you just never know

Strange what will get me to write, I guess. I’m hearing something about changing your links on your blog — that is, if you have a blog — to a setting called “no-follow” or something. So, being that I have 10 (TEN!) years of material here, I wanted to know a little more about this … cause, yeah, no. I’m not doing that.

And maybe that’s the problem … there are just so many things that I feel are .. dishonest, selling out, something.  But I’m always so jealous of all my friends who are bloggers and getting free this and trying out that and getting to blog about some product or something.  But, I feel real creepy championing my own blog or asking people to subscribe.

I can definitely see how SEO could become a part-time job, and I don’t see how that’s going to pay me in any way, so I don’t know if it’s worth the time … since I can barely manage to write. But it’s the ol’ Catch-22, because I guess by not doing any of these things, I limit the opportunities I have for people to see my work and be interested.

Part of the other problem is that I don’t have a mommy blog — I’m not in that great demographic of desired debutantes. I want to drive your Ford, cause I’ll make an amazing road trip video and get people hyped, not because I’m going to give a review of how great it is with the kids. And let’s face it, I don’t know when I can even come close to affording a car, much less a new, fancy one.  (But maybe I could get people INTERESTED in buying a new, fancy one.)

Okay, I’m going to test this link out and see what’s what. Drop a hybrid link in there — because if I’m going to drive this car around the country, I need to save on gas. Aww, fuck it, let’s go big or go home — who’s going to let me make a road trip video in a Tesla??

getting specific: life list

Originally posted 4.13.2013

So. I saw this 1,000 things list on Amy Guth’s blog the other day. And as is my habit, my first reaction was just pure jealousy. Like, gah. Why does she get to make this cool, rad list of shit to do? I’m sure she’s going to get to do it, too.

And then I heard the god voice: HEY! Make your own list. You’ve had a running list of shit that you’ve had floating in your head since ever. Just write it down. You’ve probably written it down on the blog before. So what? Write it down AGAIN.

She references a couple of other lists in her list. This guy’s 1,000 things list. The impossible list. How to write a life list from Chris Guillebeau, who Margaret loves.

So. I’m going to write my life list. I’m just going to start writing, and then maybe I’ll come back and re-organize. I’m going to link it to “Best of Smussyolay” so I can come back and edit, cross out, etc. I will also borrow from those other lists things I like. Here we go.

