October 2008 Archives

Happy Halloween!

It's an oldie, but a goodie.

Philosophy with Jameson!


Adorableness abounds!

Hi Dad!

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Today my dad is trying to communicate with me. I have been listening to a lot of classic rock lately, so it may seem like it is a coincidence, but here is a list of songs I have heard on the radio today since 8:45am:

Hymn 43--Jethro Tull
Midnight Rider--The Allman Brothers
Let It Ride--Bachman Turner Overdrive
My Sweet Lord--George Harrison
Living in the Past--Jethro Tull

Those in my family and who know us realllly well will know the significance of those songs. No coincidences here! Everything is a part of a bigger meaning.

I hope things are well up there, Daddy!

UPDATE--I also heard Bungle in the Jungle by Tull, and I didn't cry!
I also heard Whipping Post--Allman Brothers. Remember when Dad met Gregg Allman last year? I think that was around this weekend last year.

Random Thinky Thoughts


Thanks to everyone for your amazing encouragment and support over my last post (and over the last several years); I cannot tell you how much it means to me and how much your kind words help. The last couple of days have been a little bit better--my anxiety has died down a little bit, and that is a relief--I only hope it continues to get better. As Margaret reminds us, "do the next step, don't hide from things, get the next thing done as best you can" via the thoughts of Tolle. And Jill reminds us to keep up our Faith and we will be taken care of. For example, the scripture: James 1:3-5 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him". Lovely things to keep in mind, I think.

I had the best pre-DADA rehearsal catnap yesterday--literally. Parker almost never goes to sleep while I hold her like a big squishy teddy bear, but last night she totally zonked out and it was adorable and relaxing. I held her and we dozed off on the couch together. It was really cold in the house, so having a fat snory kitty next to me was heavenly.

To all my Southern friends & family, I just have to tell you that it has been in the 40s here in Chicago. Yeah.

The new John Hodgman book is out, and I am so excited. The first one, The Areas of My Expertise is the hands-down funniest book I have ever read. I can't wait to get started on this new one.

DADA rehearsals officially started last night. It was great. Normally, I feel like I am on my A game with DADA, but last night, I felt like I was off. I can only hope it is because the last few days have been so crummy and not that I am letting my insecurites of the holiday season carry over to my performance. But if that is what it is, I just need to push through it and use it. I know, though, that once things get more settled and I get back into the character (with makeup and costume and such) it will be a lot easier and natural.

Once all these shows are over, I am going to take another rest, or at least only work on one show at a time.

Here is an actual conversation I had with my mom yesterday:
Mom: Those jeans you like are on sale at McRae's for $23.99.
Me: Well, unless they have another color, I don't really need any, since I just got those 2 new pairs. Are there any new colors?
Mom: There's one that is like denim with sparkles in it.
Me: I don't need sparkles. I'm almost 30.
For some reason this was really funny to her and me.

Last night, I saw a Barack Obama campaign ad and it moved me so much I started crying. Only a couple weeks to go, you guys. It is looking like Obama will take it, and I hope and pray that he will. The McCain/ Palin ticket is virtually imploding. I mean, look at this:

Maybe it is because of the economy, or the fact that a lot of my peers are starting families and wanting yards and simpler things, or the fact that Chicago is expensive, stressful and laying everyone off (and really really cold) but it seems like a lot of my friends will be moving soon to other towns, cities, etc looking for new adventures. And I honestly can't say that I blame them.

We are still trucking to get out of our credit card debt as quickly as we can, though I know it is still a long time coming. I recently changed my plans on something that I was going to do for myself that was going to cost a lot of money so that we can be wiser with our spending. It is worth it to me to be frugal and make cuts backs now so that later we can take a nice vacation or maybe even retire.

At least it gives me something to daydream about.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

I still have a ways to go


Warning--this is a long and emotionally draining post, so if you aren't feeling up for it, please don't read it.

So lately, I've been really proud of myself with how well I've been handling all the stress of the last year. I can do it all! Look at me go! Everyone always says there is no timeline for healing, but whenever I have a rough day, I feel pretty frustrated and annoyed with myself. But this weekend, I had a reality check come up and slap me in the face.

