April 2013 Archives

My Weekend at C2E2: Day 1

This past weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) as an assistant to the Exhibitor Steve Gadlin. As you all know, Steve was one of my first friends in Chicago and is my producing partner and the genius mastermind behind Blewt! Productions and I Want to Draw a Cat for You. He had a Cat Drawing booth, and I got to go along for the ride. It was 3 (long) days of magic. Here are some highlights:

C2E2 Day 1

The Booth! It looked great!

C2E2 Day 1

We were in Artist Alley. Day 1 I wore my Two Film T-shirt!

C2E2 Day 1


C2E2 Day 1


C2E2 Day 1

Drawing in action!

C2E2 Day 1


C2E2 Day 1

Steve loved it!

C2E2 Day 1


C2E2 Day 1

Doing some shopping.

C2E2 Day 1

This costume was hella impressive. The wings were retractable. At one point, I saw the wings go out and hit a girl in the face. Luckily, they were padded and made of foam. It was awesome.

C2E2 Day 1


C2E2 Day 1

I stalked Sarah and Clint from Ink Master (I love me some reality TV, and reality TV about tattoo artists is my jam.) They were buying skateboards, and I interrupted them to get a photo. I got stupidly nervous. They were nice.

C2E2 Day 1

Shortly after that, I met Anthony, the winner of the last season of Face Off (another Team Gerdes favorite). He was awesome, and we had a great conversation. I love it when people are nice and real! 

C2E2 Day 1

Also this!

End of Day 1!

Happy Happy Happy Happy

Last week, my best friend Rebecca posted that amazing birthday tribute to our friendship and it moved me to tears.

Today is HER birthday, and I know that there is no way that I can write anything as beautiful and wonderful and special as she said, so I can only say that I feel all of that back to her plus more. I was going to just post something dumb like a photo of her butt here or something (not that her butt is dumb--I assure you it is not, but posting a photo of it--and I do have one--would be), but then I found all these wonderful photos of her and us and thought about all the amazing times we've had together and all the laughter and all the life experiences we've shared and all the times she's helped me get out of an emotional ditch, and I got overwhelmed with love. Man, I don't know where I would be without her.

KOKO Pool Photoshoot

REBECCA! You are gorgeous and hilarious and wonderful and loving and nurturing and hysterical and sweet and fun and I love every second that I am with you. Happy Happy Birthday! I am so happy you were born and that you moved to Chicago and that you are who you are!




And So It Begins...

Today Fuzzy officially started his Iron Man training.

This event is going to define the next 5 months of our lives. The event is September 8th.

I am seeing now that the loss of Fuzzy's job was a gift. Now he can give the training the time and priority it demands. It's going to be an intense summer of dedication, good nutrition, stamina, patience and support. I hope that I can be a good and supportive partner for him. That is my goal for the summer.

Fuzzy is an inspiration to me! This is such a huge goal, and I know he is going to accomplish it with flying colors. He can tackle anything he sets his mind to. He inspires me to try to do the same in every aspect of my life.

Let's do this.

Party Plane!

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Last Monday, on my way back into town, there were FOUR friends of mine on my return flight. FOUR!! That can only mean one thing: PARTY PLANE!!!!

Who was MOST excited about the party plane? Me and Tabitha! TABITHA! I rarely get to see her, and when I do, I am always over the moon. We laugh and cut up and have a great time, and this was no exception. We also did some serious talkin'-about-life on the party plane. It was the best.  Still not convinced that it was amazing? LET THE PHOTOS DO THE TALKIN'!

Party Plane

Here we are in the airport/ time-warp tunnel. WE ARE READY TO PARTY! 

The second best part about the PARTY PLANE? FREE DRINK COUPONS! 
Erica and Tabitha, are you excited about free drink coupons?

Party Plane

Ok, so this photo made us laugh for about an hour every time we looked at it. In fact, I am giggling to myself outloud right now. I love it so much.

It was also really awesome when our FREE DRINKS arrived! 2 Wild Turkeys on ice, please!

Party Plane

Party Plane


(Years ago, we took a photo at Tabitha's bday party at Medieval Times, and we all look like it is the *best moment of our lives*. I used to think that it was just cause we were at Medieval Times, but after this photo, I started to think that I look like that any time I pose for a photo with Tabitha.)

