Lately I have had this conversation with friends, family members, random strangers and children. The answers may vary slightly to this question…what does it mean to be an adult? But the question remains in the air-hanging there-waiting for you to run into it like a hidden spider web in the corner of the room.

When do you know you are a grown-up? What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be a man?

In my studies on this topic, i.e living life, I have found that moments happen when you just know you might in fact be an adult. In these moments, which I will of course list examples of to “keep it real”, you have choices and these choices lead you to answer for yourself- if you might in fact have grown up. Here I will insert one side-note; when a sixteen year old cashier at the super-market calls you Mam it does not in fact make you an adult- just in case you are wondering.

I will admit that my list is from a single woman’s view-point insert your own moments here:

1. You are standing in the GAP dressing room staring at your ass in a pair of “professional” jeans not skinny jeans, and thinking “Oh yes, I could wear these to work and then out.” not “Take these pocketed, flared pants off my body and throw them under a bridge somewhere” ( you still own skinny jeans but know when to wear them)

2. You make a list of what you need at the store. You use that list to buy these items. You go home and cook said items. ( Yep, for me this was a moment.)

3. You consider bedtime before 11pm as much-needed beauty rest.

4. The list of bills to pay does not include a Victoria Secret credit card.

5. The presents you buy for others include baby showers, bridal parties, gift cards to their favorite home improvement stores and bottles of wine. Not so many bottles of straight booze, slices of pizza at 2am or tipping the K-jay for them.

6. You need to brush your teeth. Not just want to, but need too.

7. You don’t owe any glitter that can be worn on your face or other skin areas.

8. Eye cream.

9. You might in fact own matching towels. ( although some of us may have different opinions of matching, hot pink and orange WORK-Yo!)

10. You might like a few of the follow things…board games, word games, trivia, The Colbert Report, matching socks, flax-seed, hot Dads, brunch before 12pm, yard sales, long baths, men in their 20′s smiling at you, office supplies, fresh clean sheets, kale, day-dreaming about a perfect kitchen set up, hard-wood floors and onions.

For each of us I think the list is long and varied. There is no one way. No magic answer.

In all seriousness for me the first time I held my Niece and thought ” I would do anything for this little person, anything.” For me it was that unconditional love felt without fear that kick started my quest and strengthened my cause.

Without clear and defined rituals we are set adrift in the sea of “becoming an adult”….

What my research is leading me towards is that  to be “a woman” or “man” we must each notice our moments and choices. It is a funny road with many things to distract. But knowing is half the battle.

Now without fear I am ready to jump into this ocean. And when I swim around I think “Yea this water is comfie, and I look great in my swim-cap.”

oxoxox- Jess

 

 

 

…a bit. But that is because cheese is what I am used to. It was a part of my life for so long in a very deep way.

“Once upon a time there was a 15 year old girl. She was not what you would call normal. She loved being on the drama club, on the debate team and boys- well maybe this is normal to some but she never felt this way, except when she was with her very best friend who was also not normal. These two magical, strange, loud and to-smart-for their own good young women did everything together. Without the other life was a total wash. They had come together over a mutual love of Disney ( please don’t sue) musicals, chocolate and being just a little wild and from that day forward no one or thing could tear them apart.

One fine spring day the two girls marched up the hill home from school. The first girl had a broken heart, this was not new for the timeless romantic, but this afternoon what was new was that hurt had turned to an emotion she rarely felt or touched on- pure anger. The young creative Doc Marten clad misfits spoke openly to each other about these feelings and as they reached the first girl’s house they were in the middle of a heated conversation about “what to do about this boy”. They began to make a snack, centered around a huge block of real cheddar cheese. They both loved cheese, and orange juice one with lots of pulp and the other without, almost as much as they loved boys, clothes, theatre and getting into trouble.

