Lately I’ve been hearing voices — not the multiple-personality or go-forth-and-murder kind. More like, the doubting kind, the criticizing kind. Origin: high school. These voices of should-I, shouldn’t-I, what-will-they-think? were all conceived in a petri dish and tranferred to a vat filled with equal parts shame, algebra and cheap cosmetics known as high school, when second-guessing was the second step in a nine-step guessing process about who you should sit with at lunch, where your college applications should go, what your Converse sneakers said about you.

These voices crop up most when I’ve got artistic projects on the line, as I do now, with Second Story this week and the new grant burning a hole in my proverbial pocket.

Anne Lamott says: “Left to its own devices, my mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren’t there. I walk along defending myself to people or exchanging repartee with them, or rationalizing their behavior, or seducing them with gossip, or pretending I’m on their TV talk show or whatever. I speed or run an aging yellow light or don’t come to a full stop and one nanosecond later am explaining to imaginary cops exactly why I had to do what I did, or insisting that I did not in fact do it.”

She suggests: Pretend that each of these voices is actually the voice of a mouse. Imagine dropping these chattering mice one by one into a mason jar. And then seal the lid.

I’m working on that part.

Spring skirt

I’m wearing a spring skirt. It is sort of ugly. Nylon. Flowy. Knee-length. Black with tiny blue and white flowers. Reminds me of junior high skirts gone by. But you know why I’m wearing it, punks? Because it’s SPRING.

Yesterday to celebrate spring, I picked up a baguette at the bakery, and some strawberries and nutella at the Jewel, made myself an au lait, and went for a walk in the sun.

Maybe that was more accurately celebrating Paris.

Actual news

I just received my very first grant to create a piece of art. At $700, it is one of the tiniest grants that the land ever birthed, but it was given to me by the City of Chicago, and so I shall look upon it as a stroke of fortune from the city that usually gives me nothing more than parking tickets and pollution-induced allergic reactions.  (The backstory: I applied for a CityArts grant to produce a longer version of Inside Fighter, the 20-minute play I created about the late, great, Phil Muscato, boxing legend.) And shockingly, several months past the supposed notification deadline, I received a fat packet in the mail with a ton of acceptance paperwork.

Wouldn’t be the city without paperwork.

Note to self

Dear Lindsay of 30 Minutes Ago;

I bet you TOTALLY think it would be ok to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie ice cream in one sitting, and then wash it down with a beer! I bet you are thinking — dude, it is WARM OUT, let’s get this feast STARTED. But I am here to tell you, Lindsay of 30 Minutes Ago, that no. It is a poor choice. A poor choice.


Lindsay of the Present


There’s something poetic about walking by an open window on a warm, breezy night just as the person inside, backlit by a soft glow, turns and closes it.

Ocean temps

I just ran across a blog post on WordPress.com’s “top posts” section titled “Mixed Signals in Land and Ocean Temps” — I think it was about land/sea temperatures, but I totally envisioned a bunch of fresh-faced temps… women in their too-tight pencil skirts and awkward high heels, dudes in khakis and ill-fitting dress shirts, finding out that their temp agency had sent them to… The ocean. I imagine them walking with trepidation to meet their sea captains, so they might begin their day of filing star charts.

Dumb but not that dumb

Don posted recently about the public education system in the U.S.

Me? I am firmly against the prevailing ethos that stresses: Do as you’re told. Do no more and no less. Listen for the bell. Watch the clock.

In an ideal world, my classroom would be heavy on the experiential, inquiry-based learning — asking questions, creating projects that interest them. I once heard about a school in Minnesota that’s almost entirely project-based, and the students do it all: they open the doors with their own keys in the morning and sweep the floors before they leave in the evening. In high school, I couldn’t stand any class except journalism, where our only task was to envision our final product, create it, and share it.

I worked at a “small school” that was supposed to do something like this on the South Side.  Once a huge, impersonal high school, South Shore was divided into four smaller schools of about 400 kids, each with its own principal, though they shared a building. For the first couple years, with funding from the Gates foundation, it worked — students learned in small classes, teachers knew everyone in the school and worked as a team, students were matched with local businesses and went on internships every Wednesday, the entire faculty and staff gathered for an annual retreat to plan strategically as an entire school.

Then the funding dried up for internships and retreats, the district pushed for the school to take on more students, behavioral problems started taking center stage, and even though there were only 500 students in the school, the staff had been overwhelmed, the principal was focused on discipline, and pretty soon the entire model had derailed.

Schools need more funding and district leadership that will set schools on a well-planned, visionary course. But the gap between dreams and reality, right now, seems unbelievably huge. I once thought that no one could figure out the magic formula for fixing public education, and if only I tried hard enough, researched enough, worked enough, I could help figure it out. The real truth is, people in power don’t want this problem fixed. People with money don’t care enough about the kids without money.  And why would they? They’d just be creating more competition for themselves. We, as a society, are dumb — but not that dumb. We’ve figured out how to fit 90 hours of sound onto a thumbnail-sized chip, but we can’t figure out how to get through second period without Damien and Laron punching each other in the face?

A new Neo show opens its sticky little wings and flies

There’s a show opening this week at The Neos. Which means I am a bit of a frazzlepuff. But the good news is that the show is getting a lot of good press, and from what I’ve seen it’s fucking hilarious and deals with the question plaguing me and many of my friends: “Uh, this arts career thing? If I keep it up, does it mean that I will die in an unmarked grave after having subsisted on a diet of oatmeal and cold pizza?” It’s called Picked Up. You should see it.

Update: I just re-read this post and realized that, due to the construction of my sentence, it sounds like I will be buried alive in an unmarked grave and then officially die.  Which is actually funnier.


On Tuesday morning, my dad drove me to the airport. Before we parted ways he gave me a Grapple. Apparently, this is an apple that somehow also tastes like a grape. He gave it to me like it was a really important object; they’re a dollar each! But he thought, you know, he should treat me.  I bit into it while waiting at the gate for my flight to take off. Turns out, these Grapples, they mess with your mind: This grape is so huge and crispy! This apple is so grapey!

 I could never get behind purple ketchup, due to the same issue. My synapses get all confused.

So much undone

I spent the weekend, mostly, with my younger sisters and my grandparents, watching both home movies and reality t.v.

With this alchemy of influences, time seemed to speed up exponentially, like when my dad used to spin the playground carousel a little too hard and we’d have to hang on tight, wedging our Keds up against the bars to stay on. I soaked up flashes of everything, one after the other, Clockwork Orange-style: the innocence of my younger sister’s first baby movies and the tender love of our young parents as they posed with us; the deadening decadence of all the catty contestants on Rock of Love, the grief that comes with being 85 and losing so much, the undeniably heartbreaking emotion of being voted off American Idol; how at age four, I jumped and skipped at random times, like a little jumping bean, as a simple plea for attention; the way that we’re all reaching towards something, working harder than ever, for what? A spot on America’s Next Top Model? The chance to be elderly and awake? I boarded the plane this morning full of conflicting thoughts, feeling like I’ve been asleep through too many waking hours.

A Buffalo minute

I decided to go to Buffalo for the weekend. I’m here now, until tomorrow morning — a short, spontaneous trip to jolt me out of the Chicago gray. If you’re wondering where I am, I’m here.

If you’re wondering where you are, maybe it’s time to stop with the sleepwalking. I’m just saying.