If I Could Write You A Song…..

Guys, I went to the National Zoo with the Awesome Opossum this weekend. A LOT of cool things happened, but I played it super cool, as I’m wont to do. Image We obviously headed over to see the pandas first, where everyone was relaxed and no one fan-girled out, including the Awesome Opossum…… Image Ok, who I am kidding? The male panda was all tuckered out, which enabled us to really snap some pics, the way that Lindsey Lohan’s enablers probably do in case things ever go south for them. The lady panda was way more excited, so she paced all over her indoor and outdoor habitats. I could only kind of relate. We were obviously amped up to see each other, but she’s got some extra business going on since the zoo is trying to inseminate her with a new baby panda*, which will hopefully be smooth sailing and emotionally restorative for her. Image She’s doing great. Lots of other cool animal things happened. We saw an elephant take a bath. We made friends with a little kid who showed us where to find the elephant and allowed us in turn to show him where to look for the panda. We saw otters playing. We saw an orangutan get right up to the glass in his indoor habitat and make faces at tourists. Then we saw an asshole put his whole iPad in front of that orangutan so no one else could see him or take a picture of him. Then we saw the orangutan go tell his friend, who was hammocking outside, all about the asshole; talking smack about a stranger just like we were doing!Image We saw a sliver backed gorilla cuddle her baby, and a little girl wearing the cutest seersucker dress and a panda backpack, and we saw a tiger lounging. To send our Washington, DC National Zoo experience off with the appropriate fanfare, we saw the male lion stand up in his habitat and roar and then hack like he was coughing up a hairball. Image I usually try to imbue my posts with a little irony and sardonic wit, but this zoo trip is way above any cynicism I could lean on to try to make this funny and less cheesy. It’s fascinating to see exotic animals and sad to see them in cages. Sadder still, many of these animals are endangered by people who are destroying their habitats and poaching them for their coats or to be sold as exotic pets. That’s assholery even above blocking an orangutan from everyone else’s view with your iPad. I shamelessly poach pictures of animals from the internet all the time** but I do send a little cash every month to the World Wildlife Fund which spends its resources protecting these animals. As the group at the top of the food chain, we owe it to them to protect and preserve. Image *Fun panda fact: all pandas, regardless of birth country or personal citizenship desire, belong to China. It is prettttttty important not to have a panda get sick or die on your watch if you are a nation lucky enough to be allowed to borrow one.

**All photos in this post are courtesy of the Awesome Opossum’s iPhone, btw.

Also, Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! Thanks for always reading.


The Fly in the Ointment

Happy Sunday Internet! I have to say, this was one of my favorite weekends ever. A Friday night spent doing too many bits with my improv group to productively agree on dinner. A Saturday spent frustratingly waiting for someone to pick up my couch from Craigslist and then getting my own furniture delivered and being reminded why I’m glad to no longer be 22 (primarily because I wouldn’t keep someone waiting for four hours while I pretended to get a Uhaul to pick up a free couch) and catching up with Gigi, the Awesome Opossum, and the Marvelous Meerkat. A Saturday night doing my first show with our full improv team and then drinking with awesome friends. A Sunday beginning with old friends and ending with new ones. This was a great, great weekend.

Blog posts and Facebook status updates giving a laundry list of good (or bad) events over the past increment of time of someone’s life are so annoying. “I had the best sandwich I’ve ever had and then I did laundry and then I bought new shoes and then I watched Enchanted!” Who on Earth cares? But, maybe I shouldn’t be such a naysayer about the joy of others*. Life is hard. There is no perfection. There are no promises. No matter how many things are going right, there is always something that’s frustrating or sad or infuriating. There’s always someone wanting to keep you down or shut you up. It’s easy to get caught on that one frenemy or forehead zit. I’ve spent the better part of my life stuck on the chip in the glass, blinded to the perfectly chilled top shelf tequila inside of it. I’m consciously working to change that. I’m focussing on the good (of which there is so much) rather than lying awake at night obsessing about the thing that’s currently hard.

Much of that conscious change has to do with improv. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons in my time at UCB (tomorrow is my anniversary-wootwoot!). The biggest one is to unclench. I can’t plan. I can’t map out everything that’s going to happen today or tomorrow. There’s a difference between having dreams and goals and hopes, and pinning all my happiness on one specific outcome. Additionally, finding something to love and people to love it with is a huge gift.

By nature I’m a bratty pouter. I’ve thrown temper tantrums and been passive aggressive in ways that most mature adults can’t imagine. I’m trying to break those patterns. Counting blessings over curses is a step in the right direction. I’ll be referring back to this post a lot in the weeks and months to come.

