If you’re following this blog so far, you’re probably on board with the idea that women are pretty awesome. And we are! Just like, you know, human beings in general, we are fascinating creatures of wonder and horror with the capacity for genius and love and cruelty and stupidity, all in equal measure. But . . . but. The stories we see about ourselves in the world don’t do us justice. And because of that, I think, the stories we base our lives around suffer from the same problems.

You may already be familiar with the Bechdel Test, which asks the following question about a work of fiction: Does it feature at least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man? If you’ve heard about it before, you’ve likely heard how frequently films fail this test. This year, that included two best picture nominees (The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game). It’s so impactful because it’s so simple. But it’s also problematic for the same reason. It’s not enough of a requirement in some cases – can’t we do better than two women who might say one line to each other about shoes? In other cases it’s too much, too simple: Is Gravity not enough of a female-centric story because Sandra Bullock is the only woman, even though she’s pretty much solo for 90% of the film?

But the Bechdel Test is not the end of the discussion, it’s the beginning. The real discussion is about women seeing their stories being told. We are so often relegated to supporting characters in a man’s journey that it feels vital and urgent to see some woman, ANY woman, having their story told.

Consuming media that passes the test can help remind you that life is not all about a Man and his Journey (gag). Here are some things I enjoy that qualify: (more…)

Editor’s note: Corri is one of the contributors to Rational Creatures who has her own blog as well! You can check out this post and others at Biscuit Fortune. – Chelsea

I don’t sit still. I mean, not ever. At work, I am required to sit for extended periods of time, and the best I can do to rally against the system there is to bob my knee up and down relentlessly. Yeah. Take THAT, 9-5 Lifestyle. I’ll..show you.

My body is a fidgety one: constantly shifting, adjusting, exercising, then injuring, healing, swaying (in place like my mother), expressing, gesturing, dancing. If that sounds like it would be a constant distraction for anyone sitting with me (though I’ve managed to curl my toes in my shoes discreetly if need be to hide the movement), you’d be right.

But it’s nothing compared to what’s happening in my head. The squirming on the outside is a physical manifestation of the mental gymnastics I’m executing for infinite Russian judges. Not gymnastics of any significant difficulty – no algebra or code sequencing. It’s just regular thought. SO MUCH THOUGHT all at once.

As an example, I recently blurted something out to my husband that was approximately the 5th step in a mental journey I was taking enirely alone.

Something thoughtful, something eloquent. I believe it was, “If I water did I? No, I’m good.”

“What?” my husband calmly asked, since he’s known me for 12 years and realizes I’m not having a stroke. (more…)

There is no room for self-doubt or fretting for the future in “Lookingglass Alice”. This wild and tight 90 minutes of stunts and circus won’t allow for insecurity. I have to rise to the occasion. To climb the 12-foot rolling apparatus that makes me larger than life, to leap and land, both feet magnetized to the hip creases of my partner. To press out of a headstand into a handstand in time with being hauled upwards through a tight hole in the floor by my legs. To stand straight, abs locked, elbows back, hands gripping the calves of the partner standing on my shoulders. To burst out of the darkness into the glaring stage light on stilts with all the glory and confidence of a tyrant. Eye contact. Breath. Go. Steady. Go. Courage. Go. Rise to the Occasion. Go.

I am proudly approaching the final leg of a multi-month run of this incredible collaboration of bodies and minds, and must remember these principles moving into my future March on March. March is going to be a Live Well Month, one that calls for Courage and Rising to the Occasion. It’s an income-free month, full of projects and goals, classes and performances.

In planning my March on March, perusing what I’ve agreed to, building a schedule of meetings, writing time, curriculum planning, rehearsals, budgeting to the penny and making sure I get plenty of exercise, good eats and dog time, what I refuse to let happen is to be crippled by doubting myself. I suffer from Depression, and it manifests in self-hate and ruthless judgement and a desire to give it all up and take a last breath and be done with it.

Courage. Rise to the Occasion. Go.

What good does Self-doubt do? Not self-criticism to keep oneself in check and make sure one is doing things correctly or well or for the right reasons, but rather, that abusive inside voice that says “you can’t”, “you are not smart enough”, “you don’t look right”, “you don’t deserve it”.

There are essays and studies on whether this behavior is based on chemical imbalance, societal pressures, gender constructs, or too much time on Facebook. In the end, it doesn’t matter WHY I do this to myself, but what I can do to stop it. Because not only does it hurt me, it keeps me from supporting, serving, and loving others. It prevents me from performing at the top of my game, from showing up strong, from giving my good stuff to others.


