Old Year

Before we get too far into 2017, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate what a great year 2016 was artistically for me (however problematic and sad it was in other regards).  Here are the highlights:

  • My creative partner, Kevin R. Free and I made our ongoing collaboration "official" forming MyCarl Productions.  We made a website AND a video so you KNOW we're serious now. ;)
  • My comedy webseries, Gemma & The Bear!  continued to receive accolades.  Most exciting, we were programmed into the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) which gave us access to so many amazing panels plus the opportunity to pitch to and otherwise meet with TV executives.  To get ready, I wrote six original TV pitches and the beginning of a pilot.  Along the way, I discovered how much I LOVE writing for TV.
  • I was in an amazing play called NIGHT OF THE LIVING N-WORD!!  It was produced as part of the 20th anniversary NYC Fringe festival.  We received a lot of critical acclaim and folks wrote some nice words about my performance as well.  I'm proud of my work and proud to have been part of bringing an innovative and important play to life.
  • I wrote my first TV pilot! All the way through!! It's an hour-long teen sci-fi drama (dramedy?) and I'm revising it now but . . . that was fun!

Here's hoping 2017 can be as artistically rich as 2016 if not more so! xo

Neighborhood Dog Police

I don't think she looks that tasty . . .

I don't think she looks that tasty . . .

A stranger just waited outside the grocery store, gathering and working up a small group of other strangers, so when I came out, she could yell at me for leaving my dog tied up outside.


She told me dogs have been stolen lately from outside another nearby store.

She told me that there's "a pitbull ring up at 125" and that they will come in a van, cut the leash, steal the dog and euthanize her.

A passerby then added in passing "and EAT her!!"

"See?" said the first lady.


I asked her to please try to speak to me in a less aggressive way.

I told her I'd always considered the neighborhood rather safe in this particular regard.

I told her that I appreciated her concern and good intentions.

We agreed that we both have dead parents and love animals.

I told her my leaving my dog there while I went into the store was none of her business.

She disagreed.


I didn't tell her that I grew up being told the same thing would happen to me. That strangers would sidle up to me and inject me with god-knows-what, spirit me away and then . . . [meaningful looks here]

I didn't tell her that I've spent years and years being unfriendly and stand-off-ish and anxious out of an abundance of caution (fear) about what strangers might do to me or my pet or my property or my loved one.

I didn't tell her that I'd just finally started to settle into the idea that most people are good, that I live in a pretty nice neighborhood with a community of folks who recognize and look out for each other.  I didn't point out that I made this choice in the middle of a sunny, Sunday afternoon on a busy block that I know well.

I don't want to take unnecessary risks; if dogs are being stolen I will reconsider leaving mine tied up unattended (and I'm glad to have the information). But I also don't want to be that lady and her ad-hoc cronies worried about faceless van people stealing and eating dogs. I don't want the burden of that world view.

And I really don't want to be yelled at. Especially by strangers.

Go get it: Salux!

I can take no credit.  I read about Salux wash cloths recently on Into The Gloss.  You can too.

But you don't need to if you'll just take my word for it.  Get one.  Spend the $6.  You will not regret it.

I have gone from a lifetime of shower ambivalence (necessary for basic hygiene but awfully wet and then cold) to an experience of SHOWER DELIGHT.  Plus my skin is softer and smoother.

*mic drop*

This is how I do it

this is how we do it o 90s Rewind: This Is How We Celebrate Montell Jordans This is How We Do It

Last week I wrote about my accidental resolution to embrace and trust my process with the goal of leaving a good deal of anxiety behind.  So, I wanted to share something I've been doing for the past couple of months that's really been working for me.

It's all about Monday mornings and my trusty notebook.  Here's what I do:

On the left hand page, I write down all of my to-do's.  I have separate columns for e-mails and phone calls (because I try to do those things in clusters) and usually a little non-column for frivolous things like a video or an app I want to remember to check out.  Any to-do's that weren't to-done last week get copied over to the new week.  It's nice when I don't have to copy much, but it's also a big indicator of what I'm avoiding/resisting/procrastinating which helps me STOP doing that. 

On the right hand page, I draw out my week.  I'm still tweaking this, but the gist is that I block out when I have time to work (aka when my son is in school or with his babysitter), dinner times and gym times.  I do all of that in pen.  In pencil, I go back to my to-do list and plan in which to-do's I hope to accomplish when. 