Chop, chop, chop the little slices were coming off and she was getting more and more angry that this silly boy had been so mean to her. It began to rain outside, which it is want to do in Oregon almost on cue for dramatic purposes. Suddenly she could hold it in no longer, she took the huge block of orange goodness and threw it out the back door onto the porch. They both stared. Stunned by this action. The hurt and sad young woman threw open the back door and began by pure animal instinct to stomp on the cheese, to destroy the very they both loved. She stopped, breathing heavy, pieces of mashed goodness stuck to her bright blue boot. Her best friend now out in the rain with her yelled ” Kill the cheese. Kill the cheese.” There was a moment of stillness and then both young women began to stomp with all their might and yell the new mantra. A few moments later they erupted in laughter, tears and laughter and pure joy.”

I can never thank her enough. Twenty years later I still remember this moment and I do in fact “kill the cheese” when need be. Maybe now it will have to be soy cheese. Although the shredded bag of goodness never could smash as well….

oxoxox- Jess

1. Whenever possible wear a costume. Or as I like to say “keep your Princess dress close at hand”.

2. Hats with ears are better than hats without.

3. Nap and story-time should happen everyday for sanity.

4. Asking why? How? And what is that? Are the begining of creating any great theory and may in fact be all we need to start doing to create change in the world.

5. Hugs. At least ten for everyone every day. Even if the hugs are followed by punching, screaming or telling the other person they are “yucky”- this can be easily followed by another hug you see :)

6. Sharing is hard but important. It is however hard.

7. Anything is possible if you make the story up as you go along.

8. Being silly. Just being silly.

9. Clothing in general should be optional unless it has to do with keeping warm.

10. Eating with your hands makes everything taste better.

That’s what I got today. The list could go on and on. But I thought I would give myself a lesson in being brief.

Cheers- Jess

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eve-ensler/over-it_b_1089013.html

Above I have posted the reason for a second blog in a day! I started rehearsals for the Vagina Monologues today for V-day here in San Fran- more details to come on this. It will be my third V-day production that I have acted in which always supports the education through art belief system that caused me to go back to school and get my very own Master’s…

I bring this up because it is so easy to forget the why when life goes by like a flash- like that pesky road runner who beeps at you in jest. When bills, debt, dating, politics, getting from point A to point B become like a broken record- no not a broken record- one that plays the same song over and over- a song you neither love nor hate- ah ha- elevator music, a version of maybe a great song that is watered down and set on repeat. I say right now- NO to this life style.

I went back to school and left my whole life behind, in fact ended a relationship that was loving and fair but not ready for the long term- because I believed in the power of story telling, the story telling of the theatre as a way to create social change and allow people to have their voices heard.

Today, feeling very nervous as I always do when I start something new, I sat in a room with amazing ladies and just soaked it in. Something is coming…something good.

I have blogging guilt. A lot of it right now, as I made a promise to write no matter what ,and life got in the way. Well not life but a piece of life. I wanted to create a funny blog, a silly and playful blog- because that is the side of my personality that I think “sells”- however I also want to learn to write with my voice no matter the subject. Out of fear of sounding too serious I backed away, now I am going to be brave- which is what I tell my students to do all the time…

When your health is in question things get sticky and everything else is harder to juggle. I am fine now, it was minor in the grand scheme of things and rather than blogging about the health issue, I am finding the more interesting part are the feelings, thoughts and lessons learned.

#1- When you don’t have insurance and you need a doctor the first feeling is total panic. And then for me this feeling of “unfair”- like when you are three and everything seems unfair because you are finally discovering that you are not in fact the center of the universe- panic, unfair, why me, I work hard I should be able to afford insurance, being in debt sucks, what if I pay money and they still can’t help me….ring up a few clinics and cross your fingers- tight.

#2- A sigh of great relief that the doctor speaks to you as a person not a number, answers all your questions and also- in my case- he was super cute. Slap the total on the credit card and move forward because at least you are lucky enough to have a credit card. Notice that although you had total anxiety around the whole situation the day you walk into after seeing the doctor is sunny and beautiful.

#3- Take stock in all that is amazing in your life. Reach out to friends and family. Breath and learn that it is just as important to remain calm and think straight as it is to go see the doctor even if you can’t afford it.

