BT Tuesdays: Permission to Wee, Sir

When I was a teacher, I was super good at telling time. Not like looking at the clock and knowing what time it was. I’ve always been bad at that. I mean like if I was going to be late for a date when I was teacher, I would know I was going to be exactly eight minutes late.

That’s because, when you’re a teacher, life is very structured. Classes were 46 minutes long. And passing periods. Oh, the cursed passing period. Four. Minutes. Long. There were a few years that I taught three classes back to back to back, first thing to start the day. As coffee and water are two of my chronic illness staples in the morning, this was especially problematic. I asked another teacher what would happen if I was late coming back from the 4-minute passing period to use the facilities. “Oh, that’s not an option,” she said. Not. An. Option. I’m sure my students felt very fortunate to see their teacher do the pee pee dance every day.

I seriously think that one of the biggest perks of working from home is the bathroom situation. I don’t mean to brag, you guys (I do), but I can go to the bathroom anytime I want. It’s amazing. But only if I’m working from home. Because this certainly doesn’t apply if I’m in a meeting.

During a large meeting of about twenty people one morning, there was a break scheduled at 10:30. At 10:35, there was no sign of stopping. At 10:40, I did the unthinkable: I got up and walked out to use the facilities and returned–my teacher timer guarantees–in under four minutes.

At 10:45, someone adjourned the group for the allotted break, adding, “Even though some people already took theirs,” and eyeing me in front of everyone. “Oh, I’m sorry. I just thought taking my break early was better than wetting myself in front of you all,” I said, totally in my head.

Since as long as I can remember, “bathroom stuff” has grossed me out. I’ve made no attempt to get over it and do not care to. Even as an 8-year-old, I was such a germaphobe that I refused to use the toilets at school. So I would hold it all day. Until I told my mom and she told me I’d probably get cancer and die if I continued that routine. Or something like that which scared me enough to start using the school facilities. But still only for number one. Or, as we had to call it in our house: tinkle.

It’s such a strange thing, though. Up until you’re 18, you have to ask permission from another person to relieve yourself. And most of the time, that other person thinks you’re just trying to leave their classroom to go make out or smoke or just wander the halls. So you have to, like, convince another human that you, in fact, need to urinate. (Or something else.) Then in college, it’s like, yeah, just leave when you need to go, and it feels like the biggest fucking freedom of your life. Then you enter the workforce and suddenly the “privilege” is revoked. Or certainly frowned upon.

In my three years working freelance, I can’t recall one time that I’ve seen someone (who’s not me) get up from a meeting to use the bathroom. Which begs the question: How do these people hold their urine???

Sometimes because of, you know, peer pressure, I’ll also hold it and I AM D-Y-I-N-G the entire time. I promise I am not listening to you talk about your goals for this campaign. I am wondering if it looks like I’m slightly pregnant because my bladder is bulging from my pants. I’m also Google mapping the interior of this building to figure out the fastest route to the ladies’ room.

I know I’m not the only one. Because, sure enough, after almost every meeting, there’s a very quiet, very quick march to the bathroom. And I’m like, Why do we do this?

I realize I just spent 676 words discussing holding urine. But this is a sign of a much larger problem. What do we think we’re going to miss in those few minutes if we leave to relieve ourselves? The problem will not get solved. The Earth will not shift with the flush of a toilet.

We live in a very self-aware culture. We don’t want draw attention to ourselves, inconvenience anyone, disrupt the flow (pun intended). How are we so self-conscious that we’re afraid to quietly excuse ourselves in a group to complete a vital human function? No one cares. Think about it. If a woman left to use the restroom, you wouldn’t judge her. You’d be jealous. Of her very, very empty bladder.

It’s like when it comes to our wee, we live in this adolescent state of mind. We think all eyes are always on us (and, of course judging) and that every decision is crucial. When, really, becoming an adult is realizing neither of those things are true.

So I dare you, good people. Miss the moments of the meeting/show/conversation. Give your brain and bladder a break. And pee freely.

