Arm warmers return

I left my arm warmers in Buffalo over Christmas, and I got them back in the mail last week. I wore them to work today, and my boss complimented me on them:

–They look so…

Better still

Improv class last night was much better than the previous class. We concentrated on one piece of the puzzle, finding a character. It was cool to remember that learning can be challenging and fun at the same durn time. Who knew.


Becca and I are taking a writing class that’s all about getting a good toe-hold on big, huge writing projects: screenplays, novels, etc. We decided, in a fit of self-importance and a storm of creativity, to write a play together about being age 24. So far, we know it’s about two fictional 24 year-old women with an uncanny resemblance to (surprise!) Becca and I. Our patient, dry-witted teacher thinks this can fly, but cautioned: “I’m going to push you…. to have… something.”

I know I’ll be glad I took this class when it’s over. Just like my improv class. But damn. Learning? Sometimes? Makes ya feel dumb.


Yesterday, had some really positive revelations about class. I have an inkling of what was up, and I’m feeling lots better.

Overheard by the elevator

Mona: Are you passing out —
Rabbi: I’m trying not to pass out. Every now and then I feel like passing out…
Mona: No, I mean are you passing out fliers?

Decompressing from class

They say that improv makes you barf up all the stuff that you normally would keep inside, and then look at it and play with it. That sounds gross. But basically, in a recent megaphone I described what came up during one such barf-fest. Last night, something else came up that I realize now is a pretty accurate portrayal of how I was feeling that night. Again, it came from being totally alone onstage and having to just start. I had a gun strapped to my leg, but I didn’t know how to use it. That was my little mantra for that scene. And that sort of captures how I felt last night, and about this class in general: powerless. It’s just a really hard class. I know I’ve got power hidden somewhere, but damn if I know how to — or have the guts to — wield it. Or even untape it from my damn leg.

I found a knife strapped to the other leg by the end of the scene, though. That was pretty cool.

This is getting ridiculous

I acquired another typewriter over the weekend at the Chicago Filmmakers Society garage sale. It’s bright yellow with black keys, metal and very light, made in Japan. In my family of typewriters, it would be the one to smoke in junior high, wear black turtlenecks, and think that Speed Racer is ironically hip, while concealing a secret desire to actually be a racecar driver. It needs a new ribbon. But it looks damn spiffy.

In other typewriter news, Eliina and I finally ventured to Steve’s typewriter repair shop and got a ribbon for my 1956 Remington. The shop, by the way, was so cool — dark, dusty and inky. I just wanted to touch all the keys on all the typewriters in there.

My newly beribboned typewriter made for great fun at brunch on Sunday with Cleo, the Jons, Amanda and Eliina. Jon and Jon passed it back and forth and created a short but brilliant mystery story about a dashing man and a Parisian Water Diamond. Amanda and I then acted it out for all to see.

I would never actually kick a puppy

My new improv class is harder than the old one. But I guess I want it to be. Maybe it’ll kick me around and toughen me up. I told Becca that maybe my ego is like a puppy, a little on the fragile side now, but once it’s kicked a lot, it’ll get used to it. Becca replied that kicked puppies just get mean. Yay! I’ve always wanted to be mean!

Yes? No. Yes?

Teaching English at an urban public high school in Chicago…. good idea? Bad idea. Good idea? Bad idea. I asked my mother for advice. She said she couldn’t give me any because, “personally I wouldn’t want to be in a room full of teenagers on drugs like that. But if that’s what you want to do…” Thanks, Mom.

Who knows where furniture comes from? It just appears!

Much of my basic furniture is from Amanda and Charlie: bed, dresser, chair, kitchen table. But the place was still looking pretty bare as of this weekend. So.

Furniture comes from alleys….
I saw a table in an alley near my apartment on Sunday. It looked pretty beat-up, but hey — I have almost no furniture, I’m not picky. So I called Amanda for a consultation, since she’s the queen of alley salvaging. We discussed all the angles: What if I couldn’t lift it alone? What if some other family needed it more than me? What if it was too disgusting to be fixed? I pictured myself staggering through the alley with a table and becoming the laughingstock of the neighborhood. We ran through my options.

Among them were:

1) Leave in alley for some other table-less soul.
2) Wait for Amanda and Eliina to come over in a couple hours for our scheduled dinner, and all three of us could carry it. Hopefully it wouldn’t be gone by then.

3) Pick up the table myself and carry it as far as I could; wait for Amanda and Eliina to carry it up the stairs with me.

Amanda reminded me that if I didn’t like it, I could always put it back in the alley for someone else.

While Amanda and I were talking, I watched the table out the window, as people walked by and eyed it. Time was short. So I hung up with Amanda and decided to go over there and at least inspect it for worthiness. Up close, the thing was pretty disgusting, covered in some sort of sticky, fruity-smelling film, like it’d just been used for flip-cup but with wine coolers. But it was desk-sized, and maybe just needed a good scrubbing.

I’m feeling like an idiot at this point for casing a cast-off table with such scrutiny, so I decide to just get it over with and carry it out of The Public Eye. I grab the tabletop with both hands and balance the edge on my waist, with the table legs sticking out. I can barely see over it, but I manage to get it to my back stairs without much struggling, even though my coat is now splotched with its grossness. Buoyed by this success, I then decide to keep going! Onward! Up the back stairs. This proves trickier, for geometric reasons, really. The table is only just wide enough to fit through the stairwell.

And so, of course, I am rounding the second flight of stairs, thinking I can surely make it, when — snap! Off comes a leg, smacked against the side of the stairwell.

Suddenly this outcome seems inevitable. It was all just a cruel joke, wasn’t it, world? Resigned, I stagger back down the stairs and set it down in the alley, one leg missing, before hurrying away.

Amanda tells me this is a good thing. It means it wasn’t that sturdy to begin with, and I’ve saved someone else the trouble of finding that out for himself.

Furniture comes from Doug…
My building manager, Doug, had offered to be the required “adult presence” while my cable got installed on Monday. It was very helpful; I didn’t have to sit at home on a Saturday waiting and waiting for the cable guy. In fact, I walked home from work Monday night thinking, what a stroke of good luck. No waiting for the cable guy. What a nice building manager.

And then I opened the door to my apartment and there was a funky-legged glass coffee table and a vintagey wood end table that were definitely not there before. So — of course, amazed — I called Doug. “Doug…. there’s some extra furniture here… and… I was wondering if it was from you…?” And it was.

He said that he’d had stuff in the basement, left behind by previous tenants. And he’d come to this country from Serbia without much of anything and he could see, while in my apartment, that I didn’t have much of anything at the moment. So! Now I am a few tables richer. Totally made my day.


I’m back in Chicago after an entertaining, relaxing week with the fam. Highlights included:

–Listening to my Italian grandmother yell at my father when he compared her to Marie on “Everybody Loves Raymond”
–Watching huge, fairy tale snowflakes float down all Christmas Eve
–Lighting fireworks with Janelle and her boyfriend Dave (and running around the driveway with sparklers)
–Making pies with my sisters, mostly so we could eat the dough