hand  for, "You did a brilliant job. Thank you for your efforts." I love playing with my native language.

But for all of my love of this language, there are a couple of words that seem to have drifted far enough from their original meaning that we have to be very careful about how we use them now and that irks me because they are good words.

The first one I can remember that was given a new connotation I didn't like was "play." When I was a kid, we would call our friends on the phone and say, "Can you come play?" and it meant, "Do you want to go outside and frolic or come over and play a board game or in general pass the time in an innocent, pleasant manner with me while we perhaps use our imaginations?" It was an invitation to hang out with your friend and have fun. Then, sometime probably around third or fourth grade, when it became more common knowledge that girls and boys had different body parts, "play" took on a sexual connotation. To play with oneself was something you weren't supposed to do. Ever. And by extension, if you were to then play by yourself (a perfectly innocent action), your classmates might tease you for playing with yourself (our first foray into double entendre). To ask your friend, "Do you want to come play?" suddenly took on a tawdry meaning and you had to ask instead, "Do you want to hang out?" or suddenly, you were the class pervert, even though we barely knew what a pervert was or what true perversion entails.

How sad to lose the word "play" and substitute it with "hang out." "Hang out" conjures an image of sitting on a couch watching a movie and being generally apathetic. "To play" conjures an image of jumping and laughing and using one's imagination to create something completely new. How boring that the introduction of sex into our world as children robbed us of the ability to use the word "play" in polite society.

Around the same time, and for similar reasons, we lost the word "like." Like is a fairly simple word. We "like" things on Facebook as a sign of approval of the existence of those things. We like pizza. We like chocolate. We like lots of things. But when it comes to liking people, the word suddenly became horribly taboo. I would like to blame sitcoms in the 80's that pointed out that there is a difference between liking someone and like-liking someone. Our default setting seems to have switched so that liking someone automatically means like-liking them, or showing some sort of romantic interest. I know people who are as afraid to tell someone they like them as they are to use the other "l" word - love. Why? "Like" is a notch down from "love." To like someone means (to me) that you enjoy their company and would probably help them move if they really needed it. It should be a nice, low-pressure word. I think a lot of us default to liking people in general until we're given a reason to not like them anymore, like an "innocent until proven guilty" type of situation. So why has it become so terrifying to tell someone, "I like you?"

You know what? I like you. Doesn't mean I want to get married and have children with you, or that I lie awake and night thinking of what you look like naked. It just means that on the spectrum of how I feel about you, there are more positive feelings than negative ones, and I enjoy chatting with you from time to time. I would like to reclaim the word "like" as a means of expressing appreciation for the existence of another human being, with no sexual over- or undertones whatsoever.

"Relationship" is another lost word. The default meaning of "relationship" now is a romantic one. "I"m in a relationship" means "I dedicate a lot of my time to maintaining a sexual relationship with one specific person and anyone who is not that person should back off and not try to get to know me, do nice things for me, or expect me to do nice things for them." I don't know about you, but I have lots of relationships in my life, some good, some bad. Some more good than others. None of them (at the moment) is of a sexual nature. I'm okay with that. I still dedicate a lot of time to the people I am in relationships with and I make sure to do nice things for them and they do nice things for me. But none of these is an exclusive relationship that would limit either party's ability to meet new people, do new things, or dedicate time to others. I think it is rather dismissive to say I am not in a relationship because I am. I am in several. Whether or not I'm sleeping with any of these people is irrelevant to the fact that they mean something to me and require my time and attention.

I would like to reclaim the words "play," "like," and "relationship."

I am in plays with some regularity. I go to rehearsal and play with my characters and my fellow actors and my directors and the space we're in and we all create something wonderful and magical through having a safe space wherein we can play. Perfectly innocent playing. I want that word back.

I like you. I would like to start a relationship with you wherein we chat from time to time because I enjoy our conversations. This should not make you feel pressured or objectified. I want those words back.

Most of all, I want to bring back some of the innocence of our language in respect to words that really are innocent and lovely and non-threatening. In this great big beautiful language of ours, can we please reserve some words from the world of double entendre? Not everything needs to be tawdry or suggestive or sexually charged. Sometimes people just interact as people. I want the words back to be able to do that because there are some really amazing, brilliant, wonderful, intelligent people out there with lots to say and I'd like to be able to chat with them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Four Lessons We Can Learn From Zombies

I know, I know, I'm woefully behind in my television viewing. I have just started watching The Walking Dead, and am only four episodes in. It's good; it's just not the kind of television show where I can watch an entire season in one sitting (like I can with, say, Doctor Who). It's just a different energy.

But I have noticed a few things while watching The Walking Dead, and I'm almost starting to think we've got zombies pegged all wrong. Sure, they want to eat your brain, but there are a lot of important lessons to be learned from zombie behavior that might actually help us non-zombies survive the apocalypse a little longer if we just paid attention. So here we go. It's a list blog! A list of the top four lessons we can learn from zombies.

4. Patience

I think this applies to both the slow-moving zombies and the super-fast ones. Zombies are patient. They may not get you right now, but they will get you eventually. And/or, if they just wait long enough, you're bound to slip up and make a loud noise or saw your own arm off, which will weaken you and make you an easier target. Yes, zombies may grunt and growl a bit if a meal gets away, but they're not really in a hurry. They know they'll get you.

Non-zombies, however, are in an almost constant state of panic and urgency. Get away NOW. Eat NOW. Kill the zombies NOW. Shut the annoying guy up NOW. Humans are much, much, much less patient than zombies and it often leads to their downfall. They forget to barricade a door, or they make too much noise, or they waste all of their ammo firing off useless shots at nothing. There is a lesson to be learned here - if you just wait a minute, slow down a little, take your time and think before you act, you will prevail.

3. Persistence

Zombies are nothing if not persistent. What else do they have to do? They want your brain, so they're going to come get it. If that means using a rock to slowly chisel away at the brick wall that stands between them and your brain, they will use a rock to slowly chisel away at the brick wall that stands between them and your brain. They have the time, they have the motivation, they are going to get what they want.

All too often, humans just plain give up. Oh no! The car won't start! Better abandon it and take off on foot. Even though it is highly likely that there is another abandoned car nearby that either starts or has the parts in it to be able to fix the first car. I think this goes back to point number 4, and humans being in an almost constant state of panic. This "starting one task and abandoning it as soon as it starts to get difficult" leads to sloppy work, an easy to follow trail, and an even greater sense of futility and frustration. Whereas, like with point 4, if humans would take the time to come up with a well-constructed plan and then stick to it, they might actually be able to accomplish something.

Granted, plans don't always pan out the way one would hope. In that case, adaptability is a good thing. But just because it rains on your parade once doesn't mean it will every time. A good plan is a good plan. Don't be afraid to revisit previous ideas that hit bumps in the road. The bumps may not be there the second time.

2. Teamwork

This might sound odd for an introvert to sing the praises of teamwork, but there are times when it is a useful tool, and zombies know this better than anyone. One zombie against a plate glass window does nothing. One hundred zombies pressing against a plate glass window is going to shatter the window and allow access to the sweet, sweet brains on the other side. And how often do we see one lone zombie in a field or a garden, ambling toward a house, get gunned down in a heartbeat? Whereas if you put twenty zombies ambling through that same garden toward the house, the people inside panic and run and trip and it's suddenly dinner time.

Humans have this tendency to think that they can handle things on their own. Or, that it's best to send one or two people off to fight the zombies while everyone else stays somewhere safe so even if those two people die, at least there are still some people alive. You know what? Those two people will likely die or get scratched and then what? Their loved ones back at camp are suddenly fighting to keep zombies alive or forced to shoot them in the face, neither of which is a very appealing option. Whereas if a greater number of people had been there to fight the zombies in the first place, the biting/scratching might not have happened.

No, it is never a pleasant thought to send people into battle, especially women and children. You know what? Kids are going to be scarred anyway. They've already seen their world fall apart around them. It would be nice to think that by playing games with rocks and sticks in the woods that you're still allowing them to have a "normal" childhood. Honestly, there is nothing "normal" about the world after the apocalypse, and you're not doing them any favors by pretending nothing is wrong. Why not, instead, offer them the opportunity to feel in control by learning to defend themselves, confronting their fears and prevailing? In the battle for survival of the species, every set of available, trained hands is an asset.

