Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fresh Start

So, I quit Facebook last night. I deactivated my profile. Which means it's not gone, but forgotten for a while.

I felt a little out of control. The way it monopolized my time; I didn't feel like I could control it. I have found that setting marginal boundaries for myself does not work so well. Either I quit, or I stay on and give myself fully to my addiction.

There are many activities to which I could give my time. Writing, practicing any number of instruments I own and should be able to play much more skillfully (but cannot because they gather dust), reading, memorizing lines, committing myself more fully to work: I do not think any one would argue that Facebook is a better use of my time. Yet somehow I have found myself down that particular rabbit hole for way too long.

I am going to take a week off and see how that goes. I recognize the necessity, in the arts business, of Facebook as a communication platform and would like to eventually figure out some rules for myself in rejoining. But it cannot continue to be my dominant source of social interaction, a significant time-suck in my life, nor something which I let navigate my self-esteem for any particular day.

I've had a lot of weird shit happen in the past year. Divorce and with that having to really hustle for jobs and an income, the death of a really good friend, some professional turmoil which really sucked; as much as I'm thankful for my friends and acquaintances for getting me through, in a way, now that it's over I need to stop relying on any outside source as a crutch for my emotions.

Time for a Time Out, I guess.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In Memory

My speech from John's New York Memorial Service at Metropolitan 1/25/14:

Thank you so much for allowing me to speak today. It has been a bittersweet process, sifting through my many memories of John: our time at KU, our time in New York spent as co-workers and roommates, and beyond as we lived in separate cities but stayed on each other's speed dials (or home screen widgets) to serve as sounding boards for all things ridiculous and funny.

I don't know how to boil these moments and this friendship down to words. The way we communicated with each other developed over time into a strange code which I'm sure our various Craigslist roommates and their girlfriends found hilarious and charming. So now that I'm the last living speaker of, as our friend Daria called it, "John/Kate Twinspeak" (or HauBux, as I just coined it), I'd like to share some of our language and its origins with you.

We'll start with "[drawing breath inward as you say it] AHHHH." This HauBux has very simple origins: John made that sound once in reaction to something marginally shocking; I mocked him, and we continued to make that sound, ad nauseum, for the rest of time. Please say it with me: "AHHHH."  It's addicting.

The next HauBux is "BarbaraMandrell!" You have to say it like that, as one word, to capture its true wonder. This can be used to point out something excitingly coincidental or straight up eerie. John and I were playing Celebrity Charades at an acquaintance's party and we were paired together. I was up, drew a slip, looked at it for a second, opened my mouth to think, and John shouted "BarbaraMandrell!"

He was right.

As I recall, our prolonged and fairly insular screaming and hugging and jumping up and down kind of shut down the game. Which was fine with us because clearly we'd won that game forever.

Next up is "Café," which refers to any seating area at all, no matter how disgusting or unfancy, despite its overly fancy name and inflection. In 2000, John and I were determined to make it to Kansas City from Lawrence to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Unicorn Theatre. I'm not sure where my car was, but our only option for transportation was John's Suburu station which would not make it a tick over 25 miles per hour, bellowed thick smoke, and was pretty much chugging toward death. So we both got in and puttered onto K-10. We made it all the way to the Eudora exit which, as the KU alum here know, is about 4 minutes outside of town. We walked to a gas station and called my mom in Kansas City, who agreed to come get us and take us to Hedwig. While I was on the phone with her, John popped his head out of side room of the gas station and said, completely in earnest, "Tell her we'll be in the café!" He then pointed to two dingy booths, made entirely of industrial plastic - a seating area for diners who wish to enjoy their gas station hot dogs on site.

The final HauBux I'll share with you today involves some illegal behavior. So I'm sorry, Steve and Sally [Buxton], but please take comfort in how thoroughly inexperienced and incompetent we were in our attempts to commit a relatively pervasive illicit act. 

Somebody gave John and me marijuana. We thought that was hilarious and we held on to it for a really long time like you would an expensive bottle of wine, because no occasion seemed appropriate. One day we decided "Tonight's the night!" and made all sorts of preparations for our "DRUG EXPERIENCE!" We bought a variety of snacks and - this sounds like a joke but it's not - we hid all the candles and knives. I guess in case this turned into the episode of Jem where one of the orphans takes LSD and thinks she's a bird.

