Teens these days.


(Photo: Carol Kaliff, Hearst Connecticut Media)

Today kids across America walked out of school to protest gun violence and the inability for our government to pass common sense gun control.

That’s incredible. I can only imagine being a government & politics teacher, or any other branch of history/American studies, and witnessing your students actively participating in and organizing peaceful protests. Or deciding not to participate because they didn’t agree with the protests. Either way, it’s a teach by doing moment. It’s teaching kids to be actionable instead of simply memorizing facts or spitting out theory.

Facebook is flooded with posts of alum, teachers and parents talking about the school walkouts or walk ins, where assemblies are being held in memory of the students killed due to gun violence. CNN is live-streaming the walkouts and the words of our CT Senator Chris Murphy. Across the nation kids are holding up signs stating their beliefs and desire for the adults in charge to be actionable. They are no longer complicit and trusting that adults will get the work done. The Parkland students showed them that their voice matters even when they are unable to vote. That you don’t have to wait until you’re 18 to voice political opinions.

I was young for my grade and didn’t turn 18 until I was in college. I remember being furious that I couldn’t vote in the primaries that year, even though I would be 18 by the general election. I was always highly opinionated when it came to politics, thanks to my mother who was always a well-informed citizen and my brother, who walked into the Democratic Headquarters at 16 to start volunteering. I would tag along with him, making calls to remind democrats and independents to vote, checking in on our elderly residents to see if any needed rides to polls, attending Chris Murphy’s debates when running for Congress, joining the Young Dems chapter my brother helped start and my favorite part of the process: going from poll to poll on election night to watch them count then ending back at Headquarters or a restaurant to hear the results roll in. I couldn’t vote, but I was more engaged in the political process than most adults.

Which was why I was furious when adults would undermine my intelligence in my teenage years. I would often hear that my opinions, and the opinions of my peers, were just echos of my family’s beliefs. I understand the thought, and recognize that may be true in some cases, but I could never understand why my civics teacher would take so much time explaining our nation’s workings to us, only to tell me that my opinions were just something I inherited from my parents when I got in a fight with a classmate over Bush’s reelection. Of course my family influenced my beliefs, but I was also smart enough to research and act on my own. I was old enough to hold opinions.

I remember a car ride where my mom and brother were talking a politics. I listened without much input, thinking instead of my recent civics lesson on political parties.

“What if I’m a Republican instead of a Democrat?” I asked my family.

I was constantly the lawyer of the family. I always wanted to think about situations from a different angle. A contrarian, always thinking of the other side before agreeing with my family.

“Your beliefs line up with the Democratic Party,” my mom replied.

“But what if they don’t? What if I’m a Republican instead?” I asked.

“Then you can be a Republican.”

I went home and did all the research I could on both parties. I spent hours trying to understand the difference and political platforms. I weighed policies against my moral beliefs and found that I did side with the Dems.

All of this was done my freshman year of high school. Clearly I was already intelligent and thoughtful enough to question my beliefs and recheck them against my political affiliation. My thoughts and opinions haven’t changed much. They evolved slightly with the times and my maturity. Whereas I used to think we should eliminate marriage entirely, calling everything a civil union, so we can eliminate the religious context of marriage, I’ve realized that battle gets misconstrued and calling everything a marriage is a better angle. I used to be much more fiscally liberal that I am today. I used to be pro-choice under medical necessity but am now entirely pro-choice. Tiny tweaks, but my adult mind is still in line with my teen mind.

So I still get angry that I was always underestimated. That adults did not believe that I researched my policies enough. To be fair, this still happens. I was constantly accused for siding with Hillary instead of Bernie because she was a woman, when in reality I thought she was the most qualified candidate we ever had and her fiscally moderate policies enabled me to reap benefits while still covering costs of social security and welfare.

People may say that I was a different type of teen. That not everyone was as mature. Well then, why not teach them to find their own opinions instead of dismissing them?

I think adults fall into an awful habit of thinking kids don’t know enough. We talk down to them and assume they can’t possibly understand. But clearly they do.

Today’s teens are living in a world where any question they have can be answered in a matter of seconds on their phones. Teenagers are actually MUCH better at recognizing “fake news” than we are. Aside from their obvious increased technical literacy, they’re also taught how to seek out information. As students, they have access to online encyclopedias and academic research. They’re constantly being told not to trust sites like Facebook and Wikipedia, and instead fact check every piece of information they want to use. They’re writing research reports and getting graded on whether or not their facts are confirmed. They’re much better at finding the truth than we are.

Without the ability to vote, I believe they’re getting antsy. I remember talking to my cousins, just shy of 18, about how much it sucked to be unable to vote in such an important presidential election. And now here we are, with massive school shootings happening at levels that I can’t even comprehend, and they’re done with us adults. They can’t vote, but they can speak for themselves and remind politicians that they’re voting very, very soon.

We need to stop underestimating kids and instead listen to them. That’s how I treat the kids I babysit. I never want to influence their own moral and political beliefs, so I just listen to them and encourage them to think about where they stand. The other day a kid I babysat was doing a project on trans kids and I found that she knew way more than even I did. I offered no opinions and instead just let her inform me on the topic. When I was watching some younger kids, someone came to the door who was running for local office. What followed was an hour long conversation with the kids about what their platforms would be and how they can run for office within their school. While I would steer at times, like suggesting they invest in scientific research when they said they wanted to stop all hurricanes, I let them carry the conversation.

We invest so much time and money into our kids and their education. But often when they want to show us the results of that investment, we don’t listen. While what happened at Stoneman Douglas was horrific, it is inspiring to see the students use their voices and speak up for themselves when a politician is dismissive of their question. Unless you’re a teacher or school employee, the topic of school shootings will ALWAYS impact the kids in your life more than it will ever impact you. Empower them to use their voices, especially if they’re teenagers. I’m so proud of these teens who are speaking up for the students in Sandy Hook who are still too young to speak for themselves. There are no longer only parents representing their students, but students themselves being actionable.

Keep going teens. Stand up for what you believe in and know that your mind is worthy of respect and your opinions are worth being heard.

Moving on.


When I moved to Chicago, I thought I’d leave before college graduation.

I wanted to be a teacher and it made sense to my seventeen year old self to only go to an out of state college for three years then come back to CT or NY to get certified within that state. But when I changed my major three days into my freshman year, that plan went out the window.

