What if We Stopped?

Today I was blessed to sit at a pool at a summer camp (that I happen to live at) while staff members and high school campers frolicked the water and danced to Sia poolside. When I say I sat at the pool, I really mean I was part of the lovely, silly chaos. I definitely danced to Sia because it’s way too easy. 

Day to day I’m so concerned with being caught up on current events, making my short film, driving too fast to get to work on time, checking my apps, eating salads and juicing salads so I feel self-righteous and proud of my efforts to make my body look better to others and myself, making sure I’ve met my daily step count, deflecting the conversation so no one asks me if I’m having kids soon, staying caught up on HBO shows, forgetting to call back my in-laws who kindly left me a message to wish me a Happy Birthday…

What if I just stopped caring?

What would happen?

If I stopped caring about most of the things I mentioned above, most of them wouldn’t matter at all. I’m the only one who has assigned them value. 

If I stopped caring, I’d probably go to the pool. I’d dance at the pool if music playing (especially Sia). Maybe I’d interact with other humans at the pool. Yeah, I’d probably do that.


The Reckoning.

I'm pulled in too many directions. 

I'm interning at a comedy theater. I'm taking classes at said comedy theater. I'm working part time. I'm writing a screenplay. I'm volunteering for Brand New Congress. I'm performing at another comedy theater. 

Actually, when I look at that list I'm pretty happy with it. But life doesn't seem to want to let there be an overflow of creative. Any time I try to fit more in something happens that pulls me out of my creative-ness. This year it's tax season (why do we always get screwed, huh?), a fender bender, and medical expenses that have pushed me back into adult-ness. 

I fear my creative-ness and adult-ness will always fight like cats and dogs. You see, I want to pay my bills. I don't want my teeth to fall out (I promise, they will anyway, and they will before the rest of my peers). But I also want to tell stories. 

What the heck does that mean, anyway? Wouldn't it be nice if I knew?

That's for the creative-ness to get to the bottom of. As it fights with the adult-ness it takes tiny steps day by day to uncover what that means, and what my creative-ness will become. 

I think it's a short film. At least, that's the first thing I suspect I can see in the foggy future. 

Living in a State of "What if?"

Working less (for actual currency, but I'm still working a lot!) has given me a bit more time to process life. I'm currently feeling a bit despondent and pathetic (one of my most natural states) in spite of the fact that I can SEE that so many cool things are happening in my life. 

  • I'm volunteering for Brand New Congress. It's SO REFRESHING AND INSPIRING TO WORK WITH LIKEMINDED PEOPLE!!!!
  • I intern at a comedy theater with lovely comedians who ARE ALSO LIKEMINDED!!!
  • I've been able to live in Hollywood at no additional cost to me. I'm thankful for the generosity of other people. 
  • I wrote my first spec script (Adventure Time). It may not be great, but daaaaannnngg, it's finished. 
  • I'm generally feeling inspired. 
  • I'm finally sticking to the Autoimmune Protocol and I FEEL BETTER. MY BODY FEELS BETTER. 

I've considered quite a bit why the current life I lead works for me. Something about the way things were going before wasn't working. I was doing improv (which I loved), and I was good at my job (teaching), but I didn't feel optimistic about anything. I think my life right now has more possibility and that fuels me. 

Possibility isn't completely realistic or actual. 

But it's possible, man. It's possible that Brand New Congress could put new blood in Congress by 2018 and do crazy things like create 100% Clean Energy in America by 2028. It's possible that I could win Nickelodeon's Writer's Fellowship with my spec script. It's possible that I could heal my autoimmune disease solely with the food I ingest (I hope I hope I hope!). 

In improvland* we like to ask the question, "if this is true, what else is true?" In my life right now, I'm asking something more like, "what if this could be true?"


*Improvland is any place where overly imaginative adults stand on a stage and make things up. Prompted by a one word suggestion from an audience member, the made up events often include but are not limited to pineapples, parent-child relationships, romantic relationships, and Christopher Walken impersonations. 

Improv and Gratitude.


It best describes the way I feel after I leave an improv theater. It doesn't seem to matter if I'm in the show or I'm watching the show; I can't sleep for at least two hours after I leave such a hallowed space. It leaves a firework show in my brain long after it's finished. 

Tonight I had the insane opportunity to work a shift at a theater in Hollywood that I never dreamed I would get to work at. Three winters ago I attended a show at this theater just a few days before Thanksgiving. I had just started taking improv classes in the Bay Area and desperately wanted to see a show while I was visiting my best friend in LA. Most shows that week were sold out so I had to buy tickets to a standup showcase. Still, it was thrilling to spend an hour in an old damp theater where so many amazing performances had taken place. 

