Thursday, June 20, 2019


Remember when I used to post daily? Looks like it's yearly now. Every year, every June, I feel the itch to put too much information about myself on the interwebs.

I've been thinking I should give some sort of an update on my New Year's resolutions, seeing as it has been about six months since I made them. There were three:

  1. Learn how to bake bread
  2. Meditate more
  3. Find my life partner
When I originally posted these on Facebook, I got a lot of people telling me that I don't need a life partner to define myself, I should be happy being single, that the right person will find me when the right time comes. I shut them down by saying I'd been happy being single for 95% of my life; I wanted to see what the other side of the coin looks like. But more on that in a minute. We have resolutions one and two to handle first.

Bread. I make bread almost weekly. I've made bagels that turned out really well. I've made English muffins that worked, but were a little too sweet. I've made I don't even know how many loaves of this coconut oil bread that is so delicious I don't think I ever want to make another kind of bread again. I should probably learn how to make pita, but the coconut oil bread is just so good. It's good for sandwiches and dipped in soups or as toast with peanut butter or avocado on it. Seriously. I've messed with using whole wheat flour in it, and adapted it from an olive oil bread recipe in the first place. Coconut oil is better. So tasty. So easy to make. I've even made some on a Tuesday night just so I could have it with soup for lunch the next day. So I'm feeling good about resolution number one.

Meditation. Kind of fell off the wagon on that. My watch reminds me to take a minute to breathe about three times a day. I feel like I'm doing well if I do it once a day. I probably should dig in deeper and give that one some more time and effort.

Life partner. Still don't have one. Not even close.

So, getting back to what I was saying earlier. I think it's funny that I have spent nearly my whole life without a significant other, and as soon as I express an actual interest in putting in the effort to find one, people tell me I shouldn't.  Trust me, I can think of a million reasons to not have a significant other. I can also think of a million reasons why I'd like to try having one, preferably while we're still young enough to enjoy each other's company. For the most part, I've ignored the people who said I should enjoy my time by myself, finding out what makes me happy. I've done plenty of that in my life, thank you, and I continue to do it daily. I want to see how the other 99% lives.

I went to a couple of speed dating events. I've decided that online dating and apps aren't really for me. Especially with all of them moving to the swipe-right-swipe-left format. I need more information than a blurry photo to decide if I want to engage with someone. I'm sorry, but I do. So I went to a couple of speed dating events, and a couple of events thrown by the speed dating company that were more along the lines of "let's get a bunch of single people together in a bar, give them name tags, and see what happens." I took one of my younger girl friends with me - I'm the old lady in my friend group - and learned what a generational gap there is in terms of current courtship rituals. She is used to online dating, but had never really been in a situation at a bar where hitting on people or being hit upon was a thing that was done. It pushed her out of her comfort zone by quite a lot. To me, it was no big deal. One thing that came out of it, though, was the impression that there is a certain kind of person who needs to be at events like those, because they can't find human companionship elsewhere. I know my friend meant that comment about a lot of the very socially awkward men we met. I also know that I'm the kind of person who needs to be at events like that. I'll admit, that took some of the wind out of my sails.

I caved in and re-downloaded a couple of dating apps to my phone - one based entirely on swiping, one that requires a little more info to fill out a profile. I've gone on two dates with two different men who I met from the second app. Both were perfectly fine. The first was a little intensely creepy, though mostly a nice guy. The second was a lovely date - great conversation - but neither of us has been motivated to follow up and arrange a second date, which I think means there wasn't a real spark for either of us. Which is fine. That happens.

And as much as it pains me to admit this, and to admit it publicly, I'm working with a matchmaker. The package I purchased covers six matches. She finds people who fit the criteria she and I have discussed, screens them, and if they seem like a good fit, she arranges a time and place for us to have a date. The first date I went on was probably the worst date of my life, with a man who fit none of the qualities I asked for or said were important to me. The matchmaking company, to their credit, gave me a freebie on that one, said it didn't count toward my six, and got me a different matchmaker. My new matchmaker set me up with a guy who was fine in person, but awful in the follow up text messages. And then she set me up with a guy who was lovely, but didn't feel a spark so then ghosted. And since then, I have been getting check-in emails from her every week on Friday, telling me that she didn't like any of the guys she talked to that week for me, but has some prospects who sound great on paper in the pipeline to screen next week. I've gotten that message eight weeks in a row. And I'm now forced to wonder...

