Monday, December 28, 2015

Goals 2016

Last year, I posted a list of my artistic goals for 2015 in the hopes that writing them down would help me achieve them. I did about half of them. I played my guitar out in public (at a gig, not an open mic), I performed in more than three shows that were not projects of my own making, and I landed a couple of roles that got me noticed by critics. I did not make my acting or voice over demo reels, and I haven't finished a play's worth of Stop Hating Shakespeare episodes yet, but you know what? That's okay. My priorities changed a bit as the year went along and that is fine. 

I liked having some defined artistic goals for the year, though, so I'm going to post a few more that I'd like to focus on in 2016.

1. Finish two plays worth of Stop Hating Shakespeare episodes. I've started one play and am having fun with it, so I'd like to finish this play's worth by February or March. Which should leave me plenty of time to tackle a second play next year, too. 

2. Perform in at least three shows that are not my own projects. I like this goal and want to recycle it from last year to remind myself to keep trying. If we're getting fancy, I'd like at least one to be contemporary and one to be Shakespeare.

3. Sing at an audition. I don't know that I'm ready to audition for musicals just yet, but it wouldn't hurt to prepare for it and then give it a shot. 

4. Learn to play the accordion. Perhaps even take some lessons in order to do so. 

5. Learn to play "To Take You Home" on the guitar. It is one of my favorite Frank Turner songs, the tabs are online, it's just a bit more complicated than I'm used to. I would like to instill in me the discipline to tackle something challenging like that and master it. 

6. Get cast in an off-Broadway show. I'm ready for this. Just have to figure out how to make it happen. 

Those are good for now. A couple of simpler ones that are totally in my control, a couple more challenging ones that will make me get out there in front of others. And if I can do all of them, a pretty artistically fulfilling year.

Happy (almost) 2016, everybody. Here's to crossing all of our goals off of our lists!

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving!

I have a lot to be thankful for at this time in my life, so it felt only natural to come out of blogging hibernation to talk about some of it. For the past few months, I have been feeling particularly blessed, and I want to honor that for a minute. Apologies if this gets really sappy.

I am thankful for my cat. I told him this morning all of the things about him that I am thankful for - that he didn't die that first night he stayed with me when he was so sick, that he eats his food every day, that he moved to New York with me and put up with an apartment that had no windows, that he trusts me. He melts my heart every day, even when he's driving me nuts, and for his existence and companionship, I am forever grateful.

I am thankful for my family. Yes, they are 1,000 miles away, but the love and generosity and support they provide even from that far away is mind-blowing. I am including in this group family through marriage/committed relationship as well. My family is truly a quality group of people and I am so lucky to be part of that.

I am thankful for my Chicago friends, who still love me even though I moved 1,000 miles away and still include me in the little inside jokes and funny email chains. They are some of the best people I have ever known, and I treasure them, even though I don't get to see them as often as I would like.

I am thankful that my best friend has found his person and that they are going to spend the rest of their lives together.

I am thankful for my roommate and my New York friends who live upstairs. They have become so dear to me in the short time that I have known them because of their honesty and generosity and love. Had I not met them, New York would not feel like the home it is. And I'm grateful that I get to spend Thanksgiving with them, celebrating both vegan and non-vegan food.

I am thankful for my job. So beyond thankful, I don't have the words to tell you. I have found a place in New York where I can be helpful and giving, where the people around me are also helpful and ridiculously generous, and where together, we get to do things that change the conversation. Maybe not in huge, earth-shattering ways, but in smaller ways that are absolutely intended to improve quality of life. I have never had a day job make me feel so welcome, so cared for, so appreciated in my life. I had no idea such a place existed and I am thankful every day that I found it, and that they all embraced me with open arms.

I am thankful that I have found other theatre artists in New York who let me practice my craft with them. I am thankful for the conversations about Shakespeare, the bonding over geeky things, and the freedom to play and be completely vulnerable. I am thankful for all of the audience members who have come to the shows I've done, and humbled by those who, without knowing who I am, make a point of letting me know after a performance that they appreciated my work.