On Monday mornings when I make the calendar for the week, I also try to plan WHAT we'll have for dinner every night.  Doing that planning once a week saves me both stress and trips to the grocery store - it's been a big upgrade for how I spend my work time and my time with my kiddo.

Here's what my notebook looked like last week. Monday was a school day off so I actually started on Tuesday.

Here's what my notebook looked like last week. Monday was a school day off so I actually started on Tuesday.

And that's it!  The to-do's for the week reflect my longer-term plans, so I don't have to think too much, I just DO the things I told myself to do.  I've been making more productive use of my time and generally feeling more satisfied with what I'm getting done. 

People are making all kinds of pre-printed notebooks to help you accomplish this (I've seen a bunch pop up on Kickstarter and the like), but I like the process of making these two pages every week.  Planning it out this way gives me time to think and helps me feel like I've got a handle on the week ahead.

Do you have a system for organizing your whole life?  How does it work?  Would you try this? Leave a comment!

Accidental Resolution

Sometimes I'm smug; this is Smaug.

Sometimes I'm smug; this is Smaug.

I was feeling a big smug (albeit inadvertently) that I had made no New Year's resolutions this year; hadn't even considered that I might; had given the subject no thought whatsoever.  Then a couple of days ago I pulled myself up short.  Uh-oh, I thought.

There are two things. 

The first is that I make resolutions all the time.  I'm irritatingly unsatisfied, always looking for a way to improve, nit-picking very good things in an effort to make them even better.  And I do okay.  I mean, I annoy my husband sometimes when I apply this tendency to our relationship, but I generally think I have continued to move in the direction I want as a result of my own efforts. 

The second thing is that I spent most of the time between my son's birth in March, 2013 and this past fall in a state of panic, or at least high-alert.  I'm pretty good with panic (maybe being naturally anxious helps) - I'm good at focusing my energies, being decisive, getting sh*t done when it counts - but it's intense and it makes it hard to think sometimes.

In the fall, after completing the release of Gemma & The Bear, I found myself in a natural moment for a pause.  It was a chance to spend some time thinking about goals and create a road-map for reaching them.  (It is worth mentioning, as an aside, that meeting with my mentor was crucial to the success of this planning phase.)

Then, before I knew it: the holidays were upon us and with the kiddo out of school and our babysitter on vacation, it didn't make sense to do anything but hang out and be a mom.  The plan would be there for me in January and, in the meantime, we had a super non-stressful and really nice break.

This week, as I've been getting back to work and back to my plan, along with my desire to ACHIEVE (which is so real it needs all caps), I noticed this funny aversion to that intense, panicky energy I'd been working with/on for so long.  I realized I had plenty left to do in my plan and that getting myself worked up was entirely unnecessary to my getting those things done.  So this week, I've just been doing them (or trying to).  I've been trusting the plan and the process and feeling better about my days overall.  It's not that there's no stress, but there's no panic (yet) and I think I like it. 

I found myself resolving to try to keep this calm-but-productive, trust-the-process thing going as long as possible.  Smug no more.  We'll see how it goes.

How about you?  Did you surprise yourself with any resolutions this year?

Recipe: Fake It 'Till You Make It S'mores

The Boy in question.

The Boy in question.

20 minutes.  That's how long the boy sat, screaming, in the middle of the sidewalk on a particularly windy side-street late this afternoon.  He was unaffected by the cold; unmoved by threats and friendly passersby alike.  It took another 15 minutes, a significant amount of dragging, sack-of-potato-carrying,  and some heavy (and seriously questionable) negotiations in order to travel the not-quite-three blocks home.  Maybe that doesn't sound very long.  It was VERY LONG.

(This event feels like the culmination of a week's worth of bad listening, poor attitude, mood swings and epic fussiness.  For the love of God I hope he doesn't top this.)

So after bath-dinner-bedtime which included some minor skirmishes and near-miss off-the-deep-ends (all executed solo as the husband is off on an unfortunately-timed business trip), I stumbled foggily out of his bedroom and commenced to stress-eat* my favorite MacGyver'd junk food: the Fake It 'Till You Make It S'more.

Here is what you need: Carrs whole wheat crackers, some chocolate. 

Here is what you do: put half a square of chocolate (we had Ghirardelli semi-sweet which has big squares) on a cracker.  Eat it in several bites.  Repeat. 