We "smoked" the "pot" and sat down to watch our favorite reality show, One Punk Under God: The Prodigal Son of Jim & Tammy Faye. Tammy Faye (rest in peace) was a very special guest on that episode and, talking to her son and rolling up the liner bag of a box of Cheerios, said what sounded to us like "Okaaaaay, Pretty!" We rewound it: "Okaaaaaay, Pretty!" We rewound it again and again, maybe 30 times, each time laughing harder at Tammy Faye referring to her adult son as "Pretty," until we were both unable to SEE we were laughing so hard. We might not have stopped but we were concerned about blacking out and... who would save us?! The next day, stone cold sober, we rewound it again. She had clearly called him "Sweetie," which is a much more normal thing for a mother to call her child. Referring to ourselves and others as "Pretty" became an official part of the lexicon.

I miss John, but I'm honored to share my memories of him with you today. John lived life by his rules, always, and when he fought this disease, he was never fighting against death, but for the life he loved and lived so fully. His unique voice and the unique bond every one of us here had with him blooms as we remember him today.

AHHHH, Pretty. I cannot wait for the day we meet in the big gas station café in the sky.

Monday, January 28, 2013

In-Home Dining and First World Problems

Brian and I have the most ridiculous problem of them all. We have a terrible time making food at home. I'm not sure how much money we've spent in restaurants over the past three and a half years of our relationship, but I can't imagine it's not in the tens of thousands. That is just gross. And wrong. Especially when the food we make at home is consistently awesome. It's just that we don't do it consistently.

Last night, Brian suggested cooking at home like it was a novel idea. Oh, how quaint! It's like going on a date, but we'll be at HOME! I try my damnedest to stay away from grains, legumes, sugars, and most dairy (basically a modified version of the Paleo or Primal Diet - that is a topic for another blog entry), so a lot of the recipes I make at home are from a site called Nom Nom Paleo. Every single dish I have made from Nom Nom has been delicious. Our dinner last night was no exception. We made Damn Fine Chicken, substituting Herbes de Province for the Fines Herbes, and Pizzeria Delfina's Spicy Cauliflower. I had really given up on finding a recipe that makes cauliflower edible, but damned if this one doesn't make it downright delicious. Is anything fried in coconut oil not, though? Also, Herbes de Province might be my new favorite thing.

We're in the process of moving to our new house, and I'm hoping our new setting will be more conducive to cooking in more often. We have a larger cooking space and we're farther from the volume of decent restaurants we've had at our disposal while living in Westport. I'm always a little relieved when we try a place up North that is supposed to be good and it sucks. One fewer temptation on those nights when cooking seems like way too much work!

I'm going to leave you with pictures of pretty dining rooms I've seen on the interwebs lately. I spend way too much time looking at other people's houses... I just love dining rooms.

From The Design Files' Open House pop-up

From the Design Within Reach Facebook page

From Apartment Therapy

And here is my blank slate:

The possibilities are endless! And that is what drives me mad...! (First world problems.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


When Brian and I take on a project, we TAKE ON A PROJECT. We don't rearrange the living room furniture for a new look; we knock the 100 year old lathe and plaster out, move the door, re-dry wall, paint, and install bookshelves and a new fireplace. Why? Because we love punishing ourselves, I think.

A photo from the living room project. Ahh, simpler times.

And neither of us are "good enough" people. Slapping a coat of paint on a wall that is uneven is a wasted coat of paint. Why spend the time making something tolerable when you can spend fifty times longer making it exactly how you want it? So when we started looking to move, we had some big decisions to make. Do we want to pay full price for a house that is "done," but done by somebody else and not exactly our style? (But probably perfectly nice and at least DONE.) Or do we want to get in to another huge project like the house we are currently in? (But have it exactly the way we want it when we're finished.)

We gave it a lot of thought, and looked at both kinds of houses. Ultimately, it came down to falling in love with an idea. Well, I fell in love with an idea, and Brian was nice enough to listen to my hours of persuasive tactics. I obsessed. I cried. I researched. I drew pictures. I gathered evidence.

This is it. The house that has the potential to someday be the house of my our dreams.  It was built in 1971 by the owner and his family, and not a lot had been updated since. 

A Sampling of Shag!

There was a lot of crazy carpeting, broken or missing appliances, an overgrown yard full of downed trees and poison ivy, and decks that were so rotten the real estate listing warned in all caps to stay off of them.

This house, though! It's like one of those romcoms where halfway through the girl shakes out her hair and puts on some makeup and a slutty dress and all of a sudden she's the shit! I could see the crazy hot popular house under the rotten cedar shake and collapsing decks! And, for the month it took to get Brian on board, it was driving me insane not being able to do anything about it!

There is beauty here!

We had a structural inspection and a mechanical inspection and every other kind of inspection done to make sure we weren't totally crazy. And what do you know? This house is solid. It just needs some love and some serious thought.