1. Focus

Zombies want brains. Simple as that. They will do anything to get brains. They are not bothered about personal hygiene, relationship issues, financial concerns, rearing young, or anything else that tends to distract the living. Zombies want brains, so they spend their entire existence in pursuit of brains.

Humans...well, humans tend to think that multi-tasking is a good thing. "While I'm fighting these zombies, I have to make sure I look sexy so Mr. Hot Pants over there will want to screw me when we have a free five minutes even though Mrs. Hot Pants has been dutifully doing our laundry for weeks." And then Mrs. Hot Pants finds out about it and there is a big "thing" that ends with Mr. Hot Pants "going it alone," which means he'll be turned, and then both you and Mrs. Hot Pants have to fight to decide who is best equipped to shoot him in the face now that he's a zombie and whether or not it is appropriate to shoot him in the face with his kid watching. You know what, people? Get over it! You're trying to survive at this point. Everything you knew before is irrelevant. There needs to be a new set of rules installed because it is a new society. And the number one priority is Make Sure People Don't Die or Get Turned Into Zombies. If that means you need to keep your libido in check, check it. If that means you have to figure out a way to deal with a cheating spouse that doesn't entail "feeding him to the wolves," per se, figure it out. If that means trusting the person of a different ethnic background who you're kind of scared of because you're a racist bigot when you have to choose between them and a zombie, trust the living person! If you clear all of the other stupid junk out of your consciousness and focus on Making Sure People Don't Die or Get Turned Into Zombies the way that zombies focus on obtaining your brain, you'll last a lot longer. Focus, people. Focus.

I hope that some of these tips will be helpful to you, should the zombie apocalypse ever happen. If it doesn't, though, you might still want to see how they could apply to your everyday non-zombie-fighting lifestyle. There just might be something useful in there*.

*Except the bit about training kids to fight zombies. Let's hold off on that one until it's absolutely necessary.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This and That

I woke up this morning with a scene from "Harold and Maude" in my head. You can see it by clicking that link, or if you're nervous about clicking links in blogs, it's the scene where Harold and Maude are sitting in a giant field of daisies. Maude says she would like to be a sunflower, Harold says he would like to be a daisy because they're all alike. She points out that each one is actually different and remarks that a lot of the world's sorrow comes from people who are individuals (like each individual daisy) allowing themselves to be treated as a group (the whole field). Not a very good summary. I'd suggest watching the clip because it's so lovely and ends with a Cat Stevens song. Actually, go watch the whole movie. It will embrace your heart and heal your soul. I can wait. This blog will still be here when you get back.

Did you watch it? Good, yes?

Moving on.

I woke up with that scene in my head, and it struck me as an important thing to keep in mind. I am "this" (an individual flower) and I need to not let myself be treated as "that" (a generalized group).

This week is tech week for the show I'm in and I want to say right from the start that I love this show. I have learned so much and pushed myself and the whole environment is collaborative and beautiful and exciting and new. I would not trade one minute of time spent on this show for anything - I am so fantastically lucky to be a part of it. That being said, tech week is showing me exactly how much "this" I am as opposed to "that."

I am not a typical actor. I am an introvert, who happens to be a talented performer.

I say this because I look around at my cast mates, chatting with one another, making jokes, goofing off on our down time during tech rehearsal and notice that I'm not doing that. I'm just trying to keep my focus where it needs to be so things can run smoothly.

But I find myself feeling a little bit bad or guilty or whatever, too, that I'm not using this time to bond with my cast mates. This is an amazing group of beautiful, talented, intelligent women. And I find myself sitting on the sidelines watching them sing songs to one another or practice yoga. The part of my brain that still believes in the extrovert ideal is screaming at me, "Go join in! You have stories! You are flexible! You know that song!" while the introverted side of me is saying, "Wow, there's a lot going on right now. I don't even know where to start." Ultimately, I don't go crash the conversation or join in the yoga-ing. And then I beat myself up for not trying harder to get to know these women, just like I beat myself up for trying too hard when I do throw a story or anecdote into the mix.

It's a rough spot to be in. But I need to remember that there are all different kinds of actors. There are quiet ones who really turn it out on stage. There are boisterous ones who suffer from extreme stage fright. There are those who laugh and joke and sing during down time. There are those who crochet pillows or read books. I am the quiet sort. I like to use down time to not be "on." That is okay. Even if it makes me different from all of the other beautiful, amazing, talented, intelligent, wonderful people working on this show, I don't have to follow their behavior patterns to be an effective part of this process. I can (and hope I do) contribute in my own way. Because my daisy may be smaller and fatter and slightly left-leaning, but that does not make it any less beautiful, magical, or brilliant than anyone else's.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Down and Derby

I am sore.


I am beaten and battered and bruised.

I am most likely insane for tackling a project like this, that asked me to learn to roller skate - derby skate - at this stage in my life, having never skated before, with only about six months to train, but...

I am happy.

I am strong.

I am fearless.

I am pumped up and excited and achy and tired and thrilled and overwhelmed and so beyond lucky to get to do what I do.

I am in the zone on the floor, not concerned with the size of my ass or the curve of my thigh. I am a blocking machine, looking for space to sneak my jammer through the pack. I am part of something that is bigger than any individual part.

I am a force to be reckoned with.

I am looking forward to the next bout.

I am looking forward to the next spill.

I am looking forward to seeing my team mates tonight and doing the whole thing over again.

I am Roleen Joleen. I am Jodie Fister. I am Maggot Thatcher. I am Lynn Destructable. I am a Larkin City Misfit Maverick.

Beast mode. Beast Mode. BEAST MODE!

Friday, October 12, 2012


It's that time of year again.

The leaves start changing, the air gets cooler, and I start to fantasize about having someone to snuggle with when it's not quite cold enough for the heat to come on in my apartment yet.

Now, please, don't take this as some sort of lonely girl battle cry for attention because that is not the intent of this post. I'm not lonely. I just got my apartment back to myself two weeks ago and I am loving it. There is nothing better than coming home to find only my cat and my stuff waiting for me. It's brilliant. But I have long had this sort of dream of finding some ridiculously hot yet moderately stupid boy toy who could help keep me warm when the heat isn't on yet, but who would realize come holiday time that we really don't have that much in common with one another so we should part amicably and I can go back to my life of just my cat and my stuff.  It's not that I'm lonely; I just hate being cold.

Which is a terrible premise for a relationship, I know. Admittedly, I'm too busy to be able to dedicate that much time to another human being at the moment anyway. I've got tech week coming up, followed by a show opening, and as much as I'd like Boy Toy to be there when I need/want him, I realize that even to make a fling work, I'd have to be there when he needed/wanted me, too, and I can't promise that right now.

But I do find myself especially prone to developing crushes on people this time of year, in large part because of that silly little dream. Most of them are completely ridiculous crushes - he's taken or lives too far away or the age difference is ridiculous or he's famous and doesn't know I'm alive. I will admit, they are kind of fun to have, though. It's nice to get that little butterfly feeling in your stomach when a particular someone says hi.

In the past, I have tried telling these people (some of them, anyway) that I have these little crushes. It never ends well. These people usually then feel really odd around me because they don't feel the same way, so our friendships become strained and we drift apart and I get to feel a little bit dumped even though we never dated. So I know it's kind of the coward's way out, but in regard to the silly little harmless unrealistic ridiculous crush I have right now, I'm not going to say anything. At least not for a little while. I'm going to enjoy the little butterflies when they come, and use blankets to keep me warm. It's such a lovely time of year - why spoil it with an unnecessary break-up?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Giveth vs. Taketh

There is a lovely moment in an episode of South Park ("Spontaneous Combustion") where the minister at the church is eulogizing Kenny and says something along the lines of, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Sometimes the giveth seems a little disproportionate to the taketh. There seems to be a lot more taketh-ing going on, but there it is." And then they go on to pray for the Broncos to win. It's a lovely moment, and one that has been on my mind as of late.

I've been posting recently about being positive and I'm sorry, but today is not one of those days. Today, I am a cynic. Consider yourself warned.

In light of all of the positive energy I've been trying to pump into the universe lately, the negative energy spewing in my general direction seems a little disproportionate. Or, perhaps in better terms, I feel like my giveth-ing is rather disproportionate to my taketh-ing in recent days/weeks/months. And the truth of the matter is, I'm worn out. Completely worn out. I don't know how much more giveth-ing I have in me at the moment. I need to recharge.

