She’s Solid.

I looked back through my calendar and feel like 2019 had a lot of wonderful in it. It was a solid year. Here’s a chronological look (I know I kinda did a recap already from Oct ’18-19 – and I was going to write one of my rambling, lovable, GIF-heavy recap posts but I kind of like this bullet points idea) at the whole year!

January

  • Rang in 2019 by watching Millie & Stanley, 2 cantankerous and lovable neighbor pugs. Also got food poisoning.
  • My first MINt team (Dec ’18-Feb ’19): Abominable SnowMINts
  • Playing with Pinafore (Nov ’18-Oct ’19) at CSz
  • Volleyball w Apple buds on team “How I Set Your Mother”
  • Continuing to teach Level 1 Krav Maga classes at Titan Gym
  • I go to work on Polar Vortex day! It’s pretty quiet.

February

  • Promotion to Senior Sales Executive at Grubhub
    • I’d only been there 10 months!
  • Flew to Phoenix for family time
    • Decided to visit the AZ office since my boss was in town too (for actual work)
    • Then worked in the office for 3 days
    • Work paid for my flight back
    • I felt v. v. fancy.
  • My parents drove 3.5 hours each way for me to see the Grand Canyon. On first sight walking up to the rim I cried. How is anything that vast and majestic? Whew. Full stop.
  • Sedona was wonderful and kooky and I need to go back.
  • Visit to best/favorite KBBQ – Cho Sun Ok – in Chicago with Neal AND we went to a concert – Dean Lewis & SYML

March 

  • Started Crossfit at Windy City Strength and Conditioning
  • KBBQ at the same restaurant – Cho Sun Ok – 2 weeks after Neal BUT with Kalin.
    • I still don’t know how this happened but my stomach ain’t complaining about it.
  • Started final ID class w UW-Stout.
    • It will be the hardest class I’ve ever done in my life.
    • I just don’t know it yet.
  • Due to this ^^ took sabbatical from teaching Krav at Titan Gym
  • Flew to Dayton to see Trace/Dinah and Xander/Abs (PLUS YOU, EVIE) and I’m so glad I did.

April

  • Took a Music Improv workshop through MINt with Alex
    • I sang a song about how I still have a Washington State Driver’s License but mid-song realized it was really was about how I missed home and cried in public, in a workshop. I’M FINE.
  • Went to a Cubs game IN A BOX for work
    • Yes, it was v chill and fancy.
  • Cast on second MINt team: BlooMINt Onion
  • Alex & Jake from the Little Rock crew came to Chicago
    • We get Old Fashioneds at the Broken Shaker
    • This is the best Old Fashioned in the city. I am convinced.
    • I will not be moved.
  • Interviewed for dream job while still in school for said job field.
  • Got dream job.

May

  • Started dream job
  • Saw Hamilton w Josh.
    • We are in the second row.
    • I immediately want to see it again. I do not.
    • It closes in 2 weeks (aka Jan 15, 2020) from now LETS GO
  • Bekah Brown (and Potato and Sully) in town!
    • We roam and nap and laugh.
  • Sat in with Oh Cecelia at iO twice
    • Being asked to sit in is bananas nice and I have done it several times this year with different teams. Thank you everyone for your trust in my make-believe!
  • Went to PHX for work to train 5/13 class
    • Do not feel prepared as I JUST started said job.
    • People are v nice.
    • I got upgraded to a suite and neither of my 2 bosses did. BIZLIFE.
    • Abby (L&D Boss) and I do not eat bread bowls from Panera by the hotel pool, WHICH I WAS PROMISED would happen. Still sad.
  • Officially resigned from Titan Gym/teaching Krav due to new job
    • Originating dream job position and possibly traveling every 2 weeks for it just wasn’t good for students, for the gym or for me. But I miss y’all.
  • Saw Falsettos (Broadway) show
    • it was NOT a comedy
    • I was NOT prepared
    • AND if meme photos of me crying on the train alone after ever come out it is Todd’s fault. The end.
  • Finish/graduate from UW-Stout’s Instructional Design Graduate Certificate program
    • I survived the aforementioned hardest class in m’life.
    • Genuinely sad/miss my group TO THIS DAY.

