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. 

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. 


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. 

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.