Try not to repeat too many times or the guilt will undo the soothing qualities of your semi-upscale, improvised, adult s'more-like treat.  If you happen to have a marshmallow around, sure, go for it.  But it really isn't necessary.  In any case, I do not recommend microwaving any part of this food.

That's it.  Now, with head cleared and sweet-tooth satisfied you can return to your productive evening.  Maybe with a glass of wine.  Or two. 

Off you go!


*I know.  Stress eating is no good.  I don't endorse it.  I try not to do it.  But these things happen.  And then I turn lemons into lemonade and use my guilt to propel me to the gym.  So it all balances out . . . right?


How I Read The New Yorker (A Holiday Gift of Hubris)

Be free, my friends, from your stacks of New Yorker magazines!  No more need they pile up beside your bed or commode.  Unburden yourself of the guilt of vast swaths of the periodical unread! 

You have ONE WEEK to digest a New Yorker before the next one comes.  What you need is a process for finding and reading what's most important to you in any given issue and then the willingness to let the rest go. 

Of course you needn't take in the New Yorker in exactly the manner I do - I encourage you to find your own best practices - but, if you don't have a strategy already in place, I offer you mine as a jumping off point. 

Here's what I do:

Begin with the cover.  It's a piece of actual art that arrives in your hands every week and it's easy to overlook.  If you, like me, take pleasure in art, take that pleasure here and now with the cover.

Turn to the table of contents.  Go right to the bottom and note the title of that cover.  Hmmm. Interesting.  Next, from the top, scan the names of contributors (Tad Friend, Nick Paumgarten, Emily Nussbaum and Malcolm Gladwell are all must-reads for me).  Who wrote the fiction? What's the movie review?

Now begin the skim-through.  This involves paging through the magazine at a moderate pace to get a general overview.  On this first pass I read the short stuff: any arts notices that catch my eye, restaurant reviews that interest me, and all of the cartoons.  I also go ahead and read The Talk of the Town during this phase (I begin each essay to decide if I will continue, but rarely do I read them all) as well as Shouts and Murmurs. The skim-through ends with the caption contest on the back page. 

Now, I have a sense of the magazine.  I know what longer essays and articles are of greatest interest to me.  I usually continue my ramp-up with TV, Film and Theater reviews (always TV because: Emily Nussbaum; Film and TV depend on whats being reviewed) before diving into the meatiest stuff.  The real trick is to be honest with yourself about what you want to read.  Life is short, you are busy, and another New Yorker is right around the corner.  Read what moves you and recycle the rest. 

Voila!  Your New Yorker stack is diminished!  You are more relaxed and happy! 

Leave me a comment if you have your own way to read The New Yorker.  Or, if you try my way, let me know what you think! xo


Liz Lerman-ing Thanksgiving

Since I posted my plan here, I figured I ought to follow up and let you know how it actually turned out.  And I decided to follow Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process*.  I will be both the "artist" and the "audience" in the following conversation. Here goes:

Statement of meaning.  The audience say what they found meaningful, evocative, striking and exciting in the work.  This needs to be a positive statement.

  • I really enjoyed using the plates, glasses and silver that belonged to my family and that we always used at our family holiday celebrations; it felt cozy to see and use those objects again.
  • I liked the way our purple mashed potatoes drew attention and took up space visually on the plates; I liked how their inclusion honored my son who'd been enthusiastic about the choice to go purple.
  • It was exciting to see such a more-elaborate-than-usual meal come together.
  • It felt good to go running around outside after our long day inside and big meal.

Artist as questioner.  The artist asks questions about his or her work.  Ideally the questions are formulated in order to require an articulate response as opposed to a yes/no answer.

