Invocation of a Mellow Mushroom Shirt

24 04 2014
a section of the shirt that has no holes

a section of the shirt that has no holes

It is a Mellow Mushroom shirt from my trip to an improv festival in Athens, Georgia in the mid-90′s.  It was purchased after my fellow improv troupe members and I had pizza with unique toppings at that restaurant.  It’s sort of a pinky-orange color.  It is over-sized, as I purchased it in the 90′s, when I wore over-sized shirts.  But it’s also stretched more and more over the years; so it is perfect to wear for sleeping.

You are soft.  You are always somehow cool to the touch.  You should probably be discarded, but I can’t bear to throw you away.  You seem to have gotten bigger over the years.  You remind me of my younger self–both the parts I like and the parts I don’t.  You were with me when I still lived with my parents.  And I brought you along to Cincinnati, Seattle, and Chicago.

Thou art hole-y.  Thou art gentle.  Thou dost shelter my back whilst not sheltering at all.  Thou hast watched o’er my slumber on countless nights.  Thou hast chaperoned me to my dreams.  Thou art dependable and constant.  Thou hast been ever loyal and unfailing.

mellow mushroom

the back of the shirt has not been so lucky

I am old.  But still under twenty years old.  So in a sense, I am still young.  What is age, really?  I have been with you that entire time.  I am your favorite.  I always have your back–well, except for maybe lately when I stretched out too much near the shoulder.  But I have most of your back.  And I’m kind of like a convertible now.  I’ve been happy with you, but I know you will be moving on soon.  Ironically, you will be returning to the part of the country where we first met.  I know you’d be lying if you told me you hadn’t thought about replacing me once you get there.




Life is an Adventure

20 02 2014

Time doesn’t always feel linear.  Sometimes I feel like I meet and float in between different ages of myself.  Some days, I feel more like the younger me.  Some days, I definitely feel like the older me.  I s’pose what’s really happening is there are times when I feel more like how I defined myself years ago; other times where I feel like how I’ve defined myself now, and so on.

The “older definition of me” seems to make decisions fairly practically.  The “younger definition of me” made even major life decisions based entirely on what seemed more exciting.  It might not have always been the wisest method of decision-making, but I don’t regret any of it.

Hopefully, I’ll define myself a little less and live in the present moment a little more.  Although, there is something a bit liberating about “feeling younger” on certain days.  Then again, maybe I’m just defining it as a “young” feeling.  It’s true that age is relative.  And it’s lovely to embrace that no matter how old I am, I’m always me.

I’ve always loved this song.  For what it’s worth, when I sing along to it, I change the words to:

“…made just for the GIRL who can grow up strong and become a MANDA!”

I hope that you are having a wonderful adventure.

The Ones to Watch

29 01 2014

I don’t care to hear about the people who want to escape this world

the ones who follow their fear

living in their imagined future dystopia

I want to hear about the people who are willing to work for a better world

who haven’t given up on this one

Those are the people to watch

and to help

Those are the people doing amazing things.

I don’t want to hear about how you are preparing and stockpiling and organizing

for the big catastrophe

I want to hear about how you are going to help

your friend

a stranger

someone like you

someone unlike you

with the small

or the big

catastrophe in their life

Because right now, in this present moment, helping someone is all that matters.

I don’t want to hear about your fear of


not surviving

I want to hear about your inspiration

to act

to help


Food Review – Freeze Dried Mango from Trader Joe’s

9 01 2014

Yesterday, I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up a few necessities for upcoming meals—almond milk, tortillas, and such.  (Because of the recent polar vortex, they were out of everything I needed.  Astute Chicagoans, understanding that they might be surrounded by brutal wind chills and frozen snow drifts for forty-eight hours, apparently bought groceries to last three weeks).  I’m not one to walk into a grocery store—especially Trader Joe’s—and not buy anything.  So I picked up a few unfamiliar-to-me items.  And this, dear reader, is how I came upon a small, unassuming bag of “freeze-dried” mangos.

the slightly misleading package

the slightly misleading package

For those of you who are familiar with the product, please excuse my ignorance.  I admit to having scanned the package on previous shopping trips and passing it by.  The package itself is misleading—merely showing wrinkly, dried mangos, not freeze-dried mangos.  And there is, my friends, quite a difference.  I skipped the purchase of it so many times before because I wasn’t in the mood for tough fruit.  In the same manner one must be ready for tough love to truly enjoy it, if one eats tough fruit when one isn’t in the right mindset, it feels more like punishment or manipulation.  So I passed.

