Dear Spambot Commenters,

Hello, spambot commenters! Thank you for stumbling across my blog. And for leaving me comments. It makes me feel like my opinions bring up many interesting points that are really spot-on. Especially when you tell me that you “like all the points I made about this subject” and that I was “spot-on with this writeup.”

However, I really don’t need your advice on how to make my website better by getting more Google hits. I do not need to visit your spamlink for alleged SEO software that can create unique Google-friendly content in a couple of seconds.

You see, when I’m not writing, I’m editing. I do a lot of editing for SEO. A lot. In fact, I should be doing that right now. I have basically been editing nonstop today for over 12 hours, until I received a comment on my website about my interesting content that was exceptionally well written but could be even more successful.

So, next time you want to auto-spam my page, please just stick to the usual pEn!s enLarGements and young 18 y.o. Russian ladies.


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D-D-D-Do You Have It?

I recently applied for the Nickelodeon Writers Fellowship, along with likely thousands of others who probably already have tv credits to their name. It was my first foray into the world of writing spec scripts, and I wrote an episode of Community. So now, NBC, you are not allowed to cancel this show at the end of the season so that I can maximize this spec’s shelf life (#sixseasonsandamovie).

Of course, since I submitted the application on February 28, I have been thinking about all of the things I must have answered horribly wrong on the short answer responses. They only give you 50 words to answer why you want the fellowship, and I didn’t go funny on my bio, and maybe I should have, though I was afraid of seeming naive and unprofessional. So there’s no way I said everything I wanted to say. I’ve been needing to get my real answer out of my system for weeks. So, I now present…

“What I Wanted to Say” (In Well Over 50 Words)
I am the biggest Classic Nickelodeon nerd. I used to have a blog recapping episodes of classic shows, Television Without Pity-style. (It is still apparently the top result when you google the immortal Busdriver Stu Benedict’s quote “Passengers will refrain from KILLING MY SOUL!!!” from Pete and Pete. Which I’m sure people google all the time.)

I grew up with Nickelodeon from the days of Pinwheel and You Can’t Do That On Television through their early 90s Golden Age. I remember Special Delivery and Marc Summers’ Halloween special. I had the Finders Keepers board game that my mom insisted on returning to the store after she realized you had to hide the game tokens by throwing your own crap from around the house into a cardboard box.

The Finders Keepers boardgame, in all its 80s glory.

In all its 80s glory.

I entered Slime Time for a good four years straight and was never called. I would seriously sit there willing my phone to ring and have it be the Slime Time people on the other end. I entered the Super Toy Run that the boys always seemed to win. I didn’t enter Nick-or-Treat because I was too embarrassed to answer the phone saying “Nick-or-Treat!” only to have it be my aunt.

The station ID bumpers and other Nick commercials are forever lodged in my brain. I could recite about ten of them right now. I remember Picture Pages, and Bananaman, and DangerMouse. And I’m probably one of the only people in the country who worries about what will happen to the Nick Time Capsule now that Nickelodeon Studios is long gone.

I tried to write an episode of Rugrats once. I think it started out as an episode of Rugrats and then morphed into my own original story. It involved ordering a birthday cake. I also was always making up pretend adventures where my brothers and I were the characters from the various Nicktoons. The first three Nicktoons premiered on August 11, 1991 (and I knew that without having to google the date), and that summer we spent a week or two up at my uncle’s lake house in New Hampshire. Nickelodeon promoted the hell out of the upcoming cartoons, so in the weeks before they actually aired, I’d make up my own stories about them based on the bit of info from the teaser ads. I was not happy when I’d been playing Angelica for weeks only to watch the show and discover that she was a heinous little bitch.

