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.

The Great Pantsing Incident of 2012

16 05 2013

While I was waiting for the results of my x-rays in the emergency room, my boyfriend looked at me and asked, “Was it worth it?”

I succeeded in my goal.  I was victorious.  So, yes.  Yes, it was worth it.

But before we get into the details of the Great Pantsing Incident of 2012, let’s pause for a moment and allow me to enlighten you on the unique nature of my gracefulness and agility.

I have three scars.  As everyone knows, a scar is a badge of bad-assery.  When you have a scar, it’s basically a sign you wear on your body that reads, “Ask me how I almost died.”

The first scar I ever got was from falling up the stairs.  Not down the stairs.  Up.  Any idiot can fall down stairs.  But when you fight gravity, that’s WINNING in a major way; that’s a scar that you can be proud of.

The second scar was acquired during a very messy bout with a formidable warrior.  But you know what they say, “You think I look bad?  You should see the bagel!”  Only one of us walked out of the kitchen that fateful evening.  And out of respect for a fight well fought, I honored my foe with a proper final resting place.

Shortly after the bagel occurrence, I saw a friend who had her hand bandaged up.  When I asked her what had happened she told me that she was holding half of an avocado, and had taken her knife and struck down to stab the pit and remove it.  Sadly the avocado slipped and the knife went into her hand.  When I listened to her story, what I heard was a new, bad-ass way to remove the pit from an avocado—because not only am I graceful, dear reader, I am also smart.  And that is how I got my third scar.  I guess avocados are familiar with this violent pit-removal and are skilled at jumping out of the way.  In hindsight, maybe I should have waited until after the confidence from the bagel victory wore off a bit.  A little more humility and I could’ve had that avocado!  (Side note:  Shortly after letting my mom know about this scuffle with the avocado, I received a little gift from her.  Did you know they have a specific kitchen tool for cutting, slicing, and pitting avocados?  It’s awesome!  There aren’t any sharp edges and to pit it, you’re basically using a scooping method…it’s really cool.   Well, I’m just letting you know in case you’re one of those people that isn’t into a thrill-ride when you’re making guacamole.  The lower the risk, the lower the reward.

Some moments in life call for low risk.  Some moments call for greater risk.  One just has to be in tune with the moment.  For example, when you are reclining on the couch and your boyfriend walks past you on his way to take a shower with his belt unfastened and the top button of his jeans undone, if you are truly in tune with the moment, you think to yourself, “ PPO!!!  PERFECT PANTSING OPPORTUNITY!”

If there are any readers out there who are unfamiliar with pantsing, please note that in this instance of turning a noun into a verb, one is not applying the object, but removing it.  Pantsing is to a person as pitting is to an avocado.

So, there I am, innocently lounging on the sofa.  But as soon as I have the idea, I leap up exuberantly from the couch and bound toward my boyfriend—who is now almost to the bathroom.  I have to make this quick because he’s about to go in.  And as good as I am at pantsing, I can’t do it to someone when there’s a locked door between us.  So I have to run—fast—across the apartment.  This is exactly what I do—quite well, I might add.  Just then, out of nowhere, comes this wall headed straight for me.  I instantly attempt to recalibrate my path and leap out of the way as best I can, but to no avail.  I am struck down and there is an unfamiliar and disconcerting pain in my foot.  I scream out in agony.  My boyfriend, despite still having his pants on, is a good man and with a look of worry and lots of confusion on his face, approaches me, asking,  “What happened?!”  This is when I know that all is not lost.  Undeterred from my mission, I crawl on my arms and belly toward my unknowing victim.  Lying crushed at his feet, I gaze into his eyes and cry out in a last breath of triumphant resolve, “I’m gonna do what I came here to do…”

And yes, my friends, it is possible that one can look out on the landscape of this battlefield and see a soldier lying on her stomach with a broken toe and tears of pain streaming down her cheeks, but if one looks closely, one can also see another soldier.  And although he is standing, his pants are around his ankles.

Valentine’s Day

8 02 2013

I heart U. But I also heart V, apparently.

Valentine’s Day.  The images that might come to mind are cheesy cards from grade school, those chalky-wafer heart candies with flirty or weird sayings (the only thing keeping Necco in business), PDA couples spending way too much money on dinner, cards from your parents, 50% off chocolate at the drug store the next day, bad movies on the Hallmark Channel, and so on….  Or at least, these are the images that came to my mind during my long stint at being single.  I am in a happy relationship right now, but I was successfully single for over six years.  I’m sure that’s a lot shorter than some people’s single streaks.  And perhaps it’s a lot longer than others’.  But for me, it was a substantial time.

In that time, I felt a variety of different emotions about the holiday on February 14th.  I attended anti-Valentine’s parties and cursed it one year, then the next, I’d give cards and flowers to friends and family.  Sometimes, I would celebrate the holiday of love by spending the day simply doing something that I loved.  Sometimes, I would get myself a Valentine’s gift, thankful that I was single and really knew who I was.  Other years, I would watch crappy movies, eat delicious chocolate, and wish I had someone to share my life with.

