Sister Suffragette

Sister Suffragette

This year I’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day… with a brand new Birth Control!

That’s right kids. I’m taking charge of my reproductive health. A woman can make these decisions, you know. It’s a thing now. I was inspired to write about it due to a HuffPo piece this week.  Women have been sharing their stories online about Oral Contraceptives using #MyPillStory, and I wanted to add my voice.

I started taking the pill way before I was sexually active. I struggled with painful cycles in middle school, so my mother (talk about a smart woman) took me to my first visit with an OB/GYN at 12. Before this visit, Mom had always come into the room with me during appointments, but this time she let me go on my own. I was nervous, but Dr. Yen was patient and clear. She was the first doctor who talked to me like an adult who was capable of making my own decisions.

I started taking birth control and felt a change immediately. I had lighter, shorter, and less painful cycles. They were more predictable. I wasn’t concerned with using The Pill for contraceptive reasons, so I wasn’t as important for me to take it at the same hour/minute precisely each day.

I stopped taking it my senior year of highschool (still pre-sexual activity), mainly due to finding that I no longer needed it to help with my cycles. I knew it was an option that worked for me if I ever needed to return to it. When I became sexually active in college, I began taking it again, in addition to using condoms with my partners. I wanted to make damn sure there was no fear about babies or STDs. I’ve gone on and off The Pill without much issues, but I’ve hardly been consistent with taking it at the same time each day. I explored the nuva ring for a time, but I didn’t like it for reasons.

This past year, my husband and I started having sex sans condoms for the first time. To calm my child-free paranoia, I have been more consistent with The Pill. There are still days however when I forget it in the morning rush to get out the door, or weekends when I sleep in and don’t end up taking it until 4 hours after my time. I’m frustrated with the inflexibility of this method. I don’t think anyone wants to be a slave to The Pill. After much deliberation and discussion with my heaven-sent adult OB/GYN Dr. Baer, I will be starting a new method on Mother’s Day. A Etonogestrel contraceptive implant. I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

The Spark of Creation

The Spark of Creation

I’ve been doing some soul searching, folks. A bulk of my time has been devoted to staring into the abyss. Here’s what I have to say: The Abyss is abysmal, and either get busy livin’ or get busy dying.

In my youth (which I still claim) I spent the entirety of my time outside school devoted to performance art. When I wasn’t in class, you could find me in audition or rehearsal. If I wasn’t cast, I would volunteer to be at every rehearsal regardless. That is how I began to stage manage.

I stage managed at least one show a year at Clark, and usually another at Edison  highschool. When I went to college I declared a double major in Technical Theatre and Acting/Directing, and I Stage Managed the first show my freshman year (which was The Screams of Kitty Genovese, an opera based on the true 1964 story of New Yorker Kitty Genovese who was stabbed to death outside her home while 38 neighbors watched from their windows). It was important for me to stage manage The Screams of Kitty Genovese because I wanted to be in the rehearsal room whether or not I was cast (I wasn’t, though I killed my audition and earned some respect as the only freshman to make it through to callbacks for the role of Betty) – and stage managing meant I could observe. I was lucky to be at a university that fostered my interests in both ways – many universities would have directed me one way or another. There are those that argue that SE did me a disservice by allowing me to declare both a tech and performance major. Perhaps it would have been better for me to come against the decision earlier in my career, but I am thankful I got to explore both paths to their fullest extent.

I think I’m a good stage manager. I run a tight room in a nurturing way. I take my job seriously, but with a lighter touch than some Stage Managers. I will admit, that sometimes I need a heavier hand. There’s always room for improvement. But I do my best and I’m proud of the work I do.

I moved to Chicago to perform, but fell back to stage management pretty quickly. And why not? The shows I’ve worked on have been interesting and wonderful experiences. I live my life by the rule “never stop learning” and I have accomplished that in every project I do. Hell, I worked on my first world-premier show (with the playwright in the room) this year. Every experience is a learning experience and I’m thankful to work with talented professionals who keep me learning.

When Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All closes, I will be taking a hiatus from stage management. I’m certain that this decision is right for me, but it’s bittersweet. I’m humbled and grateful for all the blessings in my life. I have the spark of creation and I’m looking forward to fostering it in other avenues.

 

 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

When I was informed by my staffing agency that my previous project no longer had use for me, I was upset. It was supposed to be a temp-to-perm position that decided they wanted to go another direction – through no fault of my own. The stress ate up my stomach (quite literally – I developed ulcers in the months following and had to take an emergency trip to the hospital) and caused a tremendous amount of grief. I spent time wondering what I had done to get myself in that position, blaming myself and taking quite a blow. Months of therapy later, I was finally able to see that I had no power over the situation. The only power I have is how I choose to react to it.

My staffing agency found me a position here and a position there, but nothing semi-permanent, just a string of day-assignments. I like day-assignments honestly, but my bank account doesn’t. Not knowing where the next assignment would be coming from was stressful too, and my body wasn’t recovered enough to deal with it. So I would go to assignments when they were available, and spend days without assignments filling out job applications and going to therapy.

Over the next few months I would work for this one company in Chicago – and the assignment was pretty sweet if I must admit. It was a Receptionist position – Greeting guests, answering calls, date-stamp the mail, look pretty, all things I was good at. And the people I worked with were wonderful – the office manager especially. We really clicked. Over the two months, I maybe worked there 10 or so times – they kept calling my agency and requesting me.

And then they made me an offer.

I felt like I had won the lottery. After months of worry, finally I had my big break! More responsibilities, a job title, benefits, the whole package – they respected me. And I am so very loyal because of how wonderful this company is to me. This is how you do business, people. Keep your employees happy and they will work hard for you. Today is my first month anniversary of working with these amazing people, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s to many more!

The Earth and Other Minor Things

So my weeklong experiment turned into a 20 week experiment, but I think my hypothesis has been tested to it’s fullest extent and results were inconclusive. It is important to remember (both in science and in life) that experiments do not fail when your hypothesis turns out to be incorrect. The grand experiment is, well, life. You try this, you try that. Problem is there isn’t really a control group, so it’s hard to say what works and what doesn’t.

To be honest, these twenty weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. March went out like a lion. April sighed and stepped aside. Along came pretty little May. June busted out all over. And here we are in July – older and wiser than we were yesterday, but still young and naïve. And you know what, it’s okay. What’s the big rush? Why am I hurrying? Who’s timeline am I following here? I want to make the most of the time I am given. I’m intimidated by my own mortality. So it’s hard for me to not worry – I’m full of anxieties and neurosis. And you know what? So is everyone else. Some just handle theirs better than others.

My own anxieties manifested in ways I didn’t expect. Anecdotal proof that mental health is linked to physical health. I enlisted some help to get well. (Thanks, Obama!) I realized that I couldn’t achieve my goals in that state. My current focus is to be kind to myself – stop my own self abuse. It’s going to be a long road to recovery but I have faith in my doctors and finally myself. Mistakes are a wonderful way to learn a lesson. The experiment only fails if you give up.

Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Make Me Stronger

Sometimes I start to blog and then ask myself “what do I really have to say?” Narcissism can be the historian’s curse (Gag!) I know that sounds self-inflating, but hear me out: I journal/blog/what-have-you because I’m obsessed about history and my own place in it. I want a legacy. (as if a blog is a legacy, hah!)

I’m not sure if this is healthy or not, but it keeps me motivated and I don’t see any direct harm in it.

However it means I often feel the need to fill silence with my own voice, and it’s a habit I don’t always admire. It’s nervous chatter most time, adding nothing to the conversation or the matter at hand. I want to experiment in allowing silence to be natural.  So this next week I’m going to focus on active listening and observing. I’m curious to see what, if any, changes occur.

I have a theory. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Extraordinary

Interrobang Theatre Project‘s The Pitchfork Disney is a triumph. British playwright Philip Ridley’s “gothic fairy tale” centers around two siblings who after years in hiding meet a sinister couple, Cosmo Disney and Pitchfork Cavalier. Treading a the waters between a dream and a nightmare, Interrobang’s production has earned praise from audiences and critics throughout Chicago – including a Jeff recommendation. To put it plainly, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this show.