I also watch shows that I am far too old for and should be embarrassed to admit to liking. Drake and Josh could be fun, and I was convinced that Zoey 101 was a great show if you removed Zoey from it (nothing against Jamie Lynn Spears… the character was just way too perfect at absolutely everything and had zero faults). And I loved iCarly. Loved it. I was out of college when it premiered, but I didn’t care. One time, when I was still working at my scientific research publishing company, I was out sick and, of course, watching after-school iCarly (did they still call it Nick in the Afternoon by that point?). To my complete surprise, I saw an issue of my journal in one of the kids’ lockers. My scientific research journal that no one younger than college-age bio majors would ever read. I immediately had to download the episode so I could pause it and confirm. And then I sent a screenshot into my company’s newsletter with the lame excuse that I had been flipping channels and “just happened” to see it. I am probably the only person, except maybe scientists who watch tv with their kids, who cared that an issue of Cell was in iCarly.

I’ve known for a very long time that my dream job would be writing for children. Whenever I think of my favorite books, movies, or tv shows, a wide majority of them are written for kids. I want to give future kids the same memories that I had with Doug, Clarissa, and Pete and Pete. I want future 23-year-olds to shamelessly watch kids shows I wrote because they’re just that fun and awesome. I wish I could convey all of this in 50 words or less, but I can’t. They’ll just have to interview me I guess.

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Oh, hello there, blog.

Oh blog, you have been so neglected! I miss you. I’ve been doing a lot lately, most of which is just mindless and frustrating. I spend my free time dreaming that I’m not doing what I am actually doing. So. New idea, write some of this stuff down. If anything, it will be fun to look at and laugh later.

What I learned today: Minkus is going to be on Girl Meets World!


This is awesome. Don’t insult the man with the Perky’s.

I really hope the show has the same self-aware silly-comedy-with-a-heart of the original. And that it stays on the air long enough for to me kick open the doors and demand a job on the writing staff (that’s how it works, right?). Back in the day it felt like every single actor in my age range was on Boy Meets World at least once. I used to imagine that I was an extra on the show — Topanga’s random friend-for-an-episode or something. Because it’s normal to dream about being an extra rather than an actual character. Dreaming big, right there. Though I also used to imagine that I was Stephanie Tanner, so either my confidence was higher or my standards were lower for Full House.

My lunch is just about ending, and I still have to email a friend who I never get to talk to anymore. Because of the aforementioned mindless frustration. But my goal is to come back later tonight and blog about my venture into writing tv scripts. Should we take bets on if I actually get to write this post tonight? Will it end up being another case of see you in three months? I hope not.

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Back in action

Wow, it’s been a long time. So long that it looks like WordPress has updated their New Post window. This is just a quick pre-work update on all of the things that have been inhibiting me from updating (i.e., an excuse blog! I’m great at those).

Speaking of pre-work, I have a new job now! Am I writerly enough to call it a “day job”? I don’t want to sound obnoxious. Anyway. I’ve been here two and a half months. I’m not working from home anymore, and I’m up and at work before I used to have to even be awake. It’s been an adjustment. I hate mornings.

I also moved! I am back in the hometown of Somerville. I moved about a month ago, but I’m still unpacking and getting things settled. It’s one of those moves where the unpacking feels overwhelming and I just don’t want to do it. I probably should force myself to work on it tonight a little.

The hardest update, which is probably why unpacking has been so overwhelming, is that Allan (the boyfriend) moved back to Arkansas and we’re currently doing the long-distance thing. Long-distance is extra-hard when his internet is limited to a certain amount of data because cable and DSL aren’t available in his area, so skyping has to be limited. It’s been hard, but we’re making it work one day at a time.

So all of this has left me completely out of it writing-wise. I’ve worked on a few things lately though, so I’m starting to get back into it, hooray! The other day I was working on seeing what my fairytale play Mirror, Mirror would be like adapted into sort of an early-reader chapterbook. I haven’t decided if it will work yet. I was adding a frame story to it which I like, but I’m not sure if the material I have would be too long for a book in that age group.

In any case, I also want to adapt that play into a play for young audiences. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. What’s held me back is that I think the verse element needs to go. And that kills me. This play was my undergrad thesis, my very first little proto-play, and the verse was SO. HARD. to write. But I need to think of it in terms of theatricality now, not just academics. And I need to think about what will play better on the stage, especially for kids. And if there’s not a good, necessary for the story reason for it to be in verse, I should cut it. I can keep the lyricism and rhythm of the language without being so limited by the form. But like I said, it kills me.

