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.

Read more at The View from the 21st Floor

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.

Read More at View From the 21st Floor

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’ 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…)