Earrings

2 07 2015

Then, there are those dreams

when you see your sister

and she’s still alive

and you sit across the table from her

and you want to explain to her

that the reason you’re wearing her earrings

is because it was a way to have her with you.

But here she is—

she’s across the table from you

she isn’t gone

so you sort of feel bad for having her earrings while she’s still here

but there was a reason you had the earrings

a bothersome, sad feeling

which becomes a slow washing over

a tiny river of realization

this odd knowing

this knowing

that she is both here and not here.

She is both dead yet alive.

Gone from this world, but very much present in your heart and mind.

These dream moments are too quick

too fleeting

and you don’t realize how precious they are

until you have left them

until you are awake

and alone

in your room

thinking of her

and her earrings

your sister

the love





Where You Were and Where You Are

3 03 2015

chocolate-birthday-cakeAs one gets older, it is widely believed that one gets accustomed to getting older. I suppose that’s true to an extent. A small extent. For getting older is not the same as riding a bike or learning another such skill. Every time you get older, you’re in new territory. Every time you have a birthday, you’re turning an age you’ve never been before. Every single time.

It’s sort of exciting, really. It’s always new. Life is the great improvisation. And it’s always spontaneous. We can fool ourselves a bit with routines and patterns. But we’re just fooling ourselves. We never truly know what’s going to happen next or how things are going to pan out. Life is just one surprise after another—some good; some bad.  Occasionally, we make plans and what we think/hope will happen, does.  More often though, our plans are rejected by Life and both far worse or far better can happen.  We simply learn as we go and do the best we can.

I’ve been really lucky. I was born into a loving family; I’ve encountered some of the most supportive, fun, caring, wonderful people in all of the places I’ve lived and visited; and so far, I’ve enjoyed some pretty delightful artistic and creative opportunities. Man, am I grateful for everything.

Tonight, on the eve of my birthday, I got to teach something I love to a group of wonderfully open students. Lucky. I got to drive in a comfy car while listening to great music. Lucky. I got to come home to my “grown-up house” that my lovin’ hubby and I live in. Lucky.

FogYes, I’m a bit of a sentimental fool. I notice significance in places and times where, perhaps, others might not. It slows me down and might mean that I miss out on something else, but I don’t mind it. I love it. I love that tonight, while driving home through the thick fog, I was struck by how immediate it all is. Fog is really good at putting the “now” into focus and leaving out the “much later.” You can only see just a little bit in front of you, and when you’re improvising, that’s all you need to see. You know where you were and you know where you are. And that’s all that matters.

The fog and life and improvisation and the music and the soon-to-be-new-age-I’ve-never-been-before and my gratefulness made me a tiny bit teary eyed. Then, my awareness of my almost-cry, rooted in deep spontaneous appreciation, gave me more appreciation. How lucky that I’m living this, and realizing that I’m living this.

I’m filled with love about the whole thing, y’all.

It’s nice to take a moment to be grateful of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, who you’ve known and all of the unknown that is to come.





Big Life Changes are Always Hard

24 08 2014

As a writer (and a performer of those stories), my writings are often well thought-out. But with all of the feelings I’ve had lately, instead of thinking-out the thoughts, I’m just going to put-out the thoughts.

Big life changes are always hard. A lot of times, they’re rewarding too. But man, they sure can be difficult. Whenever I mentioned to people the fact that we were getting married and then moving out of state three days later, most folks responded with shock and amazement that we would attempt something so incredibly stressful. Sometimes, I would throw in the fact that we were also buying a house for the first time—if they didn’t seem appropriately shocked enough.

Well, here we are, a couple of weeks after our wedding, in our new home, in our new state. The wedding went off with only one hitch—the important one—and it was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. We were surrounded by our loved ones while we openly expressed our love for one another. It is a mighty powerful thing to experience so much Love all in one place at one time. The minutiae of the day seemed to also go quite well, but really, the LOVE is the important part and that was amazing. 

My hubby isn't an actor and doesn't have his face plastered all over, like actors do.  So I'm not about to start doing that for him now.  But aren't we so cute?  Imagine that you can see his face and that he's smiling.