I never (EVER) thought I would be able to take classes in LA. But lo and behold; one thing led to another and I managed to get through all the core class requirements at the school of my choice. 

Gratitude is something I've admittedly struggled with in my life 90% of the time. I was always taught to be grateful for the things I'd been given... but it's hard to actually practice genuine gratitude when you've truly always had what you need. I've spent many years of my life struggling to be grateful while knowing that I should be. Most recently I had an amazing teaching job that caused me to constantly beat myself up because I didn't think I was being grateful enough for it.

Choosing to make less money by interning at a theater and working on creative projects has caused my sense of gratitude to multiply tenfold. Yet this year has been one of the most challenging of my entire life because the unknown is painful. Being artistically rejected (auditions, being cut, getting notes after a show) is worse than a punch in the gut. Not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from hurts; especially when it could have been avoided by, say, staying at your job. Yet this Thanksgiving, I still manage to feel full of thanks for life and the path I've chosen. 

I'm grateful that I have the chance to grow as an improviser. I'm grateful for a husband who is supportive and cheers for me as I put myself out there (I'm pretty sure he also winces a lot). I'm so, so grateful that I get to scan tickets and take out trash and watch shows that make my brain light up like a million sparklers. 

I'm feeling electric. 

The Curse of Being Task-Oriented: A Half-Hearted Apology.

I am a task-oriented person. I'm finally able to admit it and shout it from the cyber rooftops (my blog). 

I have lived for the past seven years at a summer camp that is incredibly people and relationship oriented. I love to live there as much as I struggle living there, because of the previously-mentioned task-orientation. 

I'm the kind of person that never goes anywhere without a book or notepad and pen because I can't stand the thought of being stuck anywhere without something to do. 

One of my husband's biggest gripes with me as a human is I try to bring my backpack everywhere. To him, it symbolizes that I don't trust that the party or activity we're going to will be engaging enough for me if I just try to foster relationships... thus I bring a bag as a backup. He's not wrong. 

My best days are the ones where I get at least three things done on my to-do list in addition to getting enough sleep, eating well, and working out (or getting my 10,000 steps). I am elated at the end of days like these. 

I'm writing this to half-apologize for the way I am. In a way this apology is like the "half-empty, half-full" premise. Some of you will see my half offering and go, "thanks for explaining, Erin. I feel better about our relationship" and the rest of you will go, "why don't you take a long walk off a short pier, Erin?"

To each their own. 

I love setting goals for myself and then sticking to and accomplishing them. It is absolutely what makes me tick. I have a mental list of things I need/want to do, and many of them will take years. Write a novel. Write a memoir. Produce a Youtube series. Write a screenplay. Get cast in some things and be an actor. Teach an online class. Read War and Peace and The Silmarillion without falling asleep. 

I have a hard time going to parties and just sitting with people because I can't quantify that very easily. It doesn't mean I don't want it in my life, I just don't know what to do with it and being idle stresses me out if I do it too much. 

To my friends that have sensed this attitude from me and given up on me a bit or written me off as a friend because I haven't given you enough emotional energy, I apologize. I do. I guess that's the sincere half of my half-apology. 

To those of you who don't get my crazed approach to tasks and goals but still choose to try to spend time with me and draw me out (or better yet, help me accomplish tasks!) THANK YOU.

Performing is a "task" that manages to give me some rest and forces me to be present, especially improv. If you've partaken in this activity with me know that I am so grateful that there's something in my life that helps me to spend time with others AND do something I deem "productive." 

To those of you who never thought of yourself as a "task" person until now, may my words give you a degree of peace with the person that you are and help you to embrace that while seeking to engage with the people around you. 


Juice Fast City, Population ME.

So, I'm on a juice fast. 

I never, ever thought I would be on a juice fast AGAIN. The last time I tried it was when I was planning a wedding and stressed out of my mind. I made it one day. The fast abruptly ended when I started bawling in front of a group of people because I couldn't find a pair of scissors. 

Fast forward to now.  

I have been battling an autoimmune disorder for the past fifteen years. My problems all involve connective tissues; skin, eyes, gums, etc. Oh, and occasionally my joints. I'm TIRED of it. While my health is relatively stable right now because of the medication I (thankfully) can afford, there are always reminders that I'm not well. Recently, my heel started to flare up... AGAIN. I don't know how to explain this other than it feels like my right heel bone starts to swell (not the muscle, the bone). I eat about 90% paleo and have done a successful round of Whole30, but I haven't been able to kick my feelings of fatigue long-term. Basically, any time I eat a meal that's average-sized or larger (a.k.a. what normal humans eat) I need a nap. It sucks. Also, any time I'm able to sit for more than 5 minutes, I pass out. Even with a full night of rest. It's incredibly frustrating. 