I was supposed to move back to the East Coast after college graduation. Actually, I did move back to the East Coast. Well, kinda. I did not renew my lease in Chicago. I packed up and planned to move home but was called in for a job interview. The day before going home, I put all of my stuff in storage then went on the interview. I figured that if I didn’t get the job, I could come back and get my stuff. Then I packed all my clothes and headed home. We immediately went on vacation for a week where I found out that I was being called in for a second interview. After vacation, I headed back to Chicago and took the job. So essentially, I just over packed for vacation

When I started working in Chicago, I had no immediate plans to leave. I always knew I would eventually end up on the East Coast, but I never had a definite time frame. My standard answer was that I would be in Chicago for two more years, which turned into three, which turned into four. Two years ago, I was ready to pack up everything and move to Los Angeles but breaking my knee put those plans on hold. I wasn’t too upset about that though because Chicago always pulled me back.

I’m nine and a half years into my extended stay in Chicago. I love this city with my entire heart. I love the people I met and the strangers who greet me with the kindness and optimism that can only be traced back to the Midwest. I love taking an hour long walk after work along the lake and finding myself still in awe of our skyline. I love the neighborhoods I lived in – Lincoln Park, the Southport Corridor of Lakeview and now Uptown. I love that I always find something new in the city like how expansive Montrose Park is or where to order the best Chicken Shawarma plate. I love when I find myself back on DePaul’s campus and replay the memories: the quad where I used to run through the sprinklers after a night of drinking, the dorm where I met my best friends, the hall where I was initiated into Chi Omega. I feel the pit in my stomach churning when I find myself by my old place on Cornelia, wishing I had enough money to buy the townhouse that I loved so much. I like the way we all gather inside for long nights of beers and Christmas lights in the winter and eat outside every night in the summer. I love Eagles games at Mad River, our annual Christmas Trolley and late nights after comedy shows at Old Town Alehouse. I love how it’s in the middle of the country so flying to either coast is not a hassle. In college I cried on every ride to the airport down Lake Shore Drive. I knew I would be back soon, but I never wanted to leave. I would strain my neck looking back at the skyline on the way to Midway until it was completely out of view.

I never wanted to permanently live in Chicago. I stand by that. For every reason I have for loving Chicago, I have another reason I want to be home. The thought of raising children so far away from my family is worse than leaving Chicago. I don’t want to be a long distance aunt anymore. I missed a lot of my nephew and cousins growing up and while I don’t regret my time here, it’s bittersweet to see all the time lost whenever I realize how old they are. While I pride myself in being a lot more present these days because I’m more financially stable, I want to be able to join in on all the little things the next generation of my family will bring. I want to be at sports games and school plays and whenever I have my own kids, I want sleepovers with cousins and dinners with grandma. Beyond family, I miss New England. I miss having four seasons instead of two and being so close to so many major cities. I don’t like that each time I come home it’s an event. I want to be able to visit with friends without feeling like I’m stiffing my family. I’d like to be able to relax instead of making sure I got to see everyone while home. And I miss New England falls. GOD how I miss New England falls. I miss the hills and the trees and the mountains. I miss the foliage and the scent of October. I miss being able to hike up real trails instead of city paths.

But each time I think I’m ready to leave, something pulls me back. It’s not easy being in love with a city so far from home. I wish New York or Philadelphia had the same vibe as Chicago.

I know that in the next few years I’ll be leaving this city. Where I’m going next I’m not too sure of. I don’t know if I want to spend a year in LA living in warm weather for once before returning to the East Coast, or if I just want to head straight home. I’m not even sure of where on the East Coast I want to live. While I’m 90% sure I’ll end up in New York City, which would split the difference between my extended family in New Jersey and my immediate family in Connecticut, I’m not positive. I may jet out to California in a year then head over to New York City a year or two later. But whatever way I split it, I have two years max left in Chicago.

I’ve set dates on moves before, so I know things can change. But the problem is that I keep on delaying my departure which makes it more difficult to leave. I fall more in love with this city with each passing year. There are some good reasons why I haven’t left Chicago, like breaking my knee and wanting to stay with my medical team until completely recovered, but the truth is that I’m also terrified. I wasn’t scared of going to college. Everyone made some sort of leap that year. And while I was constantly scared after college, it was also a normal transitional period. But here I am, in my late twenties, and there are no external forces like going to college or joining the workforce to push me out. This decision is completely self-motivated and I’m the only one that can execute it. I’m scared that I won’t find the same support group I have here. I’m worried that moving closer to my family will keep me from hustling in comedy. I’m concerned that my constant indecisiveness on where to live will be what keeps relationships from forming.

My friends in Connecticut and Los Angeles will all confirm that I’m not a great long distance friend. I miss and love them but get distracted when I’m in a different city. I push away from the ones I’m really close to because it hurts to know we no longer live close enough to be dependent on each other. I try to separate myself so I’m not disappointed when their life eventually goes on and they find someone to fill my void in their new city. I want to change these things about myself, but I know that it’s something I struggle with.

I know that Chicago will always be here to visit. But I loved being a resident. I know my close friends will remain my close friends and I’ll probably come back as often as I jet to the East Coast right now. And I know that if I ever find that I made the wrong decision, there’s a three story walkup on Cornelia Ave. that I’m more than happy to put a down payment on.

I chose the perfect city to become an adult in, both legally and mentally. Any pain or hurt is almost always the result of loving something, so I’m thankful that I found myself in a city that I loved so hard.

After almost 10 years, I’ll finally answer the most frequently asked question of an East Coast transplant: Chicago is WAY better than New York*. But sometimes the thing we love most isn’t what fits best.

*(Except for the pizza. NYC thin crust over Chicago any day.)

Sexism and Pain


As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements gain power and voices, I’ve been nursing my most recent story in my head. I was quick to jump on with accounts of my own harassment, assault and constant struggle to be taken seriously in my career. I think it’s time to talk about my most recent medical journey as well.

Two years ago, I was rehearsing for a show when I bent backwards to narrowly escape a fencing jab. My left knee gave out and I crumbled to the floor. An intense and sharp pain shot from my knee through my whole body. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.. so bad that when my writing partner went to grab her car, I started throwing up. My knee started swelling immediately and I couldn’t put any weight on it without unbearable pain.

