Saturday, September 30, 2017

Is there a word that's stronger than "loathing"?

"Told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump"

You know what can cause petulant egocentric paranoia? Late-stage syphilis.

Hindsight ...


in name only

?

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

as seen across Greene Square and through some random wedding party from the rooftop garden terrace of the Cedar Rapids Public Library

Brilliant Idea For Co-Authoring A Book: First Concepting Meeting

Friday, September 29, 2017

Grant Wood's Veterans Memorial stained-glass window, Veterans Memorial Building. 11:20 pm.

36:39! Fourth in my age group, yo!

You have NO idea how hard it is to take a black-light post-Glo-Run-5K bro selfie in the dark with clammy hands that shows your medals, looks reasonably in focus and makes me look like catnip to the ladies.

Glo Run, yo!

Let the record show I'm wearing festive colors and my necklace glows. Someone else whose name I won't say to protect his dignity showed up apparently for the Goth Run.

Oh, the Price of surrounding yourself with "only the best people"

#SoMuchWinning
#OopsIMean
#SoMuchFailing
Praise #MAGA!

Who wore it best?


Tickets: One Man, Two Guvnors

Flashback Friday: Twinkling Into the Distance Edition

This used to be my living room, with northern Chicago twinkling off into the distance and a teaspoon of Lake Michigan off to the right if you pressed your face really close to the window. Plus it had artful uplighting. Because as we all know, indirect lighting is the hallmark of a civilized society.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Reason #947 to come see One Man, Two Guvnors:

We have sexy prop money.

One show name that's finally on the marquee, two chins

I've had another bipolar depressive episode

Another [STRING OF BLISTERING EXPLETIVES] bipolar depressive episode. It was bad enough to make me miss work and stay in bed all morning. That's two in six days. Usually they're more than a month apart. Usually I can fight my way through more than half of them.

Usually I come out of them with a hopeful attitude that each one makes me stronger and teaches me how to better manage the next one.

Two episodes in six days. I know intellectually that things like this can happen when the dosages of my meds get changed. But emotionally I feel so defeated. And scared that I'll lose control like I did three years ago.

I'm not always brave about this. Not right now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

#dotards

Republicans made Kim Davis a hero for voicing her beliefs at work, and because they agreed with those beliefs they pushed or dragged (or both) her into making them into a political statement. 

Now they're whining and cursing filling their diapers because other people are voicing their beliefs at work and making them into a political statement -- and THESE beliefs are ones that Republicans disagree with so hatefully that they're deliberately misinterpreting them into a narrative that other infantile Republicans can rally behind.

I hate Republicans.

One Man, Two Guvnors, Three Hundred Times I Call "Line!"

I defy anyone -- ANYONE! -- to memorize the line "What's a decent drink for a geezer like you for a day's graft?" and cough it up on-demand on a stage full of actors waiting expectantly for you to stumble through those land mines of jumbled d- and g-words so they can carry on with the part of the dialogue that actually might make sense on this continent.

And, scene.

Chalky pinstripes on worsted wool paired with orange camo on canvas twill

Don't try this at home, people. Only at rehearsal. And only under the auspices of a licensed professional.

Barbie Dream Bordello® bathroom accessories!

Fun fact: I once spent 375 years taping off and stenciling silvery-white Deco stripes on the walls and very high ceiling of my bathroom. And since the ceiling was so high I also hung a crystal-beaded Barbie Dream Bordello® chandelier from it. The effect was ... gay. But at least my shoulders ended up hurting so much I couldn't even put my hands in the air like I didn't care

Guess who's at the dentist with a mouthful of chronic neglect and semi-annual shame!