I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" about two weeks ago, and that lit the fire under my butt to give fasting one more try. To see several people try fasting and alleviate their symptoms was incredibly compelling. Check out this film for free on Netflix if you haven't. Everyone should see it!

I brunched with my friends last Sunday and started the fast last Monday the 10th. It's Wednesday the 19th, and I feel amazing! I've had a few bouts of fatigue, but only the first few days. Drinking fresh juice (the greener the better) has been awesome. Aside from the fact that I've lost ten pounds (that's always cool), I've had consistent energy, my skin has cleared up, and my body feels great. I'm planning to go a total of fifteen days and then transition in to a few days of vegan eating. From there I will probably transition back to paleo with a heavy emphasis on eating/juicing my veggies. 

Jury's still out on my autoimmune problems. I need to go get some bloodwork done and consult with my rheumatologist to see if any changes are really taking place in my body. But this experience has taught me a few things:

  1. Occasional fasting is okay. And it is manageable. 
  2. GREENS ARE IMPORTANT. They are chalk-full of goodness! I love eggs, bacon, steak, and potatoes, but I need to be more moderate about my consumption of them. 
  3. I don't need as much food as I think I do. And I often eat because I'm bored. 
  4. I truly believe that I'm on to something here with juicing and even though I wish I had discovered it a decade ago, I'm thankful that I'm in a space right now where I'm willing and able to do it. If juicing alleviates some of my symptoms, AWESOME. 
  5. This isn't easy. Most good things aren't.
  6. I have no interest in posting before/after pictures. Maybe if you're lucky I will.  

The Discipline of Nice-ness.

Human life is challenging, yes? It always has been, right? Let's operate for the rest of this post on that assumption. 

People used to spend a lot of time worrying about how they were going to hunt/gather things for their next meal ("What if I can't kill a squirrel or harvest roots in the next few hours? Will l have enough energy to spear something if I need to? Is this sore on my leg going to heal or will I have to hack off my leg with a sharp rock?").

Now a lot of us worry about how we're going to spend time with other humans and what food we're going to pick up at the grocery store ("Should I bring 7-layer dip and tortilla chips or hummus and pita chips? Will there be time for me to get my steps in so I can justify eating the snack I bring? Also, do I have time to go stand in that pharmacy line to pick up my Doxycycline for my zip-lining trip to South America?"). 

We have it a lot easier than people used to. But we also face a completely different set of challenges. Technology makes some things really easy and other things exponentially more challenging. I know that even a few years ago I didn't get cold feet before someone's party and change my "maybe" RSVP to "not going" five minutes before the event. I also know that before my smartphone I didn't really feel the feeling of FOMO because I didn't know or care what other people were doing if they weren't with me. Now I get pretty bummed out and sad because no one nominated me for an Emmy and my girlfriends didn't think to invite me to the baby show that I didn't want to go to anyway. 

I think that even in this bizarre time we live in where we're all oversaturated with viral videos and comments and likes we can preserve some of our nice-ness. We can live good lives that aren't filled with anxiety and isolation.

When I was a kid I remember my first or second grade teacher reading my class a book called "What if Everybody Did That?" It was mostly about considering the repercussions of doing unwise things. The only example from the book I remember said something to the effect of "what if everybody leaned to the left on the school bus?" It implied that the bus would tip over and everyone would be in a terrible spot. There may have even been a picture of a bus tipping over. Elementary school is pretty hazy for me these days. 

My point? Our lives are arguably simpler than the lives of people in the past because of our technology. But our ability to live quality lives is still being challenged by our technological advances. Life is still hard in its own way. 

Choose to see your barista or cashier as a human. It's a discipline, a muscle that has become weak for me. Choose to see Clinton and Trump and your mother and the lady who bumped into you in Target and Kid Rock and Colbert and Kim and Kanye and your neighbor and the guy who's shouting at you for dinging his car as HUMAN. We are all people with families and opinions and emotions. We all matter. 

Be nice. Hear people. Hope that they hear you, but remember that you can only be responsible for your own decisions.