The morning after I went to the ER, the hospital called me to let me know they found a small fracture in my kneecap and advised me to get to an orthopedist as soon as possible. As it was Friday, my options were limited. I called every orthopedic office until I found someone with a Monday appointment.

That following Monday, I saw Dr. Trash for the first time. (Why I’m concealing the identity of a doctor that doesn’t deserve protection is beside me, but his pseudonym is not only fitting but also very close to his actual last name so it works.) I didn’t think much of having to wait over an hour past my appointment time in his office (all doctors operate like that, right?) and didn’t care that he rushed the appointment. All I cared about at that time was getting the medication needed to ease my pain and the doctors note to clear my absence from work. He asked about the injury and I explained it to him. I told him that it felt like my knee twisted and that there was bone on bone. He laughed at the description, citing it’s impossibility. He looked at my x-ray for about 30 seconds then diagnosed me with a dislocated knee. He advised me to stay in a thigh to ankle immobilizer and come back after two weeks.

I went home and, despite my medication, was still in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even lay in my bed because laying flat was uncomfortable. For the next two weeks, I just dealt with the pain and powered through it.

Two weeks later, I went back to Dr. Trash’s office. When I said that I wasn’t doing any better, he said it was probably because I wasn’t icing or elevating. I told him I was doing that constantly and my office even got me a special chair to elevate. He told me I would be sore for a bit but that’s “just how teenage girls’ bodies are.” I was 25. I thought it was a weird comment but didn’t think much beyond that at the time. He wrote me a script for more pain meds and pushed me out as fast as I came in.

I started PT and spent the first month relearning how to walk because the immobilizer stiffened up my leg. I was in constant pain. I started to get worried that something more was wrong. My roommate has a strong history of dislocating her knee and I’ve seen her recover before. Her recovery was much shorter and appeared to be less painful, but I thought “oh well, everyone’s body is different.”

A month later, I was back in Dr. Trash’s office. At this point, I was starting to get really concerned. After relearning how to walk, I was finally starting to strengthen my knee at PT and it was met with intense, localized pain.

When asked how I was doing, I told Dr. Trash that my pain was getting worse with physical therapy. I told him it was localized and that it almost felt as if my knee was like a puzzle that didn’t quite fit together. He dismissed my pain, stating that these things take time and I would be sore for awhile, but I told him that I wasn’t sore, I was in pain. He told me that the way teenage girls’ bodies are stacked puts pressure on your knee and therefore causes discomfort. I revealed to him, yet again, that I wasn’t a teenage girl and that my pain wasn’t discomfort – it was sharp, localized pain. He mentioned my teenage girl body yet again, and said this is all common for girls dislocating their knee. I told him that I was concerned I tore something when I fell, and asked why I didn’t get a MRI. He told me that he usually doesn’t issue MRIs for women with knee dislocations since dislocations are so common in, you guessed it, teenage girls. Defeated, I gave up.

I feel like I need to clarify at the point that I never had a “teenage girl’s” body. I grew boobs and hips before I ever knew what they were and never hosted a typical teen body. As an overweight 25 year old, I DEFINITELY wasn’t hosting one. I also grew up as an athlete and had my fair share of sprains, pulls and thrown out necks. I had chronic pain due Lyme putting water in my knee as a kid and carpal tunnel as a teen. I understood the difference between long term ache and “holy shit something is wrong.” Something was wrong.

Over the next two months, both of my PTs and I started getting frustrated with my lack of results and increased pain. There were sessions that brought me to tears because I was in so much pain. No one knew how to help ease it and it seemed that everything they did made it worse. I recall holding my breath and concealing my tears as my PT rolled out my patellar tendon because the pain was so bad it sent goosebumps to my skin. (Turns out she was rolling right over the actual trouble spot without realizing it.) Defeated, my PT checked in with me one day. “So it’s just a dislocation. Your x-ray didn’t show anything else, right?” “Aside from the ER showing a small fracture, nope.” “And your MRI was clear?” “I didn’t get a MRI.” “Why?” “My doctor won’t prescribe one.” “You need to push for a MRI.” he mumbled under his breath.

That was the jolt of confidence I needed to make another appointment with Dr. Trash. I decided I would push as hard as possible for a MRI then take it to another orthopedic surgeon. The night before my next appointment, I ran into my old roommate who broke her femur when I lived with her. As I was telling her about my rough recovery from a seemingly simple injury, she asked me who my doctor was. I told her it was Dr. Trash and she told me to run away from him. He was the same doctor who did her leg surgery wrong, and when she questioned him about her pain and bowed leg, he dismissed the pain and told her she would just have to wear long skirts for the rest of her life, like her problem was that superficial.

The next day I went into Dr. Trash’s office with more confidence than I had over the last 8 months. When he asked me how I was doing, I was honest and told him worse than when I came in. I told him that I was in immense pain that only got worse with PT. He told me women tend to feel pain worse than men, especially when it came to TEENAGE GIRLS DISLOCATING THEIR KNEE. I was done with his shit, and demanded a MRI. He told me he doesn’t prescribe MRIs for women’s knees because of the high statistics of TEENAGE GIRLS DISLOCATING THEIR KNEES. I told him I was not a teenage girl, and even my limited medical knowledge told me that there were enough ligaments and cartilage in the knee that a MRI seemed appropriate. He told me “honey, you didn’t do any damage to your cartilage or ligaments, you dislocated your knee.” I asked him how he was so sure, and again he gave me the stats on how common of an injury it was with teenage girls. He told me insurance would never cover the MRI. I told him I didn’t care, I’d pay full price for it. He then, defeated, told me “Well I guess I can falsify your prescription and tell them we’re looking for floating cartilage or something so insurance will accept it. Will that make you feel better, sweetie?” I resisted the urge to punch him in the dick, said yes, grabbed my script and walked out of his office for good.

After getting my MRI, I went to one of the best knee surgeons in Chicago. In my first appointment, he spent more time that Dr. Trash did in all my appointments and told me that the problem was that I chipped a chunk of cartilage off my leg. He said it could be seen a bit in the x-ray alone, but was clear as day in the MRI. The MRI also showed bone bruising and minor ligament damage, all of this caused by… my bone coming together when my knee twisted. EXACTLY WHAT DR. TRASH TOLD ME WAS IMPOSSIBLE. My new doctor, Dr. Hair, told me nothing was impossible in medicine. A few months later, I found out that the second thing I felt, my knee feeling like a bad puzzle, was also true. I had surgery that revealed a piece of cartilage as big as a nickel chipped off and lodged itself into another part of my knee.