How do I Rise to the Occasion of Life Outside “Alice” with the sense of duty and care as Life Inside “Alice”? (more…)

As a rule, I tend to be a bit of a pacifist. I believe that all living beings deserve to be treated with equal love and respect, and I do my best to walk this talk while also maintaining a pretty long fuse for people and situations that test this. I used to pride myself on not letting things get under my skin, but in the last couple weeks I’ve finally started connecting with my shadow side – the parts I hide in order to be deemed “acceptable.” And I’ve come to realize that I hide my weirdness and my anger. So, I’m going to get down with a rage-inspired post that I originally wrote over 4 years ago and promptly swept under the rug. And still have a copy of because I obviously don’t hold grudges…


September, 2010

It all started with US Cellular’s* recent, oh-so-clever print campaign. The ones you’d see on the El with captions describing the ridiculous things your friends and family do on their phones that cost you money (with other carriers, of course!), and an accompanying photo of said offender. Like your great-Aunt Bertha sending pics of her Yorkshire terrier and its new sweater. Like your younger Aunt Julie calling and talking to you for hours on end. Like “(w)hen your wife calls you six times a day from her back pocket…” It was this last example that bothered me the moment I saw it. Before we move on, let’s note very quickly that these are all women – I don’t recall seeing any men in this campaign. Now, let’s take a look at our wife, shall we?

back pocket textback pocket pic2

Aaw… Isn’t she lovely? She can’t help that she does silly things like that sometimes, even though she’s not doing anything wrong if THE PHONE is calling people from her back pocket. Clearly it’s still her fault because she’s a woman who’s attractive and doesn’t know how to use technology (and you decide if that statement is a list or an equation).  Silly, silly pretty wife. (more…)

This is not a “can women have it all” post. I don’t want it all, so I’m not going to write about whether or not I can have it all, and if my friends want it all I don’t have any intention of discouraging them. Go for it all, I say, and you just might find you get what you need. I hope you do.

Here’s a saying, because I am a little lazy and can’t figure out another way to start: “Expectations are pre-meditated resentments.” 

Most of the heartache in my life has come from dashed expectations – I didn’t get a job I felt I deserved, someone I loved and was so, so good to betrayed me anyway, a relative forgot my birthday. Or everyone forgot my birthday. It hurts when people don’t do what I think they’re going to do, what I want them to do, or what I think I need them to do. It also hurts when people don’t do what I think they should do, because, you know, I just want them to be happy and fulfilled, and who better than me would know what would accomplish that, amIright??

Whoa, there fella! Yeah, that’s my problem right there. I always think I know better. I have all the answers and if everyone would just listen to me, everyone’s life would run a whole heckuva lot more smoothly, thanks.

How did a post about expectations become about control? For me, at least, these things have a long sordid history of being inexorably linked. (more…)

First, let’s review Poe’s Law.   Without a blatant indication that you’re kidding, any parody is indistinguishable from whatever it’s parodying.  Poe’s law refers to extremism or fundamentalism, but think about those Onion article headlines that for a split second you thought were real.  In fact, there are people (not you, you’re too savvy) that mistake satire for the real thing all the time.

I reaaaaallly hope I’m about to do that, to take seriously what’s meant in jest.

Because every time Usher’s new song I Don’t Mind comes on the radio, I listen to it with my mouth open in shock. Usher croons about how he doesn’t mind at all that his girlfriend is a stripper because he knows she’s gotta make money somehow.

This is humor, right?  Because if it isn’t, I’m completely baffled why I haven’t heard women everywhere decry this song.  As much as, yay for Usher for stating he doesn’t mind if his “shawty” dances on a pole because that doesn’t make her a “ho”, NO ONE HAS A PROBLEM WITH THE FACT THAT THE ONLY WAY HIS WOMAN CAN MAKE RENT IS BY BEING AN OBJECT FOR MEN?

Why can’t he write, “Hey I don’t mind/who you serve a summons to/as long as you come home and work on my briefs”? Perhaps, “I don’t mind/all the men you’ve been seeing/because I know you only touch them with your stethoscope”? (more…)



When i first saw this cartoon several years ago (thanks hyperbole and a half), i laughed out loud. Then i got teary and nervous, and then i laughed again. Anxiety is a funny thing. Except when it’s not funny. Like whenever it happens. i happen to be writing this while in the middle of a spinning soup of Too Much, and getting it out seemed like a good thing to do.