We did lots of talking in the dark, and the flight flew by. Suddenly, we were back in Chicago. I tried to take a photo after we landed:

Party Plane Dark.jpg

It didn't work. So I turned on the light and tried again.

Party Plane

It was too bright!

Then, once back in the 'port, we sadly had to go our separate ways. We had to get one more photo to wrap up the journey.

Party Plane

Those tired little turtles had to get back to their homes. 


Thanks Everyone!

Thanks everyone for the amazing birthday wishes! It was a great day with Fuzzy with great food, and I went on a weekend retreat that was just perfect. I am feeling good. It's a busy week, though, so I gotta keep it brief for now! Thank you all for being awesome!



Today is my 34th birthday. It’s been an awesome day, and it’s been a nice reminder of all the love and support I have in my life. I feel so blessed.

I’m most speechless, though, by the blog post today from my best friend Rebecca Hanson Ryder. It made me laugh and cry, and man—it’s just the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. (It’s also a neat tour of my million hairstyles.) What an honor. Read it here, if you like.

Thank you, Rebecca! Here’s to many many more years together!



What a week. It's been full of ups and downs and tears and fretting, but things are getting better.  Thank you all for your love and support and prayers. It is helping! Fuzzy is in his final countdown of days in his job, and thanks to the kindness of a couple of friends (Steve and Crescent!), I have some day jobs lined up here and there in the coming weeks. Fuzzy has some freelance gigs lined up, and plus I am going to be promoting some new business things soon (stay tuned), so we have a plan. We've talked about the future over and over and now are feeling actually excited and ready to conquer the unknown and work for ourselves and really hustle. We'll have to make sacrifices here and there, but that's ok. Fuzzy and I have each other, and we are the best couple in the universe, so I know the rest will work itself out.

Two of my beloved friends yesterday (Margaret and Erica) BOTH said to be yesterday that our friends aren't going to let us fall through the cracks. Hearing it twice in a day totally was overwhelming and made me cry. I feel so blessed. it just brings home that this is just a transition. It is temporary, and we will be ok. We ARE ok.

This is all very vague and general right now, but I'll talk more specific about things soon. I just wanted to let everyone know that things are looking up. I am ready.

Shamrock Shuffle


Yesterday Fuzzy and I ran the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Yeah, I know what you are thinking--it was April 7th not March 17th. Aside from that, the Shamrock Shuffle is the kickoff of the summer race season in Chicago, with about 40,000 runners. This was my first time running the Shuffle, but Fuzzy has done it a couple times before. Since I am training for the Soldier Field 10 mile in May, this was essentially a training run for me, since the distance was just shy of 5 miles. The furthest I've ever run is 6 miles last summer, so I am about to get into "every run is my longest run" territory.

Fuzzy at the Shamrock Shuffle

The weather was awesome--super sunny and 50 degrees. Now, that is still too cold for an Erica, but it's better than the 30s. I wore appropriately bundled clothes, but opted to not wear my gloves. I was comfortable for the whole run.

Our wave started at 9:15, but that meant that we didn't cross the start line til 10am. I am long over any type of pre-race jitters, so Fuzzy and I just hung out in the corral trying to stay warmed up. The plan was to start together, then Fuzzy would take off (he is faster than me) and he would watch me at the finish line. I had my tried and true running mix, which is about an hour, and my Nike+ GPS lady to tell me how I was doing. It was clear from the start that the GPS was jacked up, cause she told me I was at a mile 7 minutes in. Um...not possible. I turned off the GPS and just ran using the time on my watch and listening to my tunes.

I have to confess that I've been off my training schedule the last couple weeks. It's either been too cold, or there is no treadmill free at the gym, or I've not been able to get up early enough to run before the day starts, or things have been hurting. But I've been trying to still run when I can and adapt the schedule to fit in how it can. So I was concerned that I wasn't going to finish before the cut-off time or that I was going to have to walk a lot. With 5 more to add on before the big race in May, I've been a little inconfident.

My Nike+ estimated I would finish in an hour and 8 minutes.

Usually when I run, the first 1 to 1.5 miles hurts really badly in my hips, shins and knees. But something amazing happened yesterday--when I started running, it just felt good. I ran and loved it. My posture was good, the run felt easy. I checked my watch to see how long I'd been running without a walk break, and it was 19 minutes. And I kept running. I didn't take a walk break til I got at the 3 mile mark, at about 34 minutes in. I just didn't want to stop! I was Forrest Gump!