On Shows: Trigger at The Revival

Go see this show. At the risk of sounding grandiose, this was the best comedy I’ve ever seen live. (I wasn’t at Richard Pryor’s Long Beach show, so….) And in the same way Pryor was able to address “the issues” while making you laugh hysterically, that’s what Trigger achieves. It is smart, and it is hilarious. It’s a show that walks that careful balance and–as a writer–makes me wish I could’ve sat in on the writing sessions just to see the process.

By seeing this show, you’ll also get your butt down to the amazing new theater, The Revival, in Hyde Park. The space is beautiful, and the atmosphere is unlike any comedy club in Chicago. The show runs for three more Saturdays. Enjoy!

Deets:

Trigger, Saturdays through November 5th, 8:00 P.M., The Revival Theater

Showtimes and ticket info

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BT Tuesdays: The Art of Not Doing (Anyone Have Ice Cream?)

Upon watching the blind auditions for The Voice, I realized two, very important things: 1. My karaoke voice is not as good as I thought; and 2. Alicia Keys should be emperor of the world.

If you also watched, then you know among the contestants were two moms who put their music dreams on hold until they raised their children.

I admire these women–not only because they pursued a dream in which they could have easily walked away. But they also made a clear choice. Right now, I’m going to raise child. Ok, check. Now I’m going to sing my glorious heart out.

This is something I struggle with–have always struggled with. The self-control of picking and choosing what to do, but more importantly, what not do to.

When you’re pursuing a passion, the pressure of Doing It All is immense. “Have you read that book?” “Taken this class?” “Watched that documentary?” “Seen that show?” We’re incredibly lucky to live in a city with so much information and opportunity at our fingertips. But as I’ve learned on many occasion, just because it’s an option, doesn’t mean I have to read it/enroll in it/Netflix it. It’s the same with ice cream in the freezer. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean I have to eat the whole carton. (Unless it’s cookie dough. Then it’s like, Byyyyyyyeeeee.)

People are constantly talking about how “busy” and “tired” they are. It implies dedication. It implies hard work. It implies success. Just look at the greats who’ve gone before us! In books or interviews with Amy Poehler, Jordan Peele, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Hannibal Burress, Judd Apatow, they all hone on one thing: putting in The Time. Many of them discuss the sleep they lost, the weight they put on or shed, the shitty apartments they lived in, the crazy roommates they had, the hot dogs they ate for breakfast–all in the name of pursuing their dreams.

I gotta tell ya, that sounds awesome. I also gotta tell ya, there’s no way I could do that.

As anyone with chronic illness knows, picking and choosing what not to do makes pursuing our dreams possible. Much like the mothers on The Voice. Because, let’s be honest, children are basically chronic illnesses, too. 

Last week at a meeting, I was lamenting over the work ahead, mentally carving out when I would be able to complete it. I joked that I wouldn’t be getting any sleep for the next three months. My teammates shrugged. “Well, that’s just what you have to do. Not sleep.”

Yeah. Not an option. Not for someone like me. Not for the millions of people that suffer from chronic illness. Pulling all nighters, eating like crap, random schedules. Those things are a luxury. Not a rite of passage. Not a part of paying your dues. I hope the other side enjoys that Pop Tart for dinner and 2 A.M. bedtime and thanks their lucky stars that the worst thing that might happen is fatigue or a flu.

So. Does this mean it can’t for us? Not necessarily. It just means it has to happen differently. People with chronic illness must be more creative with their time because we could be out of commission at any moment. Not unlike the CTA.

It’s for this reason that many people with chronic illness are incredibly efficient. I make decisions really quickly, because I know that none of them are really lifechanging. I know that very, very few decisions in a week–or month even–will change the entire trajectory of a major outcome. There’s always a chance to change course, reroute, reassess, and move.

And, of course, keep chasing.

It’s On Fridays: On Kicking the Sh*t Out of Ignorance and Making People Laugh

It started with being really, really pissed off.

That’s how I decided to create a comedy about Type 1 diabetes.

My sister was diagnosed when she was ten. Type 1 is often referred to as the “invisible disease” because people with it operate with such structure and routine that sometimes we, as non-diabetics, don’t even notice the prick of a finger or the punching in numbers on an insulin pump. But that’s a person…playing the role of a their own pancreas. Ummmmm…yeah. Every person with Type 1 is acting as the role of an organ. Every. Moment. Of. Every. Day. (Can they put that on their LinkedIn?)