It has been almost two years since my initial injury and I’m still recovering from my most recent major knee surgery which should correct my defect. I spent eight months of that time with a doctor who dismissed my pain and diagnosed me off of statistics instead of symptoms then didn’t listen when I told him I was in pain.

I wish I knew at 25 what I know at 27. You know your body. Trust it and listen to it, and the second a man starts comparing it to the statistics of teenage girls, run to a doctor who will listen to you. I heard stories that women often had pain dismissed by male doctors but had never experienced it myself. I wish I listened to the little voice that kept telling me something more was wrong, but instead I trusted that someone who thought my biggest symptom was being female knew more than me just because he had 50 years of medical experience. Every single day I’m thankful for my PT and old roommate who gave me the confidence needed to run away from Dr. Trash.

When I think about that time in my recovery, I fall into a depression. This injury changed everything for me. It kept me from performing and pursuing my comedy dreams, cost me thousands of dollars, made me miss months of work and stopped me from being a typical mid-20 something. Instead of going out, I had to relearn how to walk three different times. I spend $90 a week on PT. I lost friends because I couldn’t do anything for weeks at a time. For two years, I couldn’t perform or hustle like I used to while I watched peers get closer to their dreams. My plans of moving to LA were replaced with surgery dates and recovery windows. When I realize that this all could have been resolved in a single year instead of two had I not gone to Dr. Trash, I become furious.

So, ladies (and gents too), what can I teach you? Listen to your bodies and trust that know them. You are not reduced to a statistic based on your gender. And the second a doctor starts dismissing your pain or comparing you to a teenage girl, run the fuck away.

I’m back.


I decided to start routinely writing in my blog again.

There are a couple reasons for this.

The inciting incident is a conversation I recently had with someone where I was talking at length about my post “My Worst Moment in Improv”. I mentioned how, in the aftermath of that post, I started backing away from both writing in my blog and improvising as a whole. I didn’t expect so many people to read my words and wasn’t prepared for the reactions I received. I was contacted by classmates who expressed regret in not stepping in on scenes that went too far. I was contacted by too many women who shared the same sentiment. I was contacted by theaters in other cities that asked me for advice on how to implement change in their own theaters, like speaking out about an issue makes me qualified to write their harassment policy for free instead of hiring a HR rep. I started slowly, and subconsciously, backing away from improv as a whole. I was tired of having to speak on behalf of all women. I was disgusted by the handful of people who shared my words & were the same people I saw inflict harm on women in the community. I was sick of showing up in buildings, including the one I worked in, and having the words “So I read your article. To play devil’s advocate, isn’t it more dangerous to deny creativity?” being said to my face. I was frustrated that I was being asked to explain consensual scene work like some kind of expert, yet was not being paid for the energy it took out of me. I was done with men stepping up to prove that they’re “good ones” like I didn’t have the ability to read them upon meeting them. I didn’t expect the reaction to consume so much of my energy and just grew tired and disenchanted by the entire community. A lot of that was on me. I wasn’t bold enough to just tell people to fuck off. I felt a sense of responsibility to continue the conversation and educate people who were inquiring. But clearly it took more out of me than I thought, because when I look back, that article is what caused me to slowly back out of the improv game and stop writing in my blog.

Two years later and I found myself back in a class with an instructor I trusted and admired for years. During the class I did the same exercise that the article I wrote was based on for the first time since a bunch of dudes thought date gang rape is a great group scene idea and I checked out completely. I felt disconnected and just wanted to get through it. I did, without incident, and was proud and sad and just thinking a shit ton. I came to the realization that I allowed my experience a few years ago take so much from me. I was pissed at myself for letting that entire experience keep me from two things I love – writing personal posts and improvising. After a high quality long conversation on a sticky and humid summer night, I decided to throw myself back into both writing and improvising.

The second reason is because in a month, I’ll be having major knee surgery for a dumbass accident I had almost two years ago. During a rehearsal, I made a dumb physical choice and fucked up the cartilage in my knee. I have already been through one surgery and two counts of learning how to walk again and am dreading this last round. The surgery will require that I do not put any weight on my leg for about six weeks. Short term recovery (being able to walk well, swim, exercise lightly, etc.) will take six months and I should be fully recovered in a year. While I’m grateful that this will be my last surgery, and that I have really good insurance to cover a highly specialized and expensive procedure, I’m really dreading sitting on my couch again. It’s really hard to be in limbo for two years while I watch my friends go on with their careers and lives. I did not think that my mid-twenties would be defined by this injury. I hate thinking about where I’d be if I didn’t have to take so much time out for recovery. While I want to be happy for my friends and their achievements, it’s hard for me to hear about their trials and tribulations in the comedy world while I’m stuck in this knee limbo unable to do anything. Before this accident, I felt like I was constantly creating, performing, writing, and working hard to achieve my goals. I finally got some of that wind back this summer, and now I know I have a year of recovery starting soon. I cried like a baby last night upon realizing that I might have performed for the last time before my surgery. So I’m trying to be proactive and reintroduce things I can do while recovering. One of those things is this blog.

So I’m back. Because I need this outlet again. I have a lot of thoughts I’ve been bottling up and my Facebook statuses weren’t providing adequate space. 

To the girls in my life.

Life Lessons, Uncategorized


We usually communicate through snapchat and dance parties, cards and sleepovers and many, many jokes and laughs. I think about you more than you may realize and try to live a lifestyle that does right by you. I’ve watched you grow up into young girls, preteens and teenagers and I am so proud of who you are.

I’m usually the comic relief. The cousin coming home from Chicago for a party or celebration. The babysitter who lets you mix sour punch straws with popcorn because I’m just as curious as to how it tastes. The bridge between my generation and your generation… in return for me making sure that you don’t set the house on fire, you serve as as a distraction from the bleakness of adulthood.

