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.

I just had to share

25 04 2013

Apparently someone clicked on this site today because they searched (and I quote):

weird to walk into a bar alone with a girl has a squishy thing


On a related note….  Ladies, please, for your own safety, ALWAYS bring your squishy thing with you when you are out on the town alone.  Yes, it’s true that some guys will find it weird, but first and foremost, it’s best to be protected.

Winter: Out Of Order, Please Have a Different Season Instead

2 02 2012

I would like to begin by stating that I enjoy nice weather.  I’m a huge fan.  And I certainly don’t want to come off as a complainer about the recent situation.  After all, a person who’s recovering from the flu has no business being outside when it’s a typical January or February day in Chicago, right?  So the fact that I’ve been able to–not just painlessly–but pleasantly walk a mile or two every day on account of temperatures being in the 40’s and even 50’s is something I should be praising the deities for, yes?


And yet, something’s off.  It just doesn’t feel quite right.  I should be rejoicing.  Isn’t the “Dreaded Chicago Winter” the only thing that makes this city not perfect?  Haven’t I declared time and time again that, “I don’t know how long I could live here–I just don’t know how many Chicago Winters I can survive” and so on?  Didn’t I write this?  And this?  I’ve never EVER talked highly of the winters here in Chicago.  Ever.  In fact, I’ve been downright insulting.  But how can something that beats down on my soul day after day deserve respect?  How can something that freezes the moisture on my eyeballs in one short trip from train station to apartment building door expect politeness?  Why would I pay courtesy to the annual event that transforms my home into something uninhabitable?

Could it be that I have begun to love this city, warts and all?  Am I donning that badge that every true Chicagoan wears?  The badge that reads, “I’m hardcore, ’cause I wait for the bus in January.”  Getting through a winter here is something to keep track of.  We all have our metaphorical notches in our boots.  I’ve got five myself.  Wow.  Five.

I haven’t made the sixth notch yet.  Because honestly, winter hasn’t happened here yet.  Not truly.  It’s already February and we haven’t even dipped below freezing.  (I can’t believe I’ve taken issue with this!  It’s insane.  Somebody stop me!  I don’t know who I’ve become!)  I haven’t worn my serious winter coat yet (the one that weighs ten pounds, the one that is insulated so well I feel like a super hero–except I don’t look like a super hero in it–I look like a huge dork).  For the sake of all that is good in the world, I still haven’t needed to wear three pairs of pants or two pairs of gloves!  Clearly, something is very, very wrong.

Frankly, we’re all just way too comfortable.  We’re not supposed to be comfortable right now.  We’re supposed to be paying our dues, ant-ing it up in the winter months so that we can really grasshopper it when summer comes.

If this continues for much longer, Chicago could face a serious identity crisis.  Think about it.  This city is defined by good theatre, deep dish pizza, crooked politics, questionable hot dog (or veggie dog–Woot!) toppings, and shitty, shitty winters. If they take this away from us, what’s next?  Full funding for our libraries?

When will the madness end?  What will become of us?  Road work is happening in February, for goodness sake!  If construction is happening now, buds on the trees are soon to follow.  You can see the poor workers out there in their hard-hats, wandering aimlessly, filling potholes, confused by how their hibernation was cut so short.  And if they’re out this early, you know they’re going to be mating by March!

Again, I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the absolutely delightful walking-weather.  Because it has been so very splendid.  I am thankful for having the odd sensation of feeling uplifted and lighter in the middle of winter.  But the Chicagoan in me knows that it’s wrong.  Call me a martyr, but it’s February, dammit.  We shouldn’t be this comfortable.

In Search Of: Something Else Entirely

23 09 2011

One of the most entertaining places on my website (for me anyway) is the little area where only I can go.  It’s a whole page that lists how many “hits” my site has had, what pages folks were looking at, and notably, what search words they used to find it.  Typically, it’s stuff like my name or my show’s name, “chicago improv workshops,” or other fairly unsurprising searches.  But because of the following facts, I sometimes get some pretty entertaining searches:

I have a show with sock monkeys

I advertise that my monkeys perform naked (which they do).

I often use the analogy of “abusive relationships” to describe Chicago’s weather.

I have an increasing amount of poetry posts that have all kinds of random words in ’em.

So, taking into account the above, I suppose I shouldn’t be at all surprised that I get hits to my website because folks were searching for things like:

bad naked monkey

good and bad effects of cold medicine

cow abusing monkey

watercolor art of dessert cake

crazy train people

good sock monkey art

pie abuse

naked teachers

good and bad monkey in hindi

naked girls with monkeys

This brings me to the following conclusion.  It seems fairly easy to get “hits” on one’s site by merely composing a post that contains popular search words.  For example, in this very post, I could type “women who keep hippo-centric scrapbooks and the men who love them” and the possibilities of my site getting visited by a man who searches online secretly about his unique fetish just increased.  But, I suppose I could also take advantage of this power too, by typing things like, “best one-woman show in Chicago” or “must see solo performance of 2011” and the like.

However my intrigue of the concept of someone searching for something like “watercolor art of dessert cake” (which, by the way, needs to be the title of my next piece) pushes me closer to the hippo camp than the the best solo performer ever camp.  After all, if I wanted this to be a post about marketing my show or other projects, I could just direct you over here.  This, however, is merely a post about delightful combinations of words.

Therefore, dear reader, I offer you this poem.

Ramblings from a stranger…

20 10 2010

I suppose there’s always a little adventure or a unique moment to be had.  But it seems we spend a good deal of time trying to avoid those spontaneous shake-em-ups.  I know I can certainly be guilty of the pleasegoawayIjustwannagohome-type ignoring of the world that’s happening around me.  But I also feel that my relationship with improvisation has made me more aware of this particular human failing–this tragic disregard.