The biggest lesson, thank you for super early in the new year lessons-oh my, is I need to treat myself with the kind and loving care that I treat others. This quirky girl is also the number one person to be there when a friend or family member needs me. I will drop everything, literally everything and make sure a loved gets the attention, care, money, time, laughs, food (and the list goes on) if someone who is  in the inner circle of my heart needs me.

It turns out I need me.

I need me to be in tip top shape, I need me to eat right, I need me to laugh-cry-create-be silly, I need me to get the stuff done that I want to get done…my heart needs me to take care of the love and attention I give out. My loved ones need me to stop forgetting the things they know about me to be true.

This last year was hard, I think overall the hardest year of my life. There I said it. After almost nine months of saying ” I got it” ( which is a phrase that I must say 50 times a day because the twin three year olds I nanny say it all the time now)- I am opening up in this public forum to say that losing my home in May to fire and all the other strange occurances of the year before and since took a toll on me.

I thought I needed someone else to take care of me. And for a moment I did. But now, here, I type out loud I am ready to take care of myself because I trust that in doing so I will feel the freedom I did when I walked out into the sunny streets of the Mission with the kind words of the doctor in my head…

“Jessica you seem like the type of person who is kind, responsible and capable”

If a total stranger can say nice things about me, it’s time to look in the mirror and do the same.

There is much good on the horizon, so many things coming up right around the corner, that taking time for self reflection as hard as it, looking at the why behind my actions and being ready to stand strong will are must do’es. Must.

So thank you Doctor Roberto and all of you that have been my mirrors this year….thank you!

 

While riding the bus to work this morning an age-old question popped into my mind…

Why do we do what we do?

My answer is….wait for it….the scale of love and hate. By this I mean every action we take lives on this sliding scale of passion. When we really love something or someone we reaction on the “positive” side of the scale and when we really hate something or someone we react on the “negative” side. Of course there are many emotions, actions and reactions that are all along the scale.

Example #1- The number 49 bus. For those of you who live in San Francisco you may already know what I am talking about, for those out-of-town folk let me enlighten you.

This was the bus I was on when this question popped into my mind, the bus I ride every week day to get to the job I have and currently love, the bus that inspires in me both LOVE and HATE.

I hate that it smells mostly like pee and sweat. I hate that it makes so many stops and in between stops the driver feels the need to floor the gas and make me and old people lose their balance and fall down. I hate that on a good day it takes me 30 minutes to get home and on a bad day it takes an hour.

I love that it makes so many stops and connects me to my old neighborhood The Mission- which holds a place in my heart even though it too smells like pee. I love that I can see people from all walks of life, hear many different and colorful stories if I choose, or listen to my 80′s and 90′s i-pod-shuffle and day-dream. I love that I once made out on this bus when it was so crowded we couldn’t move and I did not know if the hands on my ass where that of my boyish man friend or someone else.

Action= I have no choice really but to ride this bus in order to get to my awesome job and if I want to visit my beloved Mission…so it sits prettily in the middle of the scale with spikes on either side of LOVE and HATE

Example #2-

Why today I made the choice to become a vegan.

I love the way that meat smells, how bacon feels in my mouth and how when turkey is cooking it fills the air with the best smell like home like holidays like family. I love cheese all kinds of cheese the stinky kind the watered down American kind the Tillamook cheddar from my home state. I love butter on most things. When I was very small I remember my favorite sandwich being butter with peanut butter yep it’s true. I love ice cream mint chocolate chip is the best, the natural kind- pure and crisp.

I hate the way my belly feels after I eat a hamburger. I hate the thought of animals dying for my eating sins. I hate the way that eating cheese puts a round dough around my waist and makes it hard to poop. I hate feeling weighted down by my food.

I love cooking vegan and for reasons (which I might name later) this also feels like home to me. I love veggies LOVE them in all ways..well not eggplant…but I feel that he lives in the middle of the scale so it’s okay. I love trying new things. I love a good vegan baked good or frozen desert.

Action= giving this more than the college try, owing up and diving in with help and support…on the scale of LOVE and HATE becoming vegan is sliding toward LOVE

Ask yourself about something you do? And why you do it?