I was looking forward to you seeing a female president so early in your lifetime. When I was your age, I didn’t think women could be president. I don’t mean that I didn’t think they’d be able to be elected, I mean that I genuinely thought there was a rule that women were not allowed to be president. I’m happy you won’t be as ill-informed. I was elated at the prospect that for some of you, you would only know a black president and female president in your lifetime, and ready for the task of helping you understand the historical significance of that feat.

Instead you have a president that does not respect your body or mind. One that is racist, islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic and sexist. I hope you learn what those words mean and then how to fight them. I hope you get bossy and fight back for any of your friends that may fall victim to the bullying or violence that your president elect’s words have incited. I hope you understand the privilege you have and stick up for those who don’t. I hope you are taught history as it happened instead of a PG, whitewashed version.

The adults in this country elected a man that says it is okay to grab your bodies. That criticizes women who do their homework and show up prepared. That has been accused over ten times of assault. That has bullied women for the way they look and harassed them on tape. Who sees us as sex objects or nasty women. And you weren’t able to have a say in it, and for that I’m sorry.

Because someone is an authority figure does not mean that you have to accept their behavior. If a man on the street were to say these things to you, I would have you run as far away as you can from them. Just because the president elect is saying them doesn’t mean you have to support it.

The president elect won’t be the first, nor the last, man to say or do these things to you. I’m not naive enough to think that you will never experience them at school, work or in the world around you. If and when you do, I hope you are bossy. I hope you learn how to say no and that no is the final answer. I hope you scream and yell and seek help when needed. I hope you speak up for other women instead of putting them down. I hope that if you are ever violated, you know that it is not your fault and that those who love you will help you fight back. I hope you never accept limitations and that you promote intersectional feminism. I hope you know that you can love whoever you want to love. I hope you fight like hell to be treated equally, and I hope you win. I hope your generation can be even nastier than mine. You have a lot of fighting to do.

Fight back with intelligence. He’s afraid of your potential. Reclaim the names he calls you. Own being a nasty woman, a bossy kid, an angry feminist. Speak up and work hard. That’s what scares him the most.

Know that there will be a female president. Personally, I hope that our next elect will be a lesbian woman of color. While I’m not sure if it’ll happen in our next election, I know that it eventually will. We just have to work at it.

Work hard, study hard, and don’t let anyone tell you what you should or should not do. Women are not limited. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

An open letter to the little girl I babysit.

Life Lessons

I hope that you remain curious. That your never ending questions continue to dictate the way to see the world. I hope you always see the world as a classroom and observe it like a student. When you don’t understand something… whether it’s why you have to go to bed early, why you should to help your sister clean up or why adults don’t seem to listen to kids… I hope you always ask. Approach the world like you approached your first school project on outer space… eager to understand something that you know nothing about. Determined to master a new subject. Ready to share your knowledge with any and everyone who will listen.

I hope you continue to find strong female role models. Right now you idolize Doc McStuffins. It’s the only program you want to watch on TV, you tuck her in at night next to you and you even dressed up as her for Halloween. Out of all of the characters in the world to love, you picked an African-American female doctor who dedicates all of her time to making others feel better. When you’re not pretending to be Doc, you’re pretending to be Anna. A silly, strange, curious and strong princess who risks her own life to save her sister.

I hope you never stop expressing your emotions. We had a little fight the other night. I told you that you have to go to bed and you broke down. Hysterically crying, you refused to go to bed. I was coming off of a 40-hour work week and had to go straight to my show after I left your house, so I was immensely frustrated and exhausted. I left you alone to cry it out and put your sister to bed. When I came back, you were still sobbing. I thought you were putting on a show. Frustrated, I finally asked you why you were so upset… something that I should have done much earlier. You told me that you missed me and wanted to spend more time with me. That we didn’t get through half the stuff you wanted to do. You were honest with me, you told me how you felt. Keep doing this. Keep telling people how you feel about a situation instead of masking it. When you let me know why you were upset, we were able to fix the problem. We made a list of everything that we were going to do next time I came back and I made sure to read an extra book at bedtime. Instead of just fighting, we worked it out.

I hope you never stop singing. When I started babysitting you two years ago, you were a ham. The second an opportunity to perform came up, you threw on a tutu, improvised some dance moves and sang at the top of your lungs. You would force me to videotape you so that I could show your parents when they came home. The other night while we were eating dinner, you told me that you don’t sing anymore. You said that you can’t hit the high notes. My heart broke a little. You didn’t care about this before you started singing at school assemblies. I did the only thing I could think of… I told you that I couldn’t hit them either but I still loved to sing. I hope you don’t let your peers tell you what you can and cannot do. I hope your fear of high notes never keeps you from doing something that you love.

I hope you keep finding joy in the silliest things. I let you have four cherries on your ice cream the other night and you acted like I gave you a million dollars. You were beaming and said it was the best day of your life. I hope you’re able to find something every single day that makes it the best day of your life. I also hope you never lose your sense of humor. You’re a little comedian and you’re too young to care about whether or not you’re funny. You tell jokes, make ridiculous faces and find a way to make everything silly. Realize that this piece of your personality is unique and endearing. 

Most of all, I hope you continue to take the iPad into the bathroom with you when you poop. It’s the most adorable thing about you. “Ok, I’m going to poop. Where’s the iPad?” It makes you so… you. It’s your quiet time… your time to escape from your little sister and me. I know that you don’t take that long to poop but I let it happen. Everyone needs some time to regroup. I hope you always steal a little piece of the day for yourself. 

I learned the word slut in sixth grade.


This is a post that I didn’t want to write. But then the bravery of everyone in the #YesAllWomen wave came, and I decided that I should speak out too. So, in the standard that I’ve set for myself of reporting my thoughts on news about a week late, here’s my experience:

I learned the word slut in sixth grade. I was a member of the cheerleading squad and we were hated by a group of teachers & administrators for reasons that I’m still unsure of. Maybe it had to do with my coach but it backfired onto us. On school spirit day, my homeroom teacher yelled at me for wearing my uniform… although it was a school tradition and the skirt went down to my knees. She told me that I was giving guys the wrong idea and asked me if I seriously wanted to be one of “those girls”. I spent the rest of the day, and year, completely self-conscious.

One day my water bottle spilled all over my cheerleading bag. I asked my homeroom teacher if I could lay the clothes on her radiator so they could dry by practice. She told me that it would be no problem. I put them down and then went on with my day.