Is it always this hard?

This doesn't feel normal to me, that it should be so hard and take so long and so much effort to find someone who even wants to go on a second date with me, much less someone who wants to share his life with me. Or am I crazy and it is this hard for everyone?

Now, I'm not including people who have been divorced in this category, or people in long-term relationships who've never gotten married. Marriage isn't necessarily the end goal. And even if a partnership broke up, there was a partnership there at one point or another. 

I also know that there have been a few people in my past who have had crushes, or even very deep feelings for me, but who have chosen to not pursue those feelings for one reason or another. While I treasure those people and honor those feelings, the end result from where I am sitting is that I have never had a full partnership with anyone for longer than a month or two (if a relationship can be considered a full partnership when you're only two months in). Is that normal?

I also find it interesting that people think I have never wanted a partner or never wanted to start my own family, have my own kids. I've always wanted those things. I've not wanted to settle for a partner who did not make me feel good about myself or our future together, which is why I often didn't date the same person for a very long time. And when one is single because it is better than the other options at hand, of course one is going to make the best of it. There is a lot about being single that is amazing and that I truly do enjoy. But to not find anyone, in nearly 42 years, who wants to fully invest in my life and let me fully invest in his? No one?

That feels strange to me.

So on resolution number three, I am feeling disheartened, disappointed, isolated, misunderstood, and very alone. I know I have my family - my mom is not my life partner, though. I know I have my friends - they all have life partners of their own, and I treasure my time with them, but I'm still an outsider in all of those relationships. And I know in my heart of hearts, that the older I get, the less likely I am to find someone, the less likely I am to be able to have the family I dreamed of starting when I was a little girl. Yes, I know I could adopt - if I suddenly become independently wealthy. Yes, I know I could meet someone awesome when I'm 70, so we have ten or fifteen years of health issues to go through together before we die. Neither of these is comforting thoughts to me. I'm not sure what would be comforting. Unless I retreat to my bubble of strength in solitude. Which I don't really want to do anymore. 

Maybe just send out some positive energy in my direction?

Thank you.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Depression is Not Logical

This is going to be a difficult post to write, and likely a difficult one to read. Fair warning. I won't hold it against you if you stop reading now.

There has been a lot in the news lately about people committing suicide. There have been a lot of suicides this year, as there are every year. And every time someone takes their own life, the battle cry seems to be, "Why didn't they just reach out?" Frank Turner wrote a song for one of his friends who took his own life, called "A Song for Josh” that starts out "Why didn't you call? My phone's always on." And honestly, as much as I love Frank Turner (I would follow that man to the ends of the earth), I hate him for asking that question. It feels like a logical question to ask - if you're hurting, why don't you get help? I get that. The thing is this:

Depression is not logical.

I know this from personal experience. I have battled depression since I was about fourteen years old, off and on. Each time it's on is different than the other times it's been on. Each time it turns off, it's because of something different. The one thread that I can find that ties each bout of depression together, that I learned in my most recent experience with it, is that it is never logical. So trying to fight it by drawing logical conclusions doesn't really work. It's like trying to have an ethical discussion with a psychopath - if you're not both coming from the place that murder is a bad thing, you're not going to be able to find much common ground in the course of a conversation about the death penalty.

My most recent bout was bad. Worse than it has been in a decade? And while I know that some of the people around me noticed that something was a bit off, I don't know that any of them knew that I was trying to pick the least inconvenient day for me to die. So why didn't I reach out? Why didn't I call someone and talk about it? Bear with me on this because it's not going to sound logical to those of you who believe in logic, who are not struggling with depression. But like I said, depression is not logical.