Aislinn Kerchaert and Fred Geyer are flawless as Hayley and Presley. (Photos by Emily Schwartz)

Aislinn Kerchaert and Fred Geyer are flawless as Haley and Presley. (Photo by Emily Schwartz)

It is the highest compliment I can give this production to say that it almost made me sick. Everything is so uniquely unsettling. Haley (Aislinn Kerchaert) and Presley (Fred Geyer) are two halves of a whole – twins playing off each other with kenetic energy that reminded me of Newton’s Cradle with it’s give and take nature.

Technically, the show is perfectly balanced – credit going to director Jeffry Stanton’s extreme eye for detail. Nothing and everything seems out of place in this surreal play. I was particularly impressed with choices of Lighting Designer, Claire Chrzan and Sound Designer, Christopher M. LaPorte – not forgetting Scenic Designer, Stephen Carmody’s playground of texture.

Costume Designer, Noel Huntzinger creates a brilliant look for Hayley and Presley, but really impresses with the chilling costumes for Cosmo Disney and Pitchfork Cavaliere, played by the talented Kevin Webb and Mark Lancaster respectively. Lancaster’s harrowing howl was particularly memorable – and Webb commands the space with a brilliant confidence. It is difficult to pry your eyes off of him at times, but when you do you are thrilled to be met with Geyer’s performance as Presley – who commands his own sort of child-like power in his struggle to regain control of the fever-dream script.

The Pitchfork Disney plays from Feb 6th to March 2nd. Tickets are $10-20 and are available for purchase at http://www.athenaeumtheatre.org/ or by calling the Anhenaeum’s Box Office at 773-935-6875.

Cross the Line

Cross the Line

In the interest of my own sanity, I present the following. I felt like I would like to share the following thoughts I’ve been pressed with. Allison et. al. would tag this post as one of my many debbie-downer moments, but I don’t think anyone I know/love would discount wanting to voice the following concerns.

I sat with a girl on the rush-hour bus who looked EXACTLY like Dallas, a high-school friend who died after a drunk driver hit her car many, many years ago. This woman could have been her twin, it was strange to be reminded of my old friend and come face-to-face with her memory after all these years. What would she be doing now, I wondered, where would her life take her if it weren’t for that awful accident? And then, a deep seeded guilt came to me – who am I to consider these things? What am I doing to make my own life worthwhile?

I won’t go too much into the gory details but the silver lining about thoughts like this is that they have the power to motivate me to correct past behavior and really do something.

It starts with me cleaning/organizing – which is the best way to procrastinate in my opinion, because afterwards you get a feeling you actually accomplished something and you have a happy work space to complete other goals. So then you work a little on your resume, while simultaneously responding to job postings and writing cover letters. Send a few out, look for more postings, send out a few more, look for more postings… Being unemployed is a full time job if you’re doing it right. Pound the pavement, bring in more applications, rinse and repeat. Take a yoga break every now and then and then make more coffee.

After it all is said and done, what else can you do?

I just remind myself to be thankful that I’m still alive. What are the odds that I was even born in the first place? It is okay to feel small sometimes when reminded of the sheer impossibility of our existence, but you cannot allow that feeling of insignificance to make you retreat – then you just assure the feelings of futility. And here’s a secret, everyone feels that way every now and then.

But I am here, world. I’m not dead (yet) and I’m happy to be here for as long as I possibly can. I’m happy you’re here with me too.

Being Alive

It is the first day of a new year, which is always celebrated in twofold – both by looking back and reflecting on lessons the last year taught me and by looking forward to lessons the new one will bring. I’d like to start by writing an open letter to the year two thousand and thirteen. You can read last year’s reflections if you need a catch-up.


Love's Labour's Lost2013, we became fast friends. I started the year with directing a production of William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost at Clark Youth Theatre. The cast amused and amazed me every night at rehearsals, and I looked forward to every moment spent working with the text, cast, and crew. As I locked up the building each night I would pinch myself to remind myself that it was real. What an enjoyable experience. I also spent the late winter/spring working with students of the performing arts at Henthorne, with all kinds of kids that had creativity that I envied and encouraged. I think of them often.

