Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31 - Addendum

I know that no matter how many little annoyances there are in my life, I have friends and family who love me dearly, and a cat who would rather be on my lap than anywhere else in the world. Those things are beautiful and I am so lucky to have them. So to my friends and family and cat, I love you dearly, too.

January 31 - Life

I've been rewatching the series "Life" recently. If you've not seen it, I would highly recommend it. Really well done show starring the ever charming Damian Lewis and the less obviously adorable but still completely lovely Adam Arkin. Anyway, Lewis plays Charlie Crews, who was a cop wrongly accused of multiple murder, then exonerated twelve years later when DNA evidence proved him innocent. As part of his wrongful imprisonment settlement, he got a lot of money and got to be a cop again. As his lawyer says, "Life was his sentence and life is what he got back."

Anyway, while Charlie Crews was in prison, he discovered Zen teachings and now uses them in his daily life as a cop. He also eats lots of fruit, which is kind of adorable.

So what does this have to do with anything? No, I'm not writing a review of the show; I have a point here.

I have been very angry a lot lately. I'm waking up angry and frustrated and pretty much staying that way until I go to bed at night. All week has been like this. I know why I'm angry, and a lot of it is stuff I'm not going to get into on this blog, but a lot of it, too, doesn't come with a good venting mechanism. I can and have talked to some of my friends about it, but the anger remains because the problems remain unresolved.

I found myself wondering today about the vicious cycle of anger. If, as Charlie Crews says, everything is connected, and when I harm another, I harm myself, how much of this anger am I inflicting upon myself in addition to the one probably minor thing that set me off in the first place? If I were to make the conscious choice to let all of the anger and frustration go, to not let it bother me, would the irritants disappear? Would I then find peace? Or would the irritants still be there, doing what they're doing?

And then I got one tiny bit of praise at work today. Praise at my company is something I think we all want, but it comes so seldom, I nearly didn't recognize it when it happened. It made me realize that as much as the puppy doesn't want to let getting whacked on the nose with a newspaper bother him, some people will continue to whack him with a newspaper because that is all they know how to do. And eventually, the puppy breaks and starts reacting to everyone as if they all want to whack him on the nose with a newspaper. To that puppy, on behalf of all mankind, I apologize. I know how you feel.

So maybe it isn't a matter of finding Zen or letting go of anger. Maybe it is a matter of changing entire circumstances so that when peace and Zen come calling, I can embrace them fully.

Baby steps, my darling. Baby steps.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30 - Deal

I need to make a deal to be nicer to my self.
I need to make a deal to nourish my body with good food.
I need to make a deal to feed my soul with nourishing activities.
I need to make a deal to spend time focusing on the positive.
I need to make a deal to allow myself to fail.
I need to make a deal to embrace my imperfections.
I need to make a deal to do one happy thing every day. At least one.
I need to make a deal to let go of the fears.
I need to make a deal to stay active instead of falling into passivity.
I need to make a deal to challenge myself.
I need to make a deal to remember to breathe.

Kitty, do we have a deal?


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29 - Anatomy (Part 2)

I'm dressed really girlie today - more than at any other time in probably the last six months - and I'm feeling kind of spunky, so here we go with round two of my series on female anatomy.  As before, if you are squeamish about words like penis and vagina, or you don't like me specifically using them or talking about this stuff, it's probably best to come back tomorrow.

I'm thinking, for the sake of this entry, that it might be helpful to stick with the sports metaphors. I realize not every man is into sports, and I also realize that men are not the only people trying to turn women on, and I also realize that not all men are interested in turning women on. That aside, the focus of this entry is going to be turning women on, and there are a lot of heterosexual men out there who would like to think they're good at this but could really use some help.

Also important to note: I am not an expert. I am not a scientist. I am not a doctor. I'm a woman who men have tried to turn on from time to time, with lots of girlfriends who have also been in these sorts of situations with men. So take this blog with a grain of salt. Or a glass of wine. Whichever makes it go down easier.

But getting back on track, sports metaphors. When I was growing up, various levels of sexual experience were equated with baseball terms. First base was French kissing. Second base meant the upper half of the body was getting some attention. Third base meant the area usually covered by trousers or trouser-adjacent articles of clothing was getting some attention. A home run meant intercourse. Seems like kind of a natural progression, yes? You like a girl, so you kiss her. If she's good with that, you might push the envelope and try to feel her boob. It's a way of testing the waters. If she's good with that, you might start heading south to check in and see just how well she's doing. If she's good with that, there is a chance you could hit a home run and score big time. Makes sense, yes?


One of the biggest bits of advice I can give to people engaged in any level of sexual activity is to check in with your partner. This doesn't necessarily have to mean you stop and say, "Are you okay? Should we keep going? Do you want me to stop?" though in certain situations, those questions can be excellent tools. Checking in can also mean just reading your partner's body language. If you start heading south and she blocks your access, she's not okay with you going there. So stop trying. She'll let you know when and if she's ready.

That's actually a whole other entry, so let's get back to this idea of running the bases. I know, I know, it's a lot of work. You have to put in time and effort and once you guys have had sex once, what's the point? You both know the goal, you've both been there before, can't you just score from first on a long fly ball?


You can't.

Well, maybe you can, but she probably can't and probably doesn't want to.

Yes, there may be times when it's okay to just skip to the old in and out. If you're both looking for something purely physical to release some tension and you don't have much time, that's fine. Long fly and you're done. Often times in those situations, though, she's already halfway around the base path. She did most of your job for you, knowing you weren't going to.

If, however, you want your sexual experience with your partner to be a meaningful one, one that helps solidify you as a couple, one that brings you closer together, you need to put in the time. Just about every time. If I can be sort of vulgar and sort of sappy at the same time, if you want a quick fuck, you can do the long fly to score from first. If you want to make love to your partner, you have to run the whole base path. And you know why? Let's talk erogenous zones for a minute.

Quick! Name five erogenous zones on a woman! And no, differentiating between left breast and right breast does not count as two. Can you think of five? Do you know what the biggest one is for most women? Do you want to know? For most of the women I know, the biggest, most sensitive erogenous zone in her entire body is her brain. Did you name that one? Or were you thinking breasts, clitoris, G-spot, earlobe and butt?

For most of the women I know, enjoyable, meaningful sex involves some sort of investment in their partner. And for most of the women I know, we want to know our partners are invested in us, too. This is why communication is so so so so so important. But if we know he is doing these things we like or taking time to seduce us instead of just skipping ahead to the home run, the whole experience becomes much more pleasurable. It allows us to get more involved with finding other ways to excite him, and allows us to fully enjoy the things he's doing for our benefit. If you skip from first to home, well, we start to feel like any warm hole will do and our number one biggest erogenous zone is disengaged. I'm sorry. That's how it works for a lot of women.

Now, I'm not saying that every sexual experience has to take four hours and involve candles and soft music and your best/worst imitation of Barry White as you engage in dirty talk. I am going to say that foreplay is important.

From a biological perspective, too, foreplay is important. It's pretty easy to tell when a man is ready to go. Guys, have you tried to have sex when you were at about half-mast? Doesn't really work, right? You start to freak out a little because you know (or think you know) what she wants and what she expects, but you're not delivering, so she must be disappointed and isn't going to let you try this ever again and you psyche yourself out and lose your erection entirely. It happens. Women are more understanding of that than you'd think. Anyway. For women, there are indicators that she's ready to go, too, though they're not as visually obvious. One of the big indicators is that her body will produce a natural lubricant which makes penetration much easier, much more enjoyable, and reduces the risk of internal chafing. Trust me, internal chafing is what is going to make her never speak to you again. If you skip to the home run before she's ready, you start to risk internal chafing. Why would you do that to your partner? Why would you do that to someone you care about and want to spend more time with?

So what can you do to help this natural biological process? Well, foreplay. Touch her everywhere except the obvious places. Use really light pressure as you glide your fingertips up and down her spine. Kiss all the way up her arm like Gomez and Morticia Addams do. Play! Try things and see how her body reacts to them. If it reacts favorably, store that information away and use it again as necessary to get the job done. Think about things you like having done to you and do them to her (as anatomy allows). If, as a couple, you are into more adventurous things, enjoy the time you take tying one another up or getting into your gear or finding the right location in the coat closet at church. Whatever it is that you guys do together, take your time getting there. Let her know through your actions that not just any warm hole will do, that you are interested in her specifically, as a whole person. In doing so, you will stimulate her brain, which will stimulate her body and you'll be good to go. To bring it back to the sports metaphor, which is more exciting: a solo home run in the top of the second with one out, or a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth with two out that wins the game?

Here's to many more grand slams.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28 - Creativity

As one who likes to think herself the creative sort, it can be kind of hard to admit this one simple truth: Creativity Happens.

