Friday, May 27, 2011

Stinky Cheese

The first time I was on the radio I sang a song about stinky cheese.

In a British man’s voice.

It was my first gig out of college and I played the title character in the children's musical The Stinky Cheese Man.

I’d spent four years studying Shakespeare and Brecht and post-colonial theatre and my first big job was playing aged Gouda.

Thankfully, this time on air went a little better.

Probably because I didn’t sing.

A few days ago, my friend/writing partner, Noah and I were interviewed on the comedy podcast, Second Column. I talked about maxi-pads, Cobbers, and why I always play crazy girls.

And while we didn’t talk about post-colonial theatre, I still felt a lot better about this one.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crazy Train

I’ve been a little lonely lately.

Which sounds ridiculous as I am constantly surrounded by people.

But I just need someone to take the reigns. It feels like I am driving a crazy train and really need a break but no one knows how to drive.

Last night at work, I was feeling sorry for myself.

I had worked two other jobs that day, was still worried about paying my rent, and so tired I seriously thought I just might lay down in the storage closet next to the extra napkins.

My first table was a woman around my age. I asked her if anyone else was joining her and she looked up at me and smirked.

No. It’s just me. I don’t have any significant other or husband or boyfriend to eat with me. Just. Me.

I smiled uncomfortably and tried to maker her feel better.

I hear you. I don’t have a boyfriend either. But who needs ‘em!

I noticed her empty wine glass.

How about I get you a glass of wine?!

She looked at me for a second.

I can’t. I’m pregnant.


Well, shit.

I stared at her – unsure of what to do. Was it part of her plan or a giant mistake? I decided to err on the side of joy.

Congratulations!!! That is so great!

I tried to keep the subtle “RIGHT???” out of my voice.

She smiled.

Thanks. I’m ten weeks. It’s my ex-boyfriend’s.


Dammit, Los Angeles.

Just when I’m settling in to feeling sorry for myself you have a way of slapping me in the face.


But deep down I know LA is right. It could be a lot worse.

At least the only mouth I have to feed is my own.

At least I’m not homeless or sick or dying.

And when it really comes down to it, I’m not as alone on the crazy train as I think I am. There are a lot of co-pilots.

Like all of these people.

I spent a good portion of last week writing ‘thank you’ notes to those who have donated to Book Club. That photo doesn’t even represent half of the people we wrote to.

Sometimes I pull out that picture just to remind myself how lucky I am. There are a lot of people that care about me. And more than that – believe in me.

I have people who love me.

Who donate their own money to my projects.

Who would take me out to eat if I was recently dumped and pregnant.

And if for no other reason than that they believe in me, I put my shoulders back, grip the wheel, and keep that train moving forward.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Because I Didn't Send A Card

I weighed almost eleven pounds when I was born.

And I was three weeks early.

Three weeks.

But dammit, I was ready for the world and something like a silly due date was not going to keep me from starting my life!

Because I was so early, my skin had not fully developed and it was yellow and flaky. I had dark hair, swollen limbs, and my eyes were even more squinty than they are now.

In other words, I WAS A LOOKER.

I was so large I could hardly fit in the plastic hospital bassinet. When my mom would wander down the hall to look at me through the glass, there would be a crowd staring at all the new babies. And every time, their comments went a little something like this:

Ohhh…look at all the cute new babies. They are so little and precious and – OH MY GOD! Look at that goliath baby over there!! IT’S HUGE! And what’s wrong with its skin?

At this point my mom would always turn to them and, with all the pride only a new mother can muster, say:

That’s my little girl.

That’s the thing about my mom. Even when everyone in the world didn’t know what to think of me, Mom would gather me up and tell me I was beautiful.

When I was five I had to get glasses. The only pair we could find were much too big for my face. My Mom told me I looked smart.

When I got older my two front teeth fell out, I was rocking the ever-popular bowl-cut, and I wore only neon colors and jean hats. My mom told me I was original.

You might think that giving me confidence that was disproportionate to my looks was the best thing she ever did for me.

You would be wrong.

It was taking me to the theater.

Growing up in a small town there wasn’t a lot of theatre – unless you count the Fourth Grade’s annual Christmas play.

About once a year we would make the six-hour journey to the giant city of Minneapolis, MN to see a show – from The Sound Of Music to Miss Saigon, Three Sisters to The Lion The Which And The Wardrobe she was constantly reminding me to be proud of my small farming community but to also remember that there was a big, beautiful world out there worth exploring.

Little did she know that my mind was opening up to this world of magic more than she expected.

She should have known when I started creating my own movies and forcing her to sit through my one woman show about the Tooth Fairy that I was starting to take this theater thing a little too seriously.

When I announced to my parents that I was going to study Fiction Writing and Theatre Arts in college they each had a small heart attack. My mom (a woman who started out as a part-time bank teller and fought her way through a lot of shit to become the president of a bank) had imagined a different route for her daughter.

We had a few ‘heated discussions’ about the topic. I used to think she was trying to ‘stifle my dreams.’ I was not a banker or a farmer or a businesswoman. I WAS AN ARTIST!

But eventually I realized she wasn’t trying to get in the way of my dreams.

She just wanted to protect me.

She recognized that the path I had chosen would be a difficult one. One that would take a lot of heartache, studio-apartment-living, and vodka.

She was worried that her sensitive daughter (the little girl who had cried when her parents sold the Jeep Grand Cherokee because she thought it had a soul) wouldn’t be able to hold up under all the heartache.

My mom wanted an easier path for her only daughter.

And in a way, she was right to be worried. I am tired. And it is hard.

But it’s also full of rewards and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

The reason I’ve been able to get through it with some semblance of sanity is because I have a woman with red hair and unshakable love cheering in my section.

A woman who taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be in this life.

A woman I see in myself every time I meet a new challenge with fire and determination.

If I ever have an eleven pound daughter with flaky skin, I hope I can be half the woman my mom is.

And if one day my daughter tells me she wants to become a member of the Tea Party and her only goal in life is to work for the Internal Revenue Service, I hope I can do what my mom did.

Recognize that while it is not what I would have dreamed for her, it is still worth supporting.

Because it’s her dream.

Thanks for teaching me what love looks like, Mom.

You’re one hell of a woman to look up to.