Sure, we can’t be sensitive and open to every single thing that comes our way–especially in a big city.  We’d explode.  We close up to protect ourselves.  But isn’t it possible to protect ourselves too much?  And don’t we miss out on a lot by doing so?

After teaching yesterday, I needed to catch the #156 bus to meet a date for dinner downtown.  I waited for nearly ten minutes and right when the bus pulled up, this guy came out of nowhere and started talking to me.  I was standing alone for so long and didn’t see him approach until he was right up next to me.  Maybe it was the last hour I’d spent playing improv games with 11-12 year olds, but I didn’t ignore him or try to get rid of him.  Instead, I just responded to him.  He sat across the aisle from me and continued engaging me in conversation.  He pleaded with me to write what he was saying down.  So, he dictated the following and I share it with you now.

Writing creates thinking.

Thinking creates feelings.

Feelings create action.

There are only two things that will change a person’ life two years from now.  The books they read.  The people they associate with.

Success is a non-negotiable item.

And there you have it.  He then asked me to tell him how many words were involved in the first section, what the operative word was, how many different words were used, etc…  It was all very odd.  And then, he was gone as quickly as he came.  He jumped off the bus near the stock exchange with nary a look back.

I thought about searching for these phrases on the web or even musing about the possibilities of his intent or character.  But it doesn’t matter.  I really don’t care about the why.  I just like the what.  It is what it wanted to be.  Nothing more.  I kinda dig that.

Please come to the opening and the closing!

8 06 2010

What if They Held a Peace Rally and Nobody Came? is the delightful sketch show I’m directing as part of Joe Janes’ 365 Sketches Project.  WNEP is co-producing all 365 sketches–and it’s happening right now!  Pretty exciting stuff, if you ask me.  Please come check out any of the remaining 26 performances.  But of course I’d love it if you could make the performance of Peace Rally.  The cast is amazing:  Dominique Lewis, Ed Smaron, Erin Orr, Kelsie Huff, Kevin Gladish, Lori Goss, Michael Carothers, and Scott Whitehair.  Peace Rally occurs one night only:  Friday, June 11th at 8pm at Strawdog Theatre. Chances are high that you could find Jesus, hear a mime, or see a unicorn.  And that’s not bad for a Friday night.

May cause excitability…

18 11 2009

I love sleep.  I am a good sleeper.  Well okay, I am not one of those people that can fall asleep anywhere or anytime.  In fact, in that regard, I’m probably considered a picky sleeper.  It has to be dark and it has to be quiet.   I don’t do night-lights.  I don’t do tick-tocking clocks.  I love those dark curtains in hotel rooms.  I love absolute silence.

I haven’t slept all that well the last few evenings.  This fact, coupled with having a very stuffy nose last night, urged me to take some cold medicine.  It was just some over-the-counter-stuff–you know, the kind that will make one pleasantly drowsy.  I should mention here that with both alcohol and drugs, a little goes a long way with me.  So typically when I take cold-medicine, I forgo the two capsule recommended dosage and just take one.  But last night was different.  I don’t know what brought on the devil-may-care attitude.  Maybe it was my comfy, fuzzy Kermit pants.  Maybe it was the noisy neighbors across the way.  Or perhaps it was just the lateness of the hour.  Whatever it was, it was sufficient enough for me to “go wild” and take the recommended two Alka-Seltzer nighttime cold capsules.

At first, nothing out of the ordinary happened.  I took my turn on a couple of Scrabble games on facebook, spread my quilt upon my bed, and contently settled in for the expected restful night of sleep.  And I did sleep.  For a little bit.  Then, my sleepy train curved around the bend and entered Freaky-ville.  I woke up instantly out of dream sensing that something was wrong.  My legs were upset.  “It must be my blanket,” I thought.  So I sat up and took off the quilt.  While I was sitting up, it occurred to me that the idea of upset legs was silly, so I returned my quilt and laid back down.  But my legs were still perturbed.  I’m not sure how else to describe it.  They wanted to do something–anything–as long as they didn’t have to just lie there.  But my head had other plans.  The top half of me was super drowsy.  But the bottom half?  My bottom half wanted to laugh and jump and pretend to be popcorn on a trampoline.  My legs wanted to be unscrewed from my kill-joy body so that they could do cartwheels in a field of sand, pebbles, or those squishy stress-balls.  My arms wanted to see how far they could stretch between wrist and shoulder.  Across the street?  Around the building?  Up to the sky?  I remember repeating the cycle of “my legs do not like this blanket,” remove blanket, “that was nonsensical,” return blanket, lie back down, “my legs do not like this blanket,”…and so on for a considerable amount of time.  I also remember trying to massage and stretch my legs (and my arms for the times they seemed fairly vexed).  I even got up and walked around.  But my top half was so tired.  Both sides resented each other.

I don’t recall when or how I was able to finally quiet my legs.  But I woke up around 11:00 this morning with my Kermit pants missing, the closet light on, and confusion of how the sun the could rise in the west.  I had an abundant supply of mucous (much more than before) and only a vague recollection of what happened over the course of night.  I went to my medicine cabinet and pulled out the Alka-Seltzer box, covered in warnings and directions to make sure I hadn’t taken too much.  I hadn’t.  “May cause excitability, especially in children” looked back at me.

When I hear the word “excitable,” I think of emotional excitability.  It seems like an innocuous (and subjective) symptom to have.  But physiological excitability is something else all together.  And it’s not nearly as enjoyable.

PS:  Alka-Seltzer, give me back my pants.