  • How did it feel to put the trappings of Thanksgiving onto what was otherwise an ordinary family dinner in terms of people and place? (A: I was really crabby about it for the days preceeding and especially on Thanksgiving morning.  It wasn't clear to me how doing a lot more work for the same old family dinner was going to pay off in any meaningful way.  I'm still not completely satisfied with the final result, but I am glad we made the effort.  It felt good to create an event and a moment of pause for our son.)
  • How effective did you find the Thankful Alphabet game where everyone took turns saying something they were thankful for that started with the next letter of the alphabet? (A: You know, I made that up on the spot.  I'd been looking for a way to create a conversation around thankfulness that would be accessible to our son - who is three and a half - and while he opted not to participate in saying what he was thankful for, he was very engaged in the conversation that developed between his dad and I and contributed to what we were saying.  I thought the alphabet was a good but maybe not perfect structure as many things and people for which we are deeply thankful were left out because they started with a popular letter of the alphabet and, likewise, some letters forced us to stretch for fluffier items on our thankful lists.)
  • What other elements or traditions came to mind during this thanksgiving that weren't included? (A: I had this funny impulse that we should say some sort of non-religious prayer - a meditation or something - before we began our meal and I can't say if I wish we had or not.  There were also a number of menu items that I loved growing up but couldn't include in our celebration this year.)
  • How did you feel watching the parade on TV with your family? (A: Growing up, I LOVED to watch the parade on TV while we were cooking and getting ready.  However, having it on with our son - who isn't really allowed to watch TV usually, which was already bringing some tension to the situation for me - didn't feel so good.  As an adult watching the parade, it's possible to enjoy the performances and displays while simultaneously understanding that the whole thing is one giant advertisement.  Watching with our not-yet-media-savvy son, I was suddenly rather uncomfortable and found myself saying snarkier/grinchier things that I would have liked in an effort to break the spell of marketing.  By contrast, the National Dog Show was a big hit and felt much more wholesome and age-appropriate.)

Neutral questions. The audience asks neutral questions to the artist about the work, the artist answers.  Questions are neutral when they do not have an opinion embedded in them.

How closely did the experience of Thanksgiving this year match your idea of what the day would be like?  (A: I was surprised in the morning by how upset - how emotional - I was to be doing Thanksgiving just ourselves.  I was feeling really lonely totally disconnected from my family-of-origin and kind of angry.  I was likewise surprised by how much I enjoyed the second half of the day - once the work was done and the stress of succeeding or failing was behind me - and how meaningful things like using the fancy dishes felt in the moment.)

Did you discover anything unexpected through the process of preparing and executing Thanksgiving? (A: Beyond the above, not really.  I went into Thanksgiving with a lot of resistance or, at least, unhappy resignation.  Also anxiety about having to figure it all out by myself.  I was gratified to succeed but it was a minor success.  Nothing about our meal was particularaly outstanding or memorable.  I'd say, in that regard, I got out of it what I put into it.  I took small risks and the rewards were proportional.)

Opinions.  The audience state opinions subject to permission from the artist: "I have an opinion about . . . . Would you like to hear it?  The artist has the option to say no.

  • I have an opinion about the Turkey. Would you like to hear it?
  • Yes.
  • I think you could have cooked it longer.  It was done but I think only *just* and you probably would have felt more relaxed if you weren't secretly afraid you were about to give yourself and your son some kind of food poisoning

  • I have an opinion about the Wine.  Would you like to hear it?
  • Yes.
  • I don't think the wine paired especially well with the meal.  It was fine, but it didn't do anything to add to a sense of occasion or "specialness." 
  • I agree.

  • I have an opinion about the structure of the day.  Would you like to hear it?
  • Yes.
  • It would have been nice to get outside before the meal, maybe even to watch some of the parade live, but I think that probably wasn't possible technically . . .
  • That's right.
  • So I thought it was great that you nevertheless went outside to play after the meal, even though it was getting dark.  I might encourage you to move the meal just a bit earlier to give yourself more playtime between the main meal and dessert.  I also thought it made sense to have dessert much later.
  • Thank you.

  • I have an opinion about the dessert.  Would you like to hear it?
  • Yes.
  • I LOVED the pumpkin pudding plus a cookie instead of a pie with a crust.  Those cookies were BANANAS they were so delicious.  And I always forget how delicious fresh whipped cream is.
  • I agree!

And there you have it!  Far more than you wanted to know about my Thanksgiving.  I'd say the main takeaway is: MAKE THOSE COOKIES!


* A caveat: I have participated in discussions using CRP but I have not had the pleasure of studying with Ms. Lerman herself and do not profess to be doing this perfectly.  I borrowed this blog posts's outline of the process to guide my own. 

The Thanksgiving Menu Plan


For Breakfast, to make the day feel a little more special, we'll have this coffee cake with some scrambled eggs and fruit.  

The Main Event

Sometime mid-afternoon, we'll have THE MEAL which will be comprised of:

More or less everything hangs out in the oven at 400 for 20-40 minutes and I think one of the biggest Thanksgiving traditions is not-very-hot food (perfect for the toddler!) so in theory it should all work out . . .