Monday, September 25, 2017

The older I get, the more I turn into a fondue fountain at a wedding reception

This is the sweat that dripped off of my who knows where (elbows? nose? shoulders? can sweat even technically drip off of shoulders?) and landed in big enough splats that it didn't evaporate during four sets of heavy squats this morning. I'm my own personal sweat lodge. I'm the Nijakera Falls. I'm a melting seahorse ice sculpture at the center of an Icelandic vodka tasting. I'm also still single, Ladies. And I know how you dames love a man who sweats all over your floors so you have a reason to use your new Wonder Mops.

Also: super-cute shoes!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

My alma mater and my mater

Siri, you know I'm IN Iowa City

Is your last name Trump?

White shoes.

After Labor Day.
And IN YO FACE!

It's apparently National Punctuation Day 

And I'm celebrating by posting a picture of our grammar plate in the hopes that it will be a catalyst for launching a National Grammar Plate Day.
In the mean time, here's a friendly Punctuation Day reminder from me to you: You are issued a mere 25 exclamation points each diacritical year. That's two per month plus a birthday wildcard. Use your exclamation points judiciously. Once they're gone, you are rendered exclamation-pointless until the beginning of the next diacritical year. If you get convicted of exclamation abuse in that time, you'll serve a very long sentence. Ahem.

Friday, September 22, 2017

I made it to 12

I tell myself I always know when a bipolar depressive episode is hitting me. I get achingly tired, but I also get TIRED. Despondent. Hoarse. Blurry. I can feel myself teetering off the precipice, but once I gauge the velocity of the free-fall, I know whether I can at least fight it or if I just have to give in, hide under the pillows and wait out the drenching storm. But at least I KNOW.

This morning I woke up profoundly exhausted. So I did my usual things that help pull me out of a rough morning fog: talk to my parents, eat something sweet, play on Facebook, start the momentum of my day by getting dressed for the gym and packing up my clothes for work. But ... nothing. I didn't feel like I was depressed, but I just couldn't un-tired myself.

My doctors have been making minute changes to the dosages of my psych meds since early summer (and if you've never had a cut-up fourth of a tiny, chalky little pill completely short-circuit your brain, you look like you're frolicking in the warm sunshine from the foggy window I've been peering through off and on for the last few months) and I've had plenty of exhausted mornings because of it. Again, in those instances either I've tried to push through and wander about the motions of my day or turn off the lights and hope I can sleep without the bipolar-attendant nightmares.

Today I gave in. I emailed my boss, I set my alarm for noon on the off chance all I needed was a half day of sleep and curled up in a ball. I could tell I was on the upswing when my alarm saved me from the amorphous demons prowling around in my dreams, but -- as is becoming the new pattern -- I couldn't gauge when or even how I was going to arrive back at normal. I just didn't KNOW.

Depression is not sadness. It's not a lack of happiness. The verbs "choose" and "decide" and "control" don't have anything to do with making it happen or making it go away. Depression is misfiring synapses and out-of-code wiring and we're still learning what else that cause fog and blur and despondency and sandbags and wet wool blankets wrapped around our heads and emotive responses that are completely unrelated to and sometimes completely inappropriate for the situations and environments and world around us. It's stupid. It's destructive. It's embarrassing. It's time-wasting and pain-causing and life-destroying.

It's exhausting. I'm exhausted. I'm STILL exhausted.

And the compass I've been using to steer my ship out of my exhaustion is suddenly fixed to new magnetic poles. And I don't know where they are. I can search for them only when I'm having a depressive episode, and I haven't located them yet. I. Just. Can't. Find. Them.

My life is pretty awesome right now. I'm surrounded by family and friends who love and support me. I have a job I love working for an understanding boss and a company I respect. I'm taking on writing projects that are big and small and fun and high-profile and just-because and I'm relishing every word of them. I'm not just doing tons of really awesome theater, but I also finally feel confident that I'm actually contributing to what's making it good. The city I grew up in and just came back to and will always love is rising from the destruction of a catastrophic flood to experience a full-on renaissance in everything from architecture to culture to public amenities to recreation to community redevelopment, and I love taking small detours and out-of-the-way routes and the time to stop and take pictures just so I can try to see and learn about it all. Plus I keep getting told I don't look anywhere near my age. Which when you're my age is HUGE.