Halfway through the day, I had math class – which was what my homeroom teacher taught. Towards the end of the class, my teacher flipped on me because she didn’t think that I was cleaning up. When I tried to defend myself, she went nuts. She grabbed my clothing from off the radiator and starting showing it to the rest of the class. She said that my shorts were too short and my tank top was too tight. She thought she was being funny. She warned the other girls in class to veer away from dressing like me. Boys may get the wrong idea & it’s self-deprecating. A lady shouldn’t dress sexy. I tried to explain that you have to dress in tight clothing for safety reasons during practice. If someone is falling and their baggy t-shirt gets caught on something, they could get seriously injured. There were no boys in our practice anyways… why does it matter how I dress in front of my squad? Then she used that word for the first time. Oh, so it’s safe to be dressed like a slut? Because that’s what these clothes are… slutty. You’re too young to be a slut. I was ten.

And so you have some context, here’s a super slutty picture that my cousin sent me this morning of myself around that age.



I’d also like to use this photo as proof that I was once tall.

After the slut comment, I ran out of my classroom to see one of the most horrifying sights for a sixth grader – everyone hanging out of their classrooms watching it go down. My teacher yelled so loud that people down the hall heard what was going on. Humiliated, I ran into my geography teacher’s room. She heard it all and urged me to see my guidance counselor. My guidance counselor told me to write a letter to my teacher… just a fake one to get my feelings out. Instead of shredding the letter like I had imagined, my guidance counselor gave it to my teacher. By seventh period, I had to sit at one end of the table with my teacher at the other end and my guidance counselor sitting in between as a moderator. If you think those exercises where each person has to start a sentence with “I feel like…” are fake, let me assure you that they’re very real. Most of this day is a blur to me, but one thing I remember clearly is how this exercise ended. “I feel like you are bullying me” “I feel like you are misunderstanding my intentions. I got upset over your clothing because I think of you like a daughter. I want men to respect you… I only responded the way I would respond to my daughters” “Then I feel seriously bad for your daughters”. End of conversation. I walked away in trouble for disrespecting a teacher and she still teaches at that school.

That’s when I learned that it’s always going to be my fault. When a boy grabs my ass in between classes in eighth grade, it’s my fault for wearing tight pants. When a 40-year old man keeps circling my block on my walk home because he gets off on calling a fourteen year old sexy, it’s my fault for having boobs at a young age. When some dude shoves his hand up my dress in college, it’s my fault for not knowing that you shouldn’t wear dresses to a club. And when some douchebag asshole sexually assaults me, it’s my fault for being drunk.

We really need to stop teaching girls that it’s their fault. Their minds are easily molded and it can cause some serious damage. When victims are able to muster up the courage I never had and actually report their crimes, they should never be asked what they were wearing. Ten year olds shouldn’t learn what a slut is through an authoritative figure. The violent and vile actions that misogynists make should never be looked at as a cause & effect situation revolving around women.

Drops Mic. AT out.

Closet feminist.


I’m a feminist. For a very long time I denied it. I said that I didn’t care and honestly didn’t believe that genders were unequal. My mom is one of 8 kids… 7 of them are female. My grandmother has 16 grandchildren… 13 are female, 3 are male. Females dominate our family. I just didn’t think gender inequality was a thing.

Why did admitting I was a feminist scare me? Here are a few reasons:

  1. I love men… and not just in a sexual way. I have so many incredible men in my life who love and care for me in the most genuine way. Friends, family members, teachers, coworkers… there are a lot of guys in my life who I really care about. I had this fucked up feeling that admitting to being a feminist meant that I hated men… or that somewhere along the line, some guy screwed me over and I was jaded.
  2. I am so far from what I thought feminists think a woman should be. I am very feminine and really love dressing up and being girly. I was in a sorority for God’s sake. Above everything, I want to be a mother and wouldn’t mind being a stay at home mom. I love to cook, grew up cheerleading and spend a ridiculous amount of money on anti-wrinkle cream and agave hair oil. I thought that feminists wouldn’t like me because I’m so feminine.
  3. I didn’t really understand what the fuss was all about. In my first job, which I held for five years, I made more money and was promoted faster than many of my male coworkers. I had a good amount of self-confidence and thought that men viewed me as an intellectual more than a piece of meat.

Above all, I didn’t want to slap a label on my forehead and have people think that I was an extremist.

Then I started writing… and it was all right there. I wrote strong female characters, which was just what came naturally. It makes sense, right? I grew up in a predominately female household and most of my authority figures were women… why wouldn’t they be the store managers, CEO’s and heads of household in my scenes? But apparently that’s not the norm. All of a sudden people were praising me on being a strong woman myself. I started to seek out other strong females to become my friends and/or mentors. I listened to the stories of my friends and the shit that they’ve heard throughout their life.  I realized that not everyone was born into a female dominated family where strength, wittiness and intelligence were respected.

That’s when I met some really great feminists. Many of my comedy teachers and mentors praise women. They encourage us and show us that there’s really nothing we can’t do. They address our fears about weight, beauty and femininity. They taught me that I shouldn’t hold back my energy in a room full of men. That it doesn’t make me unattractive or intimidating. That some of the funniest people are female – and males can appreciate that kind of humor too. Then they admit to being a feminist… and here’s the kicker: most of them are heterosexual white males.

Since I was about 15 or so, I started to break everything down to how my little cousins viewed me. I want my 13 year old cousins to be confident and proud of the wonderful and wacky women that they are. I want them to know that you can speak your mind and be silly without being afraid of what other people think. That if a man is not attracted to you because of how bold and outgoing you are, he’s not someone you should be dating anyways. That stupidity isn’t cute, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know or don’t understand. I want them to realize that you’re not defined by your partner (or lack thereof) and it’s okay if you’re messy and don’t have your shit together. Poise, grace and beauty are great when you want them around… but you should love yourself without them. Don’t feel bad for wanting to look pretty and dress up but also don’t hold back your silliness in fear of looking ugly. Date whoever you want… or no one at all. Love your body, mind, spirit and find what makes you unique. Don’t ever make fun of someone else because they look strange compared to society… but don’t judge the pretty girls either. Be strong and independent but don’t be afraid to crash and burn. There will be days where you’re vulnerable and depressed but as long as you can recognize this, you can live through it. Live a healthy life… stay away from the crash diets but don’t overindulge. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t let anyone belittle your ambitions.