My depression manifested this time as a sense of complete disconnectedness. I felt as though I couldn't hold a thought in my head. The idea of trying to memorize my lines for the play I'm in was extraordinarily daunting because I couldn't find the train of thought in the words. My cat, typically my best friend and my favorite part of every day, looked just like any other cat to me - he wasn't my companion anymore, he was a strange cat sharing my living space. My friends would be talking about their lives, their problems, their joys and dramas, and all I could think was that none of it really matters in the long run because most of what we were talking about would change in a day anyway so why bother getting invested? I felt disconnected from my body, as I was trying to take really good care of it - eating right, exercising regularly - but it continued to be the same lump of flesh and hair and fat and bone that it has always been. I was disconnected from my own sexuality, having no drive or desire to try to connect with other human beings, nor any drive or desire to be attractive. The idea of me being at all attractive was laughable at best. I thought about trying to make myself more comfortable in my own space, but realized that it probably wasn't worth it to buy an actual bed because I wouldn't be around long enough to get a worthwhile return on investment out of it.

That was the thought that scared me. The complete and utter surrender of the desire to make future plans. I thought about all of the things I had/have going on - projects at work, the play that I'm in, concert tickets I had purchased a long time ago - and I started thinking through when they would all be over so that I could make my exit from this life without leaving anyone in the lurch, so to speak. Trying to find the least inconvenient day to die, so that hopefully it wouldn't be too much of a fuss for the people around me.

Now, this was not the first time in my life I have wished that I could just stop existing. I spent most of high school in that place, some of college, and the thoughts come back from time to time as whispers of "what if you just cross the road anyway, even though that car is coming really fast?" And when I'm not in a full-on depression, I can keep those thoughts at bay. I've gotten used to these dark little thoughts that exist in my brain and I lovingly put them into a little box that gets filed away in a drawer. They are part of who I am. And in this last bout, I pulled out some of my normal tricks to try to help pack the thoughts away - reminding myself that my mother would be devastated if I took my life. Reminding myself that my cat would be left with no one to care for him, and really confused as to why his person wasn't around anymore. Reminding myself that I do have friends who love me.

But the illogical side of this depression countered with the fact that someone else would take care of Owen if something happened to me.

The illogical side of this depression reminded me of how many family members we've lost in the past few years and that despite their losses, my mother is still alive and well. Meaning she would probably survive my loss, too.

At this point in my depression, I had friends inviting me out to do things, be social, hang out, and I politely declined the offers knowing that I was not in a good mindset to be hanging out with other people. Nobody wants to go out for a casual night of drinks and dancing with someone who knows for a fact that nothing matters, no one cares, and the only thing left to do is wait to die.

So why didn't I reach out?

First of all, if you can tell me how to start a conversation with, "So, I'm thinking I might not be alive anymore in about a month," without causing a panic, I'm all ears. If you can tell me how to segue to that part of the conversation while you're out for margaritas with your friends, I'm all ears. Allie Brosh makes some points in her Depression #2 post that resonate really strongly with me about how these sorts of conversations tend to turn into the depressed person comforting the person to whom they reached out for help in the first place. People, in general, are not prepared to deal with it when a loved one comes to us and says, rather out of the blue, "I want to be dead." I know when I have told some people about my depressions in the past, it hasn't gone well. So I don't reach out to them in these moments because I know that my pain and my disconnectedness hurts them and a) I don't want to hurt them and b) I don't have the means to comfort them in those moments after I have just hurt them.

So what about talking to someone who isn't quite so invested?

I told a friend (not a super close friend, but a friend nonetheless) about two months ago, after my great aunt passed away in her sleep, that while I was sad that she was gone, I also found myself jealous that she was able to just stop existing. I had wished for that so many times myself, I was jealous that she was able to do it. For a bit more context, this friend and I had been talking about the general funks we were in, the lack of motivation we had, the tiredness we felt in life and dealing with things, so it wasn't an out of the blue comment - it flowed naturally in the course of the conversation. We also talked in that conversation about how this particular friend is typically not well received when being emotionally vulnerable with other people. So I tried being emotionally vulnerable to show that our friendship could have that. Since that conversation, I have not seen this person, despite inviting them to hang out a few times. We've talked a little bit via text, but in very short sentences and short replies, becoming less and less frequent.

I went to a therapist once, many years ago during another bout of depression when I thought I should get some help. I prefaced the conversation with the therapist with the fact that my grandmother died of depression and dementia, as the anti-depressants she had been on for decades eventually started eating her brain, so I had no desire to be medicated, and specifically no desire to take Lithium. She let me talk for about 30 minutes, and then spent the second 30 minutes of my session trying to get me to agree to start taking Lithium.