One thing I particularly like about myself is that I am very easily amused. My best guy friend remarked on this a couple of weeks ago when I was laughing hysterically in public about a picture I had seen earlier in the day. And I am the sort that notices the small things. For example, I thank the Parking Gods every morning when there is a space for me on the street for which I don't have to pay. And I thank Them again when I return to my car and find it in the same spot with no ticket on it. I was absolutely giddy yesterday watching a short video of a man blowing up 1500 ping pong balls with liquid nitrogen in a one-liter drinks bottle (and at the fact that he called it a "drinks bottle"). The point is, it doesn't take a lot to make me happy.

For about the last month, I have been without that which is most precious to me, so I realize that I may be a bit on edge coming out of the gate. Nonetheless, the fact that I have given this thing away for the benefit of another would seem to suggest I should be racking up some good Karma points, yes? One would think? Instead, there was an incident yesterday that still gets me so angry my hands start shaking when I think about it. Someone else getting so upset with me for something so stupid, and in the end, I was the one who had to give in to the demands of the other because I am the less-squeaky wheel. Truth of the matter is, while I may not be entirely blameless in the occurrence, it is really a matter of me standing up for myself and being called a bitch for doing so. Literally. "Fucking childish bitch," actually, who apparently needs to grow up.

Side note: One of my high school English teachers thought they should teach kids a class in creative cursing because to always fall back on "fuck you" smacks of a simple mind. And it starts to lose meaning after a while. Had this person said to me, "Grow up, you festering spittoon of snake belch," I might have some respect for this person's point of view (I also might have laughed). But to get so upset about something so minor and resort to, "Grow up you fucking childish bitch," just makes me weep for the state of our language. And for the fact that this person has children who will likely not be any more creative in their insults than their parent.

And I sort of have to ask, "Why?" I do a lot of very nice things for a lot of people a lot of the time. And I don't even get "festering spittoon of snake belch" in return; I get "fucking childish bitch?" Is that really fair? All of the things that I do for other people, and I get a parking space on the street six blocks away from my office today? Is that really fair? Is this what my Karma points have added up to? Like when you play Skee-Ball at Chuck E. Cheese's for six hours and get 2000 tickets which you find out you can trade in for a miniature plastic comb? Really? Is this how the Karmic savings plan works?

And then I have to check myself and remind myself that really, the Universe owes me nothing. I am lucky to exist. I am lucky to have my own apartment and a brilliant family and some amazing friends and my health (for the most part - I'm really sore just about everywhere from skating three nights a week, but by the same token, I'm really fantastically lucky to get to work on this project that has me skating three nights a week). I am a lucky person. And there is a lot of good around me. And the Universe owes me nothing.

It just might be nice if the Universe gave me something every now and again just for fun, to even out the giveth-ing and taketh-ing. Something with slightly greater significance than a free parking space. I know, it's a lot to ask for. Nevermind. Pretend I didn't ask.

(It's better if it's a surprise, anyway.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lists and Happy Things

People seem to like blog posts made up of lists, so I thought I would make one today. But first, some background.

I've been thinking a lot lately about being positive. Which sounds weird, to sit around and think, "How can I be a positive person." Because being positive is a choice and it is one that must be made daily if one wants to consider oneself a positive person. I would like to be a positive person. I would like to be thought of as a positive person. I would like to pump positive energy into the universe. So I find myself very conscious of my positive choices as of late.

(Now, I'm not saying I want to be so sickeningly sweet in my life affirmations that I give you cavities, but I'd like it if people were happy to see my face when I show up somewhere as opposed to thinking, "Crap, here she comes. Brace yourself." I've read a lot of those affirmations and they strike me as very Martha Stewart, while I'm more of an Erma Bombeck. I'm trying to be realistic in the happy things so my course of positivity is sustainable. Like gradually changing one's eating habits instead of trying some new fad diet.)

I think that there are a lot of ways to be positive, though I also think many of them are often overlooked. For example, when you get together with your friends, do you talk about the happy things in your life, or bitch about the bad ones? Not that there is anything wrong with an occasional bitch session, but is that all you do? Do you find the negative in everything and use that to bond with the other people around you? "He was so supportive when I was going through that stuff with the idiot at work. He listened to be complain for hours." While you are pumping positive energy into him in a sort of roundabout way in those sentences, I'm betting a lot of negative energy was released in his general direction while getting there. And he's probably a little wiped out from it, if he's anything like me. Yes, it's necessary to talk through bad things. Yes, it is exhausting to talk about nothing but bad things for weeks on end.

So I've made a choice to be more careful with the words I use in various situations. I'm on The Twitters now, and I'm trying to be very careful about what I say there. When I'm having a bad day or something is irritating me, I try really hard to not post vague tweets about the stupidity of others. I, instead, started a little game called "Make Kitty Gigglesnort" which inspires my friends to go find funny things on the interweb and post them on Twitter. This doesn't mean I'm ignoring the bad things; in my mind I'm just choosing to spread something positive on the interweb instead of spreading something negative. Does that make sense?

There is something particularly annoying going on today, but I don't want to dwell on that, or speak ill of another person on the web, or fill this space with all of the stupid. Instead, I'm going to make a short list of some very happy things in my life to try to spread the positive. So here's my list. It goes to eleven.

1) The weather this time of year does fabulous things for my hair.
2) I got to hang out with a friend last night who I haven't seen in quite a while and we had a lovely time.
3) Tea exists in close enough proximity to me that I can drink it daily.
4) I should be able to reclaim something I lost very soon.
5) It got there in time.
6) There is an adorable fuzzy face waiting for me every day when I get home.
7) I get to meet a new friend next week and go bowling.
8) I reintroduced lentils into my diet yesterday and they were brilliant.
9) The roller derby show is doing amazing things for my self-esteem. And I was able to turn around on my skates the other day.
10) Today is Friday.
11) You.

Enjoy your Friday. Go out and make somebody smile. Chances are, the same will then happen to you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I have a lot of big dreams, but in this case, I'm referring to actual literal dreams. The little movies you watch while you are asleep that some people think are windows to your soul and what is going on in your life. I had a lovely one last night.

I've dreamed about David Tennant before, several times. The most notable two were the one where I was able to get back into the same dream after my cat woke me up and explain to him that I was pretty sure I was dreaming, and the one wherein I offered him advice on flinging cheesecakes with a slingshot at some press event. It's pretty safe to say my dreams about David Tennant are PG rated at worst - they are not sex dreams. They are dreams about meeting a brilliant person and sort of discovering my own brilliance in the process.

So last night, I dreamed that I met him. I don't remember the exact circumstances of the encounter, except to say that there were a lot of other people there, none of whom I remember. I think some of them were supposed to be my friends, but in the sort of "work colleague from a job you don't actually have" sort of a way. We were going to a dinner somewhere and I sat in the back seat of the car with David Tennant and another person in between us, who leaned forward to chat with the people in the front seat and I was sort of stuck, petrified, having to talk to him (how terrible, right?). The conversation started out really awkward, as I probably know more about him than he knows about me, and I had that feeling of, "Oh, the poor man would rather be talking to anyone else but me just now." But we managed to find some common ground and he was a really good conversationalist, so we chatted along just fine in the car. When we got to the restaurant, we were all sitting around this giant, square table. There was one chair left at the corner, a yellow upholstered chair that looked like a surrealist's take on an antique chair with a much longer area for sitting that one would normally find. I knew he needed a seat and figured he was probably tired of talking to me by now and wanted to chat with the other people in the room, so I started moving away to find somewhere else to sit, but he pulled up another chair for himself, swung the crazy yellow one around the corner of the table and insisted I sit in the crazy yellow chair next to him. Rather close next to him. I think we were both very aware that he is a married man with kids, but he was still flirting and playing and close enough that I could feel the stubble on his chin. Nothing inappropriate happened - just to be clear. But it was lovely to have this person be not afraid of physical contact with me.

The dinner went really well and it ended with me feeling like I had a new friend. A good friend who would be my friend for a long time. And then, as happens in dreams, we were all back at someone's house where I was chasing a fire-engine red cat with black paws through the yard. This was my cat. I caught her and introduced her to David Tennant, who was friendly with her, and she took off again. Then things got weird. As in my cat would go up behind another cat, bite the cat's rear end, and assist in extracting...I don't even know what, icky things? From the other cat's rear end. She did this to two other cats and then went for a particularly shaggy dog, from whom she extracted a complete other dog. The original dog was significantly less shaggy after the extraction, too.