Once you have to take care of a sick person, the last thing you want to watch is a medical TV drama. I can't handle them. Fuzzy has been watching the entire series of House, and usually watches them while on the train or when I am asleep or not at home. Sometimes, if he is watching them when I am around, I'll glance over here and there to see what is going on. He was watching an episode yesterday while we were sorting (him comic books, me shredding junk mail that needed shredding) and I wasn't really listening. But then, out of nowhere, I hear the phrase "This will be your last Christmas with your daughter."

Instantly, I lost it. I got up, went to bed, and stayed there sobbing for a really long time. And I wasn't able to recover. It seems like such a cliche--oh, someone is dying, let's take the family out to the hallway and try to tell them in the nicest possible way. I know it isn't easy for the doctors--what a shitty job to have to do. But I, sadly, have lived the reality, and been told the news. I was called out into the hallway with my mother and told about my father--and I quote to the best of my memory--"He'll make it to Thanksgiving, maybe to the end of the year, but enjoy these holidays, cause they will be his last."

"Enjoy these holidays, cause they will be his last."

Pardon my language, but Fuck. That night I drank almost a fifth of scotch out of the bottle by myself.

This year, I am remembering every single day of where we were last year. But this one sentence from a TV show made everything crash around me even harder. I remember Dad being in the hospital for pneumonia, I remember going down the Erik, Sara and Faelyn, and sobbing on the car ride to the airport, because I knew things were changing. I remember flying down on Nov 12th, the Monday after DSTW closed in Arlington Heights, and not coming back till the end of December. I remember taking Dad to the physical therapist when we thought he had a pinched nerve, and I remember taking him to the emergency room the next day, where we found out it was a tumor. I remember getting the news from the doctor. I remember how much pain my dad was in. I remember having to call my brother and trying to convince him that the phone call I was making and he was receiving was in fact the phone call we'd been dreading and avoiding for the last several years. I remember pleading with my brother to come home as soon as he could so we could have a holiday together. I remember Dad forgetting that he had received a prognosis of only a couple of weeks and being surprised when we mentioned it again to him. I remember our last Thanksgiving as a full family. I remember how happy Dad was that so many people came by to see him. I remember him saying that it was the best Thanksgiving he had had in years. I remember waking Dad up every few minutes so I could feed him a drink of Ensure so he could keep up his strength. I remember when Dad was able to stand up by himself almost miraculously, and I remember the last time he ever stood up. I remember Dad passing away just a week and a half after Thanksgiving. I remember these things so hard it's as if they were currently happening.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have developed a daily anxiety--no matter what I am doing, I get a heavy pain in my chest and my breathing becomes irregular. I was trying to come up with different reasons this is happening, but I know that it is just because my body and mind is scared of the weeks to come. I don't know how to deal with it. Therapy, yes, and writing about it help, but not solve it.

I am very blessed. I have an amazing and wonderful loving husband who holds me when I cry and makes me laugh when I need it. He always listens and never judges. I cannot imagine how it is for my dear sweet mama who is going through this same daily memory as I, only without her beloved husband. I feel such guilt for this, and I feel so hopeless that I cannot help her.

Lately, I have been describing myself as "unapologetic about who I am". I am who I am and I am, I love who I am, and I'm doing the best I can. The one thing I would apologize for, however, is bailing on plans or not seeing friends or not showing up to parties or shows. Now I know that I am still actively grieving and healing, and therefore, it's important to listen to myself and when I can and can't be social. So for that, I will stop apologizing for those things as well. Everyone will just have to deal with it.

I don't know how I am going to get through these holidays. I don't want to do it. I am scared. I wish I could just mush myself into Fuzzy and hide until January. I honestly wouldn't mind.

Fuzzy says that the holidays will always be different, but they will eventually get better. I sure hope so. Until then, I will celebrate the fact that I am a living, feeling human being by grieving my father's loss all over again.