OH-- one more thing. Last thing. Nice-ness doesn't mean doormat-ness. It doesn't mean you can't have an opinion. It means you know you have one and you assume that any given person you interact with has a different set of experiences and opinions. I truly believe that having different opinions and beliefs and acknowledging them is what makes us American and also gives us the capability to exist together. Agreement isn't what we should be seeking. Nice-ness? Let's shoot for that. 

All the reasons I think I shouldn't act (but I'm doing it anyway)

I've had some fun acting opportunities come up recently. I got to be in a comedy sketch called "Wanderlust." I'm currently working on a short film called "3 Dates." I auditioned today for another fun sketch with a group based in San Francisco (YAY!). I'm working on a quirky musical with my friend Emily that I hope to also perform in. Life is good and acting is fun. 

However, I (like many humans) suffer from many near-crippling insecurities. Here are all of the reasons I am insecure* and probably shouldn't continue to pursue acting:

  1. I'm broad-backed.
  2. I'm not a size 0, 2, 4, OR 6. Heck, sometimes I'm not even an 8. 
  3. I'm not a size XS or S. Heck, sometimes I'm not even an M. 
  4. When I take off my glasses and I can't see I get cross-eyed. 
  5. I'm almost 30... 
  6. I am missing a chunk of my gum right in the front of my mouth. Thanks a lot, "large cell granuloma."
  7. I have an autoimmune disorder (part of the reason I got "large cell granuloma").
  8. Don't look up "large cell granuloma." It's SO gross.  
  9. I didn't go to school for acting. 
  10. No one in my family has been an actor. 
  11. I'm like, "girl-next-door" cute but not hot. 
  12. I'm so insecure. Can't you tell?
  13. I have "thunder thighs," and according to my mother, I got them from her. 
  14. I have a "build like my Polish grandmother," according to my father. 
  15. My boobs are too small by societal standards, but way too big for my standards. If I could successfully be bra-less like Kate Hudson in "How to Lose a Guy" all day erryday I'd be satisfied with my chest size. 
  16. My haircut is weird. Growing out a pixie is way harder than anticipated.  
  17. ... I wish I owned a cat. All the wishing takes up too much brain power to have time for acting.  
  18. ... I'm obsessed with podcasts**. All the listening also takes up too much brain power have time for acting. 
  19. ... I can memorize lines okay! Wait... that's a good thing. 
  20. ...
  21. ... I like to improvise... wait... also a good thing. 
  22. ...
  23. Bruce Springsteen!
  24. ...
  25. Okay, I guess I ran out of excuses. And every insecurity I have is apparently linked to my appearance and not to whether or not I can play a character. WOW. Way to be vapid, Hennessy. 

Truth is, I think acting is fun and challenging. I like when I can make people laugh. I like when I can share a story or an idea that people relate to. I might be ill-proportioned (or just way too insecure about it) but WHATEVER. SERIOUSLY, WHATEVER. 

*I know how absurd this list is. My goal this year is to be honest about my struggles. I'm not fishing for compliments or searching for gratification. If I can make one human feel less alienated because of their body image struggles or other feelings of inadequacy, I will consider this post to be 100% worth it. 

**Currently listening to wayyyy too many comedy podcasts: If I Were You, Hello from the Magic Tavern, Improv 4 Humans, The Blacklist Table Reads,  With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus and probably a million more. 


It's Independence Day

Well Papa go to bed now it's getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
I'll be leaving in the morning from St. Mary's Gate
We wouldn't change this thing even if we could somehow
Cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There's a darkness in this town that's got us too
But they can't touch me now
And you can't touch me now
They ain't gonna do to me
What I watched them do to you

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day this time

- Bruce Springsteen, Independence Day

I'm not good with holidays, and Independence Day is particularly hard for me. When I was in about fourth grade I was really proud of my flag t-shirt and navy shorts with the stars of the flag on them (the shirt was tucked in, of course, and the shorts had bunchy elastic that forced the shorts to sit right at my belly button. Horrific!). My family went to my best friend's house to celebrate with her family and other friends and someone commented on my overly patriotic ensemble. Apparently at that time it wasn't cool to wear such an organized outfit. Anyway, I've questioned myself ever since. On any holiday or occasion when dressing up or wearing certain colors is encouraged-- you will find me at home ransacking my closet and second-guessing what I should wear.

I know little about what Bruce Springsteen is actually talking about in his song "Independence Day," but the tone of it matches my level of uncertainty about holidays. It's a really sad, slow song about moving past or "saying goodbye" to a dark time and place. 

I live at a summer camp (short version) and this morning the staff had a discussion about what freedom meant to them. It had the potential to be trite but turned out to be a very meaningful conversation. A lot of people talked about freedom as a way to love fully and push past fear, which I'm all about.  

