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

Encounters with Wildlife

20 08 2013

Today, I ran into a squirrel.  I literally ran into a squirrel.  Now, I realize that the word “literally” doesn’t carry any weight anymore, since it no longer means what it used to mean.  So I shall say it this way:  I actually, really, truly, and matter-of-fact-ly ran into a squirrel.  I was running along the sidewalk (to ensure that I would catch the train I needed to catch).  Instead of looking forward while running, I was looking off to the side to better gaze out at the beautiful serene vision of the lake in the morning.  All of a sudden, serenity was stopped when my ankle hit something hard, yet furry–it felt like what you might think the head of a tiny, ungainly dog crashing into you might feel like.  It was not, however, the tiny head of a domesticated canine, but the tiny head of an eastern grey squirrel.  The victim managed to scamper clumsily with his friend, up the fence and away from the tall scary human who had just bopped around his noggin.

I’m left with the age-old question:  How does one apologize to a squirrel?  Even more crucial:  How does one find the particular squirrel that is owed said apology?  Not to sound speciesist, but most squirrels pretty much look the same to me.  Will I be able to recognize him by the look of anger and resentment on his little squirrel face?  Or do squirrels have an advanced network of communication, thereby causing ALL of them to look at me with anger and resentment?  Do the squirrels who hang out in the park next to my front door communicate with the alley squirrels?  Should I be wary when taking my garbage out from now on?  When entering territories that may be inhabited by the same squirrel my ankle accosted, should I come bearing nuts?  And if my nuts are too small, isn’t that just adding insult to injury?

But perhaps I don’t know the whole story.  I wonder if this squirrel that I accidentally collided with–let’s call him, “Herbert”–what if Herbert is one of these squirrels that never pays attention to what’s going on around him.  You know the type.  Everyone’s out gatherin’ their nuts for the winter, and there’s Herbert–just staring off into space without a care in the world TOTALLY neglecting his responsibility.  And YOU have to gather MORE nuts because no one deserves to starve.  But Herbert forgets to thank you.  And he’s constantly bumping into you on the branches, even though they are clearly marked with the sticks that YOU labored over yourself to lay out with the arrows.  But there’s Herbert, always goin’ east on the west branch and west on the east.

So maybe it was good that I bumped into Herbert today.  Maybe all he needed was a good scare.  If the squirrel community is reading this, please know that I don’t need a ceremony thrown in my honor or anything.  Just knowing that I’ve helped one squirrel is enough.  So let this be a lesson to all small or medium sized rodents, pay attention to where you’re going–even if the lake looks pretty–focus on what lies ahead.

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.

Other Times and Places

17 06 2012

Right now I am in Chicago, sitting at home and thinking about stories.  Stories are like dreams.  They are intimate, revealing, and can transport us to other times and places.

June 5, 2012.  I’m in Seattle on vacation, taking the bus to see a friend.  When I get on the #44 and ask for a transfer, a homeless man chimes in and gives me almost-correct directions.  During the 90 minute visit with my friend we cover years and distance.  We reminisce about our Chicago trip ten years ago.  We laugh about old and new inside jokes.  She hugs me and tells me she’s sorry to hear about my sister.  After our time together, I am greeted once again by the same homeless man I saw at the beginning, sitting in the same spot on the same bus.  We both went many places by being in just one.

February 1, 1998.  I am flying out to Seattle, WA from Louisville, KY with a one-way ticket.  My sister says I am brave, but I don’t really hear it.

June 1, 2007. I am moving from Seattle to Chicago.  It’s a Friday around 5pm and I’m in traffic in my rented moving truck on Devon—except I’m pronouncing it “Devin” ‘cause I haven’t lived here yet.  I pass a street called “Pulaski” and it hits me that I’m going to be living in a very different city—one where maybe I’ll even get to hear Polish being spoken from time to time.  I pass a street named “California” and I feel so very far away from the west coast.  Later, I will arrive at my new home and load all of my belongings up three flights of stairs with the gracious help of my landlord.  Then, when the door is closed, I will sit on the floor and cry and cry.  But I know deep down that everything will be okay.