1. Learn to play guitar.
2. Ride in a hot air balloon.
3. Learn to speak fluent Spanish.
4. Learn to speak fluent French.
5. Drive a race car.
6. Drive the Autobahn.
7. Travel Europe for at least a month alone.
8. Travel Europe for three months total.
9. Obtain dual citizenship in another country.
10. Go to India.
11. Learn American Sign Language.
12. Have my own national talk show.
13. Be in a major motion picture.
14. Write and publish my book about manic-depression.
15. Write and publish my book about M*A*S*H.
16. Write and publish my memoir book(s).
17. Write and publish my book about Jesus/Christianity/spirituality.
18. Write and publish a daily meditation book.
19. Get a installation in a contemporary art museum.
20. Do a one-woman show.
21. Create a successful stand-up routine.
22. Meet Paul McCartney.
23. Meet Alan Alda.
24. Create a music festival with The Avett Brothers, Centro-Matic, Lucero, and others.
25. Write and publish my book about Frisbie.
26. Get the Avett Brothers interested in doing a book/s of sheet music for their records.
27. Get the Avett Brothers interested in doing a coffee table book of lyrics/illustrations/interviews with me.
28. Get Scott Avett to do a portrait of me.
29. Get new headshots done.
30. Lose 60 pounds.
31. Take a 500+ mile train trip.
32. Spend at least a month in Austin, TX.
33. Spend at least a month in Los Angeles, CA.
34. Spend at least a month in Portland, OR.
35. Spend at least a month in Alaska.
36. Spend at least a month in Hawaii.
37. Spend at least a year in NYC.
38. See the Redwood Forest.
39. See the Grand Canyon.
40. Go to Medieval Times.
41. Go to a Renaissance Faire.
42. Own a Greyhound.
43. Own a Wire Haired Fox Terrier or an Airedale.
44. Learn how to become a beekeeper.
45. See the Christmas Tree lighting in NYC.
46. See the Rockettes.
47. See a Broadway play during its first run.
48. Go to Thailand.
49. Learn to tap dance.
50. Learn to play harmonica.
51. Learn to play piano.
52. Read every work of Shakespeare and learn to speak intelligently about it.
53. Learn to start a fire from scratch.
54. Learn to shoot a gun.
55. Learn to waterski.
56. Visit the Vatican.
57. Visit the Eiffel Tower.
58. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
59. Visit the Smithsonian.
60. Visit the White House.
61. Meet Barack Obama.
62. Meet Bill Clinton.
63. See a taping of The Daily Show.
64. Meet Jon Stewart.
65. See a taping of The Colbert Report.
66. Meet Steven Colbert.
67. See a taping of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
68. Meet Craig Ferguson.
69. Finish my “famous meetings” list.
70. Go to law school.
71. Go to seminary.
72. Take a cross-country road trip and make a film about it.
73. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
74. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
75. Visit the Gentle Barn.
76. Visit Cline’s Antiques.
77. Learn how to do a handstand.
78. Buy/own a graystone.
79. Own a sports car — Porsche/BMW, etc.
80. Write a screenplay.
81. Go apple picking.
82. Go strawberry picking.  Did this summer 2013 with Melisa Wells, Tracey Becker, Tracey’s daughter and my niece!!!
83. See the Northern Lights.
84. Learn to surf.
85. Have a garden.
86. Have nude pictures taken of myself.
87. Get my breasts painted for charity.
88. Record books for blind people.
89. Get paid voiceover work.
90. Visit the Holy Land.
91. Visit the Pyramids.
92. Learn CPR.
93. Travel Italy.
94. Visit the Holocaust memorials.
95. Visit historical sites in Washington DC.
96. Learn about and travel the sites of the Underground Railroad.
97. Own and raise some sheep.
98. Fast for 24 hours.
99. Do a proper juice fast/cleanse.
100. Engage in a regular yoga practice.
101. Engage in a regular meditation practice.
102. Take a cooking class.
103. Get a “good” set of knives.
104. Have a “signature” dish.
105. Visit Australia.
106. Visit Disney World.
107. Visit Disney Land.
108. Get invited to and visit Club 33.
109. Visit Costa Rica.
110. Visit Machu Picchu.
111. Do a sweat lodge with a Native American medicine man/woman.
112. Get a facial.
113. Attend a coffee club meeting in Spanish.
114. See Fleetwood Mac live in concert.
115. See James Taylor live in concert.
116. See Bruce Springsteen live in concert.
117. Go see a concert at Red Rocks.
118. Attend the Austin City Limits music festival.
119. Attend the South by Southwest music festival.
120. Attend the South by Southwest tech festival.
121. Go hang gliding.
122. See Hall and Oates live in Concert.
124. See Huey Lewis and the News live in concert.
125. Get a pedicure.
126. Ride a segway.
127. Ride a century bike ride.
128. Own a boat.
129. See the Blue Man Group.
130. See a Cirque de Soleil show.
131. Do a Polar Bear Plunge.
132. Catch up on at least 50 literary classics.
153. Own less than 500 items for a year.
154. Go have a non-alcoholic drink at the Violet Hour.
155. One at least one piece of Chanel clothing.
156. Do The Artist’s Way with at least one other person.
157. Do A Course in Miracles, all the way through for one year.
158. Read The Bible, cover to cover.
159. Read The Koran, cover to cover.
160. Try a colonic.
161. Go to a Packer Game in Lambeau Field.
162. Organize a fun flash mob.
163. Go caroling.
164. Buy a kayak and go kayaking regularly.
165. Make a cab driver documentary.
166. Get involved with Improv Everywhere.
167. Own one piece of really nice jewelry.
168. Learn how to swing dance.
169. Learn how to apply a smoky eye shadow.
170. Finish my bachelor’s degree.
171. Learn Reiki.
172. Learn how to/go scuba diving.
173. Learn how to be proficient in horseback riding.
174. Have high tea at the Peninsula.
175. Stay a weekend at the Drake Hotel.
176. Create Sleepover 2.0.
177. Go to Cedar Point.
178. Ride the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel.
179. Visit the Statue of Liberty.
180. Visit the St. Louis Arch.
181. Go to every baseball stadium in the United States/Canada.
182. See Mt. Rushmore.
183. Visit the National Parks.
184. Travel the length of the 101.
185. Travel Route 66.
186. Learn to knit.
187. Learn to code.
188. Get ordained on the internet. Universal Life 8.25.13
189. Get real ordained.
190. Get a tattoo of some Beatles lyrics.
191. Get a Chicago tattoo.
192. Get a tattoo that has realistic bees and flowers.
193. Get a tattoo of two swallows holding a banner that says “Love and tolerance of others is our code.”
194. Earn a million dollars.
195. Have a year’s worth of savings in the bank.
196. Become completely debt free.
197. Visit all of the Scandinavian countries.
198. Trace my ancestry. Started an account on 12.26.13.
199. Purchase an inversion table.
200. Visit the Newberry Library.
201. Visit the Garfield Conservatory.
202. See a performance in Radio City Music Hall.
203. Visit the Louvre.
204. Visit MOMA.
205. Own a first edition copy of the book Alcoholics Anonymous.
206. Own a pair of Chuck Taylors in every color.
207. Assemble a basic wardrobe list of very high quality items.
208. Get a high quality, expensive mattress.
209. Learn how to sing harmony.
210. Learn how to heel-toe shift.
211. Learn basic graphic design.
212. Walk some portion of the Appalachian Trail.
213. Perform in a play. Was in a production of Sweetie Maude this fall as a chorus member.
213a. Perform in a play in a major role.
214. Properly cut a grass lawn.
215. Put together all my mementos into proper scrapbooks.
216. Get an agent for print/commercial work.
217. Buy a piece of original art that is worth at least $500. (12.2013 — I did commission a piece of original art that was much less than $500, but I still did that.)
218. Own/ride a Vespa-ish scooter (if not a Vespa outright).

