Grindrella

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It was the morning of an improv gig I had booked in Oberlin, Ohio with my show Happy Karaoke Fun TimeI did what I do when I’m traveling, which is to log into Grindr as soon as we arrived. A man named Ben messaged me. Ben was a stocky, muscular guy whose photo looked the part of a corn-fed farmer bro from the great Midwest (I found out later he was a graphic designer living with his mom). We started chatting, and he was interested in meeting up for a hook-up on my one night in town. We traded pics; I liked what I saw, though he only sent one out-of-focus face pic of himself in a foggy bathroom mirror. I could have pressed for more photos, but I wasn’t being too picky. I was on the road, and I was horny.

He asked why I was in town. I mentioned my improv gig, to which he responded, “Oh, well, I’m hilarious in my downtime.” This seemed a very unfunny statement to me, but I wrote back, “Nice.”

He replied, “Ha yep. We will jive pretty good then.”

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The In-Between Place

I get bored easily these days. I percolate between writing my thoughts down or just thinking them endlessly. My attention span is short. I’m smoking too many cigarettes. And it’s not even nice out yet.

I read too many lists on “How To Be Happy and Productive” on Medium.com. I check my stats on socials every hour for a little hit of dopamine because someone noticed me. I log into my email obsessively, waiting for someone to need or want me for something. I’m on my phone in parks.

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The Old Man And The Car

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It was a bright, cold morning in March, 2011 in Chicago. I had just had the best improv audition of my life at The Second City. I skipped, high on life, back to my 1992 BMW 525i car in the perfect parking spot I’d found right outside the theater. I started the engine, and the radiator exploded in a cloud of fumes and acrid smoke. It ballooned outward from the front of the car. A jogger ran right into the cloud. She coughed and stumbled to the driver side window. She started screaming at me for poisoning her lungs. She threatened to sue me. I shouted back, “It’s my car, not me!” She flipped me the middle finger and jogged away.

The car was totally dead. And, as it seems to happen in my life, I’d gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a split second.

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The Nothing

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When I have nothing to do, I encounter The Nothing.

You may remember it from the film The Neverending Story. It is the embodiment of annihilation, portrayed as a menacing black wolf.

It terrified me in nightmares as a child. As an adult, I experience it in my waking hours, whenever I am waiting, or listless, or have no plans.

It is my fear of insignificance. My fear of being forgotten. Of having missed my moment or the right turn to realize a dream.

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The Effect of Time on Improv and Life

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The first thing I do when I teach improv classes is ask the group to get into a circle.

I count how long it takes them. The average for a group of 16 students is about ten seconds. The quality of the group’s movement is lethargic, meandering, hesitant and a bit dismissive of the need to make a circle in the first place. Why do we have to do this…aren’t we adults?

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Magical Thinking in Korean Spas

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I don’t like magical thinking. I don’t like getting my hopes up for something that isn’t feasible or attainable. I value action steps. I believe in possibility but don’t like wishing on a star. I want to wish on a business plan. You can blame this on me being a Capricorn at heart, though my astrological chart is complicated.

But there’s one place in the world where I suspend my disbelief and buy into everything I’m promised: Korean spas. I go crazy for Korean spas.

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