But yesterday was ripe for change.  Maybe it was all of those empty shelves.  Maybe I was a little high off of those numbing eye drops from the opthamologist.  Whatever it was, I am grateful.  And perhaps, a little doomed.


Imagine angels’ voices singing, for that is the only caption worthy of this lone piece of mango.

You see, freeze dried mangos are a very different beast than their boringly, simply dried brethren.  Freeze dried mangos are not leathery bits of a bad relationship.  They are happy clouds of sugary joy.  They seem so unnatural, so fake in their light powderiness.  One would assume that some sort of chemical was added, that some sugary concoction had to have infiltrated the fruit.  But, no.  For the only ingredient is, and I quote, “mango.”

These mangos have not been dried by the cruel sun, which would give them the appearance of a suburban mom who has tried to burn up all of her repressed feelings at the tanning salon.  No, these mangos have been dried up in the heavens by the tiny breath of little cloud sprites, filled with magic and love.

I felt that I was biting into a large mango-flavored marshmallow from a box of Lucky Charms cereal.  And yet, there is no marshmallow, meaning no gelatin—meaning no horse’s hooves or cow’s bones—in this treat.  There is, and I quote again, simply, “mango.”

And why add morbidity when you don’t need it?  Everything, the taste, the texture… is perfect as it is.  And yet, after eating just two delightful pieces, I fell victim to the downside of these morsels.

Oh my god.  There are more.

Oh my god. There are more.

Mangos are sweet because they have sugar; naturally found sugar, of course.  But sugar, nonetheless.  And the sugar is mostly what is left after the fruit has been freeze-dried.  These light, yet sugar-dense treats have so little substance, that they cling to the first substance they find—your teeth—and do not let go.  Swishing, picking, and brushing were all unsuccessful at getting every last bit of the packed-in sugariness removed.  I am so very fortunate that I did not find these treats when I was in my invincible twenties.  I wouldn’t have had the caution or the realistic fear of major dental work to contain my urges to eat bag after bag of the magical sugary goodness brought down to us from the sky elves.  Thank those love-filled heavens that I didn’t open any of these packages until my late thirties, when invincibility is far away and not even a mid-life crisis could sway me to risk it all and not practice restraint with these innocent looking sugar demons.

I would definitely recommend trying as much of this treat as you think you should, depending on your age and how long you must wait until your next visit to the dentist.

The Fillet of Solo Festival is happening now!

4 01 2014

Chicago’s solo performance festival is happening right now and it’s kind of a big deal.  Lots of amazing performers are on the two-week long schedule and I am delighted to be performing two different times.  The annual festival is hosted by Lifeline Theatre and all of the wonderful details can be found by going to their website, here.  

Some amazing performers are in the line-up of shows this year! Check it out!

So many amazing performers are in this festival–check it out!

I’m performing a new story along with four other storytellers in, “Five From Rogers Park.”  Tickets are only $10 for any of the festival performances; you can also buy a fest pass for only $30!  Hope to see you at one of the shows!

Five from Rogers Park at the Fillet of Solo Festival
Amanda performs a new piece as part of Chicago’s solo festival
Heartland Studio
7016 N. Glenwood Avenue
Saturday, January 4, 6pm &  Sunday, January 12, 5pm

If you don’t read this, you won’t know what it says.

9 12 2013

Something happened to the internet while we were all looking.  It has become increasingly desperate, and continues moving in that direction.

word_amazingNo matter where you look on the internet, you see things that basically are saying, “Click here!” “Read this!” or “Watch me!”  Of course, we are typically clicking on something else, reading some other article, or watching a different video, so if our attention is going to be grabbed, something major needs to be done to grab it.  Which, I suppose, is why the attention-grabbing attempts have gotten more and more annoying.  It started—as all things do—fairly innocently:

“The top ten things you must know this winter!”

“You’ll never look at yourself the same way again!”

But then it got a little pushy:

“If you only do one thing today, make it be watching this video.