I’m going to publish this, but I will definitely be back to add to it, since I’m thinking of more things to add, all day, every day. To be continued …

Saying goodbye to Holly Laurent

Well, I guess this is turning out to be a series. Me saying goodbye to the Mainstage performers as they move on from Second City to pursue other things, namely, moving to Los Angeles and broadening their horizons. Mary Sohn is already sunning herself and Tim Baltz, who I saw for a minute last night, is hot on her heels.

Last night was another one of those nights, where I watched the third act of a Mainstage show, as it transformed itself into a combination of tribute and send-off and gratitude list and public love letter. The goodbye set has fast become a whirlwind of cognitive dissonance for me — it’s nothing I look forward to, because it means someone I’ve really loved watching is leaving; but it’s a night I absolutely love, because I laugh and cry and watch people who spend their lives sharing themselves with people for a living open up and be just alittlebit more vulnerable and share just alittlebit more in an effort to honor their friendship.

It was Holly Laurent’s turn last night. One of the things that people kept saying about Holly was how kind and generous she is. In my personal experience, I have found this to be true. I have come to understand it is always the little things in life. Always. It’s not going to be the death or the dire or the doom that will drive me to drink and despair. Instead, it will be the dreary and the drab and the last damned little thing. The devil truly is in the details.

But, where the devil is found, so are the angels. And as I heard Holly being described by her friends, I already knew. I knew that she was one of the people that people came to see six nights a week — one of the faces whose headshot is lit up underneath glass — that took the time to look me in the eye and ask me how I was doing and give me a genuine smile. This means everything. If you ever wonder if a genuine interaction means something, it does. Even the ones that take seconds. Don’t forget that those small moments are all we’re really even here for.

It’s not like everyone just clomps around here, being self-important and dickish. But some people just seem to know that they’re here to be a person first and a performer later. And Holly is one of those people. To wit: She was in the building when I was working reception once. She had her dog, Sister (pron. “Seee-ster”) with her. A lovely, goldenblondie lady.(1)  And I’m a nutter for pets, especially dogs who remind me of my family dog, Johnny.

And I talked to Sister (and to Holly), and petted her and loved her (just Sister, not Holly, although you kind of want to) and just hung out for a second. And Holly was just  … nice. I don’t know.  You ever sometimes feel like the world has run out of normal, nice people? Well, chalk one up for L.A., cause they’re getting one of the best. She’s just nice. She was always nice when she came to tell us the cast had ordered food and she was always nice when she needed tickets or had to pick up a package. Like just … overly nice. Respectful. Kind.

The proof is always in the pudding, too, because as she went down the list of people she wanted to thank (the exiting performer always goes last and gets to say their goodbyes and farewells), she had a whole section of nightstaff that she called out by name with specific thank yous and inside jokes and love, love, love. The Beatles said that’s all we need, and I’m on board.

I knew for about a week or so that she was going to be leaving, and the other night when I was walking through Mainstage, I caught a scene that she and Edgar Blackmon do early in the show. It’s an improvised scene where they are a married couple, telling the story of how they first met — sharing secrets and small delights — and it’s truly a joy to watch. One of my favorite scenes from this show.

I sat there and had one of those moments where you just know. You just know you’re just right NOW. And I also was supremely aware of fucking good Edgar and Holly are. How much they love each other as friends and performers and how many gifts they give each other on stage. How in the moment they are and how wonderful it is to be in the moment with them. And no matter how many people come through that room and watch them every week, no matter how many people just want to “come and laugh,” those moments are truly something special. They are where the real work happens. It’s like having a good meal. It’s where all the magic happens. And I made sure to remember how it was, how it felt; I made sure that I’d tell them before she left. And last night, I did.