My hubby isn’t an actor and doesn’t have his face plastered all over, like actors do. So I’m not about to start doing that for him now. But aren’t we so cute? Imagine that you can see his face and that he’s smiling.

Just sitting and thinking of the day puts smiles on our faces.

We wanted to spend the day after simply doing just that, but were forced into packing so that we could properly ready ourselves for the movers the following day.

The move went as well as moves can go. I don’t have to tell anyone who has moved before how incredibly stressful it is. Ugh. And it was surreal to follow such a happy day with all of the weirdness of uprooting our lives. I can always tell when my students really enjoyed one of their classes when it takes them a long time to leave the classroom. As humans, we just tend to want to hang out in places where nice things are happening, or just happened. It’s obvious, if you think about it for longer than a second. Of course, we want to just hang out around good feelings! That’s exactly how my new husband (tee hee, still enjoying the newness of that word) and I felt after our wedding day. But we couldn’t dawdle around in that feeling in Chicago. We had to leave the city right away and start our new adventure together.

We’ve been here for about a week and a half now. In some ways, it feels longer than that; in some ways, it feels much shorter. Hubby started his new job right away and I started teaching three different weekly classes right away.

This is our new state.  We're still getting used to it.  And it's still getting used to us.

This is our new state. We’re still getting used to it. And it’s still getting used to us.

So, I still have a lot of time in our new, big house. Our house is HUGE. Well, maybe it’s not HUGE for normal suburbanites. But having lived in studio and one-bedroom apartments for nearly all of my adult life, having a two-story home feels pretty much like a palace. Even the laundry room has a door, you guys. I mean, sure you can’t open the dryer and the door at the same time. (Like I said, maybe a normal suburbanite wouldn’t be impressed?) But I am still shocked that we have MORE THAN ONE BATHROOM. The size of the house, combined with STILL not having our furniture and other belongings (that’s right, the movers picked up all of our stuff over a week ago and we might not see it for another five days), makes for a pretty isolating experience when I’m home alone. It was for sure worse before the wifi was installed or before I’d gotten the rental car. But even now, it feels lonely. I know the lonely feelings are here because I dearly miss so many of my loved ones and the nice, dependable work/art opportunities in Chicago. But those feelings are definitely exacerbated by being alone in an empty house in the suburbs. I know what I need are some local friends and some local art projects, but there are times where I’d settle for a couch and a tv. That might sound horrible, but it’s the truth.

Having more frequent steady work or a calendar of upcoming shows and other artistic projects will, of course, help me greatly. Not only will I get the much-needed artistic outlet, but I’m sure I’ll meet splendid people, who might just become new friends, along the way. Mercifully, I was just asked a couple of days ago if I’d like to perform in an improv show with the lovely folks at The Brink in Atlanta this evening. I barely know them, but they have already proved themselves to be delightful and kind and fun. Thank goodness for meeting other improvisers. I am so very excited about tonight.

A big ol’ upheaval of a move can make a person feel isolated and alone, but here are some things that make me feel that I’m home:

My husband obviously. 

(I was trying to imbed this video.  But had all kinds of trouble.  Maybe I’ll go back later and try.)

We’re in this together, big time. And I wouldn’t wanna go on this crazy ride with anyone else.

Meeting other improvisers, actors, teachers, and artsy types.

The library. You guys, it is so comforting to go to a place where you give ‘em your name and address and they hand you a magical little card that allows you to check out/download tons of books/music/movies. Plus, the kind librarian plied me with brochures and schedules of free, local, upcoming cultural events! This was especially appreciated after moving from such a cultural hub like Chicago.

Getting mail. We’ve gotten a couple of non-bills in the mail and it makes my friends seem so much closer. Seeing what they’re up to on Facebook makes them seem farther away, but getting a personal “hello” in the mail has been something special. The world is a smaller place. You never lose friends. You just make more.

And I’ll end this post, unashamedly, on that cornball note.

 

 

 





What I’ll miss about living in Chicago

5 08 2014

I have lived in Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Seattle, WA; and Chicago, IL. I’ve been living in Chicago now for seven years. A couple of years ago, I fell in love. I fell in love with a physicist who was in the middle of a three-year research contract at Northwestern. I fell in love with an academic who didn’t know where in the world his next job would be. I fell so in love with him, that I knew I’d move with him, whenever he got his next job. You guys, you know it’s true love when you’re willing to move to the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia for somebody. The outer suburbs. Like, really far.

