I’ve been thinking a lot. A lot. I’ve been thinking about motherhood and being a mommy and where I belong. When I think that my parents were younger than I am now when they had both me and my sister, I feel slightly reassured that, to some degree, all parents fake it. Because we have no idea what we’re doing. Well, we have some instincts, thank God, but otherwise, you try to love your baby and not lose your mind.

Since becoming a parent 16 months ago, my life has changed. My world, my work, my body, my relationships, all different now. (I’ve an ocean of thoughts about all of these differences, but perhaps for another day.) And certainly the way I’m perceived has changed – I can tell because of how I’ve been treated by people during the stages of my life, which, at this point in my parental mind warp, I can crudely divide into 4 wholly unequal parts: Pre-Parent, Pregnant, Mommying, Mommy Sans Banz*. And I think if I frame these stages through the lens of outside perception**, maybe I can corral a fraction of these thoughts. Or maybe not, but whatevs, here goes.

This is the longest stretch on the timeline, and I have the least to say about it because gurl, I have to save something for the memoirs. Happy child, bright student, messy parental divorce, socially awkward and painfully self-conscious, solo move to the second city. A part of me has always thought that I’m awesome. People probably perceived me as some mess of kind, nerdy, prudish, fun, stuck up, shy, careful.

I was just getting a massage, because my body is a wreck (and whatever, I don’t have to justify myself to you, dude), and I was thinking of what I’d write for Rational Creatures. Ah, yes, the Massage Table, where I get my critical thinking done. And the massage therapist, who incidentally is also a doula, remarked that women, during their first pregnancy, have a glow about them. I replied, Yes, a mix of excitement and terror. I was pregnant with my daughter for most of 2013 and my body was badass and did really well, really took to pregnancy. I could do this over and over, I thought (before I delivered). (more…)

Last week, I wrote this:

I’ve been feeling better, off and on, for a few days.

I was still pretty bleak last Thursday morning, but I woke up, checked my email and found one of those golden tickets you get every once in a while – a really exciting, respected theatre company asking me to come in at the last minute for a general audition for a TBD musical.

I instantly felt like the opposite of curling into a ball – I felt energy, just a little, but bright green and springy, sprout out of my guts and send little leaves around my heart. A little zing to my brain.

I found myself thinking about being alive and functioning and in another show a year from now.

Read More at The View from the 21st Floor . . .

My Gram died in September of 2013. I think of her often, but a few weeks ago I had an overwhelming urge to want to call her. She was the ultimate survivor, and sometimes she’d just say something so simple that it could shake me out of any mood I was in. Usually I wouldn’t even tell her that I was upset about something, just hearing her ask the simple questions she’d always ask me “how’s work? how’s Cassie-Moo? what’d you have for breakfast? when is the next play? how’s Billy? when are we going for a lunch date?” and always, particularly after hearing about the “theee-aye-terr” stuff, she’d always say “you’re going to make it. You work hard and people see it and I know it.” Sometimes that’s all I’d need to hear to make any other issues dissolve. Someone who unconditionally believed in me. Even if the topic wasn’t about my arts career. (Which she supported unconditionally, as soon as she realized that asking me if I still wanted to be a doctor every time she saw me just wasn’t in my dreams anymore.) (more…)

I spend a good deal of my free time posting on a support forum for Friends and Family of Alcoholics. I have a couple of qualifiers in my life, and I have spent a lot of time in therapy to deal with my own codependent issues and dysfunctional upbringing in regards to relationships and communication, but a cornerstone of my recovery has been understanding and accepting the things I can control and the things I can’t.

From all this therapy and application to life experience, the strongest conclusion I’ve come to is that if I think I can control something, there’s about a 98% chance that I’m totally and completely wrong. (more…)

This is not a cheerful post. This is me dealing. It’s not pretty, but believe me, it helps to put it in words and share it. But I can see how it would be upsetting for people who love me to read. Please know you don’t have to read it. Please know this is me coping – we all have our own ways. I can’t just ignore bad feelings – I have to yank them out of the closet, thrash them out and put them in words.

But then, if you’ve been reading this long you probably already know that.

I’ve been writing less. I have not been feeling the compulsion to write lately. I feel like right now, there is nothing to say that I haven’t already said before.

It’s that part of the old movie I keep thinking of, “The African Queen” where they are paddling up the part of the river that gets so marshy and shallow that they don’t even know for sure if they have lost the river entirely, and every day is a tough slog through murky water, and dear God will they ever reach that lake so they can blow up the German gunboat?