Blessings and love and light to you on the journey, lady. Everything you give coming back to you tenfold.

(1) Note: goldenblondie isn’t a thing. I just can’t remember if she’s 100% poodle or if she’s got other snout mixed in.

there are other ways to fight

I’ve been trying to blog over at Chicago Now at An Unquiet Chicagoan, doing the spotlight on what it’s like to live with manic-depression thing, so I’ve not been so bloggy over here, but I haven’t been super consistent here recently, anyway, truth be told. But, I did want to maintain a separate blog presence here, and I hope to continue to do so.

I have something today that definitely isn’t mental illness related, but still is super smussyolay. It’s something that struck me just now and something I want to write about. I saw someone post something on the old FB about how they were celebrating Labor Day weekend, and then I remembered — HEY! It’s Labor Day weekend.

Then, it struck me … it’s Labor Day weekend. Where are all the posts about how much the people before us have sacrificed for us to get us … a WEEKEND? Where are all the posts of gratitude and thanks and pictures of past strikers and riots and details about people who DIED so we could have weekends and eight hour days and 40-hour work weeks and the end of child labor and the beginning of overtime and government oversight?

There aren’t any. It’s crickets. It’s either:

Continuing posts about Miley Cyrus and twerking OR

If there are posts about politics it’s about how the government is going to continue our brutal rampage throughout the world and invade/attack/reign hellfire on Syria. How we are gearing up for yet another war.

No one is talking about why we celebrate this weekend as a honor to those who have come before us (yes! Unions!) and why we are in dire need to help more people get back into situations where they can avail themselves of organized labor (better minimum wage! health benefits! the ability to organize!). Instead, people — regular, hardworking people, who are barely scraping by themselves — people who are losing their vacations and weekends and eight hour workdays, too — are being brainwashed that these things are keeping them down somehow and that they will suffer if everyone is granted access to a better wage and healthcare. They, too, will lose their jobs and be at a disadvantage if companies have to pony up and treat people with dignity and respect.

You know who will lose anything — and then, just a little? The multinational companies. The huge billion dollar companies. It’s couched that the little guys will be forced to lay off workers or close completely. BUT — if the people who made obscene amounts of money actually PAID THEIR TAXES, this wouldn’t be an issue. Don’t you see?

The Republicans talk about personal responsibility all the time. How everyone should be responsible for their own shit, for taking care of business and handling stuff like a MAN, damnit! But these same people are the ones who allow corporations (who, apparently are people, in their eyes) to essentially act like the welfare queens they so bitterly despise. The corporations act like the most hateful stereotype the Republicans drag out, time and time again. Corporations, smoking crack, using food stamps, living in our house on our dime. And laughing in our faces. Oh, and did I mention, being heinous felons who commit crime after crime showing absolutely NO remorse? Yeah, that.

You don’t have to be a brave man or woman serving this military to fight for your country. Maybe you’re working a minimum wage job (or two) and are working with a local union organizer to try and get people interested in joining a union. If you are, I salute you. I honor you. That’s hard and scary work on so many levels. And it’s needed very badly right now. Much more so than sending people off to made up wars to die or come back maimed and permanently scarred in myriad of ways, and then left to fend for themselves.

The first union organizers fought in a variety of ways, often physically. Sometimes, they paid with their lives. I hope that the people fighting now fight so they get their lives back. Do your part — get your Labor Day groceries at Costco, yeah?

new chapter

So. I have a second blog. And I mean, a real second blog. Not the tens of blogs I’ve started and never done anything with over the years. It’s called An Unquiet Chicagoan, and it’s hosted over at Chicago Now. It’s a riff on An Unquiet Mind, and it’s my journey to, through, and with manic-depression. Stop by.

I hope that you come check out my Facebook page and that you read both site — I am going to genuinely endeavor to keep writing here about things NON manic-depression related. I just thought it was time to step up and really try and focus on something that might help me write/get that book and that can help others. Hopefully, with a bigger platform, things will start moving.

I don’t know if it was/is the right thing to do, and I definitely want to keep up with The Smussyolay. Here’s to new adventures.


So, I just found out that some women are doing a reading show called “Don’t Call Me Crazy” — where people do readings about mental illness in order to raise awareness and erase stigma.  One of the ladies, Jennifer Killi Marshall, has her own blog called Bipolar Mom Life, and I’m just getting hit with what I’ve known all along.