“My mind is blown and yours will be too.”

And even insulting:

“If you don’t watch this video, you are doing life wrong.”

Then it began to really exaggerate:

“The only speech you’ll ever have to hear in your whole life.  Ever.”

“The best thing in your entire life is about to happen to you when you read this.”

I feel that that’s where we are now.  Everything is exaggerated so much that the words have nearly lost their meaning.

“This is the most awesome thing ever!  So much awesome!”

But I thought I clicked on the most awesome thing ever yesterday.  It was a hippo walking with a dying dog.  And I’m not sure I would call that awesome.  It was sweet and a little sad.  But I’m not sure “awesome” is the best description.  Would people still watch the video if the description was:

“This is sweet and a little sad?”

upworthy240x190Nearly everyone online is guilty of this crap.  But the ones who do it best are sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed.  Both are sites that share a lot of interesting or funny or informative or otherwise intriguing pictures, stories, or videos.  I don’t have a problem with their content; I have a problem with their desperation and their superlatives.

BuzzFeed_logoDon’t get me wrong.  Some things are brilliant or amazing or genius or the best.  But when we see so many things claiming to be all of these sorts of “awesome” on a daily basis, we get desensitized to it.  It’s the other end of the spectrum of being overwhelmed or desensitized by bad news.

Sometimes, the world seems like a very bad place.  There is awful news no matter where you look.  People are suffering.  People are dying.  But the response to this is to say, “It just seems that way, because they only report the bad news.”  Now with the internet, everyone is reporting.  All of us.  And there’s a lot of good news out there.  But we don’t have to make it sound better than it is.  It can just be “simple” or “a little sweet” or “kinda ordinary.”  Besides, I don’t always want to click on:

“This woman is a hero and she is doing everything in her life the best way possible.”

Sometimes, I’d rather click on:

“This woman has made mistakes like you have and she is still okay.”

Maybe we’re still struggling to find the balance.  There is horrible, awful news and there is amazingly inspiring news.  But there is also even more very ordinary, regular ol’ news.  And I guess that’s the problem isn’t it?  The common everyday happenings aren’t news.

For me it’s more beautiful and comforting that the good things ARE ordinary as opposed to being “the best ever.”  Good things aren’t rare and we shouldn’t treat them as such.  Appreciate them, yes.  But recognize that they are all around us.

If you didn’t read this, it only means that you don’t know what it said.  That’s all.

Northwest Tour Update

9 11 2013

I lived in the pacific northwest–Seattle, specifically–for nine years.  Although I’m from the south originally, the pacific northwest always felt like home.  It was a no-brainer for me to at least attempt to do a tour out this way.  I toured my first solo show, The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey to Bellingham, Seattle, and Portland–the same three great cities I’m visiting for my 185 Buddhas tour.

But because the nature of this show is even more personal and quite conspicuously about my journey as a performer, it has been an honor and a joy to perform in the region where so much of my journey transpired.

Last night I had the first of two performances of 185 Buddhas in Seattle hosted by my home theatre of Unexpected Productions.  It was sort of like coming home and doing a show for my family and all of their friends in our living room.  I couldn’t have asked for a better night.  The audience was delightful and I am filled with gratitude that I got to share my story in a theater that takes up a big part of my heart.  And I get to do it again tonight!

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar 
Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, directed by Jen Ellison 185 Buddhas
Unexpected Productions at the Market Theater
1428 Post Alley
$15 Buy tickets
Saturday, November 9, 8:30 pm

And next week, I’ll be in Portland, Oregon:

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar 
Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, directed by Jen Ellison
The Brody Theater
16 NW Broadway
Portland, OR
Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
The art of improvisation creates stories from thin air, making the unseen seen. For Amanda Rountree, this is not just an art form, but a way of life — one that includes unexpected twists and turns — leading, if not to mastery, to enlightenment.  Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, and directed by Jen Ellison, this show follows the artist on her path with all of the funny and touching moments along the way.

The Chicago Reader says, “Amanda Rountree is a riot!”  Audience members have described the show as “inspiring,” “funny,” “beautiful,” “insightful,” and “a must-see!“  The Chicagoist picked this show as one of their “three to see.”  Click here to watch a trailer for the show.  You can also click here to read a review of the show.


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