In light of recent events…

…I regret to inform you that this will be, not only my final post of 2012, but the final post of this blog entirely.  I will either be starting a new blog in an undisclosed location (feel free to either leave a comment or message me on twitter or email me or whatever if you would like to know if/when that does happen), or I will just keep an old-fashioned journal or working on writing a memoir or working on my graphic novel or some other great work of non-fiction that I will shop around as fiction, or finally sitting down and working on all of those web comics I’ve been thinking about getting started or any other number of ideas that could also probably fit into this run-on sentence.

Having this blog has been wonderful.  Everyone has been so encouraging in my journey in navigating my way through the move from Raleigh to Chicago, starting over as a improvisor in a new city, handling (both greatly and rather poorly) the hardest break up of my life, becoming acclimated to the actual world of working both on and off the stage here, and my many, many, MANY posts about death and how it causes me to maintain weird relationships with friends old and new!  Ooh, and the occasional work of fiction, or shitty free verse poetry inspired by the sounds of the city.

I want to thank you whether you are subscribed reader or a person stumbling onto this blog for the first time, for taking the time to read things.  For all who have commented, your comments always brought a smile to my face.  A few brought tears to my eyes.  I remember distinctly, after writing one of the posts about lacking in confidence in both life and improv, and wanting to be better, reading a comment from someone (shout out to Jay Fralick what whaaaat) and literally tearing up on the Blue Line train because it was such a sweet message.  You’ve all been great.  You’ve all been kind.  I want to hug it out like whoa with you guys.

As 2013 begins, and with a new set of goals and already some intense road blocks ahead of me, I look back on 2012 and see so much joy, pain, anger, happiness, love, sadness, stupidity, and wackiness.  I cannot possibly put into words how much I appreciate that you have all been here with me.  I’m not the best at being open with my feelings and emotions, or with details of my own life and experiences, but this blog and your acceptance has pushed me closer to feeling like a normal person who can carry on conversations about normal(ish) things for extended amounts of time and not feel like I’m forcing people to listen to things they shouldn’t care about.

Growing up, I was always told that I didn’t matter and I was insignificant.  This year, you helped me realize that I was told wrong.  I am eternally grateful for you!

Be excellent to each other,

Jessica

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Cor Res Theatre welcomes local writers, directors, actors and tech designers to participate in an awesome One Act festival – application link included, all are welcome!

Cor Res Theatre is excited to announce our latest project, From Brain to Stage: An Evening of Cor Res One Acts. We welcome local directors, writers, actors, and tech designers to apply to participate in our collaborative process and translate improvised concepts into scripted performances. The two-week process will culminate in an evening showcase, with each resulting piece lasting around 15-20 minutes. If you are interested, please apply here.

You may recall me mentioning Cor Res several months ago as I began the process of working on Armageddon Pie with them.  I was recently asked to become part of the group as a company member, and am ridiclously thrilled to see what the future holds in being part of this group.

If you live in the Chicago area and are interested in being part of the One Acts Festival, apply, ask questions, lemme know, apply!

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The End is Nigh!

Last year I found this website where you can send yourself an email from the past.  It seemed like a fun idea at the time, and I’m not sure who else I sent one of these to so I apologize for the weirdness.  Below, my letter to myself from December 2011:

Dear FutureMe,

Hey, what’s up? I hope you’re still alive. Right now, you’re living in Chicago, washing clothes and cooking Seitan. It’s Sunday. Your spine kind of hurts. I hope you’re still with Alex. If you’re not…what happened? If it was something he did, well then forget about that guy! You’re awesome, so don’t worry. If you’re still together though, disregard that and don’t read this to him even though current (well, past) you thinks that’s a fun idea!

Right now, you’re in Level 3 improv classes at the Annoyance Theatre. What are you doing now? Did you keep up with improv or are you in plays?

Is this email more irritating than anything?

I am not sure I like my job now. Well, you aren’t sure, I mean. But I’m planning on going back to school. Have I done that?

Listen…no matter what happens, you’re pretty awesome. You’ve made it this far, and now you’re 30 and that’s crazy, right? We never thought we’d make it pased like 18. But we did. High five!

Anyhow, I’ve got to check on the laundry, but just remember that you’re cool, and no matter where you are, I love you ok?

Love,

You in 2011

A year ago: In a long term relationship with knowledge that the end is near, thinking about going back to school, in improv class, cooking seitan and approaching a whirlwind battle with depression.

Today: Single, no longer thinking about going back to school, on an improv team/performing in other projects/part of a theatre company/running tech weekly, relying mostly on to-go foods and Trader Joe’s ready made meals (I am not particularly proud of this high sodium lifestyle change), generally upbeat with normal ups and downs with a few moments of managable “wtf” here and there.

2012 has been a year of heartbreak and dissapointment, with tons of amazing events peppered in between to soften the blows.

My friend Shaun sent me the following Kahlil Gibran quote last night, as I was navigating through a very rough patch of life yesterday:

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

nothing

Good.