There was a tidbit on the radio about brevity or conciseness and how that factors into rock and roll. Songs being made and then tweaked so they are appropriate for radio play, that kind of thing. And my thought is this - a song is going to be as long as it needs to be. A book should be long enough to tell the story. A film should be long enough to take the viewer on an emotional journey. I think that each of these things can be accomplished in a sentence or in a minute or in 2 hours or in 1,000 pages. I think, as artists, it is up to us to let our art be what it needs to be, let it finish when it is done, without worrying about it fitting into the audience's preconceived notions of what our art should be. I would like to think that there is a greater audience seeking out truth and honesty in art than is interested art that fits a certain definition or timeframe.

That being said, today is not a creative day for me. I had rather upsetting dreams last night and a lot of concrete things I need to do this week. So I am going to let the creativity not happen today, knowing it will at a later date.

Enjoy your Monday.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27 - Who Do You Think I Am?

I went to an acting workshop that opened with each of us "typing" one another. One by one, we stood in front of the group, said our names, and then sat in a chair while our peers filled out little questionnaires about their impressions of us. Presented without comment, here are some of the things a group of my peers thought of me, never having met me before:

Names that suit me: Jenna, Jessica Stone, Jan (as in the adult version of Jan Brady), Kitty, Catherine, Katie, Ann, Carol, Marie
Age range: 30-35
Ethnic background: Polish, Scottish, Irish, German
Actors I remind people of: Sissy Spacek, woman from American Horror Story season 1, Julia Roberts (2 people said this), Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Meg Ryan, Diane Lane, Zooey Deschanel, Nicole Kidman
Professions I might hold: secretary at a spa, nurse, pharmaceutical assistant, manager at Starbucks, waitress, teacher, librarian, scientist, mom, professor, secretary, scheduler, clerk, middle school teacher, social worker, grocery store clerk, lawyer, cop, gym coach
Types/Roles I could play: wife, mother, teacher, evil neighbor, classic woman (Shakespeare), best friend, principal, cop, next door neighbor, ofc-exec, lawyer, nun, snarky best friend, boss, mother battling for her kids, Duchess, ER nurse, detective, addict/hooker, period actor - Downton Abbey, shy librarian, girl next door, relatable normal romantic lead, someone pretty and fun, someone people can relate to, someone shy, girl next door, angsty teen, crackhead, popular socialite

It's interesting to find out how one comes across on a first meeting.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26 - Update

I roller skated today. Nine weeks after I broke my ankle skating on stage, I put the skates back on and did laps for about an hour.

I'm not going to lie, I'm sore now. I did more swizzling than skating because it hurt less and it was easier to maneuver around the small children who lack a sense of spacial awareness. And my ankle doesn't quite have the flexion to be able to do crossovers just yet. But still, I skated. For about an hour.

And I was beautiful.

Not really. I looked like an idiot with knee pads on over my jeans, bopping to the horrible top 40 music that was playing. But I felt awesome. I felt like a badass. I felt beautiful. I reveled in the wonder that is my body and what it can do and what it can overcome and I was brilliant weaving through the other skaters on the rink. I was...Roleen Joleen. Damn, I've missed her.

I skated today. It was beautiful.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25 - It is Stupid Out There

My most beloved Chicago radio station gives traffic and weather reports in the morning, and this morning, the woman doing the traffic report said, "It is stupid out there." Truer words have never been spoken.

This morning, rush hour was greeted with the first measurable snow that Chicago has gotten in about 325 days. That's a long time for Chicago to go without snow, yes. But what never ceases to amaze me is that Chicagoans forget every year how to drive in snow. Completely forget. So for those of you who are terrified of the half-inch of fresh powder on the roadways, let me offer up a few simple tips to make everyone's commute easier.

  • That's not a lane. No really, that's not a lane. That's the shoulder. That's where parked cars go. That's the bike lane. That's the median. That's a turn lane, which, I guess, is technically a lane, but you should only be in it if you plan on turning at this intersection. If you don't plan on turning right now, that's not a lane and you shouldn't be in it. Your insistence on making everything that is not a lane a lane is what is making traffic move so slowly in the first place.
  • Someone will let you in. Eventually, someone will let you in to the general flow of traffic. It may not be the first car you almost slam into, but generally the car behind that one will let you in. Relax. Breathe. You will not be stuck sitting where you are for four hours trying to get into traffic. You'll most likely be preventing someone else from joining the flow of traffic before the song on the radio ends.
  • You will get where you need to go. We all will. It may take a little longer because the roads are slick and people are driving a bit more cautiously, but we all will get there. Relax. Breathe. Just stay the course.
  • The road markings did not disappear just because they're covered in snow. I realize this is sort of an addendum to the first bullet, but I think it is important enough to merit repetition. Most people driving in rush hour on snowy mornings or evenings are going places they've gone before on familiar roads. I, for example, drive the same route to work when it is snowing as I do when it is not snowing. I drive these roads every day so I know where the bike lanes are and where there is one lane as opposed to two and when the lane jogs a bit to one side to accommodate turn lanes and what have you. I also realize that not everyone has this same level of environmental awareness, and I also realize that not every car on the road is driving a familiar path. But if you are not sure of where you are going or what the road looks like not covered in snow, there's a pretty good chance that if you follow the car in front of you, you're going the right way. When you start trying to make your own road in the middle of the existing one, you do nothing but create problems for everyone.
  • We know you need to get where you're going. We do, too. Everyone is on the road for a reason. Everyone needs to get to work or to school or to the doctor's office or whatever. When it's snowy and icky out, not many people decide, "Hey, now would be a great time to go for a drive! I've got nothing else to do. Let's see how many accidents I can cause!" There may be one or two, but for the most part, we're all trying to get somewhere. And I hate to say it, but where you're going is no more or no less important than where I'm going or where he's going or where she's going. We know you're in a hurry. We are, too. And when you start making your own lanes and traffic rules to try to get there faster, you actually slow everyone down. Including yourself.
It is my hope that people can use these tips to not be the stupidest person on the road during this snowy season. Remember - you'll get there. Just relax, breathe, and play nicely with everyone else and you will get there. I promise.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24 - Anatomy (Part 1)

This post is not for the faint of heart. If words like penis and vagina bother you, or the thought of me specifically talking about sex and anatomy turns your stomach, you might want to skip this one and come back tomorrow. You've been warned.

I so so so so so wish there was more mainstream information available on human female anatomy. There probably is, but I don't think it's all that prevalent. Sure, people debate the existence of the G-spot, and some people still doubt the existence of the female orgasm (it's a real thing, I promise you), but do how much do we actually know about the G-spot? There still seems to be a large amount of confusion regarding what one should do with a clitoris once one is lucky enough to locate one. Why is that? Yes, we should be happy that we've progressed from the days when doctors thought the uterus floated randomly around the female body, which is why women would act irrationally from time to time, but I think there is still plenty of ground to cover.

I'm sure there are those for whom male anatomy is also a mystery. I don't mean to discount that. I think, though, that perhaps since male genitalia is outside the body and female is within, it's maybe a little easier (and/or less invasive) to study male. And, I think, we are still a somewhat male-centric society, so there is a greater investment (both personal and monetary) in figuring out what's going on with men. Men have to be able to have sex. Viagara is covered by most insurance plans. Republicans think the female body can tell if a fetus was conceived via rape or consensual sex and can spontaneously abort the unwanted ones. You see what I mean.

Now, I'm also posting this blog as a woman who has taken certain steps to know what's going on with both male and female anatomy. I took a class called "Men Below the Belt" that explored various techniques for exciting a male partner. (The same place apparently teaches a similar class on how to excite a female partner, but it is apparently not very well attended.) I have also read articles on both male and female anatomy, so I know things like which parts of the penis have higher concentrations of nerve endings. I think that my search for this kind of knowledge is what allows me to be the kind of lover that I am. I'm not saying I'm the best; just that I feel I am responsive to my partner and for the most part, my partners have not complained.

(Then again, talking about sex is often a difficult thing so I'm not sure if they would have complained if they wanted to. Anyway.)

The reason this is on my mind and the reason I wish there was more information at the ready is because I think it would alleviate a lot of confusion and create a greater environment of understanding. For example, menstruation. Most men (over a certain age) probably have a general idea of what it is, and know that their wives and girlfriends get really irritable for a couple of days once a month. They know PMS is annoying largely because they get yelled at more or don't get to have sex for a few days or because their girlfriends aren't as giving or open as they are normally. They think women are being overly self-conscious when they talk about feeling bloated and whatnot. And there are probably a handful of men out there who are offended by my over-simplification of their point of view and level of understanding. To those men, I apologize. To the others, let me paint you a picture.