I AM an advocate for those with mental-illness. I am an educator. I am a writer and a performer and a person with many creative talents. I am supposed to be using this for some reason, and my fears around it aren’t making me successful, so why not just do what I’m meant to do?

Seriously — I get interviews and I don’t get the job. I don’t know if they’re reading this, but I can’t imagine that they went back to 2004 for some of the really good stuff. So, maybe I’m supposed to focus on what is in front of me — the fact that I have much intimate knowledge about how to live as a dually-diagnosed human being — and I don’t do such a bad job of communicating about it, either.

Still looking for a supportive writing group/people to hold me accountable on the reg. I definitely need that. But, I think I’m going to just try and do what I’ve always done when I’m being on point — tell the truth.

“a fundamental human right”

Everyone and their brother has weighed about the George Zimmerman trial (1) by now.  An interesting site discussing white privilege is We Are Not Trayvon Martin, and Questlove of the Roots wrote a really compelling look at how this verdict has affected him. But, I keep reading and I keep thinking, and this is where I go to talk about stuff, so here we are.

Another thing I’ve seen from a couple of lawyer friends is their complaint that people who aren’t informed — i.e., have a law degree — shouldn’t be weighing in on the trial, the topic, their feelings.  That seems fucking ridiculous to me. I think that most people know in their hearts that something went terribly wrong here.  Even if the trial was locked down tight and the players all did exactly what they were supposed to do, guaranteeing the right decision by way of the justice system, there are so many other factors that scream out “THIS IS FUCKED UP.”

The Stand Your Ground law may not have been at the heart of what the prosecution or defense needed to prove/disprove, but the fact that it exists and was the reason that Zimmerman (among many) felt he could walk around the neighborhood like some sort of Gran Torino Clint Eastwood? That is crazy. I read a piece where the NRA said that the right to self-defense is a “fundamental human right.”

I could be way off, but I bet the Venn Diagram of NRA members and megaChristians overlaps quite a bit. I also remember that even PRE-hippie Jesus, there was that whole Ten Commandments thing … that “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” Remember that one? I don’t think those were negotiable. I don’t think that you can say, “Yeah, but if he’s on my lawn … OR Yeah, but if he’s walking through my gated community and looks suspicious.” I don’t remember Moses talking about any asterisks there.  Just — Don’t Kill. Period.

If we’re talking fundamental human rights — can a woman shoot a person trying to give her a transvaginal ultrasound? Self-defense?

Seriously, though — eating, shelter, healthcare. These are fundamental human rights. I’d go so far to say that now, an education should be a fundamental human right. But I’d get it if you can’t get on board with that.  I think you should revise your thoughts about what it means to get in on the “pursuit of happiness,” but we can save that for another time.

I hope, that if nothing else, this trial, this case, this verdict — allows white and black people to come together and talk. Be honest. I was just thinking about this the other day, actually. I’d love to start a column or a talk show or something about race. Because whatever “post-racial” is *supposed* to mean, it’s not here. It’s not even close. (2)  And I think if we’re ever going to get to post-racial, it’s going to start with just being real. Real talk, you know?

From the most important to most trivial. I just want to see people okay with being able to just to discuss things.  And, I’ll say that we’re far from there.  There are so many things I want to know about the experiences of people of color and am terrified to ask. Afraid I’m going to look racist. (3) Afraid I’m going to be seen as one of the people who hates, rather than wants to get intimate with a culture and a way of life that is different than mine.

I hope this opens something. I hope it opens up our eyes. I hope it opens up our hearts. I hope it opens up the truth that for all the changes that have occurred, it seems that not much has changed, after all.


(1) It’s telling that I want to call it the Trayvon Martin trial. He’s dead. He can’t be convicted of anything, and he wasn’t the one who needed to account for his actions, after all was said and done. But, his face and name are on my mind and it sure seemed like he was the one on trial — in order to prove that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, it seemed like it was a question of proving whether or not Trayvon was the problem, rather than the victim.

(2) There’s no way we’re “post-racial” when people of Mexican heritage and American citizenship can’t sing the national anthem without people losing their ever living minds AND when Cheerios releases a commercial with a mixed-race family and those same people freak the fuck out. Seriously? Are people mad because the LGBTQs are gaining ground on equality and love and happiness? Or what?

(3) Also, heads up: you can’t be racist if you’re a minority. You can be hateful, you can be prejudiced, you can treat people outside of your race/ethnicity like shit. But racism is a systemic, huge thing. Unless you are in a place of power/being able to oppress (i.e. in the majority rule), you can’t be racist.  All of a minority’s hate or prejudice isn’t going to keep the white man down. That’s just some sociology.