Chicago

Chicago, it was easy to fall in love with you.

Since we met in Chicago, we wanted to get married here. And that’s exactly what we’re doing 4 days from now. And in 7 days from now, we’re leaving Chicago, for northern Georgia.

(Side note, some advice… If you’re getting married, do not schedule an out-of-state move three days after. If you’re moving, don’t schedule your wedding three days before.)

Now obviously, I’m gonna miss the dear friends I’ve met here and the amazingly talented colleagues I’ve gotten to work with. I’ll miss teaching at Second City and Lifeline Theatre. But there are subtler things I will miss. And I’d like to share some of ‘em with you now:

the smell of chocolate when I’m running errands downtown

the occasional Polish conversation floating through the air at the coffee shop down my street

whizzing down Lake Shore Drive on a beautiful day

Stan’s donuts

wandering around the Chicago Cultural Center

catching the view of the city from the brown line train

eating Mexican food for breakfast, Ethiopian food for lunch, and Indian food for dinner

that sense of accomplishment and feeling of toughness that you get on the first warm day when winter is officially over—really feeling like you’ve “earned” summer when it finally gets here

fireworks over Lake Michigan

taking tourists out for expensive drinks and grand views at the Hancock Tower

paper copies of the Onion

going to the main library downtown and checking out one of the fiction books recommended by their librarians

thinking, “I’ve got a new piece I wanna perform,” then emailing/calling someone and having a performance slot that weekend

The Chicago Diner

exploring another neighborhood and feeling like I’m in another country

listening to fabulous late-night jazz sets at the Green Mill

exposed brick in friend’s apartments or restaurants or salons or, well, exposed brick anywhere

the camaraderie one experiences with fellow commuters under the heat lamps at the train stations in January

free concerts in the summer at Millenium Park

the sound of snow blowers coaxing you awake for the first snowfall of the winter

neighborhood street festivals

hopping off the train at Argyle and getting bubble tea

walking through parts of the city and all of a sudden the truth hitting me: “Whoa, I live in Chicago. That’s pretty cool.”

There are always two sides of every coin. And I can’t comment on the glass being half empty, without also acknowledging that it is, of course, half full. There are some things about my upcoming move to Georgia that bring me joy.

I’ll be near mountains again. And not just any mountains. I’ll be near the beginning (or the end, depending on which direction you’re headed) of the Appalachian Trail. When the sun sets in the sky, there is a beautiful artwork of purple and blue zig-zag shapes—a gentle reminder that you and your problems are not so big. Not so big at all.

sweet tea, biscuits, and grits: all made the right way

not fearing winter: complete confidence that my eyeball liquid will not freeze while it is in my eyeballs

Trees. People describe Chicago as a green city, which is true, if you’re comparing it to New York. But oh, man. There are trees in Georgia! So many trees!

The probability of getting puked on over St. Patrick’s Day weekend will be so much lower.

seeing stars at night

clean air—no, really clean air. You forget what clean air is like when you live in a big city. The air in Georgia smells like oxygen with a hint of magnolias.

So many trees!

So many trees!

I think I’m ready to live in the suburbs. I don’t want to live in another city right now. I’ve lived in Chicago. And there aren’t a lot of cities that can top Chicago. Atlanta can’t out-city Chi-town. So, I’m gonna go in the other direction. I’m gonna enjoy all of things you can’t get when you’re in a big city. Plus, I’ll be experiencing all of it with someone I am super in love with.  There isn’t a whole lot that could get me to leave Chicago. But love? Yeah, I’ll leave Chicago for love. And besides, I can always say, “I lived in Chicago.” That’s pretty cool.





Moving

29 05 2014

When I moved to Seattle, it was unintended and impulsive. I was 22, going on invincible, and the world was my vegan oyster. I was either really good at living in the moment or just too unaware of the future that it didn’t really hit me how difficult it was to move thousands of miles away from home to a region I’d never been to. But then again, it was sort of accidental.

From a collage I made about my first few months in Seattle.  Making collages is a great way to glue all of your feelings together in one place!