Imagine you wake up one morning, and none of your clothes fit. You find that overnight, you have broken out like you did when you were in high school even though you thought you had outgrown acne by now. And to top it off, there is this pressure in your lower abdomen that feels kind of like you're about two hours overdue for taking the biggest dump of your life, but no matter how many times you go to the bathroom, the pressure just doesn't go away. There is no comfortable way to sit, no comfortable way to lie down. And every now and again, it feels like someone is scraping the inside of your penis off with a spoon. And then you start bleeding from your penis. For three to five days. And if you try to complain to anyone about how completely shitty you feel, physically and mentally, they shrug it off by saying you're PMS-ing and that's really gross and they don't want to know that you're bleeding seemingly massive amounts of blood from your penis. You are expected to go about your normal everyday life as if nothing is wrong even though all you can think about is the pain in your abdomen and when is that Advil going to kick in? That's what PMS is like for some women. It is very real and very painful and the complete lack of acknowledgement of the pain and flippant jokes about irritability just add fuel to the fire. A tiny bit of empathy would be nice. Or at the very least, don't make fun of us then and wonder why we don't laugh along with you. The other 24-28 days our cycles, we'll joke along about lots of things. When our insides are being ripped out, humor at our expense is not the best medicine. It's just not.

I don't remember learning things like this in my high school health class. I know that teaching teenagers the anatomy of the sex organs can't be easy, with the snickering and goofing off and general immaturity. I feel for those teachers, I really do. But I still wish there was a good mechanism for talking about this kind of stuff in an open and honest manner.

So I think this may be the first of a series of posts on female anatomy, from my perspective, anyway. I've talked to some of my girlfriends and we seem to run into some of the same situations, so maybe if I just open it up and start a dialogue, some of these things can be de-mystified. At least a little. I'm not an expert. I'm just a woman who thinks both men and women should know how both male and female anatomy works.

So, let's chat. Do you have any stories or tips to share? I have some of my own and will post them in pieces, but I'd love to make this a conversation, not a monologue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23 - Yoga

I got there early - too early for my own comfort level - so I sat in my car and listened to another couple of songs before I went in. Even though I had just gone to the bathroom when I left my house, my tendency to fall ill with nervous bladder had kicked in, too, so I went in ten minutes before class. I also figured the teacher might want to ask questions or I might have to sign something and I knew I had to give her money for the class. For the life of me, I couldn't find the studio once inside the building. It was in the farthest corner of the third hallway I tried, but I opened the door and was instantly warm.

The instructor was talking to one other student, and came over to greet me almost instantly. There were only three students tonight, two women (including me) and one man. The instructor brought over some props, and we talked about the potential limitations of my healing ankle. She told me the biggest rule was to listen to my body and to not do anything that was not comfortable.

And then we yoga-ed.

It was interesting. I've done some yoga from videos before, in the privacy of my own home. I never knew I was doing downward facing dog wrong. This instructor fixed that. I did hot yoga once and loved being warm, but didn't necessarily like being soaking wet five minutes into the class.

Tonight, we started with a relaxation exercise (which I might have to adopt as my new sleeping position), and then moved into our first pose. This was hatha yoga, so we would get into a pose and hold it for a few breaths. It was kind of awesome. She talked us through how to move each part of our body to get into the various positions, most of which I already knew or had already done, but I didn't know that was what she was having us do until we got there. Like all of the puzzle pieces coming together. And she corrected the little things I've been doing wrong this whole time. She worked on the other students, too, as they needed it, and was always careful to ask permission before physically re-posing us. I know, this seems like a minor thing, but I think it shows fantastic respect when an instructor remembers to ask first.

While we held poses, I could feel my muscles shaking, fighting to maintain, and I kind of loved it. It felt amazing to be doing something physical again. My ankle did not limit my movement too much, though a couple of times I just posed through the pain. It was more of a "holding a deeper stretch than you're used to" pain than a "wow, I messed up my ankle again" pain, so I think I'm okay. By the end of the class, my ankle felt awesome. Better than it has in months (though walking down the stairs after class was not fun). I think it liked being used.

I learned that I am more flexible than I originally thought. I learned that some of the ways I would try to push my body to do yoga "correctly" or to "look impressive" were actually wrong and the more impressive way to go about things feels better, too. There were a few deep breaths that I took that felt like my chest grew to twice its normal size. I thought it was interesting at the end of class, when we were supposed to be relaxing that my mind was fantastically active. I felt Hamlet inside of me, then. Her dispair undercut by her enormous strength. I felt strong. I felt weak. I felt tall. I felt useless. I felt powerful. I felt disgust. I felt a love for my feet that I don't think I have ever felt before in my entire life.

It shouldn't be surprising that I did okay in yoga class. I do have a background as a dancer and an actor, so I am very aware of my body and how it works and how to make it do certain things. The phrase "breathe into your collarbones" doesn't sound that strange to me. But I am surprised that I did as well as I did. I loved it and I want to go back and do more. I want to feel my muscles getting stronger again. I want to feel exhaustion in my butt. I want to be able to hold the tree pose without a wall for the entire time without needing to adjust my balance.

So I might be one of those people who does yoga now. Though I'm pretty sure I undid most of it by coming home and having leftover pizza for dinner. Oh well. Baby steps.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22 - Sporting Events

I'm not even going to try to recreate this, so I would recommend that before you start reading this blog post, you go spend the five minutes watching that video. I agree with everything in it, and gosh darn it, if I don't miss George Carlin.

That being said...did you watch it? No? I'll wait. This blog will still be here. Granted, that video will, too, but it might be helpful to have a frame of reference, or in case you think I left anything out. I didn't - I'm deferring to him on most of this.

That being said, I grew up a baseball fan. My mom is a baseball fan, so we always listened to Cubs games or watched them on TV. I grew up with Harry Caray and Steve Stone. I don't remember a time in my life when I was ever not a Cubs fan, when I was ever not cheering for them to finally, finally, FINALLY break the curse and win a World Series. I played t-ball as a kid, and then softball through junior high and used to dream that by the time I was old enough, the Major Leagues would have changed their rules to allow female players so I could be a Cub. I love baseball. As a sport, it makes sense to me.

That being said (are you seeing a trend here?), I can enjoy other sports as well, and I often do. Roller derby bouts are a hoot. European football (what we call "soccer" over here) can be interesting, even though it is 95% passing, 5% scoring. I have the feeling I could get into hockey if they would just stop striking and play some games. I've been known to go crazy cheering for my team at a basketball game or two, even road tripping three hours south of Chicago when my high school basketball team made regionals (or whatever that was - it was a long time ago, gimmie a break). And yes, I have watched quite a few football games and will, on occasion, scream my head off for the Bears because I like it when our hometown boys do well.

The thing that I don't like about a lot of sports other than baseball, though, is the separation of offense from defense. Baseball makes sense to me in that everybody plays both roles. Now you're up to bat, now you're playing outfield. Hell, my favorite player in recent history hit in just about every spot in the lineup and played all of the positions except pitcher and catcher. That's a sportsman in my book. In football, you have offensive players, defensive players and special teams. Meaning, there is a guy whose only job is to kick the ball once or twice a game. Then he sits and watches everyone else play. And let's say his team never gets into field goal position, or they do only once and he flubs it - dude is getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to not do his job. Granted, even the best baseball players only hit the ball successfully about a third of the time. But even if someone goes 0-for in a game, he has the opportunity to make a great catch or run someone down on the base path in a squeeze play, or pitch a no-hitter. He can redeem himself with his defensive play, even if his offense sucks (or vice versa). In football, there is no such redemption.

Football, too, bothers me because there are so few games in a season. I know, I know, it is a physically demanding sport, with all of the running in short bursts and knocking into one another. Then again, basketball and soccer also involve a lot of running in short bursts and they play almost daily. Hockey players get really beat up and they play more games in a season (when they have a season) than football players. And let's not knock the physical exertion that goes into hitting and running and fielding that happens in baseball for 162 games every April through October. That is a grueling schedule. But they do it.

So anyway, I met up with friends to watch football over the weekend. I wasn't really cheering for either team, but I went to be social and because I do like sporting events. But it really made me miss baseball. I like a sport where everyone does everything, where they play all the time, and where they play until the game is over. I love the crack of the bat. I love the crazy diving catches. I love the tension of a shut-out performance. I love the sound of a fastball hitting the catcher's mitt. I love baseball.

And who knows? Maybe this will be our year. Go Cubbies!

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21 - Notes

The thing that makes a hero compelling is his weakness. The thing that makes a villain enthralling is his love.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20 - Roommates

It never ceases to amaze me that my roommate is of another species, that we don't speak the same language but we know how to communicate, and that even though I am 10 times bigger than him, he trusts me. Completely. It shouldn't be that big of a surprise - inter-species friendships happen all of the time - but I still can't help but feel privileged that he lets me scritch his ears and hold his hand and that my lap is his favorite place to sit. His is the face I most want to see every day, and I hope I've done a decent job of being his human.

