Tuesday, January 1, 2013

All Good Things

I decided since this New Year's holiday has been markedly better than ones of the past, that I'd compile a list of my favorite things about 2012.  I've made some amazing friends, had an epic amount of good food, and listened to a you know what ton of music. So, here's a brief "Best of" Lucky Girl Style...

Best Coffeehouse - Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Logan Square (http://gaslightcoffeeroasters.com/).  Hands down the best espresso you will have in Chicago.  And I should know.  Also, this place gets bonus points for having a superb staff of non-douchey baristas and supplying music via turntable.

Best Restaurant - Yusho (http://yusho-chicago.com/)  If you want a gin and tonic that will change your life served alongside twice fried chicken with matcha- you should come eat with me.  This place is less like going out to eat and more like an edible euphoria.  The bar staff are also incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.  They don't judge when you tell them to bring you all the desserts.

Best Podcast - Wrestling with Depression (http://www.wrestlingwithdepression.com/)  Why is this worth listening to?  Because it's a realistic, non-sugared, humorous way to talk about things that suck.  It's engaging and enlightening look into how individuals cope with depression while making others laugh. 

Best Place to Drink Beer and Make Poor Dietary Decisions - The Rocking Horse (http://www.rockinghorsechicago.com/)  Tater tots and $4 craft pints.  Enough said.

Best New Album - The Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten.  But I think we all knew I was going to say that.  These guys just don't make anything that isn't amazing.  And their new album, written as a letter to their fans is full of gorgeous emotions.  I've listened to it a solid 100 times.  It's still beautiful.

The Best Show to Watch in my Pajamas While Ordering off Grubhub - How I Met Your Mother.  I can't express enough how much I love Neil Patrick Harris.  Like a whole real lot y'all.  I had never really watched the show, but I once drank a beer with Josh Radnor on a porch in the Berkshires.  True story.  He's a super nice guy.

Best Book - "Air" by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker.  My first real foray into graphic fiction and I'm smitten.  Surreal and smart and addicting.  It's amazing reading a story mostly conveyed in pictures, I like creating my own gaps of dialogue and am eager to finish the series in 2013.

Best Concert - Dropkick Murphys at Riot Fest.  Yeah, I danced.

Best Accomplishment - Maintaining a healthy weight and not giving into set backs that tend to draw out my self-destructive tendencies.  I also finally started going back to a doctor.  I get out more and feel a lot more hopeful.  That feels pretty nice.  And I wish the same to all of you as you start a new year.  Sometimes bad shit happens, but there's a lot of good things going on at the same time.  Sometimes we make mistakes and hurt those we love, but we learn to move past those mistakes and fix ourselves.  Sometimes we sit alone in the evening and feel sorry for ourselves, but we reach out to our friends who make those evenings fewer and further between.  I'm not much of one for resolutions, but for this year I'll continue to keep my head up and my humor in tact and surround myself with people who make me smiley.  I hope you do as well.  Good game 2012, here's to the next round...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Thanksgiving Prelude

Thanksgiving.  It's a fairly simple concept.  A time of the year to reflect upon that which we have been fortunate enough to receive.  It's a lovely little holiday.  And while I won't be going home until Christmas, I'm looking forward to my second Chicago Thanksgiving.  No real plans yet other than feeling more content.  I feel very fortunate that the past couple of months have been going rather well for me.  So it seems easy to enjoy Thanksgiving this year.  I suppose I could post day by day things I'm grateful for, but it seemed easier to compile them and bask in the view of such an epic list.

1.  New friends.  I firmly believe you meet people at just the right moment in your life.  Exactly when you need them.  Sometimes you meet assholes and you become a better person for not killing them.  Sometimes you meet people who challenge you and you become a smarter person.  And sometimes you meet people who make you forget you feel lonely and you become yourself again.  I feel so very, very grateful for a certain couple of ladies who have become my partners in crime and food.  Friends that not only literally shower me in glitter like possessed fairies, but bring me out of my reclusiveness and remind me what its like to be alive in a wonderful city and make me feel sparkly.  Friends who make sure I eat a polish hot dog at 2 am.  Friends whose energy is contagious.  Friends who still want to hang out with me after I do my Professor Longarms walk down a very public boulevard.  Thank you.

2.   Gorilla Tango.  They gave me my first performance opportunity and have kept me performing for almost 150 performances in my first year.  Every weekend I get the honor of making a new set of people laugh and become a better performer.  Where else do you get to dance around in sparkly underpants, do comedic stripteases to everything from "Holding out for a Hero" to the Doctor Who theme to "Highway to Hell," and hang out with some of the funniest people in Chicago?  Thank you.