There are times, though, that this disease is not invisible. And then, when people take notice, they act with about as much tact as a drunk Packers fan.

At a festival on a lovely summer day, I witnessed two such encounters with my sister:

Instance 1

Hallie and I were chatting with an acquaintance of mine. There was a pause in conversation and the woman caught sight of Hallie’s pump. “Nice pager,” she said.

Let me elaborate, since it’s hard to capture tone in text:

She did not say it with any of these tones:

  • “Nice pager, that’s so cool that you’ve taken the 90s retro trend to the next level!”
  • “Nice pager—oh my gosh, are you a doctor?”
  • “Nice pager! I’m sorry, that’s my awkward way of asking about what that device is that you have.”

She did say it with this tone:

  • “Nice pager, loser.”

Any older siblings can understand, every fucking Mufasa instinct rose up in me. Unfortunately, it manifested into a mind blowing muteness. I’d like to think that it’s because if I did open my mouth, I would’ve said something so scathing that she would have burst into tears and apologized profusely.

But I didn’t. I just drank my beer in a dark silence. My sister said, “Thanks.”

Instance 2

This was worse. And I have no idea how I didn’t punch someone.

Another woman—an acquaintance (obviously, none of these people would ever actually be my friends) stopped mid-conversation and literally pulled on Hallie’s pump cord, asking like Regina George, “What’s that?”

Again. Rendered speechless with anger. Which is really the most frustrating kind because all you want to do is dump beer on someone’s head.

“Um, my pump. It you know, keeps me alive,” Hallie said with a deadpan tone.

My sister doesn’t even remember that day with Instance 1 and 2. Because such things–and much worse atrocities–are commonplace for people with Type 1. And that’s because people have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 has been misconstrued over and over throughout mainstream media. Take a look at even progressive comedies, like 30 Rock. In season 3, episode 9 there’s a joke about Tracy Morgan not being able to eat candy and getting his leg amputated from diabetes. Um, cool. In the Lifetime movie with Will Ferrell and Kristin Wiig (IMDb lists it as a drama, but let’s be real), they don’t know what to do when the girl they kidnapped doesn’t have her insulin, so their solution is to get candy to avoid diabetic ketoacidosis. No writer thought to do a 30-second Google search on that one? Or maybe they were just cool with perpetuating ignorance.

It’s certainly not Hollywood’s responsibility to educate people on anything. But can you imagine if we took another group of people and joked in such an uninformed manner about their disease?

It is time for people to have an understanding about what Type 1 is and what it isn’t. And what better way to fight ignorance than pulling out a giant giraffe out of a Louis Vuitton purse?

I created Type One as a way to uninvisiblize (totally a word) the disease by using the most effective weapon–laughter. It’s the same weapon my sister and many people with Type 1 use on the daily to cope with this disease…while, you know, simultaneously acting as their own pancreases.

After seeing our show, the most common reaction we’ve gotten from people with Type 1 is: “I’ve totally done that.” We portray reality–well, an exaggerated version of reality–to show the ins and outs of what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes.

We have just a few days left in our Kickstarter, and I’m asking for you to support our cause. Check out our pilot episode (the giraffe comment will make a lot more sense), throw us a few bucks, and share it out.

Let’s kick the shit out of some ignorance and make people laugh.

View the pilot episode and Kickstarter page here!

 

“Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend” by Amy Poehler

[Note: Amy Poehler is not guest posting for my blog. (Yet.) This is an excerpt from her incredible book that every woman should read called Yes Please.]

 

Here’s the thing. Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. Your career will blow you off if you call it too much. It’s never going to leave its wife. Your career is fucking other people and everyone knows it but you.

Your career will never marry you.

Now, before I extend this metaphor, let me make the distinction between career and creativity. Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, “I like this. Do this again. You are good at it. Keep going.” That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend. It is a really warm older Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and love to hug. If you are even a little but nice to her she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food.

Career is different. Career is the stringing together of opportunities and jobs. Mix in public opinion and past regrets. Add a dash of future panic and a whole lot of financial uncertainty. Career is something that fools you into thinking you are in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren’t. Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later.