From a collage I made about my first few months in Seattle. Making collages is a great way to glue all of your feelings together in one place!

My uncle in Washington state was selling his Cadillac to his sister in Florida. He asked me if I’d be up for flying out to Seattle and driving the car across the country. It was a no-brainer. My first improv class as a teenager taught me to say “yes;” it’s the only way to have any kind of adventure in one’s life. He bought me a one-way ticket to Seattle; his sister changed her mind about the car; and I fell in love with the city, it’s people, and a particular improv company out there. The rest is part of my personal history.

But even though the decision to move snuck up on me, it was still difficult. I fluctuated between being surprised and not surprised at how hard it was. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I missed being around familiar weather patterns and familiar…everything. But I fell hard for Seattle and truly felt I had found my home. Despite being homesick, I felt more at home than any place I’d been before. Being separated by everyone that knew me, I learned more about myself in that time than I ever had. It was incredible.

As the years passed, Seattle and I grew closer and closer. The thoughts of moving back home occurred less and less. I grew roots, forged deep friendships with amazing people, worked on projects that inspired and frightened me, and could see myself living there forever.

When I moved to Chicago, it was planned out and decided on. I was 32, going on famous, and ready for the big city. I was excited to be back near the center of the country—close again to all of those people I’d missed so dearly when I moved to the outer edge ten years before. But, I’d done such a great job of creating a life for myself out on that edge, that moving to Chicago was just as difficult as moving to Seattle had been. I’d left the security of good paying performing and teaching work, all of my northwest friends and theatre family to once again, go it alone in an unfamiliar land.

My one-woman show about being single and dating.

My one-woman show about being single and dating.

And I don’t think I could have gone it more alone. I was so alone that I created a solo show about being single. And I really fell for Chicago. So many creative, talented, friendly folks living in one place! Despite being homesick for Seattle, I truly found a sweet home in Chicago. I grew roots, forged deep friendships with amazing people, created and worked on projects that inspired and frightened me, and began seeing myself living here forever. It was incredible.

And then, for the first time, I stopped going it alone. I fell in love. I fell in love with more than a city. I fell in love with another person—a person who was also in Chicago—an academic on a three-year contract at Northwestern. But Love doesn’t care if he’s not going to be in Chicago forever—like I thought I might be. When Love sweeps you up, you just follow it.

So for over a year now, I knew that his work would take him to another city somewhere. And I also knew that I would go with him. Despite my years of fierce independence and my disdain for the poorly written stories with one-dimensional characters about a woman giving up everything for a man, I knew that if he had to move, I would move with him. Not because I can’t live without him, but because I don’t want to.

After all of those years of being completely independent and single, after both celebrating and cursing singledom, when my beloved told me that he was offered a job as professor at a university in northern Georgia, it was a no-brainer. And perhaps an all-hearter.

Two goobers in love can do anything together--even move to Georgia.

Two goobers in love can do anything together–even move to Georgia.

When I move to Georgia, I will be 39 going on the-rest-of-my-life. I will still be an “I” but also part of a “We.” Even though I’ve done it before, moving will, I am sure, prove once again to be crazy and difficult and stressful and emotional. I’ve done such a great job at creating a life out here in Chicago, that leaving the city I was once intimidated by, will be just as hard as it was to leave my other homes. I am sad to leave my friends and my work. But I am excited to meet new, wonderful people and continue to challenge and stretch myself as an artist.

Regardless of my track record with having great friends and opportunities no matter where I live, I’m still scared. But this time, I’m not in it alone. And I know it will be incredible.





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.

mango

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.





Burma in the Fall

10 05 2013

I dreamt of Burma in the fall

It sounds like a poem

But it’s not

not yet

It was beautiful though….sort of like

Tennessee or Wisconsin in the Fall

but way more exotic.

Upon waking, I was glad that my subconscious did not call it Myanmar

but wondered

Can sleeping thoughts help the progress of human rights?

Let’s hope.

Because what have I really done in my waking life?

I was with my LoverHealer and he thought it would be good for me to go to

Burma in the Fall

and who am I to disagree

It worked.  I felt LovedHealed

It was beautiful,

dreaming of Burma in the Fall

It sounds like a poem

and it is

Autumn-Wallpaper-1