 

 

 

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Choose Your Own Adventure

Whew.  It’s been a past few weeks, eh?  Yes I left out an adjective, thanks.  These few weeks have been incredibly manic, and most of the time has ranged from joyfully wanting to do cartwheels down Halsted, to the comforting sadness of (thinking about) curling up into a ball at the bottom of my shower (which actually sounds really uncomfortable, but somewhat satisfying).

While there has been a (rather extreme, at times) mixture of bad and good as of late, I have recently been attempting to make a seriously concentrated effort on not flaking out on plans that I make with people.  A little backstory:  I am socially awkward (oh…you’re not surprised?) and as such, when I make plans with people, at first I get really into the idea and then I start coming up with reasons not to go.  What if no one else shows up?  What if people do show up, but I don’t know anyone else there?  What if I say something dumb and immediately become outcast?  What if the entire experience is some clever ruse to get me into a public place and humiliate me a’la Carrie, or lure me into a trap where I’ll be murdered (seriously, anytime I get into a car with someone I can’t help but wonder if I’m being driven to a remote location where I will be tortured and murdered and no one will ever find me*.  I need to never watch torture movies ever again EVER.  Additionally, I don’t know why this thought consistently pops into my head (since high school!)  and maybe we can talk about that later in a less parenthetical environment where I pay you hourly to listen to my problems!).

After thinking of all of these what-ifs, I start to get panicky.  My stomach starts to hurt.  I can’t leave my apartment!  Something outside of my scope of control might happen!  And just like that *snappity-snap*, I cancel all plans.

75% of the time, I would not make it out because I made myself weirdly sick about the whole thing.  This is something I have been working on changing in the past month or so, and I have to say…I’m doing surprisingly well.  I think I have decreased my flakiness by at least 70%.  I feel good about that.  To be fair, there are some nights where there is a ton of stuff going on, so I need to choose one thing.  My default used to be “Choose nothing!  Stay home!” but not so much lately.  I’m getting out there!  I’m spending time with friends!  No one has tried to kill me (yet**)!  Everything’s coming up Milhouse.

Precisely.

I have started wonder if people have questioned the viability of my friendship because of my constant cancellations.  Surely my friends know that I care about them, even if I’m lying in my room watching episodes of Luther instead of having meaningful conversations with actual human beings!  No?  Weird.

Since August 26th, I’ve realized that I need to focus more energy and time on people who really care about me, and who I care about in return.  These are people who certainly have a positive reaction on my quality of life.  August 26th was a stand out day for two very major reasons: 1) I became a Miss Austen and as such, unlocked the “instant awesome and supportive lady friends” acheivement and 2) I had a fatal blow out with my oldest friend that ended with me literally throwing her belongings out of my apartment and with a bloody right hand (accidental glass jar breakage from rage suppression what whaaaaat), whilst subsiquentally scaring the shit out of my roommate’s girlfriend, and myself.  Opening the door to new, awesome friendship and slamming the door whilst screaming at old, toxic friendship to get out of my apartment and my life, made me realize where I was going wrong as a friend and how I could be so much better.

I still have my moments, and there is always going to be oodles of room for improvement on my part.  I still try to push everyone away when something bad happens and I want to shut down my world to avoid ruining other people’s worlds.  I have to say though, and I know this is turning into a “look at me; I am so great!  Bask in me!” post but anyhow (do it!  Baaaaask!)…in the past week my family has been completely torn apart and I haven’t really shrunk away from friends and outings.  In fact, I’ve purposely surrounded myself with a human force field of friends and colleagues to remind me that everything will be ok, even though it is incredibly uncomfortable and even if I don’t know what to do in regards to that part of my life.  While I have no utter idea how to handle the family situation (and as such, am pretty much not doing anything because I honestly don’t know, but maybe it’s better not to do anything?  Though recent correspondence would lead me to believe otherwise), my friendships and other relationships are thriving and that typical pit of dispair and depression remains closed.

Everything is going to be ok.  I am precisely where I need to be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to meet some friends for brunch.

 

*Now that you have this information, please also know that I know karate and I kick hard.  I will go all River Tam on you if necessary, potential murdery person!

**Plz dont kthx

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And In the End…

And In the End...

My favorite picture: Grandma as a little girl. She still had that same smile when I saw her in October.

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Ear Plugs

I wrote this 152 days ago, per Google Drive.  I’m not really sure what to do with it so here:

With ear plugs in, I listen to my heart beating.  I hear the sounds of nothing, white noise trapped in my head and bouncing around through my brain.  I block you out, the outside world.  Let me sleep.  Let me hear nothing but what makes me live.  I stand up slowly and move with sweeping motions.  I’m not underwater but observe my fluidity and you might think otherwise.   I crack my neck, the loudest pops you’ve ever imagined, the white noise inside of my skull interrupted briefly by the crisp snaps of my vertebrae. I don’t want to fucking hear you right now.  I know you’re out there and now is not the time for your noise.

At some point in the night, I wake up.  I hear you.  My nosey brain coerced my hands to remove the plugs from my ears at some point in the night.  Brain, you son of a bitch.  Making a grand gesture, a gesture of supposed freedom, when I’m not paying attention.  I hear cars revving their engines, the over compensatory call of the wild.  I hear girls who drank too much on a weeknight wailing for their friend, boyfriend, anyone.  I hear an unknown neighbor fucking above me and feel dirty and curious.