Sorry about the mushy post. I hope I never get used to how lucky I am to be part of his life.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19 - Teaser

I have a bit of a longer blog post brewing, perhaps even long enough to create a series of blog posts, following some discussions I've had with my lady friends of late, but I have a lot to get through today and don't think I'll be able to give it the time it deserves. But I do want to give you just a taste so maybe you'll keep checking back for when it actually goes up. And, if based on this teaser you have anything you would like to add to my post (or series of posts), please let me know by posting a comment or something. I would love to get a dialogue going and will give credit where credit is due (likely by linking to your blog unless you would rather I not).

If you do choose to nibble on your partner's ear, it is best to hold your breath while doing so. There is nothing sexy about turning her ear canal into a wind tunnel.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18 - Beauty

I realize in writing this post that as soon as I start in on this topic, at least one friend will reach through the computer screen and smack me up side the head, while at least two others remind me that I am intelligent and funny and talented and all of that stuff. Thank you guys - I love you for those impulses. This blog is not about those impulses, or the existence or lack of those impulses in others. This blog is about what's going on in my own head.

It has been pretty well established on this blog that what I look like is almost never the same as what I think I look like. It's my perception of me versus the reality. It works in regard to how others perceive me as well - those who thought I was really stuck up or standoffish when we first met, when I know I was being an introvert and very self-conscious, that sort of thing. I was also recently told (again) that I am guarded. I'm working on that one - trying to figure out if I think it's true or not. But that's also not what this blog is about. For the purposes of this blog, we're going with my perception of my physical being.

I don't feel attractive lately.  I think a lot of it has to do with the ginormous walking boot I was wearing for a little over a month, coupled with the leftover feelings of "I'm walking around with a broken ankle," (even though it's mostly healed) and "Did my ankle always look like that? It's puffier than the other one is." But I don't feel attractive. Which is weird, because when I look in the mirror, I can see that I'm not ugly. When I look away from the mirror, though, this beast takes up residence in my brain, erasing the image of the pretty woman on the other side of the looking glass.

So I've been trying to think of when I last felt attractive, and what was I doing that helped that. I don't think this is something that can come from someone else - it has to be a conclusion I reach for myself. I'm not the sort that feels better after retail therapy - clothes shopping makes me sad, and I feel the guilt of spending money. I think something physical would help, like if I was still skating. I'm tempted to put on my skates and give it a whirl, though I'm still a little scared for my ankle. Something mentally challenging usually helps - I like feeling like I'm good at things. I do have the lovely, meaty role of Hamlet to dive into. Though, admittedly, I don't know what my female Hamlet looks like yet. I want to play her, but not have her look like me. I realize that makes no sense, but also perfect sense in the confusion of the brain that is Hamlet's. And maybe taking on this huge male role as a woman is also messing a bit with my sense of self. If that's the case, maybe I shouldn't mess with it until after we're done shooting.

In any case, I haven't felt attractive in quite some time and am not sure how to change that or get out of that. How do you make yourself feel attractive?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17 - Gaming

I think there is a very fine line between advertising your new game (be it a computer game, a board game, or an online social media based game) so well that everyone wants to play it, and making the game impossible to play after a certain point without harassing your friends to start playing it, too, so they can help you.

No, wait, sorry. No there isn't.

If I have to ask my friends for things in order to play your game, I'm not going to play it. I like playing games, but often times, my friends don't have the time or motivation to play with me. I'll admit it - I like some of the really stupid games, too - and I don't always like to admit to my friends that I need their help to upgrade my online beauty salon to have three shampoo stations so I can level up.

If your game is relying on me to harass my friends as your primary form of marketing, maybe you should re-examine your marketing plan to make the game more appealing to a wider audience in the first place. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16 - Quick Thought

I realize, as a bemoan the prevalence of "the woman seeking a relationship" in mass media, that I, too, like to watch people end up together at the end of the show or the end of the movie. It's nice to see them share a kiss you've wanted them to share for some time.

Add this to the fact that it is okay to show all kinds of crazy violence on television, but if you show a penis, you'll get an X rating in the movie theater. We're conditioned to think violence is acceptable, but sex is taboo.

Now, this is just a half-formed thought, but if our country were to swap those opinions - if violence was taboo and sex was natural - would we still be so gratified seeing the happy couple end up together at the end of the movie? Could we possibly get away from the "woman who defines herself by the man she is pursuing/is pursued by" character and find some strong, powerful women on their own? And how would our general attitudes toward gun regulations change?

Like I said, a half-formed thought. I'm going to think more about this and hopefully get back to you later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15 - Update

Today was supposed to be my last visit to the podiatrist. Today was supposed to be the end of the whole ordeal. Today was the day where my podiatrist was supposed to say, "You're all better. Go with the wind, young grasshopper."

Today did not go exactly as planned.

Before you freak out, I'm fine. Things are as they should be. I mentioned to my doctor, though, that I was experiencing pain. It's not horrible, debilitating pain, but it's also not comfy and it's not directly around the bone that broke. So I asked. I've never broken a bone before - I don't know what the healing process is like. My doctor was very impressed with the strength I have in my foot and ankle (he asked if I was a dancer, and I realized it still always feels weird to me to say "yes" to that question even though technically, I was), and he is pleased with the way the bones healed. At the moment, he thinks the pain I'm feeling is normal healing pain, in part caused by the fact that I wasn't really using my ankle for five weeks. The tendons and ligaments need to get used to doing what they do again. He's not worried.


If I keep experiencing pain, if it doesn't get better, there could be tendon or ligament damage. He thought we should give it more time before we order an MRI to see if there is a vertical tear anywhere. I agree. MRIs suck. And they're expensive. In the meantime, I only have to wear the compression sock for one more week, and then I can wear it on an as-needed basis. The pain may linger for a while, because get this - it can take 12 to 18 months for a fracture to fully, fully heal. So the pain is normal. I'm ready for it to go away. It will take time.

So I'm going to do what I can to make it get better. I'm going to visualize the tendons and ligaments becoming nice and supple and flexible, free of tears or stress. I'm going to incorporate pineapple juice into my diet on the off chance the enzymes in it will do something to help (since I was on pineapple enzyme pills at the start of this whole ordeal). I'm going to keep using my ankle the way it's supposed to be used, even if it hurts, so it gets used to normal motion again. And I am going to count down the days until I can sit cross-legged again.

The human body is an amazing thing. Be amazing, body! Be amazing!

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14 - You Take The Good, You Take The Bad

I've sort of gotten in the habit of taking a day off after I travel or after I have visitors to recuperate. It's an introvert thing. Being around other people that long or being not in my space gets exhausting, so I take the time to recover.

Today is that day. Recovery day after a lovely weekend of houseguest. Unfortunately, I seem to have caught some sort of bug and spent the first half of the day examining the contents of my stomach as they appear after regurgitation. My recovery day now gets to be spent...recovering. And not in the fun, relaxing-with-hot-chocolate kind of a way. Grumble, grumble.

I just hope that whatever this is sorts itself out by tomorrow so I can get back to normal. Otherwise, I'll need a day to recover from my recovery day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13 - Meta

I'm not sure what to blog about today, so I thought maybe I would blog about not knowing what to blog about. I'm sure that most writers experience writer's block from time to time, and I'm not sure that this is writer's block. I'd like to think I that it is different.

I remember Moby saying that for almost every album he puts out, he writes about 100 songs, but he knows enough to only put the good 10 or 12 songs on the CD that will be released for public consumption. I realize that this blog will likely be one of the ones not fit for public consumption, but I promised I would blog every day this year, so here it is. I blogged. I'm sorry. I'll have a topic tomorrow.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12 - Really? Really?

I realize that vegans only make up about two percent of the population in the United States. That's fine. I know I'm in the minority. I also know that I am not a particularly annoying vegan. I don't point at those who eat meat and call them names. I don't make people feel bad for eating meat around me. This is my choice for my life that works for me and I like it.

That being said, when I order food for delivery or in a restaurant, I do sometimes ask them to tweak things a bit to accommodate my dietary choices. Pizza without cheese, for example. Most places are fine with this sort of thing. Those that aren't don't get my business. I'm sure they don't even notice.

So imagine my surprise when I place a phone order for pizza, specifying that it should be their vegetarian special and asking that it not have cheese on it, and the pizza arrives with sausage all over it. Not just one piece that accidentally fell onto the pizza due to an unorganized work station. All over the pizza. Sausage on the VEGETARIAN SPECIAL.

What the fuck?

I wish there was a kinder way to say that, but I think that swear is deserved. Who looks at an order for a cheeseless vegetarian pizza and thinks, "I should put sausage on this?" Even if the handwriting that took the order is bad, wouldn't you maybe ask? "Hey, did this customer really ask for sausage on their cheeseless vegetarian pizza?" Are people so obtuse that they don't realize that most of the people who order the VEGETARIAN SPECIAL order it specifically because it DOESN'T have meat on it? Do they think the customer wouldn't notice?