So my experiences with reaching out for help have not yielded positive results. I know of at least one instance with each of my dearest friends when I called in a moment of crisis and either got voice mail, or interrupted a dinner or something, and they asked if they could call me back, or something along those lines. Which is NOT THEIR FAULT. I'm not blaming them for having lives and living them. Please, if you're reading this and you think I'm angry or hurt because you had to call me back, please know that I know that there are things in your life that have to take precedence and I do not begrudge you those things in the slightest. But in the illogical brain space of depression, when you have convinced yourself that the world will keep turning and everyone will be okay eventually, even if you remove yourself from the world, the promise of a return phone call at a later date does little to allay those thoughts.

Today, I am okay. My depression broke about two weeks ago. I felt it break, the way a fever breaks, and I wanted to spend that day laughing and crying for the relief of being able to think about the future again. I'm not fully "healed" - there's still a lot of scar tissue - and I don't know that I ever will be. Depression, like many diseases, is something that can be managed, but it never really goes away. I think, with this post, I wanted to try to share some insight into why people don't always reach out. Into why telling your depressed loved ones that you love them isn't always going to be the magical cure-all we all wish it could be. Into why I stopped hanging out with my friends for a couple of months and why I hope those friendships are not damaged beyond repair, but why I am having a hard time finding the right way to apologize for not hanging out. Depression is not logical. I can't pinpoint exactly what started this one, and I think the day I got out of it was the day I made a tiny bit of incremental progress on a project at work that felt, on that day, like a huge win. I don't know what is going to break each of my depressions, any more than I know what is going to kick them off. If I did, I'd avoid going through another one for the rest of my life.

Depression is not logical. It sounds easy to say "get help" when someone is depressed, but it's not always that simple. Please know that. And please don't give up on those of us who are hanging on by a thread if we need to find other ways to keep holding on.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Culture of Numbness

I find myself frustrated by other people lately, which is not a place I like to reside. Might sound funny, coming from an introvert, but I find I need to have some faith in other people in order to get through the day. I am happiest when I can believe the best about people, and humanity in general.

So I've been thinking about what is causing my frustration, because I don't want to just write people off, either specific people or humanity in general. I feel like that is the easy way out of the situation, and then it hit me. That's the problem. Everyone wants the easy way out of the situation so that they don't have to deal with anything, and this is what is driving me nuts.

Humans are a funny lot. For the most part, we all want to be accepted, we all want to be loved, and we all want to be happy. The thing is, life is not made up of tulips and butterflies and unicorns all of the time. Shitty things happen. We get sad. We get depressed. We feel worthless. Other people are mean to us. We let other people take our personal power because we forget that we have any personal power. And no, those are not fun experiences - trust me, I say this from experience, it is not fun to be sad or depressed or worthless or powerless. I completely understand the desire to want to feel something other than any of those things. I've been guilty of trying to find the easy way out of those feelings myself. I eat for comfort. I close myself up in my room and wall myself off from the world. I disengage. And I call it "self-care," but really, they are palliative measures. They don't actually fix anything, but they allow me to feel better in the short term, when what I really need to be doing is focusing on the long term. Fixing the problems, not putting band-aids on top of band-aids.

This sort of came to a head for me this weekend, when someone else's ineptitude and lack of common sense messed up a project I have been working on for about a month, and I am the one tasked with straightening out the situation. I came to a couple of very important conclusions about myself, which are going to sound stupid because they are things we've all known all along, but I think they are worth reiterating:

1. I am ridiculously smart.
2. I am ridiculously capable.

I know that I would have reacted to the situation in question by putting into use my problem solving skills, asking questions, and using logic to draw conclusions. Whereas the person who was in the situation defaulted to today's oh so popular attitude of "I can't even" and disengaged.

I don't want to disengage anymore.

I like feeling things, even crappy things, because it is the length and breadth of my emotional depth that proves I am alive.

Not to mention, I'm an actor. I need to have huge emotional depth.