Like all bipolar depressives past, present and hopefully not much longer into the future, I tell myself that I won't let my depression control me, that I won't allow it to interfere with my life, that I'm better and stronger and more willful than it is, that I'll never let it win. And through pharmaceutical powers whose lingering uncertainties and dartboard guesswork sometimes feel almost Medieval, through a potent mix of hope and willpower and sometimes desperation, through the immeasurably therapeutic benefits of broadcasting all my battles on social media and my blog, through the light that eventually pierces the fog to remind me about the wondrous life that awaits me when I get back to my normal -- and especially through the tireless and certifiably saintly effort and devotion and support of my mom and the rest of my family -- I've learned and I'm going to keep re-learning as the poles change how to manage this ... if not beat it.

After years and years of bipolar episodes that left me hidden in my bed, I still always feel guilty when I miss a day of work because of one. But it happens. And it's going to keep happening. And it happened today. Even though as of this writing the fog has cleared enough for me to write ten (and counting!) paragraphs about it, I'm still not sure what exactly happened today or where it falls on the exhaustion-depression continuum or what I was able to learn from it that I can use when the time comes to fight my way out of or give in to or maybe just try to manage the next episode.

But I have that awesome life to live. And I have that wonderful, fun, creative, educational job to go to. And I have lines to learn and music to memorize and tap classes to take and show tunes to listen to. And I have people counting on me. And I want to be there for them, for whatever it is they're counting on me for. So even though I'm still foggy and still trying to suss out a viable coping mechanism from today's episode, I'm up and moving and participating as hard as I can so I don't miss a moment of anything.

And this one-sentence closing paragraph takes the count to twelve.

Flashback Friday: Mall Portraiture Edition

I honestly have no idea what I was thinking with that floofy hair and those dinner-plate glasses ... or what possessed my family to let me leave the house looking like a bar mitzvah clown. The only redeeming element of this family picture was our idea to show off our higher-education pride by wearing our college sweatshirts, which the mall photographer clearly screwed up. But here we are: my family circa 1995. My hair circa Carol Brady.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shhhhh!

I'm secretly taking dreadfully artistic, rakishly asymmetrical selfies backstage while I wait to make my dramatic Act II Scene II entrance. OFF BOOK. Which means I should be cramming lines, but I'm duly committed to my wildly popular social-media selfie obligations.


[Line!]

I'm pretty sure he wrote the "Rocket Man" part though

That stupid shit sounds like the stuff he usually coughs up when he's struggling to coin a viral catchphrase in a desperate attempt to distract the world population from his glaring imbecility.

So how does this work?

Do I pick one from each column or do I get to mix and match any three like on the Denny's value menu? Or is this one of those brain teasers where I have to re-organize the list so the first letter of every line spells a common phrase or a popular song title? Or maybe I have to clear the board -- which automatically disqualifies me because I refuse to be yoga pants as a matter of principle. They should really pass out leaflets with the rules spelled out clearly or nobody's going to play ... which means nobody will ever win Eternal Damnation.

#NotVeryIntelligentlyDesigned

Lots of vowels, yo

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Flashback Sunday: Exhibition Edition

A year ago tonight I was sitting with thousands of my closest friends on the vast lawn of the Brucemore mansion historical site listening to the final summer outdoor concert of the mighty Orchestra Iowa. The concert is cleverly called Brucemorchestra, and it's an epic, pull-out-the-stops evening of glorious music and literally glowing civic pride.

Last year's concert finished with Modest Mussorgsky's mighty "Pictures at an Exhibition," which wavers over the years on and off top 10 favorite orchestral works. It was originally written just for piano in 1874 as a musical narrative of -- you guessed it -- pictures at an art exhibition. The work comprises a series of short pieces that musically describe the separate works of art in the exhibition, and they're all connected by endless variations on a theme called "Promenade" ... which is basically just music to accompany you as you walk from picture to picture.