*j/k, I’ll always be a snarky b-word** at heart.

**I’m scaling back on swearing for Lent. It’s not going great. I had to rewrite that footnote like seven times to not just say “bitch”. Oh…fuck! Sorry!…d-, f-, mothe—….crap!

Personal Liveblog About The Golden Globes

The Awesome Opossum and I have been liveblogging this entire awards show, but only on our phones, to each other. We might just try to get it together for the Oscars to do it here, but here’s a little taste of what we sound like when we are alone:

AO: Who would you rather hang out with? You HAVE to choose:

PP: Haha, ok

AO: Anne Hathaway or Taylor swift

PP: Oh sweet Jesus

AO: And either way you are going to run into Lena Dunham have to make small talker with her for 5 mins

PP: Taylor. She would be annoying but only about her personal life. I feel like Anne Hathaway only knows how to talk to strangers about her craft

PP: And you?

AO: Oh I would pick Anne

AO: I would really probably kill Taylor swift

AO: Or at least try to get her hooked in crack

PP: More details.

AO: I feel Anne at least is a grown up and can carry a conversation. Taylor would only talk about unicorns and cotton candy and give me tips on dating a high schooler

AO: Joaquin Phoenix just doesnt give a shit

PP: I would prefer the latter to having someone drone on about every moment of her acting career

AO: Fair

AO: I bet you really could convince Taylor to do crack so maybe that would be worth it

PP: I would probably be mean to Taylor and then I could have a song about me and her called “bad friend/sad friend”

AO: Haha that is a great plan

Say Hello To The Girl That I Am

Like always, Britney Spears and I are experiencing similar life changes. We’re both changing jobs. Britney is leaving the X-Factor. I just left my administrative position at a hedge fund. There are all sorts of rumors for both of our departures flying around. I’ll keep them neutral to protect both of our privacies: “She didn’t like sitting on the trading floor.” “She didn’t like having so much national scrutiny considering she’s still learning to cope after a very public, and recent, breakdown.” “She wanted more time with my kids.” “There was too much filing involved.” “She felt unheard.” “Not enough cheese grits on site.” “She wants to focus on her music.”

I feel like a lot of people have this gripe.

I feel like a lot of people have this gripe.

Longtime readers of the site know that, though I don’t like to name drop, Britney and I are very close. I wouldn’t say she’s my BEST FRIEND, a slot occupied by the Awesome Opossum, but I would say that she is up there. We have a lot in common: we both love her music, are from the South, and we both know who Britney Spears is. And it’s like, I get that she has to do what’s best for her, but I do feel a little like she’s copying me. Like, I’m always like, “Oh Britney, I’m leaving my job to go back to my old company,” and then she’s like, “Oh, um, me too! I’m leaving my $15 million contract with Fox to go back to making music.” It just feels a little like she’s copying me. Like, I know she’s leaving hers, but it was my idea to take a break from being professional musicians and get desk jobs. And like, in 2006 I broke up with this college football player I was seeing for three weeks in Colorado and then she got divorced from Kevin Federline. And then, like, in 2007 I totally forgot to go in for my hosting shift at my new fancy restaurant job and almost got fired, which totally freaked me out. And she had to go and shave her head and whack cars with umbrellas and hang out with Paris Hilton, and it’s like, Brits, can’t I just have this one thing?Ugh

But, benefit of the doubt, neither of us was that happy at our job. Britney was meant to spread joy and hip beats, not shatter the dreams of people who are also too fragile to probably be on national television. I am meant to file less often. In the end, we’re both happier, which is just going to make our friendship stronger.

It’s All Coming Back, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now

Disclaimer: This post is gross. Maybe too gross for you. Proceed with caution.

Review courtesy of The Awesome Opossum: “It’s not that gross.”

The Crypt Keeper and I don’t want anyone “loosing it” over this!

The absolute best thing about living in New York is the privacy individuals enjoy in public. No matter how gross the behavior or person, it can proceed unchecked by society at large. Crying on the subway is totally fair. Clipping your toenails in a park is not encouraged, but I’ve seen it more than once from a person who looked like they had a home in which to groom. Donald Trump is allowed to live here, unmolested, despite what a festering blight on humanity he is. For me, there is a glaring exception to this rule.

I used to wait tables in the West Village until 2 AM and then take the One train to the Upper West Side, fully, or at least mostly, sober. I spent each and every one of those train rides home frozen in panic that some drunk person was going to throw up on me. Once I saw someone throw up kind of near me and this guy sitting next to me was like, “It’s okay girl; it happens to everyone.” I was not nearly so charitable. I am transfixed by abandoned vomit on the street, staring it down as though it were a feral cat, ready to leap at me should I fail for even a moment to assert dominance.