I don't mean to rant, and I don't want to be that person. But you know what? Fuck you for putting sausage on my cheeseless VEGETARIAN SPECIAL pizza. You have reduced me to the basest of curses, and tainted my impression of your usually delicious pizzas. Fuck you for fucking up my pizza.

January 12 - Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

There are three certainties in life - death, taxes and change.

Death...happens. There's nothing you can do about it.

Taxes are annoying, but they're not the end of the world. You can get help with them if you need it, and there are plenty of online resources to guide you.

Change...change is the tricky one. You don't always know when it is coming or in what form. It can be good, it can be bad, it can be frightening or it can be exciting. It can be all of the above all at the same time. The only thing we really know about change is that it happens. Constantly.

So, like death and taxes, I think it is advisable to embrace change. If you just ride the wave of change, you may find it takes you to some amazing places.

The times, they are a-changin' my friend. And I'm looking forward to where the wave will take me this time.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11 - The Homestead

I have a houseguest staying with me this weekend, which means I went on a cleaning rampage this morning. Said houseguest is of the male persuasion and told me repeatedly before his arrival that he doesn't really care about that sort of thing and/or probably wouldn't really notice if my apartment was clean or not. But for some reason, it was important to me to clean all of those silly things that I hadn't cleaned in a while so that my apartment would look...kept. Or something. Before he arrived.

This bugged me. I'm normally not a total neat-nick. If something looks dirty, I'll clean it, but I'm not the sort that is in the habit of mopping the floors every week on Sunday just because that's just part of the routine. And often times, I'm honestly too busy to keep that kind of schedule. Tech weeks, for one, when I'm only really home for about six hours a day, during which I have to sleep, shower, and feed my cat. Mopping the floors just falls down the list of priorities. I'm okay with that.

So why should it bother me so much when someone is coming to visit that my house look kept?

And I figured it out.

I know a lot of other really busy people, too. People with jobs and families and extra-curricular activities. And their houses manage to get cleaned with some regularity. When I go visit friends or family, there isn't a nice layer of dust on the television screen - someone cleans that. And it may be that we all have this need to clean right before other people come over and if it weren't for other people visiting on occasion, we'd all be fine living in our own squalor. But something inside me says if all of these other people can lead their lives and keep up their schedules and manage to keep their houses clean, I should be able to, too. Like I'm behind the curve if I can't. Or something.

So I cleaned today. Like, "vacuumed my mattress and scrubbed the bit of my bathroom floor right by the tub where the grout was starting to look...grout-y," cleaned. I don't think my houseguest has noticed (though in fairness, this houseguest has not stayed with me before so wouldn't really know the difference anyway). But I do feel better about myself with a clean apartment.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10 - Celebrity

Celebrity is an odd thing.

I am not a celebrity, nor do I claim to be even close to one, so I can't imagine what it's like for those who actually have to live with it on a daily basis. I can only imagine that it is an odd thing.

For the purposes of this blog, I'm talking mostly about artists - actors, sports stars, musicians - and not so much about politicians. I think the celebrity that a politician experiences is a bit different. I think that when they run for office with the intent of representing those around them, they do give up a bit of the privacy that should be afforded other citizens. If you're representing me, if you're saying you are the best role model for the geographic area in which you live, I'd like to know that you are a good role model. In other words, you're asking for it. I don't think the same can or should be said of artistic celebrity.

I know, I know, people are going to argue that artistic celebrities asked for it, too. I disagree. I am an actor. I want people to come see the shows that I am in. I want them to feel things when I have a big emotional release on stage. I don't want them to know that my kitchen is a mess or who I'm flirting with that week or what my family holidays are like. That is none of their business and should not affect my performance or how they view me as a performer. I'm inviting you into the life I live on stage for two hours, not the other twenty-two hours of the day in my regular life. I'm also not holding myself up as some model citizen who represents my fellow citizens. I'm an actor, playing a role, doing a job, in a specific place, for a specific piece of time. I don't claim to be perfect, so those aiming to model their lives after someone should probably look elsewhere.

That being said, I've been talking about celebrities with a girl friend of mine recently, because she has gotten somewhat sucked into the world of crazy fan girls. She is not a crazy fan girl, but has seen a lot of crazy fan girl art inspired by a particular actor that she likes. And we both kind of have to say, "What the...?" You name it, it's out there. Some of it...I don't even know how people think this stuff up, but it makes me feel better about wanting to see every thing David Tennant has done because I know I am aware of the line between wanting to seek out his art and making a life-size body pillow of him dressed as the Tenth Doctor that I sleep with every night. I do not have the body pillow, nor do I want it. That would be weird. Seeking out his art is not. I think*. 

But what must that be like for the celebrity? To know that people are drawing pictures of you (as a fictional character sometimes, sometimes not) fulfilling whatever fantasies they might have about you? Making out with fictional character siblings. Killing fictional characters from other films they didn't like. Photoshopping out your actual significant other and putting themselves in instead? What on earth must that feel like? Imagine if right now, there were thousands of people out there making fan art of you doing things you would never do and in some instance, things you don't approve of. How does that make you feel?

I realized a couple of years ago that actors are just people, like the rest of us. Silly that it had to be a "moment" or "realization," isn't it? We think we have a right to know everything about their lives, but we really don't. I don't care what your justification is for thinking it is okay to stalk them or take their clothes or demand they hug you when you see them randomly on the street. They are just people, like anyone else. Their jobs just make them more recognizable when they are out in public. The up side of this realization for me is that in general, I don't get so flustered when meeting celebrities. Yes, I'll jump around like an idiot, overflowing with excitement when they are no longer in earshot, but I'm pretty good at keeping it together during the face to face. (I likely wouldn't be with David Tennant, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, shall we?) I know what it is like to have audience members I don't know compliment me after a show - it's lovely, so given the opportunity, I'll say complimentary things to actors I like. But I don't expect them to invite me to parties afterward, or hang out and chat. It's awesome if they do, but I don't expect that. They have people that they know who they want to hang out with instead. They're people - it's what we all do.

Anyway. I guess if you can take anything away from this post it should be that we're all just people, doing the things that people do. We all have the right to do the things that people do, and maybe we should think about how our actions affect others. Because really, we're all just people. It sounds so simple, yet so odd. We're all just people.


*(I apologize to those with fangirl fetishes who may be offended by this paragraph.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January 9 - A Thought

Sometimes, I think I should carry a bag of oranges or apples or carrots in my car to give to the homeless people at stoplights who ask for money. I wonder how many of them would take it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

January 8 - Twitterstories (Part 3)

This morning, I posted a bit of bait on both Facebook and Twitter to see who would play along. I posted, "Once upon a time..." Three threads started, one on Facebook, and two with Twitter friends. Here are the results of a day in Twitterstories.

The first two chapters of a Twitterstory with NicLake:

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Kitty. On weekends, she enjoyed sleeping, blogging, and dancing on her now-bootless foot. Until one day when she was trying to do a handstand while skateboarding, a bird landed on her elbow and said, "I have a secret for you!"
"Oh joy!" shouted Kitty. "What is it?" 
The bird replied, "Your skateboard has the power of time travel! You can go to any point in history. There's just one catch, though. For every Earth day you are gone, you will age one Earth year. Where would you like to go first?" 
Kitty thought for a while. Aging a full year for every day made it difficult to choose. Then it clicked. "I know! I'll go visit my birthday every year, but in a different location. I'll surely live long enough to see some fun things then. First, to my golden birthday! Surely, that was the best one!" 
"Alright then," said the bird. "Off you go!" 
With a whir and a spin, the skateboard took off. "Here we are!" said the bird. 
"Oh, I meant my golden birthday, but in Rome...wait a second. I'm really IN Rome. Ancient Rome! What the heck, skateboard?!?" 
"Sorry," replied the bird. "It's not very precise. The skateboard time circuits were fried in an accident involving the last owner and a jar of peanut butter. Trust me, you don't want to know. Anyway, don't worry! You're disguised as a Roman priestess. Come, let me show you your palace." 
And they were off! Riding through the streets. Citizens and vendors jumped out of the way, startled, as a beautiful priestess seemed to glide through their midst. One small girl reached out her hand to touch the robes of the flying priestess, grabbed them, and held on tight. "What the..." She was whisked off her feet, and Kitty snagged her and gently placed her on the hidden skateboard.
"Hang on," she whispered. By the time they reached the palace, the girl's knuckles were white from clinging on so tightly. 
"You live here?" she asked. 
"I think so," Kitty replied. They stepped off the board and climbed the steps. When they reached the top, they saw..."Er, no " 
At the top of the stairs was a statue of the Great High Priestess of the land, who looked startlingly like a girl Kitty had gone to school with and despised, because she broke Kitty's lunchbox in first grade. "How did she get to Rome?" Kitty wondered aloud. 
The bird grew suddenly fidgety. "Well, there are some other items that also allow for time travel. Like your skateboard. This one had a broken lunchbox with her when she arrived here. It allows time travel, and ceases the aging process all together!" 
Kitty's brain was churning. She couldn't remember this girl's name, as hard as she tried but the fire inside her grew. "I must retrieve my lunchbox," she growled. 
"What's a lunchbox?" asked the young girl.