I’ve also been a children’s lit kick lately, and I want to try my hand at writing a book for kids. The play adaptation is serving as a sort of “practice session” for that to play with the form and get more of a handle on it. It’s weird when you’ve been writing drama for so long that you suddenly sit down to fiction and it feels foreign. It’s like, “you mean I just can’t write ‘setting: the bedroom of two young girls’ and have a set designer make it all pretty for me? I have to actually use words to describe it???”

My latest project has been a much-needed revise on The Prayer Bargain. I had one of those flashes of insight while taking a shower the other night, and I think I’ve figured out Molly’s journey and what she wants. Being back in Somerville means I’m on this play’s stomping grounds, so I’m getting more excited to finally tinker with the problems this play’s been having.

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12 things I learned from My Girl

I was nine years old when My Girl came out in 1991, two years younger than main character Vada Sultenfuss. You learn a lot in those two years between 9 and 11, especially if you were a sheltered Catholic school girl who hasn’t even read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret yet. Here’s some of the especially important things I learned from this epic coming-of-age movie.

1. What happens at a funeral.

And what happens when you get old… apparently you can sing classic standards whenever you want and no one can do anything about it.

2. A girl can never wear enough blue eyeshadow.

Technically, I had already learned this by age 3 from dance recitals.

3. There is basically nothing good to look forward to about being a girl.


4. Surround yourself with people who are intellectually stimulating.


Vada was a mini-Daria in the making.

5. Mood rings are the coolest things ever.

I had to go out and get one from the Limited Too. And pick up a flannel scrunchie while I was there to match my flannel shirt.

6. How to write poetry.

“Flesh all a-mesh or rocky road; either way, it’s about desire.”

7. You did not touch my grass.

It puts the grass in the basket.

8. That I will always and forever associate this song with bumper cars.

And that bumper cars are a great way to take out some aggression on someone.

9. How insanely long your period lasts.


And how I had never thought before about how you would manage to go swimming during it.

….And how awkward this movie can be to watch with your parents.

10. Kissing a boy involves saying the pledge of allegiance?

And that there’s a time when spitting on your hand becomes grosser than kissing a boy.

11. It’s ok to bawl your eyes out at a movie.

12. No really, it is.


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At my own pace

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and guess what… I’m still running! I went through a period where I fell out of it for a week and a half when work was going crazy and I also had to get a lot of writing done, but I’m really trying to make this something I stick with. Because of jumping around and missing a few days, I’m on the beginning of week 5 of the beginner program I’ve been doing.

Today’s schedule was 12 min run/1 min walk repeated twice followed by a 4 min run to round out the 30 minutes.  Last Wednesday was when I finally got back to the gym and started up again, and I did an interval of 10 min run/1 min walk twice followed by 8 min run. I was mad at myself for going a week and a half between running days, and I told myself that I had to set the treadmill on 5.0 for my minimal running pace from now on because everyone else at the gym seems to run at 5.5 at the least. I can run at 5.0… when I was doing shorter run intervals I liked that pace because going slower actually felt more difficult. The first 10 minutes were pretty good… I started at 4.6 and bumped it up to 5.0 after two minutes because my previous run had been at 8 min intervals. The second 10 minutes were harder as it got down to the end. I was clock-watching a lot and that always kills me. When I got to final 8 minutes I could feel a blister starting to form on my left foot and a cramp in my hip on that leg, and I practically was speed-walking the final minute and a half.

Then I tried to run again on Thursday even though the plan usually has a walk day in between run days, again because I was mad at myself for being away so long. I was also missing my dad a lot because it was the anniversary of the day he died, and I sort of wanted to run out all of the sad feelings. But I could barely do it. I managed to run for 15 of the 30 minutes, but I had to split it up into 10 run, 10 walk, 5 run, 5 walk. I felt awful. Friday I fell asleep after barely making it through work. It was a rough week.