3.  My family.  This seems pretty cliche, but it's just truth.  Honestly, if it weren't for my mother's intense love and strength there is a distinct possibility I would not be alive.  I've done some terrible things and I've done many terrible things to myself.  And the part of my family that I consider my true family have stood by my hospital beds, they've sat on couches and held me,  they've supported me when I couldn't support myself, and their pride in my current pursuits is something I often forget.  My family kicks ass.  Thank you.

4.  Doctors and medical staff who have had mercy on an uninsured me.  I have recently been able to get back on medication for my anxiety and depression due to certain medical facilities who make treatment affordable.  They have also been very kind and have gone out of their way to speak with me.  Thank you.

5.  Nice people.  Sometimes people do things for you that are unexpected but remind you that there is still quite a bit of good out there.  Customers who have given me cards, sang to me, and left candy at my station.  The two homeless guys that always compliment me every time I walk to the theatre.  People on the bus that pick up dropped items.  Fans who go out of their way to say they enjoyed a show.  The bank teller that genuinely wishes me a good day and lets me pick out the good candy from the bowl.  Thank you.

6.  Random awesome things.  Yusho gin and tonics, bacon, warm socks, Netflix, dogs, cheese, Gaslight Coffee and coffee in general, music, laughter, Guinness, Guinness (the beer), necklaces with birds on them, oatmeal cookies, the VFW, the tamale guy, hand sanitizer, books, puns, parks, hoodies, and I'm sure I'm forgetting several things...  Thank you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Evening Lethargy

I spent the majority of today being useless.  Sure, I tidied up my room, went for a jog, drank coffee, and even ordered my first winter thermal t-shirt online; but after that I lost motivation and fell asleep for several hours.  I had every intention of venturing out and finding an aspect of the city to feel like home to me. 

After living in Chicago for just over a year; I'm still attempting to figure out what constitutes feeling "at home."  I have been missing my family and friends rather horrendously of late; despite never truly feeling content to just be home in my hometown.  I'm starting to realize physical location might not be my issue.  Moving halfway across the country was never supposed to be a cure-all.  I knew that.  I also know I have a tendency to live in the past.  And on my jog through Palmer Park on an almost perfect fall morning, I thought about moving.  Not necessarily moving home, just moving on. 

When I get depressed, I often revert to the self-destructive coping mechanisms I adopted as a kid.  And I wake up feeling like that seventeen year old girl in the hospital.  Lots of bright white lights, a numbness in the chest, the hollow howl of your heart when you realize you weren't able to let loose your grip on that which is holding you down.  Maybe the fatigues of memories mellowed by years of starvation, alcohol, and sleeping aren't necessarily for wearing anymore.  Maybe they're meant for packing away neatly; only to serve as reminders of why you're lucky - taking up minimal space until you figure out how to haul them to a side street and watch them being tossed with everyone else's emotional excess.

I don't feel so different anymore as I've encountered more and more people with similar scars.  But I still have that sense of feeling alone, which I admit is self-inflicted.  And the older I get, the more I'd like to lose that feeling.  And in order to do that, I have to decide the best way for me to move on.  That starts with remembering that at this point in my life - no one hurts me but me.  No pawning off of pain, no making someone else responsible.  I make a shitty decision, then I've made that shitty decision.  I don't have to be forever seventeen and half-dead; I never have to be anywhere I don't want to be. 

Because even the littlest birds were meant to fly.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Red Flag Article

I'm not much of a dater. In fact, I'm rather wretched at it. But seeing as I'm thirty and not wanting to die alone licking burned cheese off a Lean Cuisine watching "Battlestar Galactica" - I'm making a concerted effort to come across as more "available." And I've got to admit, there are some red flags that I'm just now learning are a testament to whether a guy is going to be a burlap sack full of donkey cocks or a genuinely decent human being. I feel like I should share what I've picked up on -

1. Do not go out with a man who uses emoticons. A semicolon followed by half a paranthesis does not make whatever you just texted more mischievous.

 2. Cut it short if he opens with how much he likes the Grateful Dead.

 3. I'm done with guys who still own and wear Vans. Get Converse like all the other hipsters out there. Vans make you look like a mental patient and their music tour line-up reads like highlights from a high school journal.

4. Guys who are willing to watch you consume ten percent of your body weight in red meat and/or bacon without being repulsed are awesome. If they encourage it - make sure you get their number.

5. Men who order "bombs" of any kind or anything with the word "panty" in it at a bar - go ahead and leave (with your Mace ready) ladies.

6. Make sure he's laughing because he finds you funny; not because he doesn't know what the word "twat" means.

7. Good banter is hard to find. Relish in it if it happens along.

8. Genuine gentlemen don't make you feel like they are doing you a favor by spending an evening with you. Frack that. Time is valuable, and if you think halfway through the date that your Saturday evening would be better spent eating Lucky Charms in your pajamas and listening to Social Distortion - it probably would be.