June

  • Mom & Dad come to Chicago –
    • Father’s Day
    • Field Museum
    • Architect River Cruise
    • CHICAGO HOT DOGS!
  • Had huge audition for something I really wanted. Felt good about it. Didn’t get it.
  • Did a 5 Things CSz workshop

July

  • Performed for the first time w Ben, Nicole & Nate as music improv team AirBRB
  • Had lunch with Toni Berry, writer, bud, fellow Sagittarius, former Apple co-worker
    • By ‘lunch’ I mean we hung out for like 4 hours. WE ARE LONG WINDED.
  • Decided to apply (and got) a workshop spot with RIFF; a music improv short form show that performs at iO.
  • Did improv set in a church service with Susan
    • it was a planned set; we didn’t just jump up and start, I swear
  • Lunch with Jenean, former work wife and also, strangely, my first time eating poke
    • I now love poke
    • WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG
  • Fly to Washington to drive to AZ with Mom & Em

August

  • 4-Year Chicago-versary!
    • Me and the Bean are very happy together in a committed relationship over halfway to a common law marriage
  • Drive from Lynden, WA to Phoenix, AZ in 2 long days with Mom & Em
    • YES TWO DAYS
  • Teach 2nd training class in AZ for 8/5 class
  • Abby, L&D boss and of the 2 women I report to leaves the company. I hate this but still love her.
  • Sit in with Goat Milk Goddesses to perform at the Women’s Funny Fest at Stage 773
  • Dana comes to see me!
    • She’s the best.
  • I try my first Pole Dancing class at Brass Ring Chicago
    • Due to a Groupon I bought 6 months before that was about to expire 3 days later. I keep it up through EOY.
  • Compete in music improv competition “Verses” at Second City with AirBRB – we lose to some of my favorite people on Home Entertainment so I’m ok with it.
  • 2nd RIFF show!

September

  • Audition for Anarchy, another music improv team
    • I don’t get it
    • But I know a ton of people in the room
    • I’m ok!
  • Speak to my UW-Stout instructor’s class about being hired to work in ID/Learning & Dev field as a Sales Trainer right out of our program.
    • Feel v accomplished.
  • Toggle from Crossfit back to LSAC gym by my house
    • Y’all CF is cool BUT MY WALLET WAS SCREAMING.
  • Play volleyball for Fall Season with people I met in Spring Season at Lincoln Park High School.
  • Catherine (Sales Boss) the second woman I love working for leaves the company. I hate this but love her.
    • I got her some goodbye cookies that Carrie makes and they are PERFECTION (see pic below) support Carrie she does amazing work and a percentage of every order supports a different charity every month. HERE IS HER LINK I LOVE IT. 
  • I got myself a massage. I am stressed/sad about the boss situation above BUT NOT THE COOKIES.
    • I got it on Groupon, I am fiscally responsible.
  • Start meal plan service to eat Keto for the month of October (officially 9/30-end of October).
    • Not fiscally responsible but IT IS OK.
    • Keto doesn’t let me eat fruit as as a Washingtonian this is a crime I do not like.
    • Make it the 30 days, lost 10lbs in Oct.
  • I get a new boss to report to on the Learning Team side at work. He seems cool although I don’t know it yet.

October

  • Final Pinafore show at CSz. I have the sads that this core group of people I love is done.
    • Yes, yes, I know we can still play together
    • IT WAS A GOOD BITTERSWEET THING
    • I know all things must end I used to watch Lost
  • Started some personal training with Brian at LSAC
    • I warn Brian I am a talker.
    • Brian makes me do weird double kettlebell swings. I am not good at it right away and hate it.
    • Literally all I do is try to make Brian laugh to get my mind off of sweating.
    • Guys, don’t worry. I got plenty of sweating in still.
  • Started an Olympic Weightlifting class with Keith at LSAC
    • I AM SHOCKINGLY GOOD AT THIS.
    • Thank you to the Crossfit gym and also Coach DeHoag at LC, I guess.
  • Cry at work 3x in one day after feeling overwhelmed w my 2 bosses being gone and the announcement we are upping our hiring aka much bigger training classes.
    • 1. After a meeting
    • 2. In a stairwell mid-afternoon
    • 3. In first 1:1 with new boss
    • Is this a record and if so please get me a medal
  • I go to DC for the first time and get to hang with David, Bekah, Adam & Dana (and Millie)
    • I needed this.
  • Performed in Hocus Pocus Redacted at the Music Box as Allison.
    •  Yes, yabbos

November

  • Work tells me they approved hiring a 2nd person to do my role; we begin applications/interviews
    • Robbie becomes 2nd trainer at work and I begin trying to explain how/why I do what I do.
  • Audition for CSz & cast onto new Rec League team: Potluck
  • Watch Heather, Dan & Jess’s Bloody Christmas Carol show
    • My friends are fancy and sing & dance really well.
    • I came straight from a volleyball game and am very sweaty smushed next to strangers in this small theater.
  • See Robbie Ellis’s truly hilarious orchestra with Ben.
    • We fancy dress up.
    • We are seated in the front row.
    • We did not know we would be in the front row.
  • Thanksgiving week is my first week ‘off’ of training since starting my job on 5/1; I get so much work done and also contract a cold.
    • I do nothing except sit in my apartment alone for Thanksgiving, make myself mashed potatoes and I love it.