So today I started off at the beginning of week 5 of the plan, as I said with 12 min run intervals. The muscle aches of last week were gone, and I decided that I probably needed to stop caring about my pace or my calories burned for now and just focus on building up the endurance. The speed will come once I get the endurance there. That’s a problem I always have with anything I approach. I feel like if I’m not absolutely killing myself then I must not be working hard enough. But I ran at 4.6 instead of 5.0 and, big surprise, got through the 12 min intervals much easier than the 10 min ones of last week. It was still a workout, but I wasn’t left feeling like I must be incredibly weak to not be able to handle the plan anymore once I got halfway through it. I put the speed up to 5.0 for the final 4 min run and that felt good. And I still went past the 2 mile mark and got to 2.25-2.30, which is around where I was last time. And I feel like on Wednesday when the interval rises to 13 min, I will be able to handle it.

I need to approach more facets of my life like this. It doesn’t matter that (what feels like) everyone else at the gym runs at 5.5 or 6.0, and it doesn’t matter if they can go that fast and are also beginner runners. Maybe I’m better at dancing or yoga than they are (and if not, then ehhh, whatever, I’ve never been a super-athlete anyway). And if a friend is way more established as a writer than I am, that’s ok and it doesn’t diminish that I’ve made some progress since getting the MFA. It doesn’t mean I should sit there berating myself while I revise until I start questioning whether I’m actually cut out for it. Or if a friend makes more money/owns a house/is married/has a kid/all four of those things, it’s ok that I’m not there yet. It’s ok that I’ve had a couple major challenges in the past few years and have had to take some time working through them. It’s so much more productive to write/live at 4.6 and stay motivated than to force yourself to function at 5.0 and beat yourself up when you’re struggling to maintain it. Now I actually feel like going out and running again next time instead of dreading it. And when I don’t beat myself up about writing, I usually write things that turn out a lot better. Imagine that.

Remind me to take a look back at this post when I start feeling like I’m not doing good enough with life. Remind me that when I’m thinking clearly, these thoughts make sense and that it does not signify my “taking the easy way out.”

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I ran! Sort of.

I “ran” today! I’ve never really done it before. Running for the purpose of running, I mean. I’ve been wanting to at least attempt a little bit of running ever since the Boston Marathon attacks, and today I started off with this 8 week beginner’s program I found on RunnersWorld. You start off really slow, which is good.

I’m not as cool as all the other people who have taken up running though, because I used a treadmill. I set out to do it outside, but I was feeling lost. I didn’t know which direction to go in, when I should turn around towards back home, and I didn’t know how to time myself… the program starts off with run/walk alternates for 30 minutes, and I needed an easy way to see how many minutes had passed. I wanted to use my ipod, and I didn’t want to carry that plus my phone. And, kind of important, I’m also out of contacts right now. I need to go get an eye exam and reorder. I didn’t want to be running on the sidewalk with my glasses slipping down every minute. So, for now anyway, it’s treadmill. When I’m more comfy I’ll venture outside.

I thought the program had said week 1’s program was to run 2 minutes and walk 1, for a total of 30 minutes. I get home and check my computer, and apparently week 1 is run 1, walk 2. So I technically did week 2’s plan today. What do I do next? (assuming I can keep up with this and not’s just a one-time thing.) Do I continue doing week 2’s plan and do it for two weeks to get back on schedule? Do I go back to week 1’s plan? Do I just take it as it goes?

I ran slowly I’m pretty sure. But that’s ok. The point of trying this was to make me want to do it again, not to push myself to the extremes. Which is of course what I always want to do. But what I did today was totally something I could do again. It was a workout, but not a kill-myself workout. Tomorrow on the plan is “walk easy for 30 minutes.” That’s not bad at all. Then, since the program begins on a Monday, I’ll probably repeat day 1 and day 2 on Monday/Tuesday to get on its schedule. Again, assuming I keep getting myself up and out to do this. And now it is time for shower and comfypants.


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Punctuation personalities.