The next day I’ll get my revenge on my stupid brain by forcing a different kind of ear plug into my ears.  These ear plugs will assault my brain with the sounds I love, lulling my brain into an unsuspecting state of bliss.  Occasionally I’ll want to dance but I’ve got somewhere to be, and don’t trust my fellow pedestrians to move fast enough out of my way, nor will this body be able to conjure the Astaire-like moves I wish it would.  It is almost time for me to fucking hear you.  I know you’re out there and now is not quite yet the time for your noise.

After a while, I wake up.  I now have to hear you.  My foolish brain has now been tricked, from dancing in my skull to walking into a tall, angry building.  Brain, you son of a bitch.  Focusing on numbers and words that it wouldn’t give a shit about if it never had to see them again.  Pulling its weight and paying my bills.  Reminding me to smile when talking on the phone.  Reminding me to be friendly and courteous.  I know you’re out there, and now, you may make noise.

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10/20/2012 · 10:08 PM

How did I get here?

Jesus Christ.  It’s been really long time since I have written anything and I feel badly about that…mostly because I used to update so frequently and now I’m like “uhhuh…blog…I’m busy.”  During the day, I work like a mad woman, editing and emailing and fielding calls and figuring out how to fix people’s problems and make their days a little bit sunnier.  It’s actually a lot of fun, even if that sentence didn’t quite capture the essence I was going for.  I do quite enjoy everything about the job…with the exception of the occasion terrible phone call (or rather…terrible person on the other end of the phone, call).  At night, I have been…jeeez.  Guys I’ve been busy.  I’ve had the past few weeks off from SM’ing Potential Boyfriends and I’ve STILL been all over the place.  Armageddon Pie (the play I was in) closed last night.  It was a great run and while I’m sad it’s over, I’m also glad it’s over.  Putting 6 months(+) into a project is exhausting.  Awesome…but exhausting.

I am now taking the energy from A.P. and putting that into finally..FINALLY..pursuing my childhood dream of doing stand up.  Yep.  I know I’ve been talking about it for a really long time to anyone who’ll listen, but I’m starting to go forth and watch and write and prepare myself for the day I add my name to a list to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and make them laugh without the aid of an improv team.

I cannot wait to fail.  Hear me out!  I’m not being self-depricating.  I swear.

I went to an open mic night on Monday night at the ComedySports Theatre.  Well, I went to the show before it, too, but my main goal was to see how the open mic nights work.  It’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be, and as I sat and listened to these people who were either doing stand up for the first time, or trying out new material, I started getting ideas for fleshing out jokes that I’d previously thought of.  I scribbled furiously (I love that mental image…I wasn’t not angry but my brain screeched out words to my hand like a madman! (My brain’s a dude?)) as they told their jokes.  I thought about how it must feel to step onto the stage and wrap my hand around the mic (I tried to not make that sound like a sexual thing but there’s really no way to do that).  I imagined looking out into the audience, making eye contact with someone, and beginning my set.

My set.

And I thought about the audience laughing, or not laughing.

The things is, and I already know this, but you’re not going to be able to make everyone laugh.  And, if you do make someone laugh, it might not even be the kind of laugh you’re looking for.  It might be a “HA!” laugh like “YOU SUCK AT THIS!” or “THAT WAS STUPID; GET OFF THE STAGE!” instead of a “YOU ARE GENUINELY FUNNY AND SMART AND WITTY!” laugh which you know, would be really awesome to get those but it’s pah-retty impossible to guarantee that.

And that’s fine!  You can’t learn if people are constantly slapping you on the back and telling you how great you are.  Well you can…but..well no…Ahhhh I’ve gone and confused myself.  But you know what I mean.  If no one failed, then no one would learn.  “If at first you don’t succeed…” is a cliche for reason, and a a great cliche at that!

I want to bomb so I can get that over with and think to myself “Hey…that wasn’t great, but you did it, and you lived.”

My plan is that I am going to hit up a few more open mic nights to check them out and build up my confidence a bit more.  I’m going to work on my onstage persona and map out a few more jokes.  I find that writing actual jokes doesn’t work for me, but when I map out the course of a joke, I get where I need to go.  Improv helps, my friends.  I know what I want to tell you, but it’s going to change a bit here and there each time.  That seems normal.

I want to leave you with what is hands down my favorite recent episode of This American Life.  The first story of THIS EPISODE features Tig Notaro, who I think is incredibly funny, and has a great voice and stage presence.  When I listened to that episode, it reminded me that people want more than just silly jokey-jokes from stand ups.  It reminded me of the ever-present Truth in Comedy mantra that is shoved down improviser’s throats and sucked out of their wallets.  Audiences relate to pain as much as they relate to elation.   Sharing our lives and experiences make us feel better, and knowing that someone else knows how you feel is amazing.  It’s the real things, the big scary things, the little weird things, that captivate people and let them know they’re not alone.  So rarely these days are we connecting on a person-to-person level, it seems.

Let me touch you.  I really, really want to touch you*.

*That was intentionally sexy…and awkward!.

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