Let's Be Positive


I thought I would list some things that make me happy. Why not? (some might call this the "Get Up On" entry)

1. Fuzzy--always and forever
2. Ras Dashen--amazing Ethiopian food
3. Picking out the former ANTM contestants at the runway show castings on Project Runway--this season Dani and Bianca made the cast and Nyima audtioned. In the past, Anne was in an episode, too. Ain't no shame in this game.
4. My friends being on reality TV--we all know we have lots of friends on TV shows, but REALITY TV is a totally different animal. A hilarious animal.
5. Cheesy Booty Music
6. Betty Crocker Warm Delights--need I say more?
7. DADA: Schmuckt die Hallen
8. Seth's performance this week in Impress These Apes!
9. This hilarious story of when J and I went out Saturday night and drank Disaronno.
10. My girls.
11. All of my amazing, loving, hilarious, supportive friends. You are all wonderful, and I don't know what I would do without you. I love you all.

Neutrino Press!

The TimeOut Chicago Blog calls us One of Seven Things to Do Today--Oct 15:

COMEDY - The Neutrino Project
Making a film in under an hour is tough for anyone; the fellas behind Neutrino manage to do so, but keep it funny and fresh. 8pm. The ComedySportz Theatre 929 W Belmont Ave, at Wilton St, Lakeview/Roscoe Village/Wrigleyville, Chicago (773-549-8080). $10.

And last week, we had this awesome write-up:
Time Out Chicago / Issue 189 : Oct 9-15, 2008
Shifting into Neutrino
There's a lot to enjoy about the instant movie--you just have to work for it.

By Steve Heisler

If comedy shows were reviewed on a third-grade scale, Neutrino Project, one of the most innovative, ambitious undertakings in the city, would get an A for effort. After soliciting a made-up film title and props from the audience, three teams consisting of two or three actors and a cameraperson hit the streets to make a movie. The first team shoots a scene then runs it back to the theater, where it's immediately screened. Meanwhile, the second team works on its first scene to slot in afterward, then the third team; then team one prepares and presents scene two, and so on. The tech guy composes a soundtrack on his computer and edits the scenes. VoilĂ : insta-movie in under an hour.

In terms of quality, Neutrino is a mixed bag: It shines bright at the end, when the three disparate plot lines blend into each other and the scenes are afforded time for experimentation with framing, close-ups and cutaways. But much of what leads up to the payoff is tedious. So if you're intrigued by the show's premise--lifted from a New York troupe in 2002 and returning to the ComedySportz Theatre after a two-year hiatus--here are some tips for getting the most from your visit.

Understand that the beginning's gonna be awkward. The logistics of the operation dictate that the show won't start until the first tape is completed. Depending on the ease of scouting a location and getting things right on the first try (there's no time for multiple takes), it could be ten minutes of waiting. Neutrino compensates by screening B-roll from earlier in the day of storefronts and passersby, which serve as establishing shots for the forthcoming scenes, but also can be a drag. Expect to sit uncomfortably for a bit--though there's always the theater's brand-spankin'-new bar.

Be patient with those first scenes. The fact that they're shot under a time crunch leaves little room for flair; the result is a collection of dialogue-heavy shots that run just under two minutes each. You'll find yourself wondering why the cast uses cameras at all: Merely taping a talking-head scene doesn't automatically make it more exciting. But just wait.

Embrace Neutrino's film-school aesthetic. Anyone who's ever stumbled on some Columbia College student's "master's thesis" on YouTube knows cinematic self-indulgence is the name of the game. But Neutrino is entirely self-aware, and once the stories develop and the cast members, no longer scrambling to turn in tape, have time to let the scenes breathe, they start having fun with the camera. An endangered-species activist admits her secrets to a friend while trapped in an elevator, each one shot at increasingly uncomfortable angles; a PSP-playing hooligan sits at the center of the frame while his partner in crime wildly tries to initiate a falafel-stand robbery in the background; a scene set in a cast member's apartment works a Kermit doll into every shot. The action, while prerecorded, starts to feel dangerous--catching a snippet of the cameraperson yelling "Cut!" between shots yields huge laughs. And by the time you get to the after-movie outtakes (presented as "deleted scenes"), you're having too much fun with the form to remember the technical speed bumps.

The Neutrino Project frames itself Wednesday 15.

Yeah, yeah, the economy, and the debates, and it is raining, but this show is a lot of fun, cheap, and only an hour. And tonight, we have the awesome violin stylings of Dana Dardai!

We have only 6 more shows--we close on Nov 19th. I've now been a performer, a runner, and a cameraperson for the show. What a blast.

See you there?