December

  • Record size massive training class (for us)
    • I am responsible for the learning & logistics of 20 people and gain (probably) 17 gray hairs.
  • Work approves a 3rd (Arizona) and 4th (Philadelphia) trainer; applications & interviews begin
  • I start seeing a therapist – it helps.
    • Nothing specific; I’m just noticing circular behaviors as I look back over my shoulder for 30+ years.
  • Added to the ensemble of RIFF
    • After performing as a sub several times since that workshop in July!
    • I’m added in the same class as Ben, Sarah & Will who I feel so honored to sing (and rhyme) with.
  • I fly home for 12 days to Lynden, WA
  • I turn 32 sitting at home, surrounded by my family.
    • I tell my family I plan on climbing Kilimanjaro in October 2020. I announce it at my birthday dinner so I can’t back out of it. NAME IT AND CLAIM IT BBS.
    • Yes, another blog post will come to flesh this ^^ out.
  • Performed with Upfront Theatre’s ensemble, including Ryan Stiles, for the 2nd time in Bellingham on the day after Christmas. My family is there seeing me do what I love and I am happy.

2019 Overall

  • Performances – with Pinafore, with MINt teams, RIFF and so many other opportunities to sit in and play with teams. Feeling grateful.
  • Shows – I saw countless shows; CSz matches, iO & SC improv, staged shows, musicals, Broadway, even just at movie theaters! Ya girl is stuffed full of stories. Also I have crazy talented friends.
  • People – I saw family 4 times! That’s almost a record for one year! Lunches, grocery store runs, shows and coffee times with so many friends too.
  • Health – Got my first ever stitches (shoulder), which was a weird first to have post-30. Overall healthy but somehow got food poisoning 3x this year. Probably won’t be asked to be on Bear Grylls show because of it ever.
  • Work – very happy to be working in the Learning & Development field as a trainer, instructional designer and general weirdo. Finally. GH has been very good to me.
  • Mental state – I’m pausing here and looking around my house, just thinking about this one.
    • I’m proud to be taking steps to correct patterns and behaviors that are unhealthy. Seeing a therapist that gives homework to work on between sessions is great.
    • I’m improving at recognizing progress as progress even when I wish the progress was bigger.
    • I’m proud/terrified to be setting the goal of climbing Kilimanjaro in October 2020. It scares me and excites me. More to come on this!
    • I’m thrilled to be an ensemble member on a long-term team. This has been a goal since I got to Chicago – I don’t need to drive my work to SNL or Mainstage. I just want to be on a consistent team of talented friends that I laugh with and improve my skills.

Hiya, 2020. Let’s go.

A Blog I Pay For and Rarely Update: UPDATED!

Well, it’s been a year. Truly. I haven’t blogged in a year! Not since my EPIK return to Korea (wink at y’all English teachers over there) for MinShik & Ara’s wedding.

And here those same people are celebrating their one year anniversary by having their first baby ON THAT DAY. That’s some Gattaca-level skill, I tell ya.

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Lots has changed. LAWD. Yes. Grab yourself a low-carb snack because y’all about to get the deets.

  1. Jobs

Two promotions at Grubhub and a sabbatical-turned-bowing-out at Titan Gym ALL IN THIS PAST ONE YEAR.

In January I became a Senior Sales Executive with Grubhub; it was a huge, out-of-the-blue honor and when I asked ‘what’s different than my current job?” my boss replied “Its what you’re already doing with the team, I’m just going to pay you for it.” How cool is that?!

Actual photo of said boss:

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Seriously one of my favorite things in my career was in our first ever one on one development meeting last year (right *after* the Korea trip) the first thing I said was “I want you to know I’m in grad school for training and development and that’s what I want to do long term.”

His reply? “OK, let me hook you up with the right person who’s heading up training.” Literally the next week she got me in a classroom training new hires in a session 1x every 2 weeks. MONEY/MOUTH AND ALL THAT. When does that happen?!

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And this past April when a new role opened up to become a sales trainer for new hires he recommended and she championed me for the role, which started May 1.

Y’all. I have never felt the Conan mantra of “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen” more. I joined Grubhub just to get a sales paycheck and have a regular schedule to pursue my passions and here this place that I thought would be a job I wasn’t going to put my heart into has given me such gifts. Managers that believe in me and CREATE JOBS that I wasn’t even aware of. I’m very blessed.

Now I’m the “Learning Solutions Associate” (ie. Non-Corporate Sales & Account Advisor Trainer) for all employees in those departments for Grubhub Inc. Nationwide. I’ve trained over 75 people in the last 5.5 months. That is bananas to me and I’m so grateful. All that in a year and a half at this company.