I am thankful for my apartment that is warm enough, my legs that always get me where I need to be, and all of the little things around me that help me remember to enjoy exactly where I am. The last minutes and lost evenings. The art and music and life that surrounds me. The tiny, fleeting moments of connection and truth.

I am thankful for my life.

I am thankful for you.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing today, please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

September 1 - One Year

One year ago yesterday, I said the most difficult goodbye I have ever said as I drove away from my mom and my home. I cried all the way to Indiana.

One year ago today, I drove into Brooklyn with my cat, and was greeted by a policeman who asked me why the hell I would ever move to Brooklyn. 

It has been quite a year, and honestly, I am much more emotional about it today than I thought I would be and it's not even 8:00am. I've done a lot, been through a lot, learned a lot. This is not an all-inclusive list, but in the past year:

• I went from living on own to living with other people and managed to not completely implode despite some of the people being truly awful.
• I found a job where they pay me to be nice and make other people smile, though I had to spend a very long piece of time working with a truly awful woman first before I found the good job. 
• I appeared in five full-length theatrical productions, playing a total of fourteen characters; one monologue festival; and two short play festivals. 
• I became a member of a theatre company.
• I sang in not only three of my five shows, but in Central Park and on my front stoop for total strangers. 
• I got a mention in a New York theatre review. A good mention. 
• I lost my backpack when some asshat stole it out of my moving van. 
• I saw shows on Broadway and off. And off-off. 
• I found a decent apartment with light and windows where my cat and I can be comfortable and I can cook in the kitchen. 
• I befriended some wonderful people, including my upstairs neighbors who are two of the most lovely, caring, giving, thoughtful people.
• I walked probably a thousand miles all over Manhattan. 
• I went out places by myself and found people to talk to. 
• I recorded a song in a studio. 
• I learned that I am much stronger, more capable, smarter, and more resilient than I thought I was. 
• I missed my Chicago friends and family and life more than I can say. 

I wonder a bit of the life I'm building here is just like the life I had in Chicago, just elsewhere, and I'm wondering if I'm okay with that. Should I have taken the steady day job that keeps me funded instead of staying a temp so I would have more time to audition? Should I have gone to more EPAs? Should I be working harder to build a foundation to become a full time artist? 

I think the reality of it is a financial question. I have to live somewhere and I have to eat so I have to do something that pays me regularly. And as far as steady jobs go, the one I have is not bad. The people are lovely and the work itself is fine. But I think in the next year, I need to make sure I don't lose sight of my theatrical goals as I grow within this non-theatrical company. 

To that end, I am thrilled to announce that I will be appearing in King Richard 2 and Romeo & Juliet this October/November with Hamlet Isn't Dead. And I still have my own projects churning in the back of my head. 

I said when I moved out here that I would give it three years before I seriously consider the question of whether I want to spend the rest of my life in New York or if I want to go back to Chicago, or elsewhere. I'm one-third of the way through my experiment and having a lot of fun, finding a lot of value in the adventure. 

But for today, I am going to feel all of the feels as I remember driving away from my mom last year on one of the hardest days of my life. Happy anniversary to me. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Casual Intimacy

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see one of my favorite musicians play a free show in a little bar in Brooklyn. It was exactly what I needed just then to reinforce my faith in my badassery. I saw on Twitter that he was going to be out and about, so I emailed him to find out where. He responded within an hour and I made a plan to get to the show come hell or high water. It was a great show. He played so many of the songs I needed to hear, and it was just him with a guitar, which was lovely. Not that I don't like his band - I do, very much - but the intimacy of a solo acoustic show in a little divey hipster bar in was perfect. After the show, he was outside smoking a cigarette and talking to fans and I managed to grab him for my daily selfie. He put his arm around me, leaned into the picture, and when we went to let go, he very casually kissed the top of my head before walking away to talk to someone else. To be clear, I'm not insinuating that this meant anything. If you asked him, he wouldn't even know he had done it, in part because he was very drunk, and in part because it was as natural a motion to him as blinking. You've got your arm around a friend who is shorter than you, and when you let go, you first give a little squeeze and kiss them on the top of the head. It's an easy target and a common motion. For me, it was kind of a surreal moment. To meet this man and be treated like, I don't know what, an equal? A person? It was lovely. I know it meant nothing to him, but from my end, it was lovely. And lately, when I have been feeling stressed and sad, I just remember that one time when Frank Turner kissed the top of my head and it makes me smile. 