I am also a horrible hypocrite. Several years ago, after too many post-work margaritas and not enough post-work food, I got on the One Train at 42nd Street realized I was going to hurl, jumped off the train, did so in a trashcan, and jumped right back onto the same train car with the same horrified people staring at me in fear. I knew that fear. I quietly respected it the entire way home.

Hearing about the incident at the Broadway show, Grace, where an audience member seated in the mezzanine unburdened his or her stomach on the audience members below chills me to the core. A nightmare for the actors on stage, the vomiter, and of course the vomitees; a living hell from which they can never recover. If I were puked upon, I would never be able to leave my house again. That would be the end of my life in the world at large. If I had to continue performing onstage while someone was trying to put the pieces together of the exact moment his or her life was changed forever the craft of acting would be forever spoiled to me. And, if I were the person who ruined all those lives, I would probably die of embarrassment on the spot. I have endured the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with élan, but no one comes back from surprise puking on someone’s head from 12 feet above them.

Deeply Furious (AKA: Shoes)

When the Reebok Easy Tone shoes came out, the Awesome Opossum and I were all over them. We wanted to tone our glutes and hammies by just walking around. We would call each other and talk about how well they worked and how awesome they were. We could feel the changes. It was embarrassing when Reebok lost that law suit and we looked like the villagers in The Emperor’s New Clothes. What has been more embarrassing, at least for me, is that not only do these shoes not tone your business, they can’t even perform their basic function as shoes. I’ve had them less than a year. The inside on the heel is worn to the plastic, but much worse is that the air filled pockets on the bottoms of the shoes have worn away due to my foot-pounding of this concrete jungle. So now, when I walk in my once fitness-savvy, now foolish, shoes, a puff of deflated air announces my every step. I once wore these shoes proudly, now I try to sneak around while wearing them, which is impossible due to the incessant dying air mattress noise coming from my feet.

In an incident only related through footwear, I also lost a pair of expensive black flats on the subway about four months ago. I wish I could say alcohol was involved, but really I was just having a temper tantrum and lost my shoes mid-pout. Losing those shoes was the last piece of evidence that I can’t have nice things. The last few months have been a sartorial exercise in creativity as I tried to come up with outfits in my mostly black closet that don’t require black shoes. Getting new flats right away would only encourage me to be a little bitch whenever I don’t get enough sleep or have to take twenty extra minutes at allergy shots.

Last night, I released myself from my punishments. I bought new shoes. The sneakers are purple. The Wily Roadrunner, who does actually run in addition to being quite wily, approved of the make and model. The black flats are black; that just seemed like the right way to go. It’s impossible to know if I would enjoy these new shoes as much if I hadn’t spent the last few months squeaking around like a crazy person and putting half of my closet on a time out. Perhaps this enjoyment would be better timed if I weren’t in the middle of a stressful and expensive move, but sometimes shopping is like yoga for the soul. Gigi and I are heading to Ikea in a couple of hours. Namaste.

Listen To Your Heart

Yesterday, I took my first ever paid sick day. I have been sick and unable to go to work before, but it’s not the same. If you call out of your waitressing shift, you are a little bit of a dick, no matter how sick you really are. You have screwed the whole restaurant with your calling out. Now they are either down a man, or have to passive-aggressively bully someone into taking your shift. You now owe that person the cord blood from your first-born, if he or she is interested. Even if the server who took your shift says it’s totally fine and she needed the money and no worries, trust me, you were her mortal enemy for at least one hour.

So I’m not entirely comfortable calling out of work. I had to call my dad yesterday before I could work up the nerve to email my boss. Things like that are why my parents still think I’m adorable, even though I’m not so much late-twenties as pre-thirties at this point. He was like, “Is this the first sick day you’ve ever taken?” Sometimes, I am a YouTube kitten video.

My mom and the Awesome Opossum are the two people I contact when I am sick, which is really confusing because they have totally different philosophies on the human immune system. My mom, a tough as nails lady and one who could not afford to constantly stay home with her super asthmatic daughter, is the spokeswoman for mind over matter. She always says “Just go, you’ll feel better once you’re there.” One time, five minutes after she said that, we both spent the whole day in bed with a stomach virus. Gross, but hilarious. The Awesome Opossum on the other hand is a huge proponent of resting so you can be better tomorrow. Both have fair points. When I feel bad, I can feel them on my shoulders, one clad in Chico’s, the other Banana Republic, both making excellent points in my ear. When I can actually see them on my shoulders, I know I’m sick enough to stay home.

