From the Homesick Files…

5 01 2015

And then comes the day after all of the holiday hubbub when you’re at the gym trying to work out, and that Tony Bennett song comes on and you remember walking on State Street, that great street. And you close your eyes, but you’re not in Chicago, you’re in Cumming, Georgia. And the suburbanites at the Y are looking at you funny, because you’re walking in between treadmills with your eyes mostly closed trying to imagine you’re somewhere that you’re not and attempting not to cry.

And you make it all the way outside and you’re sitting in your car, thinking now—NOW I can cry a good cry. But the soccer mom next to you is sitting in HER car and it’s just not far enough away. So you make it all the way home and you sit in the garage, the dark garage in your car (you have a garage now–isn’t that weird), and you cry a nice homesick cry for the friends you miss and the routine that’s no longer yours, and even your favorite little cafes and whatnot. Yep, a good homesick cry.

And then you pick yourself up and you go get your mail and you find a little something from a dear friend in Chicago and it’s perfect. Lovely and perfect. And everything’s gonna be okay.





This post has one title; I have two.

12 11 2014

Every artist is familiar with the uncomfortable feeling of being too far away from creative projects for too long; I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t find something soon enough down south. But, boy, I sure did arrive in Atlanta at the right time.

Right about the time we moved down here, I met Ian Covell, the founder of Atlanta’s new improv theater, Highwire Comedy.

While gettin’ used to a new life and a new home, it has been really helpful to have fun improv stuff and fun improv people to ground me. And now that Highwire Comedy has its own space in Decatur, we’ve been making lots and lots of plans! I am absolutely overjoyed to announce that I have been made both the Artistic Director and the Associate Education Director of Highwire Comedy!

I'm pleased as punch to be a part of this fantastic theater!

I’m pleased as punch to be a part of this fantastic theater!

Just getting the chance to start playin’ with fun people right away was already a relief!   (I got to play in “The Soapbox, Highwire’s weekly Armando-style show, mere days after arriving here.  Plus, I’m currently directing a FANTASTIC group of actors in “The Day Before Tomorrow,” an improvised show in the style of a disaster film, which opens later this month.)  But man, oh man!  Now I have a title–more than one, even!  I feel fancy.

Ian (my Artistic Director cohort and the Education Director) and I have sat down and have started creating class offerings and show schedules for Highwire. Stay tuned, y’all. 2015 is going to be a very exciting year!





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.

 

 

 





Signs

17 08 2014

When I moved to Chicago, and found myself stuffed onto very peopled trains, wedged between tall buildings, and lamenting the lack of trees, I thought to myself, “I am not a city person.” But Chicago grew on me. I became a professional at riding the train, enjoyed exploring the insides of those giant buildings, and found out where the trees were. I became a Chicagoan.

It is my fourth day in Georgia. Cumming, GA. A town considered part of the “Atlanta Metropolitan area.” And I suppose it is. I was able to listen to Atlanta’s NPR station yesterday on the radio. I turned it on just as “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” was ending. I missed it. I missed one of my favorite NPR shows. Fitting, as it is taped in Chicago and I’ve seen it live multiple times. And now, In Georgia, I was unable to catch it.

Looks like the back end of a trailer, but it's Georgia.

Looks like the back end of a trailer, but it’s Georgia.

When we drive here, we follow the GPS wherever we need to go. I try to follow the signs, but there are less signs here than there are in the city. And the signs are simple and sparse—just little black and white state route signs with a number (numbers that don’t yet mean anything to me) inside the shape of Georgia. Last night, as we drove past cows and horses (because we live so far out), I started crying. I started crying because I miss my friends in Chicago. And I’m passing cows. COWS. And now that we’re here and I have to pass cows and horses and hay bales and peach stands to even get to the road that’s going to take me into the closest major city, I’m scared. I’m scared I’m not going to like it or that I’m too isolated or that I’m not going to get to perform/teach/direct/insert-artistic-desires-here as much I’d like to.

And it’s only the fourth day. Yes, I’m aware that it’s going to take a while to find my groove. I’ll meet lovely people. I’ll do lovely things. But what if…. What if there are too many cows in the way? And when will I learn to read the signs?

But then, on the drive back to our new home in our new state last night, something completely stunning and unexpected happened. We saw a shooting star. The thing about being way outside of the city, next to the cows and the horses and hay bales and the peach stands is that you can see the stars. So many stars. I forgot how many starts there are—bright and twinkling and splendid. Right in our driveway, you can see the stars. And tonight when we were driving home, we both saw it, my new husband and I, we saw a shooting star and it was beautiful.

So maybe it’s a sign. But because we’re not in the city, we don’t have all of those signs in our faces anymore. Now, when you take away all the signs, you see all that’s really there—cows and horses and trees and shooting stars.





needing and wanting

1 07 2014

What I need to do right now

figure out how much alcohol we need to order for the wedding reception

research moving companies and compare the quotes I’ve gotten

research photo booth companies

pack more boxes

figure out the garbage/recycling companies in our new neighborhood

fill-out the change-of-address form

something involving rehearsal dinner

something involving shoes

something involving hair

lots of other things involving lots of other things

 

What I want to do right now

think about how much I’ll miss Chicago and eat cookies

 





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.





When are you performing next?

7 07 2011

I’ve gotten this question a lot lately.

Typically, if I go for a long time without performing, I get all antsy.  It can happen in as few as 15 performance-less days in a row.  But oddly and interestingly, I haven’t gotten too awfully antsy lately.  This is definitely because a lot of my energy has been taken up with moving/unpacking/nesting.  Also, summer is happening.  And after surviving my fourth (I know!  Can ya believe it?!) Chicago winter, spending the summer near the lake instead of inside a dark theater has been kinda nice.

The last time I went for this long without performing was when I first moved to Chicago.  Again, I was moving/unpacking/nesting.  That combined with being in a new city and not knowing anyone fostered an almost two-month period of no stage-time.  I did kinda get a little crazy toward the end there, as I recall.  But one of the upsides was that I ended up focusing all that creative energy into painting, drawing, and cooking fancy, inventive dishes.

This time around, I’ve been writing more.

So, I guess the answer to the question is:  Probably not until the fall (unless I go crazy before then and manage to sneak in some solo work that’s been rollin’ around in my noggin).  Until then, I’ll be thankfully teaching lots and lots, sharin’ some of my writings on this site, and maybe making some pies.

A decade ago, something like this would have made me very nervous.  I defined myself by what I did, rather than who I was.  So, if I wasn’t doing what I did, well, then who was I?  I’m not sure if I have the clearest idea of who I am.  But it’s certainly clearer than it was before.  It’s a nice feeling, for sure.

Comfortable and satisfying.