Chapter 2

Kitty was lounging on a comfortable bed, being fed grapes by servants, when she noticed one of her manservants did not have the required six-pack abs for the job. "Odd," she thought. "He doesn't fit the part." "You there," she exclaimed. "What is your name?" 
"My name, m'lady? It's Rory." 
"Rory? Rory the Roman?" asked Kitty. "What Roman names his kid Rory? Are you sure you're from here?" Rory looked away and Kitty caught a glimpse of something in his ear. "Wait, hang on. Is that... a radio?!?" Rory knew he was caught, so he drew a knife from his boot and lunged at Kitty. 
"For Esmeralda!" he cried.
Kitty froze, but the remaining servants did not. They intercepted Rory and tackled him to the ground. "Esmeralda!" cried Kitty. "That was her name. Speak, Rory! Tell me her plans!" Rory squirmed, but could not speak due to the servant's arm around his neck. "Release him," she said, "but be ready for anything." 
Rory stood slowly baring his teeth like a dog. "You know nothing of Esmeralda, nor shall you ever," he growled. For a moment, the room was silent but a high-pitched whine grew increasingly louder. Rory's head shook, and then he collapsed to the floor, unconscious. The servants panicked and fled. Kitty, the bird, and the girl stood mouths agape. "What has Esmeralda become?" Kitty cried. 
The bird glided to Kitty's shoulder. "You and Esmeralda aren't the only Travelers. We apologize for not being more clear. We brought you here to undo the greatest curse of all, unleashed by a traveler with a Walkman." 
"We? Who's we?" asked Kitty. 
The bird hopped from Kitty's shoulder, & in a flurry of shoulders, transformed into a tall, slender man clad in black robes. "It is a royal we. The elders of this land need your help to escape the tyrrany of the Walkman. Can you help us?" he implored. 
"But... you're... a bird?"
"Apologies, I didn't properly introduce myself. My name is Vander. I am one of the seven Ravens. We were sworn to protect this land from its enemies, but I'm afraid this new power is too much for us. We need you to be the one to end this threat. Will you help us?"
Kitty shifted nervously. "Well, I was only trying to get to my birthday..."
"But you'll never have another birthday if the Walkman succeeds! Please, help us!" blurted the Raven.
"Well, if I must, I must get back. But we must hurry. Every day I spend here is a year back in my time!"
"Don't fear," said the Raven. "I have one more gift for you that will help you find and defeat the Walkman." From the deep folds of his glorious robe, he pulled a blue iPod Touch.
"Wha... how did you get that?" Kitty asked.
"As I said, you were not the first," Vander said with a smile.

Stay tuned for further adventures!

January 8 - Twitterstories (Part 2)

This morning, I posted a bit of bait on both Facebook and Twitter to see who would play along. I posted, "Once upon a time..." Three threads started, one on Facebook, and two with Twitter friends. Here are the results of a day in Twitterstories.

The first chapter of a Twitterstory with WarmongerSmurf:

Once upon a time, there was a sandwich. The fairest sandwich in all of Sandwich Kingdom. It brought to mind all the finest things around it. Its lettuce made the grass seem greener; its crunchy bread made the air seem crisp. All of the peasants in the land revered the fair sandwich. For not only was it fair, it was the only thing that held the fearsome Pizza Lord at bay.

The Pizza Lord had come to power during a darker time when dark rivulets of grease lanced through the fields. Peasants toiled in the cheese mines, in constant fear of being sauced. Sir Pepper of the Roni clan arose from the cheese mines to take back the land from the Pizza Lord. He and his faithful squire, Black Olive, rode to the gates of Pizzalda. They branished their breadsticks, demanding entry.
"You shall not pass!" roared the Anch Ovies at the gates.
Quickly, Sir Pepper and Black Olive lunged forward with a mighty cry, assailing the Lord's fearsome warriors. But they were no match for them; and sadly the salt breath of the Anch Ovies overcame Black Olive. As he shriveled and dehydrated, he bade Sir Pepper, "Avenge me, milord. Seek help in the East; avail yourself of the wisdom of the Wizards of Sandwich."
Sir Pepper knew the Wizards of Sandwich all too well. He sought their wisdom once before when his local oracle had been on vacation. They were a mysterious sort, given to speaking in vagueries and metaphor. But they and they alone held the secret to thwarting the Pizza Lord's power. They and they alone knew how to counteract salt breath.
Sprak the Wizards, "Seek steel in the Stainless Cavalcade. Cleave tyranny with the spinning wheel." And silent they fell.
Sir Pepper wracked his brains. "I must find a map to the Stainless Cavalcade," thought he. "Perhaps I can find one..."
"Or perhaps I can guide you," spoke a quiet voice from the shadows. A Sandwich, fair and mysterious, had followed him to the Wizards.
"Are you the Sandwich of Panin?" he asked.
"The Sandwich of Panin, I," spake the Sandwich. Her will was strong, to disobey the Law of Disassociation. She faced exile for her intervention, but knew in her fillings that the Pizza Lord must be stopped. "I know the way to the Calvalcade." With that, she turned and together they sought the shining wheel the Wizards spoke of. Panin knew the way, past the Shredders, the deadly Mandoline. It was a difficult journey, but Panin was not unprepared. For every obstacle, Sir Pepper was amazed by her cunning and imagination. She was artful; she would wait instead of rush, misdirect instead of confront. Battles were won without drop of sauce shed. Sir Pepper found himself humbled by Panin's grace and vowed that he would never again lunge heedlessly into battle, imperiling lives as he had with Black Olive. The Lord would be slain, but no others lost along the way.

Panin forged ahead, never making her plans known, but never stumbling, never faltering. Finally, they recovered their prize. A shining disc of stainless steel spinning from its handle. At last, a weapon to cut the Pizza, a weapon to end the suffering. "For Olive and the others, let us slice our enemy to shreds!" cried Sir Pepper.

And so they returned, only to be greeted by a sight - the peasants, from the old and sun-dried to those fresh off the vine, all were pleased to see their heros return, and excited for the adventures ahead. And there was much rejoicing.

Stay tuned for further adventures!

January 8 - Twitterstories (Part 1)

This morning, I posted a bit of bait on both Facebook and Twitter to see who would play along. I posted, "Once upon a time..." Three threads started, one on Facebook, and two with Twitter friends. Here are the results of a day in Twitterstories.

The Facebook tale:

Once upon a time
In a nursery rhyme
Lacking in mud and grime
Lost among the sands of time
Drinking a vodka-soda with lime
I strangled a wandering mime
I listened to some Sublime
Well, MissKitty
I know it's a crime
But I cannot stop
At one single rhyme!

Thank you to everyone who played along!

Monday, January 07, 2013

January 7 - All The World's a Stage

I reached out to the Twitterverse for topic suggestions for today, and one of my dear Canadian friends suggested I write about my favorite role and why it was my favorite.

I can't.

I can't pick just one role, or just one production. It's like trying to choose which of your children you love best. And with a couple of notable exceptions (or perhaps not so notable), every role I have played was my favorite at that time, and all for different reasons.

I loved "Get Up, Stand Up" in college, because it was my first college play, the energy was amazing, and the cast and director were phenomenal. I swore then that the director spoiled me for all other directors. I have since had at least six other directors do the same. And the fun part of that show is that one of my fellow cast mates has gone on to do some really fun things.

I was over the moon to be cast in "Angels in America" in college, because it was my first mainstage show. I was one of three women called back for Harper, but ended up playing Prior 3 and the crazy woman in the park instead. I loved the crazy woman because I could do whatever I wanted. One benefit to playing supporting characters, I found, is that often the director isn't paying as much attention to you, so you have a little more room to play. You can engage your imagination fully and create this whole life on your own and only when you push it too far will the director tell you to reign it in. I loved that freedom. And I loved that show - it was a TO DO in the town and I was honored to be part of it.

I loved Francis in "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress." She and I were so ideologically opposed, but I had to take her in and love her and treat her with the respect she deserved. That director also spoiled us - we had a long rehearsal process, full of all sorts of things to help us build and flesh out these characters that really bonded us as a cast. Alan Ball came to see that production. I asked him after the show if I had done his character justice and he replied that I had. And when the whole production was over, Francis was the first character I had played for whom I had to have a funeral. She had become such a part of me that I needed to have a little ritual to say goodbye to her and thank her for everything she had shown me.