And then I woke up.

I liked this dream because it had the feel of a normal "getting to know someone" process - the awkward start, the thrill of something new, the comfort of a lasting friendship. I might be reading too much into this, but it was a dream about meeting my hero and not being intimidated or squished by his awesomeness. I would like to think this means maybe I'm recognizing some of my own awesomeness and/or I'm recognizing that my heroes are just people, too, and as people we all kind of want the same things - love, compassion, comfort, and a fire-engine red cat with black paws who can pull one dog out of another dog's rear end.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Miss Vicky

I had a friend named Miss Vicky. Well, Vicky, technically, but we worked in the costume studio in college together, and everyone who worked there was "Miss" whatever. Miss Kitty. Miss Vicky. And it stuck.

I remember being terrified of and intimidated by Miss Vicky when I first met her. She was larger than life with a huge laugh and a brilliant smile that filled the room. For an introvert making the life decision to be an artist instead of a chemist, meeting someone like her was a little bit shocking. I didn't have friends like her in my circle prior to that. But I learned while working with her in the costume studio that she was brilliant in every sense of the word. Beautiful in every sense of the word. She was hysterically funny, tremendously supportive, and one of the few people in my life who I believed when she told me she loved me. The woman was love. She was laughter. She was light and beauty.

Vicky was the kind of person you wanted in the audience at any of your shows because her laughter would inspire others to laugh, too.

Vicky was the only person to ever tell me my butt wasn't big enough (as she was fitting me with a bustle for a period costume).

Vicky noticed things, like how I would twirl in this really awful dress as the curtain went up to add some life and motion to the scene, which she knew I would do if she gave the the twirly dress.

Vicky was also one of the only people from the group I hung out with in college who stayed in touch after college not only to invite me to her parties and shows, but also to attend mine when she could. She showed an interest in my life years after we graduated and I had sort of dropped off of the radar of most of my other college friends. I would comfort myself when going to their parties by reminding myself that Vicky would be there, too, and if nobody else there notice I was in attendance, at least Vicky would be happy to see me. With her brilliant smile, her "Hey, there, beautiful lady," and a fantastic hug.

One year ago today, Miss Vicky lost her battle with ALS.

I know she wouldn't want me to be crying. Sorry, Miss Vicky.

The day she died, I was at a wedding for two of my other friends. The day my college theater friends celebrated her life, I was at a trade show in New York. I don't know where she is buried, so in many ways, I don't know that I ever really got to say goodbye to her. I did my best to let her know throughout her life while I knew her that I loved her dearly. And like I said, she was one of the very few people in my life who I honestly believed when she said she loved me.

I miss her.

I didn't see her very often, but it was comforting to know that there was such a person in the world. It was comforting to know there was someone in my corner. It was brilliant to have a friend that I could just be nice to.

I know she wouldn't want us to mourn too long or feel sad that she is no longer with us. One of our mutual friends suggested we all wear silly hats on Vicky Day and I think I may have to wear one to my rehearsal tonight just because. But I can't help but think about all of the people who missed out on getting to know her. It makes me sad she never had kids - the world could use some little Vickys running around. It makes me sad I won't get to ask her for advice on the style of my wedding dress (if I ever get to wear one), or that I won't get to wear an original Miss Vicky design to the Oscars someday to help spread the word about what a brilliantly talented woman she was.

But I was lucky enough to know her. I was lucky enough to hug her. I was lucky enough to love and be loved by her. And I am lucky that I will never forget her.

Love and laughter to you always, Miss Vicky.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Brain Overheating Random Blog

It's that time of year again. The time of year when Chicago turns into a sauna for about two weeks. Everyone complains that it is too hot to move or function and we get all sorts of humidity jokes and comments about frying eggs outside and that sort of thing. Personally, I love it. Not the egg jokes, though. Those get old.

See, I'm the sort that would rather be too hot than too cold. When it's too cold, I get panicky. When it's too hot, it's like an excuse to sit still and read a book and eat ice cubes (or ice cream or popsicles or watermelon or whatever). There is an odd calm about being too hot for me. It makes us all slow down a bit. And as Chicago is a bit cold for my taste much more of the year than it is too hot for my taste, I treasure these sweltering couple of weeks when it's too hot to sleep. I refuse to put in an air conditioner (even though my cat would probably appreciate it) because my skin needs a chance to stock up on warm before the thermometer plummets and we're back to talking about wind chills instead of heat indices.

I will admit, though, that when it is too hot to sleep, I don't sleep well and my brain function becomes somewhat impaired. Which is why this particular blog entry is going to be somewhat disjointed. Sorry about that.

One of my cousins is getting married on Saturday. I tell you this, because it will factor into the random story I am about to tell which will lead to what motivated me to post today in the first place. It is also important to note that the cousin getting married has a younger sister who is not getting married anytime soon (to the best of my knowledge) and that these cousins are from the same side of my family as several other cousins, many of whom are married and a couple of which are not.

So I had a dream last night that I was going to my cousin's wedding. Except the cousin who is actually getting married was not there. One of my cousins who is already married was there re-marrying her wife, wearing a really sassy, flattering white dress. I, too, was wearing a sassy, flattering white dress, but for some reason, nobody seemed to mind. Meanwhile, the sister of the cousin who is actually getting married but was not present in my dream, was having her engagement party in the back row of the church. Which might have just been a room at the YMCA or something. And by "engagement party," I mean she was opening "Congratulations on your engagement" cards while sitting in the back row. She had to sort of scramble them up when it was time to go participate in her sister's wedding. Which was not her sister's wedding, but her cousin's remarriage to the woman she is already married to.

And the odd thing about this dream (because apparently, it wasn't strange enough to begin with) is that while I was dreaming it, I was fully aware of how hot and humid it was in my bedroom and how unsatisfying the rest I was getting felt. I woke up thinking I was very not rested and wouldn't it be nice to spend the entire day in my bed, but then I remembered the dream and realized I must have gotten some decent sleep if I got to a dream state, right?

So in my morning crankiness, in my toasty warm apartment, I decided it was too hot to blow dry my hair, so I pulled it back in two barrettes. And my right eye decided it would have none of this whole "contact lens" thing today, so I put on my thick-rimmed black-framed eyeglasses. My legs didn't want anything to do with "pants," so I threw on a sort-of pencil skirt that I have and a black tank top (my little black sweater is currently living at my office so I can look office-appropriate when I get there, but be comfortable on the commute). And my feet couldn't handle the thought of socks, so I slipped on a pair of ballet flat sneakers that kind of look like two-tone wing-tip shoes. All in all, I left the house feeling rather like a schlub. Hair not done. Eyes not done. Sort of the minimum amount of clothing I could get away with wearing to the office. There was almost no effort put into my physical appearance today on account of the heat.

But the funny thing is, as I was walking in to the office, I caught a glimpse of myself in a window and realized that in certain circles, my outfit today would qualify as adorkable. All I'm really missing is bright red lipstick and I could give Monti on Master Chef a run for her money. I certainly don't look as schlub-ish as I originally thought I did, and I oddly don't look like someone who just recently completed another trip around the sun. Looking at me, you'd probably not guess my number of revolutions around the sun correctly. So yeah. What started out as an odd day with an odd dream and an odd outfit turned into something kinda sorta cute. Can I be on "New Girl" now as Jess' sister or something?

Told ya. Random brain meltiness. Sorry.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Getting There

We had a three and a half hour derby movement workshop tonight, so we can start piecing this show together - see what works and what doesn't and whatnot. And for maybe the first time that I have skated with my team mates, I felt pretty good. I know I still have work to do, but I feel like I'm making progress. Noticeable progress. And maybe I'm not so far behind that I won't be able to catch up.

I expressed some of my concerns to one team mate and she said she didn't think anyone was worried that I won't get there. The writer and director remarked at the end of the night that they can see tremendous progress so far, too, which helped a lot. I know I will continue to be my own harshest critic, but it is nice to know that so far, they're not disappointed in me. It makes me want to work that little smidge harder to make sure I don't let them down in the future either.