So the things is this. I understand that there are people out there who have actual physical, emotional, or spiritual conditions that make "I can't even" a legitimate reason for them to not do things. For someone who is visually impaired, "I can't even see what you're referencing" is a perfectly legitimate statement. I get that. I'm not taking issue with that. For me, though, since I do not have such impairments, I'm going to stop using "I can't even." Because I can even. And I do even. And I choose to even. And I am also choosing to hold those who are capable of doing things, but are choosing to not do those things because they require a bit more effort than what said person is accustomed to, responsible for their non-actions.

I'm tired of "I can't even" being the popular battle cry of our nation. I would say "I can't even with I can't even," but that's not a true statement. I can deal with it. I am going to deal with it by not participating in the rampant disengagement, by choosing to live a life full of emotion instead of seeking a constant comfortable state of numbness, and by encouraging those who I know are capable to stay engaged by creating a safe and supportive environment wherein they can feel the good, the bad, and the ugly without judgement.

I can even.

Let's do this.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

40 Before 40

We spend a lot of time making lists of things we still want to do with our lives. You can find I don't even know how many articles about 30 Things to do Before You Turn 30, or 30 Books to Read Before you Turn 30, or 30 Countries to Visit Before you Turn 30 or whatever. You name it, there is a listicle telling what you need to do before that magical day when you turn 30.

Well, I'm about to leave my thirties for the next rather arbitrary adventure, and I'll be honest here, I've been having a bit of a rough go of it lately. Things were looking a bit grim and scary, and it was looking like I was going to kick off my fourth decade with nary a penny to my name, in desperate need of both a vacation and some new underwear. Thankfully, a lot of the things that were scary and grim sorted themselves out so I am okay for the time being (though always looking for opportunities for improvement). But I haven't quite gotten out of the funk of it. When I look at those lists of things I was supposed to have done by now, there is a lot I still have left to do.

So I think I need to look at it another way. Here is a list of 40 things I did before I turned 40, in no particular order, so I have it. So I know my life has not been wasted or misspent. So I know I have good stories to tell.

  1. I played Hamlet.
  2. I played King Lear.
  3. I was in a play for two years straight (Floss!).
  4. I starred in more than one movie.
  5. I saw the Cubs win the World Series.
  6. I caught Sam Mendes' attention with my very odd laugh.
  7. I traveled to Australia by myself.
  8. I traveled through Europe by myself.
  9. I traveled through Europe with friends.
  10. I saw the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.
  11. I fell in love.
  12. I rode a camel.
  13. I was sold for 80 camels while in Morocco.
  14. I headlined the Elbo Room in Chicago playing songs I wrote with a band I put together.
  15. I took second place in the Cabaret Division at the American Lindy Hop Championships with the Chicago Shag Team.
  16. I got arrested for underage dancing.
  17. I played my violin from memory in church when my pages were out of order.
  18. I got cast in three plays within a month of moving to New York.
  19. I moved to New York.
  20. I made life-long friends.
  21. I gave an epic best man speech at my best friend's wedding.
  22. I met Frank Turner.
  23. I spent a summer in Los Angeles.
  24. I went to Comic Con. Twice.
  25. I bought a car by myself.
  26. I raised the sweetest of all possible sweet cats.
  27. I built hats.
  28. I got my first Shakespearean tattoo done by a lovely Polish man in Dublin, Ireland.
  29. I made a dress out of paper clips and ribbon, and one out of playing cards.
  30. I saw David Tennant play Richard II, saw David Bowie play Fashion, saw Moby, saw Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (together and individually), saw Oingo Boingo, saw Tim Curry in Spamalot, saw Once in London.
  31. I played all of the women in As You Like It (except Rosalind) at the same time.
  32. I turned my year-long experiment with veganism into a 15-year (and counting) lifestyle change.
  33. I broke someone's heart.
  34. I got my heart broken.
  35. I went into the ring at a capea. 
  36. I voted for the first African American president of the United States. Twice.
  37. I wrote and directed a musical for children.
  38. I did a touring puppet show.
  39. I faced my fears of speaking in public and singing in public and interacting with other humans so that I could become and actor and a musician whose videos and music have been seen and heard around the world.
  40. I made people laugh.
Most of this stuff is not the kind of stuff that anyone else would look at and think anything of. It's not a resume that will land me in a hall of fame or win me awards. But I have done a lot with my life - this is by no means an exhaustive list. I'm not done with it, but I haven't been sitting around doing nothing. And considering that I started my life so scared of everything and so painfully shy, the fact that I am who I am now is pretty remarkable.