Sometimes being a playwright and also being a copyeditor collide in really weird ways. I already obsess over punctuation way more than the average person, but when I’m writing, it takes on a whole new level. It’s more than just “this character wouldn’t speak in really long sentences or use big words.” The different punctuation marks actually start to take on different personalities. And it’s hard to use them, even if they’re grammatically correct, if their personalities don’t match those of whoever is talking.

Is that weird? Does that even make sense? It’s like, semicolons. That’s a big one. I obviously know how to use them (for the non-grammarians: basically you need to have a complete sentence on either side), but they feel really official and kind of snooty. Very few, if any, of my characters would ever use a semicolon. So if someone is speaking in short phrases, I find myself either splitting them into short sentences or using a comma, even if the comma is incorrect and should be a semicolon.

But herein, of course, lies a new problem. Sometimes you don’t want to use two separate sentences because that divide feels too “major.” But the comma would be grammatically incorrect. And that really irritates my inner copyeditor. And I start thinking about a million steps down the line, about how if this script ever got published someday, the copyeditor working on it would think that I don’t know how to use correct grammar. And then that copyeditor would change my commas to semicolons, and then not only will I look stupid, but those lines won’t “feel” right.

I’m working on a new play now, and I just wrote three little independent thoughts in a row, and separate sentences would’ve felt too divided. But semicolons would have just been… wrong. Too intellectual. So I used commas and felt really weird about it, like chewing gum in school or something, and had to come write this.

I obviously don’t mind using sentence fragments and things like that in creative writing. But punctuation is different. It’s not supposed to be creative (unless it’s the interrobang). But, in my world, an ellipsis is totally different from writing “(pause),” which is also different from writing “(beat).”  A “pause” in my brain is longer than a “beat.” An ellipsis is someone trailing off. It’s not quite a pause. And an em dash means the character is getting cut off and interrupted.

Does anyone else, writer or copyeditor or not, overthink things like this? Or do you overthink about other things that are completely unrelated to writing?

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This Is 30

Or, was 30. My birthday was this past Monday. About a month back I read an article in the New Yorker about how the Apatows’ version of 40 in This Is 40 doesn’t quite match up with a lot of other people’s. I haven’t seen the movie, but I highly doubt I’ll be anywhere near where the characters are in 9 years. So this is my more realistic version of a “sort-of prequel” to This Is 40 (which is the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up,” according the trying-too-hard marketing tagline).

Last January was a busy month.
Things got kicked off with the first Boston One-Minute Play Festival! I had two little plays in it. Both were sad. I was still in a rough place in a lot of ways.

My Birthday!
I decided to have a party for my birthday, which I’ve never really done before. It was 80s themed and it was awesome. It left me wanting to have another 80s party just for the hell of it. I spent too much money on ridiculous outfits.

The end of January saw a return trip to the Kennedy Center’s Region 1 American College Theatre Festival in lovely Fitchburg, MA. I wrote about a big red button. Not unlike this one:
Colleen and Button

Right after KCACTF, I got my permit and bought a car. Allan’s car had died right before my birthday, and I had decided that I had to get my license because it was ridiculous not having one. So I bought the car to learn with. Then I had a rough first outing behind the wheel and progress was slow moving for awhile. But the car is adorable.

This is one of the “real-life” parts that I’m talking about. Paying for real-life things like an apartment or a car or college sucks. Sometimes it’s hard to get by towards the end of a pay cycle. The characters in This Is 40 don’t seem to have had to deal with any of that.


February and March were pretty uneventful.
Shadow did this:

I worked some more on a scarf that I only just finished earlier this week.

And that’s about it.

Marmalade got out when our old roommate came in late one night and didn’t close the door fast enough. The following morning it poured and he was nowhere to be seen. I started putting up lost cat fliers the next day and put pictures all over facebook and twitter. I left food out on the porch, but all it did was make Oskar and Shadow want to go outside. I also searched the neighborhood every night, sometimes with family and friends and sometimes by myself. I met this cat who I named Not-Oskar.

Here’s Oskar for comparison.