And it felt good to skate. It felt good to move. It felt good to sweat and jam and talk to my team mates. I felt like part of the group this time, like someone who could contribute instead of someone who was holding everyone else back. I needed that.

All that said, I'm betting I'm going to need new knees at some point in my life. They sound like bubble wrap when I walk up stairs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Note to Shoemakers


I'm guessing that most shoe designers out there are men. At least those designing the really expensive women's shoes that are supposed to make our calves look all shapely and whatnot. And that's fine - there is no reason men can't design women's shoes. I would like to point out that it might behoove them to wear some women's shoes from time to time so they have a better idea how the product they are designing functions, but whatever. If they have not tried this approach, I would like to offer up a couple of suggestions.

1) High heels are not comfortable. I don't care who you are or how long you have been wearing them; if you are at the point where high heels are comfortable, it is because you have killed all of the nerve endings in your feet and/or built up callouses that could, by themselves, qualify as shoes. There is nothing in human anatomy that makes walking around on the balls of your feet all day comfortable. We are not built like elephants. Though if you want to take a tip from elephant physiology, if you must design high heels, put a huge pad of gristle under our heels to relieve the stress on our bones. Which is why wedges are more comfortable than high heels.
1a) Another thing that helps the pain of high heels a bit is the platform heel - that extra cushioning under the ball of the foot is actually really nice and since the platform ads extra height by itself, the angle of the foot doesn't always need to be so severe to achieve the desired taller look with the sexy calves. I'm just sayin'. Yay for the person(s) who brought platforms back.
2) There are lots of ladies shoes that women like to wear without any sort of hosiery - sandals, open toed shoes, ballet flats in the summertime. It would be really nice if the interior of these shoes was not simply glued in place because as un-lady-like as it seems, women's feet sweat. Sweat undoes glue. Which means the part of the shoe in direct contact with the lady's foot becomes bunchy, uncomfortable, and sometimes sticky. I realize that this might be intentional, so as to inspire her to throw them out and go buy new shoes. But as shoe styles change all of the time and some are just plain hideous, once a lady finds a shoe she likes, it can be traumatic to have them die in a couple of weeks when she is unable to find a replacement pair that work equally well with so many of her outfits. Either keep some styles constant so replacements are easy to find, or attach shoe linings with something other than glue.
3) Along the same lines, and for similar reasons, shoe linings probably shouldn't be leather or pleather or any other material that just doesn't breathe. Again, feet sweat. Sweat on leather = ick.
4) Flip-flops are not shoes. Stop trying to sell them to us like they are acceptable footwear for locations other than the shower at the gym or by the pool.
5) If you plan on making shoes with lots of straps crossing back and forth over the foot, be careful where you place said straps and how wide they are. A very thin strap of some sort of unforgiving material (plastic, pleather, etc) across the toes right where the toe meets the foot is just going to end up digging into the wearer's foot and causing blisters. Same with really stiff heel-areas on shoes. If there is something sharp right about where her foot bends naturally, she will get a blister and will stop wearing the shoes.

So with these things in mind, I expect to see a whole slew of new, comfy shoes hitting the market in the upcoming season. I hope you've enjoyed this installment of "Please Make Things I'd Actually Like to Wear," and we'll see you next time when we tackle trousers - how to make trousers that allow women to have curves without flashing everyone seated behind her.

Friday, June 08, 2012

BEDJ 8 - A Drabble

"I look like an idiot," thinks the movie star in water wings as she begrudgingly dips her toe in the shallow end. "But we all have to start somewhere, right?"

The three year old in a pink and orange bathing suit leaps from the high dive and enters the water with no splash. She comes up giggling, splashing, playing with complete abandon. She spies her favorite movie star across the pool and offers up a shy smile before hurling herself back into the water.

Their thoughts meet in mid-air: "When I grow up, I want to be just like you."

A drabble is a short work of fiction in 100 words.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

BEDJ 5 - Really?

Today's suggested topic for Blog Every Day in June is Television. Today is also the day of the Venus Transit - when Venus passes between the Sun and Earth. There is a connection here; trust me.

I was re-watching the brilliant British re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes last night, appropriately titled Sherlock, and there is one episode wherein we find out that Sherlock doesn't know that Earth revolves around the Sun. It's funny and he has an excuse (he uses his brain for really important information and it really doesn't effect his deductive reasoning skills to know where Earth is located in relation to the Sun) for not knowing and it helps knock Mr. Super Crazy Brilliant down a peg. It's good for a laugh. The whole show is brilliant, and if you're not watching it, you should be.

Which brings me to the Venus Transit. This is an event that will not happen again until 2117, so if you want to see it, do so today. It should start at about 5:05 CDT, so the parts of the world that are dark and sleepy just then probably won't be able to see anything. My first thought was to get a shoe box, poke a hole in it, and see if I can observe the event that way - like how we watched solar eclipses when I was a kid. You know, because looking directly at the sun without protection is bad. Very bad.

But then I hear conversation floating around in my office about where Earth falls in the solar system (My Very English Mother Jumped Straight Up Near Pluto, or My Very English Mother Jumped Straight Up Now, since Pluto has been lumped in with an asteroid belt and demoted from planetary status), and people genuinely surprised to find that Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but Mars is not. Because, really, how is Venus supposed to pass between us and the Sun if it is farther away from the Sun than we are? There was also talk in this conversation about viewing the event through sunglasses. And unlike on the brilliant British television program, this unawareness of our place in the universe was not funny. It actually made me really sad that my colleagues didn't know this stuff. How do you get to this position in corporate America not knowing this stuff?

Is this because I'm too much of a sci-fi geek? Do I like and remember science stuff too much?

So anyway, tonight, may I suggest you take a break from whatever television program you happen to be watching (it will likely still be there when you get back, since we all watch stuff on Netflix and Hulu and DVRs anyway), and go outside with an appropriate viewing device to watch the Venus Transit as best you can from millions of miles away.

Monday, June 04, 2012

BEDJ 4 - Dirty Talk

I would like (you would, would you?), if I may (you may) to take you (where?) through the sordid story of my trouble with toilets.

Sorry. Y'all thought this was going to be THAT kind of dirty, didn't you? No, this blog is brought on by the fact that I almost forgot over the weekend just how messed up the toilet in the ladies room at work is.

I would like to think that most people who know me know that I am a fairly easy going person. I get immense joy out of the smallest things and sometimes, I need to "dream bigger," as my best friend told me over the weekend when I spotted a cute derby-adjacent boy in a Misfits t-shirt. One thing that would bring me almost unspeakable joy is if I could get to a place in my life where all of the toilets I encounter on a regular basis work the way they are supposed to without extra effort on my part. I know - dream bigger.

But think about it - the automatic flush toilets in public restrooms that flush as you sit down, but then have to be flushed manually as you stand up. The toilet in the half-bathroom downstairs where you have to jiggle then handle. The toilet in your local theater or coffee shop that has a sign above it asking you to hold the handle down until it flushes all the way. Why do we have such problems getting toilets to work properly?

There are two stalls in the ladies room at work - a smallish one and a larger handicapped accessible one (which is a bit of a joke because you have to go up stairs to even get to the freight elevator in this building, so how someone in a wheelchair would make it to our third floor bathroom is beyond me - unless they arrived in the back of a freight-type truck and could wheel onto the loading dock). There are also only two women in my office (it's a smallish company), and she prefers the larger stall and I prefer the smaller stall, so it's like we each have our own toilet. For a while, both of them were having problems, though - you have to jiggle the handle or "prime" them before you could actually flush them. Something about the tanks refilling with water. Whatever.

My toilet, however, has taken a recent nose dive. The filler float somehow doesn't ever get low enough to trigger the toilet to refill. A week or so ago, I decided to just leave the lid off of the toilet tank so instead of going in and "priming" the toilet for use by jiggling the handle, I can prime it by pushing the filler float down just enough for the tank to refill. There is a seemingly random chain attached to the filler float that isn't attached to anything on the other end, but I'm not a plumber, so I don't know where that chain goes. I do know it occasionally gets sucked under the flush valve flapper assembly, which lets all of the water being pumped in to refill the tank drain out immediately. To fix this, I just drape the chain over the filler float assembly until it falls off again.

Then there is the matter of the hose that refills the tank with water - it will occasionally get stuck under the flush valve as well, so I had to sort of pin it behind a random bit of pipe to keep it out of the way.