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Because of that role shift and wrapping up grad school I knew that my time at Titan Gym was coming to a close. I have loved and sweated and bled and cried in that place – sometimes all at once – and I leave with so many good memories and relationships. I felt like I couldn’t be both throwing my heart (and fists) into learning & teaching Krav while also trying to originate a role at Grubhub.

So with a final rooftop drinking session and countless hugs I left (by choice) no longer an instructor at Titan Gym. I’m still a certified Krav Maga Level 1 Instructor through KMA and I know if I’m ever interested in getting back into it that Daniela and Ivo have my back. And if you need a place to kick ass, feel stronger or find mental toughness I will recommend Titan Gym to the moon and back again and again and again.

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WHEW.

2. School

Yes, I finished my grad program at University of Wisconsin – Stout and now have my graduate certificate in Instructional Design. I need to frame that fancy piece of paper sometime soon.

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3. Comedy

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LAUGH SQUAD?! Oh man y’all. So last October in the week after I got back from Korea I auditioned for a ComedySportz House Team and was cast into the most perfect circle of weirdos by two insanely talented coaches who happened to have the exact same initials – HMS. So naturally our team name became “Pinafore” after the famous Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera ‘HMS Pinafore.’ I have still never to this day heard any music from it although I did briefly glance through the Wikipedia page.

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No, I didn’t realize we were all serving fierce face. Or at least my genre of fierce face. Our team just had our final show on 10/6 and it has been a journey. I feel like I’ve grown with such a great team with depth and tears and joy. I have peed myself a little laughing so hard, which I can admit now that the team is done. I mean, I could have admitted it before but why BOTHER.

Truly I have loved the CSZ House Program; auditions for the next round are in November and I’m excited to see what the next group of people I get to fall in love with looks like!

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Other things I’ve been blessed to yuk it up on/with: I got cast into a RIFF Music Improv camp which has had me perform 3x with a stone-cold group of short-form music improvisers that HAVE PIPES, y’all. Some of these people I’ve watched perform for years in music improv and it’s an honor to strap on a Britney mic and make up songs for an audience with them.

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I’ve also done 2 seasons of MINt (Music Improv Night) at the Annoyance; such an open space to trying weird and beautiful things with music improv and our voices. If you’re looking for a community to fall in love with, the MINt crew is a good one. 4 teams every 4 months and you get such a wide range of experience, skills and strange, hilarious songs.

There’s been a few one-offs performing with friends’ groups and even a couple shows with some MI people I met in iO’s Music Program as an indie group named “AirBRB.”

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I’m moving into a season when I’m not sure when my next show is; it’ll be light this next month, which is kind of a fun thing. I’ll miss it. But I think it’s healthy to have a breather and come back hungry, whenever the next show is. And you never know when someone might text you at 4pm about a show that night at 1030pm and you gotta be ready to make believe with the best!

4. Health

OOOOOHHHH fun. Let’s talk about it! Since last year when I got my Krav Maga instructor cert in July (shoutout to the 3am Protein Squad) I’ve let things slip a bit. And why not?! When you survive that kind of thing you deserve to let yourself chill. But…I didn’t really reign it in. I was doing ok; maintaining some cardio but I knew things needed to step up. I was getting a little burned out on Krav. Here’s my 7am face on the way to teach class:

I let myself write excuses and they added up. Once I was done punching/kicking regularly I did CrossFit for a few months – it was great and ya girl loves heavy weights – but the price was really high. Especially when I could be going out of town to our Phoenix office for work up to once a month, missing a week at a time. It was an expensive habit.

So I jumped back into going to LSAC (Lincoln Square Athletic Club) regularly – it’s been 3 weeks in and I’m kind of loving my schedule:

Mondays – Pole Class at Brass Ring (I KNOW) and it’s so fun. Such an empowering environment and an hour flies by. Its slow but I see progress! And thigh bruises.

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Tuesdays – Workout at LSAC (trying to follow the schedule Brian (see Fridays) gave me the week before)

Wednesdays – Volleyball with friends at LPHS – y’all we had a double header last week and I burned 1,448 calories in 1 hour and 55 mins. WE WORKIN’.

Thursdays – Improv Day (aka rest and do some make believe in comedy class)

Fridays – Personal Training with Brian at LSAC

Saturdays – Yoga (at home right now using an Apple TV app but maybe at LSAC in the future)

Sundays – Intro to Olympic Weightlifting with Keith at LSAC (today was the first one; I did a 65lb bar snatch from shins to above my head! 9 times! Y’ALL! SHE BACK!)