After being gone for 8 days, Marmalade just showed up on the front porch one morning. It was the best day ever. He slept a lot the day he came home.

Lots of graduations!
My cousin Erin graduated from high school the same day my friend Pam graduated from med school. And my brother Connor graduated from college!

My year as a New Voices Fellow at New Rep ended with our Festival of New Voices. It was only the second full-length reading I’d ever had and I was a bit terrified. But I loved working with everyone and it was an awesome year.
Photo by the lovely K. Alexa Mavromatis for the Playwrights’ Perspectives BPT blog.

Other than that reading, June was rough. I felt gross and decided that I needed to start losing the weight I’d put on after my dad died. The reading was just before the one-year anniversary of when he died (it feels weird to use the word “anniversary” for something awful, but my brain isn’t able to find anything else). I think after all the stress about writing that play was suddenly gone, and the friends who were in town for the graduations went back home, I had no more distractions from how I was feeling. There were a particularly rough couple weeks before I started to be able to pull myself back on track.

Oskar got really sick. He was spending a long time in the litterbox, and it happened more than once, so I called the vet on a Saturday to get him seen. Turns out his bladder was blocked, which is potentially life-threatening if not caught early. Luckily, we had caught it early. My mom drove us up to the emergency animal hospital in Woburn, where they were going to have to keep him for a few days and place a catheter to get rid of the blockage. Leaving him at the hospital was really rough. But there was good news… when they were prepping him for the catheter, his bladder unblocked itself. So he only had to stay one night for observation and didn’t need the procedure. He came home and let me know he was ok by peeing in his carrier on the car ride back. He wasn’t happy about how they shaved his front legs for the IV though.

This is another real-life thing. Animals get sick, and it really freaks you out and you cry and then you feel bad that you cried taking your cat to the hospital but not during your dad’s funeral. And vet bills are a lot of money. When you buy a car, you know what you’re getting into financially. But you’re never really planning for your cat to have a bladder obstruction. The pet insurance was very good investment in this case. But you still have to pay up front and then get reimbursed.

But July also had some good real-life goings-on. It was two years with Allan! This picture is not from July but it’s one of the few from this year that I have of us.

Annual fun with playwrights in NH! Sadly all my photos came out really bad because I took them all at night. But believe me when I say that it was a weekend full of fun, fireworks, swimming, and wine. Lots of wine.

I also started taking real driving lessons towards the end of the month. See above about slowly picking myself up and back on track.

Not much going on. Some months are like that. Marmalade played in the sink.

The kitties had Halloween fun.

And I really amped up on the driving lessons and started to not feel freaked out when I was driving. Which led to–

I got my license finally! yay! But all the expenses from paying for the lessons and road test and the licensing fees really hit me hard and I’ve been poor for months now. And all the holiday craziness started. Thanksgiving was with my family and Christmas was supposed to be with Allan’s, but–

First flights got insanely expensive. Then when we decided to take the train, that shot up in price to be almost as expensive as a flight. So we ended up having Christmas in Boston. It was nice being with my family, of course, but I’ve only met Allan’s family that one time and he hasn’t seen them in forever, and I really want to fix that sometime soon.

So that was my 30. No fancy house, no kids, no unique artsy job that somehow pays for all my expenses and then some. It’s more like struggling to pay bills, feeling guilty when you order food (or buy 80s outfits), conquering ridiculous fears like driving, celebrating small victories whenever possible, and cats. Lots of cats. But all of that probably doesn’t make for a good movie.

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Now I’m driving for real

I got my driver’s license earlier this month. I totally feel like one of these kids:

Also, definitely check out the “boy” Power Wheels commercials on Youtube. It’s crazy how gender-stereotypey they are. I had a few Barbies but was never really a major Barbie fan. But I totally do have a “girly” car (a 2002 silver Beetle).

I was terrified of driving for most of my life. Like, it was one of my biggest fears. I’ve still only driven at night once, and I’ve only made super-short trips by myself with no one else in the car twice. So I have a long way to go until driving becomes commonplace, but I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was just a few months ago.

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