As spring came to a close, Max and I prepared for a big move: Chicago. Ah, Chicago – a city that can be both romantic and gritty, often at the same time. The move was the hard, I’ll admit. I don’t need to tell you how sentimental I can be, and I had grown very attached to my life in Tulsa. While packing one of what felt like a million boxes, I would think to myself “what am I doing? This is it. I have a dream-job, a wonderful support group of friends and family, why the hell am I leaving it behind?!” ChicagolandTo be honest, sometimes I still think those things. I would stop and take a deep breath and try to capture the moment I was in, the way the sunlight felt on the balcony overlooking the river or the shave-and-a-haircut knock that meant someone loved me. We tried to Mecca and Zach at Sidetracksfit it all in, every place that we called our own. We flew into town for two days in June, hoping to find a home and start a lease on July 1st. It was a whirlwind, something that excited me and terrified me alone… but with Max it never was never overwhelming. We worked as a team, made things happen for ourselves, and all the puzzle pieces seemed to fall into place. It was a ballet.

We came home to Chicago on Sunday, June 30th, with a motley crew of movers we call our friends. Let me just say that we wouldn’t have been able to move without the help of our friends. They helped us pack and load the cars and trailers. Some even drove with us overnight to Chicago to arrive just as the sun was rising to unpack it all. We had a week with the gang in the city, celebrating our arrival in the city in the best way possible. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but we were so concerned with making the most of our time that I didn’t want to waste the time.

I'm Getting Married!Max asked me to marry him on July 3rd. We had spent the evening at Revolution Brewery, playing shuffleboard, taking a tour of the brewery, and having a great dinner. We came back to the apartment to continue celebrations. Max was suspicious but I didn’t really expect it and when the moment came and he asked the question, I couldn’t see him because I was crying so hard and I could hardly answer. Well, you must know by now that I said yes – and we are so happy to spend our life together.

Chicago sang a love song throughout the Summer and Fall. We had bright fireworks at night in July, music from the street festivals reaching our ears from the open windows, delicious foods and wonderful beers. Big smiles with Noël! When we weren’t busy being in love we looked for employment and learned the CTA. Max was hired with P.F. Changs (symmetrically – he was also working for them in Tulsa when we first started dating… you know how sentimental I am!) and I found employment with the agency City Staffing. I’m currently on assignment at Groupon’s customer service, and I enjoy my work there.

I finished the year by directing another show, Deck Your Own Friggin’ Halls, which was only a little removed from The Bard’s work I did in January. It was presented by Hobo Junction and was a member of a fantastic new-work 10-minute-play festival they do annually called Hobo Robo. I was honored to be invited to participate and extremely happy with the process with my fantastic cast! I hope to work with them all again in 2014 and beyond.

I thought that my return to Tulsa for the holidays would quench my homesickness. It did to some degree, but it was all too familiar and different at the same time. It was amazing to see the city in person again after being there in my dreams ever so often. We’ll be returning soon to look at wedding venues (!) and begin some sort of planning towards our day.

Can I just say how thankful I am that I knew you, 2013? You were amazing to me, and I’ll never forget you.

And now we find ourselves in 2014. I have high hopes, but above all I’m just so grateful. I mean, gosh… Yeah.

And They’re Off

Rehearsals begin today for Deck Your Own Friggin’ Halls, a show that will make it’s premier in HOBO ROBO 6: Hobos Roasting on an Open Fire at the Greenhouse Theatre Center.  I’ll be the first to admit that it has been a while since I’ve directed adults, but I have come to the conclusion that I direct children in the same way I direct adults. Maybe I tame down my language, but I can’t bring myself to talk down to anyone, no matter the age. If you’re in a show that I’m directing then you’re getting the same amount of respect as everyone else. We’re all peers in this room, we’re all working to create the best show we can.

Party don’t stop, y’all.