I'm not going to make a list of the next forty things I have to do before I turn 80. I'm going to see where my life takes me and hope for the best.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

As a Woman...

Happy International Women's Day!

To be honest, being a woman sucks.

Yes, there are perks - we are allowed to have emotions, we are capable of creating life (a lot of us, anyway), we can multi-task, we get to wear bright colors. But in general, being a woman sucks. As a woman, I have been told to smile more, but not too much or it will be taken as suggestive, and not at the wrong people or it is an invitation for them to do whatever they want to me. I have been told that I'm too pretty to be considered average, but not pretty enough to be allowed to do a lot of the work as an actor I would love to do (i.e. I'm not lead actor material; I can only ever be the fat sidekick or the mom). I have been told that having an education and being intelligent is the key to opening whatever door I want, but when actually applying to jobs in the workplace, I should not include the fact that I am a member of Mensa on my resume because my particular intelligence is too intimidating. I have been told that my happiness is important to others, but when I express any sort of displeasure, I'm told to take the emotion out of it, get over it, and look at things logically. I can use logic and reason to explain why I am perfect for any number of roles, jobs, relationships, opportunities, but am consistently passed over because someone else isn't feeling it, or thinks I don't look right, or feels that someone else deserves the opportunity more than I. I have been told by many men that I am a dear, close, valued friend, as they covertly take in my physique, seeing me for my shape, recognizing how I make them feel, not listening to what I have to say, or aware of how they make me feel. In short, I am too pretty and not pretty enough; too smart and not smart enough; too qualified and not qualified enough; too logical and not logical enough; too empathetic and not empathetic enough; too old and not old enough; too helpful and not helpful enough; I fit perfectly but not well enough.

With all of these messages coming at me from friends, employers, the media, fellow artists, I am left with the question of what the fuck do you want? Who the hell am I supposed to be?

Because I can tell you who I am. I am a musician who has written songs that have helped people across the country (and even in other countries) through tough times in their lives. I am an artist who can make people laugh and cry and think. I am an actor who will fight like hell to be given the opportunity to play the roles I am most suited for regardless of whether or not that character was originally imagined with boobs. I am a friend who listens and supports and empathizes. I am a stage mom with more stage children than I can count, though I don't have any biological children of my own and likely never will. I am a woman who has traveled three continents on her own. I am the person people turn to when they need to get stuff done. I am the person people reach out to when they need a sympathetic or empathetic ear.  I am a loving companion human to the most adorable cat in the world. I am an introvert who has learned how to put on an extrovert mask so I can function in your world so you don't have to try to understand mine. I am the person who will find passion for the things I need to do, even if they are not the things I want to do, so that I can support myself without inconveniencing others. I am the woman who persists. Because as women, that is what we do. We persist.

Being a woman is hard. It takes a lot of courage, a lot of strength, a lot of energy, and a lot of resolve. In return, around the world, women are blamed for and held responsible for the sexual urges of men; women are persecuted and sold into slavery; women are treated as lesser, told that they are lesser; women are marginalized and paid less than men for the doing same jobs; and women continue to have to fight for basic rights like access to healthcare and the right to make their own choices - rights nobody would even consider revoking for men. And when we stand up for ourselves, we are told that we are ugly, unwanted, unloveable, threatening, pushy, bitchy, crazy, and whiny. But at least we can buy pink phones.

To all of the brave, beautiful, brilliant people in my life who identify as women (even just some of the time), I love you and I have your back. I stayed home and wore red today in the hopes that doing so will have some small impact, will make someone think about what their life would be if I was not in it. For some, there will likely be no change. Hopefully a few noticed and would prefer a world with me in it. Hopefully a lot noticed a lack of women today, and would prefer a world with women in it and will work a little bit harder to make being a woman not suck so much.

Happy International Women's Day.

Let's shoot for International Women's Year.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


I've been thinking about courage a lot lately, because I know a lot of people who have been talking about it - doing courageous things, sharing times when they were courageous, honoring others who have been courageous, thanking those who gave them courage. And the thought that keeps going through my head in response to all of this is that it takes an incredible amount of courage to be me.