When I make a conscious choice to look at Independence Day as a holiday where I can evaluate my citizenship and think about how I'm going to love more and fear less out of gratitude for the freedom it provides-- well, that makes the day itself feel less cheap. Let's be honest... fireworks, plastic flags, face paint, and parades are kind of dumb. But what do I know? For some Americans, they may be physical representations of belief. 

Abscess Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I have some autoimmune problems. I've had them since I hit puberty. If only the transition to womanhood had made me telekinetic like Carrie instead!

Alas, from the age of 14 I had a series of mysterious things start happening to me. Skin lesions, joint pain, eye ulcers- YIKES. A bunch of bumps on my legs would yield a trip to the doctor where he would put me on prednisone and all be well again. A few months later, an eye ulcer would crop up and my mom would rush me to Urgent Care because my eye hurt too much to open. Whatever it was, doctors were always quick to prescribe a new medication that would provide quick, easy, and temporary healing. 

Growing up I couldn’t help but worry about what part of my body would fail me next. Sometimes it felt like I was playing a body-themed board game like Jumanji. AUTOIMMUNJI. I would roll the dice and it would determine my fate, which would often be cruel. 

Fast forward to many years in the future when I lived for a stint in New York City. I was working a very stressful job for Americorps. I didn’t have time to go to the doctor, and at that point I should have consistently been visiting the dentist (as had been prescribed). You see, a few years prior I had started to see inflammation in my gums. No matter how dedicated (obsessed) I became with dental hygiene, my gums were angry and bleeding and terrible. One doctor thought it was probably connected to my autoimmune issues, but other doctors disagreed, because their “diagnosis” didn’t include periodontal disease on the list of symptoms. 

One morning I woke up and noticed that there was a gap between my upper central and upper lateral teeth. That means one space over from the space between your front teeth.

I didn’t have time to do anything about it. I was scheduled to take a half-day off to go to the dentist in less than a week, so I put it to the back of my mind. 

The gap got bigger. By the time I went to the dentist, I was sure something was wrong. This was more than inflammation. 

The day I went to the dentist I learned that dentists and dental hygienists aren’t very good at hiding shock and surprise. At least, the ones that saw me in Coney Island weren’t. When I heard the dentist say, “oh my God,” I knew I was in deep trouble. It turns out I had developed something called Large Cell Granuloma. They had to remove all of the infected tissue right then and there.

They took a chunk of my gum out of my mouth. “Fortunately you don’t have a smile that shows a lot of your gums,” the dentist tried to tell me reassuringly. As a 24-year-old girl, I was mortified. Because they had packed the area with gauze and junk that I wasn’t supposed to take off for a day or so, I had no idea what kind of damage had been done. 

It was enough damage that to this day, I cover my mouth when I smile or laugh- which is unfortunate, because I am an improviser and I laugh often. I wish I didn’t feel bad about the hole in my mouth, but I’m very self-conscious. It kind of reminds me of Two-Face, or a skeleton... which I am, under layers of muscle and flesh. The gum recession is apparent, and the hole is unforgiving. 

This whole ordeal showed me how much it sucks to lose a part of yourself. This event felt like a giant warning from my body to me- a reminder that I am weak and temporary. While this event did teach me to identify when something is abnormal and TAKE CARE OF IT in a timely manner, it has by no means made me a more fearful person. I can't get my gum back. I will always have a gap in my smile. I can live with the intention of taking great care of my body, but it would be pointless to live in fear of the next abscess, eye ulcer, or fill-in-the-blank-nasty-symptom. 

The Phases of My Shopping Trips

I love going to stores where I can buy things to better my living space (think Ikea or HomeGoods). Unfortunately every trip pretty much goes the same. 

I walk into the store, figuratively bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. What treasures will I find today?



I immediately get overwhelmed. What treasures WILL I find today?

I don't know


I quickly become interested in items that are out of my price range. 


I wander around for awhile trying to find things that are less expensive that can serve a similar purpose as the things that were too expensive. 

I end up with small knick-knacks, like candles. And candle holders. 

A baby somewhere starts crying loudly. "Stupid baby," I think to myself. 

 See what I did there?

See what I did there?

I start thinking about babies. If I think that baby is stupid, how can I be ready to have one in a few years? They cry all the time. I start questioning my character. If I don't like crying babies, am I not "mom" material? 

Tuning out the whiney baby, I continue to wander and WONDER. ABOUT LIFE. What do I really need? My basic needs are met. I have food, shelter, clothing, water...