See, the last man who I tried to date also had this habit of kissing the top of my head, or my forehead, or my cheek, when we were out and about. With him, it was a different kind of intimacy, an acknowledgment that right then, in that moment, I was his and he was happy to have me there. Yes, it had a smattering of Jeff Winger patting Annie on the head, but it was sweet. It was different from other men I've tried dating. It was, to me, an almost more intimate gesture than a "larger" display of affection would have been. And if we're being completely honest here, it might be what I miss most now that I don't see him anymore. We did not part on bad terms - it just fizzled because of insane schedules - so when I remember the nice things, they do make me ache a little bit. And what I miss most is the little stuff. The beautiful, tiny, casual intimacy that a kiss on the top of the head can be. 

I will find the little intimacies again; it just takes time to find the right people in a new city. But if Frank Turner can kiss me on the top of the head, there has to be someone else in this city of eight million people who will, too. Right?

Monday, May 18, 2015



It's a catch word now that stands for empowerment and growth and strength and tolerance and acceptance and all of that stuff. We need diversity in the workplace! We need diversity on television! We need diversity in film!

Yes, yes we do. And we need diversity in our everyday lives, too.

Now, please don't take this the wrong way because I am a feminist and I am all about equal rights for everyone. But I do sometimes wonder if our cries for diversity actually end up segregating us more than they bring us together. For example, if I'm going to be a crusader for women's rights, I'm probably going to surround myself with other women so we can encourage and empower each other, right? And if I then decide that it is really women of color who need my support, I'm going to find a group of women of color that I can belong to and help out. And then if it turns out that I find that the rights of lesbian women of color, or transgender women of color is really what I'm passionate about, I'll seek out those groups that I can help and support. So now I'm surrounded by lesbian and/or transgender women of color who are different to me (because I'm not lesbian, transgender, or of color), which would seem to be a good thing because diversity, yay! But what about all of the non-lesbian, non-transgender, non-females in the world who also might have something to offer? Or who I might also be able to help? Or who might just be really kick-ass friends to go have a beer with sometime?

I bring this up because of a reading of a play that I went to last week on my one night off. A man who I met at a monologue festival had an actress drop out on him last minute, so he asked if I could fill in at this reading he was doing in his back yard. I agreed and went over to read a play. When I walked in, I suddenly felt very odd and it took me a minute to figure out why. It wasn't that I was in a new apartment for the first time, or that I'd not been to this guy's house before. It was that I was the only woman in the room. This is not a new experience for me - I have spent a lot of my life being outnumbered by men - but it was strange in that it has been a long time since that happened. The office I work in is mostly women. The play I'm in right now is mostly women. The theatre company I am a member of is all women. And while all of this is great because it means opportunities for women, it made the reading last week odd because I had almost forgotten what male energy felt like.

The thing is, I like men. I know a lot of men, a lot of quality men. My best friend in Chicago, my brother, my uncles, my friend's husbands...I know a lot of really great men with positive energy who are supportive and funny and generous. And I realized that by spending so much time with groups of almost exclusively women, I'm missing out on all of this great potential energy. I'm missing out on the different viewpoints offered by the male perspective. I'm missing out on diversity in my own life. I'm missing out on it to the point where it almost made me want to start dating just to introduce some more men into my life who I could see on a regular basis. Almost. I'm not that desperate. Yet.

So I guess the takeaway from this is that yes, we should be promoting diversity to make sure that everyone gets a fair shot in the grand scheme of things. But I also think that we shouldn't dive so far into our little diversity buckets that we forget how many other buckets there are. There is a lot of value to be found in exploring new buckets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Don't Know

One might think that as intelligent as I am that I know a lot of things about a lot of things. To some degree, one would be right. What never fails to amaze me, though, is how much I still don't know.