A few years ago, I was one hundred percent a disciple of my mother’s school of sucking it up. I hate to miss things because of sickness and I always like to think of myself as mentally tougher and stronger than some puny little cold or virus. But if my vocal trouble taught me anything, it is to listen to my body, even more than to the women on my shoulders. There times to stay in bed watching SVU and there are times when you (I) have to just man up and go to work or school or wherever it is that you go all day. I made the right decision coming back to work today. Even though I’m dizzy, I look fine. And we all know that is what really matters.

Don’t Cha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me

I am terrible in the world of men and dating. Like a terrified baby. I know I’m awesome and I know I’m decently attractive, etc. This total awkward neurosis is almost completely me being a crazy and wearing middle and high school like a medieval hair shirt. The other side of that coin is I am totally in awe of girls who are really confident around men. Not even jealous, just so impressed and am sure that their lives are really, really easy and that nothing bad ever happens to them.

The Awesome Opossum used to work at a different place than she works now (too specific for you?). One of the girls she worked with was one of those girls who always has a boyfriend and always has drama with him and always has, like, five to a million guys who are in love with her. Totally impressive. In the midst of moving in with her boyfriend and cheating on him with her best guy friend, this person, let’s call her Kelly Taylor just for fun, had to coordinate an event with Jeremy Piven, a person who is known for being a sleazy and disgusting womanizer, as well as someone who dropped out of a Broadway show over too much tuna.

But Kelly Taylor was thrilled to be his go-to for this fancy event. She didn’t even mind working so closely with Jeremy Piven, though she said he was constantly hitting on her and wouldn’t leave her alone. I could not understand why the Awesome Opossum found this so annoying. Kelly Taylor couldn’t help how much Jeremy Piven and all other men liked her. The fact that I would immolate myself if Jeremy Piven hit on me is irrelevant.

A year has come and gone, the Awesome Opossum now has a new job where Jeremy Piven hasn’t even met any of her co-workers. Back at her old job, they were gearing up for the big event again and Kelly Taylor was a little worried. She has made a serious effort to stay committed to her boyfriend and was worried that Jeremy Piven would resume his great seduction, since she would obviously be the one working on the event. It must have been such a relief when she was asked to work on other projects instead.

Especially since she doesn’t know that Jeremy Piven’s people called her company to ask that she be taken off the event because she made him uncomfortable with her advances the last time they worked together.

Won’t Even Sing Along…..

I have a slight tendency when life hands me lemons to instantly wring them out all over everyone around me and myself, squishing them into my eyes until I am blind from citric acid and tears and my close friends and family are covered in lemon juice mixed with pity and annoyance. Then I try to take a breath and blindly stumble away from my adult temper tantrum with grace.

Four years ago, I had a cyst* diagnosed on my vocal cords. I could tell you a million, billion sad details about all this and I will eventually when I write my book (Petulant Panda, Why Are You Covered In Tears and Lemon Juice? or possibly Are You There, Julie Andrews? It’s Me, Panda.), but for now, I’ll say that two surgeries, twenty-two plus days of recovery silence, two full readings of the awesome Harry Potter books, one partial reading of the mediocre Girl With the Whatever books, and thousands of medical dollars later, I’m free. I went to my ENT yesterday, who is as handsome as he is skillful, and got a clean bill of health. I have the chords of my teenage self.

Guilt consumes a singer when something goes wrong with her instrument. As far as my two ENTs, speech pathologist, and voice teacher can figure, I developed my cyst after auditioning on cords that had been wracked by a severe 24 hour stomach virus. Good lesson for singers: If you can barely walk or stand, don’t audition. Just don’t. Seriously, fucking don’t. I would give anything to go back and not eff up the next four years of my life. A cyst on your vocal cords forms when you do something little and get a bruise or small injury and then don’t rest at all, further exacerbating the injury until it forms a hard little knot. Untreated and unrested, you now have a big problem.

My cyst eventually formed a polyp on the other side that had to be removed a year after my first surgery. I used to leave my ENT’s office, ugly crying and sobbing into my phone, usually to the Awesome Opossum or my mom. I still feel fear when I go in to get scoped (they put a tiny camera down your nose and into your throat) every six months; I am terrified of what he might find. I still can’t get over the shame of being careless with my talent, but am incredibly grateful it was a fixable problem. I’ve learned a lot about myself and listening to my body and my instincts over the last four years. I’ve also learned that if you think you might get bad news somewhere, bring really big sunglasses with you, so you can cry more discretely on the subway.

*Editor’s Note: I did not have nodes or nodules. I had a cyst and a polyp. This distinction is critical to me and my pride, but it was totally worthless when I couldn’t sing worth a damn.