Carolyn in "Coyote" was probably the first major release I remember having on stage that came from a purely organic place. This organic release lead to an on-stage kiss with a woman that wasn't in the script, but the director kept in the show because it was a beautiful and tender moment. I was proud that I was able to create something like that, and completely humbled to have the opportunity to do so.

Zoe in "Mix Tape" was my first feature film role. A lot of that film was shot in my neighborhood, and to this day, when I walk past those locations, I think to myself, "We made a movie in there. And I changed my clothes in the back room." Zoe had spunk and style and wasn't going to take any garbage from anyone. I also got to add the word "fucknut" to the script, which made the director giggle. I loved loved loved that cast and director. Two of my fellow actors have since won Oscars (for sound editing, I believe), and one is easily recognizable to anyone who liked "Grey's Anatomy" back in the day. I put together a playlist on YouTube so you can watch the whole thing there in installments, if you would like.

I was a member of a theater company for a while, and played a lot of different roles on that stage that I loved. We did a lot of sketch comedy, so they were small parts, but tons of fun. Sally in "Merry Non-Denominational Holiday, Charlie Brown." The woman who screams and gets beaten up in some short Halloween piece. Squeaky Fromme in our serial killer's remake of "Tonight" from "West Side Story." The only one who could hit the really high notes in our four minute "Sweeney Todd" spoof. Various sluts in the Valentine's Day shows. These were fun because they were quick characters - jump in, be big, wear crazy clothes, and jump back out again. We sang fun songs and did silly dances and were crass and crazy and loud. It wasn't earth-shattering change the world theater, but it was a blast.

With that same company, I played Simone in "Real Aural Talent," which will forever be known as the show for which I shaved my head. That was liberating and enlightening. Simone was a blast, too. She was a performance artist, so I got to be physical and dramatic and wear funky clothes. The play was not well reviewed, but at the time, it was my favorite thing in the world. And again, I adored that cast.

And somewhere along the way, I walked in to an audition for an MFA thesis film at Columbia College. I still remember my audition - how I entered the room, what I did, what I was wearing. I wanted that film so badly, and I nailed it. I was cast as Celia in "Leftover Voices," which was maybe the most brilliant experience of my life. At least up until that point. It was a fully improvised film (and turned into a full length feature, as opposed to just a 40 minute thesis piece), with a beautiful, long rehearsal process, and one of the most giving, supportive, amazing directors I've had the privilege to work with. Celia took over my life, and I took over hers, to the point where things I didn't think I could do as an actor came perfectly naturally once the camera was on and Celia was in my shoes. I took a week off of work for that shoot. It was one of the hardest and one of the most wonderful weeks of my life, and luckily for me, it fell right on top of my birthday. I honestly felt like the luckiest person in the world to get to do that film. I wish more had happened with it.

And then, a few years ago, I fell into an acting school here in Chicago, which opened me up to whole new depths that I didn't even know were there. I played a whore and a murderer in a couple of short plays on their stage and again, was blown away by the people I got to work with. People dedicated to this craft. People who collaborated with one another. People who supported one another. My characters were ultimately flawed, but so honest and so true in their characterizations (thanks to gorgeous writing and directing) - I was safe. That stage for those shows, and even when doing scenework in class there (I really need to be in "The Goat, or Who is Silvia?" when I get older), was a place to feel everything - EVERYTHING - and be loved for it. I don't know how many people have a totally safe space like that. I hope everyone does because there is nothing in the world like it.

More recently, I was in productions of "Hamlet" as Gertrude, "Devour" as Jill and "Down & Derby" as Roleen Joleen. In all three of these shows, I felt like I was doing good work and that everyone around me was doing good work. Everyone from my fellow actors to the director to the stage manager to the designers and so on. Everyone came together on those shows to make them...brilliant. And every one of those shows pushed me to do things and try things and learn things I didn't think I could do.

So in that respect, they are all my favorites. This is what is brilliant about theater to me - I get to learn new things all the time. I get to feel everything that humans ever feel. I get to work with amazing artists who are understanding and supportive and hysterically funny and whose dedication pushes me to be better all of the time. There are those who say that "the Earth without art is just eh," and it's true. In these productions, I get to live fully and truthfully. I get to dig into myself and pull some sort of beauty out of the human experience. And I get to do that with other people who are over the moon about whatever I find in there. They see it, embrace it, and give something back in return.

To me, performance is about being human. As human as humans can get, and how lucky am I to get to explore that? We're all in it together - this crazy humanity thing. So let's make something beautiful out of it.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

January 6 - Everything I Really Need to Know...

I've often said that everything I really need to know, I learned from my mom when I was about five. I have very fond memories of my mother baking when I was a child. Cookies at Christmas, brown bread for fun, pizza-sized cookies for special occasions. I think we had more homemade birthday cakes than store bought ones growing up. I grew up thinking that bakery baked goods were the easy way out. If you cared about someone, you baked the cake yourself. I remember the kitchen smelling good and being warm and developing a technique for licking the beaters from the electric mixer to make sure no batter was wasted. Baking was just something that we did, and the house always had the ingredients to make something if you wanted to.

One year, I wanted to make my mom a Black Forest walnut cake for her birthday, because it was her favorite, so I called my great aunt to get the recipe. Recipes, in my family, are basic outlines only. As she was walking me through the steps, I remember her saying something along the lines of, "Two teaspoons of vanilla, but we're a little vanilla nuts in this family, so I usually put in about twice that." In my heart, this meant baking was something fun, something personal, and something to share with those you love. I felt honored to now possess this recipe, and to give it my own spin.

At some point along the way, I learned that many, many chefs are afraid of baking. Baking, apparently, has this reputation for being difficult and precise and unforgiving. I can't help but giggle at that. Baking? Scary? I'd be terrified of burning a $27 cut of steak, but futzing with a cookie recipe is no big deal. No, not every cookie will turn out exactly the same, but who cares? It's sugar! We all love sugar.

Recently, my mom made a comment about how odd it is that I like to bake. I don't think I would be the baker I am today without my mom. The fun and creativity and love that come out in baked goods all come from my mom. Everything I need to know...

And someday I'll figure out how to say thank you. In the meantime, I'll make some cookies.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

January 5 - And We're Off!

We had our first round of auditions for Hamlet: The Series today. It is real now.

I have to admit, I was nervous when I got up this morning. What if everyone who comes in is better than me and the director regrets his casting choice? What if they're all terrible and we don't find anyone? What if nobody shows up? What if I should have been off book, but I'm not? What if the people I read with are weird about physical contact? What if I just plain suck on my own?

And then I was late getting there, too, so the first couple of people I read with got to experience Kitty Shaking So Badly She Couldn't Hold Her Script.

The thing is, and they tell you this before big auditions, the auditors want every single person who walks through that door to be amazing. We want to be able to put together a cast in ten minutes. We want to have too many choices. We're on your side. And it's true. I wanted everyone to be brilliant. I wanted everyone to be better than me.

Some of the people who came in were really good. Some were very new to Shakespeare. Some people who scheduled auditions didn't even show up. The polite ones let us know they wouldn't be coming. Others...

In any case, I feel better now. I'm excited for the project. I'm more confident in my ability to do this role. And I can't wait for more auditions tomorrow because every opportunity to work on this play is a blessing. Any day I get to act is a good day.

Here's to round two!

Friday, January 04, 2013

January 4 - Restless

I'm restless today and have too much on my mind, so this will be a bit scattered. Sorry about that.

I have a friend who is starting her year off by getting chemotherapy for breast cancer. Which sucks. She is being strong and positive about it, and they caught it early so I am very hopeful, but still. What a way to start a new year. And it makes me feel oddly helpless. I want to be able to make her better. I want to be able to make her know she will be fine. I don't know how to do that. So, of course, my mind jumps to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which I did twice. It was an amazing experience both times and part of me says I should do it again, but would walking 39.3 miles over two days actually help my girl friend? Shouldn't I maybe be taking her out for a milkshake after one of her treatments instead? Or both?

Which brings me to my physical condition. I'm recovering from a broken ankle. Today I get eleven hours of time in a normal shoe, and the podiatrist told me at my last appointment that everything is healing beautifully, and exactly as it should, so he feels good about my recovery. But it still hurts. Going down stairs hurts. Something about the extreme flexing of the foot that is required when walking down stairs still hurts. I don't know if that's a muscle weakness thing because I couldn't flex my foot like that for four weeks while I was in the walking boot and I just need to work it, or if there's something actually wrong. And pressure on the part of my ankle that broke still hurts, too. I can't sit cross-legged very comfortably for long periods of time, which is disappointing because that was one of my cat's favorite laps to sit in. He's been a really good sport about adapting to my other lap forms, but I know he'd like that one back. I'd like to be able to make that lap for him. And I'd like to get past this fear that there is something wrong down there. I'm tired of thinking about my ankle all of the time. I'm tired of the persistent thought in the back of my head that I have to be careful. I'm tired of feeling like I can't move and jump and skate and dance like I used to for fear of re-injuring myself. I just want to feel normal again.