I start to get hungry and loopy. I drag my feet when this happens.

How long have I been here?

Where did I come from? Where am I going?

I need to buy these stupid knick-knacks and get the heck outta dodge. I get to the front of the store with my dumb candles. The line is too long. Crap. I end up leaving the store empty handed. 


Sitting in my car outside the store, gnawing on a piece of beef jerky, I curse the store and swear that I will never return. But I will, and I do. 

Keeping up with the Donners -or- It's All About the Journey (Even if it's Futile)

For those of you who don’t know, I teach fourth grade. 

We’re reading a book right now that is realistic fiction called Patty Reed’s Doll. It’s from the perspective of -you guessed it- Patty Reed’s doll. Patty Reed was a member of the infamous Donner Party (I imagine every reader going “ohhh” right now). Everyone knows about the Donner Party, right? They had a ROUGH experience. While traveling west, they tried to save time by taking a short-cut to California (in their defense, they got the idea from a dumb-dumb who wrote a book saying the way was super safe and fast) and they got snowed in and most of them died. There’s speculation that they were forced to eat each other to survive. 

Cue this joke:

Not a very fun trip, right? These people made a daring move to try something new and the outcome was catastrophic. I’m pretty sure if they had chosen not to go, they would have always talked about it what could have been. At that time everyone wanted to head west. Was there really any other alternative for them if they had the desire to try?

Probably not. But they could have NOT taken that dang Hastings Cutoff. Come ON, GUYS. 

I do this ridiculous thing sometimes where I take a red-eye bus down to LA for the weekend, go to an improv class, see an improv show, and take a red-eye bus back home. I did that this past weekend, in fact. On Friday when I rode my bike from my car to the bus in pouring rain I thought, “this is funny. It’s stupid, too. I could be dry in my house right now. I could be well-rested.” 

Arguably, while sitting in my dry house, warm and rested, I would be thinking about what it would be like to take that improv class. 

Paying Attention to Progress

It's mid-January. 

I'm getting a bit freaked about about my #make30count bucket list. It doesn't feel attainable in 7.5 months. There are a LOT tasks on the list and they're all very different. ACK. They would be pretty easy to finish up if it weren't for a few things... 

I have a job, and it occupies a LOT of my time. While I acknowledge the season of work that I'm in and see the value in all of the hours I spend, I still desperately wish I had time for more creative endeavors. 

I live in a place where I have to commute everywhere. I drive at least two hours a day. I try to maximize that time but it still makes me a bit sad and stressed out that those hours can't be applied somewhere else. 

I'm going to sound like a stubborn little five-year-old, but I'm also angry that sleep requires so much time. I love sleep and NEED it, yet I wish I could function on less for the sake of time. 

The best way I know how to suppress these feelings (which can snowball and lead me to feel like all of my effort are fruitless and life has no meaning) is by taking choice moments to look back on what HAS been accomplished. (Actually, my therapist helped me with this. I didn't really think of it myself) 

I'm always pleasantly surprised by what I find. 

Wow, I spent two years getting a teaching credential and now I HAVE A TEACHING CREDENTIAL AND I (you guessed it) TEACH. I did the thing I set out to do!

I completed Khan Academy's "Intro to Code" and have a basic understanding of how code works. Cool!

Dang, I watched Lawrence of Arabia. Well, I didn't like it and now three hours of my life is gone, but sometimes that happens!

Reallythat's how I feel about Lawrence of Arabia. Sorry. Maybe I'll try to rewatch it someday. 

Applying Skiing Concepts to this Thing Called Life

Let me start by saying that learning new things is NOT easy, especially when you are on the cusp of turning 30 (#make30count) and that thing is SKIING. I started skiing last year at the ripe old age of 28 by taking 3 intro lessons in December and then 1.5 lessons in March (I had a meltdown during the .5 lesson and quit at noon in tears, thus the 1/2 day). This December I took one lesson and then skied for about 8 of the 16 days I was be in Colorado. 

Side note: my husband is a beautiful skier. BEAUTIFUL. Manly man Jeff Neckers is to a mountain as a prima ballerina is to Swan Lake. He's technical, fearlessly fast, and he emanates pure joy when he's in the snow. He's been a skier since the age of five, raced in his teens, and is now teaching in Colorado (and receiving the added benefit of skiing on his off time for free). Here is a picture of Jeff when he was a adorable little racer in spandex and all:


No pressure, ol' Erin. If you hate skiing you'll just spend EVERY WINTER UNTIL YOU DIE stagnantly eating over-seasoned french fries in a ski lodge while your children become little ski demons and forever share the love of a snow sport with your husband but not YOU. WIMPY BABY. 