And finally, there is the matter of the lift rod that connects the flush handle to the chain that pulls the flush valve up. Being made of plastic and having to deal with all of this "priming," the plastic weakened to the point where it just plain broke on Friday. Snapped in half. The flush handle is now completely useless because it is not attached to anything.

Which means in order to use my work toilet, I have to first reach in and push the filler float down so the tank can fill while I empty, and then I have to reach back in to grab the lift rod and pull it up to make the thing actually flush. Needless to say, I'm taking a bit of extra hand-washing time before I exit the ladies room altogether.

But this seems an awful lot of work to just use the restroom. And as a result of this, I dream of a day wherein all of the toilets I interact with on a daily basis work the way they are supposed to without any extra effort from me. *sigh* Dream bigger, Kitty. Dream bigger.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

BEDJ 3 - Fear

I have to leave in about fifteen minutes to go roller skating with the rest of the cast of the derby play I'll be doing later this fall and I am terrified. Terrified.

I'm trying to figure out why this is such a scary proposition, but nothing rational is coming to mind. I've been practicing a lot since the last time they saw me skate and I have made marked improvements. But I also went to a derby bout last night and know that I look nothing like that. I skate nothing like that. And I know I don't have to yet - I have a few months to really get good - but I guess it is just this interim period when I'm not that good yet that terrifies me.

But, as we all know, "vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias." (Thank you, Strictly Ballroom.) And I don't intend to "half-live," so I have to go do the things that terrify me. And then comfort myself with the thought of comfy pajamas when I get home.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

BEDJ - Saving Face

I have a lot to do today, so I want to get this blog down before I get too caught up in taking care of business, so to speak. And/or I don't want to be doing what I have to get done today, so I thought I'd post my blog.

I had a weird thought as I was putting on my mascara this morning. I don't know if other people experience this or not, but when I imagine what I look like in my head, it seldom matches what I see when I look in the mirror. Especially when I wait a while to put on my eyeliner and mascara in the morning - I've gotten so used to what I look like with them on, it's often a bit of a shock to see me with no makeup whatsoever. Which is funny because I didn't get into the habit of wearing make up until I was in college. A friend of mine in the dorms took me to Wal-Mart and helped me pick out colors and then told me how to use these various products.

What's really funny about my make-up usage in college is that I had horrible skin. HORRIBLE skin. My doctor eventually put me on Accutane because my skin was so terrible and nothing else was really working. My cheeks looked like mini mountain ranges and yet this magical substance called "concealer" was supposed to offer the illusion of flawless skin. Flawless my ass. It just made the mini mountain ranges  skin-colored and cake-y looking as opposed to red and kind of shiny. At the time, I thought the stuff was necessary to go out in public and look socially acceptable. In retrospect, I realize that nothing about that stuff was really socially acceptable and it wasn't fooling anyone into thinking I had decent skin. Eventually, my skin got a little better and I realized that it was probably better for my skin in general if I stopped caking it up every day with this pinkish paste and decided that I should probably just suck it up and learn to go out in public with horrible skin.

My skin is much better now. I still get the occasional blemish, but it is, for the most part, smooth and soft. I still wear the eyeliner and mascara every day to make my eyes "pop." I remember a lot of people asking me in high school (before make-up) if I was okay as I was just walking down the hall. Apparently, without make-up, I look comatose. Someone actually said that to me - "You look comatose." I took to lining my lower lid when I shaved my head to really make my eyes noticeable. Something about having no hair made me think big eyes and big earrings were necessary. It takes a lot longer for hair to grow out than you might think, so I just line both lids all the time now. The show I just did asked me to not line my lower lids, which made me feel like I looked funny, though people kept telling me how beautiful I looked in that show.

This morning, when I was putting on my mascara, it occurred to me that this history of my make-up usage means that I spent many of my formative years being ashamed of my face. The horrible skin. The tiny nose. The comatose eyes. I spent most of the years when I was trying to figure out who I was and who I was supposed to be, being ashamed of my face. And I wondered what that does to a person.

I'm not ashamed of my face any more. Not really. I still prefer to have eyeliner and mascara on than to not, but I think that's pretty significant progress. In general, I'm of the opinion that it's a rather nice face. I do have to wonder, though, who I would be now if I knew that all along.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Because I Don't Have Enough On My Plate...

Last August, I participated in Vlog Every Day in August (VEDA) and had a blast doing it. A few of the people I met doing that plan on blogging every day in June (BEDJ), which isn't as easy to pronounce as VEDA, but since it's all in written form, maybe that doesn't matter so much. And since I'm not doing enough at the moment (insert wild laughter here), I decided about three minutes ago that I should give it a go, too.

I've not done the "group blogging" thing before, where a bunch of people blog about the same topic on the same day. This should be interesting.

Anyway, today's topic is food. Which is kind of a nice segue into the fact that I am coming up on my ten-year anniversary of being vegan.

For those of you who don't know, I went vegan (almost ten years ago) sort of on a whim. I decided to try it just for the sake of trying it, and I was going to do it for a year just to see what happened. Turns out, I love it. I love the food, I love the products, I love the lifestyle. I did not start out with a moral or ethical agenda, but I did gain a sort of sense that I'm doing something good not only for my body but for the planet as well.

I am not one of those vegans who will bombard other people with images of cows being tortured, though. I don't think that's necessarily the best way to spread the joy of veganism. I am the sort of vegan who will bake something and bring it to work or rehearsal just for fun and if people want to try what I brought, fantastic. If they don't, fine. Just between you and me, I don't always tell people from the get-go that my stuff is vegan, so the people who don't know, probably don't know. Yes, I am that good.

It helps that I found a vegan cookbook author who I absolutely adore. I think I own all of her books. There was only one thing I made from them (so far) that I wasn't over the moon about - it was a chili that had espresso in it or something, and I'm not a coffee person so it wasn't really my cup of tea (yay mixed metaphors!). But everything else has been fantastic. I can make a vat of the Seitanic Red Bean Jambalaya (but I use Tofurkey sausage instead of seitan because I'm not big on seitan) and live off of it for two weeks. The Hottie Black Eyed Peas with Greens plus homemade Scallion Cornbread are amazing. And the woman wrote a whole cookbook on pie. Let me say that again: an entire cookbook about nothing but pie. I made pie from scratch and the crust even turned out well. She's a genius. Anyway.

I think my biggest thing about veganism is that while I would never force anyone else to be vegan (except maybe my children if I have them), I do wish it was considered just another type of cuisine. That people weren't so afraid of it. I think vegan food has gotten a bad rep for being bland and dry and dull, but it doesn't have to be. These days, especially in a major metropolitan area, the selection of vegan food is amazing. It's flavorful and colorful and leaves you satisfied. Instead of being some mysterious, scary, gross thing, I wish vegan food was just another option. "We had Chinese last night, and we have your cousin's barbecue this weekend, so how about vegan tonight?" Because seriously, it's too tasty for me to eat all of it by myself. Wanna share?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Skating: Part Deux

As a follow up to my tremendous failure at roller skating on Sunday, I drove about an hour outside the city to a suburban roller rink with drop-in lessons on Monday nights last night.

Side note: This suburb isn't really an hour outside of Chicago - it took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there in rush hour traffic, and about forty-five minutes to get home in non-rush hour traffic, so it's really not that bad. I just don't know how many miles it is, which is why I gave the time measurement instead.

What a difference an hour makes!

When I first stepped on the floor, everything about me must have screamed "BEGINNER!" in part because I am one, and in part because I was essentially pulling myself along the wall going around the rink. It was sad and pathetic. I know that. But I thought if I could just get used to the feeling of moving on skates, maybe I could get used to the balance thing and then I wouldn't feel so totally out of control of my body and then maybe I could figure out how to pick one foot up at a time and actually skate.

I got about half-way around the rink and a very nice gentleman skated over to me and said, "Just relax, just relax," as he grabbed my hands and sort of shook them to release the tension.  I told him this was my second time on skates and that I was an actor in a play for which I needed to learn to skate and found out he was familiar with the show already. He, apparently, helped procure the skates and gear for us. He told me the lesson would be starting shortly and that I should try to get back to the (now) far end of the rink because that is where the beginners would be.