There are some things I don't mind not knowing. Like when I go into a rehearsal with some ideas, and the director presents other ideas that turn out to work better. I love not knowing those better ideas first, because it means I get to collaborate and learn and grow and expand my horizons.

But I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to not talk to you anymore. I don't know how to make myself not want to send you a message asking how you're doing and how your projects are coming along. I don't know how to make myself want to share my exciting news with someone other than you, or, once I have shared the news with everyone but you, to make it feel like I've told everyone I need to tell.

I also didn't know how to be in a friendship/relationship/whatever it was with someone who didn't have the time. I know how to not have time - I'm very good at not having time, which makes me very empathetic towards others who don't have time. But I don't know how to be friends with someone who doesn't have time for me or our friendship. And my need to get out of that situation is what has left me in this current one where I don't know how to deal with the fallout.

I think things were different when I lived in Chicago, too. When I was in Chicago and I had to stop having someone in my life, I was still surrounded by friends who loved me, who would commiserate and get a beer with me, who would reinforce the fact that there are those out there who deem me worthy of spending time with and on. They, whether they knew it or not, would keep me from losing sight of the fact that I know I am worth the time and energy. And while I am still friends with those people, and I am still in touch with them, it's different now that I'm a thousand miles away. Getting a beer and a hug has been replaced with a few text messages. It's lovely and appreciated, but it's not the same. So I find myself a bit lost and confused, and pissed off that I'm lost and confused because I really didn't even know you all that long, and stuck a thousand miles away from my touchstones who usually help me get a grip when I need to talk through all of this crap.

So I'm admitting here that I don't know how to do this. I'm admitting here that I probably screwed it all up because I don't know how to do this right, and that I'm probably still screwing things up by bothering to still be bothered. I'll get past it eventually. I know I will. I always do. Because I am smart and capable and funny and creative and passionate and strong as hell. And, despite the loss and confusion now, I can look back on the whole thing and say I learned some very important lessons about myself. Like maybe I could actually do this, and that there could be someone out there for whom I would want to make the time.

But in the meantime, how are you?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Little Things

I know it's not considered cool to show emotion these days. When you start dating someone or when you're applying for a job, or hell, when you're walking down the street by yourself, you're supposed to keep your cool. Not show your hand. Maintain a poker face.

I say, screw that.

One of my favorite things about myself (that I'm pretty sure is a result of my acting training) is that I feel things and that I allow myself to feel things. Feeling things is fun. It's great to be happy, it's useful to be sad, it can be cathartic to get really angry for a short while. And I love that I'm the sort of person who lets herself be affected by things. Even the little things. Especially the little things.

There have been some seemingly minor things in my life lately that have been bringing me immense joy and I want to take a moment to acknowledge them. Mostly, they have to do with the people around me choosing to invest their time and energy in me and then letting me know that not only do they not regret the investment, but feel that they have received a significant return on investment by doing so. I know, I know, it sounds so clinical when I say it that way, but I think we're all used to the level of anonymity I like to maintain in these posts. What I mean is that I feel appreciated in my personal and professional lives at the moment, and that the simple kindness of these people letting me know I am appreciated in actions and in words moves me to tears sometimes. Usually when it would be really inappropriate to start crying. But I love that the impulse is there.

So my advice to you would be this. Find one small thing in your life that makes you happy. Put your music-listening device on shuffle and let your smile take over your face when your favorite song comes on when you weren't expecting it. Let yourself take thirty seconds in the middle of your work day to think about how you can make best friend or lover smile that day. Treat yourself to your favorite sandwich. Forget about everything else you have to do and just enjoy playing catch or tug of war with your dog for a few minutes. Find one small thing that makes you happy. And revel in that joy. Treat that small thing as if it were the most important thing in all the world. Because it is. For you, in that moment, all you have to do is feel joy.

Once you master that, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to find joy when you need it. And how easy it is to give to others, too.