Also I started attempting/doing a Keto & intermittent fasting on 10/1; it’s been a little rough but we’re getting into the groove of it. That first week, candidly, sucked. The low carb/Keto flu thing is for real. But now I’m used to it; the 12-8 fasting part is honestly not that hard now. Very manageable. It’s more the carb counting thing of keto that is taking slow (but progressive) shape.

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5. The Rest

a. Photography

I know everyone has a camera in their smartphone – I’m doing some photography learning – I bought myself a Canon T6i DSLR last year RIGHT BEFORE starting grad school so I hid it in the closet from myself until school was done in May. I’ve taken some pictures I’m proud of and I’m working my way through a couple Lynda.com (grad school got me a free account) photography courses to learn the camera. I’m a student of it right now for sure but here’s a few photos I’m proud of:

b. Norway

I found out last year that I’m 1/8 Norweigan; that doesn’t sound like ‘a lot’ but honestly I’ve never really thought about it. I generally classify my heritage as ‘SPF 75’ but have always known our family is generally German with some crossover to other classically pale squads (Irish, probably English, other various tribes of roving wild-haired people on/around Hadrian’s wall, etc).

Last year in October someone posted in this Women of Chicago Comedy Facebook group I’m in about a Norwegian TV show that 1. Flies you to Norway and 2. You good-naturedly compete with other Norwegian-Americans to win $50,000. SO I APPLIED OF COURSE and got to ask my mom and grandparents questions over iMessage about my heritage. Apparently one of my great-grandmas was first-generation American, born in the US. Her parents both emigrated from Norway in the early 1900s to Washington State, near Ballard. So…if one of the 8 people that made me is full-blooded Norwegian…then by the power of Punnett Squares or whatever that means I’m 1/8 Norwegian, right?

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ANYWAYS I did not get cast but I just realized they’re auditioning again so I’m going to throw ye olde application back in there. 1. Because it sounds fun and 2. Norway is GORGEOUS and 3. I did promise Neal Carlin that I would apply again. He’s gone in Italy doing an insanely cool apprenticeship so the least I can do is fill out info about my LIFE.

Our family doesn’t really do any celebrations of heritage. My great-grandma Harriman (she of the Norwegian blood) made lefse for Christmas, but I never really understood the connection as a kid. She passed when I was in high school and none of us kids ever learned to make it with her. Also, keep your traps shut but my real goal if I get on this show is to learn to make Fattigman cookies and then make them with my Nana for Christmas. KEEP MY SECRETS, INTERNET.

I think there’s a real beauty in appreciating where you came from and knowing you are a part of a legacy of choices – good ones, bad ones, ones that had to be made one way or another – and then choosing how you want your part of the story to be written. Sitting under the Northern lights and walking on glaciers would be a pretty jaw-dropping moment in life; 10/10 I’d be crying frozen little tears of joy. So we’ll see! I’m applying!

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c. Travel

I’m going to DC in less than 2 weeks – I’ve never been to DC AND I haven’t seen David Brown in 4+ years in person. That’s bananas to me. I genuinely cannot believe that there’s not some time/space blanket fold that I jumped through because it CAN’T have been four years.

But the internet says it has. So myself, Bekah, Adam & Dana (plus maybe their dog Millie) are all meeting up with David in DC October 25-27 and I could SQUEAL I am so excited.

I went to Ohio in March just to see my loves Xander and Trace and get drag-ified myself. I learned that clip on earrings are the reason beauty = pain and that stick on nails are NOT for me. But I looked great.

d. Experiences

I saw my first Broadway shows in the past year – I don’t know what took me so long! I saw Hello Dolly, Book of Mormon, Hamilton. Les Mis, Falsettos – I WANT TO SING EVERYTHING.

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I went to the Shedd Aquarium on Thanksgiving – it was BEAUTIFUL and uncrowded and my ticket was free – cue v v thankful.

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I saw Conan O’Brien’s show in Chicago and met Aaron Bleyart, who’s blog(s) I have followed for over TEN YEARS.

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Passed my Krav Level 3 student test and Muay Thai Level 2!

Survived the Polar Vortex in Chicago when it was over -20 degrees below zero. This is the *inside* of my windows.

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My parents came to Chicago for Father’s Day! The umbrella is my Mom hiding from the camera as all 3 of us eat Chicago Dogs outside the Field Museum. Also, I went to the Field Museum.

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I went to Arizona 3 times – February, May & August – for work and to visit family. What a cool, weird mix of colors. I saw the Grand Canyon and cried a little behind my sunglasses as my family pretended to not notice.

I saw a Seattle-based artist, SYML, who’s work I love not once but TWICE. Also saw Dean Lewis at the same concert and fell in love w his new album.

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Saw a bajillion improv shows, learned which lipsticks look good on my skin tone and saw so many people I love.