I made my way over there and started skating back and forth against the wall. I felt bad for going against traffic half of the time, but the other skaters on the rink were far enough away from the wall that it wasn't a huge deal. The instructor came over and told me to just practice almost walking in the skates, keeping my feet under me. When you try to step in front of yourself, you lose control of the skate and fall on your butt. If you keep your feet under you, you actually start moving in the skates. Which is what the woman on Sunday must have meant when she said, "It's kind of like marching." So I did. I "marched" back and forth next to the wall, trying to hold on to it less and less with each pass. The instructor started working with his other beginning skaters on other things, but told me to just keep at what I was doing, and in five or ten minutes, he wanted me far enough away from the wall that I couldn't catch myself if I wanted/needed to. I took that to mean, "try this now," and moved away from the wall. Miraculously, I stayed standing! And moved across the floor, gaining more confidence and (some) speed with each pass. There were a few trips across the floor where I actually felt like I was skating - my balance was in the right place, the foot movement was easy, I could look up at where I was going instead of at the floor, I could almost give a little push to get some extra momentum, I was gliding. I decided I would throw in a toe stop at the end of each pass so I can get used to actual derby girl skate moves while I'm learning and figured out that I must be left-footed. My left toe stop is much better than my right.

After about a half an hour, the instructor came over and gave me my own set of cones to skate between. He wanted me to slalom around them, to encourage me to pick up my feet, which makes changing directions and turning easier. So I did. I slalomed around the cones. I was doing so well with it, in fact, that he added another cone in the middle to make two of the turns tighter. Only once in all of my passes did I stumble enough that I had to put one knee down on the rink. But I got right back up (since I know how) and finished the pass, turned around, and went back for more.

I have no idea how many times I skated across the rink last night. An hour's worth of times. And when the class was over, I thanked the instructor profusely. He had no idea how much his simple instructions helped me, but they did. I kind of get it now. I'm not saying I'm great at it by any stretch of the imagination, but I was able to skate back to the bench near my locker when the lesson was over without holding on to anything or falling over.

I'm sure I looked silly out there in the full gear when I could barely skate. And I'm sure the tall, slender hot guy who skated like a pro was thinking a woman shaped like me should not be wearing yoga pants in public. But you know what? I didn't care. I didn't care in the slightest. This was not about looking good, or showing off, or dressing up so someone would hit on me. This was about me gaining a skill. This was about me gaining confidence. Which I totally did. I know I'm not great yet, but after last night, I know I can get there, which is something I didn't know after Sunday night. The instructor told me the next time I come back for the drop-in lessons, he'll have me away from the wall in the lesson with the other beginners. He was impressed with the progress I made in an hour. I was impressed with the progress I made. And I talked briefly to a couple of the other beginning skaters as we were taking off our skates and they were really nice. Including an older gentleman (probably in his sixties?) who just decided that he wanted to learn to skate, so he's been coming to the Monday night lessons for a few weeks already. He told me I look beautiful on skates.

I think it also did me a world of good to go and try this at my own speed in a place where I knew nobody. There was no fear of shame or humiliation - if I was really awful, I wouldn't necessarily have to go back to that rink. Nobody had to watch me learn or judge my progress, which means I was comfortable flailing my arms to regain balance when I needed to do that. I found myself biting my lip a lot and licking my lips - my signature "I'm concentrating really hard" ticks. But none of that mattered. I was learning to skate at my own pace in my own time. And I think a couple more sessions like that and I'll feel better keeping up with the girls at our next derby skate date.

A huge thank you to the suburban roller rink for being an awesome place with awesome people, and a huge thank you to the instructor who just let me learn in my own time. You have no idea how much you helped!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sometimes, You Just Have to Fail

I realize that the title of this post sounds very negative, and I realize that a lot of this post will contain negative language, but it is kind of necessary for documenting this process. I know if I document how awful it felt at the beginning, it will feel that much better at the end.

I have been cast in a play about the roller derby that goes up in November, in which I play a derby girl. I was thrilled to even be invited to audition for this company (they do great work and are awesome people), and even more thrilled when they offered me a role. It is a script they have already been workshopping for about a year, and they decided that they needed more derby girls in it to make it feel more authentic, so they did some searching and rounded out the cast with a total of ten derby girls. I think I was among the last to join the cast, if not the actual last person to join, so while this process has been in motion for a year already, it's only been a part of my life for about three weeks. This can be an issue in and of itself in some productions, but the writer, director, and other actors have been awesome so far in making me feel like part of the group. It has me really excited for the show, even though it is six months away.

Now the fun part. I don't know how to roller skate. I skated once at somebody's birthday party when I was in elementary school (if you count "pulling yourself along the wall while wearing roller skates" as "skating"), and of course I fell at some point and some other kid rolled over my wrist. I cried and sat on the sidelines until somebody took me home. And that is the extent of my experience with roller skating. I think my mom tried rollerblading when I was in high school, and I may have put the blades on and walked through the (carpeted) living room wearing them, but that was it. I was never much of an ice skater, either. I could maintain balance and use the toe pick to give myself a bit of momentum, but yeah. When it comes to roller skating, I am a total beginner.

Everyone else in the cast knows how to skate.

Last night, we went out to a facility where a woman who used to be a derby girl helps train women who want to try out for the derby. In other words, this woman knows what she's talking about. When she tells you to put your helmet on first and don't take it off until you leave the floor, you put your helmet on and don't touch it until your skates are off and you're seated in the lobby. We have a couple more of these skate dates scheduled to try to get the cast into good enough skating shape that we'll look like derby girls on stage. So we went over safety equipment (helmet, mouth guards, knee and elbow pads, wrist guards) and learned how to fall before even putting on skates. I was doing great up until that point - I can fall like a pro, especially when I have knee pads and wrist guards on. Besides, falling from skater stance means you're only falling about eight inches, so it's not that big of a deal.

Then the skates went on and my dignity and self-respect went out the window. I could stand up on them, and learned fairly quickly how to maintain a stationary position (toe stop or t-stand). But then they told us to move over to the wall and I was completely lost. I don't know how to move in these things. I know the theory of it, but my body has never done this before. Somehow, my feet felt glued to the ground and I was afraid to pick my skates up more than about half of an inch. Despite our falling lessons, showing us how to fall forward without injuring ourselves, I found myself relying on my stage combat experience of learning how to fall backward without injuring myself. I landed on my bum within about a foot of where I initially stood up.   The first one to fall. And it was suddenly broadcast to everyone in the room - the rest of the cast, the director, the writer, the trainers - just how far behind I am on the learning curve. There was no hiding it - I suck at roller skating.

Once up on our skates, the trainers/instructors started us on what they feel were the basic things you need to  know as a derby girl - how to stop and how to fall. In conjunction with "how to fall" is "how to get back up again really fast so you're not a target on the track and don't turn into a squished speed bump." I fully agree that these are important things to know how to do and I listened attentively to the theories presented. When we had to actually do can you practice a good left toe stop if you're not moving to begin with? One of the instructors came over to me for about ten seconds and I told her I had never skated before in my life. She encouraged me to just practice skating back and forth across the floor, then, instead of focusing on the stops, and told me, "It's kind of like marching," before she skated away. In each drill, I was the last girl to get moving, the last to make it across the floor. I know my cast mates/team mates don't hold that against me at this point, but after a while, I couldn't tell if my face was bright red from exertion or embarrassment. I'm not used to being not grounded in my body and I'm not used to sucking so badly in a public forum with people I've not known very long.

When it was time to take a five minute break and get water, it took me the entire five minutes to get over to the side where I finally had to suck it up and ask one of the other women (a former derby girl herself) to bring my water bottle to me. And we were right back into it, now doing training drills. Skate like normal, then when the whistle blows, take the skater stance and hold it until the second whistle. I couldn't get moving, but I could hold the stance, no problem. Now we're going to skate and on the whistles, do our various stops, then our various falls, then switch directions and do it all again and again and again. "Skating" around in circles, I was hugging the inside of the track, which I realized was probably awful floor positioning for someone as inept at skating as I am, largely from the standpoint of my team mates - I was right exactly in their way a lot of the time. And finally, my frustration and exhaustion hit its peak and I crawled into the infield and made my way off the floor. I was largely a hazard at that point, anyway, so I felt justified in crawling off of the floor. One woman helped me get across the lanes of traffic at the end, and she was concerned for my well-being. I'm sure my face was neon red by this point - it was still flushed when I got home forty-five minutes later. I felt dejected and disappointed in myself and humiliated. Perhaps even a little bit angry. I know the point of the evening was not to work with an absolute beginner and help her learn to skate, but I felt thrust into something way beyond my skill level with no safety net, so to speak.