Fortunately, skiing kind of clicked for me this winter. I finally went on a blue run this week, I'm linking turns, and in the act of skiing I no longer exclusively think about what will happen if I wipe out. Success!

This post isn't actually about how much of a novice skier I am or how wonderful my husband is (although he is quite wonderful). It's supposed to be about how skiing relates to life (because I think it does). Here are some things I learned about skiing that I think apply to the sport of LYYYFE:

1. Lean DOWN the mountain. I love watching people ski while I'm riding up the ski lift. You see all kinds of people and such a spectrum of ability. You can always tell if someone is inexperienced because they look pretty rigid and as they go down the hill and they lean back as if that's going to be helpful. All that does is put you off-balance and make you fall on your butt. It also tires you out and puts a lot of strain on your body. Leaning down the hill feels very counterintuitive, but it helps you to move efficiently and in a safer way. 

APPLICATION: In life sometimes we figuratively lean back. I equate this to being wishy-washy or reactive to things that happen. Making bold decisions (or just a decision)  helps you to move forward on your terms. 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Getting my teaching credential popped into my mind. Student teaching, classes, etc. gave me a LOT of anxiety. Credentialing was terribly overwhelming because there was always an obligation to fulfill. Your "work day" starts at 7 am when you fulfill the requirements of working in a classroom. Then you get out of "work" (not paid) and go to classes. if you aren't doing that, you're studying for a test, developing a lesson, or trying to have a life. This experience taught me to make decisive choices and finish tasks rather than waste energy. 

Minnie skiing!


2. Look where you want to go. When you ski it's very easy to only look as far as the end of your skis or as far as you're turning (lest you don't crash into a grove of trees). I was corrected in this action and told to look to the bottom of the hill. Even if your body is physically turning, your head is always pointing toward your ending destination. 

APPLICATION: Is this one pretty self-explanatory? Stay fixed on your end goal.

PERSONAL APPLICATION: I don't know what my end goal is. It makes it VERY difficult to "face my destination." I am very easily distracted by every turn. I'm learning how to write code, speak French, improvise... oh, and I'm teaching, Uber driving, giving guitar lessons, blogging, eating Whole30 compliant food, watching as many television shows as I can keep up with (currently WorkaholicsTwin Peaks, and Transparent! TOO MANY!)... YIKES. I'M FOCUSED ON EVERY TURN and unfortunately, it's very disorienting. Here's the good news: I'm about to start seeing a career coach, so I'm hoping that will help me to focus my interests a bit. Otherwise I'm going to go crazy!


3. Slow down (by turning) to stay in control. HAHAHA! This is funny! Erin is a terrible hypocrite. Did you read what she just wrote for #2? HAHAHAHA. 

Here's the thing, though. Turning is the way to stay in control when you ski. When I started out I thought it was the "pizza" wedge that kept you in control, but that's super boring after awhile and it tires out your legs. It's way more fun to point your body down the hill. As you gain speed, initiate weight on whatever ski will become your "downhill ski" and you begin to turn! You also reduce the weight on your uphill ski and work on pointing your knees where you want to go (more or less). By the way, this is terrifying at first! After a lot of reps, you start to see it as a way to maintain a consistent speed. 


PERSONAL APPLICATION: *laughs to self* SELF CARE! If this week of skiing taught me anything, it was that I do not apply turns to my life. I barrel down the hill and crash. Over and over and over and OVER again. If I were applying turns to my life I would be getting enough sleep, not taking work home with me (if I can help it), and LISTENING to MYSELF.

4. Have FUN. My ski instructor this December was really delightful. He had a little phrase he would say for every skill related to skiing and he LOVED to tell us things in groups of four (ex: "What are the four best parts of finishing a day of skiing?" "1. Taking off your uncomfortable boots, 2. Getting out of your sweaty clothes, 3. Sitting in a hot tub, and 4. Drinking an adult beverage of your choice."). He also had us practice skiing straight down the hill as long as we were comfortable- as we would initiate a turn, he told us to growl loudly or say "yeahhhhhh." Honestly? I still say "yeahhhhhhhh" loudly when I turn. It's a way for me to remember to have fun and enjoy what I'm doing. 

APPLICATION: What is your "yeahhhhhh?"

PERSONAL APPLICATION: My "yeahhhhhhh" is Bruce Springsteen. He always reminds me that life -in whatever form it's taking- is SWEET. 