Now, before anybody jumps down my throat, I think it takes a lot of courage to be a lot of people, especially in today's political climate. I'm not just talking about the protestors, either, the people out in the streets standing up for what they believe is right. I think it must take an extraordinary amount of courage for Betsy DaVos to get out of bed in the morning and go in to do a job an entire country knows she is not qualified to do. I'm not saying she gets bonus points for doing it, as I am part of that country full of people who knows she is not qualified for the position she was given; I'm saying it takes courage for her to show up and try and fail so consistently. So I'm not trying to toot my own horn by saying I'm courageous. I know a lot of other people are, too, and probably in bigger ways than I am. But it still takes a lot of courage to be me.

I was listening to some people talk about courageous moments in their life not too long ago, so of course I started thinking about courageous moments in mine. One woman talked about growing up with a name that everyone made fun of. I can absolutely relate to that. As she was talking, I started to think about what I would talk about had I been asked to talk about courage, and I found myself stuck with too many options.
  • My first date, I asked him out.
  • I asked out my date to prom.
  • The first time I went to a movie by myself was on homecoming night of my senior year of high school.
  • I stepped into the ring at a capea and got run over by the bull.
  • I asked my mom to teach me how to play the guitar because singing in front of people terrifies me.
  • I have said "I love you" to two men who did not say it back.
  • I traveled Europe on my own.
  • I traveled Australia on my own.
  • I moved 800 miles away from my friends and family to pursue the impossible dream.
  • I wake up every morning knowing that my pursuit of that dream has made me a failure and a disappointment in the eyes of some of my family members.
  • I am an actor who has been turned down by so many productions, I can't even count them anymore.
  • I took myself to the emergency room after I fainted (a couple of days later, but still) to get myself checked out.
  • I learned how to roller skate in my mid-thirties to be in a play, and ultimately broke my ankle on stage during said play, but finished the performances anyway, as best I could.
  • I opened King Lear on the night my uncle died, grieving him on stage because that was the only place I could grieve him.
  • I fought to play King Lear. I fought to play Hamlet. I continue to fight to play the roles I am meant to play, regardless of the gender for which they were written.
  • I shaved my head for a storefront theatre production that got the worst review of any show I have ever been in.
  • I entered into one of the most fulfilling friendships of my life with a woman I had never met in person, but talked to on fan message boards for a musician we both like.
  • I played the entire middle section of a choral piece on the violin from memory because my pages were out of order.
  • I bought a car by myself.
  • I wake up most mornings feeling physically repulsive and like most people would prefer that I wasn't there.
I don't get bonus points for any of this, and I don't deserve bonus points for any of it. I know a lot of people have been through much, much worse. But I can tell you that all of these little, daily acts of courage (like me going to the park today to play music outside) are exhausting. And I'm tired.

At the moment, on top of everything else, I am experiencing the death of a dream. A dream that should be so simple, a dream that so many people have and so many people achieve. A dream that everyone in my family has achieved, but I know I never will. In saying that, I know the response is that I am still young, that there is still time, that I could still achieve it. But I know, in my heart of hearts that I won't. I have tried. I have pursued it since I was about four years old from every angle I could think of. It fueled so much of my youth, so many conversations, so much drama, so many friendships. I know now, though, that it wasn't the right dream for me. Logically, I know that. But it hurts when a dream dies. No matter how much you know you need to let it go, it hurts when a dream dies.

So at the moment, it is taking even more courage than usual to be me. And it is making me very tired. I am trying to distract myself with the things that I love - theatre, music, my cat, Doctor Who, baseball. But at the end of the day, I'm in mourning, and probably will be for a little while longer.

So here is one more act of courage. My brilliant and talented friend took some amazing photos of me about a month ago. We spent an afternoon shuffling through jewelry and lighting and make up and accessories, and the work she did is truly gorgeous. She took a few pictures of my newest tattoo (one that I got with a friend waiting in the wings, but no hand to squeeze). They are gorgeous, but I know that this one in particular might be a bit shocking for some people to see because they've not seen that much of me before. I think it is important to share it, in part to share her beautiful work. But also to show that beauty does not have to be an 18-year-old who is a size two. And also to remind myself that my existence is still valid, knowing that this dream will not come true. I'm still worth something, because I can help create art. I can spread a body-positive message. I can be the voice that someone else needs to hear.