June 1, 2012.  I am in Seattle, walking past apartments I’ve lived in, restaurants I’ve dined in, and fields I’ve played Frisbee in.  I am raw with memories.  A stranger wakes me from my reverie by saying, “Are you a local?”  “Ah, I used to be” I reply.  I give her almost-correct directions.  But her question has shaken me and I worry that I’m in danger of regretting my move.  To cure this, I think of all of the reasons I am grateful I moved to Chicago (the lovely friends I’ve met, the way the windy city inspired me to do solo work, how nice it is to be living closer to my family in Louisville).  Just then, walking toward me, is a man wearing a shirt with “Chicago” written across it.  I think I’m dreaming.  But it’s real.  Later, I will sit at my favorite donut spot in Seattle, wearing my Kentucky shirt, and hear them play a Sufjan Stevens song about Illinois.  Places and times will converge in one spot, in one moment—kind of like they do in a dream.

I dreamt of Kentucky last night.  It was a different time.  My sister was still alive.  We were all in the kitchen talking, joking, and laughing with each other .  I was so excited to see her.  I got to tell her that I love her, which felt so good.  But she didn’t really hear it—I realized I was dreaming before she could respond. It wasn’t real.  I guess I was stirred awake by the impossibility of it.

October 11, 2007.  I have lived in Chicago for four months. My parents are up from Louisville to visit me.  When we go to the lake, I experience a rush of de ja vu.  The last few years that I lived in Seattle, I had this recurring dream where I lived in an old hotel on the beach.  My mom, my dad, my sisters, and my nieces and nephew were all in the dream. It made me think that maybe one day I’d live by the ocean–maybe even own a B&B–and have lots of good family visits.  But here I was, with my mom and dad on a Lake Michigan beach and it all made sense.  I will get this de ja vu feeling again every single time a family member comes to Chicago to visit me, like when my sister comes up for a brief visit three years later.

May 19, 2012.  I am in Kentucky for my niece’s wedding.  As I’m walking outside, I see a key chain lying in the grass.  It’s one of those silver key chains with the outer circle and the spinning middle part.  The middle part says, “Illinois” and the outer circle says, “Chicago, the Windy City.”  I smile and remember the very first time I saw this type of key chain.  It was in 1998 when I first moved to Seattle from Louisville.  I was working in the gift shop of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. I was in love with my new city and homesick for my old one.  In the stockroom I opened up a box of our new key chains.  The inside said, “Woodland Park Zoo” but the company had made a mistake and outside said, “Louisville, KY.”  I thought I was dreaming.  I took them around to everyone in the shop, asking them to read it to me.  It was real.

October 1, 2011.  I buy myself a purse in Chicago.  It looks sort of like an owl.  My sister loves owls.  It has always been her thing.  Deanna loves owls.  Laura loves turtles.  Amanda is the weird actor one that switches what she likes a lot.  If I was younger, I might question if it’s okay for me to like owls.  But I’m older and I like the purse.  So I buy it.  I wonder when I will see her next, because I know she’ll think it’s cute.  I see an older man trip on the escalator going into the store.  I try, without success, to keep him from falling.  But he tumbles and tumbles and tumbles on the unforgiving escalator.  It feels like a dream.  It makes me think of how fragile we all are. The man kept falling and the stairs kept moving and none of us were able to stop it from happening.  That night, I dream about being in a combination city made of Louisville and Chicago.  I’m trying to get a hold of my family and my family is trying get a hold of me.  But, the buttons on the phones aren’t working and I’m panicking and it seems so urgent for me to see them.  I wake up, heart racing.  I know it was a dream, that it wasn’t real.  But I switch on my phone and see all of the missed calls starting early in the morning.  When my mom tells me on the phone that my sister has died, I will cry and cry.  It will feel like a dream.  But it’s real.

Right now, I am in Chicago, traveling to other places and times while being in just one.  May we all be wakeful enough to appreciate the dreamy moments and restful enough so that we are not stirred by the impossible ones.

The Ultimate Storytelling Event

5 06 2012

I am incredibly honored and excited to be one of the storytellers in Chicago’s 13th Annual SKALD Storytelling Competition hosted by the wonderful WNEP Theatre.  The first night is improvised storytelling, the second night, each storyteller gets seven minutes to spin their yarn.  I’ll be there Saturday the 16th.  Will you?  Click here to get your tickets!

Storytelling Tonight!

7 05 2012

Looking for something fun and free to do in Chicago tonight?  Why not come to a cool bar and listen to some wonderful folks tell some fantastic stories?!  Lifeline’s Storytelling Project is happening at the Glenwood Bar in Rogers Park (right off the red-line at Morse) tonight!  Yours Truly will be telling a story.  Come by and check it out!

Lifeline’s Storytelling Project
The Glenwood Bar
6962 N. Glenwood Ave.
Monday, May 7, 7:30 pm (Musical Guest starts at 7pm)