My vote is to take a break after the big meal and go outside to run around.  When we come back in it will be time for dessert: Pumpkin Pie Pudding and Ginger Cookies served with fresh whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I'll let you know how it all turns out! xo

Review: Mahabis

Fanny & my Mahabis

Fanny & my Mahabis

You might remember when I got VERY excited about these magical transforming slipper-shoes.  Well, my delightful husband ordered me a pair!  I got them last spring but they are VERY WARM so it wasn't long before it was too hot to keep wearing them, but I've been wearing them again this fall and feel like I've now had enough experience to let you know what's up.

Here's what's good: They are, as I said, TOASTY.  They are also very cozy (lined with fuzzy shearling-like material), and super-comfy.  The bottoms (my husband ordered me all five colors?!) are really cute and, overall, the product that came in the mail (in lovely and well-considered packaging, very much in the vein of an apple product) matches the product you can see on the Mahabis website.


Here's what's not so good: Mine are too big (read: I think they might run big).  And Mahabis doesn't offer international returns.  When I reached out to them (because these are pricey slippers) they were almost willing to make a size exchange for me anyway, but I was outside of their 14-day regular returns window so they said no.  Boo.  Non-returnability (or at least exchangeability) is a deal-breaker for me and, imho, 14 days is no time at all.  Fortunately, they're only too big in a way that makes my feet look stupid, not in a way that really precludes my wearing them, so they aren't going to waste.

Not a fan of the way the sole gaps away from the main shoe/slipper body.

Not a fan of the way the sole gaps away from the main shoe/slipper body.

The most important thing to understand about Mahabis, though, is that they're SLIPPERS.  They are NOT Magical Transforming Slipper Shoes.  Instead, they're slippers that let you walk in both dirty places and clean places without tracking the dirt around.  So they're great for a quick trip down to the basement of my building or a walk down the hallway to give something to a neighbor.  If I lived in the suburbs, they'd be ideal for those times I needed to go out into the driveway to pick up a newspaper or deliver my kid to a school bus.  They are not, as I had hoped they would be, appropriate for running errands to the grocery store three blocks away.

Bottom line: I don't think they were right for me, but I think they're a good (though not a great) product.  I wish the company would improve its returns policy because that's something I care about.  Mahabis would make a really cool gift (maybe for your fancy friend with a country house or your cool mom who keeps chickens in her back yard?), although I'm not sure anyone needs the array of sole colors that I have.  Okay, maybe a teenage girl, but no one else.  

A more recent and extremely satisfactory purchase, for me, were these shearling-lined sneakers.  They do exactly what I want: keep my feet warm and cozy, sans socks, for trips around my 'hood.  If I want to keep my house clean, when I get home, I can slip them off and slip into my Mahabis. ;)

What do you think?  Do you have Mahabis?  Would you try them?  


We had a party!  For Gemma & The Bear!  And It was GREAT!

A whole bunch of wonderful people showed up.  We watched the whole first season all together on a big screen.  We played a fun drinking game.  There were Goodie Bags.  And everyone seemed to have a great time!  

Here are some photos.  (Scroll down past the photos to learn how to re-live our fun party in the comfort of your own home!)  

Me and Marley who plays Gemma, age 9.

Me and Marley who plays Gemma, age 9.

Goodie Bags for the Party!

Goodie Bags for the Party!

Sexy people at the party enjoying the show.

Sexy people at the party enjoying the show.

Me and Kevin aka Gemma & The Bear

Me and Kevin aka Gemma & The Bear

Attractive and delighted crowd

Attractive and delighted crowd

Me, Marc Sinoway who plays Adrian

Me, Marc Sinoway who plays Adrian

Kevin, Debargo (who plays Tom), and Me

Kevin, Debargo (who plays Tom), and Me

Want to catch up on the fun?  Just CLICK HERE to watch Season One and then follow the rules of our very own #GATBLive drinking game below.  

Feel free to take photos of YOUR event - we'd love to see!

Finish Line

The sixth episode of Gemma & The Bear - the Season Finale - was released this past Monday, and I've been crabby all week.   

Tuesday night found me sitting on the kitchen floor, reading Facebook on my phone, eating old pistachio gelatto out of the container and blowing off the gym.  Basically: willfully feeling bad about myself.  

What the . . . ?

I wrote a bit about the Gemma & The Bear journey here.  What I don't think I expressed was the extent to which the whole experience has felt like an intensive graduate program in content creation.  I know so much more than I did and am so much stronger and more capable in this area than I was a year ago.  It's kind of incredible and, looking at what I personally spent, it was probably a bargain.