There are probably 40 orchestral arrangements of this piano work that have been scored in the century-plus time since it was written. Impressionist Maurice Ravel's gloriously brass-heavy version written in 1922 is arguably the most popular, and not only is it my favorite but it was the version Orchestra Iowa played a year ago on the Brucemore lawn.

And if that weren't enough to make me geek out like a giddy schoolboy at orchestra prom, the director told us all to light up our phones and wave them rock-concert-style during the epic (and earth-shakingly brass-heavy) last mini-movement celebrating the dramatic picture of the Great Gate of Kiev. Which as you might guess put me on ridiculous-joy overload as the brass thundered through us to rattle our bones and the gleeful audience alternated between waving our phones and taking pictures of the glorious spectacle and I pretty much experienced the Rapture. (And you know what? Kirk Cameron wasn't there. And neither was Donald Trump.)

And now it's safe to say "Pictures at an Exhibition" is solidly back in my top 10 favorite orchestral works. And I probably need to charge my phone again.

Don't say that. ... It's *whom.*

There is a moment near the end of "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" -- Edward Albee's 2002 play exploring the outer limits of love, fidelity, morality and tolerance -- where the emotional crisis at the center of the narrative boils over into such catastrophic levels of heartache and rage and such Greek-tragedy levels of destruction and retribution that the first time I saw it -- and the second time and the third time and the fourth time -- the audience collectively gasped to the point of almost screaming and then sat rigidly and almost palpably silent until well after the the final stage light had extinguished and the last emotionally drained actor had silently moved into position for the company bow.

It's one of my two favorite -- if there even exists a favorite-not favorite continuum of cataclysmic emotional destruction -- moments in modern theater ... the other being the last three seconds of David Mamet's "Oleanna" before the stage becomes abruptly, dreadfully dark.

Though he's largely a genre unto himself, it's difficult to pigeonhole Edward Albee as a playwright. He wrote or adapted about 30 works that embodied movements like Theatre of the Absurd and brought popular works of fiction like "The Ballad of the Sad Café" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" to the stage and screen.
My favorite Albee works -- "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (embodied in the above photo by the incomparable Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor playing the American-experiment patriarch and matriarch George and Martha), "The Play About the Baby" and "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" -- all share the format of four characters on stage and one character who may or may not exist offstage. It's an intriguing conceit, and one that keeps bringing me back to these three plays for my own contemplation. In an odd double standard, though, I can't stand reading them; the characters for me seem to have no depth on the page but they grant a glorious latitude for actors to make fascinating choices as they flesh them out.

I'm a day late in this tribute, but yesterday was the first anniversary of Edward Albee's death. I'm not one to be sad when famous people I've never met pass away -- and having seen only six of his works (that I can remember) I'm certainly no slavish Albee devotee -- but I'm profoundly thankful for the emotional rollercoasters he's put me on over the years ... and for the body of work he's left that I can continue to explore in my own way in my own time. I have a couple favorite quotes I'd love to mention here in closing, but they're all potential spoilers. So I'll just lift a glass of bergen to his memory.

Ice Berg! Straight ahead!

Why do classical music stations always have to play dreary neo-expressionistic fantasias on atonal ennui and post-apocalyptic existentialism on Sunday afternoons?

[Redacted]

I got this shirt as swag from a stock photo vendor years and years ago when I was working at my Chicago ad agency. It's edgy-weirdy on the front but it says something sexy-inappropriatey on the back and since I never go anyplace edgy-weirdy I never felt comfortable wearing it.

Until! I stumbled on it while I was looking for a gym shirt this morning and realized that since nobody talks to me at the gym I really didn't care if they for some odd reason decided to read my back and get offended. And two cut-off sleeves later, here I am at the gym not-offending about 10 people who are not-looking at me. Everyone wins!