Whole30, We Meet Again.

I did the Whole30 this summer. It was AWESOME for a lot of reasons. People complimented me on losing a few pounds. I felt AMAZING and EMOTIONALLY STABLE (abnormal). I fixated less on food (it's hard to when pizza and donuts are out of the running). Probably the biggest pitfall of the experience was, well, not eating pizza and donuts. Oh, and margaritas. And whiskey. And rice. That's it, though. And parmesan cheese. 

I went to visit my parents for a week and that brought my Whole30 (extended) experience to a close. There's nothing like food your parents cook for you and insist that you eat, am I right?

I started teaching again and since September I have basically fallen into a ritual of five days Whole30 (Whole5?) and then two days off. Sometimes it's more of a Whole3 or a Whole1/2. It's been a hard school year so far, and there is a lot of choice candy in our school office. 

I'm starting again, right in time for Peppermint Mocha season. I'm actually on day 3! Congratulate me!

I'm nervous about navigating the holidays, but mostly about navigating people I will see during the holidays who will silently (or very vocally *cough* DAD *cough*) judge my choices. I know it's the right choice, and that's why I'm writing this. I'm finally going public. No more Whole1/2. Just a Whole30. If I really miss the marshmallow yams on November 26th I will make myself a giant vat of them on December 7th. 

Making a Mark

I just found out a friend from high school passed away. He was lovely. In fact, I probably (definitely) had a crush on him at one point or another. He had a gorgeous smile and was friendly in a way that could disarm any human. He was the kind of human who managed to be laid back and ambitious at the same time. He did so many cool things with his short life. 

It hurts. Death hurts all of us. It hurts when anyone leaves, but there's a specific kind of pain you feel for someone who could have lived fifty more years. Maybe it hurts because it resonates more; I am almost thirty years old, and if he died, I could certainly die. 

I have been running myself into the ground lately. I want to be SO MANY things. I'm trying to be a teacher while pursuing improv and writing on the side. I'm also doing a few odd jobs to make extra money to pay off debt (one may or may not be Uber). I'm trying to stay fit and get sleep and eat clean. In the sprint to discover what I "should" be doing with my life and trying to "balance" my life by checking things off a list, I'm SO exhausted.

Fitter. Happier. More productive. (Thanks Radiohead, your song is going to haunt me forever)

On one hand, I want to say that the death of a thirty-year-old friend should "put things into perspective," making me step back and evaluate my life. It should make me want to chill out and slow down. Give some of my ambition.  Life is short. Live, laugh, love. 

I think it actually makes more determined. It makes me think of Jack Kerouac in On the Road:

"the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

I think that this year might be the one where I find out just how much of a roman candle I am. 


Welp, Here's to 29.

Tonight as the clock struck twelve I happened to be driving down Sunset Boulevard with two great friends. It was the best possible transition from my 28th year to my 29th. My last 28-year-old day involved good coffee, an improv class, an evening improv show, brussels sprouts, and seeing two movies in the same movie theater. My day was the definition of being an adult, but being that kind of adult that isn't really tied down and has a lot of freedom to still act like a college student (I mean, two movies in a day?! Ant Man and Trainwreck, if you were wondering). I loved every second of my irresponsible, unencumbered, twenty-something summer day.  

As fun as today was, I also managed to ponder my mortality as many of us do when another birthday approaches. Unfortunately (more often than fortunately) I am a human who fixates on my outlandish dreams without taking tangible steps to approach them. I go into spirals of self-doubt and worry because I interpret that my inability to turn my dreams into something real RIGHT NOW means that I will never do anything that makes an impact or makes me truly happy. This carries over to many areas of my life. It challenges my husband who hates to see me beat myself up. It makes me fear my future. It makes me resentful of the present. Being a dreamer has the potential to do way more harm than good. 

This year, I hope that when I examine my life for progress I will truly see it. I will be able to identify the steps I'm actually taking to live with abandon (and by "live with abandon" I mean I will probably still go to bed every night at a reasonable hour). This year I will write, because I say I want to be a writer. This year I will share what I create with others, because feedback, while not always necessary, can aid in growth. This year I will (TRYYYY) to trust my skills as an improviser and acknowledge that being a female comedienne is difficult but by no means impossible. Most of all, on Saturdays when I accidentally sleep in too late, I'm going to TRY REALLY HARD to not let it ruin my day. Some days can't be devoted to the "Great American Novel" because you just need to be a bum and sleep for ten hours... followed by binge-watching Parks and Rec.