This is so far the best day I’ve had since radioembolization treatment number one.

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If I’m facing east on the Brown Line (and not looking down at my phone), I see the green glass building on the north side of the river next to the Westin Hotel. The building used to be called Quaker Tower, due to the Quaker company occupying many floors and having a display in the main lobby. My father sold his travel company in 2001 – he had worked in that building since 1986.

In 7th grade, my class at Hubble Middle School (where John Belushi went to high school and is now a Mariano’s) took a field trip to downtown Chicago. I grew up in Wheaton, a western suburb with the most churches per square mile and a local video store next to a Dairy Queen. On this field trip, our class got to visit the Museum of Science and Industry and watch an IMAX presentation on volcanoes. I can’t remember much about that day, but I do remember someone throwing up in the IMAX theater and leaving my favorite yellow cardigan in the bathroom stall at the museum. I loved that cardigan.

We finished the field trip on a cruise down the Chicago River. When we passed the green glass building on the north side of the river just before Clark, my teacher told me to look up at the 4th floor windows. On white pieces of paper, spread out over multiple windows, my father had written, “Hi Dana and her class. Have fun today in the city!” If this is what celebrity feels like, trust me, I was riding high. I was genuinely surprised and filled with a sense of love that I still feel every time I look up at that building, lingering too long on the 4th floor windows as I try and make that banner appear again in my mind and in doing so bring back a small joy from my childhood.


I didn’t have sex until I was 23. I mean, I had a few “in and out” moments with men and good old fashioned rounding of the naked bases, but not technical sex. After my blissful, creative, and safe 4 years at a small liberal arts college in upstate New York, I found myself in a studio apartment at the corner of Halsted and Cornelia, next to a now-defunct gay bar, The Manhole, known for its “backroom” and its pithy, sexual innuendo-laden marquee. “Looks like rain! Grab your raincoats, gentlemen!” My refrigerator opened out into my so-called living room, and my windows looked out onto a brick wall. It was a classic first city apartment, complete with a rat inside a bag of bread, IKEA, a dead neighbor…oh, and also where I found out I was pregnant. (more…)

My Smalls.

My Smalls.

 noun \di-‘tri-tus\
: the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, is destroyed, etc.

Yeesh. What a bummer of a definition. I have long enjoyed the word detritus. It’s a quality word. Timeless and official. A word that costs upwards of 49 cents. But here I was just looking to write a little blog post about stuff…clutter…mementos.

But…it’s all right….fine, all right….detritus.
It’s a tad too dramatic, but then again…so am I.

I have entered a Season of Detritus.

Oh…wait…here’s another definition:

waste or debris of any kind.
flotsam and jetsam, rubble; scraps, dregs, leavings,
organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.


Much better. The Dregs and Leavings Part. Yes.

The Flotsam and Jetsam. Of course.

Even better – the organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.

That’s it. That’s what I’m talking about.

I have entered a Season of Detritus.

This is the contemplation of my Winter.

Chicago Winter: (a cursed noun) a majestic yet relentless parade of dangerous frigidity and snow that sentences one to a extended bout of house arrest and thereby forces one to encounter, on a daily basis, one’s stuff which plagues and bloats and swells the closets and nooks in one’s domicile.

I spent a lot of time looking at my crap this Winter. (more…)

Awwww, yeah.

Well, it’s been a week of experiences, hence not much writing for me lately.

Petite post today, but I wanted to keep going and let folks know what’s going on.

Wow – so radio-embolization – that was a trip.

It was kind of sold to me as easier than chemo, and to be fair, by next week, it may be- I feel much better now.

But that knocked me on my can way harder than chemo ever did.  I kept falling asleep as soon as I got home, and didn’t get enough food or water because I just kept sleeping – and then by the end of the next day, the abdominal pain and nausea hit, and I was doubled over again, unable to stand up straight when I went in for my follow up Weds.

My onco and nurse took one look at me and said “She looks dry”  “Yeah, we should admit her at least til we get her fluids up.  We’re gonna see if we can straighten out your bowels and do something about that pain, too.

I was happy to get admitted – I knew I needed to eat or drink, but I couldn’t manage it, and I was scared of what my bowels would do to me next if I did eat – dietary recommendations didn’t seem to make a difference.  There just wasn’t room for anything but swollen liver in my midsection.

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