So here I am.  A recent graduate without a job; in that middle place between being still tired and frayed from the final push and not yet having begun moving towards the next thing (whatever it is).  

My plan is to spend September (and maybe some of October) figuring out what the next thing might be and making an action-plan to move towards it.  August saw me struggling more and more to meet my own blogging and newsletter deadlines and so, while I hope to put more here during the next few weeks, I'm not making any promises.   I've got other writing to do in other places.  I've got a little boy starting a new school.  I'm hoping to do some quality big-picture thinking and take care of a bunch of housekeeping along the way.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy Gemma & The Bear.  For all of my crabbyness, it feels really good - and I'm extremely proud - to have reached this particular milestone.  Can't wait to share the next thing with you soon . . . 

Words to live by


Way back in February, I read a short essay by Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker about the magazine's move from Times Square down to the Financial Distrcit.  One passage, as he wrote about the difficulties of getting ready for the move has stuck with me:

The process felt a little like going through the belongings of a dead loved one, except that the dead loved one was you.  What was worth saving?  Not as much as you'd anticipated, once you got into the spirit of paperlessness.  Pile up those mine carts with fool's gold.  The thing that's worth keeping is the thing you do next. 

At the time, I was in the process of emptying - one way or another - and selling my childhood home.  His analogy wasn't an analogy for me.  When I found myself briefly crippled by grief or nostalgia (or both), overwhelmed by what felt like impossible decisions, I would repeat his words to myself - "The thing that's worth keeping is the thing you do next."  They helped me pull myself together; helped me move forward and feel pretty good about my decisions in the process.

We closed on the house in April (the single most horific experience of my life; real-estate is an ugly business) but I've found that Paumgarten's words continue to provide guidance.  

The thing that's worth keeping is the thing you do next. 

Okay.  Here we go.   

Tick-Tock! TICK-TOCK!!!

When I joined the New York Neo-Futurists (NYNF) in 2006, one of the most joyful aspects of the experience was being able to recommend the show (Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind) without hesitation.  Up 'till then, I'd done a bunch of plays here and there in NYC, but they often suffered one way or another from being off-off-Broadway productions (lack of time, lack of money, etc.)*.  But the Neo's were different.  They had figured out how to make those limitations work for them and it felt so good to be so proud of something I was a part of.

I feel the same way about Gemma & The Bear.  Like Too Much Light . . . , Gemma & The Bear (GATB) is actually for something of a niche audience and I don't actually think that either is for everyone; certainly neither is perfect.  I do think both are, in turns, innovative, delightful and well-made and I am uniquely unabashed in my promotion of GATB as I was with Too Much Light . . . .

So, it has been a bit of a frustrating surprise to grapple, these last couple of months, with just how difficult marketing a (micro-budget) web series can be.  I recently watched a popular vlog that argues that the internet creates a meritocracy in which "if the video you're making is interesting to anyone . . . all you have to be concerned with is making something that someone else wants to watch."  This was more or less my assumption going in to Gemma & The Bear, but here in the episode-release-and-marketing phase, where the measure of marketing success - views on YouTube - seems to have been equated with the quality of the content (at least as far as generating press, industry attention, etc.) and where spending money to boost posts seems like the only way to be seen at all, that argument about meritocracy feels a bit false . . . or at least naive.

I've been naive all my life.  Also: impatient.

The other night, at a birthday gathering for a neighbor, I had a conversation with some people I'd just met about the social norms of meeting new people (how meta).  I was expressing my frustration with the apparent taboo of asking people what they do.  They countered that "what are you up to?" or "what's new?" or "how do you spend your time?" are completely acceptable alternatives.  I'm not sure I agree but, in any case, those alternatives don't address my real want which is to grab these new acquaintances by the lapels (maybe just figuratively) and say something like "who are you?! what's your story?! tell me everything!!"  I don't want to be coy, making small talk and teasing out the information slowly; I want the story up front!  (Looking back, my entire first date with my husband was just me interrogating him the entire night including important questions like "what are your three favorite sounds?"  I guess his tolerance was an early good sign?)

Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind wasn't an overnight success; the company has gone through tremendous growing pains and, while they've come incredibly far, they're still working hard to grow and improve.  And, of course, that's the story almost everywhere.