Also: I managed to find some new shoes in a color I didn't already have. Double win!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Leg Day rule #1: 

Always make sure the gym is completely empty before you take a potentially dangerous selfie.
(25 reps x 4 sets x 270 lbs, baby!)

Never skip leg day, bro.

Flashback Saturday: Accidentally Showing You My Underpants Edition

Two years ago today, I got FULL justification for the paralyzing fear of heights that I discussed on here JUST YESTERDAY. 

I was carefully priming (and do NOT get me started on the endless suckiness of working with oil-based primer) around a window on a medium-high ladder when a mild gust of wind almost grabbed my little Tupperware container of primer out of my hand and in the ensuing seconds of trying not to fall or spill primer or yell words that begin with F, I managed to fall, spill NO primer, drop more F-bombs than a first-time skydiver and rip a massive hole in my painting shorts, which must have shrunk in the dryer because they had gotten too tight in the waist anyway. Yeah. It must be the dryer. But back to me: I fell-jumped a good 8 feet, landed squarely on the little makeshift grave for Shadow, my nephew's first dog who was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and got an 8.7 from the judges because I didn't stick my landing. 

And I remain to this day shaken (not stirred) over one of my worst fears COMING TRUE, but I do remember my boys finding unexpected enjoyment from the very breezes that precipitated my fall.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sigh

There's no look of disappointment or disdain more emotionally crushing than the one Bitch Kitty makes when she hears the door open and runs to it to greet her favorite person and discovers it's just me.

Pre-work car selfie gymnastics

Snoopy shoes! Mickey ink! Cargo shorts! (Shut up.) But more importantly: Clean car -- I seem to have finally fully eradicated the effluvium of clumsiness lingering judgingly from the catastrophic Great Protein Shake Explosion of 2017. #Progress!

Flashback Friday: Hnnnnnn Hnnnnnn Edition

Five years ago this month I rappelled USING A ROPE NO BIGGER THAN MY COMMON SENSE down the side of the 31-story Wit Hotel in downtown Chicago because I HAVE NO IDEA WHY AND I WAS SO TERRIFIED THAT MY LEG WAS SHAKING LIKE ELVIS AT THE TOP AND IT WAS SO BAD THE RAPPELLING GUY ALMOST DIDN'T LET ME GO DOWN and the terror only increased as I descended so I never looked around to enjoy the view and I made a weird hnnnnnn hnnnnnn whimpering sound all the way down and even when I finally reached the sweet, sweet ground I was still so terrified and unnerved that I wend right to a restaurant and drank alcohol.

I'm pretty sure I'm not afraid of a lot of things. But I'm overwhelmingly sure I'm terrified of heights.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pretend this is an ascot

Preferably pretend it's an ascot of neatly four-in-handed silk tucked smartly into the '60s Carnaby Street authenticity that is the smartly tailored glen plaid jacket I'm not-pretend wearing in this picture. And then pretend I'm pictured here having high tea at Harrod's or lobbing withering insults at the downstairs help instead of struggling to find not-shadowy selfie light behind a set piece backstage at rehearsal. There! You now have a deeply nuanced understanding of the emotionally layered noblesse oblige my character brings to our show.

Speaking of our show, you should come see it -- if for no other reason than to find out if I pretend to wear pants.

Zip up your tickets here.

Pretty. Bad. Dudes.

This -- THIS! -- is the best childish, inarticulate, desperately vague justification our "modern day presidential" psychopathic failure of a president can cough up on today's flip-flop double-down assertion that peaceful anti-racist protesters are somehow responsible for the murder and destruction premeditatedly wrought by his racist followers who he emboldened and encouraged to slither out from under their fetid piles of shit.

Pretty. Bad. Dudes.

It's Donald Trump at his finest and most statesmanlike, ladies and gentlemen.