Since last February, I have met a nice gentleman, so as it turns out, I’ll actually “have someone” on Valentine’s Day.  After being single for so long, I was more than ready to fall in love and have all of the fireworks.  I was surprised to discover how incredibly ordinary it feels to be in love.  Not “ordinary” in a bad way.  It just feels incredibly natural.  Yes, it’s wonderful and fantastic and amazing.  But I guess the most striking thing for me is how a new person can come into one’s life and so quickly become such an essential part of it.

So, this Valentine’s Day will be a little different for me, I think.  In a very good way.  I get to spend Valentine’s Day with TWO of my loves.  My boyfriend and my other love–the one I’ve spent over half of my life with:  theatre.

The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey: full video

14 11 2012

Born out of a silly idea of having very emotional moments with inanimate objects on stage, I wrote and performed my very first solo show, The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey in 2009.  I was fortunate enough to have the very talented, Jen Ellison direct me in this endeavor.  I previewed it on the west coast–in the supportive and friendly theaters that are like second-homes to me:  The Upfront in Bellingham, WA, the Brody in Portland, OR, and of course, Unexpected Productions in Seattle.  A few months later, I had a successful (read: I didn’t lose tons of money and people really seemed to like it) run in Chicago.  I took it to more cities after that (Philadelphia, Austin, TX, and my hometown, Louisville, KY), then back to Chicago for a couple more runs.

Here is that show in its entirety.  As an artist, posting a recording of a live performance is never completely easy or comfortable.  Watching it on a screen is a different experience than in the theater.  Yet, now as I begin working on the staging of my next one-woman show (directed again, by Ms. Ellison), posting a recording of my first one seems right.  It’s good to completely close a chapter before delving into the next.

The Good, The Bad, and The Monkey
Singlehood, Dating, and the Search for Something Real

Amanda Rountree takes a hilarious–and at times, heartbreaking–look at the cycles of relationships and the myths that we tell ourselves about finding a soul mate…..using sock monkeys.


Special thanks to Fuzzy Gerdes for filming the performance!

An Open Letter to My Single Friends

4 09 2012

Dear Lovely Single Pals,

I apologize if I’ve been annoying at all lately.  I haven’t been myself.  Well, I’ve been myself.  But not the myself that I’m–or you–are used to.  I’ve been the “dating someone….oh, now I’m in a relationship all of a sudden” version of myself.  And I’m not used to this version.  I’d forgotten that this version was available to me, honestly….after being so well-versed in the “single” version of myself for nearly six whole years.

To my horror–and perhaps even yours, my single friends–I have turned into a woman that misses her boyfriend when she hasn’t seen him in a day or two.  I know!  I’m that person now!  It’s like it’s not enough that I’ve met a person I really like who really likes me…..I have to SEE HIM A LOT.

Also I want to apologize for something else I’m sure I’ve done in your presence recently.  (And if I haven’t, I’m bound to, so go ahead and take this apology in advance, as well).  You were probably telling me a really great story and after you finished talking, I greedily took over the conversation with some twitterpated story about how wonderful my guy is or–even more goobery–how wonderful he thinks I am…..

In addition, I should beseech your forgiveness, dear friends, for beginning more and more sentences with “We…..”  Please know that this is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.  Also, know that I am not unaware of all of the times when you invite me to something, that I am more and more likely to ask if it’s okay if I bring a guest…..  Don’t be afraid to lead into an invite by saying something like, “So we’re going to have a LADIES’ night….”  I should still be able to take a hint.

I appreciate your patience with me while I’m updating to this new version.  The rest of me has gone unchanged.



PS:  Oh, but do know that I am really happy and that I’m not just so self-conscious about all of this stuff that I’m not able to enjoy the delight and excitement of new love.  If you are unconvinced, I can tell you some stories.  Like for example, the other night, he said the sweetest thing……..

The Improviser’s Palette

2 04 2012

Most improvisers are so afraid of being cliché or “repeating themselves” that they try to avoid archetypes and typical relationships.  Maybe they’re thinking, “You’ve seen one lovers-getting-together scene, you’ve seen them all.”  But these are the stories that audiences crave to see and hear the most.  If this was not the case, nobody would know who Shakespeare was and movies would never be remade.  Just because you did a scene last week wherein you played a character who wanted to be respected by another character doesn’t mean you’re cheating or being a bad improviser if you play a character this week that is seeking respect.  Human emotions are not limiting.  They are our palette.  Primary colors are limiting only to the unskilled painter.

I don’t think I’m getting enough respect in this relationship.

28 05 2011

So if a Chicago winter is like being punched in the face, then a Chicago summer is like being pinched in the ass.  Just last night as I waited for the train, shivering in my winter hat and scarf, Chicago was definitely punching me in the face.  This Memorial Day, weather forecasters are predicting some definite ass-pinching weather–with highs in the mid 90’s.  So Chicago, does that mean you’re only going to spoon with me for two days?  Two days?  You didn’t even buy me dinner.  I hope you’ll be gentle with me this summer.  And give me flowers.  Lots and lots of flowers.