"Hmm... I think areas with toilets should have doors."

We were lucky enough to get an awesome loan offered through Housing and Urban Development which allows you to finance the construction costs of major renovation and repair as part of our home loan. One of the stipulations is that all the work that is financed has to be done through one contractor. During our inspection period, we got a bunch of bids, and found a guy who is awesome. He has great ideas, is super organized, and does great work. His team of guys is phenomenal. I'd tag them but I don't think they have a website - Chirpich Brothers Construction.

The glasses come off...

They've been working for a couple of months and the progress is astonishing. Every time we go up, something has changed.

It is amazing to see the ideas we've had swimming around in our brains for months and months appear, bit by bit. And honed to perfection by the expertise of the construction crew.

There are many things we are doing ourselves. Construction costs add up pretty quickly, if you can imagine. The yard, the kitchen, the hall bathroom, the interior design - these are all things I am working on and thinking about, and I plan to share more with you soon, along with more Before photos!

Thanks to Rick Groom for some of the house photos! Check out his website at Rgroomphotos.us.

P.S. Do you think we're nuts? Leave a comment!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finding Home

I often find myself on the edge of my comfort zone. Whether it's being onstage with a character which could  be either hilarious or completely offensive and unfunny, under contract for a house that needs so much work it may turn out to be a complete money pit, or walking into a party where I hardly know anyone, I have serious anxiety issues and yet I seem to push myself to the freak-out line on a consistent basis.

This past weekend I was crazy nervous for a rehearsal. It was the first band rehearsal for a show I'm in, in which I'll not only be acting but playing accordion. With Minstrel Periods, playing accordion is easy. I write my own parts. So if they're too hard for me to play, guess what? I make them not hard. It's not cheating because it's OUR OWN DAMN BAND! I have never played with any other band before. And our music director's computer, along with all our parts, was stolen the week before this rehearsal. Which meant I was walking in without having any clue what may be expected of me, but knowing that our music director is an awesome musician and assuming that everyone else would be too. Also, the party I mentioned up there? It was the night before and I was a little hungover. My comfort level walking in to this rehearsal was at a DEFCON 2.

We started out with some discussion, followed by a group listen of the music for the show, and then we took out our instruments. Up until this point, I'm strategizing on how to leave gracefully without making them feel bad for kicking me out for sucking. "No, it really is my fault. I'm a goddamn liar, you guys. Seriously, no hard feelings. Can I bring you some coffee or croissants?"

We got started on the music. And I sort of fell in love. But not in nervous, giddy love. The kind of love that is so comfortable and natural, you could just sit and look in its eyes all day long. The parts I have - in each song a simple, supporting bassline - are so perfectly at my skill level, I can play and listen and be a part of the whole without thinking or stressing or apologizing. I love resting my head on the bellows and hearing the deep, rich sound come from the belly of my instrument. I love how it breathes; how I make it breathe. I love how my sound mingles with the others' into beautiful music that takes all of us, in perfect tandem, to create.

Performing is a tightrope. It is scary and a little fun while it's happening, but if everything goes well, the feeling afterward cannot be matched. Adrenaline rushes are exciting and I love challenging myself in that way, but I do not think I'll ever feel fully at home on a stage. Saturday, in that room, with those people, with our instruments, I realized what it is to feel home. And that feeling is moving me forward...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

LDM | Tonight!

Hey y'all! Venture out of the house tonight and come on down to Firefly Lounge, where I'll be judging a raucous event known as LITERARY DEATH MATCH!

The main event doesn't start until 8:15, so you have plenty of time to get prettied up. See you there?!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two Rooms (or, where the hell I've been)

Hi guys! I haven't posted in a shamefully long time, and it's not for lack of motivation. Well, it is a little bit, but mostly it's because I have been working my ASS off on another project. Let's catch up!

So in December, I was cast in a play called Two Rooms. I have been in a lot of shows before, but have never been cast in a role this intense, this serious, this emotional, with this volume of lines, with a director who challenged me so much at every single rehearsal... etc. It was important to me to invest every moment of time I could possibly manage into the work.

Me as Lainie Wells, Trevor Belt as Walker Harris

Two Rooms is about an American teacher in Lebanon who is kidnapped and held captive by terrorists. The two rooms in the title are the one in which he is kept as a prisoner in Lebanon, and a room in his home in America which has been cleared out by his wife, who sits in solidarity and waits for his return. She is influenced, for better and for worse, by a government spokesperson who has been assigned to her case, and by a reporter whose motivations for writing about the story may not be entirely transparent.