It takes a lot of courage to be me, to live every day in my skin. But you know what? I'm not dead yet.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


I don't remember the exact moment when I fell in love with the Cubs. The same way a person doesn't remember learning to love their parents or learning to chew solid food. I know that logically, there must have been a time in my life when I didn't know what the Cubs were, but I don't remember that time at all. I only ever remember being a Cubs fan.

I remember the little white transistor radio my mom had that only got AM stations, that she would use to listen to Cubs games. I remember Harry Caray and Steve Stone calling the games, and I remember being sad when Harry died, but relieved that he would never have to try to pronounce "Grudzielanek" or "Samardzija" backwards.

I remember going to my first Cubs game with my grandmother, my mom, and my brother, and letting the magic of Wrigley Field wash over me. That magic still exists there, every day, every time I walk into the stands. That first view of the field sets everything right with the world. Time stops. We are all made equal. We are all there to enjoy our time watching baseball, eating snacks we otherwise wouldn't allow ourselves, and cheering for our boys in pinstripes.

I remember my first Cubs crush on Shawon Dunston, soon to be followed by Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and after a year of not allowing myself to like him because he had been with the Marlins who beat us the year before, Derrick Lee. I remember feeling a special bond with Keith Moreland because of the similarity of our last names, even though we've never met.

I remember getting excited in 1984, in 2003, in 2008, and in 2015, when it looked like we might finally win it all. I remember thinking that we were the best, no matter how many errors we made, how few runs we scored, or how the stats stacked up against us. I remember being devastated each time when what looked so easy for everyone else turned out to be so hard for us.

But mostly, I remember the love. I've been asked many times what the big deal is about the Cubs. They don't put on the offensive show that a lot of American League teams do, with fireworks going off for every home run. Wrigley is an old stadium, falling apart in places, that is missing the state of the art food courts and LED banners that tell us when to stand up and make noise. "It's just a baseball team." Except it's not. It is hope. It is a dream. It is a light that lets us know that no matter what happens today, there will be a tomorrow. There will be another chance. From Harry Caray to Pat Hughes, the fans are always brought into the games, welcomed as if each and every moment of each and every game could be the turning point that we've all been waiting for for 108 years. We lose, and we brush ourselves off and come back and play again. It has to take a lot of love for players like Kerry Wood and Greg Maddux to want nothing more than to come back to the Cubs to finish their careers, for men like Ernie Banks to dedicate themselves to the team and the organization long after retirement. It has to take a lot of heart to still show up to the ballpark and to still play as hard as you can every game for over a century without getting the one thing millions of people are hoping, dreaming, willing into existence - a World Series title. Because if we have the title, then maybe other people will finally listen when we say the Cubs are the best team in baseball. They always have been.

For my grandmother who lived her whole life without seeing the Cubs win it all.
For my mother who filled our house with baseball even before I knew what baseball was.
For Harry Caray who assured us that this day would come, as sure as God made little green apples, even though he's not here to see it.
For Ron Santo, who I'm sure would have had a heart attack in the booth if he had tried to call this series.
For Ernie Banks, who taught us all to be kind and gracious and to keep playing no matter what.
For Wood, Prior, DeRosa, Dawson, Lazzeri, Gossage, Sandberg, Maddux, Durham, Sutcliffe, Lee, Jenkins, Dunston, Dempster, Zambrano, Johnson, Barrett, Alou, Williams, Dean, Lindstrom, Zimmer, Wilson, Sutter, Boa, Smith, Moreland, Pappas, Brock, Ramirez, Kelly, Hornsby, Grace, Davis, Cey, and Brown who gave it their everything and never quite got there.
For Tinker.
For Evers.
For Chance.

This one is for you. This is your win. This is your year.

Thank you.

I don't remember the exact moment I fell in love with this team. I know I will never love another team in the same way. I will always be grateful that I got to see them make history, even from afar. Because if the Cubs can win the World Series, what else is possible?