If this was something I was doing just for fun in my normal life, I probably would not go out of my way to skate again. But I am learning to do this for a show, and I have at least nine other women out there counting on me to get my ass in gear by the time we open. I apologized to the writer and director for having to call it quits early in the evening and promised them I would do better. They both thanked me for putting myself out there and trying in the first place. Because if there is one major lesson that we all learned last night, it is that when you fall down, you get back up as quick as you can and keep going.

So I'm going to drive about an hour tonight to get to a roller rink in the suburbs (they don't have many in the city anymore) where they have lessons on Monday nights before free skating time. And I'm going to take my helmet and pads and skates and I'm going to get back out there on that floor and hopefully learn how to move. Because this is not about my humiliation. This is not about my disappointment. This is about picking myself back up as quick as I can because there are people counting on me to do this. Last night when people were saying, "By the end of this, you'll be the best skater of all of us," and when the instructor pointed me out at the end of the night saying, "I think you did a really great job tonight, too," I felt like the three-year-old playing T-ball who can't hit the ball off of the tee, but gets a Participant Trophy at the end of the season. Except as an adult, I know exactly what that Participant Trophy means.

I'm not giving up - I think we all know by now that I don't give up on things that scare me. I feel like crap about this at the moment, though, and I thought it was important for me to keep track of that, so six months from now, when I'm flying around the track just like all of the other girls, I will be able to fully appreciate exactly how sweet that is. Sometimes, you have to fail first so you know how to succeed later.

And, on the up side, I have enough booty that I walked away from last night with only a bruised ego.

Monday, April 09, 2012

So That Happened

As it turns out, all of my worry was for nothing.

We went in and shot the play last night and I actually had a lot of fun doing it. It was kind of amazing to me (and everyone else there) how fresh the show was considering we've not touched it in two and a half months. But I think we were all still finding new things in the script to play with and it was just plain fun.

The end product is not going to be posted on the interweb for all to see. It will be distributed to the five of us involved in the production on DVD to just...have. So we have it. In case we need it for something, or want to take a quick jaunt down memory lane for a few minutes. Meaning, I don't think I need to worry about the girls from high school or random dudes in LA seeing it and finding me physically repulsive. Beyond which, we got to watch it last night when we were done shooting and I didn't find myself nearly as physically repulsive as I had built myself up in my head to be. I'm not saying I have a perfect beach bod that I'm going to run around all summer flaunting it in a bikini or anything, but I also don't think I look like Jabba the Hut, either, so that's reassuring. I think it also helped that the cameraman was doing facial close-ups whenever possible so my rear end spends quite a bit of time not on screen, which is good. If I'm allowed to say it, though, I have super crazy long legs. Just sayin'.

Anyway. All that worry for nothing. It feels good to have that under my belt. And safely tucked away where I have some sort of control over who gets to see it. That makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Fear of Exposure

I have to admit, I'm a little bit scared and nervous.

A couple of months ago, I was in a showcase of plays at the theater where I had been taking classes. All around, it was an amazing experience and I got to work with incredible people and just plain had a great time doing the showcase.

One of the pieces I was in had me playing a hooker that nobody wants, essentially. The show was about these two guys who have a fantasy and are confronted with a reality and don't really like the reality. It's a great piece and I loved doing it, even though it involved a rather small costume (nothing that would garner an X rating, barely R, if you ask me. All of the important bits were covered). The whole point of casting someone like me in this role is that I am not a size zero and in a way, it was empowering to be on stage every night in that role, possibly making audience members uncomfortable for how exposed I was physically and emotionally.

This coming Sunday, we're filming the piece so that we have the piece filmed. I don't remember whose idea it was - if the playwright wants it for his portfolio or if it is supposed to be the start of a "film bits of theater" type project that will include other plays down the line or if we're just doing it for the sheer joy of doing it, but we're filming the piece on Sunday. And I'm nervous.

That kind of physical exposure in live theater is easy for me to wrap my brain around and get comfortable with. It is sort of like ripping a band-aid off - you just take off the coat and there you are in a halter top and short shorts and you still have a show to do. Hopefully you can affect the audience enough that they aren't picking apart every one of your physical flaws in the four minutes you are on stage.

That kind of physical exposure on film is daunting. People will be able to freeze frame on me while I'm sitting down or twisting oddly so I'll look even bigger than I actually am. People who aren't of the mindset that they are going to see art that is making a statement may have access to see it. And while I am perfectly comfortable doing it and kind of flattered that I get to represent the non-stick girl in a "sexy" role, I know that not everyone who watches the film will see it that way. I know that girls I went to high school with will watch it and think, "Oh my god, she looks terrible!" so that they can feel better about themselves. Even random strangers may post comments (depending on how the film is distributed) talking about how repulsive it is to have a woman of my shape on film wearing so little. Depending on how the film is distributed, I kind of feel like I have to brace myself for an onslaught of "Sweet jebus, she's disgusting," because I'm not what you expect to see when you expect to see a hooker.

That being said, I'm not going to not do it. Yes, I'm a little scared and nervous, but I'm not going to let that stop me (is that what people are referring to when they call me fearless?). The people who saw the show live were impressed with my bravery and emotional presence in the scene - even people who didn't know me. I made a great impression on fellow actors whose work I have long admired. So I'm not going to let a little fear stand in the way of producing art I believe in. And I'm not going to starve myself between now and Sunday to try to lose two pounds before the shoot. I like food. Food is my friend. Food is necessary for survival and I would much rather look like this than be unhappy, groggy, and grumpy all of the time because I'm not eating enough carbohydrates. I think The Brothers Green will agree with me on this and as we all know, what The Brothers Green say is law. I mean that in the best possible way - I've been a little obsessed with watching their videos in all of their various forms recently because they're just, well, charming, intelligent, and funny.

But I digresss.

I'm looking forward to having a record of this project - that part is really cool. I'm just nervous about what people will say about my physical shape, which can best be described as "round." People can be mean. Especially people you don't know on the internet. So I'm apologizing in advance if I need to lean on the people who love me a little bit and ask for reassurances that you still love me even though I'm rounder than your typical Hollywood starlet. I do sort of hope that if more people like me get to play more roles like this and gain more exposure, maybe we can shift (albeit slowly) the general perception of female beauty away from something that is unattainable, unhealthy, and detrimental to so many. Baby steps, right? Here's hoping this can be one of them.

Or maybe I'm worrying about nothing because the only people who will ever see it are people who saw the live production anyway.I do tend to worry about things needlessly from time to time.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Grumble, Grumble

I've been angry a lot lately and I don't like that. If you are one of the people I have been angry in the general direction of lately, I apologize for that. I know who and what is making me angry (for the most part), but I don't necessarily have good mechanisms in place for dealing with those specific things or people. I don't know what to do when confronted with incompetence and pettiness and apathy and dismissal.  For the most part, I think I'm pretty good at keeping the focus of my anger where it belongs - toward the specific instance of incompetence or pettiness or apathy or dismissal - as opposed to just letting loose and being a bitch to every one and every thing around me.  But I don't like having this much anger.  It's not good for me to be angry so much of the time.

I also know that the Universe doesn't owe me anything. The only thing it could be argued that I really have a right to is oxygen, so I shouldn't get so bent out of shape when I follow the rules and am told there is a reward at the end and then find out that there is no reward. Nobody owes me a reward. I have no more right to it than anyone else. Though it sometimes feels like I have less of a chance to get it than anyone else. I know there have been instances in my life where it came down to the difficult decision of choosing me or choosing someone else and nine times out of ten, the someone else is chosen. I'm not the sort that gets picked. I'm not the sort that wins things. And I have to wonder if I don't get the benefit of the doubt (or whatever it is that ultimately makes someone else get picked over me) because people just kind of know I'll be okay without that opportunity. Which I usually am. It just gets frustrating to not get that opportunity, you know?

I think it is important to recognize anger. To be able to name it and place it where it is supposed to go. But I also think it is important to let it go once it has been identified, and I need to get better at that. Holding on to this much anger is detrimental to my well-being and makes me a person I don't want to be.

Sometimes, I just need to let it go.