So if I did sign up for the Avon Walk, would I be able to do it? I know it is more about the fundraising than the actual walking, but I still would want to put in a good effort. The second time I did the walk, I only did the first marathon because my hip was all kinds of messed up from when I was hit by a car. After the first day, it had locked up so tightly, I couldn't move for a couple of days. Do I want to sign up for something that will cause that kind of stress on my hip and my ankle? And how selfish is it of me to be thinking about these sorts of things while my friend is in chemo?

And the fundraising bit takes me to my own financial situation. It's nothing that anyone else needs to worry about (it's not even really anything I need to worry about) and I don't want to go into detail on the interweb, but I'm annoyed today.

So I feel ineffectual and selfish and annoyed today. I know all of this will pass. All of this will sort itself out. "Everything will be all right in the end, and if it is not all right, it is not the end." I would just prefer that today was next Friday instead of today. Next Friday should be good.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January 3 - Bonus Tidbit

Normally, you wouldn't look at her twice. She just kind of blends in with the background, wearing largely monochromatic clothing, little to no make up, dull shoes.

Recently, she broke her ankle and has had to wear a walking boot for the past few weeks. As time passes, she has to wear it less and less, but there always comes a time in the day when she must trade in her snow boot for the walking boot.

Today, she is wearing black trousers, a crisp white button down shirt, a black sweater vest, a thin black tie, and black boots. When her alarm goes off, she raises her pant leg to change shoes, revealing a bright blue knee sock with "Geek" written on both sides in orange.

Suddenly, she is the most interesting woman in the room.

January 3 - What is this Whole Blogging Thing Anyway?


So I was kind of disappointed in the blog I wrote yesterday. I was disappointed in it while I was writing it and had to go back and fix things to get rid of these habits I've started forming. Habits may not be the right word, because I don't know that they've been going on long enough to be considered habits, but they are somethings. I noticed something as I was composing yesterday's blog, though, that bothered me and I don't think that fixing it fixed it. And I bring this up for two reasons:

1) I am sorry about the crappy blog yesterday. There are so many things to say about sandwiches and what makes a good sandwich and what it feels like to eat a delicious sandwich and what happens when you bite in and get that huge chunk of jalapeno that instantly clears your sinuses and it starts to hurt but then leaves this incredible flavor in your mouth that sends you right back to the same sandwich knowing you'll get another blast of sinus pain but you kind of can't wait for that because you know that is what makes this sandwich the best part of your week. I didn't do sandwiches justice yesterday, and I didn't really do that restaurant justice yesterday, so to the sandwiches, the restaurant, and those of you yearning for great literature about sandwiches, I apologize.

2) I have become self-conscious of my writing style.

Now, I say this fully aware of the fact that there are probably plenty of you out there who don't think I have a style. I could maybe be classified as stream of consciousness, or conversational, but I am certainly not journalistic, which I think is the direction a lot of blogs have taken these days.

Now, I also say this fully aware of the fact that I am making sweeping generalizations. I do not read all of the blogs on the interweb. I don't even read that many of them. But I have looked at some that are written by people or groups of people who actually make money off of their blogs and have large reader bases and subscriber bases and whatnot and I have to think that they are doing something right to be in that position. I am not in that position. Would I like to be? I don't know. Maybe. Someday. I think I would have to have more interesting things to say, or more useful things to say. Or the ability to draw. Or the desire to put more pictures in my blog. People like looking at things with pictures.

But I have noticed that a lot of these blogs are written in what I consider to be newspaper article style. I'm guessing that at least some of these authors want to be considered experts of some sort, and want to think of their blogs as places other people can go to get good, reliable information on some topic or another. They want to be resources. Some succeed, like the tech blogs. Some...need to be taken with a grain of salt, like the lifestyle coach type blogs. I don't want to belittle anyone's life experience, and I'm glad these sorts of epiphanies are shared for those who need them, but they're not necessarily the be-all-end-all in the "how to live your life" category. My experience may be vastly different and while I appreciate yours, I'm not necessarily going to subscribe to everything you say. Just as I don't expect you to subscribe to everything I say.

But newspaper article style to me is short sentences, one or two sentences per paragraph, the important stuff at the top so if people lose interest and stop reading before the end, they still got the point. This is fine for newspaper articles, tech blogs, things where facts are the important bits. What I don't understand are the bloggers writing lifestyle or opinion type pieces who follow this pattern. But a lot of them have a lot of subscribers, so I find myself trying to write my blogs the same way. The thing is, my brain doesn't compose things that way. I write paragraphs until they are done. Some of my sentences are short. I will employ run on sentences when it feels appropriate to do so for the sake of making some point about how all of the rules you learned in high school English classes are simply guidelines and can be broken if needed, like when Shakespeare breaks from iambic pentameter to illustrate a character's now frazzled state of mind. I start sentences with "and" or "but." And I will use curse words when they are the best words to use in a given situation.

I'm not writing newspaper articles. I'm writing blogs.

So I guess I just sort of wanted to put the caveat on here that these blogs over the next year may not look like blogs you are used to. Some may be long and rambly like this one, while some may be short and vague. I don't pretend to be an expert on anything except maybe my own brain, so that is what I am going to talk about. If they're too long, or look to dense, you don't have to read them. If you want to follow along on this journey through the variances of the human existence, you are more than welcome.

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

January 2 - The Quest for a Vegan Sammich

About ten and a half years ago, I became vegan. If you read this blog or know me, you already know this. But as this post is going to be about food, I think it is important to mention. I don't eat anything that comes from an animal, and I haven't for a really long time.

Most of the time, I try to cook for myself to make sure I'm eating healthy, balanced meals. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way and I find myself with nothing good to bring to work for lunch, so I rely on the plethora of restaurants around my office for sustenance. Sadly, not many of the restaurants around me are very vegan friendly. My co-workers who are not vegan can get pizza or burgers or Italian food or sandwiches from any one of about six sandwich shops. I, however, have about two places to choose from. Maybe three if I feel like a slightly longer walk.

Sometime last year, though, I noticed a Vietnamese restaurant around the corner from my office, and thought I should try it sometime - find out if they have anything vegan and give it a whirl. As it turns out, they do have vegan options for lunch - the most amazing vegan pho you've ever had, and a vegetarian sandwich that can be made vegan if you get it without the red peppers that are sauteed in butter.

This restaurant has restored my faith in humanity. Not only is the food amazing, but the people are so friendly! I took my mom there for lunch one day, and the owner and our waiter both introduced themselves and sort of doted on us. Now, whenever I go in, I'm greeted by name and they ask after my mom. And the food is so amazing. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious it is - the words just don't exist. Or how nice it is to be able to get a vegan sandwich that has protein in it and vegetables and the bread is soft with a crunchy flaky crust. It's brilliant. If I could eat no sandwich for the rest of my life but that sandwich, I would die a happy sandwich eater.

So if you're in the market for a good vegan sandwich, I know where to find one. And will happily go with you if you are the sort that is afraid of trying new restaurants on your own. Unless you are the creepy sort. Then we should get take out so you can go your way and I can go mine, but we each have a delicious sandwich to get through the day.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

January 1 - An Idea

Happy New Year!

As seems to happen fairly regularly, I'm sick for New Year's Day. My guess is that it is because I tend to be more social this time of year and am therefore exposed to more germs and whatnot from more people who are also likely sick. The end result, though, is that while it is the first day of a new year and I feel like I should be doing things to make sure my year starts off right, I really don't feel like doing anything.

I know that New Year's Day is sort of an arbitrary time to start things - it's a Tuesday this year, for crying out loud - but resolutions are a tradition. I feel like I should participate in traditions from time to time, though I'm not big on resolutions. I should work on being nicer to myself. And I have already started working on my self-reliance process. But I don't know; I feel the need to do something today.

So I'm blogging. And it occurred to me that this might be a good year to try to document. I have a lot on the horizon - new friendships to explore, a broken ankle to finish mending, work trips, and the character of Hamlet to inhabit. And that's all in just the first couple of months.

So what if I tried to blog every day in 2013? BED2013? Write every day - WED2013? Kind of misleading acronyms. BEDTY?

I miss writing. I miss this creative outlet, and maybe blogging will get the creative juices flowing so I write music again or collaborate on a screenplay or something. I don't know. And there may be days when I just write one sentence. But I think I want to try this on a whim. Write something every day. I can't promise it will all be good, but I can promise I will do my best to make it happen.

I might need help with topics from time to time, though, so if there is something you want me to write about, let me know. And if anyone wants to join me in this, you are more than welcome.

Happy 2013, everybody! And happy writing!