So maybe it isn't that the meritocracy of the internet is false (although marketing dollars certainly play a role, albeit a complicated one), maybe it's about staying the course so we can find our audience . . . or they can find us. 

I really wish they'd hurry up about it, though. 


*To be very clear: I think off-off-Broadway is great and of tremendous value.  All artists need a place to practice, experiment and grow and for theater artists in NYC, OOB is often it.  Furthermore, over the past decade, I've seen the OOB community as a whole grow and improve the quality of its work.  So, no dig at OOB.  I love it, in fact.

So . . . I made a show!

It's called Gemma & The Bear and we just released the first two episodes this past Monday.

It was over two years ago that it all began - sometime between giving birth to my son and my mom's brain tumor being diagnosed.  Kevin and I wanted to make something together and I thought it should be a web series.  We'd done theater together, but I wasn't doing theater at the moment because I had a tiny child to take care of.  Something on-camera felt more manageable. 

So we began.  We met and wrote and had a reading and got rid of everything we'd written and started again.  Working on the project was always a joy; it was also my artistic life-line.  Without the luxury of time I used to enjoy, it became important to focus on doing one thing well, and that was our show. 

Late last summer - almost a year ago - we began our casting process (we paused so I could have back surgery), in the late fall we launched our Indiegogo campaign, and in December we finally - FINALLY - started filming. 

We shot for seven non-consecutive days in December, January and February, going by location rather than chronology of the script.  When our office location fell through the morning before the shoot, my brother came through with his office for us and we squeezed what we'd planned to film in three days into two.  We made third graders stand outside on one of the coldest days of the year.  We re-cast a major role at the last minute because our original actor was injured.  We called in favors.  We got it done. 

I handled the craft services and, later, the payroll.  I wouldn't choose to take on those extra roles again, but it felt really good to support our cast and crew in a loving way through food, and later, to appreciate them by redistributing about 75% of what we'd raised to make the show in the form of checks to our artistic and technical collaborators. 

I thought the hard part was over.  And then I found myself a producer of a project in post-production. 

But now it's here!  Gemma & The Bear.  Kevin R. Free was my collaborator in all things - writing, acting and producing - and Matt Scott as director, editor and co-writer has provided invaluable additional vision and input.  This has been one of the most rigorous and most rewarding artistic experiences of my life and while I learned a lot (and would do some things differently if I had to do them over) I am incredibly proud of what we've made. 

We're still working on episodes 3, 4, 5 and 6 - they'll be out in August - but for now I hope you enjoy episodes 1 and 2.

EPISODE 1: HE'S BAAAAAAAACK! Gemma gets a big assignment at work and graduates from therapy, but a blast from the past threatens her security. CAST: Gemma Woods: Eevin Hartsough Karen: Natalie Kim Tom: Debargo Sanyal The Bear: Kevin R. Free and Jojo Gonzalez as Dr. Dormer www.gemmaandthebear.com

EPISODE 2: MEET THE BEAR Gemma visits her dad, Hank, to try to get to the bottom of the Bear's reappearance in her life. CAST: Gemma - Eevin Hartsough The Bear - Kevin R. Free Hank - Ray DeMattis More at www.gemmaandthebear.com

This isn't theater so I can't see your faces; leave a comment! 

Surveys are FUN!

The other day, I found myself googling one of the people in my community.  I'd visited the website of a local business to get the phone number and, while I was waiting for the call to go through, saw the full name of one of the delightful employees.  So I started Googling. 

I've done this before.  Kind of a lot.

I get fascinated with someone - for any number of reasons - and it just isn't socially acceptable to start interviewing people with whom you have only a passing acquaintance, you know?  So . . . Google.

Two things about this:

  1. I've been surprised by who is easy to google and, conversely, how many folks are really hard to find on the internet.  Sometimes it's just a common name, but more often it seems like a lot of people just don't show up on the web and that kind of fascinates me.
  2. It occurred to me to wonder, in my most recent bout of "research," how normal this is.  Do YOU do this kind of Googling?  

Then I thought, I can ask people!  You! I can ask YOU!  But asking for your response in the comments - especially about something like this that might feel embarrassing to have on the record - seemed like not a great way to find out.  So . . . (drum roll) . . . I made a SURVEY!!  It's short - only six multiple choice questions - and in a few weeks, I'll share the results.  HERE IS THE LINK!

FUN, right?  Or is this just another way that I'm weird . . . ?  You can leave your answer to that question in the comments, no survey required.  ;)