If being a strong female who wants to empower others to be strong too makes me a feminist… then good. If I don’t admit that I’m a feminist, I’m being hypocritical. It means that I’m afraid to embrace who I am because I’m afraid of what others may assume or think.

And that’s not what Annie Taylor is all about.

Perpetually single


You may want to play this while reading…

I’m the perpetually single friend. I dish out dating advice without much experience and have tons of platonic guy friends. I’m not concerned about my biological clock ticking and my longest relationship was when I was twelve. I’m not jaded and I’m completely happy being alone. My self-worth isn’t dependent on who I’m dating and I don’t have trust issues or some deep body complex.

The only “perpetually single” stereotype that I can own is that I’m picky. I’m not picky in the traditional sense… I don’t need someone who is brilliant, beautiful or rich. In fact, my ‘type’ is a normal guy. All my friends know it – invites out will be accompanied by “and I have this group of completely average guys coming too, you’ll love them!” My perfect guy is probably named Jim or Chris or something… he went to an okay school, isn’t above ordering specials at the bar and doesn’t judge me for wanting to change into my oversized PJs the second I get home from work (they have sheep in outerwear on them).

So how am I picky? I’m not willing to waste my time on someone I don’t care about. I have the opposite problem of everyone else – I grew up in a very stable and loving household. My parents rarely fought, but at the same time, they were rarely over affectionate. They were best friends and didn’t need to impress each other. I’m sure that there were bumps, hurdles and many fights but at the end of the day, they were just two people who were not only very much in love, but also liked each other a lot too.

I ‘dated’ quite a few guys and it always ended the same way. The second I found myself changing anything about myself for someone, I gave up. I hate to lie and shouldn’t feel the need to lie about my past or change for someone. It’s too hard to keep up with… and it’s not me.

It took me a long time to find myself. For a really long time, I wasn’t ready to focus on anyone but myself because I was so determined to get better, to be happy.  Maybe that meant missing out on the fun times and heartbreaks that come with young relationships but honestly… knowing exactly who I am and being happy with myself was worth it.

I always laugh when friends try to give me a pep talk about being single… like I need it. You’re so sweet, nice, pretty, funny, smart, [insert other compliment here] – you’ll find someone!  I want to scream at them sometimes but I stop myself because they mean well and I need to stop being a dick. But I hate this concept that someone is inferior without someone by their side. I could be dating someone but call me crazy… I choose to wait for someone I actually like.

Being happy alone means that I’m able to take things slow and trust that I’ll meet the right person. Someone who doesn’t get embarrassed by how incredibly strange I am and isn’t intimidated by the way I speak my mind. Who doesn’t just think of me as a physical entity but as a person who sometimes just wants to lay in bed and chat about why old people are the most adorable things in the universe without trying to touch me (because there’s nothing sexy about that topic). Who doesn’t think I’m vain when I talk about how much I love my hair but also doesn’t think I’m disgusting on my third day of choosing sleep over a shower. If this person never comes along, great. I’m fine with that.

While I’m at the point in my life where I’m ready for a relationship, I’m also perfectly happy being alone. I love my friends and am extremely proud of my life. All I ever wanted was to be happy. Like, really happy. Like, really purely extremely happy. Also, surrounded by friends that make me happier. And I have that now. Anything else is a plus.

This one’s for the girls

Life Lessons

We are complicated creatures. After spending the past 22 years of my life surrounded by aunts, sorority sisters, roommates and many cheerleading squads, I understand women. Plus, I’m a chick myself… so I have that going for me. What makes me tick is that so many of my female comrades are surrounded by insecurity, fear and self-doubt… all of which contribute to unhappiness. So here is my list. I’m putting down 15 things that I want every woman I love (or don’t know) to hear:

1. Learn to be alone

I can’t say this enough. So many of my friends tell me that their biggest fear is that they’ll end up alone. However, they define ‘alone’ as without a significant other. Wake up ladies! You’ll never truly be alone. I know many women who were never married but have so much love in their life through friends, family and coworkers. Sure… my ideal future is one where I’m married with kids – it’s how I always pictured my life. However, I am at the point where I’m happy enough with myself to be perfectly fine with never getting married. I think I’m a fun person who plans fun activities… a husband would be a plus, but it’s not a necessity for my happiness.

Here’s the danger in thinking that you’re worth nothing without a partner – you’re going to end up settling with anyone who will give you time. When you’re secure being alone… you’re willing to let the bad ones pass because you don’t feel the need to constantly be wanted by a man (or woman). Also, there’s no reason why you should still be talking to ‘that guy’ you don’t even like but keep around. You’re playing with his heart and it’s not fair.

In the end, you have to learn how to live without a significant other. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life, it’s that you never know what tomorrow brings. Tragedies, divorce, adultery… it happens. Learn to be happy alone and you’ll be able to survive.

2. Stupidity isn’t cute

The Jessica Simpson days are long gone… stupid doesn’t look good on you. I don’t know a single guy who thinks it’s cute. Nothing is worse than sitting in a meeting and watching someone who is playing the ditzy girl. Really? Read a book – or two, or three. Personally, I find it hard to respect someone who takes pride in not knowing anything. I want people in my life who can hold intelligent conversations and know where Oregon is on a map. Brighten up, girl.

3. Your body is a wonderland

I had to throw in a John Mayer lyric somewhere within this post. Stop comparing yourself to other women. At this point, the body you were given is the one you have to live in. You’re going to gain and lose weight, age and start to sag. It happens. You really can’t change much in regards to the way you look so stop wishing you could. Look yourself in the mirror and find things that you like. Insecurity isn’t a good look. I’m sick of feeding compliments to my beautiful friends… you’re great, you’re beautiful now let’s move on.

4. Be healthy

Please stop the crash diets. I used to be very guilty of this… so I get it. You really want to look good for Halloween. Want to know what will happen after Halloween? You’ll start eating unhealthy again and gain all the weight you lost plus more. If you really want to make a change then join a gym and start eating better food. To lose weight, you need your metabolism to be kickin’ – that doesn’t happen if you’re starving yourself. In fact, you should actually be eating more… just in smaller portions and with better food. Lean proteins, organic veggies and fruit will do it. Join a gym that you actually like… it’s worth the expense. If you like the classes and facility, you’ll actually want to go. Change won’t happen overnight this way, but it’ll be sustainable.