Oh NO! Another blog post about the topic of MENTAL HEALTH!? It’s ALL BEEN SAID! ALL of it! Every single LAST THOUGHT EVER. Sorry. Needed to let the inner voice yelling that self-consciousness directly into my brain-pan have a moment in the spotlight. Here’s a great first impression, i’m sure. OOPS I’M SORRY I THINK I JUST POURED RED HEART JUICE ON YOUR FANCY RUG! i’m still considering deleting all of this and just writing it on a card to send to PostSecret. Ok sorry done with that part.

Buzzfeed likes to put out entertaining listicles on 10 Things People With Anxiety Know To Be True and while they are funny and lighthearted, they also (embarrassed to admit) really hit me in the guts sometimes. Hidden amongst fauxritcles (new word i just made up, pronounced “foharticles” or “farticles”, you’re welcome) and quizzes on How To Not Be A Basic Bae (?) are some little nuggets of “oh, someone that deals with this actually wrote it.” (more…)

Editor’s Note: Some of our posts on Rational Creatures will be cross-posts from writers’ existing blogs – this is one of those. Erin Myers blogs about her cancer diagnosis, but also anything and everything else. Her writing is full of truth, humor, and sarcasm, and it’s always a treat to read. Here she is. – Chelsea

“Nature, Mr Allnut, is what we are put on this earth to rise above.”

– Katherine Hepburn as Rose Sayers in The African Queen

I am wrestling with what to believe in. When I write, I usually try to find a focus point, but this mess of a post, veering dangerously close to a freshman year dorm room conversation, is a reflection of the churning in my head right now, so here it is.

Those in my life who are religious and believe in a higher power sometimes wonder what comforts there are for those who don’t believe in God.

One comfort is that you can’t take science – or nature – personally. If there’s no God, you never feel betrayed by God. Does a leaf feel betrayed when it falls to the ground to glow red for a few days, then rot? Does a mouse feel betrayed when a snake swallows it? On the other hand, a beaver builds a dam to live in, a bird builds a nest – even animals and maybe plants look at nature and go, yeah, but I can improve on this – I don’t have to just lay here and get et, I can run! I don’t have to starve or freeze to death: I can build a nest.

We like to think that part of what makes us human is that we see how things are and try to make them how they should be – with potentially wondrous or disastrous results – but although our brains give us more power to change things than plants or animals, it’s really just survival, isn’t it? All life does it.

I love the paradox of that line from the African Queen. It’s inspiring to “rise above nature”, but rising above nature IS nature.

Read more at The View from the 21st Floor

It occurred to me suddenly a few weeks ago that I know a lot of cool people.

I did already know that, I guess. I regularly meet with friends or read their status updates/tweets and say to myself, “Damn, I will never be as cool as ____.” But a few weeks ago there was a perfect storm of coolness and talent, when within a few days of each other, three different friends published great blog posts. The startling thing was that for one of them, I previously had no idea she even wrote a blog. This is a person to whom I would pay money to read their grocery list, as it’s probably hilarious.

I’ve started something like three blogs myself in the past. I have the urge to write frequently, but not, it seemed, frequently enough for me to truly maintain a blog. Part of this was expectations I put on myself that I should write at least a couple times a week if I was going to be a “real” blogger. Part of it was simply that after a few posts, I burned off the fuel that pushed me into starting the blog in the first place. Part of it was that I started the blog with a theme in mind, and quickly discovered I wanted to write about other stuff too, but worried it would be too random.

So when I realized that this funny, brilliant woman – who I haven’t named so far, but just realized that I’m being silly so I’ll tell you it’s Corri Pasko – had a blog that I didn’t know existed, a blog that she’d updated maybe three times in the last six months, I had a minor epiphany. It was this: I bet that a lot of my (smarter, funnier) friends are like me in this small way. They want to write more, DO write some, but feel like they can’t or won’t write enough to really maintain a blog. Or maybe they DO maintain a blog, but I’ve somehow missed the Facebook post linking to it or whatever, and I don’t want that to happen, because damn it I want to read their stuff!

Thus, this blog was born. It’s a place for fabulous people to contribute some of their stuff, with no required topics or posting frequency, no stress of maintaining anything, no pressure – just treat the world to your fabulousness. For now it’s my lovely friends who have put themselves forward and said they wanted to write. Others are welcome to do the same.

For now we are all women, all Chicagoans, all theater people – but we are also all another 1,000 things, and I guess that’s another thing I want out in the world. Nobody is one thing, we are all small shivering naked animals, and we all contain multitudes.

We’ll start today with a cross-post from Erin Myers’ fabulous blog The View from the 21st Floor. Later this week you’ll get to read posts about anxiety, expectations, and CTA ads, just to name a few. So follow along and enjoy.