Man oh Man

Sorry for the lack of posting--things have been busy here in Gerdesland. Busy and sick. Fuzzy had the flu for about a week, and on top of that, we have been blessed with...(drumroll)...a Staph Infection! Oh boy! Fun fun! It is painful and long lasting, and we've been fighting it now since we were in MS, which was the beginning of September. Lots of doctors visits. Lots of poking in parts where it isn't pleasant to be poked. Lots of pain. Hoo boy, Fuzzy and I are nothing if not sexy. But we've been through a lot together--this is nothing, and it only brings us closer. What's mine is yours, right?

Speaking of that trip down to MS, I wanted to write about how that all went, so here we go. We got a LOT of work done. Fuzzy tackled cleaning Memaw's nasty kitchen (bless his heart--he is really incredible) and I took care of cleaning out her bedroom. Memaw has been in the nursing home for months now, and her house was just left as-is. Linda had done some cleaning, but there was still a ways to go. When we first got there, we realized that the house was infested with fleas. Thousands. We were in the house for all of 3 minutes before both of our legs were coated in a painful biting film of black fleas. Therefore, we had to spray ourselves down with Cutter (it keeps fleas away!) every single time we stepped foot into the house. Uff. Later in the week, we set off 5 flea bombs and it did almost no good. Nasty.

I knew that I was going to be sorting through all sorts of old memories--of mine, of Mom's, of Memaw's--since this is the house Mom grew up in, and I did as well. Christopher and I spent the night at Memaw and Papaw's all the time, so all our old toys were there as well as our lifetimes worth of newspaper clippings, dance programs, photos, etc. It was intense. However, the very first thing I found in the house was a letter from a young David Reid to Memaw and Papaw Bane, back when Mom and Dad were first dating and Dad was working on the sinking unit. It was the sweetest letter; the perfect example of the man that Dad was--very caring, sweet, compassionate. It ripped my heart out. I started sobbing, but was interrupted by the fleas biting my ankles. I later gave the letter to my mom. It was good that I started out with that, I suppose, because everything else was cake.

We found a lot of amazing things--boxes upon boxes of photos, Memaw's engagement ring, and the most surprising find--a short autobiography of my Papaw's war days, handwritten about 19 years ago. At the start of the story, he said that he was writing everything down so he could remember. Papaw had Alzheimer's, and I wonder if he did it knowing full well that he would forget these memories. My favorite part of it (and as I type it up, I might post it here on my website) was at the end when he said he met a "good lookin' brunette." Adorable. My Memaw was a hottie for sure. Papaw passed away 14 years ago this week. The manuscript was in Memaw's nightstand. I bet she read it a lot before bed.

I have a hard time dealing with how I am supposed to handle these relationships, now. So much has changed. So much of my family life has become a "taking care of" relationship, whether it be of people or of things, and I find that it is easier for me to keep these two worlds separate. If I remove myself from the emotion of what I am doing, it is easier. As in, "We cleaned out a nasty old house" instead of "We cleaned out my grandmother's nasty old house because she is old and can't take care of herself and is now in a home." "We visited Memaw Reid" instead of "We visited Memaw Reid in the hospital because right now she cannot walk." And "We went to visit Mom" and not "We went to visit Mom and take care of things for her because Dad isn't there anymore." It is a HUGE struggle, because I don't want to forget those things. I love my family, and I would do anything for them. But if I analyzed the gravity of what I was truly doing and why I was there while down there, I might be too overwhelmed and completely unfunctional.

I left MS feeling like I had a sort of Baptism. That is the best way I can explain it. It felt different. I felt in charge. I felt older. I felt responsible. It felt weird. It just felt different. I hope that one day Vicksburg can be a place of solice and calm again, but to me right now, it just feels like work and pain.

But look at these Super Fly Ladies!
(Mom, Me, Memaw Bane, and Linda. Photo by Fuzzy. I also am super impressed by Linda's rocking the Smown.)

I have lots more to say, but this is a long enough entry. I will write more soon on Neutrino, DADA, and Impress These Apes! Come see them!

Christmas is Coming...


...The Flutter's Getting Fat.


Flutter case.jpg

DADA Tree.jpg

For Soiree DADA: Schmuckt der Hallen
Awesome Photos by John W. Sisson, Jr.