I walked at the 3 mile for a few seconds, and then a couple more times in the last 2 miles, but not really over 4 minutes total. I felt great! It didn't hurt! My training worked!

The course ended on a big hill, so I walked up that a bit, and once we turned the corner, there was the finish line. I looked at my watch, and realized that I could possibly finish in less than an hour. So I kicked it into high gear--and finished in 59:16! BOOM!

I am so freaking proud of myself.

I called Fuzzy, and he was surprised that I finished so quickly--he was still in the finishing chute himself! He finished 10 minutes before me, so we met up to celebrate our victories!

Team Gerdes at the Shamrock Shuffle

5 miles and going strong! Now I am not afraid of 10! I know I will be able to do it.

I did it!

Team Gerdes at the Shamrock Shuffle

I always like to get a post-race garbage can photo.

Official Times here!

Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 10.00.28 AM.png



She thinks sleeps outside the box bed.

Latte sleeps outside the bed.


Noah Ginex Puppet Company in rehearsal and on the WGN Morning News

This morning, the awesome Noah Ginex Puppet Company sang a song with WGN weather man Paul Conrad (and dastardly Wink.) It was a blast! Click Here for The Video!

Noah Ginex Puppet Company in rehearsal and on the WGN Morning News

Featuring, from Left to Right:
Noah Ginex as Jameson, Paul Conrad, Jeff Hoover, Taylor Bibat as Esmerelda, Shauna Hansen as Squattles, Amanda Rountree as Archibald, Adam McAleavy as Toronto, Fuzzy Gerdes as Mike the Pieman and Regan Davis as Mal (and a sliver of a camera man.)

Come see us Friday and Saturday night!


The full cast! Each column is an actor's 3 characters:
Noah, Fuzzy, Amanda, Adam, Shauna, Taylor, Regan.
The pigs don't know how to look at the camera.
(amazing headshots by Greg Inda)

PS look at my cute husband!

Noah Ginex Puppet Company in rehearsal and on the WGN Morning News


I've had the pleasure of once again directing the Noah Ginex Puppet Company for this year's Chicago Improv Festival. It's been a quick rehearsal process, but we've crammed a lot of fun, character, comedy and playfulness into a short period of time. It's been a blast, and the shows are going to be a ton of fun!

We will be featured on the WGN morning show this Thursday, April 4th!
Shows are Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 6th at 10:30pm at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy on Irving Park.


Noah Ginex, Regan Davis, Amanda Rountree, Shauna Hansen, Adam McAleavey, Fuzzy Gerdes and Me. Not pictured, Taylor Bibat. Photo by Greg Inda

The Storm Before the Calm


Back in the fall, I was on top of the world. I had a multiple creative projects, most of which were lucrative, and my confidence was sky high. I had a nice part-time side job that was affiliated with my comedy group, I was getting requests to produce shows, I was getting paid to produce other shows, and I had a very successful show running that was bringing in income. Fuzzy, after toiling over the end of his job for a long time and what his next steps were going to be, found essentially his dream job working for a company that he loved. He felt very at home, and finally was able to relax and enjoy his work. He was also getting pursued for part-time side work. All signs were pointing to me leaving my day job so that I could focus on getting myself out there and taking my career to the next level. It felt great.

Shortly after I left my job, my side-job had a change of location, therefore making it very challenging for us to continue operating the way that we were. Even though I tried to find a way to make it work, I was taken off of the project, therefore losing 95% of that source of income.

Shortly after THAT, the company that I had choreographed for changed the structure of all their shows moving forward, and I was taken off my gig. The show continued to run, but I lost all revenue from the ticket sales. It was hard, and a slap in the face.  I had to fight for myself a bit, and although I didn't win, it ended on good terms, which I was glad about. But still, I lost that source of income, too.