Ask yourself about someone you love and why you love them?

Ask yourself about something you “hate” and why you feel so passionate about it?

THEN DO SOME STUFF. Yep folks that is the grand wisdom of the day. DO SOME STUFF. Actions speak louder than words, even though I LOVE words, even though I HATE spelling…I just think as a quirky lady, a teacher and an artist when we sit and feel nothing, which in turns does not create action, we become so sad and rot.

I must say, to be clear, I mean to find the positive action in whatever the emotion may be. Action to change yourself, your life and your surroundings not hurting others-animals or the planet in the process. HIPPY ALERT. But they did get music and peaceful hearts right!

Really this quirky mind of mine as decided that nothing is black and white. That maybe if we were okay with the sliding scale less action would be taken out of pure and blind LOVE or HATE and more action could be taken out of finding out why we feel the way we do?!

I have been accused over and over in my life of being “too passionate” however I think that what is really true is that I am in tune with my own scale. And yes there have been times, god and some of you good readers know, when I have tipped my scale this way or that. Overall though those were learning moments…so I present to the world my idea. The great scale the wonderous array of human emotions that could be put to use, be put into action. Fuck apathy ( oh yes I can cuss like a sailor too or as my Mother once said ” Jessica Autumn you sound like a pirate”)!!

Enjoy! Partake!

oxox- Jess

 

In order to fulfill my wish of writing more things down I have created this blog. In my travels I see and hear many things that make me laugh and that make other people say to me “you should write a book”.

Example #1

A homeless gentleman getting down on his knees and proposing to me after I told him I was unmarried. Following me on his knees after I told him to “please get up” and taking all the money out of his pockets stating “look I could give you want you need”

Example #2

When I auditioned for the musical “Annie” this summer after recently having been a victim of a fire ( don’t worry no one was hurt we were displaced and things got ruined but no people)- I have been acting since I was six, never had a problem with memory before, however after doing the research now I had what is know as “trauma brain”. I decided it best to wait until the last minute and when my friend said the night before “are you sure you should do this, your song isn’t even fully memorized” I laughed ” Oh I know what I am doing and I am perfect for the part of Grace”. Um, I have never sweat so much, and never have I totally forgotten everything I thought I memorized. I made up a monologue on the spot from a well known play, I sang off key and swore in my mind that the piano player was wrong. The director just said ” We have seen enough of you tonight.” Yep, I did that. They even let me read from my script and I still f-ed it up. And still I kept going. Stubborn and quirky to the core. Oh my.

Example #3

Home for the Holidays this year out at a local bar with my high school boyfriend, whom I have known for 20 years, getting a drink next to a young man who asked “Did you go to Ashland High School?” and when I replied “Yes” he proudly stated ” I am class of 2008, what are you like 2005?”….god bless him.

Crap, two of those examples come from the chapter I might title “My dating life, or why I am single”- Poop on a pixie stick. Oh well, they are true. Tiny morsels of the patchwork that makes up this thing I call my “life story”.

My brain is tired today after having done the whole New Year’s Eve thing. But I swear there are more thoughts, interesting thoughts and musing to come.

For now I would like to say that this last year of my life I have learned that being a “trooper” is a part of my soul. That without adventure and intrigue I might just go crazy. That my brand of quirky is a salty-sweet-silly. That while Zooey Deschanel may have the market cornered on the strange girl next door as a character I pretty much live out life this way as a person. I am glad that quirky is in, but then it does put a lot of pressure on me to be something sparkly all the time. Like when you tell someone you are an actor and they say ” show me something funny” or “read this in a British accent”. Being a strange girl ( woman) one who might sing aloud to a song she has never heard or hate horses because they are over rated does  not mean I can be quirky on command. It’s nature pure and simple. Some days are normal, some days I might even dress with matching colors however in my day dream on the bus I may be starring in a rock musical about being a theatre teaching who marries Jon Hamm and owes a tiger. You never know. I never know.

If I could date any one right now I think it would be Kermit the Frog….and with that thought I leave you hanging.

oxoxo- Jess

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