What. A. Year.

 

More updates, more often, from this face:

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Paper Anniversary: Chicago

One. Whole. Year. In Chicago.

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What happened?

  • Got rehired at a great job; free transit, great co-workers and tolerable dad jokes.
  • Started classes at Xavier’s School For Clowns Who Think They Funny
  • Found legit big apartment with 2 roommates who were equally legit and has affordable rent in a safe and cute neighborhood.
  • Discovered 7-Eleven’s rewards program where they give me a free soda after I buy 7 and 7 is God’s number…so…7-Eleven is now the church of Diet Coke.
  • Began attending a Krav Maga gym full of loony characters and lovable idiots. I even voluntarily went camping with them in June.
  • Joined a survey through Northwestern University to kick my own butt about being healthier: it’s just tracking food and tracking activity. That’s it (30lbs down)!
  • Got new roommate that has a BEER FRIDGE and seriously, if that’s not enough she’s the only person who asked me about my life in the interview. #numbah1draftpick
  • Graduated from Second City’s A-E Improv Program after a first-day-of-class fire happened.
  • Ran in the Color Run for the 2nd time, got 2x as much powder and was a magical unicorn.
  • Saw so many ridiculously good sketch shows and improv sets and women being bold as all hell in their comedy. Inspiring and challenging.
  • Took a Korean class and surprisingly, got an award for being the top student in our class. Also won a pound of coffee for making a shoddy keynote, but caffeine addicts such as myself refuse to recheck the numbers.
  • Helped write a Second City Student Revue with 6 of my favorite classmates of the aforementioned Xavier’s School FCWTTF.
    • Shows will be August 26, September 2, 9, 16 and 23rd (more info to follow)
  • Went home to Washington State and was invited to perform at the Upfront Theatre in Bellingham. My family and friends (all 15 of you!) got to see what I’ve chosen to move halfway around the world for…and I got to perform with their incredibly welcoming MainStage team, including the OG himself, Ryan Stiles.
  • Eaten 4 deep dish pizzas, 2 Chicago hot dogs (sans ketchup, natch), 1 Italian beef (dipped) and 1 Old Style Beer.
  • Created a 90s-themed improv show “And A Bag Of Chips” with my babes from Coached Ensemble and we SOLD OUT THE THEATER.
  • Purchased 1 Cubs hat and 0 Bulls, Bears or Blackhawks gear; attended 0 professional sports games.
  • Complained about “Lolla” approximately 4x this weekend and took a picture of 2 17-year olds sitting shirtless on the floor of my Brown line train. Fools! *shakes grandma fist*

It’s been a great year, y’all. It’s not all sunshine and Sears Tower ledges and Aidy Bryant sightings and there’s sometimes more loneliness and tears than I’d like to admit, but overall this still feels like the right place for right now. I’m learning and growing. Plus, most of the people I’ve met are pretty darn great. I’m proud of doing this so far.

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To us, Chicago. Get me a good gift. Preferably one with cheese on it.

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Yes, and watch me now.

I’ve graduated from several things. High school, college, CELTA, potty training (debatable)–and today, I graduated from Second City’s Improv Program.

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10 months ago I moved to Chicago. I had no long-term housing, only 10 hangers, and didn’t know anyone. On a muggy Wednesday last August, I sat in a room with 19 strangers and wondered if this would be my tribe.

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Was I right in having moved halfway around the world from Korea for this? Would they get me? When would I eat Korean BBQ again (still unanswered, which is unacceptable)?

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Then…a woman with a foreign accent slammed open the door and shouted “You must get out of building, the roof is on fire!”

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And ever since then, we’ve been stuck with each other. Sure, we’ve subtracted and added some members as the months went on; scheduling and life and new jobs and such, but overall, these people were my lifeline.

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I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Wednesdays so much. From 11am-2pm I got to see these stone-cold weirdos, then eat lunch and frantically scribble nonsense for my 4-7pm Writing class, which will continue until August.

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It feels pretty unreal to think that next Wednesday morning I won’t see them. Not Jolie’s I-just-came-from-the-gym-but-I-probably-look-better-than-you-did-at-prom stylings, nor Scott’s this-is-just-improv-but-I’m-singing-this-operatic-scene-like-the-pro-I-am and Patrick’s I-broke-my-kid’s-ankle-beating-him-in-capture-the-flag moves.

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These people have supported me, loved me, encouraged me, let me cry on them (even ugly cry) and championed me in ways I haven’t deserved. We were all just a group of strangers trying to follow our fear or defeat our anxiety or live our dream and our willingness to be open on this journey and love each other has changed my life. Not a joke.