5. Stop judging each other 

It’s catty and it’s dumb. We’re grown women… I really couldn’t care less if someone decides to spend their weekends dressing up as anime characters… you do you. I hate to hear women call other women they don’t know ugly, crazy or strange. Who cares? I can’t be the only one who had a first impression of someone that was totally wrong. Don’t close yourself off to meeting a new friend because they’re different than you. No one thinks you’re cool when you make fun of the chick who likes to dance on the 9 bus. Hell, I wish I had her confidence and dance moves. You just look mean and immature.

6. Choose your words wisely 

I’ll make this short and sweet. There’s no reason to use phrases like “That’s gay”, “You’re retarded” or “She’s a slut”. You’re hurting other people and being ignorant. Stop.

7. Detox your friendships

Get rid of the negative people in your life. You’re no longer forced to be friends with them because they’re on your dorm floor or in your sorority. The beautiful thing about getting older is that you have the ability to weed people out of your life. If anyone is causing you misery, get rid of them. There are so many good people in this world… there’s no reason to hang around the ones that bring you down. Concentrate your energy on maintaining your friendships with those who treat you with the kindness and respect you deserve. 

8. Take your best friend on a date

Nothing is better than a girl’s night. One of my best friends and I have such conflicting schedules and aren’t able to see each other as much as we would like. To make up for lost time, we schedule dates. Like… real dates – going to the Signature Room, Hubbard Street Dance, restaurant week outings… something fancy and nice. It gives us a calm and fun atmosphere to relax and chat for hours. I would rather spend a lot of money on one nice meal than try to catch up over drinks at a bar in Wrigleyville. 

9. Have the wardrobe essentials

Here are my must haves: nude pumps, colorful flats, tan wedges, black skinny jeans, high-quality camis, a good nude bra, a few little black dresses, an over sized cable knit sweater, a few semi-sheer shirts, headbands, and a pair of nice looking sneakers (like Pumas or Coach). Also dress yourself in Forever21 jewelry.

10. Start listening to P!nk

Aside from being a bad-ass motherfucker and a huge girl crush of mine, Ms. Alecia Beth Moore has some solid songs that ladies can relate to. Here are a few of my faves: “Crystal Ball”, “Glitter in the Air”, “Nobody Knows”, “Conversations With My 13-Year-Old Self”, “Try”, “The One That Got Away”, “Beam Me Up”, Walk of Shame”, “The Great Escape”… ok, you get it. I’ll stop. Wait, one more… Google her cover of “Me & Bobby McGee”. Ok. Done. 

11. Be the role model you would’ve looked up to

If you’re like me, you had a 20-something role model growing up. Someone you thought was really cool. I wanted to be this person… right down to the profession I considered going into. Now, as a 20-something myself, I have a few cousins in their young teens and babysit for a 6th grader. Whenever I’m around them, I think about the influence I’m making on their life. I try my best to be comfortable in my skin, silly, intelligent and good clean fun.

Realize the younger people in your life and the impression you may be making on them. So many people look up to you without you even realizing it. How do they see you through their eyes? Are you cool because you’ll Snapchat silly pictures throughout the week? Or are you cool because you talk about all the crazy parties you were at this past weekend? Teach them how to be secure in their body by stopping the diet talk when they’re around. Don’t discourage their wild imagination but ask them about their hopes and dreams. Being 13ish is tough… you already feel like the whole world is against you. Be that ‘safe space’ they can go to for strength and self-assurance. 

12. Let go of the daddy/mommy/insert-appropriate-relationship-here issues

I’m very fortunate to have an incredible family but it absolutely KILLS me when I see my friends still held back by their parents. It sickens me how many moms are out there telling their adult daughters that they’re still not good enough. Why aren’t they in a relationship, skinnier or smarter? God FORBID they don’t get married and pop out those precious grandbabies. Really?! Do you have nothing else to do but live through your daughter?

Ladies, it’s time to realize that mom doesn’t always know best. You’re not her and at this point, you’re never going to make her happy. This goes for other parents too… just because your father wasn’t a good person doesn’t mean that all men are evil. If you went through the painful experience of divorce, it doesn’t mean marriage isn’t worth it. Stop determining your future based on your fucked up past. It’s hard… you love these people and they hurt you. It doesn’t mean you have to disown mom because she tells you you’re fat. Have a conversation with her instead… tell her how you feel. If she doesn’t listen, accept that her advice isn’t something you should listen to and love her for her flaws. Unless it gets to an unhealthy point – at that point, realize there are other women in your life more than willing to be the mother figure you need.

13. Don’t be afraid to be silly

So many women feel the pressure to appear feminine and pretty. I say fuck it. There’s a time and place for that. Sure, I absolutely LOVE dressing up and being girly. Shit, I was in a sorority. However, I’m not going to sacrifice my personality for this feminine ideal. Standing like a porcelain doll is boring… no one wants to hang out with someone who has no personality. Nothing is more boring than women who feel the need to act like an 80 year old grandmother from Greenwich, CT. Be the silly, geeky and nerdy person you are. My best friend always had this down. She’s a pretty blond ex-cheerleader who would go on and on about Lord of the Rings, wrestling and has a tri-force tattoo on her neck. The highlight of her summer? Dressing up as a pirate and going to the renaissance fair. Did anyone ever make fun of her for her nerdy traits? Quite the opposite, everyone loves her.

My improv teacher passed on an article awhile back with the quote, “Be ugly onstage. Be pretty at the party afterward”… which pretty much revolutionized the way I performed as a female. That advice transfers to real life too… don’t be afraid to be ugly and silly sometimes… there are plenty of other opportunities to be pretty.

14. You’re worth it

Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t treat you well – whether it’s a boyfriend, relative or friend. You are worth so much more. Stop being the friend with benefits. Stop allowing your friends to step over you and make fun of you. Who the hell are you to live a life based on someone else’s rules? You were given the opportunity for a great & happy life… no matter what hand you were dealt. Allow yourself this ideal life… you’re worth it.

15. Be remarkable

You have one shot at this crazy and beautiful life. Make the conscious decision, right this second, to be remarkable.

AT out.