9. If there isn't at least one bookshelf (with books) in his apartment - just say, "No."

10. Nice guys will ask you how you are after your dog dies. They will also tell you to have a good week, send you funny pictures to cheer you up, and smile at your shitty jokes then call you out on them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little Storms

I could start this post with what a shitstorm the past couple of weeks have felt like. Between the overtime, hitting the wall at work, losing a dog that had been a huge part of my heart for many years, rehearsing and performing, throwing out my upper back - I got pretty tired. And depressed. I wanted nothing more than to go home, sit on my mother's couch with a glass of red wine, cry, and fall asleep knowing the coffee would already be made when I woke up. But it's not really a shitstorm at all. I have a job, I was forced to tell my employer how exhausted I was and stand up for myself a bit, I'm a better person for loving my dog as much as I do, I still get a regular opportunity to do the one thing that makes me truly peaceful, and I got my back fixed in two trips to the chiropractor. Having coped with depression and anxiety for over half my life - I know this feeling of failure and loneliness will eventually fade if I get off my ass and make the necessary changes. I've been so terrified that I will end up like my biological father recently that I've forgotten how far I have actually travelled. We all feel pain. But we choose whether we push that pain onto others. Either take a deep breath, change what hurts - or your misery will affect those around you. I have promised myself I will not permeate sadness. I have promised myself I will make at least one person laugh every day. I have promised myself to keep trying to figure it out.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Gaining Weight

Recently I went to the doctor's office where I was, by standard procedure - weighed. And I've spent the week beating myself over a number. A number I haven't heard in awhile. In other words (gasp) - I've gained a few. Now the rational side of me knows this gain isn't even perceptible to those around me and is healthy; but the 17 year old Rebecca sees this as a sign of failure. I haven't even had regular access to a scale in over ten years for this very reason. It's been awhile since I've truly restricted, even when I've gone through my ruts this past year - I kept eating. This is the first time in my life that has ever happened. And I'm completely frightened by the prospect of having beaten the anorexic side of me. I had become so accustom to being depressed and looking at a sunken face. And feeling better when my hands would shake with physical weakness. Anorexia is a strange disease. It's like any addictive disorder. It has a calming effect. The act of disappearing becomes a worn blanket fort for anyone who uses it as a self-defense mechanism. And I don't have my fort anymore. I suppose I pulled the blankets down; and now I'm just looking at them. On the floor. They appear faded, well-loved, and useless against outside forces. My gut reaction earlier this week was to restrict, and honestly part of me desperately still wants to take the rough past couple of weeks and numb it with the feeling of starvation. But I'm tired of my blanket fort. Afraid of hiding in it. I have to remember I'm 30 now, not 17. I have no reason to be frightened now. No reason to make myself ugly. No reason to be affectless. I know this uncomfortable feeling of being at a slightly different weight will pass. Just like when I would first gain weight back after a hospitilazion. You live with it and see that you are okay. It won't kill me. It won't make me any less funny. It won't make my friends and family love me less. It won't mean I'm weak. In fact, it might just mean I'm making progress instead of just moving...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Walk in the Park

I'm approaching celebrating my one year anniversary of moving to Chicago and I almost didn't make it. With an enormous amount of homesickness, my anxiety and depression nearly bested me in a decision to return to Louisiana. I wanted to go home. I wanted so badly to be rescued again. I wanted to return to being numb. It's just easier to stop feeling sometimes. Let someone else tell you they're sorry for you. It becomes simpler to resort to addictive behaviors and say it's excusable because you survived a shitty childhood. Sometimes it feels the older I get, the less I understand my life up until New Year's Eve 1999. Seventeen years and the only way I had figured to quiet my brain after years of starvation was to run away and overdose. I let someone save me that night. I remember the pill bottles and the telephone in my bedroom. I recall my hand on the receiver, the cool feel of plastic on my cheek, and spitting out the words. I remember freaking out when I thought - "what if one day you could feel something again, what if you miss out on being happy, what if you can accomplish something bigger than yourself?" I had been rescued before on occassion when my weight would get too low. I had developed a right efficient system of recovery into relapse that allowed me room for hope, and space for denial. But I always knew someone else would swoop in and I could cease trying too hard for awhile. I relished being the sick little girl, the malfunctioning smart girl, the quiet affectless girl. Sometimes I want to be her again. Because it is easier to be her. When I felt myself want to go home, I felt myself go back to that place of emotional dismissal. But I will not choose the easier route this time. It's about discovering strength. Knowing I can live my life without a safety net, knowing I can feel again and those feelings sometimes include less than desirable days. I have much to be thankful for, even more to be humbled by, and a healthier frame to carry me through. Today I walked through Palmer Park and cried. Parks are good for walking aimlessly and remembering there is more life than just your own. Today was just a bad day. But it doesn't need to be fixed by anyone other than myself. I have bigger plans for tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that...