I felt a bit beaten down, but then a glimmer of hope came. We got some good news about pursuing a long-time goal of ours--getting a show on television. All signs were pointing to a go, but we always knew in the backs of our heads that it might not happen. But thing was looking like it was actually going to happen. I spent a good 3 months working over full time on logistics, writing, making connections, scouting, meetings, and everything else that comes along with producing a tv show. Not only was this going to be a dream come true, but it was going to be my "job" for the year. A source of income, AND the thing that was going to finally put me on the map. And a few weeks ago, we found out that it wasn't going to happen, at least any time soon. We were (maybe naively) convinced we were 100% going into production. Suddenly, I found myself with lots of time and wasted work (though it was truly an amazing learning experience) lost afloat--having to recalibrate my expectations for the year and how I built my daily structure. It knocked me off my game. I lost confidence. I suddenly don't know what I am doing or what I have to offer anyone. I know that there is something, and I will be back soon, but I've tried to respect my feelings and needs and let myself mourn a bit.

Two weeks ago today, we got news that Fuzzy's job was going to be sold and that the majority of the office was going to lose their jobs. The news came out of nowhere and as a total shock--it still is--with the exact future being completely uncertain. The whole staff is now scrambling to find other jobs, and we are having to deal with the disappointment of Fuzzy leaving the place that was making him so happy. The job search has to start all over again. Nevermind the high stress levels that come from the uncertainty. The next week of our lives is going to be an interesting one. Fuzzy has put some feelers out for job openings, and we are taking it one day at a time.

Sadly, our resources are running dry. We've been so blessed to have had steady employment all these years, even during the recession when NO ONE had a job. We live a cooshy lifestyle, but we've already started to think smarter and change some things so make it work. We are set up in a way that we are ok and we will be ok. But I am now feeling completely worthless--like I am not pulling my weight--and I need to start looking for a job myself. I've also lost a great deal of my confidence lately--when recently asked what it is that I do, I had to honestly reply "I don't really know right now." I've always known.  I fortunately have a number of gigs lined up for the year--paid gigs, too--but nothing that is really going to make a difference in paying the bills. I don't know if I should try to get an office job again (I've been working solo for a long time, now, and I don't know how I will fit into an office gig), I don't want to go back to box office work, I have a hard time staying up late, so bar/restaurant work might be tricky, and a lot of my creative work relies on having computer access, so having a retail job might be tricky, too. But really, I am just finding excuses. I need to just suck it up and work. I don't want to admit defeat, but I also don't want to put all the pressure on Fuzzy to be the sole breadwinner. I am trying to encourage him to take on some creative work--video editing, trying to get a commercial agent, etc. So do we try to piece together two freelance lifestyles, which will be more work and less money, but more fulfilling, or do we look for work that will pay the bills so we can pursue our art without fear?

Should I admit defeat? Am I defeated?

I always try to be the voice of advice and sage wisdom to others. I love being a sort of art coach--someone who encourages others to follow their passion & create their art. What's interesting is that I am finding that now I am the one needing the encouragement. I need the advice. Luckily, I am getting it, and from some really brilliant people.

I was talking with my brother the other day and telling him about something that I was having a really hard time with. His response was that I needed to use it, write it, make it into art. And he was dead on accurate. Why am I letting these experiences burden me and bring me down, when they are a gift? Creative fodder that is just falling to my lap. I can still work on finding the thing that makes ME and what I have to say worthy of being heard.

In chatting with Melissa the other day, I was trying to come up with new careers or jobs in my areas of interest. Brilliantly, she pinpointed that I am already working in the wedding industry--officiating weddings and choreographing dances--so why don't I pursue that route? And she was right--I am already doing it. I just need to bump it up and take it to the next level. We've already made some good strides early on in finding my "angle" and ways that I can keep doing what I love in this field. It gives me hope.

This is definitely a transition period for Fuzzy and I. A collective pulling-up of our bootstraps. A time for us to decide exactly just what it is that we want out of life and what we want to do in our years to come. It is terrifying. But it is also pretty exciting. There is no right or wrong answer.  The choices are ours to make.

It's not going to be easy. You can't just snap your fingers and have the answer. You can force your confidence back, though I suppose you can "fake it til you make it." We have a lot of work ahead of us. It's a "long row to hoe."

Ultimately, we will be ok, because no matter what, Fuzzy and I have each other, and that is the most important thing in the world. Our relationship is strong, which is truly a blessing, and we've been through so much external crap together, that this is just another bump in the road. We still know how to laugh. We know how to love. We will come out of this on the other side as better, stronger people who are following their hearts and making it work. No matter what shape it takes.

Look out, world.