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I promised myself (and my family and friends and the rest of y’all) that I was going to give this comedy thing at least a year. I owed it to myself to try it. To see if it’s a real thing, a true thing, or if it’s a fling.

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I think it’s a thing, guys. And I’m not going anywhere yet.

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The roof, the roof, the roof was on fire. No, really.

Also known as: “The true story of how my X-(Wo)Man powers manifested for the first time ever during a class at Xavier’s School For Comedy Nerds and hence I tried to burn my own dreams to the ground.”

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I was only 20 minutes early to class yesterday, which David Brown should be proud of; I’m still not 100% used to relying on public transit everyday and my 3-hours early to the airport brain was still in full effect. I ran into Starbucks to get a donut to go pee. I mean, I probably didn’t need the donut, but a) I didn’t want to be THAT early and b) having worked retail, I get really neurotic about using bathrooms where I feel like I don’t deserve it/haven’t bought anything. That sounds weird but makes sense in my brain, I promise. Also I just wanted to smash a donut into my face what more do you want from me?!

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I walked through the hallway between Adobo Grill and Starbucks on my way to my first ever class at Second City, trying to just be cool and not pulling a Disney princess spinning moment in the lobby.

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Improv A will usually meet on the 3rd floor, but because summer intensives are finishing this week, they had us go to the 1st floor…which is a little bit less shiny and gorgeous, but still. SECOND CITY CLASS, Y’ALL. We could be in a literal dungeon and I would still be excited.

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When I came in at 10:57am, there were about 15 people sitting in chairs around the perimeter of the room and it was dead silent. Not even a sniffle. I quietly sat in a chair between two guys, and tried to melt into the walls. 2 minutes later, our teacher, Kevin Reome arrived and we started class by taking roll, moving into some fun games to loosen us up physically and mentally as well as learn each other’s names.

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As we kept building on one of the games, each level gave us more info about each other starting with names, favorite band, favorite movie and finally, birthplace. When it came to my turn and I said “Bellingham,” one guy on my left said “ooooh” and I looked at him and thought “there’s probably a million Bellinghams, right?” and because the game was fast-paced and ongoing, I didn’t really think about it again until his turn, when he said “Seattle.”

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We made eye contact, and as he said “I went to Western,” my little heart burst with such joy. Dumb, yeah yeah, but having just moved here less than a month ago, it was so…”nice” sounds like too trite of a word, but sure, nice to have someone know where I was from. Ryan and I chatted on the break and he knew where Lynden was. LYNDEN. Tiny, little, Dutch, don’t-buy-alcohol-on-Sundays-Lynden!

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We all jumped into another game, and about 15 minutes after the break…

No, but really. Suddenly, a woman opens the door to our classroom and shouts in a Slavic accent “You must get out of building, the roof is on fire!”

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We all looked at each other and at Kevin like, “is this…is this like a thing? Is this a hazing thing?” because come on. A Russian woman shouting that there is a fire on the roof on your first day of the first class of improv comedy? It was like they were insulting our intelligence.

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But Kevin grabbed his bag and said “let’s go,” and we all hustled outside, back through the labyrinth of halls out to the Piper’s Alley lobby, and then we smelled (but didn’t see) smoke. The Piper’s Alley building (where Second City lives) is a 4 story building, and if there is smoke smells all the way on the 1st floor…something was clearly going down.

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We exited out to North Ave and saw 4 fire trucks had already closed the street and a couple of hundred people were on the far side, taking photos and talking. I have a sneaking suspicion that someone kind of forgot we were back there in the dungeon…I mean, clearly everyone else is already out and the calvary closed the street during the time for…whatever. Eventually someone remembered and, foreshadowing: the fire never got down to the 1st floor so ultimately we would have been fine and never the wiser until class let out 45 minutes later.

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It doesn’t look terrible, right? This is about 5 minutes after we came outside, 12:56pm. We snuggled our 17-person class together as Kevin told us, “we’re definitely not going to be allowed back in, so class is done and I’ll see you all next week Wednesday.” Half the class left, and those of us who stuck around soon realized that as the smoke got heavier we were standing around getting cancer, so we went moved east, out of the wind pattern.

Ryan and I rounded the corner onto Wells St to find a bar and grab a beer, since we would have class at 4pm again together (Writing 1), and we saw what looked like the heaviest part of the smoke coming out of the 4th floor/roof above Adobo Grill and several Second City offices.

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I mean, it didn’t look great, it’s a FIRE, but it still looked minor-ish and like something that would be resolved in time for us to have class in about 3 hours. We grabbed a beer in Corcoran’s Grill across from Second City, and chatted about where we were from, why we were taking classes, and such. We noticed that more and more people were coming in from the back door of the bar, but no one was leaving out the front…when we peeked out the windows, we saw that they’d closed the sidewalk and that the fire was most assuredly not improving.