David Martin as Michael Wells

In recent years, my memorization skills have not been what they used to be, and that has been a constant source of frustration. As soon as I was cast, I went into memorization lock-down. Hours and hours each day were dedicated to memorizing. And then I'd go to a three hour rehearsal each night!  I felt a little insane for a while there.

This is kind of how I felt each night after getting home from rehearsal.

I am so lucky to have been cast with three gifted, smart actors and to have a talented, thoughtful director and committed, caring stage manager . All six of us care so much about the beauty of this piece and were committed to the process of making this a impactful performance.

Christina Schafer Martin as Ellen Van Oss

So, anyway, I hope you understand why I've been away for a while, and I really hope you'll come to see Two Rooms, if you are in the KC area. We've been receiving marvelous response from our audiences, and we've still got two more weekends to go.

Here is a link to the producing theatre company's website: OCTA

And here is a link to the Facebook Event page: Two Rooms at OCTA

It's good to be back at the wheel of OA! I'm going to get cracking on a couple of posts that have been taking up real estate in my head for a while. See you soon!

*All photos by the lovely Shelly Stewart, on behalf of OCTA

Thursday, December 1, 2011

JLSD Party | Tonight!

Tonight I will be at Snow & Company (1815 Wyandotte, Kansas City) to celebrate their new cocktail!!

As you may recall, we had an agreement going - if they got to one thousand fans by the end of November, they would name a cocktail John Larroquette Sex Dream. Why? Yes.

Anyway, it happened and tonight is the premiere night of the JLSD! Please join us to celebrate!

Many thanks to Justin Parlette for making the hilarious flyer (above) and for creating an event on Facebook. It's, like, a real party!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Deer | Part 3 | Bad Liver and a Broken Heart

Oh, liver, my liver. That picture, above, by the way, is half of a deer liver. They are gigantic. Like, the size of a pot roast. Kind of fun to experiment with, but this experiment came to a crazy, bad, science-lessony end. As in, I inadvertently turned my big, pretty deer liver into a battery cell. In my refrigerator. You can do that.

I used this recipe from Food.com, which starts off with grinding together Half One (the raw guy in the top picture) with Half Two (the guy in the pan, directly above) and a bunch of other fun stuff. As with many of my projects, watch out for the blood spatter!

There are very few things in this world I'd rather be doing than grinding meat and that is the truth. Call it cathartic, call it a calling; just don't call me late for jamming chunks of meat down that sucker.

After the loaf pan was lined with bacon, the grinder mix went in, and we were ready to roll.

The magic of television!

Brian and I tried it on some toast and it was pretty darn good - livery and lemony and tasty. I wasn't a huge fan of the pate on the pumpernickel the recipe suggested, so after it cooled a little bit, I threw it in the fridge and intended to tackle it with some crackers the next day.

Here is where this story takes a turn for the weird. When I put it in the fridge, I covered the loaf pan with aluminum foil.

The next day, I looked in the fridge and there were holes all over the top of the foil. I thought it was weird, but didn't think a lot of it. I peeled off the foil and put a fresh piece on. Later that day... same thing.

I started asking around and no one knew what the culprit might be. What the hell kind of nastiness in this food was EATING ALUMINUM FOIL??? So I took to the internets. And here is what I learned:

Between the metal of the pan, the aluminum covering, and the salt in the food, I had created a battery cell run on deer liver pate! What!

Wikipedia has this "lasagna cell" grouped into their article on Galvanic corrosion, and apparently the same thing happened to the Statue of Liberty. Minus the pate. And the lasagna.

So, due to potential aluminum contamination, this pate has been declared unsafe for human consumption. What do we do? We move on. Don't mix your metals, kids.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Deer | Part 2 | Bite Your Tongue

Deer tongues are wee compared to beef tongues. So much so, in fact, that after I pulled down the giant pot which I use for preparing beef tongue and filled it with the broth, chile, and spice to boil a deer tongue, the whole mess barely covered the bottom of the pot. "Duh," I said, and poured everything into a small sauce pan. Much better.

I used a recipe for this one, unlike the improvised heart preparation, and it ended up being a pretty funny exercise considering it took well over three hours to prepare what ended up yielding less than ten tiny (albeit delicious!) slices of meat.

It's the thought that counts, no?

Have you done anything offal this week?


P.S! I forgot to mention that the venison heart, tongue, and liver that are featured in this series are all from a deer shot at the Lake of the Ozarks by my father-in-law and Brian's dad, Steve O'Neill. He was so nice to send them my way! Thanks, Steve!