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Yeah…we’re not having class today. Ryan headed home and I stuck around for another hour, actually running into my professor for our writing class and meeting him for the first time, and walked back out to the intersection of Wells and North to see the full scale of damage. It was not pretty. I hadn’t realized quite how bad/far spread it was, having stood only on one side most of the fire, but it was extensive. About 5 minutes after this picture I couldn’t even see down North Avenue past that tree.

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I had a moment here, on the corner, where I actually wondered, “what if there isn’t a Second City left?” What if I moved my life here from Korea and the dream is drifting away in little ash flecks from pictures of Bill Murray? Which is kind of dramatic, and rude, considering there are a million and one amazing options for comedy and training in Chicago, such as iO, Annoyance, CIC and so many more.

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The Chicago Fire Department reported that over 150 personnel were deployed for the 3-alarm fire, and you could tell. So many fire trucks, ambulances, support vehicles and people were present, shutting down the streets in every direction and while I was a little disappointed that Jesse Spencer and Mouch never showed up, it was still impressive how much coordination I saw between firefighters, paramedics, police, reporters and even the bystanders.

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Hello, news helicopters.

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Oops. Caught.

Around 3 I decided that since I wasn’t making a difference, was probably in way and definitely had way too many pictures, I grabbed a bus and headed to early dinner with Joanna, a former co-worker from K. Hogwarts (she still works there). So, something good did come out of that fire, I suppose, because we didn’t think we’d be able to meet up due to my classes and her schedule, but we did! We gorged ourselves on chicken at Crisp (where her brother works), laughed, reminisced, licked our fingers and chatted about life.

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Photo stolen from Joanna, but taken by her brother, who makes damn fine chicken.

I’m still not sure what they’ll do about classes for the future; it seems like the offices were destroyed but the theaters are safe. For the full story, including details of how the fire started, here’s the Chicago Tribune’s report and photos from the Chicago Fire Department’s official Twitter that show some of the damage.

So…how was your first day of school?

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Hello, Chicago.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks on Irving Park. In Chicago. I live here now.

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No, really! I do. I am.

I came home from Korea on July 1 and spent 3 jet-lagged, laughing, warm/hot/muggy weeks with my family. I got to meet my giggly poundcake niece, Olivia, take Zoe on a walk to the park, eat green beans right off the vine from my Nana’s garden, have sweaty grass hugs from my Papa, listen to Brianna rap in the car, shoot some jugs full of water in the backyard with Dad, cook all my favorite foods with Mom, watch Em drive and start basketball games and come home from a One Direction concert like me after BigBang’s. It was wonderful.

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Then I flew to Tulsa, hugged a lot of people, ate some real barbecue (MY GAWWWWWWWD YES), and went to Little Rock. Where I then proceeded to hug even *more* people, ate more real barbecue and other assorted favorite foods. Someone tell me why my pants are tighter… And then Michael and I drove me up to Chicago (with a pitstop in BFE Missouri to see Casey & Steven, my favorites), dragging a beached whale of a U-Haul trailer halfway across the country to start my new life.

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So, I’m here. And in less than a month, I’m starting classes at the Second City Training Center. The home of comedy legends. And here I am, a 27-year old woman who majored in Broadcast Journalism at a small Christian college, who worked for the retail arm of the #1 company in the world, who just spent 2 years teaching in Korea and traveling in Asia…jumping off of a cliff. A metaphorical cliff.

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Except I am. At least a little. Right now, I’m walking around my neighborhood, Albany Park (unofficial Koreatown, which is kind of hilarious in the context of my life); learning a new bus system, carrying pepper spray (yes, Dad, its in my bag now). And I’m not scared of Chicago–not smart–thanks to 2 years of super safe life in Korea. I’m scared that I’m going to be bad at this–that I will have romanticized comedy and my role in that world.

I like comedy. A lot. I like performing it. A lot. I love when something I’ve said or done can make someone laugh, in any language. And I don’t know if Second City and improv and sketch writing is my niche. But I feel like it’s now or it’s never for this step–before I don’t have the funds or the ability to go, before I have another person’s dreams to consider or tiny humans who look half like me run around–I want to try.

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So I’m here. And I’m about to try. And I’m looking forward to where this next step in my life is going. I know a lot of you are as well–your texts, messages, calls and prayers are all balm to my heart. They are tamping down the doubt and insecurity that threaten to overwhelm me in a gas station bathroom in rural Lick Creek, Illinois and every time I look at Amy Schumer sketches and think “could I do that?”

So, to parallel how I began this blog over 2 years ago, the night before I left for Korea, I’m taking a deep breath and thinking:

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